"This is the Zodiac
A Definitive Overview and Analysis of the Zodiac Case, 1966-1974
On Line Since 2 August 1998
All Text Copyright 1997, 1998 by Jake Wark
Unless Otherwise Noted
"The Zodiac case is of particular interest because it may have been the
most cerebral murder case of all time. The case is full of unknowns. What
appears to have been unprovoked catharsis may actually indicate a
premeditated, cold-blooded act of instrumental aggression. Or does it?
What passes for craziness may really have been a well-planned scheme
to accomplish what the killer wanted. Or was it?"
-Dr. Jack Levin,
Professor, Sociology & Criminology
Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Between 1966 and 1969, at least five people were murdered in California by an unknown killer who called himself "The Zodiac." During this time and well into the early 1970s, he sent dozens of letters, codes, and diagrams to area newspapers detailing his crimes, taunting the police, threatening mayhem, and claiming to identify himself. Because these letters were usually riddled with misspellings and bad grammar, the killer was initially believed to be a "discretionary illiterate" [Footnote 1], with little education beyond popular films and novels, but a more thorough examination of his prolific writings seems to reveal a working knowledge of chemistry, geometry, and literature that points toward higher education. It was perhaps this misunderstanding that gave the killer the head start that has enabled him to confound no less than four local police forces, the California State Department of Justice, the US Postal Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Office of Naval Intelligence for over 30 years.
Because each major source for Zodiac information -- Robert Graysmith, Gareth Penn, Oswell & Rusconi, Harvey Hines, Nelson & Davis -- comes with its own suspect and attendant interpretation of details, none are truly complete. Invariably, too much attention is given to the links between the case and a particular suspect, and an accurate, impartial presentation becomes a low priority. For this reason, this page will not present any of the 2,500+ suspects considered by the aforesaid law enforcement agencies. Instead, it will present a narrative based on all these sources and many others that will avoid the swamp of suspect-specific reporting, and that will be equally valuable to the novice and the well-read investigator. By necessity, this narrative is in a constant state of revision as errors are noted and new information comes to light.
I am actively seeking Zodiac-related clippings, photographs, and documents of almost any kind. If you have such items, or if you have theories or analyses you'd like to share, please let me know through the e-mail link below or at the alt.true-crime newsgroup. Confidentiality is assured, and trades are welcome. Reproduction of the following text is encouraged provided that proper credit is given. If you would like a hard copy, complete with cited illustrations, please let me know.
My deepest thanks go out to Mike Butterfield, Pam Huckaby, Mike Kelleher, Doug Oswell, Gareth Penn, Roger Redding, Charles Reynolds, and especially Tom Voigt for their help and generosity, and to the many others who have assisted greatly in researching what follows.
Riverside Vallejo Lake Berryessa San Francisco Highway 132 Summer of '70 The Riverside Connection 1974
Press vs. Enterprise A Look at Lake Berryessa The Radian "Riverside and the Radian: An Open Letter to the RPD" "It's About Time" "The Zodiac Machine" The Latest from Gareth Penn "Zodiac -- The Man and his Crimes"
The Latest from Mike Kelleher
Notes Sources Links The Kinkead Letter Photo Album
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zodiac killer zodiac murders serial killers gareth penn robert graysmith jake wark