Zodiac Killer

Discussion in 'The Zodiac Killer' started by morf13, May 28, 2009.

  1. PaulR

    PaulR Verified Software and Computer Tech

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    I remember when all stamps had to be licked. They even had sponges at the post offices so you could wet stamps that way. I think they even had them in some offices where a bunch of stamps would need to be moistened.
     
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  2. YESorNO

    YESorNO The Queen (aka "mrsmuir") SWBB

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    Why the Zodiac Killer Has Never Been Identified
    With his last known killing in October 1969, people still know very little about the murderer — including his name.


    "In 1968 and '69, the Zodiac Killer attacked seven people in four different Northern California locations. His first three targets were couples in secluded areas; two of these people survived. His last known victim was a taxi driver killed on October 11, 1969, in San Francisco. During and after his killing spree, Zodiac received attention and spread fear as he shared ciphers, letters, information and threats with authorities and the public. No murder has been officially linked to the Zodiac Killer since October 1969, but the unsolved case continues to fascinate....

    There are theories that the Zodiac Killer eventually stopped killing

    Though he'd claimed to be responsible for 37 deaths, no Zodiac victims have been discovered since 1969. Did he stop killing? Popular culture often depicts serial killers as operating under irresistible compulsions, but under certain circumstances, they can refrain from murder....

    ... in 2018, the Vallejo police department announced plans to submit some evidence in their possession for up-to-date DNA testing. A full DNA profile would make it possible to search open-source genealogy databases for a match. Another California killer, the Golden State Killer, was apprehended in 2018 thanks to this approach. But in the case of the Zodiac, no results have been reported thus far."

    https://www.biography.com/news/zodiac-killer-murder-identity
     
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  3. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    It is just over 50 years since the last known murder of the Zodiac took place, but Zodiac (or someone claiming to be Zodiac) continued to claim in a series of bizarre writings that there were many more victims.
     
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  4. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Former Member

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    I truly don't understand why people don't believe it is Hodel. It is insanely obvious the amount of connections that line. Hodel had everyone under his thumb. He treated celebrities, the police, gangsters for STD's often. He performed abortions. He had dirt on everyone! His IQ was 1 point lower than Einstein's. His surgical skills were precise. Plus the connections to the surrealists and May Ray. Look up his pal Fred Sexton's history He was the art designer of the Maltese Falcon statue from the film. After Hodel's incest trial, isn't it interesting how Hodel, May Ray and Fred Sexton all left the country at the same time.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "The LAPD put Hodel under surveillance from February 18, 1950 to March 27, 1950. They installed two microphones in his home, which were monitored by eighteen detectives. They wanted to see if Hodel would make any comments to insinuate that he was involved in Elizabeth Short’s murder. Most of the transcript is dull at first, with Hodel having sex, berating his secretary, and talking about money problems. However, on February 19, 1950, there is something horrific in the recording.

    8:25pm. “Woman screamed. Woman screamed again. (It should be noted, the woman not heard before the scream.)”

    Later the same day, Hodel was recorded talking to his confidant.

    Realize there was nothing I could do, put a pillow over her head and cover her with a blanket. Get a taxi. Expired 12:59. They thought there was something fishy. Anyway, now they may have figured it out. Killed her.”

    The surveillance routinely continued, catching an highly incriminating statement.

    “Supposin’ I did kill the Black Dahlia. They couldn’t prove it now. They can’t talk to my secretary any more because she’s dead.”

    The secretary referred to in the transcript was Ruth Spaulding, who died from a drug overdose."
     
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  5. Yazzyy

    Yazzyy Former Member

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  6. Manwel

    Manwel Well-Known Member

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    Damn. The details surrounding those two calls and the nature of the language, that sounds like him alright. This says the prints and ballistics data were submitted for AFIS in December 2019. What are the odds they might get a hit on something? How long might it take for all of that to appear? When you submit to AFIS, if there is a match to another record, is there some kind of alert that shows the match, or do you need to check the information against specific other records to find matches? (Is it automatic or manual, basically?)
     
