Lake Berryessa: Zodiac crime? Message Board: Cecelia Shepard and Bryan Hartnell: Lake Berryessa: Zodiac crime?

By scott ( - on Tuesday, August 29, 2000 - 02:20 pm:

In his letters did Zodiac ever mention the Lake Berryessa murder? I seem to remember reading somewhere he never did. I know the car door had the zodiac symbol on it and his murder count on his letters increased but it seems unusual for him not to mention it. This is a killer who "got off" on the publicity of his crimes, the terror that they caused the public. Here is possibly his most vicious killing in broad daylight and he does not boast about it as he has other's in the past.
We know he wanted the police to know he did each killing. Was it that in this case there was no doubt who the killer was since he had already left his "calling card" on the car door? I do not understand, it does not match up.

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Tuesday, August 29, 2000 - 05:48 pm:

Scott wrote:
"We know he wanted the police to know he did each killing. Was it that in this case there was no doubt who the killer was since he had already left his "calling card" on the car door? I do not understand, it does not match up."

You're right. I've always thought it was odd that Z never wrote about this crime, as well. We can tell, though, because of his costume, that this was an unusual event for him. It also marked his first and only use of a knife, rather than a gun.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By scott ( - on Tuesday, August 29, 2000 - 07:33 pm:

Thanks Jake. Being new to the Zodiac case, I am glad to see my thoughts aren't considered outlandish. Concerning Lake Berryessa, it does seem as if this killing was different to Zodiac then the rest. We know serial killers live in a world of heavy fantasy. This crime might have been the cumulative moment for Zodiac in his fantasy world. The use of a knife and the only appearance of the "Zodiac costume" almost give the attack the vibe of a sacrificial ceremony. This would correspond to Zodiac's belief he was collecting slaves for his after-life. Zodiac was foremost a braggart. Not mentioning this murder, his crowning achievement, not basking in the glory of this moment, not gloating over another victory for himself against the police, goes against everything he has done in the past. He has no problem bragging about things he has not done, riverside and johns kidnapping for example, why stop here. Does the handwriting on the car door match at Berryessa match the letters? It looks similar. Does anybody know if a specialist has compared the two?

By Tom Voigt ( - on Tuesday, August 29, 2000 - 09:05 pm:

1) We don't know that Zodiac only wore the Berryessa costume once. Dead people can't describe what you were wearing.

2) He DID brag about his crime, calling the Napa police within about 90 minutes of the attack.

3) Why would he write a letter when he had already written his message on the victim's car door?

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Wednesday, August 30, 2000 - 02:03 pm:

Scott wrote:
"The use of a knife and the only appearance of the "Zodiac costume" almost give the attack the vibe of a sacrificial ceremony."

On one of the TV specials (on TLC?), MIA researcher Mike Butterfield suggested that the Berryessa attack signified Z's embrace of his role as a full-blown serial killer. Butterfield used the gerund "becoming," which I hadn't heard before as a clinical term, but it sounded reasonable.

In any case, this incident is certainly more ritualistic than any of the others, what with its odd lingering with the victims, the use of a hands-on weapon like the knife, and the bizarre hood. The fact that Z never mentioned this attack in a letter also suggests (to me) that this was a private, personal event. The "calling card" left on the car door indicates that he meant to take credit for the murder, but the fact that he never brought it up again indicates that he may not have wanted to explain it.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Michael ( - on Wednesday, August 30, 2000 - 03:28 pm:

OK How about this. Lets say that Lake B was NOT a Z crime. And only the Lake Herman, Ferrin and Stine murders were actual Z crimes. How does that change the mix. I would say not much, but It does raise some interesting points. 1. Allen would still be a great suspect. 2. It might give some rise to some of the other suspects and and work to a more manageable motive. Just a thought


By scott ( - on Wednesday, August 30, 2000 - 04:41 pm:

Tom, elsewhere on the messageboard you posted that Zodiac's prime motivation for his crimes was the "need to taunt the police through the news media". You went on to say that it was the only thing about his crimes that never changed. Can that be said about the Berryessa attack? At the very least zodiac was more tight lipped about the crime then his others.

By Tom Voigt ( - on Wednesday, August 30, 2000 - 05:33 pm:

Zodiac immediately wrote on the Berryessa victim's car door, then called the police.
Since there was no call after the Stine murder, wouldn't that crime have to be considered even more "tight lipped" than Berryessa?

I don't agree that Berryessa was anything special to Zodiac, at least not the costume.
I also don't think his name was that special to him, since he didn't refer to himself as Zodiac when calling the police.

By scott ( - on Wednesday, August 30, 2000 - 05:45 pm:

Good point. Maybe zodiac is just a letter writer not a killer. You already think he just wrote the letters in the riverside incident and did not commit the actual crime. Why not all the murders? Maybe the writer and the caller are two different people.

By scott ( - on Wednesday, August 30, 2000 - 06:12 pm:

Concerning the Stine murder being more tight lipped because there was no phone call. Zodiac knew the police where on the scene already there was no reason for a phone call to report the murder. He later sent letters bragging how he had talked with police after the shooting and sent the torn shirt piece to prove his participation. Nothing of this sort was done at Lake Berryessa. That is what I was referring to with the "tight lipped" comment.

By Tom Voigt ( - on Wednesday, August 30, 2000 - 10:08 pm:

Are you saying Zodiac called the police because he believed that if he didn't the cops wouldn't have discovered the bodies?

By BillB (Billb) ( - on Thursday, August 31, 2000 - 11:18 am:


I think one important distinction that needs to be made is that the Zodiac "got off" not only from the bragging and the taunting but, in my humble opinion, from the media exposure and notieritey the crimes (and taunting) ultimately brought him. I feel that seeing his name in the paper and experiencing the fear the community had for him were much more stimulating than calling the police or taunting the newspapers. This might explain the "tight lipped" nature of Berryessa and Stine. Zodiac didn't need to taunt excessively in either case because the crimes themselves, and his writings (car door), fanned the flames of media interest without additional prodding. His actions spoke louder than words ever could.

Bill B.

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Thursday, August 31, 2000 - 02:37 pm:

Tom wrote:
"Since there was no call after the Stine murder, wouldn't that crime have to be considered even more "tight lipped" than Berryessa?"

Stine's murder was the only one that didn't take place in a secluded area, and cops were swarming the area in a matter of minutes. Not only was it unnecessary to call the police and inform them of the murder, it would have been foolish.

When Z wrote to the Chronicle, he was practically guaranteed a story in the next day's paper that would be read by thousands. I think we can all agree that he was aware of this. So why didn't he write after Berryessa?

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Anonymous ( - on Friday, September 01, 2000 - 01:04 pm:

Also, how could Z call the police after the Stine attack if he was hiding out, watching the cops speeding all over the place, as he later claimed?

By Chrissy Shaw ( - on Monday, September 04, 2000 - 12:15 pm:

Compare the door writing to the hand writing. If those letters were photocopied in the papers then it could be possible that the Berryessa scene was a copycat working, if that was yet in the future, then the likelihood falls off. The door writing seems consistent to me in both manner and usage of the tally presented in the letters.

I would say portions of Mr. Paul Stine's shirt were a very loud call. Perhaps due to location, z knew he would need to prove this one and I would submit that the door and call to police in Berryessa presents the same ultimate aim.

Of course I disagree with the meaning of the costume, easier disguises are to be had for such a purpose. I again point to D. Berkowitz and how R. Ressler of the FBI was able to verify that Berkowitz was establishing a defense with the references to Sam and all the dog nonsense he put forth both before, during and after his spree and arrest.

I suspect the name, the references to occult/satanic items were important to this individual Zodiac and that part of their value was in a back-up plan in case he were linked to the crimes. I doubt he wanted cyanide any more than Bundy really wanted a date with Sparky in Florida.

On the costume, since it does not seem to have been used on July 4th 69, there is some reason to speculate that it was not used in December 68, or the Stine scene(someone would have mentioned it). Are there other homicides missing in the series? Perhaps, I can show cases either way with a letter-writing serial killer. Part of the strangle hold on the society lies in the mystery of silence.

Some killers are only compelled to kill to a point and cease afterward. Age, disability(especially when it comes down to risking arrest)suicide, killed by intended victim, and just a reduced desire on the part of the person killing are all possible reasons why a series stops. A letter writing killer back east killed families in their homes. In one case he left a boy alive and untouched for no explainable reason. He demanded his letters be published, they were and after a short series he stopped. Later when he was named as a suspect in another homicide, he wrote authorities to assure them it was not his work. Did he stop? There is no way of knowing in his case, nor in Zodiac's series without evidence or confession.

