On December 20, Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday went out on a day, saying they’d be home by 11pm. A driver noticed two seemingly lifeless bodies on the side of the road near Lake Herman Road in Benicia. Police found Betty Lour dead with five bullet wounds in her ack. David was found next to the Rambler with a bullet wound in his head, still breathing but near death. Bullet holes were in the car’s rood and back, evidence that the killer ay have fired warning shots. Forensic firearm examinations showed the killer used a .22-caliber, most likely a J.C. Higgins Model 80 semiautomatic weapon. Shell casings found at the crime scene were identified as ammunition from Winchester Western Super X.
On the night of July 4, twenty-two-year-old Darlene Ferris picked up her friend Michael Mageau and stopped her Corvair in the parking lot of Blue Rock Springs Park. Surviving the attack, Michael told police that another vehicle pulled into the lot around midnight before leaving only to return minutes later. The driver exited the car, shined a bright light and then shot into the Corvair with a 9mm handgun. Darlene died from being shot several times, while Michael survived being shot in the jaw, shoulder and leg. At 12:40am, a man rang the Vallejo police department from a gas station.
“I want to report a murder. If you will go one mile east on Columbus Parkway, you will find kids in a brown car. They were shot with a 9-millimeter Luger. I also killed those kids last year. Goodbye.”
On September 27, Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard were relaxing on the shore of Lake Berryessa when a man appeared holding a gun. He wore a hooded costume with a white crossed-circle stitched over the chest. The man claimed to have escaped from prison in Montana and needed money and car to escape to Mexico, he then bounded their wrists with pre-cut lengths of plastic clothesline. The man plunged a large knife into Bryan’s back six times before stabbing Cecelia ten times as she fought for her life. The man drew a crossed-circle on the door of Bryan’s car with the dates and locations of the previous attacks, the date “Sept 27 69”, the time “6:30”, and the notation, “by knife”. At 7:40PM, a man called the Napa police department to report a “double murder”. He described Bryan’s car and in police of the whereabouts of the crime and confessed to the crime. Cecelia died two days later, but Bryan survived.
On October 11, Paul Stine, 28-year-old student who worked as a cab driver in San Francisco, picked up a fare headed for Presidio Height. At the intersection of Washington and Cherry Streets, the passenger shot Paul in the head and proceeded to remove a piece of the victim’s shirt. The man left just before police arrived at the scene. The police radio broadcast mistakenly described the suspect as a black man, and so passing officers dismissed a white man resembling the correct description. Fingerprints were found on the driver’s side of the cab that may have belonged to the killer and witnesses helped produce a sketch based on descriptions of the man. The case was considered a robbery until the office of The San Francisco Chronicle received a letter from “The Zodiac”. The letter began with “I am the murderer of the taxi driver.” The letter was accompanied by a blood-stained piece of Paul’s shirt. The Zodiac also threaten to shoot children on a school bus.
On March 2, Kathleen Johns left San Bernardino with her infant daughter to visit her sick mother in Petaluma. Kathleen was also seven months pregnant at the time. As she travelled on Highway 132, near Modesto, another vehicle pulled alongside her station wagon and the driver signalled that she should pull over. The driver next explained to Kathleen that the back wheel of her station wagon was loose, though he promised to fix it. Instead, he loosened the lug nuts and the wheel fell off as Kathleen drove away. The man offered to drive Kathleen to a gas station so she climbed into his car only to discover he had other plans. The man drove towards Tracy for two hours and threatened to kill her and her baby. Eventually, she jumped from the car and waited until a passing driver took her to a nearby police station. Months later a Zodiac letter mentioned “a rather interesting ride” with a woman and her baby.”
A cipher is a secret or disguised way of writing, otherwise known as a code. The Zodiac killer is known for his use of sending messages in ciphers. In all of the dozens of letters sent by the Zodiac to newspapers, four of them came with ciphers. Some were solved quickly, though some, still to this day, have not been solved though some claim to have cracked them.
The first cipher was of 408 characters sent July 31, 1969. The killer split it into three pieces and mailed it to two newspapers in San Francisco and one to a paper in Vallejo. The killer demanded they be printed or he would go on a “kill rampage”, and so the ciphers were published.
Within a week of being published, schoolteacher Donald Harden and his wife Bettye contacted The San Francisco Chronicle with their solution. Bettye guessed the message would begin with the word “I” so she figured out the crib for that letter. A crib is a cryptanalytic tool that determines a location of locations for a code. Bettye also assumed the word KILL or KILLING would appear in the message, she was right.
Although the code wad solved, the last 18 characters resulted in “EBEORIETEMETHHPITI”. Many believe they were simply put there as filler letters to make all three pieces of the code equal in size and it is almost impossible to decipher with 741,015,475,200 transpositions. Other believe it is an anagram for his name, as he stated that the police would “have him”.
