|Posted on Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - 7:05 am: |
In keeping with the 40th anniversary of the Cheri Jo Bates murder, I figured there ought to be a thread on the Confession Letter, mailed 11/29/66 to Riverside P.D. and the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
I haven't really heard any concensus as to whether or not most folks believe that this was sent by the killer of Cheri Jo Bates and whether or not the writer was Z, so I'll be the first to offer some observations...
At first glance, the Confession Letter seems to have little resemblance to any other Z letter because:
-it is typewritten.
-it is overtly sexual in nature ("her breast felt very warm & firm under my hands", "I shall cut off her female parts...").
-there is no cross-hair symbol or mention of the name "Zodiac".
On the other hand, it DOES resemble future Z letters because:
-it gives a detailed description of the crime being committed and provides details (such as the pulling of the distributor wires), which attempt to confirm that the writer perpetrated the crime.
-it essentially taunts the reader to ascertain the writer's identity (BY ___________).
-it was mailed to local law enforcement and media representatives.
The Confession Letter contains the following spelling errors:
brownett (reminiscent of Z's spelling of "silowets" in the Debut of Zodiac Letter)
twiched (spelled incorrectly exactly the same way in the Little List Letter more than four years later)
To me, these errors are fairly consistent with mistakes in other letters (whether these are real or feigned mistakes) and the writer does spell words like "slaughter", "distributor" and "conscience" correctly.
Another oddity I noticed in the Confession Letter is the writer's improperly beginning sentences with the conjunctions "BUT" and "OR":
"But she is battered and dead."
"Or maybe she will be the shapely blue eyed brownett..."
"But I shall cut off her female parts..."
I didn't recall Z doing this in any later letters but it turns out he did so consistently in some of the longer letters:
Belli Letter: "But if I hold back too long..."
My Name Is Letter: "But there is more glory in killing a cop than a cid..."
Button Letter: "But now school is out for the summer..."
Little List Letter: "Or any type of (Zodiac) buttons that you can think up."
The overtly sexual nature of the Confession Letter seems to contradict Z's apparent lack of a sexual M.O.- except for his awkward reference to killing being "even more fun than getting your rocks off with a girl". I'm sure Doug will have a comment or two about this and I will probably agree that Z had some awareness of his own repressed sexuality. If I had to put money on it, I would probably say that this letter was indeed written (typed) by the person we know as "Zodiac" (whether or not he killed Cheri Jo Bates) but before the Zodiac persona was fully developed. I think there are some really interesting parallels to be drawn here with the BTK case but I need more sleep before going there.
R.I.P. Cheri Jo Bates...
|Posted on Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - 7:41 am: |
It seems to me that several years ago Edward V (?)had done an analysis of the letter and had some good points and examples about how all the "details known only to the police" had actually been revealed in various newspaper articles prior to the Confession Letter.
But I do like the way you look at it from a language standpoint and there are interesting parallels between the Confession and the other letters. I had never noticed the similarities of beginning a sentence with "But".
|Posted on Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - 9:02 am: |
I lean towards "yes" - the author of the confession letter was Zodiac. Deoxys, you do good work.
|Posted on Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - 9:46 am: |
Deoxys, you've just provided me with another stylistic similarity that I can use in my forthcoming book, namely, starting a sentence with a conjunction. Kaczynski consistently does this with "but" across the entire range of documents we have available, and I've found three sentences starting with "or" in the Manifesto. That's kind of unusual for a grammatical pedant like Kaczynski, so I'm going to include it.
