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Username: Deoxys

Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Thursday, October 19, 2006 - 7:49 am:   

In browsing through the archived message board, I ran across this terrific post by Okie Mike from 2001. Z may well have killed Cheri Jo Bates and/or sent any or all of the letters connected to CJB but I've always thought that this was the worst Red Herring evidence in the entire Zodiac case.

The poem, IMHO, reads like the musings of a depressed female college student and only it's location and generic handwriting connect it to Cheri Jo Bates or Z. It could have been written months or years before the Bates murder.

I'd be very interested to know why Mr. Morrill felt this was authentic Z handwriting.


"As promised here is my detailed reasoning behind my belief that the Riverside "Desktop Poem" had nothing to do with the murder of Miss Bates but rather describes either an actual failed suicide attempt or a fantasy of a suicide attempt. I apologize for tending to 'lecture' in this forum, but in this subject I don't know how else to do it.

In order to understand suicidal thoughts, intent and actions, it is necessary to understand depression. A depressed individual is best identified from non-depressed by specific thinking patterns. As a person becomes more and more depressed, they begin to exhibit specific distortions in thinking. There are a number of such distortions but their content may be summarized under three broad headings: 1-Negative view of the self; 2-Negative view of the world; and, 3-Negative view of the future. As depression increases, these themes become increasing distorted and approach the point of totality. That is, a person actually begins to believe that the world is totally horrible and unbearable, they are totally worthless and incompetent and thus incapable of doing anything to better the situation leading to the third theme, that the future will become only more horrible and unbearable. As these distorted thought patterns increase, suicidal ideas begin. A very important point to the understanding of suicide, and one of the most misunderstood by the general public. is this: A suicidal person does not find death attractive or desirable. They do not seek death, they seek to avoid life. They believe life is unbearable and unfixable, with death the only escape.

Once suicidal thoughts begin, they may be charted on a continuum from fleeting and not at all serious to actual intent to die. Likewise, suicidal behavior can be looked at this way. Most people are familiar with the idea that there are suicide attempts in which the person intends to die, and attempts where they do not really seek to die. The latter are usually called "suicide gestures" and imply that the person is perhaps trying to manipulate others, call attention to their depression so others will take them seriously, or get some other secondary gain. But there is behavior between that of a "gesture" and a "genuine attempt". This is known as a "suicidal gamble". In a gamble the person has progressed further into depression and danger to themselves as they would in a gesture, but has not made a definite decision to die. They "leave it up to fate", or their Supreme Being, or luck to decide if they should die or not. Their thinking is very fatalistic (no pun intended). They are a definite danger to themselves, but not to the point of making the final choice to die.

Another aspect is whether or not the depressed person has advanced in illness to the point that they are beginning to have weakened contact with reality. This goes beyond the distorted thinking mentioned earlier. Every suicidal person does not develop such psychotic thinking, but it does happen to some.

As to how the above applies to the desktop poem:
The first line "Sick of Living, Unwilling to Die" perfectly and succinctly describes the elements of a depressed person who doesn't want to die but wishes to avoid and escape from life. Other signs include the line "draining into an uncertain death", and "life draining". The overall morbid and hopeless mood of the poem fits well into the negative distortions of thought described above. The idea that nothing matters anymore in a totally negative world is expressed in the line about blood on the dress, "oh well, it was red anyway".

The lines "uncertain death" and "she won't die this time, someone'll find her" demonstrate that this is a 'suicidal gamble'. The victim cut herself not knowing if it would be fatal or not ("uncertain death") but ("this time") it is not. The line "just wait till next time" shows the negative, hopeless view of the future and the fatalistic thinking that the depressed mood will eventually win and destroy the person, just as the thinking of a strongly-depressed person who takes a suicidal gamble would demonstrate.

Finally, the lines "cut, clean, if red /clean" hint at the beginnings of loosening reality ties and psychotic thinking. Severely depressed individual who is so overwhelmed they are beginning to decompensate may show such 'magical thinking'. Such a person frequently sees their suicide as a chance to atone for their perceived worthlessness and failures. Blood may be perceived as a purifying ritual (i.e., washed clean by the blood of the lamb). Depressed patients who show such psychotic thinking are much more likely to choose some form of cutting or self-mutilation as their suicide method than patients who are depressed but not psychotic. I believe the author of the poem was beginning to decompensate as also illustrated by what others on the board have pointed out; the poem is not well constructed from a literary or creative sense. Some parts of it, especially the "cut, if red / clean" lines just don't seem to fit. Much of the poem has on overall loose feel to it. Such loose associations are found in individuals who are beginning to lose touch with reality.