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  7. Manwel

    Manwel Well-Known Member

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    I finished Robert Graysmith's book today and while I know it's not popular among some folks for being a bit silly in places, it's obvious which parts of the book are intrusive observations from the author and which parts are his very careful research. And I've seen some websites try their darnedest to claim they did better research by incorporating Google Maps images instead of maps provided by the towns from 50 years ago, or by overstating how important it is that Graysmith said one thing and really it was across the street. Who cares? That's not terribly important. The man chased around a lot of leads and earned the trust of many police in the area who felt comfortable sharing their files. That's significant to me, not if he correctly identified a corner or actually the fire hydrant 20 yards from the corner or whatever. Graysmith says he found a secret road in one book. Some folks online say because it's not a map it isn't real? OK, Sherlocks. (Waiting for someone to go drive around looking like Graysmith did.)

    Anyway, never mind the obsession with ALA, I was really intrigued by the William Joseph Grant/Andy Walker details. That one really stood out even though he was older. But what I was really curious about is whether Morrill/Graysmith were correct about their theory that Zodiac traced out his messages. Is there any more recent evidence/research about that angle?
     
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  8. FOXINBOX

    FOXINBOX Well-Known Member

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    Can anybody tell me if the Zodiac letters, codes etc. were subjected to UV light examination, and if so, what, if any, results were had, and where I could find online copies? Thanks
     
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  9. Ozoner

    Ozoner Well-Known Member

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    I don't know much about UV light examination. What is the purpose of it? What could show up under UV light? Bodily fluids? Are you hoping to find a new DNA source? If not, then I'm not sure what you're driving at.
     
  10. minazoe

    minazoe Well-Known Member

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    Oceanside, compelling. mOO
     
  11. FOXINBOX

    FOXINBOX Well-Known Member

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    Well...no, not DNA, but ciphers used to be examined under UV to see "invisible" writing that was commonly used in covert correspondence
     
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  12. tnith

    tnith Well-Known Member

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    UV would have been used to find evidence of prints, no? Interesting idea, I'd not seen anything confirming methods of examining evidence.
     
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  13. FOXINBOX

    FOXINBOX Well-Known Member

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    I just want reassurance that there was nothing missed in these codes or ciphers - Zodiac calls them ciphers, I believe. Just a niggle I'd like to fix.
     
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  14. Polly Graf

    Polly Graf Well-Known Member

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    Thought I’d add my ideas on Z, then I’m gonna take cover while you all tear them apart lol!
    This was the first case I really immersed myself in, I suddenly realised about 10 years ago that I didn’t know much about the Zodiac case and then when I found there were unsolved ciphers I was hooked. I’ve never made any attempt to identify him but I feel like I figured a few things out about him and the type of guy he was at that time….

    I don’t see Z as a serial killer in the usual way, okay he is technically because he’s taken 5 lives but I don’t believe he was ever fulfilling a need, desire or urge to kill like most other serials and therefore stopping was no problem for him.
    For me, the crucial point of this story comes in the 2nd week of August 69, but I’ll lay out the important parts of the timeline in order!


    So if we start before the beginning with Cherry Jo Bates, I know lots of people think this was Z but I don’t agree, Cherry Jo’s murder was really brutal, her throat had been cut so deep she was almost decapitated according to reports. That murder is filled with rage, most probably aimed directly at the victim and I don’t see anything in the Zodiac crimes that resembles it. Z’s attacks feel more like assassinations to me, with him getting nothing out of them except taking lives. I also don’t think that someone that committed such a brutal attack in 66 would have made such a bad job of stabbing 2 people in 69, with Brian Hartnell surviving and Cecilia Shepherd only dying after 2 days in hospital.

