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Donna Lass, R.N. - Zodiac Victim



Donna Lass, 1970 at Age 25
Picture courtesy of Tom Voigt


Donna Lass was a pretty twenty-five year old woman with frosted blonde hair and blue eyes. She worked as a nurse at the Sahara hotel in Stateline, Nevada and was by all accounts a "good girl". On Labor Day, September 6, 1970 Ms. Lass disappeared and some believe she was abducted from work by the Zodiac killer.  The following day, a man called the Sahara Hotel to say that Ms. Lass was sick and would not be coming in. This man also called her landlord to tell him that she was leaving and not coming back. It was reasoned that the man who called had something to do with her disappearance, but authorities were at a loss to determine her whereabouts and feared the worst.

Zodiac's 10/05/70 postcard. Click for closer view. One month later the San Francisco Chronicle received a postcard paste-up. There were 13 holes (each one representing a victim) and a cross drawn with human blood on the card. (Ms. Lass' ?) Six months after she vanished another paste-up postcard was sent to the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner, and the Times. On the back of the card was a picture of Incline (death?) Village  

Zodiac's 3/22/71 postcard. Click for a closer the area of Lake Tahoe. The pasted-on words read: "Sought victim 12,"  "Pass Lake Tahoe areas," "Sierra Club,"  "Peek through the pines," and "around in the snow." As time passed, the disappearance of Donna Lass faded from memory.


In 1976, Mr. Otto Fredericks, the retired Postmaster of Norden, CA, was hiking just past Claire Tappan Lodge (very near Norden) when he discovered a circle of wood on the side of the path that was 14 feet in diameter. On the inside there was a square arrangement of wood and in the center of that, a triangle with a cross, composed of 13 stones.


The postcard that was sent to the newspapers shortly after Ms. Lass' disappearance stated, "Pass (Past/Path?) Lake Tahoe areas" and "Sierra Club". The Tappan Lodge was owned by the Sierra Club and built by them in 1934. The 13 stones comprising the cross fit with the October 1970 postcard that had 13 holes punched in it and a cross that was drawn in human blood.

Lass' glasses? Click photo for closer view.Mr. Fredericks carefully photographed the "gravesite" but it wasn't until several years later that his discovery was revealed to Harvey Hines, a former police investigator. Later, Hines informed Dave Peterson, a Zodiac expert and  retired police reporter.  Peterson later excavated the site.  A pair of woman's crushed sunglasses were found about 14 inches under the soil. The sunglasses were   

entirely green (frame and lenses) and were the same type supposedly worn by Ms. Lass. Earlier, when Peterson saw the photos of the site he immediately identified the structure ( of wood and stone) as Rosicrucian symbols, a society with which Charles Manson and Zodiac suspect Bruce Davis were very familiar. Peterson later mulled over the possibility that Ms. Lass' killer rhymed Donner Pass (the site was on Donner Summit) with Donna Lass. Zodiac had concocted a "poem" that referred to murder victim Cheri Jo Bates and inscribed it on a desk in 1966. 


Another point of interest is the fact that a former wife of Roman Polanski (husband of Sharon Tate, who was murdered by the Manson Family) was a Polish actress who's name was Lass.



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The Water Connection


Water held a very important place in the symbolic teachings of Celtic / Druid lore. Charles Manson studied these subjects and in at least one taped interview affirmed Druidism. Manson instructed the Family that, whenever possible, they were to conduct their "activities" near water or it's symbolic representation. As Manson went so went Bruce Davis - both believed alike.

Cheri Jo Bates was killed at
Riverside City College in Riverside, California. The killer's car was parked on Riverside Drive. In a typed letter the killer indicated that Bates was not the first.

Go back to 1963 and a couple was killed in Santa Barbara near
water. This case is unsolved. In 1964 the unsolved Seaside Honeymoon Murders in San Diego were committed right next to the ocean. In Zodiac's 1968 attack, the couple was murdered on Lake Herman Road, very near the lake itself. In 1969 Zodiac attacked a couple at Blue Rock Springs. He may have left the area using Lake Herman Rd. The killer made his phone call from the intersection of Tuolumne and Springs Road. In September of that year he attacked another couple at Lake Berryessa and made a phone call from near the Napa Car Wash. Came October and Zodiac murdered a cab driver in San Francisco on Washington St. very near to a fire hydrant. At least one suspected Zodiac killing took place in Lake County. Donna Lass (a possible Zodiac victim) was murdered near Lake Tahoe.

On at least one occasion the killer appeared in
Navy-like clothing. Zodiac was also interested in astrology and when the attack dates and times are astrologically charted the three water signs and their associated planets figure prominently.