By Glen Claston ( - on Monday, September 04, 2000 - 12:33 pm:

Compare the door writing to the hand writing. If those letters were photocopied in the papers then it could be possible that the Berryessa scene was a copycat working, if that was yet in the future, then the likelihood falls off. The door writing seems consistent to me in both manner and usage of the tally presented in the letters.

That brings up a point I've made before, the lack of a concise chronology of events as they pertain to media releases. Without the press reports, we can't be working on the same knowledge that the average John-Q-Public would have had at the time.

By Chrissy Shaw ( - on Monday, September 04, 2000 - 11:03 pm:

Dear Glen:

That I agree totally with you upon. If I were to sort these articles from the various sources, how broad a search would be required? It seems to me that this would be a very workable task except for one thing, the radio and even more, television coverage of the day may not be secured in a format that closes all lose ends.

On the radio/television angle: If an investigator or someone privy to inside information called KGO talk radio and made a statement containing information, there might not be archival tapes to research. The same can be said of television tapes. The print media should be somewhat intact, but smaller papers may have folded.

On second thought, this could take quite some time and effort, but if asked, I would love to start on it and if anyone has some suggestions, I would love to hear them. As far as the letters: discussions of them, what was printed when and in what format really needs to be pinned down. Perhaps there was enough information for a copycat.

By Ed N. ( - on Tuesday, September 05, 2000 - 01:38 am:

I have been researching and photocopying those old stories from several sources off-and-on over the last seven and a half years: The Vallejo Times-Herald, The Vallejo News-Chronicle, The Napa Register, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner and The Riverside Press-Enterprise. I haven't even looked at The Los Angeles Times nor The New York Times yet, and of those I've spent countless hours poring over, I have only a fraction of their reports. It is a monumental (and tedious) task to look through thirty-one years of endless papers hoping to find stories, and so I have concentrated on the periods of time around the various Z murders, as well as specific dates I have found referenced in Zodiac and other places. I have come across other stories by accident which surprised me, such as the one where Anton LaVey gave his thoughts on Z, and, because library microfilm machines/copiers don't tend to be the best, many copies are not crisp and clear. And yet I plug away...

The point is, I have done an awful lot of research already on this angle, and perhaps it might be a good idea at this point to post something, or perhaps launch a new Z website (which I've been thinking about for a while now) where such material would be archived for reference, not to compete with existing sites, but to supplement them. The thing is, if I were to do this, what exactly would everyone want? Bear in mind my earlier statement about some copies not being the best... perhaps something like the "Z publications?" That is, stories by paper, date and headline, with added commentary where needed? What do you all think?

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Tuesday, September 05, 2000 - 01:42 pm:

Ed N. wrote:
"The point is, I have done an awful lot of research already on this angle, and perhaps it might be a good idea at this point to post something, or perhaps launch a new Z website (which I've been thinking about for a while now) where such material would be archived for reference, not to compete with existing sites, but to supplement them. The thing is, if I were to do this, what exactly would everyone want? Bear in mind my earlier statement about some copies not being the best... perhaps something like the "Z publications?" That is, stories by paper, date and headline, with added commentary where needed? What do you all think?"

This would be a fantastic idea. I'm somewhat hampered by not only being thirty years too late, but on the wrong coast to boot, and so my collection of clippings is severely limited. A website with archived newspaper reports would be a boon to everyone interested in the case, and I certainly wouldn't regard it as competition.

Certain problems arise, though, and I'm not thinking about Copyright infringement. Graphics files tend to be a lot larger than text files, so scanning the articles and posting them as .jpegs, .gifs, or whatever would probably max out your server space. Since microfilm files are notoriously grainy, using an OCR program probably wouldn't work, either. Would you (or me, or anyone) be willing to transcribe them into Word or some similar text-based format? I guess I would, if it meant getting that information up there (or into my filing cabinet).

As far as organizing goes, I don't think it would be too hard to arrange them first chronologically and then in a seperate index by newspaper.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Ed N. ( - on Tuesday, September 05, 2000 - 02:00 pm:

Transcribing, eh? Could be done, but it would also be very time-consuming. Fortunately, many reports are not that long, but there are the ones that are literally several columns wide. Only the pics would be reproduced (if they are actually clear enough). Some, I've tried to lighten or darken them to make them clear to no avail, but the stories are what's important. Would something like that make everyone happy?

By Chrissy Shaw ( - on Tuesday, September 05, 2000 - 03:07 pm:

Id' be willing to transcribe audio tapes and video tape/audio portions if they can be located. Ed, this is great and thank you far all the work.

It would seem to me, that in order to rule out copycat work(in the Berryessa case in particular) that what information was made public at what date would be critical. That could be presented upon a line and perhaps links to each item in reference drawn from that time line?

Without including all the media though, we can never really know what was available. I doubt we can prove anything worthy of the bench, but we had ought to be able to draw reasonable inferences from the project and it will open up many sources to those of us following faint trails in the decades old dust.

Again: Bravo!

By Anonymous ( - on Monday, September 11, 2000 - 09:05 pm:

heh. I think ole "Z" got his point across with Berryessa, and I think he knew that it was heard loud and clear. I really doubt he felt he needed to brag or say much more about it. And as Tom said, its a little hard to find out what a killer was wearing from his victims when theyre dead. My point being that in actuality Berryessa was the most flamboyant of all of Z's crimes. Think about it.

By Anonymous ( - on Tuesday, September 12, 2000 - 08:45 am:

Personally, I haven't the slightest doubt that the
Lake Berryessa attack was the work of Zodiac: the
writing on the car door was not just very similar to the writing in the letters--it was exactly the same. Whoever wrote those letters was the attacker at Berryessa and I think, given the handwriting comparison posted a while back, there's a damned good chance that it was Arthur
Leigh Allen.

By Anonymous ( - on Tuesday, September 12, 2000 - 08:49 am:

Sorry that the above post came out so lopsided. Every time I've posted lately it's looked that way, and I don't know why.

By Anonymous ( - on Tuesday, September 12, 2000 - 01:45 am:

Chrissy Shaw,
I believe Napa still has the car door from the Berryessa crime scene, maybe it might be of interest to you to take a closer look at it in the event evidence might have been overlooked.
Thanks, J

By Chrissy Shaw ( - on Tuesday, September 12, 2000 - 03:47 am:

Dear J:

I don't know why I would suspect Napa as having let the ball down with evidence. Do you have reason to make such an innuendo? Regardless of that, I strongly suspect Napa would not appreciate me bumbling about in their evidence room. It would be better to send a trained evidence gatherer and even here, unless you were able to convince the agency involved that there was reason to re-inspect, I doubt it would be allowed outside of a court order. Do you have enough concrete information to proceed along those lines J?

If this is in regard to examination of the B/W photos of that evidence, I would want to see photographic prints rather than electronic repo here on the net. If I were looking at such prints, what would I be looking for J? I hope it is not handwriting due to my lack of training in that area.

You have brought it up though and so I am indeed curious if there is a relation to this case? I am now going to look at the alleged kill tally and see if this is the point. Till I know, why the door J?


By Tom Voigt ( - on Tuesday, September 12, 2000 - 10:37 am:

Yes, anybody off the street can just walk right in to the Napa County Sheriff's Department and start inspecting evidence. Just let 'em know that you think they might have screwed up the case, and they should treat you fine.
Unless Z signed his real name to that door, I think it's rather unlikely that after 31 years someone with no training is going to analyze it and come away with anything meaningful.
But since we are living in fantasyland right now on the ol' message board, perhaps J might also like Chrissy to travel back to Whitechapel and inspect Scotland Yard's Ripper files?

By Chrissy Shaw ( - on Wednesday, September 13, 2000 - 12:55 pm:

Dear Tom:

I'll need to stop by for tea with the Queen Mother first. (lol)


By Anonymous ( - on Thursday, September 14, 2000 - 05:41 am:

Thanks For the kind words Tom... I was only repeating what I heard straight out of a sherriff's mouth that offered the information to me without me even requesting... I was pulled over for a hollywood stop and he noticed my "z" relics I've collect on the car seat. It was that Deputy's opinion that I should get in touch with Joe Stiener make an appt. and view the evidence they have... I have no experience in that area and that's exactly why I've not wasted their time or mine for that matter having them show it to me... You are totally putting words in my mouth as well and being rather smart allic I might add ... Human error happens that's all I was saying why keep it if it's no use for the professionals to review !!! I meant well - I wasn't saying they didn't do there job ,matter of fact hats off to them for being so good at keeping track of the evidence...even after 30 some years . So just for the record my experience with Narlow has also been a good one & I plan on keeping it that way! As for you we seem to be off to a rocky start for no good reason either... I dislike the way you try to belittle me.
I'll try to keep my thoughts to myself from now on... Excuse me for my stupidity everyone on the board...
PS. There is one more thing It has been brought to my attention that Italy has had a killer with stricking similarity's " blitz on couples near water" in the attacks. But why look into this killer just because he sent letters to the justice dept. with evidence "that's no reason to think there might be a connection." Stupid me...
Again Sorry, J

By Anonymous ( - on Thursday, September 14, 2000 - 06:02 am:

Chrissy Shaw,
What I meant for you to get out of my post was simply that whoever wrote on the door might have came in contact with it, Such as finger prints. You had expressed your interests in them in prior posts which prompted me to write what I did ... and the fact that in this case the door hadn't been lost !!! nothing more ! Correct me if i'm wrong we are all rehashing an old case that many have already worked long and hard on... trying to trigger a new direction to go on ( for lack of better words). J

By Ed N. ( - on Thursday, September 14, 2000 - 09:47 am:

Anonymous: Mike R. and I spoke with Steiner back in April, and the only thing he actually showed us was a pic of some guy that someone swore was Z, just because he resembled the Lake B. sketch. I doubt they'd let you in to look at any files or evidence (but you just never know).

