The murders threw up many theories, but one centered on a motive of jealousy, that possibly two individuals may have been responsible for the slayings. One young man became a person of interest after he and two accomplices were found to have raided and vandalized a local residence five months earlier, and may have become jealous upon hearing of the relationship between Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday. Early newspaper reports had initially indicated that two sets of ballistics had been found at the crime scene, from .38 and .22 weaponry, which was soon corrected. Friends of the couple were interviewed to search for a motive, in a 'shake the branches' and see what falls out technique, but alibis held strong and no credible suspects landed at their feet.
Sergeant Jack Mulanax, in charge after the Blue Rock Springs attack some 6 months later, believed all four attacks to be the work of the Zodiac Killer - a view not held by Sergeant John Lynch, who also investigated the Zodiac murders and concluded that the Lake Herman Road murders were separate to Blue Rock Springs, Lake Berryessa and Presidio Heights. The Lake Herman Road murders were belatedly attributed to the Zodiac Killer after the arrival of three letters to the Vallejo Times-Herald, San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle, postmarked July 31st 1969, along with his 'Debut of Zodiac' letter on August 4th 1969 with the immortal phrase "This is the Zodiac speaking". The Zodiac Killer laid claim to the Blue Rock Springs attack on Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau and the earlier murders in a phone call 40 minutes after the attack, and by letter just 27 days after that fateful night. It is only then he corroborates his involvement in the Lake Herman Road murders, seven months earlier. Taking into consideration these may have been his first murders under the Zodiac umbrella, it seems unusual that a man gripped by the spotlight of attention would choose to wait more than half a year before announcing himself to the world, subsequently unleashing a barrage of communications that may have continued into a new century.
His letters, cards and ciphers displayed forethought of murder, not just impulse. He had a plan to terrorize authorities to the nth degree, yet in the aftermath of Lake Herman Road he delayed his onslaught for just over seven months. Was this a rational choice of self preservation, or was he content to allow investigators to scrabble around searching into close connections of Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday due to the close proximity of his first crime to his residence? If these were his first murders, he may have applied greater caution, bearing in mind there may have been witnesses to his make of car and he may have retained possession of the firearm - and the dragnet widening to incorporate a wider field of view, would not have been in his interest. He may have been perfectly happy to watch the investigation follow a path that diverted away from what he knew was about to be realized -that northern California had a serial killer on its hands.
In the last article on this site, the small town of Benicia was earmarked as the likely residence of the Zodiac Killer, taking into consideration the timeline and movements of the killer, particularly after the first two attacks at Lake Herman Road and Blue Rock Springs. Again, we will explore this possibility, based on the mailing dates of his letters. Previously we stated that a serial killer will often begin his murders in a place of familiarity, close to home. The murderer wants to facilitate an escape route with minimal risk, as well as a speedy return to the safety of their residence, but not too close to bring the police to their doorstep, known in geographic profiling terms as a 'buffer zone'. It was noticed that his early crimes, based on a home residence in Benicia, began at Lake Herman Road, only 5 miles from southern Benicia, extending to 9 miles to Blue Rock Springs, 50 miles to Lake Berryessa and finally 40 miles to Presidio Heights - slightly less distance than Lake Berryessa - but as a general rule his crimes were becoming more spread as he gained in confidence.
As the radius of his murders widened, his immediate correspondence after each crime shortened. His first contact on July 31st 1969 was just over 7 months after the Lake Herman Road murders, but only 27 days after Blue Rock Springs. His murder of Paul Stine was the next furthest at 40 miles when he corresponded with the San Francisco Chronicle only 2 days later, when he mailed a swatch of Paul Stine's shirt on October 13th 1969. His third attack at the shores of Lake Berryessa attack, was the furthest from Benicia at 50 miles, where he wasted no time declaring himself the responsible, writing on the car door of Bryan Hartnell's Karmann Ghia just minutes after the attack. In other words, the further he was away from his home residence, the greater his compunction to correspond sooner, what is in effect, the offering of evidence that could be used against him. He possibly felt the risk was greatly reduced in police centering the investigation to letters and crimes with an increased 'buffer zone'.
The need for a significant delay between the Lake Herman Road murders and the August 31st 1969 letters may have been inherent of a man who knew he was just too close for comfort and the heat had to dissipate. To wittingly pull the investigation of the Lake Herman Road double murder away from the desired route it had taken, may have veered the focus away from family and friends - something the Zodiac Killer was keen to avoid with his residence closer than he would have liked.