Cheney Interview, Another Perspective Message Board: Arthur Leigh Allen: Cheney Interview, Another Perspective

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) ( - on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 02:04 am:

I've had the opportunity to listen to the tape of the interview that Tom conducted with Don Cheney last December. Hopefully, in the near future there will be a transcript of that interview available on this site for others' perusal.

Knowing what I do know of the Zodiac cases, and I readily submit that I know far less than some, but perhaps more than others at this site, I felt somewhat compelled to proffer my own impressions of the interview. For those of you that reflexively take anything that a cop says, retired or not, as just so much BS coming from the mouth of a biased, uneducated, inept and dull-thinking flatfoot, then I guess you can begin right now to either compose your own preordained mind-set responses or perhaps organize whatever repartee that has served you so well in the past. To those posters, and any others that have a negative knee-jerk response to anything that promotes Arthur Leigh Allen as a Zodiac candidate, please have the courtesy to reserve judgment on the Cheney interview at least until you have had the chance to listen to/read it. In the meantime, please read on.

I've read a few comments on this board that have accused Tom of leading the witness. True, there were any number of instances where this occurred, but Tom has already said that he had talked with Cheney a number of times, and the taped interview was ostensibly a recap of what had previously been discussed. [Little did he know that more would be revealed.] Plus, in my experience, when the interviewer knows that the witness is straying from matters at issue, it is proper to guide him/her into focusing upon the specifics in question at the moment. Even so, Tom is not an experienced interrogator/interviewer, and some latitude must be allowed here. More importantly, when talking with a witness (not an adversary), sometimes it's appropriate to dispense with the traditional Q&A motif, and shift to a more conversational mode. I saw nothing prejudicial or influential in Tom adopting, on occasion, this tactic.

I have never publicly, on this Board, specified my preference among the various suspects that have been brought to the fore. If, and I STRENUOUSLY emphasize the word IF, Cheney is to be believed, I see no recourse than to believe that Allen was the Zodiac. Argue as you will the credibility of Don Cheney, but bear in mind that he passed a polygraph test on his assertions. I listened to, and even transcribed the taped interview, appreciating what Cheney had to say, the way he said it, and the contextual bases of his statements. It was, in my estimation, the most persuasive and downright damning evidence I have ever heard with respect to a particular suspect in the Zodiac crimes.

That may not, probably will not, set well with anti-Allen aficionados, but I have always believed that Zodiac, much like most serial killers, especially the ones that eluded capture and, in the process, gained a larger-than-life persona than they merited, was a nobody, a loser who had no other claim to prominence than the crimes from which he succeeded escaping capture. All of the esoterica, the often-absurd attributes that have been laid on Zodiac like olive branches are, in my opinion, unbefitting of the low-life, unremarkable person that he probably was in real life. There is no magic to this killer, no ethereal aura about the man, only a post facto, undeserved reverence for his luck in not getting caught.

Please excuse any slight to those of you who have diligently and exhaustively pursued other suspects, but we are all, irrespective of contravening influences, inclined to follow our own instincts. And mine now track along the Allen lines.


By Alan Cabal (Alan) ( - on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 02:42 am:

That's a pretty impressive endorsement, I'd say.

Thanks, Bill.

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 11:30 am:

Bill wrote:
"If, and I STRENUOUSLY emphasize the word IF, Cheney is to be believed, I see no recourse than to believe that Allen was the Zodiac."

What troubles me is that, from where I sit, Cheney's word is the only thing Allen has going for him as a suspect. Heretofore, any evidence or information that might prove exculpatory to Allen has been carefully withheld from view on this site, and it was perhaps my (tired) assumption that the Cheney interview was more of the same -- incriminating stories garner main-page attention, while mitigating factors go in the round file. The (minimal) Johns update notwithstanding.

If a former cop has this much to say on the Cheney interview, then maybe there's something to it. It's pretty hard to comment on at this point, though.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Mike (Mike) ( on Tuesday, March 13, 2001 - 09:28 am:


What Bill did not discuss is that Cheney has now changed the timeframe of the discussion from January of 1968 (i.e., long BEFORE the LHR crime) to January 1, 1969, two weeks AFTER LHR!!!! This is incredibly important in that first, Allen would have had to be incredibly brazen and/or foolish to divulge details of a crime that he had just committed to ANYONE. Granted, here we are 30 years later with no solution to the case. But at the time, there was no way for Allen to know just how ignorant of current events Cheney would remain--For example, couldn't Cheney have heard about Z in a diner at some point, even if he never read the newspapers or watched TV, or on a radio station in his car, etc.? Could Art have predicted that Don would either a) never hear of Z until mid 1971 or that b) he would protect Art, if he did put two and two together at some point? Of course not!--Allen would have had to be a fool to try to predict these variables and tell Don of the details so soon afterwards, especially if there were any friction between them.