    So why did he start? Well we can only guess but I’ve never understood why people think he was particularly intelligent, personally I think he was a loser, a nobody desperate to be somebody, getting gradually more angry at his life going nowhere while everybody else seemed happy, certainly in the latter part of the 60s anyway.
    Who knows what the final straw was, maybe a failed relationship or losing a job he liked, could have been anything like that that pushed him over the edge.
    I do think there’s a very good chance he’d been to Vietnam (definitely not doing any cryptography though), not because of the boot print but he’s clearly capable of taking someone’s life without dwelling on it or feeling guilt, seeing people shot in war maybe somewhat numbed him to death? I also think there’s a decent chance he’d tried to join the PD and been refused, it feels very central to his plan to prove himself smarter than them. Another thing that gives me the military feeling is his overall crime spree, it feels like a campaign of terror against society to me aimed at causing wide scale panic with the PD looking useless at the heart of it, so I think it’s quite likely he saw his attacks simply as missions he needed to complete to achieve his larger goal, rather than murders he had some twisted desire to commit.


    20 December 1968. He shoots 2 people dead at Lake Herman rd, doesn’t linger around, just fires multiple shots to get the job done and gets himself out of there! Why them? It may be that he felt particularly annoyed at young couples when he felt his own life sucked but I tend to think it was more about location, simply where he could find 2 people isolated and get away with it easily.
    He doesn’t start sending letters afterwards and just lays low for 7 months, before striking again. That was one of the biggest puzzles to me, WHY such a long gap? My theory is that it was because it was his first major crime and afterwards he was panicked about now being guilty of a double homicide. I imaging him scouring media for quite some time, paranoid that there was going to be a lead in the case and then a knock on his door, so maybe it just took him 6-7 months to regain his composure and confidence to continue?

    4 July 69. He attacks again, very similar to the first crime, a blitz attack on a couple in an isolated location, except this time one of them survives! At this scene though he initially pulls in behind them then drives away again before returning to commit the crime, is this hesitation? It could be he saw another car somewhere and didn’t want any witnesses but I tend to think he got a little overwhelmed by what he was then going to do and drove away for a few minutes to get his head together.

    31 July 69. The SF Chronicle, SF Examiner and Vallejo Times all receive 1 section each of the first cipher, demanding it be printed on their front covers or he’ll go shoot a dozen people! This to me is the real start of Z’s plan and game, I believe the 2 crimes he’s committed so far are just to get him into position to be able to start this correspondence and cause fear.
    As for the cipher itself, I don’t know how many of you have ever really looked at them closely, but if you spend an hour or 2 reverse engineering this first one you’ll soon see there’s nothing at all complicated or clever about it’s construction, it’s created in pretty much the same way any of us would have done it, he started with 1 symbol for each letter then thought how he could make it much harder and just decided to use a load more symbols for many of the letters, NO reason to think he had any cryptography experience at all, if anything it kinda proves that he didn’t, if you do sit and decode it back to its key you’ll also notice he doesn’t even shuffle the order he uses the symbols in, the symbols for every letter repeat in perfect sequence right through the message, proving that he was sitting there with the key beside him carefully coding it letter by letter.

    4 August 69. The “Debut of Zodiac” letter arrives, proudly naming himself and teasing PD with the idea that his identity was in the cipher, in my opinion he thought that first cipher was going to take much longer to crack and just wanted the PD to waste even more resources on it. I’m almost certain he never had any intention of giving away any real clues to who he was at all.

