Just four days before the 'Melvin Belli' letter arrived, the December 16th 1969 Fairfield letter was mailed to the San Francisco Examiner insinuating the author's involvement in the September 27th 1969 Lake Berryessa attack, by including a drawing and the wording "The Bleeding Knife of Zodiac." The knife drawing had eight drops of blood falling from the blade, suggesting he had now claimed eight victims, but crucially, the same author had mailed a previous Fairfield letter on December 7th 1969 to the San Francisco Chronicle. This communication failed to acknowledge any current victim count, in conflict to the majority of his future correspondence - and he made no mention of victim number eight - leaving the very real possibility that victim number eight fell between the dates of December 7th 1969 and December 16th 1969. There are also three other mailings that point to the abduction and murder of Leona Roberts as a Zodiac victim, or at the very least, a claimed Zodiac victim, ending with the 'Melvin Belli' letter on December 20th 1969 (the first anniversary of the Lake Herman Road murders). But first, let's outline the story of Leona Roberts, abducted from her boyfriend's house on December 10th 1969.
Here is an excerpt from Websleuths by Steph54 "On 28 December 1969, a man searching for driftwood on the beach at Bolinas Lagoon in Marin County found the nude body of Leona Roberts. It was later determined that a unique wristwatch was missing from the girl's wrist, but a Napa High School class ring given to her by a neighbor still remained on her finger. The tan dress she wore when last seen, along with two pairs of bell-bottomed pants, a blouse, a black purse and wallet, a key chain with car and house keys were also reported missing. There were marks on the wrists and ankles indicative of binding, but the coroner was unsure whether they occurred before or after death. The cause of death was reported as "due to viral infection of an unidentified species." It was also reported that there was "evidence of choking which could probably be linked to the virus." link.
Leona Roberts time of death has not been pinned down, but it has been estimated at approximately ten days to two weeks before her discovery, somewhere between December 14th and 18th 1969, just before the mailing of the 'Melvin Belli' letter. It is this letter that may contain a subtle clue to the abduction of Leona Roberts on December 10th 1969. The Zodiac Killer wrote in the 'Melvin Belli' letter "I will loose all controol of myself. Please help me. I can not remain in control for much longer" (edited). This mirrored closely a message written in lipstick on the wall of a murder victim in Chicago in 1945. The message read "For heavens Sake catch me Before I kill more. I cannot control myself". Frances Brown was discovered at her 3941 North Pine Grove apartment in Edgewater, Chicago. She had multiple knife wounds, along with a bullet wound to the head. William George Heirens would eventually be convicted for this and two other murders, and jailed for life. But why would the Zodiac Killer seemingly pluck the wording from a murder case 24 years prior? Was it a clue to his eighth victim? Frances Brown was discovered on December 10th, exactly the same date as the abduction of Leona Roberts from the 749 Tormey Avenue apartment. She was abducted and likely restrained for approximately one week before her eventual murder.
On December 10th 1969 (again, the date of Leona Roberts abduction), the Cancer FLT 555 Paste-Up Message was mailed from Sacramento to the Sacramento Bee newspaper, containing the wording "Action Guide, Watch, Want, Zodiac, Birds Fly South, Hidden, FLT 555 and Magic Amulet." The word "watch" has some relevance, regarding the missing "unique wristwatch" from the body of Leona Roberts, however, the phrase "Birds Fly South" may hold the biggest clue of all. Was the 'Cancer' card representative of the abduction of Leona Roberts and the invasion of her 'home' by an unwanted presence? A deadly invader of sorts. Her "cause of death was reported as "due to viral infection of an unidentified species."
The following day, December 11th 1969, a similar paste-up message was postmarked Fairfield, and mailed to the San Francisco Newspaper Printing Company, P.O. Box 3100, Rincon Annex, San Francisco. If Leona Roberts was one day into her captivity and was to be held under duress for several days to one week, then the December 11th 1969 mailing was the most pertinent communication of all. It was entitled DAY-BY-DAY FORECAST FOR LEO, containing the words "A THRILLING PHENOMENON" and "C HARRY OTT can be Ridden", along with FLT Three of a kind, Hangups, Hidden, Train, time, Now, dangerous ride, warring love emotions and Ember's Lucky. If Leona Roberts was being kept "hidden" in Fairfield, was the Zodiac Killer preparing to give us day-to-day updates and forecasts regarding the captivity and current status of Leona Roberts? The title of the communication may be a play on words by the Zodiac Killer: "DAY-BY-DAY FORECAST FOR LEONA ROBERTS". Unfortunately, the forecast for Leona Roberts would turn out deadly in a matter of days.
The murderer of Leona Roberts may have known the location he was going to dispose of her body in advance. The phrase "Birds Fly South" could very well be a reference to his chosen dumping ground of Bolinas Lagoon, somewhere he may have frequented on a regular basis. "One of the main attractions at Bolinas Lagoon are the millions of shorebirds and other waterfowl that visit the mudflats and quiet waters each year. The lagoon is one of the most important stopover points for birds that migrate along the Pacific Flyway. The lagoon is also home to a thriving population of harbor seals that can always be seen at low tide when they haul out to rest and replenish their depleted oxygen supply. Wildlife at this preserve should be observed at a respectful distance; seals that are flushed into the water suffer if they aren’t allowed to spend a minimum amount of time drying out. Birds may be exhausted and near starvation after having traveled nonstop for several hundred miles to reach the safe haven of the lagoon". Marin County Parks.
So, we have the 'Melvin Belli' letter and the December 10th murder of Frances Brown and abduction of Leona Roberts, linked by the wording in the correspondence, the "DAY-BY-DAY FORECAST FOR LEONA ROBERTS" mailed on December 11th 1969, and the dumping ground of Bolinas Lagoon, where "Birds Fly South".
Other crimes loosely linked to the Zodiac Killer (and close to Bolinas Lagoon) involve the hanging of Pat Tan on Mount Tamalpais on April 19th 1970 (one day before the '13 Symbol' cipher communication) and the 'Tamalpais Valley Attack' on Isobel Watson.
Isobel Watson (33) had just got off the bus on the evening of April 7th 1972, and was walking home along Pine Hill Road, Tamalpais Valley, Marin County at 9.00 pm, when a light colored vehicle veered towards her, knocking her to the ground. The driver exited his vehicle offering to take her home, but after she had refused his offer of apparent help a second time, the concerned citizen suddenly became enraged, pulling out a knife and stabbing the woman in the neck and shoulder. Her screams alerted the neighborhood, forcing the assailant into a hasty retreat from the scene. She was treated at Marin General Hospital and fortunately survived the brutal attack. Her description of the man alerted investigators to a possible Zodiac connection - that of a man with heavy rimmed black glasses, in his early 40's, 5' 9" in height and short brown hair. It was not overlooked by police that the killer had attempted to lure the woman into his vehicle, not dissimilar to the method employed in the Modesto abduction of Kathleen Johns. Napa County homicide detective Ken Narlow believed in a greater than 50-50 chance of a Zodiac connection, bearing in mind the description given by Isobel Watson.