CA CA - Donna Lass, 25, South Lake Tahoe, 6 Sept 1970

chlban

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Good questions. I posted the above as it appears on the website.

I do not know why police believe that the call was a hoax. Personally, I feel that the caller was the one responsible or involved in her disappearance. Obviously the information about a family emergency was a lie - possibly meant to allay suspician about her absence for a period of time.

The bits of information posted always beg other questions. For instance, "Her last entry in the nurse's log book was at 1:50 a.m...." Does this mean she left work about that time? What were her shift hours? What kind of log entries did she usually make? Were they hourly, or just as things happened? The statement does not tell us when Donna left the Cassino.

Here is another example; "... her car was found parked at her apartment complex in nearby Stateline..."

So did she normally drive to work? Were the keys in the car? Her purse, clothing, etc? Again, the statement does not tell us much.

And Items belonging to Donna found in a grave??? Were they actually hers? Was the "grave" found where "Zodiac" or some caller said it would be? How thoroughly was that area searched? Could it be that a killer buried her in a secluded spot, and then decided to bury other items of hers nearby to get rid of evidence? Maybe the police stopped looking after finging the buried objects...

There probably are other clues which the police investigators have regarding Donna's disappearance, but have not released.

Regarding the "Zodiac" letter, it could be a number of different scenarios, as I have mentioned in a previous post in this thread. It is interesting that Donna Lass was previously employed at a hospital at the Presidio, in San Francisco, CA. - near the Paul Stine murder site. Some feel that there was more than just a coincidence in Donna's disappearance and Zodiac's aparent interest in her.

But I don't recall there ever being any confirmation of the Zodiac connection, other than researchers connecting it to his "Peek through the Pines" card.

Seems to me if it had been Zodiac the phone call would have been more
direct and he would have simply taken credit, as he liked to do.
 

deca

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CAUTION
UNVERIFIED INFORMATION!

I was reading another site (zodiac related) and a couple of people claim to have more information. One person had been in contact with Donna's older sister and another person spoke with a detective years after Donna's disappearance.
Anyways, FWIW, there are some points of interest that are UNVERIFIED by MSM. Since this case is so old I thought it would be okay to discuss.
-Donna was to get off work at 2am. Her last log entry, a woman, was contacted by the PD and she said Donna seemed to be in a good mood.
-Donna's nurse uniform had mud on it and was in her nurse's office in a bag.
-There was a downward slash (like a pen mark) going down the page of her logbook.
-her apartment was looked at and it seemed neat and undisturbed, but there was a light left on in the bathroom.
-the PD didn't take the case seriously
-no one saw her leave the casino
 

Richard

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CAUTION
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I was reading another site (zodiac related) ....
-Donna was to get off work at 2am. Her last log entry, a woman, was contacted by the PD and she said Donna seemed to be in a good mood.
-Donna's nurse uniform had mud on it and was in her nurse's office in a bag.
-There was a downward slash (like a pen mark) going down the page of her logbook.
-her apartment was looked at and it seemed neat and undisturbed, but there was a light left on in the bathroom.
-the PD didn't take the case seriously
-no one saw her leave the casino


Interesting points.

It is true that Donna's case has never been PROVEN to be the work of "Zodiac" - in that there is no conclusive evidence. It is, however, linked to the Zodiac case because of the "Peek Through the Pines" card which he sent hinting that he was responsible for her disappearance. As I stated, the truth about the card could have been a number of different things - one of which could have been that Zodiac was only trying to take credit for her disappearance. He is known to have done similar things in other instances.

- Donna's uniform being soiled with mud and apparing in a bag in her office is odd. If she had changed into other clothing to go home, logic would be for her to bring the soiled uniform home with her to be washed. It is possible that someone else put the muddy uniform in the bag and placed it in her office after she left the cassino.

- A diagonal pen slash down a log book page is something normal in military log keeping. It would begin at the bottom of the last line and extend diagonally down to the bottom corner of the page. Usually it would contain also the statement "No further entries this page" or simply "NFE". It is also usually signed or initialled by the log keeper. Donna did have experience working in a military hospital prior to her employment at the cassino.