    8 August 69. The most critical date in the whole case I think, starting with Donald Harden decoding the cipher, much quicker I imagine than Z expected. But it’s what happens over that night and the following night that I think is the crucial missing piece from the timeline….the Tate/LaBianca murders in LA!! I’m not suggesting the crimes are linked at all, just that they really bothered Zodiac and threatened to steal his limelight!
    I have no idea how heavily reported those murders were in SF but I would imagine it was the headline everywhere considering Sharon Tate’s fame and the reality of the press coverage doesn’t much matter, it’s how Z perceived it that’s important! Try and put yourself in his head, he’s spent 8 months now putting his plan into action and has only jussst started communicating with the press a week and a half earlier, he’s had his ciphers on the front page and everybody talking about him then suddenly he’s hit with this curve ball, 7 dead in 2 nights and way more brutal than his own crimes! I think he felt upstaged and worried he was going to become yesterday’s news very quickly and this made him speed up his timeline, change his MO and make mistakes.
    Before the Manson murders, he never tries to claim any extra kills and the only threat he makes is to get his cipher on the front cover, he’s quite content proving that he committed the 2 shootings! By the time he writes again the murders will be over with and the ******** will begin!

    Now I believe he’s thinking how to become even more feared so he plans a completely different attack, it’s during the day, it’s going to be sooner than they may expect, he’s going to use a knife and he’s even now gone to the trouble of making a creepy Zodiac costume, he’s also going to take the murders out of Vallejo, again just trying to spread the fear wider.

    27 September 69. Lake Berryessa, he parks up then dressed in his Zodiac costumes walks for several minutes before coming to Cecilia Shepherd and Brian Hartnell. This was another thing I always found weird, why wear the costume then tell them he’s an escaped prisoner heading to Mexico? I can only assume it was because he felt nervous about getting them under control, worried they’d scream and run if they knew he was a killer, I don’t believe he was very comfortable committing this attack at all! I’ve seen a lot of people say this shows an escalation but I don’t believe it’s one he wanted, he’s just trying to increase the horror with a knife and the uncertainty with the different location and time of day.
    He still doesn’t write any more letters yet, I think he still feels he hasn’t done enough to match the horror of LA.

    13 October 69. Now he attacks in SF itself, lots of people seem to need to link him to moving there at this point and I don’t understand why….Vallejo isn’t very far away and I think the whole purpose of this attack was to spread the fear into city. I think he attacked a cab driver because he didn’t know the area well and didn’t know where he’d find a couple alone, so the next easiest thing he could think of was a cab driver. He parked fairly close to the freeway had the cab bring him to a few blocks away from his car and was rather lucky he didn’t get caught.
    I think he very likely decided that very same night or the following morning (possibly even before the Stine murder) that he was done with the attacks and would just continue his reign of terror with lies and false threats, by this point they proved just as effective.


    So the following day he writes to the newspaper again, proving he’s the Stine killer and also threatens a bus full of children. I don’t believe he ever had any intention to kill any children, attack a bus, plant a bomb or anything else he threatened after this point, it was just whatever popped into his head that would create panic.
    I also think it’s quite likely he was either drinking heavily or using a lot of drugs, probably increasing around this time, just based on some of the nonsense in his later letters.
    Either way I believe he enjoyed keeping the PD chasing shadows while he continued sending odd letters and cards for the next few years, trying to claim other people’s kills and constantly increasing his supposed number of victims, I suspect in reality his life was starting to improve at this point and by 74 he’d moved on from all this and went on to live a normal life. I feel like the New York letter could well have been him but I’m not sure, anyway I don’t believe he committed any more murders, if he did it would only be because somebody figured him out!

    Hopefully genetic genealogy or a future forensic breakthrough will put us all out of our misery but I doubt the PD really have his fingerprints and I’m doubtful about the DNA too.


    Having said all that I do think Arthur Leigh Allen is still a very viable suspect, there are too many links and coincidences to exclude him until someone else is proven guilty.
     
  15. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    Polly Graff,

    A very well written and thoughtful post. Of particular interest to me is your observation concerning the effect that the Tate/LaBianca murders may have had on Zodiac, and his response to the Manson "family" stealing his thunder.

    This is exactly the same reaction that Ted Kaczinsky had to the Oklahoma City bombing, likely causing him to move up in time a bombing that he planned for a later date.

