The Zodiac killer’s apparent interest in The Mikado has long puzzled many researchers and detectives. Recently I came across several articles in the Stanford Daily newspaper from the Zodiac era, which began to intrigue me and so I decided to dig a little deeper. A picture started to emerge and I believe I may be able to offer some plausible reasons for the Zodiac’s sojourns into Gilbert and Sullivan opera and his apparent interest in compass directions. In order to get my head around the articles, I decided to write up a chronological timeline of events, cross-referenced with some of the Zodiac’s timeline (following).
Zodiac's "Stanford" timeline:
July 31st 1969: The Zodiac first introduces the concept of "Paradice" in his letters.
August 4th 1969: The killer uses the name “Zodiac” for the first time.
October 24th 1969: The Stanford Daily publishes an article written by Craig Wilson which lampoons the San Francisco Examiner's recent letter to the Zodiac. Basically intended as playful satire, the author went so far as to deride the Zodiac and invites him to their next staff meeting. It read;
'Let there be no more killing. But if you must, try Paul McCartney. Police say you are intelligent. If you are, give yourself up and face execution. You are being hunted everywhere in he state and nation. But don't get jumpy. You are alone in this world. Have you noticed that most of your friends have deserted you? You are as much a victim of your crimes as those whose lives you snuffed out. Of course you do seem to be in better condition. You cannot walk the streets a free man. Of course, we have no idea who you are. But you will be caught, there is no doubt. The police have staked out every school bus in town and Melvin Belli has been made a permanent guest on every talk show in the Bay Area. You face life as a hunted, tormented animal—unless you help yourself. Surrender. We have plenty of cages available. We ask that you give yourself up to The Daily. We offer you no protection, and no sympathy. But we do offer you the best medical help available and all the benefits your legal rights afford. We offer you the opportunity to transfer into our fine institution. We offer you a trailer in Manzanita Park. We offer you a ticket to see Stanford in the Rose Bowl. We offer you all the plastic cups we can produce with your signature and photograph. The food service has consented to feed you chocolate ice cream even if it isn't available. We offer you a plastic dolly. We offer you a seat in the balcony at the flicks. We offer you credit in Professor Erlich's Population Biology course. And best of all we offer to tell YOUR STORY! Why have you killed? We will give you everything. Your horoscope for today says your anger at society is unwarranted, that you will soon come into great fortune. We offer you a subscription to Fortune magazine. We invite you to our staff meeting on Monday at noon. Lunch is free. If you have other things to do, call the Daily anytime. Ask for anyone. We are a community newspaper. The telephone number is 321-2300 x 4632. Call collect, what the hell. Your call will not be traced. We cordially invite our neighborly newspaper The Palo Alto Times to give you a better deal. Just cut your hair and mumble "kk l hate radicals." Chances are they will make a more promising overture. Just remember Mr. Zodiac, you are being hunted everywhere in he state and nation. There is no safety for you, anywhere.' http://stanforddailyarchive.com/
October 31st 1969. Dr John I. Maurer publishes a letter that is very critical of Craig Wilson’s satirical article. It is interesting that Dr Maurer chastises the letter writer, rather than directly warn about the obvious dangers of riling the Zodiac! Dr Maurer calls the letter "stupid", "tasteless" and "inappropriate", and "distressing" because of its "callous insensitivity" towards people with mental health problems. Perhaps the good doctor was merely trying to appease the Zodiac in the event that the killer actually did read the comments? I believe the man in the following link is the Dr John Maurer from that time, but I could be wrong. See: http://health.usnews.com/doctors/john-maurer and Stanford Daily Archive October 31st 1969
Sandwiched between those two articles is one written by Marshall Schwartz which outlines a card "game". It contains diagrams showing NSWE seating. I found this very reminiscent of the Zodiac's NSWE compass diagrams which he provided in the Mt. Diablo letter.
Below this article is a review of The Mikado, which the Zodiac later refers to in his "little list" letters of 24 July 1970 and 26 July 1970. A very observant friend of mine spotted another possible Zodiac-related "clue" in that same edition of the Stanford Daily. It is hidden right next to another of the articles from Oct 31, 1969. Stanford Daily Archive October 31st 1969
And there is yet another very obvious “Zodiac” reference in the same edition (SEE RIGHT). The Stanford Daily, Volume 156, Issue 26, 31 October 1969 — Page 10 Advertisements Column 6 [ADVERTISEMENT].
Stanford Daily Archive October 31st 1969
The cartoon is interesting for another reason too. Charles Manson often expressed a deep admiration and respect for the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
There could well be more of these kinds of clues and references in those papers, that could be found with a bit more digging. I note for example that Steve McQueen is also referenced in an advertisement right next to the Electric Zodiac article, and we now know McQueen was one of the prominent people on the Manson Family's "death list".