By Michael ( - on Thursday, September 14, 2000 - 12:47 pm:

Say how about if you are going to post use your name. Show some guts


By Jake (Jake) ( - on Thursday, September 14, 2000 - 03:37 pm:

Michael wrote:
"Say how about if you are going to post use your name. Show some guts"

Since anyone can pretend to be anyone else through the magic of the internet, I don't think guts have much to do with it. My issue is getting all these Anonymouses confused.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Chrissy Shaw ( - on Thursday, September 14, 2000 - 07:31 pm:

Dear J/anonymous:

Please if you would, take on a name more substantial than the initial "J". I needlessly tried to find out what another person was writing about and it was not that person.

Alas, it is now worked out and I am sorry you anonymous J got caught at the short end here. Since I now see you were attempting to help, let me ask if you have a case number and I will ask their staff myself if there were any prints lifted from the door. If the case is open and evidence is of a sensitive nature(especially something as conclusive as finger prints) their existence may well be a "held-back" item. I do appreciate the attempt though. I certainly am not here to hurt anyones feelings.

Chrissy Shaw

By Tom Voigt ( - on Thursday, September 14, 2000 - 09:15 pm:

Or we could ask Tom, since he's already done all of this stuff.

Of course prints were lifted off of the car door.
The Napa County Sheriff's Department lifted many prints from the door and phone booth. (Over 45)
None matched any suspect.

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Friday, September 15, 2000 - 12:19 pm:

Tom wrote:
"Of course prints were lifted off of the car door.
The Napa County Sheriff's Department lifted many prints from the door and phone booth. (Over 45)
None matched any suspect."

Did any match Hartnell? Shepard? Any of the other Zodiac prints? Were they good prints? Smudged? Any other details?

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Chrissy Shaw ( - on Friday, September 15, 2000 - 02:34 pm:

Dear Tom:

Yes, but really I didn't want to pry. Part of that boundary thing with your information that I would like to respect. Thank you for being forthcoming with it and let me add to Jake's questions: Were these prints ever compared or matched to any other suspect prints in these cases that you know of?


By Chrissy Shaw ( - on Saturday, September 16, 2000 - 05:59 am:

Dear Tom:

Allow me to rephrase the question. Did any of those prints match other "evidence" gathered prints from any other crime scene or letter that you are aware of? Re-reading what I wrote, it would seem I don't read or say what I mean all that well. (LOL)


By Tom Voigt ( - on Saturday, September 16, 2000 - 11:10 pm:

Not that I know of.
The only print Napa was confident was Zodiac's was a palm print from the phone booth, however the print was improperly lifted and therefore damaged.

By Howard ( - on Sunday, September 24, 2000 - 02:04 am:

I will just mention one point-there are more of course. The call to the dispatcher at VP(7/5/69) is almost identical to the NPD call(9/27/69). See how many points of identity you can find.

By Oscar ( - on Thursday, September 28, 2000 - 12:25 am:

The key to the understanding of Zodiac's motivation for killing is probably buried somewhere in the bizarre behavior he displayed at Berryessa. Zodiac, or someone who was thought to be Z, was spotted prior to the attack..if Graysmith is to be believed. He spoke with his victims before he attacked them. This is not to say that he did not speak to his other victims as well; in fact, it is most likely that he had to say something to Stine. For all we know, Zodiac may have read bad poetry to his other victims. However, Zodiac never bothered to check whether or not his victims were silenced. Due to the severity of Shepherd's wounds, it is most likely that Z presumed her dead. But Hartnell was never in danger of dying from his wounds(once again, I'mrelying on Graysmith's dubious information).Is it not odd that Z never bothered to definitively silence Hartnell, considering that he had spent considerable time talking to him. We all give clues through speech. Add this to the Halloween contest costume and you have a killer that is not following his usual pattern of behavior. The "meat" of this mystery is not in the pattern, but rather in the abberation.

By Anonymous ( - on Sunday, October 01, 2000 - 02:51 am:

Ed N: Im curious as to what Anton Lavey's comments on Zodiac were now that you've mentioned it. This next question is for Tom: What exactly is it going to take for you to be able to have Allens handwriting analysis done? From what I understand the issue is money and Im wondering just how much were talking about here. Cause I have some and I want to know if this guy was the Zodiac.

By Ed N. ( - on Monday, October 02, 2000 - 01:28 am:

LaVey was quoted by Dave Peterson in "Cult Head Says: Zodiac Possessed With Delusions" (the Vallejo Times-Herald, 12-6-1970, p. 1), "More on Zodiac: His Life Mishmash Of Trivia, Junk" (p. 8) and "Explanation Of Misquotations" (p. 20). He had much to say, but here are the highlights:

LaVey sees Zodiac as a "latent homosexual and a woman hater."

"Zodiac is no mastermind," said LaVey. "He is a poor creep... his limited occult knowledge has been gained from comic books, detective magazines, lurid tabloids and porno paperbacks, with an astrology magazine thrown in for good measure. He knows a mass of trivia."

"He lives with his mother, his aunt or an out-of-touch wife who is his drudge," possibly a foreign-born woman.

LaVey, who has reported a number of potentially violent persons to police around the nation, said Zodiac has "built a deam world. In his fantasies, the tables are always turned and he becomes the big man -- he gains the power of life and death over others."

He dips into the occult to accomplish "an esoteric way to do something to help him become the big man."

LaVey came up with an explanation of Zodiac's references to Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado" in a letter, which a detective later agreed with. LaVay said the slayer copied down the lyrics while listening to a recording.

So it appears unlikely Zodiac ever sang the light opera role, an earlier deduction that resulted in an extensive investigation of past performances in the Bay Area. Instead, he copied it by ear with ludicrous effect, much as children come up with laughable versions of someone's speech.

As for Zodiac's misspellings, LaVey is convinced they are not deliberate, but reflect inadequate education and an addled mind.

He considers Zodaic a "coward" and a "braggart who may not have committed half the murders he claims."

LaVey... said, "I think less time should be spent looking for Zodiac, the esoteric genius; and more time spent looking for Zodiac, the sexually infantile creep."

That pretty much sums it up. I had forgotten a lot of what he opined, and it pretty much seems to line up with some of the opinions that have been aired here lately. The one thing I don't agree with is LaVey's opinion that Z had an "inadequate education." By that I don't mean that he was therefore Harvard educated or something, but while he was no genius, he was no dummy either. That much may be ascertained by the obvious planning that went into his crimes and his (amateur) use of cryptography, which is probably beyond much of the population, but he certainly did possess some degree of education and so I think his misspellings were deliberate in an attempt to make authorities think he was an insane, uneducated moron. I do, however, think he was spot on about Z's version of "The Mikado."

By Anonymous ( - on Monday, October 02, 2000 - 09:15 am:

So at the end of the day on this discussion, what really connects Z with the Berryessa killings is (1) the similarity of the handwriting on the door and on confirmed Z letters (which had been previously published?) (2) the general MO (which was widely known, leaving aside the differences between a blitz with a gun and a ritual with bondage and a knife) and (3) the similarity of the phone call to previous calls (the details of which had also been published?)? No confirmed letters with details _only_ the killer could have known? Anything at all here that could _only_ have been the perp of the other killings or the author of the confirmed letters? Hmmmmmmm...

By Douglas Oswell ( - on Monday, October 02, 2000 - 09:48 am:

LaVey came up with an explanation of Zodiac's references to Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado" in a letter, which a detective later agreed with. LaVay said the slayer copied down the lyrics while listening to a recording.

So this functional illiterate, who knows nary a thing about the Mikado, or any other opera, while racking his brains for some medium by which to taunt and tantalize the authorities, sees a light come on in the recesses of his benighted brain and cries, "I've got it! The Mikado!" Then rushes out to buy a copy (because he certainly hasn't got one on hand), not in written form, which would be way too easy, but as a phonographic recording. Hmm.