The desktop poem in no way describes the murder of Miss Bates or anyone else. I believe it is totally unrelated to the case and was simply seized upon by authorities at the time who were desperate for any lead. Aside from my psychological analysis, it doesn't even describe the actual details in the murder. The victim was not wearing a dress, red or otherwise. The victim's life didn't drain into an uncertain death, nor was it true that she wouldn't die this time, she did die.

I wish to make clear I am making no judgement as to the identify of the author. I am not trained in handwriting comparison and do not have an opinion as to whether or not it is Zodiac or the author of any letters

I suspect my analysis will be controversial to some, but I stand firmly on it. Lately there has been too much discussion about posters' I.Q., job history, etc. for me to bore you with mine. If anyone wants to question me about my credentials and experience that allow me to make the above analysis with confidence, I will not respond to such on the board but will gladly do so in private e-mail. I promise never to make such a lengthy post again."
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Username: Ed_neil

Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Thursday, October 19, 2006 - 12:14 pm:   

I've always had my doubts about the poem, because inscribing letters into wood is not the same as writing words on paper, so I don't know how Morrill could possibly have concluded it was written by Z. It never sounded like a poem about murder anyway, and none of it seemed to me to bear any sort of relationship to CJB. Okie Mike's post pointed out what had been bothering me all along but I could never put my finger on: it was about suicide, not murder, and was likely written by a depressed, suicidal young woman, and it's proximity to the crime scene in both time & space (it was supposedly on the library annex floor the night she was murdered) is what linked it to her death.

Thanks to Okie Mike's analysis, I do not think the poem has anything to do with Z or CJB. Of course, anything is possible, and there's the very slim possibility that it was written by Z just before he killed CJB, but I really doubt it.
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Username: Douglas_oswell

Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Thursday, October 19, 2006 - 1:56 pm:   

I tend to be a bit skeptical about forensic handwriting analysis, especially where printing is involved.
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Username: Deoxys

Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Thursday, October 19, 2006 - 5:04 pm:   

I agree, Doug, but I sure wish we could hear an explanation from Morrill himself. I have no idea how he could make a definitive claim that the Desktop poem or the Red Phantom letter, for instance, was written by Z but then again I'm not a world-class handwriting expert.

I also tend to agree with you that the Exorcist letter was the last "for sure" letter from Z but others are certainly possible. I tend to think that, later in the game, Z may have enjoyed sending ambiguous communications like the Citizen Letter, Red Phantom Letter or SLA letter without providing a definitive link to himself. If he was intent on authenticating them, he presumably still had a few swatches of Paul Stine's shirt to send along. One has to wonder where the remaining piece of bloody shirt is today- might be a good topic for another thread...
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Username: Douglas_oswell

Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Thursday, October 19, 2006 - 5:15 pm:   

Most definitely, Deoxys. I think he cast aside his Zodiac persona for good with the Exorcist Letter, but couldn't resist the temptation to do a little more teasing.
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Username: Hawk

Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Friday, October 20, 2006 - 1:33 pm:   


c's have a wide mouth and slant backwards.
This person tries to write straight up and down.
r's look like Rick Marshalls. .


r's look like v's.
Slants his letters forward and his lines go downward.
w's have a long tail.

Does anyone notice any other differences?

Morrill needed to get his eye's checked again.
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Username: Oklahoma_mike

Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Saturday, October 21, 2006 - 11:31 pm:   

Thanks for keeping my ideas alive and of interest after an amazing 5-years-plus! I still stand on my analysis reprinted above. I know it sounds like bragging, but if there is anything I can legitemately claim to be "expert" about it is the study of suicide. I have bachelors and masters degrees in psychology and worked in the mental health profession for 19 years. I treated more depressed and suicidal people than I would even care to guess. I worked 13 years in outpatient treatment and took my rotation on the crisis line on call. Thank goodness I never had to talk down someone with a gun in their hand but did talk down callers who claimed to have the phone in one hand and a bottle of pills in the other. I also worked 6-years at a state mental hospital and treated lots of people who were committed post suicidal attempts. I was backup for my department head on a team which reviewed the case of any patient who attempted suicide while inpatient at the hospital (if the boss was unavailible I went). SO I do have lots of experience in understanding suicidal thought and behavior.
Now, none of these credentials mean I am RIGHT about my ideas, merely that I understand well the subject I am talking about. Ideas have to stand on their own, not on ad hominum situations. But I do think my analysis of the desktop poem as suicidal rather than homocidal and not related to Miss Bate's murder is consistent with the facts. I am proud I was actually able to make an original contribution to the case, my only one to date.
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Username: Muskogee

Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Monday, October 23, 2006 - 6:41 pm:   

OKMike, you have a unique insight, and I appreciate you sharing it! I've always been fond of your thorough analysis of the poem, and I'm glad Deoxys is revisiting it.

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