My speculation is that someone (possibly from the Cassino) followed Donna to her home and abducted her as she got out of her car and before she could enter her apartment. She was probably murdered and her body buried. Some of her possessions later found by the perpetrator (either in his vehicle or at a place he took her) were then also disposed of.

The person who wrote the alleged Zodiac "Peek through the Pines" letter might have been the actual perpetrator, or he might have worked at the cassino, or with the police to obtain information about the case.
 

Markybug

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Interesting re the mention of a shallow grave with donna's possessions , is this fact? I can't recall this being mentioned before. I wonder if a cadaver dog was used?


Mark.
 

STANDREID

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I wonder why Donna was not mentioned in the movie that was based on Graysmith's book (and Johns was). She is featured rather prominently in the publication.
 

kline

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Donna's disappearance is only mentioned in passing in the recent movie "Zodiac".

The book upon which the movie is based was written by Robert Graysmith, a political cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle at the time of the killings. Graysmith is the main character of the movie and much of what is in the movie is also covered in his 1986 book.

The book covers Donna's disappearance and link to Zodiac in more detail. Basically, an advertisement about a new housing subdivision in Tahoe, which appeared in the Chronicle was clipped out and pasted, along with newsprint which read "Peek through the pines", and sent as a message allegedly from Zodiac to the paper.

Not much more information was given, but it coincided with Donna's disappearance.

A possible link to San Francisco was that Donna had lived in San Francisco and had worked at Letterman Hospital there prior to moving to Lake Tahoe. Some investigators thought that Zodiac might have followed her there and killed her.

A problem is that Donna has always remained "missing". No body was ever found, as was the case with all of Zodiac's known victims.

It is possible that her abductor/killer sent the message so that Zodiac would get blamed for it.

It is also possible that Zodiac himself did not kill her, but only wrote the note in order to claim (falsely) that he had killed her. The message lacked the great detail that Zodiac had put into his earlier letters.
Im very much up in the air about Zodiacs involvement in this.
His usual style seemed to be a Blitz attack on strangers and leave them where they fell.
Some feel he had a personal involvement with one of his early victims Darlene Ferrin....so perhaps he knew/fixated on Donna Lass as well and thats where he got the private info.
Of course some also feel he was capable of claiming credit for crimes he didnt commit.
If so he was very lucky because none of those crimes have ever been solved and attributed to someone else in 40 plus years.
And the contacting of an employer speaks of someone in her circle trying to buy time and lay cover....not very Zodiac Like.
 

STANDREID

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Do we know if Donna's roommate was home when she left work?
 

meanmaryjean

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Following. I'd like to see justice for fellow nurse.
 

rosesfromangels

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I would look first and foremost to the Casino for my Perp.
Who, among the staff left the employment of the casino a few days before or after her disappearance?
Was everyone interviewed that she had treated within a week of her disappearance?
Were her colleagues that were interviewed remember her talking about anyone that was making her uncomfortable or giving her "the creeps?"

While it's certainly possible she fell victim to a serial killer, I think it's more likely this was some obsessed coworker.
 

kline

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I just checked Steve Hodel's Zodiac book and Donna Lass is not in the index - that's surprise.
What?? A murder in the last 150 years that Steve Hodell DOESNT think his father commited???.....are you sure you checked the index carefully?
 

kline

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I wonder why Donna was not mentioned in the movie that was based on Graysmith's book (and Johns was). She is featured rather prominently in the publication.
I seem to remember from the directors commentary that they had decided they werent going to use anything there wasnt some sort of witness to that would require them to essentially use supposition in re-creating it.
Which is supposedly why they didnt show the David Faraday Betty Lou Jensen murder in December of 1968....no surviving witnesses except the Zodiac himself.
Mike Mageau was able to give somewhat of an account of the attack on Darlene Ferrin(for whatever its worth) and of course Bryan Hartnell survived the Lake Berryessa attack and a room full of partying teenagers witnessed the last part of the Paul Stein Murder in San Francisco.
Then of course we have Kathleen Johns herself for that account.
 

Richard

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Regarding Zodiac and his possible involvement...