By Ed N. ( - on Monday, October 02, 2000 - 10:34 am:

Kind of a non sequitur on LaVey's part, eh? That's one reason why I don't think Z was an insane, uneducated moron but did in fact make it through high school at the very least, and possibly one or more years of college.

By Douglas Oswell ( on Monday, October 02, 2000 - 11:17 am:

As usual I'm reminded of the Unabomber case, where for many years the authorities pegged the unsub as someone with a couple of years' college at most, working in a blue-collar profession. It wasn't until the Manifesto came out that some opinions changed, at which point Kaczynski started throwing out false clues in an effort to divert them from a supposition that was, by that juncture, obvious.

By Tom Voigt ( - on Tuesday, October 03, 2000 - 11:34 am:

Anonymous wrote,
"This next question is for
Tom: What exactly is it going to take for you to be able to have Allens handwriting analysis done? From what I understand the
issue is money and Im wondering just how much were talking about here. Cause I have some and I want to know if this guy
was the Zodiac."

I want to know, too. E-mail me and I'll fill you in.

By Peterh (Peterh) ( - on Wednesday, October 11, 2000 - 08:02 am:

Hasn't this discussion got a little off subject? I think the original problem was the tenuous
connection between Berryessa and the known Z letters and killings. The only real connection I
see asserted here is the similarity of the handwriting on the Ghia door with that of the known
letters. Anonymous above says they are exactly the same. Not so. Look at the car door at
Jake’s site. At least three things pop out. First, there are 3 lower case e's, all of which have
moderately to widely open loops. Look at any other Z sample. Z’s lower case e's all have small,
solid or tightly closed loops. The j in Vallejo is distinctly different. The lower case “a” is very
different, and the proportion of letter size and slant on the door is allover the lot, unlike any of Z's
other letters, even the most manic. None of the info on the door was known only to the killer:
there is no “tally”, only the dates. The only other information in the door writing even notes two
of the distinct differences between this and LHR or BRS: time of day and weapon.

Every other comparable detail that could tie Berryessa to the other scenes or letters was public
knowledge at the time, and therefore does not make Berryessa an attack that could _only_ have
been by Z: the “Zodiac” sign, the phone call, the remote location, the young couple, all of it was
known. More importantly, there are a number of things that are very different from both LHR
and/or BRS, or for that matter Stine: stalkng on foot rather than a drive-up ambush. Daylight
attack, weapon, conversation and confrontation rather than blitz, bondage, attack away from the
couple’s car, no claim or reference in any Z letter.

So, will someone answer the original question, what is there about Lake Berryessa that could
_only_ have been the work of the author of the previous letters or killings? Sure there are
explanations for why he might have done things differently, and consistencies with the prior
crimes, but I have not seen one of these that could not be explained as a copycat, and a lot that
cant or isn't likely the work of the same guy ie knife, bondage, conversation, confrontation,
costume. The kicker, though is the handwriting. It just ain't the same.

Oh, and BTW, it certainly does “change the mix”, considerably. It means that there are (or were)
two of them out there capable of this. Think about that. Even if Allen was either Z or the
Berryessa perp (and I believe the circumstantial evidence ties him most closely to Berryessa) the
other is, or was, still at large.

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Wednesday, October 11, 2000 - 07:24 pm:

Peterh wrote:
"So, will someone answer the original question, what is there about Lake Berryessa that could
_only_ have been the work of the author of the previous letters or killings? Sure there are
explanations for why he might have done things differently, and consistencies with the prior
crimes, but I have not seen one of these that could not be explained as a copycat, and a lot that
cant or isn't likely the work of the same guy ie knife, bondage, conversation, confrontation,
costume. The kicker, though is the handwriting. It just ain't the same."

I think it should be obvious that writing on a car door is performed in a posture much different from the one used when wrtiting a letter. Not only is the wrist pointing in a different direction, but the author is squatting and facing the door head-on rather than looking down at it. This, I think, explains the variation from the Zodiac's semi-manic style. The shapes of all the letters -- except for the "J," as Peterh pointed out -- are drawn pretty much the same, such as the three-stroke "K," the two-stroke "P," the "69," the oversized colon, etc. The mechanics, to my mind, are the same, but distorted by the Zodiac's posture when facing the car. So I don't think that the handwriting is of particular significance here.

Behaviorally, there is one issue that stands out in implicating the Zodiac for the Berryessa murder. This attack was called in to the police, but no letter was ever written about it. Under the theory that he didn't commit it, if the Zodiac saw a murder as dramatic as this one being attributed to him, I think he would certainly publicize his role in it, either claiming credit or denying it. Z was very sensitive to his portrayal in the media, and often reacted to it overtly. The lakeside attack was important to him, and for whatever reason, it was so personal that he couldn't describe it publicly.

Despite the fact that no single piece of evidence can conclusively identify the Zodiac as the killer at Lake Berryessa, everything about the crime can be seen as fitting the Zodiac's pattern. The attacker's dress, physical description, handwriting (in my opinion), footprints, and phone call are all Zodiac hallmarks. Dozens of other crimes have been attributed by one theorist or another to the Zodiac, but none of them demonstrate an evolution of the crimes the way that this one does, with its elements of locale, situational control, and drama. If a copycat killed Cecelia Ann Shepard, it was a copycat who, like the Zodiac, had no prints on file and weighed about 200 lbs, and who had meticulously studied all of the Zodiac's clippings, and had reflected on them enough to foist a hoax so successful that it fooled the Napa County Sheriff's Department, the California Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, not to mention the three other local police departments that had an active interest in the case.

Author Mike Kelleher discusses the Lake Berryessa incident in a profile and two Q&A interviews at my site, which is linked below. They are in the "Analysis" section.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Gomper (Gomper) ( - on Thursday, October 12, 2000 - 01:15 pm:

I am the "Anonymous" to whom Peterh refers in his October 11th post. I agree with Jake that writing on the car door explains any slight variation in
Z's handwriting in this instance: the killer was in a hurry, so he left his message and took off.
However, just for the record, there are at least
two other examples in Zodiac's writings of the
type of "j" that he used in "Vallejo" when he
wrote on Bryan Hartnell's car door:

1."adjusted" in the December 20th, 1969 letter
to Melvin Belli("...the triger mech requires
much work to get it adjusted just right")

2."enjoy" from the Jolly Roger "dragon" card,
April 28th, 1970("I hope you enjoy yourselves
when I have my Blast")

While not wanting to split hairs, I do think that
this is significant enough to point out. I am open to the idea that there was more than one man
involved in the Zodiac murders but, again, it seems obvious that the letters and the message on
Hartnell's car door were written by the same

By Peterh (Peterh) ( on Monday, October 16, 2000 - 03:22 pm:

Do we at least agree that the Ghia door is the only exclusive link? Is there any other evidence that links the LB perp _only_ to LHR, BRS perp and the known letters? By this I mean to exclude two categories of circumstantial evidence:

(1) known Z traits, both MO and personation, that were previously published and therefore _could_ be copy cat. (BTW, Jake, I don't agree that a copycat would have to have been a meticulous student of this category: of all the known Z traits, the Berryessa perp only had to be familiar with LHR and BRS dates, gun as weapon, Z-sign, victims, phone call and general MO.

(2) Explanations for differences that _may not_ be a copycat: evolution of MO and personation, daylight, no car nearby, approach, stalking on foot, conversation, confrontation, costume, weapon, no letter or any claim or even a reference to the attack other than the phone call.

I also have trouble with the physical description link. I haven't taken a close look at where the accepted physical descriptions come from, but it seems to me that only the two survivors (not Johns) can be considered reliable, and only one of them saw a face. Don't they vary considerably? Certainly the SFPD poster at Jake's site, dead ringer for Peter O., is a far cry from Allen and from the Vasllejo PD sketches. I have the distinct impression that the reliable physical evidence (weight, height, shoes, also vary quite a bit).

So I think we are left with the handwriting on the door. Any expert weigh in with a comparison of that with the known letters?

By Ed N. (Edn) ( - on Monday, October 16, 2000 - 04:11 pm:

Now I'm wondering why it is thought in some quarters that Z wasn't responsible for Lake B. As far as height and weight go, an eyewitness description is pretty subjective and not objective, so I'm not particularly concerned as to whether they vary or not. The handwriting on the door, however, does seem pretty conclusive. With the exception of the Pen card where Z wrote "Des July Aug Sept Oct = 7," Z did not claim apparent responsibility for that attack in any of the correspondence he mailed to the newspapers, but then, he apparently claimed the murders of Snoozy and Furlong in August 1969, which were later found to be the work of Karl Werner and not Z.