To my mind, and this has also been pointed out by a linguist I know, the Confession letter as a whole doesn't seem to match stylistically with the Zodiac correspondences. But there are, as you've pointed out above, a number of similarities. We've got to keep an open mind about the Bates connection, even if we don't automatically assume it's the work of Zodiac.
|Posted on Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - 11:06 am: |
Just tooling around with the "Confession" letter--looking at British-isms and such (use of shall, etc.). Thought I would google "brownett" to see what I could find. Lo and behold the first link that comes up has some zynchronicity.
|Posted on Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - 11:15 am: |
Breakout - that's beautiful!
|Posted on Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - 11:50 am: |
You make a lot of good points, De, and I think that dovetails perfectly with the theory that Z wrote the letter, but someone he knew was the actual killer. The misspelled twich/twiched caught my eye as well; what is the likelihood of two different killers purposely misspelling the same word?
|Posted on Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - 1:17 pm: |
Also it mentions "the game" as in his card saying "why spoil the game", the Halloween card wasn't it ? And Cheri was killed Oct.30.
Plus his wanting the letter to be published.
And all mentioned above-
I believe it's the "pre" Zodiac
|Posted on Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - 7:35 pm: |
Great points, all, and extra Zynchronicity credit to Breakout.
I forgot to mention the use of "shall" in the Confession Letter. I tend to think of the word more as a proclamation of what the writer intends to do but, either way, it does fit Z's use of it in later letters.
Doug, glad to help... I'm not really sure how common it is to start sentences with conjunction words but yeah, I think it would be quite uncommon for a guy like Ted K. You might also look for sentences starting with the word "So":
"So I shall change the way the collecting slaves."
"So as you see the police don't have much to work on."
"So I now have a little list..."
I'm surprised you didn't comment on the overtly sexual nature of the Confession Letter. I've always found it interesting that Z, unlike many serial killers, NEVER exercised the opportunity to sexually molest or mutilate any of his victims (that we know of). Only this anonymous letter and the solution to the 3-part cipher make any reference to a sexual element to Z crimes.
To me, this represents a strong element of repressed sexuality. To me, both the Confession Letter and the comment about "getting his rocks off with a girl" in the 3-part cipher read like the writer is TRYING to awkwardly represent himself as overtly sexual, even though none of his crimes were.
I'm really on the fence about whether Z actually killed Cheri Jo Bates but I do think he is likely the letter writer and this letter probably represents a "pre-Z" form of taunting.
|Posted on Wednesday, November 01, 2006 - 12:15 am: |
Great minds think alike, Deoxys. In fact, I've already flagged the use of "so" in beginning a sentence. Kaczynski does it 17 times in the approximately 65-page manifesto, along with 95 occurrences of starting a sentence with "but." He's not quite so bad with "and," of which there are only 22 usages in the Manifesto. This is very consistent across the board with his usage in other documents. He's got a knack for proper grammar, but this is one rule that either gets away from him, or he doesn't think it's important enough to allow it to affect his personal habits.
I definitely agree that the letter shows signs of repressed sexuality. However, I believe the reason Zodiac's victims (assuming Bates was one of them) were never sexually molested is because that wasn't what he desired. My take on Zodiac is that he was essentially a mass murderer who killed to assuage his ego, and even though that motivation was driven by sexual frustration, he wasn't a sexual sadist, or a sociopath, and had no need to do the kinds of things to his victims that we normally associate with sexual sadists or sociopaths.
You have a good point, though, about Zodiac's trying to appear overtly sexual, and I believe that was something of a smokescreen--he seems to have been pretty touchy about imputations that he wasn't quite "up to par."
|Posted on Wednesday, November 01, 2006 - 3:36 am: |
Deoxys... Here's the link to Doug's site showing several stylistic comparisons - including the "so" connections... http://mysite.verizon.net/douglas.oswell/style.htm l
I think Doug's done a great job here. Hope he's including a similar one in the book I know he's working on.
|Posted on Wednesday, November 01, 2006 - 4:38 am: |
Thanks, Linda. It IS excellent work by Doug and I look forward to reading the book.
|Posted on Wednesday, November 01, 2006 - 2:15 pm: |
Thanks, Deoxys. I have indeed included the stylistic comparisons in my book. I think they're going to prove to be very significant in the overall scheme of things, subjectively speaking. I'm not including them in my statistical analysis of the comparisons because unfortunately I've got no real methodology for quantifying their frequency in the general population.