The thing that this change in dates does do is allow for the possibility that Art knew who Z was, got the details and spoke about them freely in order to attract attention to himself, knowing he could never be tied to the physical evidence at the scenes. The old "two Zodiac's" theory, however unlikely before, is now on the table as a real POSSIBILITY given the date of the conversation being moved up a year.

Were Cheney deemed credible and the conversation had occurred in January 1968, as had been thought before, then Bill's conclusion would be inevitable. But not now. That date really changes the landscape.


By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Tuesday, March 13, 2001 - 09:44 am:

Allen's blabbing to Cheney was no more risky than a number of things Zodiac did.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Tuesday, March 13, 2001 - 01:05 pm:

Clark, please send me your correct e-mail address again.
(I clicked "reply" on your e-mail and it was sent to your address. You might want to change that...)

By Mike (Mike) ( on Tuesday, March 13, 2001 - 01:34 pm:

Hi Tom-

I agree that Z took big risks. But when I think about those risks, they were all mitigated by Z's undoubtedly careful analysis and scrutiny of his crime scenes. He wore a very large, frightening hood at Lake B on an exposed peninsula with plenty of shoreline from which to see him. But he knew that late in the day at that time of year, there would be few people around. (i.e., There were hardly any cars parked in the area, for one thing!)

In PH, he undoubtedly cased he neighborhood and knew that it was a quiet place on a Saturday night at 10 PM. So even though it was risky, it was an acceptable level of risk to him, and one which he felt he could accept. The other crime scenes were relatively low risk.

The risk he would take by telling Don details of a crimes, which still had Vallejo cops combing the streets for info would be a very different type of risk. Allen would have NO control over what Cheney learned subsequent to their meeting nor of what he did with that info (i.e., learning about the LHR crime, which was all over town by that time). This risk was out of Allen's hands to minimize, IMO. Even if they didn't necessarily believe Don or could not tie Allen to LHR, he'd be under scrutiny and his style would be cramped.

Is it possible he told Don? Sure. But for a guy with a high IQ, it seems a stupid and overly risky move with plenty of downside.


By Peter_H (Peter_H) ( - on Tuesday, March 13, 2001 - 03:16 pm:

Is the change of date of Cheney's story really so important? First of all, attributing any importance at all assumes the story is true and accurate with repect to a single detail: whether ALA used the one word "Zodiac" in telling it. Without any corroboration, all we have to go on is Tom's assessment of Cheney's credibility (not necessarily or only hs truthfulness, but the reliability of his memory). I am not discounting the quality of Tom's assessment, we just haven't seen it spelled out in any detail yet. I guess we can assume Tom believes Cheney, but we really don't know the basis for that, and even so, the inquiry does not end with whether Cheney believes it himself.

The more important point, it seems to me,is that whether it was '68 or '69, it was still well before the Zodiac surfaced as such. I does not seem to me as important whether ALA told his story a year before Z surfaced in the media or six months before, but whether he told it at all. As long as Z had not surfaced yet, there was no great risk Cheney could put ALA together with LHR based on the story. What was risky, if true, was ALA fulfilling the Z fantasy after telling Cheney about it.

All things considered, I think the most plausible explanation for the whole Cheney story is that ALA responded in some way to the LHR crimes, right from his first hearing of LHR, said something to Cheney about it within a couple of weeks along the lines of "I've thought about doing something like such and such", but without mentioning "Zodiac". After all, that single word is a minor detail to the budding killer, while it is the entire difference between the story meaning something and nothing to us. (The rest of it is so general it could have been connected with a zillion other incidents in California at the time). So Cheney remembered the comments and added the single "Zodiac" reference himself (the human memory does work that way: suggestion is at least as powerful as perception), and may actually believe he remembered ALA saying it. This explains why Cheney did not come forward as soon as "Zodiac" hit the press: it took a while for "Zodiac" to work its way into Cheney's memory of the story. It also explains why Tom finds Cheney credible, if that is the case: Cheney actually believes ALA said "Zodiac" in telling the story. Meanwhile, ALA continues to follow the Z saga as it emerges, perhaps deliberately cultivating apparent connections with it and has a few brushes with the investigation. He's never directly connected with any of the crimes because he can't be, and Cheney only associates ALA with Z in his "memory" much later. Plausible?