So, I'm wondering, is this what raised doubt as to whether Z was responsible or not, despite the other factors that unquestionably appear to be part of Z's signature?

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Monday, October 16, 2000 - 05:08 pm:

Peterh wrote:
"Do we at least agree that the Ghia door is the only exclusive link?"

In the strictest sense, yes. However, there is no conclusive evidence that Z wasn't also responsible for the Sonoma Hichhiker murders, the Green River murders or the RFK assassination. There is also a tremendous amount of detail in the Son of Sam murders that, when phrased properly, seems to point incontrovertably to the Zodiac.

"....(BTW, Jake, I don't agree that a copycat would have to have been a meticulous student of this category: of all the known Z traits, the Berryessa perp only had to be familiar with LHR and BRS dates, gun as weapon, Z-sign, victims, phone call and general MO.)"

Well, there's also the car imagery, the attacking on a weekend, and the secluded location near water. Our hypothetical copycat would have to have been built like Z, without prints on file or any discernable accent. Granted, these are vague criteria, but they narrow the field a bit. From the remaining pool, we have to find someone crazy enough to go out and kill two people for no reason. So from the psychotic lookalike field, we must then find one who has bothered to read at least several newspaper articles on the Zodiac and took the time to learn the real killer's handwriting. This being a crazy world, I'm sure that plenty of unpleasant characters would still probably fit the bill.

Then this copycat would have to go to the lake, drive around looking for victims, and commit a murder that isn't just like the Zodiac's previous murders, but rather an evolution of his previous murders that is consistent with his first, but shows the progression of boldness, calculation, and domination that are telltale signs of a developed killer. Further, this copycat would be disciplined enough not to leave any of his own inimitable personation behind, and to follow though with distinctly Z-like post-offense behavior. Finally, the true Zodiac would simultaneously have to deny his most identifiable chracteristic. This, I think, is where the copycat hypothesis goes south.

"....I also have trouble with the physical description link....I have the distinct impression that the reliable physical evidence (weight, height, shoes, also vary quite a bit)."

Mageau, who hardly saw the Zodiac except for a moment while lying on the ground, described a relatively short but heavyset man; Hartnell described a heavyset man of indeterminate height, probably due to his own tall frame; and Officer Foukes described a heavyset man about 6' tall. Everyone agrees that the man was pretty heavy. The Napa cops found size 10.5 Wing Walker prints that were apparently set deep in the sand, so that appears to match up with a tall, heavy man. The composite sketches do differ, but the quantifiable facts jibe with the SFPD Officer's presumable eye for height and weight.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Ed N. (Edn) ( - on Monday, October 16, 2000 - 08:01 pm:

Well put, Jake. In addition to the foregoing, there is also the fact that there were no published composites of Z at the time (as far as I know anyway), so why the costume to presumably hide the copycat's face if he didn't look like Z? One could argue that he did so in order to commit a Z-like crime and have the blame fall on the real Z and not himself should a composite ever be made, but the crime is so bizarre and (on the surface anyway) so un-Z-like that why would a copycat go to the trouble? Copycats copycat a crime or crime series, they don't analyze the perp's behavior and make educated guesses as to what he might or might not do. And, although I'm no expert in such matters, it occurs to me that a copycat would attempt to duplicate the perp's crimes, not go off on a weird tangent and create a special costume.

However, if it was a copycat's work, then he must be credited with pulling off the best hoaxed Z-crime (unlike the New York Zodiac).

By Peterh (Peterh) ( on Tuesday, October 17, 2000 - 08:32 am:

Sorry, guys. You still haven't identified one thing about LB that could _only_ have been Z. The reason I am harping on this is that the writing and the info in the first Z letters clearly establish that LHR, BRS and Stine could _only_ have been Z: the handwriting matches and the information (andshirt) is what _only_ Z could have provided. Sure, everything else could be either consistent with Z, or the differences can be explained: but they are still differences, not similarities.

As for the descriptions, I have followed up a bit. Mageau has Z at 5'8 and 195. Hartnell has the LB perp at 5'8 to 6' and heavy. Police -- per Jake and Tom's sites -- have LB perp, based on the shoe impressions and two sitings of the LB stalker, at over 6' and over 210. Allen's rap sheet has him at 6' (okay, 5'11 3/4) and 185. The SFPD composite, which looks just like Peter. O. is not a heavy guy. Other composites, such as "rare" Sonoma, look more loke Allen: stocky. These all could be argued either way: is 5'8/185 in the same general range as 6'2/210+ ?

Arguing that it must be the same guy because otherwise it was a great hoax that fooled Napa, Vallejo, SFPD etc. is a complete non-sequitur. Z fooled them all repeatedly. A smart copycat couldn't do it once? Certainly the population of crazies in the most populous state is enough of a talent pool. Look at all the other serials that have been unsolved. Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, Riverside. Z ain'tthe only one getting away with serial murder.

That still brings us back to the Ghia door as the only "could only have been" connection. the rest is just probabilities, unlike LHR, BRS and Stine. (BTW, LHR and BRS were _not_ "near water" in anything like the same way LB was: they just had water in their names. Z would have known this: copycat Z might not.)

Show me an expert analysis that concludes the Ghia door "could only have been" and I'll believe. Until then LB is only a "possible", maybe a "probable", but not a "confirmed".

One Post script. Compare the Ghia door to the 3 Riverside letters. Now _there's_ your match.

By Ed N. (Edn) ( - on Tuesday, October 17, 2000 - 10:50 am:

LHR and BRS were in fact near water in addition to taking place at sites that have water-related names.

At Lake Herman Road, Jensen and Faraday were less than half a mile east of Lake Herman, and about 800 feet from a creek (I have not been able to determine if that creek actually has a name, but it is there nonetheless).

At Blue Rock Springs, Ferrin and Mageau were shot within a couple of hundred feet of a large pond (to be honest, it's been there since at least 1993 when I first became interested in the case and found the spot, but I don't know for sure if it was in 1969); however, there is also a sulphur spring located right by that pond that must have been there at the time, so I am assuming that the pond was too.

Just because there is no "proof" that Z was the author of those crimes does not mean that he did not commit them; if we use your "logic," then there are some other Z crimes that we must reject as well. LHR for one. Why? Because, unlike BRS and Stine, the killer did not make a phone call to the cops, nor did he immediately write a letter claiming responsibility. The only thing that ties Z to them is the call to VPD after BRS, and his apparent knowledge of what happened there. But it was seven months later, and it was opined that anyone could have written the letter, not just the killer, because the details could have been gleaned by anyone who spoke with someone at the crime scene. That is why Chief Stiltz requested another letter with more facts to prove it. Otherwise, what is there that ties Z to that crime? Nothing beyond the call and letters many months later, and apparent similarity.

We might also reject Stine as a Z victim, because Z, if we accept his authorship of the other three attacks, only attacked couples in secluded areas away from the city, not single men in wealthy suburbs. Z also did not call the cops as he did on the two previous occasions, so we must therefore assume because of this omission, the killer of Stine must have been a copycat. The copycat could easily have learned Z's writing from the paper and forged a letter claiming responsibility. The killer or someone the killer was in cahoots with mailed a piece of Stine's shirt on at least three different occasions, which proves only that the killer murdered Stine and no others, since he did not do that before in any of the other Z-crimes, so he must be a different individual.

But then there's the writing in the letters that tie that killer to Z because it's similar to his writing found in other letters. Just like the writing on the car door ties Z to Lake B.

What it comes down to is splitting hairs. We can do this and therefore "prove" that none of the crimes were actually Z crimes because none of them were exactly the same and therefore all were the work of criminals copycatting each other's crimes and writing, and not all of them (LHR and Lake B) had immediate claims of responsibility in the form of letters written to the Chronicle.

By Ed N. (Edn) ( - on Tuesday, October 17, 2000 - 01:11 pm:

Peterh wrote:

You still haven't identified one thing about LB that could _only_ have been Z. The reason I am harping on this is that the writing and the info in the first Z letters clearly establish that LHR, BRS and Stine could _only_ have been Z: the handwriting matches and the information (andshirt) is what _only_ Z could have provided.

I found a couple of things of interest regarding your statement. According to "Zodiac Killer Link Affirmed" (The Napa Register, 10-16-1969, p. 1A):

Napa, Vallejo and San Francisco law enforcement officers are certain that the person who stabbed to death a college girl at Lake Berryessa last month and shot to death three youths in Vallejo during the past 10 months is the same man who shot and killed a cab driver in San Francisco last Saturday night.
By a preliminary match of fingerprints and handwriting,
(italics mine) Undersheriff Tom Johnson said that it appears this is the same murderer. (italics mine) However, he pointed out that specialists have not completed, as yet, extensive examinations to verify that identity. "I'm fairly certain it's the same man," he added.