    As you point out, the first two Zodiac attacks (December '68 and July '69) were against essentially defenseless young couples, done quickly with a firearm, and with no interaction or touching of his victims. In both of those cases he probably conducted a "clearing turn" with his car to see if there were any other cars or witnesses in the area before he made his attack. Perhaps the reason that there were no other such attacks between December and July was that he did not find the conditions to his liking, and backed out of killing anyone.

    The fact that he managed to kill only five of the seven people he attacked is evidence that he was not an experienced killer.
     
  16. FOXINBOX

    FOXINBOX Well-Known Member

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    Lots to think about in Polly's post, but not sure about the impact of the Manson murders on Z compared with everything else in 1968/1969.

    December 21 1968; Lake Herman attack
    and launch of Apollo 8 also pagan Yule Festival
    July 3: Death of Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones
    July 4 1969 : Blue Rock Springs attack on Independence Day
    July 16-27 Apollo 11 Moon Landing
    July 17 or 18 Death of Mary Jo Kopechne and scandal with Edward Kennedy
    Aug 4 Zodiac letter
    Aug 8 Manson Murders
    Aug 15-18 Woodstock
    Aug 17 Hurricane Camille
    Sept 20 John Lennon quits the Beatles
    Sept 24 Trial of the Chicago Eight
    Sept 26 Abbey Road album released
    Sept 27 Lake Berryessa attack
    Oct 11 Presidio Heights attack:
    Columbus Day

    Some other Z-oddities...
    Cheri Jo Bates's mother died the day of the Blue Rock Springs attack [4th July 1969]; Cecelia Ann Shepard shared a birthday and birthplace [1st Jan, Indian subcontinent] with Dixie Lee Schaefer Arensen [disappeared Aug 25 1968]; Paul Stine shared a birthday with Arthur Leigh Allen, and both shared that date with the perpetration of the Piltdown Man Hoax

    My thoughts - None were random.
    Lake Herman. A "hands-free" murder.
    Possibilities: Mistaken identity? Or some sort of judgement on them for "Parking"... Or a punishment aimed at their family... or even a hit, because there were some complicated issues in the family.

    Blue Rock Springs
    Almost identical scenario and motives, big moral judgements. It is worth noting that Dee's dad had been given a "Best Dad" award a few days prior.

    Lake Berryessa. Different killer, different MO but similar motives. Bryan & Cecelia were Seventh Day Adventists, and Saturday is their sabbath...

    Presidio Heights
    Not exactly hands free, but a very minimal murder. It seems to be a murder of expediency i.e because the killer was recognized, or again punishment. Washington and Cherry "I cannot tell a lie" - did Paul attempt a bit of a fare-raiser by going "Round the houses"?
     
  17. FOXINBOX

    FOXINBOX Well-Known Member

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    OOOOOOOOOOps
     
  18. CaMan60

    CaMan60 Member

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    Reading over the list of crimes and than looking at what happened with the Manson family.
    The arrests of the Manson family making head line news should have been enough to stop the zodiac. Not sure when the news of Manson was made public. Something made him Change.
     
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  19. FOXINBOX

    FOXINBOX Well-Known Member

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    Unlike the Mansons, Zodiac left minimal forensic evidence. but he was generating quite a bit of press himself, and if caught, he faced consequences as serious as the Family did.

    Maybe he was shipped out to Vietnam, and never returned. Maybe he was relocated by his job. Maybe the reason he didn't get caught was because he was the Smartest Guy in the Room - otherwise we wouldn't be discussing him 50 years later LOL.

    Last thought, though...if the Manson Murders didn't [IMO] end the Zodiac's crimes, then maybe after "Helter Skelter", they hastened the end of the Beatles. The Fab Four would not have liked to be involved with the Tate-LaBianca horrors. John Lennon had only recently recorded "Give Peace A Chance".
     
  20. Winward1

    Winward1 Active Member

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    He mailed his DNA all over town.
     
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