I contend that the Zodiac did actually read the satirical letter in the Stanford Daily and he also read Dr. Maurer's reply. He has noticed the coincidental Electric Zodiac article on page 4 of that same newspaper, and has latched on to the NSWE diagrams and The Mikado article. I believe he has later adapted these ideas into his letters, Mt. Diablo map, and compass diagrams on 26 July 1970 and 26 June 1970 (e.g. "0 is to be set to Mag. N."), and his "little list" letters of 24 July 1970 and 26 July 1970. I therefore believe that the Zodiac got some of his ideas from the Stanford Daily issue of 31 October 1969.
Why he did this is anybody's guess. But in my opinion this may have been his way of replying to the derisive letter published about him on 24 October 1969. By referencing things from the newspaper and mixing them with implied threats, he was showing that he had not forgotten about the newspaper article.
This kind of behaviour is typical of a person that tends to hold grudges for a very long time. It is also highly suggestive of someone who is anti-social or sociopathic, perhaps also paranoid, and who obsesses over trivial details for very long periods.
This kind of person potentially has a photographic memory with a strong desire to continually recall and relive past events. We have seen ample evidence of this kind of ritualistic behaviour in other serial killers, such as “BTK”, Dennis Rader.
The title of Marshall Schwartz's article also interests me. He calls it "Doubled Up", which tends to refer to pairs of dice when referencing games of chance. And this makes me immediately think of the Zodiac's ideas of "games" and "paradice". The Zodiac may have intentionally spelt "paradice" that way in order to indicate an association with games and “pairs of dice”. However the Zodiac’s idea precedes the Stanford Daily articles by several months. In fact The Zodiac first introduces the concept of "Paradice" on 31 July 1969. But there is a semantic similarity evident between the words “Doubled up” and the Zodiac’s Mount “Diablo”.
The Zodiac drew the following creepy picture in the infamous Halloween “BOO” card that he sent to Paul Avery at the San Francisco Chronicle on October 27th 1970. The card was clearly intended to rattle Avery. It has been speculated that the card may have been the Zodiac’s retaliation for Avery having called him a “latent homosexual” in one of his articles.
November 5th 1969: Someone claiming to be the Zodiac calls emergency and threatens to be on Stanford Campus in 10 minutes. Two hours later, nobody showed. This was possibly a hoax perpetrated by a student, and the entire story may be fictional, as campus rags sometimes invented such stories simply for their shock value. According to the article writer, the police took the matter very seriously. I cannot verify if this event actually took place in the days prior to 5 November, but I have a feeling the story may be true. Given that the Zodiac appears to have "borrowed" or rehashed ideas from that newspaper and re-worked them for his own agenda, does make it seem like he had revenge on his mind.
October 12th 1974: Arlis Perry is murdered in STANFORD at the Stanford Memorial Church. The crime showed some of the hallmark modus operandi of the Zodiac killer. If he was responsible, was the Zodiac still enacting his revenge on Stanford? I wonder about this, given that the date of her killing was in October, the very same month in which Craig Wilson's satirical and mocking article appeared in the Stanford Daily !! Could the Zodiac have held a grudge for a full 5 years? I think he did, because less than 10 months beforehand he had repeated more lines from The Mikado in his so-called Exorcist letter of 29th Jan 1974: “He plunged himself into the billowy wave and an echo arose from the suicide's grave, titwillo titwillo titwillo”.
Another point to note is that on the page immediately following Craig Wilson’s mocking and taunting letter to the Zodiac, there appeared an article about the Catholic faith and an advertisement for the Stanford Memorial Church! Coincidence? Well yes, the placement of the Stanford Memorial Church ad and the articles clearly were the result of chance, as they were never intended for the Zodiac. BUT the Zodiac was most likely a psychopath! At the very least he showed the capacity to be a vengeful egotist. I am convinced that the Zodiac selected various ideas from the same editions of the Stanford Daily that contained articles pertaining to him, and he found ways to incorporate those subjects and themes into his revenge. His aim was basically to “mock” and taunt Stanford in return, using the only methods that he believed he could control.
The Zodiac’s Revenge on Stanford?
Now I am the first to admit I know very little about psychopaths or how they think, but I believe many a psychopath has made it their mission in life to exact revenge against the people who they think have wronged them. I believe the Zodiac was egotistical and vindictive, and also vengeful.
I may have already provided a plausible reason for the Zodiac's sudden interest in seemingly disparate things like The Mikado and compass directions. I now think these were all a part of his crazy and elaborate way of expressing his revenge on the Stanford Daily newspaper for having mocked and taunted him. But apart from the threatening phone call, it is highly likely that none of the staff or students ever noticed the connections with the things the Zodiac was to later write about in his letters. If it is a case of what came first the chicken or the egg, it is very clear to me that from the above timeline the Stanford Daily newspaper articles came first and the Zodiac's rehashing of subject matter relating to articles from those same newspapers came later.
Listed below are some of the murders that occurred on Stanford University, or which involved recent graduates of the university, that I think can possibly be attributed to the Zodiac. I know I may be getting into Charles Manson, Ted Bundy / Son of Sam “territory" here, but I think it also intersects with what we know about the Zodiac.