According to "Zodiac Killer Tips Swamp Police," by Jim Wood (Sunday Examiner & Chronicle, 10-19-1969, p. 8, Section A):

Bird is convinced that all of the five killings claimed by the Zodiac slayer were indeed committed by the same man. (italics mine)

"Look at the pattern," he said. "We could tell from that, they were all his even if he hadn't connected them. (italics mine) The letters boasting about the killings, the telephone calls, the shirt, this man definitely wants to be caught."

It seems that back in the day, the "lack of proof" that you apparently believe shows that Lake B was not a Z crime was actually more than enough to conclusively link him.

By Peterh (Peterh) ( on Tuesday, October 17, 2000 - 02:02 pm:

Half a mile? Few Hundred feet? 800 feet? Significant? In the dark? As opposed to on the beach in broad daylight?

Right, all that ties Z to LHR and BRS is knowledge of the crime scene, and handwriting on the letters after BRS. Could only be Z, unless someone leaked LHR crime scene info. All of it. Ammo, weapons, number of shots, position of the bodies, set up of the car, placement and sequence of wounds. Any evidence of that? No, the LHR crime didn't even attract much attention until tied in by BRS and the letters. And no you can't eliminate Stine or LHR on the basis of no phone call, because the shirt _connected by the handwriting_ confirms Stine and the inside info confirms LHR.

And No, my hypothesis does _not_ require that the copycat guess at Z's MO or personation. Every detail he got right was already public knowledge. Come to think of it, the only detail of personation he got right was the Zodiac sign, and the only MO element he got right was the victims. OK, remote location, but where else are you gong to take out a young couple? Are you telling me that the ones he got wrong -- the hood, time of day, etc etc etc -- are more consistent with Z in evolution than with a copycat overdoing it? So where did this evolution go? Stine? Completely different MO and only one detail of personation -- but a critical one -- the same: the letters.

I am not saying that the lack of proof that Z did LB means that he didn't. But the lack of proof sure means he couldn't be convicted of it.

Look at it from the point of view of a defense attorney. I'll even spot you one conviction: BRS. Say you have a dead bang case against suspect X on BRS only: confession, handwriting, info only the killer could have known, etc.; how do you get convictions -- beyond a reasonable doubt, remember -- on the other attacks? Stine? Easy, handwriting and the shirt. LHR? A little more difficult but not much: handwriting, exclusive knowledge and no leaks. BRS? Very different. Exclusive knowledge? Oops, no letter. Signature? Sorry: that's only good if its kept secret, like exclusive knowledge, and it wasn't. MO? Even worse: MO is very different; daylight, stalking, knife, bondage, conversation,attack away from the car etc etc etc. "Coulda been" doesn't meet the standard. Cumulative circumstance? Probability? What are the similarities? Z-symbol, young couple, remote location. Period. Doesn't approach knocking out reasonable doubt. Nope, can't use the phone call, only happened for BRS; personation, maybe, but doesn't count as signature. Shoes? are you kidding? Half the street clothing in California was GI surplus in 1969. Let's face it; all we have is the handwriting.

But I digress.

And I guess I finally have my answer, if only by omission. Of all the handwriting analysis that has been done on all the letters for over thirty years, including the painstaking work on the 1978 letter, not one of us knows of a single expert who ever performed an analysis on the Ghia door and concluded whether it was the same hand that wrote any of the other Z letters?

By Ed N. (Edn) ( - on Tuesday, October 17, 2000 - 05:42 pm:

I guess you didn't read the quote from The Napa Register I posted earlier. Tom Johnson indicated that handwriting analysis took/was taking place at that time. Who did it? I don't know, his or her name wasn't mentioned. Tom probably knows, he has a lot of file material. I'd be very surprised if it wasn't analyzed, and if it was and it matched Z's, there you go. Bingo. Z did it, and there'd be no ifs, ands or buts about it. Apparently that is what it will take to convince you.

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Tuesday, October 17, 2000 - 05:55 pm:

Peterh wrote:
"Half a mile? Few Hundred feet? 800 feet? Significant? In the dark? As opposed to on the beach in broad daylight?"

Hey man, it's the Zodiac's signature, not ours. And I don't know about Northern Cal, but it gets pretty dark after 6:00 in September back east. Maybe not pitch black, but it sure isn't broad daylight.

"Right, all that ties Z to LHR and BRS is knowledge of the crime scene, and handwriting on the letters after BRS. Could only be Z, unless someone leaked LHR crime scene info. All of it. Ammo, weapons, number of shots, position of the bodies, set up of the car, placement and sequence of wounds. Any evidence of that? No, the LHR crime didn't even attract much attention until tied in by BRS and the letters."

Well, yes, actually. The very first reports printed in the Vallejo newspapers list the caliber of the weapon, the number of shots fired, and the locations of the victims' wounds ("Vallejo Teenagers Are Shot To Death Near Lake Herman," Vallejo Times-Herald 12/21/68; "Jealousy Motive Checked," Vallejo News-Chronicle 12/23/68). Vallejo was a relatively small town, and the cold-blooded murder of two local children did, in fact, attract some attention there.

In fact, Solano County Sheriff's Detective Lundblad was at one point looking very closely at a Vallejo teen as the killer. This kid apparently knew Jensen and Faraday, and had heard that they were going to Lake Herman together. When the letters of July '69 showed up, of course, the kid was off the hook, and Lundblad had to eat a little crow.

I've been thumbing through newspaper clippings, by the way, and I've seen only one example of the Zodiac's handwriting published before the Berryessa murder. Ed N. is really the expert on this count, but it seems to me that these examples were pretty rare outside of the Vallejo papers, which would indicate that the copycat would have to be from Vallejo to know so much about the case before it exploded into national news in mid-October.

"....And I guess I finally have my answer, if only by omission."

I guess you do, and I'll state it outright for the record: there is nothing in the way of conclusive physical evidence to prove that the Zodiac killed Cecelia Ann Shepard. There really is more to human behavior than a laundry list of bloody swatches and the right shape "J," though, and if you want to play defense lawyer you might remember the case a few years back in which a man was convicted of murder even though the police couldn't locate the body.

"Of all the handwriting analysis that has been done on all the letters for over thirty years, including the painstaking work on the 1978 letter, not one of us knows of a single expert who ever performed an analysis on the Ghia door and concluded whether it was the same hand that wrote any of the other Z letters?"

This is a good point. I've looked at about 700 pages of the declassified FBI files on the case, and I haven't seen any mention of the handwriting on the car. From what I can tell, though, Napa never requested Federal assistance in the case the way Vallejo and SF did. The FBI had no active investigation of the Zodiac murders; it was purely a matter of rendering evaluations of prints and handwriting. If the Napa County Sheriff's Department didn't ask for such an evaluation, it's no surprise that they didn't get one.

In the end, though, let's face it -- this case will never go to trial. There isn't even the hint of a real suspect, and none of the police agencies will even try to get prints from a suspect unless the rest of the case against him is ironclad. So let me ask you, Counselor: what's your opinion of the Berryessa murder? Regardless of the probability of a conviction, do you really think it was a copycat, or are you just pulling our legs?

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Peterh (Peterh) ( on Wednesday, October 18, 2000 - 12:52 am:

EdN: Sure, I read it,and you're right, that's exactly what it would take to convince me. Simple, huh? Hey! Helloooooo! Aren't we all here because we have questions (not to mention theories) about the findings (or lack thereof) of the original investigators?

Having heard the facts on this pending (for 30 years?) handwriting analysis, I wondered even more deeply that we have never seen its conclusion. Why is that? Speculation: If I had got out in front of my experts with a preliminary opinion which then didn't hold up when the report was finished, I might be tempted to bury it.

Jake: Fair questions. Better than fair, right to the point. No, I really am not pulling legs, but I am trying to stir this pot a bit. Why? Because I have seen enough speculation that becomes conventional wisdom that becomes gospel over time, to know a pot worth stirring when I see it. We need to examine our tenets, to determine which are assumptions (which can't be tested) and which are conclusions (which can be tested and proven or disproven).

Case in point, and please, confirm, research this.

While Albert Einstein (bear with me) was developing the general theory of relativity, he discovered that his equations made complete sense except that they showed that that all the heavenly bodies were moving away from each other at something like the speed of light. He "knew" that this could not be so, because all of his observations to date had depended on the steady state of the universe, that is, the idea that after umpteen gazillion years, the universe --however it had begun -- had stabilized into this big cosmic mobile that maintained its dimensions and sort of hung there spinning around itself forever. (Work with me here , we really are getting back to Z) So to explain the apparent "expansion" , Einstein calculated the "cosmological constant" symbolized by "K", and meaning a sort of supergravity that pervaded the universe that made it seem like the universe was blowing apart when in fact, as we all observed, it was hanging together in perfect equlibrium. Add K to any equation and relativity works, the speed of light is 186,000 mps and all is right in physics. So in about 1920 this "cosmological constant" is the conventional wisdom, the assumption on which all the research on such things as the atom bomb -- hence the military and political history of that century -- are based.