On November 8, 1969, another cipher was mailed to The San Francisco Chronicle along with a humorous greeting card and a piece of one of the Zodiac’s victims’ shirt. The cipher challenged everyone and still to this day has no definitive solution. Though in 2011, Corey Starliper believed he solved the cipher. After everything symbolic was interpreted alphabetically, he began to use a reverse Caesar shift. The Caesar shift is a simple encryption technique which simply moves the letter down three places. For example and ‘A’ becomes a ‘D’. The pattern changed after a few line but he solved the rest of it the result end with the sentence “MY NAME IS LEIGH ALLEN”. Arthur Leigh Allen was a suspect in the investigation.
Z13 was Zodiac’s shortest cipher, sent in a letter to The San Francisco Chronicle April 20, 1970. “My name is -” appeared right before the cipher. A solution for the cipher that many believe is correct is “ALFRED E. NEUMAN”, the mascot of Mad magazine.
Zodiac’s 32 character cipher was mailed to the Chronicle with a map of the San Francisco Bay area. Zodiac said that the code would reveal where he set a bomb along with instructions “0 is to be set to Mag. N”. This indicated that Zodiac was above average intelligence.
Lawrence Kane was closely linked to the disappearance of Donna Lass, a possible Zodiac victim who disappeared in 1970 due to working at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel, the last place she was seen. Kathleen Johns also picked identified her attacker as Lawrence from a six picture line up. Darlene Ferris’ sister also claimed that Lawrence had been trailing Darlene up to the night she was murdered. As well as this, Lawrence suffered brain damage in 1962 and was diagnosed with an inability to control his urges for self-gratification. Due to spending a brief time in the United States Naval reserves, it is likely he had knowledge of coding.
Ross Sullivan worked at the library which Cheri Josephine Bates’ body was discovered near. A co-worker said Ross had made them uncomfortable from writing a morbid poem and he disappeared for a few days after the murder. Library staff noted that Ross did not show up for work on the day of Cheri’s murder. It was discovered that Ross’ brother Tim married a girl named Bonnie who was good friends with Cheri. Tim had also believed that Ross was the killer.
Ross also bore a striking resemblance to the sketch of the Zodiac Killer as well as wearing an army jacket and military style boots like the footprint found at the scene of Paul Stine’s murder. Ross When Ross moved to Santa Cruz, he was hospitalised for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Ross Sullivan died in 1977 possibly die to a heart attack; he was morbidly obese.
Arthur Leigh Allen was a major suspect in the investigation of the Zodiac Killer. He was portrayed as the main suspect in Robert Graysmith’s books. One of Allen’s friends told police that he had said he wanted to kill people and fasten a flashlight to a firearm, the same way Zodiac did. Allen wore a Zodiac-brand watch that had the same symbol used by the killer on the design of the watch. Allen also owned the same calibre guns used in a Zodiac shooting and when he mentioned bloody knives in his car during a police interview, he told police they were used for killing chickens. Police further investigated Allen in 1991 after they were informed that he had been boasting about killing a cab driver. At that time, surviving victim Michael Mageau identified a photo of Allen as the killer. Darlene Ferrin’s sister Linda also identified Allen as the man who had been stalking Darlene.
Arthur Leigh Allen died of a heart attack in 92.
Why ruled out: Allen was ruled out as. Suspect because he didn’t match witness descriptions of the killer. His fingerprints also did not match those that were found on Paul Stine’s cab and thought to be the Zodiac’s. His home was searched twice and no incriminating evidence was found. And although it is believed he was purposely writing differently, neither his left or right handwriting samples matched the handwriting of the Zodiac.
Richard Gaikowski was brought to the attention of investigators by an informant who went by the name ‘Goldcatcher’ to protect his identity. Goldcatcher worked with Gaikowski at a Bay Area newspaper and began making 10 hours of recordings of Gaikowski after being convinced he was the zodiac killer. According to the informant, Gaikowski knew too much about the killings and the details of them. Gaikowski worked at the non-conformist Good Times newspaper and the day of its main operations, Wednesday, was the only day the Zodiac failed to send a letter to authorities. Gaikowski was also a trained medic in the army, so hypothetically he could have owned military boots that matched those that left the footprints at the third crime scene. His place of work was located approximately 1.5miles from the approximated area where victim Paul Stine was thought to have picked up the Zodiac Killer. Gaikoswki closely resembled the sketch of the Zodiac Killer and after hearing his voice year later Nancy Slover, the police dispatcher who took a call from the Zodiac on July 5th 1969, said it was the same voice that spoke to her back in 1969.
Why ruled out: Gaikowski was ruled out because ‘Goldcatcher’ was a known conspiracy theorist with little credibility. When Gaikowski was interviewed by Napa police, Gaikowski claimed to be out of the country at the time of the 1968 murders, but had lost his passport. Requests to compare a DNA sample from Gaikowski with the Zodiac’s was denied by San Francisco and Napa police.