The many murders and attacks which have been linked or possibly linked to the Zodiac case have to be considered on an individual basis. Zodiac may have been a combination of a number of people:

- Obviously, there was the killer who took credit for some pretty hideous murders through his letters to the press.
- Then there could have been murders that he wanted to take credit for (but did not really commit).
- Copy cats could have committed some murders.
- Other killers might have sent letters or made phone calls trying to get a crime attributed to "Zodiac" in order to throw police off the correct trail.
- Investigators or writers may have tried to connect unsolved murders or attacks with the published Zodiac cases/possible cases.

Although Zodiac (the true killer) MIGHT have abducted and murdered Donna (and that is certainly one avenue of investigation), it is also just a possible that she was abducted and murdered by someone else.

Donna's case will always be part of the over-all Zodiac story due to the "Peek through the Pines" letter/card attributed to Zodiac, but an open mind is needed to consider all possible scenarios for each unsolved case.
 

mom-a-licious

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THe "peek thru the pines" note, wasn't there an ad attached to that, about some condos being built in the Tahoe area? was that particular area noted in the letter, was it ever searched?

also just to say for some reason when i first read about that note, saw a photo of it also in a book or on a website...the words "peek through the pines" associated with this whole thing just absolutely creeped me out for some reason...still does. I've read quite a bit about this type of thing so why this particular phrase? wonder if the sender was really giving a real direction as to where DL might be found...

anyway just wondering about that area maybe being searched??
 

:+:MrTT:+:

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Back in 2011 some of us posted about lass? And assumed it was about Donna. Unless the 340 from then was incorrect. Just wanted to add since this was brought up on the banner.
Zodiac 340 Cryptogram Solution LASS
Zodiac is suspected in the murder of South Lake Tahoe, Nevada resident Donna Lass,
13 LINES DOWN
7COLUMNS OVER FROM THE LEFT
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A
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S
E
S
A
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Starry Night

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ZODIAC was my first interest in crime/killers. To this day-his whole story frightens me enough to keep the lights on at night if I read about him. Scariest person in modern history-to me.
What a mystery to this day...........

JMO
 

Richard

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In studying the Zodiac story and its many associated cases, one has to consider many possibilities and scenarios. If Zodiac was only one person, then his MO was constantly changing.

It is a pretty good bet that he actually committed the attacks on Jensen/Faraday, Mageau/Ferrin, Hartnell/Sheppard, and Paul Stine based on evidence pieces and on his writings. Even then, he used different pistols in each of his attacks so ballistics did not match.

Later, there were cases where he claimed involvement, yet another person was arrested and convicted.

The strongest Zodiac cases involved the killer using firearms and leaving the bodies to be found where he shot them. Donna, on the other hand was never found and there was no indication that she was shot or stabbed.

Donna Lass had some connections with San Francisco where the Zodiac seemed to be based. But she was living in Tahoe, CA at the time she went missing. Besides the "Peek through the Pines" letter attributed to Zodiac, what other clues are there to connect Donna to him? Were there other similar cases?

It would be interesting to see what Tahoe, CA investigators found regarding any possible relationships or acquaintances of Donna.
 

HesterMofet

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What I really want to know is HOW they found the "shallow grave" with Donna's personal items? Was it a random hiker or was there a tip called in?

There are a lot of crazy theories on Zodiac, including one that implicates the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.

If Donna Lass was killed by Zodiac, why bury her? Was there something about her that if investigated would lead right to him? That's the only reason I can see to "disappear" her. He was a pretty much drop 'em and leave 'em kind of killer, not hiding anyone that I have heard of.

But another issue is, if he didn't kill her, did he send the postcard and Christmas card? If he didn't kill her, how did he know she wouldn't be found? That either points to him being the killer, or knowing the killer. Or did the killer try to ape Zodiac?

Unfortunately, so much time has passed that I am afraid we will never know.
 

chlban

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ZODIAC was my first interest in crime/killers. To this day-his whole story frightens me enough to keep the lights on at night if I read about him. Scariest person in modern history-to me.
What a mystery to this day...........

JMO

He was my "first" as well. I was still a kid and living in Southern, not Northern, California at the time he was active. I still remember the news showing their rendiition of the whole get up he was reportedly wearing at the LB killings and he totally scared the bejesus out of me.

Can't say he still scares me because I beleive he is most likely dead, but he was certainly one scary dude in his day and a true mystery that will, IMO, never be solved.
 
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