Still with me? OK. About 1925 or so a guy named Hubbel (this should be familiar) set up a really accurate telescope and discovered "red shift". No, not an international communist movement, a simple observation that,yeah, everything in the universe _is_ moving away from us and leaves a signature that indicates a speed equal to, uh, let's see here, oh yeah, exactly Einstein's cosmological constant. How about that?

Einstein's response? "Oops" (loosely translated). More precisely "the biggest mistake of my career, Hubbel is correct, the universe is expanding". Hubbel just gave us the Big Bang theory, the only compelling explanation since Genesis of the origin of it all. Our lesson? Examine our assumptions. Are we _assuming_ that LB (or LHR for that matter) are Z's work, and fitting everything else to that assumption? Or are we, like Hubbel, looking at the actual observations and confirming what is provable and adjusting the rest to conform to the proof? What is the proof? Footnote: aside from the cosmological constant, everything else about general relativity worked just fine: E really does =MC2, the bomb worked, etc.

Jake, I respect your grasp of the nuances of human behavior, and want to address that. I agree that there's a lot about LB that looks like a duck and walks like a duck. Problem is, not one bit of it was kept between "I+ police", as you point out from your comment on the original LHR publicity. But that distances LHR from Z: it doesn't bring LB closer.

Look, I know that all the this doesn't mean LB was a copycat, but the _important_ point is that it doesn't _eliminate_ a copycat from LB or for that matter LHR, which is what I am seeking. All I am asking here is reconsideration of the original assumption/conclusion that the LB perp was the real (BRS) Z and not a set-up, a misdirect, by someone who saw an opportunity that day.

Consider this: "In the day", how much of the original tie-in of LB to LHR and BRS was based on the images, impressions and heat of the moment, and how much was based on hard facts and rigorous police work? After all, BRS and the follow-up letters were hot news. Any resemblance to the previous Z attacks would jump out on 1-A, while the differences would only emerge on second and third looks in the magazine section two months later.

To my mind, 3 things: (1)the handwriting in the early --1969 -- letters, (2) the information in the same letters, and (3) the Stine shirt, absolutely _eliminate_ copycats from BRS and Stine, and probably from LHR. In stark contrast; (1) there are no letters that even remotely implicate Z in LB, (2) so much is different between LB and LHR/BRS that nothing but the Ghia handwriting could _eliminate_ a copycat from LB.

Jake, I do know the case you are referring to, the corpus delecti without the corpse. Very different, though. Family situation, kid saw a body -- like Mom -- behind Dad's desk, Mom is missing, Dad has motive, means and opportunity. Prints, timing, no alibi, beautiful case really, a work of prosecutorial art. Passed the reasonable doubt standard. Does LB? Or, now that you mention it, does LHR?

OK you asked my opinion, and I appreciate that.

As prosecutor or defense, I could, _in good conscience_ argue LB either way. The trial would be a battle of the handwriting experts, Ghia door is Exhibit 1.

But absent the writing analysis?

OK, here goes: LHR was a first-time crazy. Z's MO, but no particular personation. No phone call, no letter. Maybe its Z, maybe not. But it hits the papers. CB.

Z is inspired, plans one for some time in the future. Cruises, takes his time, looks for his shot. Finds it over six months later: July 4 weekend. BRS. Perfect. Success. Letters to the press, responses from PDs and chiefs of PDs, headlines, wow!

Now the LB perp is turned on. Again, maybe its Z maybe not. To answer your question, no, I don't think so. Why? Too many differences that have to be explained, with difficulty; too few similarities that can be explained with ease.


Time of day: No, even Cal is on PDT in September, and at 6:15 on Sept 27 you can see plenty. How else do we know the perp ducked behind the trees and came out in the hood? Not even close to dark.

Car image: the Ghia was parked hundreds of feet away. Not even within sight of the scene. Only association with the car scene was manufactured by the writing.

Approach: Subject stalked the victims, and probably scouted the sunbathers, and the father and son. Spent a lot of time doing so, even if it was only the victims he stalked and the others saw somebody else.

Contact: LHR and BRS were real blitzes: drive by, drive up, lights on, fire on the vehicle, fire on the victims. Not one word between perp and victims. Not one.

LB involved conversation, deception, brandishing of weapons, elaborate lie by perp, attempt at negotiation by victims. Bondage.

Manner of death: LHR: Gunshots, .22LR headshots. 1DOS, 1DOA. BRS: gunshots 9mm 1 head attempt, mostly body shots: 1 DOA, 1 survivor.
LB: Bondage. Knife. Stab wounds.

Dress: Hood

Location: Not Vallejo/Benicia

Personation: No letter or any other claim or written explanation, ever; Bondage; conversation;

OK, Similarities:
Locations: remote, near water (ehhhhh, sort of);
Victims: couple (until Stine)
Z-sign: on the hood and car door
Phone call: Like BRS, not like LHR



By Tom Voigt (Tomvoigt) ( - on Wednesday, October 18, 2000 - 01:19 pm:

One reason Zodiac might have taken a portion of Stine's shirt was because he DID write a letter following the Berryessa attack, but it wasn't acknowledged by the press. (They might have thought it to be a practical joke and thrown it away.) Perhaps Zodiac thought he should include physical evidence in his future letters, to assure publication.

By Peterh (Peterh) ( on Wednesday, October 18, 2000 - 04:04 pm:


After receiving (and publishing) the 3-part crypto and the follow-up letter on LHR and BRS to the Times Herald, which is precisely what caused the sensational headlines in July and August, a paper is going to ignore a letter on Berryessa after the Sept 27 attack? Am I missing something here?

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Wednesday, October 18, 2000 - 05:19 pm:

PeterH wrote:
"No, I really am not pulling legs, but I am trying to stir this pot a bit. Why? Because I have seen enough speculation that becomes conventional wisdom that becomes gospel over time, to know a pot worth stirring when I see it. We need to examine our tenets, to determine which are assumptions (which can't be tested) and which are conclusions (which can be tested and proven or disproven)."

Well, I can't argue with that. I suppose that we are resting on an assumption with this one, but as I've pointed out, I think that it's a very likely assumption that fits all the known facts. To my mind, it's also the simplest explanation, requiring the least amount of "maybes," "could bes" and "what ifs." However, last year's revelations about the Riverside episode sure stirred the pot, and almost all of us were wrong about that one, including yours truly.

I still feel that the real Zodiac's post-Berryessa behavior rules out a copycat more than any piece of evidence or fluctuation in MO and signature. Z read the papers almost religiously, and remarked in his letters about all sorts of crimes that weren't his, often trying to take credit for them. If putting on a hood breaks the Zodiac pattern, then not responding to articles like "Young Couple Bound, Stabbed at Berryessa" (Vallejo Times-Herald, 9/28/69), which openly linked the lakeside attack with the Vallejo murders, shatters it. Again, this is behavioral, not physical, evidence, but in the absence of the latter I think it's pretty strong.

I've enjoyed these posts -- grudgingly at first, but it looks like you've put some thought into this and I sure respect that, even if we disagree.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Tom Voigt (Tomvoigt) ( - on Wednesday, October 18, 2000 - 05:41 pm:

I think it's quite possible Zodiac wrote a letter to the Napa newspaper following the Lake Berryessa murder, and that for whatever reason, it didn't get published.
But even if that's not the case, the odds are tremendous that Zodiac was responsible for Shepard's murder. In fact, I think it's pointless to keep debating this. If he's ever caught, we will know for sure.

By Bruced (Bruced) ( - on Wednesday, October 18, 2000 - 08:33 pm:

How can we catch a dead man?
If a person is ever positively identified as Z and it isn't Allen, I will be totally shocked.
Bruce D.

By Peterh (Peterh) ( on Wednesday, October 18, 2000 - 09:33 pm:

Tom: Sure its possible. Anything more than that to it?

Jake: I like your thinking. Who was it that said that of all the possibilities the simplest explanation is usually the correct one? That nails it. We just disagree on what is the simplest, i.e. the one with the fewest coulda-mighta-maybes. We all find different things plausible or implausible. Vive la difference.
I just happen to think just one coulda explains everything about Berryessa that doesn't otherwise fit. And the key is still the handwriting on the door. The Berryessa perp was not Z. And not exactly a copycat. More like a wannabe. A stalker. A hunter. A

By Gomper (Gomper) ( - on Thursday, October 19, 2000 - 01:51 am:

Peterh, you're right. The key is the handwriting on the door...and the handwriting was done by the
same guy who wrote the letters. Of course, the letter-writer might not have been the man who com-
mitted all the other Zodiac crimes. As Tom said, we won't know for sure unless someone is caught.

