Initial statements can become elaborated upon in time, so we will take Michael Mageau's early description of his assailant, where he described him as short, possibly 5'8'', heavyset, with a beefy build, but not blubbery fat, around 195-200 lbs, short curly hair in a military style cut, combed up in a kind of pompadour, light brown, almost blond. He was between 26-30 years of age and was not wearing glasses, but made reference to the fact that he could not recall anything unusual about his assailant, other than he had a large face.
The brutal stabbings at Lake Berryessa was the only time the killer engaged in any known protracted dialogue, thereby lending to the notion that the murderer may have unwittingly revealed key elements to his identity during his close interaction with surviving victim Bryan Hartnell. During his conversation with Bryan Hartnell the killer stated, "I just got out of ......some prison in Montana". Later in an interview with Sgt John Robertson at the Queen of the Valley Hospital, just one day after the attack, Bryan Hartnell tried to recall the name of the prison, "it's some double name, like Fern Lock or something," and when aided by Sgt John Robertson saying "It's Lodge", Hartnell replied "Oh yeah, yeah at least we know we're together on that." The police sergeant would suggest "Mountain Lodge Prison, or something of that nature," and Hartnell said "Yeah. You know he broke out and had to kill a guard getting out".
On December 17th 1968, aged 32 years, Donald Lee Bujok was released from Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge Valley, approximately 3 and one half miles from the town of Deer Lodge, after serving 11 years for the slaying of Undersheriff Otto Fossen in 1957. Was this the moment in the dialogue with Bryan Hartnell that the impenetrable Zodiac Killer became human for just a brief moment in time, to possibly reveal clues to his identity that for so long he promised in his cryptic ciphers and later communications with police? A transcript of Bryan Hartnell's conversation with the Zodiac stated that the assailant revealed "I'm on my way to Mexico, I escaped from Deer Lodge Prison in Montana, Deer Lodge. I need some money to get there".
Bryan Hartnell described his attacker as having brown hair, 225-250 lbs in weight and 5'8''- 6'0" in height, but admitted he was a poor judge of height because he was so tall. Nevertheless, it was similar to the description given by Michael Mageau.
Cecelia Shepard, who was still conscious when Deputy Dave Collins arrived on the scene, was told by Shepard that her assailant was "just may'be a little taller than you, may'be an inch". Deputy Collins was 5'10". At that particular time, records held by Kevin Robert Brooks had Donald Lee Bujok at 5'10'', although his driving license records stated 5'11''. He also weighed 225 lbs.
Bryan Hartnell also added, that the man spoke with a drawl, a form of slow drawn out speech pattern - and later during the interview with Deputy Collins described the man's voice as a unique way of talking. Kevin Robert Brooks highlighted the fact that Donald Lee Bujok suffered from a pronounced speech impediment, in which he gained control of in time by speaking in a slow monotone manner, apparently mistaken as a drawl.
The police dispatcher who took the call in the early hours of July 5th 1969 was 26-year-old Nancy Slover, who described the voice as mature, without accent, who spoke even but consistent, soft but forceful, as if reading from a script. However, it is equally conceivable the killer may have been speaking the way he always did, applying control in the monotone fashion that was now as natural to him as the murderous rampage he had recently embarked upon.
These are the questions Kevin Robert Brooks has wrangled with, in his conviction and search for the truth behind America's most infamous serial killer. Despite all the correspondence, cryptograms, and cat and mouse games employed by the man labeling himself the Zodiac Killer, could the answer simply lie somewhere three and a half miles west of Deer Lodge, that fell from the mouth of a killer one fateful September afternoon?