I personally think that the Zodiac was out for revenge because of that derogatory student article about him in 1969. He wanted pay back and decided to take away some of Stanford's bright young people as a form of retribution. And moreover, in his typically cryptic and overthe-top manner, he had even tried to “clue people in” to this fact, perhaps even to warn them.
By referencing things from that same issue of the Stanford Daily, such as The Mikado - from a page that coincidentally also mentioned the name Zodiac - he was telling everybody that he had not forgotten about the article that had humiliated him. We should also remember that the 1969 article by Craig Wilson had also presented him with an open invitation to visit the campus at a day and time of his choosing. I personally believe the Zodiac followed up on this invitation in his own way.
As for why he didn't go after Craig Wilson or any of the other newspaper staff, I think this is in keeping with the Zodiac's M.O. He never went after Paul Avery or anyone else from the San Francisco Chronicle. But he would kill somebody else in a seemingly random and unmotivated way as a form of “payback”. He killed as if in a predatory and opportunistic manner. For the most part, he seemingly selected his victims at random, but we also know from his attack on two civilians at Lake Berryessa that he may have stalked some of his victims beforehand. The elaborate costume that he wore in this case suggested considerable advance planning.
We know from his letters, that the Zodiac intended any attack on an individual to have far greater meaning than the death of an individual. It was intended as an attack on an entire city or place e.g. “San Francisco” or “society” as a whole. Basically he wanted families to suffer, schools to mourn, and whole communities to tremble in fear. It was very much an anonymous ego trip for him. So I think when he decided to enact revenge on Stanford, the same rules applied. He selected young campus students and graduates – people who were not only loved and cherished, but potentially among Stanford’s brightest and best and most beautiful.
As to why the Zodiac fell silent early in 1974 is anyone’s guess. Some experts believe he got nervous after almost getting caught leaving the scene of Paul Stine’s murder. It is therefore possible that he was deliberately keeping a low profile or he may even have skipped town. Others speculate he may have committed suicide or ended up in a mental asylum. He may have been incarcerated after committing some other offense that was not linked to the Zodiac case. Then he just “fell through the cracks”. Of course, another theory is that he just kept on killing, but had decided not to advertise and boast about his crimes like before.
I am not saying that all of the following murders can be attributed to the Zodiac, but I think some of them possibly could be.
March 24th 1974: Janet Ann Taylor, 21, daughter of former athletic director Chuck Taylor, was found strangled by hand near the intersection of Mayfield Ave. and Junipero Serra Blvd. The murder was strangely similar to Perlov’s: she too died by strangulation and was not molested. Her purses were missing and she was found barefoot in a raincoat. The theft of a trivial amount of money is reminiscent of the murder (attributed to the Zodiac) of taxi cab driver Paul Stine on 11 October 1969. Stanford Daily Article.
Photograph on left: King of Hearts
And of course the central shape is again highly reminiscent of common Masonic symbolism. Other researchers have noted similarities with Satanic symbolism and in some cases possible
And there was one more suspicious death involving a member of Stanford University.
July 18th 1976: Edward McNeill, postdoctoral researcher in chemistry, was found strangled and bound with adhesive tape in his Menlo Park apartment.
"A coroner's examination indicated that he may have been bound with adhesive tape and strangled. The body of Edward McNeill. 25. was discovered Tuesday night by his landlady and a friend in his apartment at 782 Coleman Avenue. The coroner's examination disclosed that he had been dead for approximately two days and tentatively designated strangulation as the cause of death. The examination also discovered traces of adhesive tape on McNeill's hands and mouth. "We're still in the preliminary stages of the investigation," said Deputy Chief Robert Brickley of the Menlo Park police." Stanford Daily Article.
Manson’s ATWA symbolism (see image on left) is remarkably like the Zodiac’s symbolism. This logically suggests the two identities may have been associated in some way. Many people claim the similarities are merely the result of coincidence or a desire for other anti-social types to "copy-cat" in order to gain publicity for their own crusades and agendas. It is of course possible that Manson merely borrowed the Zodiac's symbolism to help publicize his beliefs and agenda. Notoriety tends to breed notoriety, and we see other copycats like Son of Sam later trying to glom on to the Zodiac persona. Nevertheless there are some striking similarities in the symbolism. It would appear that some of the symbols used by the Zodiac were later rehashed by Manson, however some of Manson's symbols may have actually predated their use by the Zodiac. Here is a sample of ATWA symbolism from the Manson cult. Symbol for Air, Trees, Water, Animals. I cannot help but notice that the shape is very reminiscent of the body arrangement of Arlis Perry at the Stanford Memorial Church. There has long been speculation that either Manson or the Zodiac were responsible for her murder, however the finger has also been pointed at obscure Satanic cults.
Thanks again to Ray Jenkins.
Message to the Zodiac Killer