P.S.--Tom, didn't Sherwood Morrill ever examine Hartnell's car door?

By Oscar (Oscar) ( - on Friday, October 20, 2000 - 12:38 am:

Why would he? The police dropped the ball every step of the way in this case!

By Hurley (Hurley) ( - on Saturday, October 21, 2000 - 05:15 pm:

I think Berryessa is the work of the Zodiac. He left his calling card on the car door and phoned the police afterward.

I don't think he ever mentioned it again because he thought he killed two people. One of them fortunately survived which I am sure shocked and suprised him and/or he associates this with failure. I don't believe he'd want to discuss it.

By Peterh (Peterh) ( - on Monday, October 23, 2000 - 01:14 pm:

Gomper and Hurley:

Same old question: how do you _know_ that Z, the LHR/BRS/Stine perp left the Ghia calling card. Sure somebody left the Z sign: anyone who read the local and SF papers could know that sign. The only other link is the writing, and that match takes expert analysis. Got any?


By Hurley (Hurley) ( - on Monday, October 23, 2000 - 07:05 pm:


I say Zodiac left his calling card on the car door because of what he wrote on the door. If it wasn't the Zodiac, he wanted to appear as if it was the Zodiac. He even left the Zodiac logo.

There is also the call to the police afterwards. Something the Zodiac did with other crimes.

These fall in line with other Zodiac patterns. Maybe it wasn't Zodiac but until evidence can be produced to say otherwise, what is there to conclude that it was not work of Z?

By Oscar (Oscar) ( - on Monday, October 23, 2000 - 11:58 pm:

Can you recall any other crimes where 'Zodiac' dressed himself up in such an elaborate costume? Yes, obviously Faraday and Jensen didn't survive to give us a description, so for all we know, Z could have been dressed as a Welsh druid! Although Mageau didn't get a good look at Zodiac, he did see enough, by all accounts, to at least determine that the killer wasn't dressed up in the LB costume, or any other costume for that matter. Stine didn't survive to give a description of his killer, but we may assume that Zodiac wasn't waltzing through the city wearing his bizarre garb (although considering the times, he may have blended in!).
The point I am making is simple: if you want to discuss 'patterns', you have to look at the entire picture. The most striking element of the LB attack is the use of a blade by the killer, the tying up of the victims, and the bizarre dysfunctional bagboy-gone-awry- outfit worn by the assailant.
I think it makes a lot more sense to look at the anomalies involved in the LB attack, rather than trying to make it conform to a prefabricated Zodiac mold. In light of the fact that we don't have a viable handwriting analysis, we can also say that the LB attack was not carried out by our favorite psychotic dweeb-Zodiac.
As you can see, there is enough 'ammo' for both sides to use. The really important thought, to my mind, is that, if it was Z, why did he choose this particular style of killing at this time? Why did he then revert to his 'classic' style of killing when he dispatched (sorry!) the unfortunate Mr. Stine? (Yes, there are anomalies present here as well) I can't help but think that there is a greater significance to the costume than many of the so-called experts have previously thought. Why go to the trouble of creating such a macabre costume if you never let anyone see it? It's like getting dressed up for the prom, only to sit in the car in the driveway! If Zodiac ( or the bogus Z) wanted someone to see the costume, perhaps he did not intend to kill Hartnell! This is unlikely, however, since Z went after Hartnell in a pretty convincing way. It would have made more sense for Z to have worn the costume for the earlier killings, but we know that he did not do so for the Ferrin/Mageau incident. As you can see, it is very confusing.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: there is something to the LB incident that resonates in my mind. It strikes me as a particularly weird wannabe getting his jollies. If it was Zodiac, then there are a LOT of unanswered questions as to why he changed his m.o.
Penn in 2004. Ride the wave! (C'mon, already, will somebody else pick up the ball and run with it?)

By Gomper (Gomper) ( - on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 07:27 am:

Peter H.:

No, obviously I don't have any expert handwriting analysis. That's why I asked Tom if Sherwood Morrill ever examined the car door. Nevertheless,
I remain unconvinced--the writing on the door looks just like the writing in the Zodiac letters
and, given that, I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that this was a copycat murder.
Why did he wear the costume at Lake Berryessa and nowhere else? The most logical explanation is that
he was attacking in daylight. Why did he use a knife instead of a gun? No one knows. I still allow the possibility that more than one man was involved in the Zodiac operation, so maybe the attacker at Berryessa was the letter-writer, rather than the accomplice who carried out the
other murders. Just a thought.

By Hurley (Hurley) ( - on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 07:41 am:

I agree with Gomper. It was daylight, his costume was intended only to terrorize his victims.

You are correct. It could have been someone else but as for now and what we know, it has to be taken into consideration when looking at all the Zodiac crimes.

By Tom Voigt (Tomvoigt) ( - on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 11:32 am:

Zodiac probably used a knife at Lake Berryessa simply because it was daylight at a popular recreation area, and the sound of gunfire would have attracted attention.

By Peterh (Peterh) ( - on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 01:50 pm:

It is still interesting to me that some who attribute the Ghia door writing to the Z letter writer do so because they say it looks like the writing in the letters, while others acknowledge that it looks very different but explain that this is because of the position of the writer and the method of writing. OK, Tom, the 64 (I wish) dollar question: what would it take to get a reliable expert comparison between the known Z writing samples and the door?

By Dowland (Dowland) ( on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 02:40 pm:

Another consideration for the knife at Berryessa is proximity to the Manson murders. Zodiac might well have been trying to trump Manson and his gang.

Douglas Oswell

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 03:28 pm:

Oscar wrote:
"The point I am making is simple: if you want to discuss 'patterns', you have to look at the entire picture. The most striking element of the LB attack is the use of a blade by the killer, the tying up of the victims, and the bizarre dysfunctional bagboy-gone-awry- outfit worn by the assailant."

The shopping-bag hat is the most striking visual element, yes, but the defining personation here is control and domination. These are not quantifiable items that can be listed like prints, bloody shirts, and so forth, but they are the most important factors to consider. They are impossible for a copycat (or anyone else) to predict, but working backwards we can see that they are a dead-on escalation of the known Zodiac crimes and letters, with a dash of high drama thrown in.

Z graduated at Berryessa from pre- and post-offense fantasy to reality. This attack and its bizarre peripherals are in no way contradictory with the earlier murders. In fact, the suggestion has been made that, if not for the near-capture after the Stine attack (which was probably motivated by newspaper articles), we would have seen more Berryessa-style attacks.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Peterh (Peterh) ( - on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 04:39 pm:

Jake, Jake, Jake:

OK, you have my attention. If LB is really an escalation -- and "escalation" is not simply a post hoc rationalization for a complete departure in MO and personation -- then there must be at least the beginnings of this progression in LHR and BRS. If its unpredictable, how can it possibly traced back to the previous acts? That's just a way of saying that the similarities are meaningful because they are similar, and the differences are meaningful because they are different. It makes no more sense than to say that the Unabomb attacks are an escalation that can be traced back dead on to Berryessa. Trust me, after reading a few of the theories about this case, i would have absolutely no trouble doing so.

Show me some basis for this conclusion of "escalation", some seed of the _changes_ at Berryessa indicated in LHR and BRS, some progression from LHR to BRS that was continued at LB, and I'll buy it. Otherwise, the "escalation" is not an analytical conclusion based on what actually happened, but an unproven assumption which can explain anything and therefor explains exactly nothing . Show me one scrap of evidence that there is trend from LHR to BRS in any one of the elements you mention: where was the control and domination of the victims or even the hint of it? Where was the high drama, or the hint of drama to come? Where was there any development, escalation or evolution from LHR to BRS? The only changes were from zero personation at and after LHR (that we know of) to a very rich and detailed personation developed after BRS. Phone call letters, ciphers, all of it and not one bit of it directed to the victims. It was entirely confined to law enforcement/media contact: the phone call, the letters, the cryptos, the name: all were directed to the real and only personation of the crimes: relating the acts to the media the cops and the public. Suddenly at Berryessa the personation is now directed to the victims. Daytime approach in a mask, conversations, confrontation, bondage, brandishing of weapons, time spent, all this all of a sudden a few weeks weeks after BRS. Personation up to that point directed at the media, then suddenly he drops that, personation now directed entirely to the victims (never mentioned it in a letter, remember) and then with Stine goes right back to personation directed to the media? In other words, he significantly alters his MO, his personation changes radically, and this is a "dead on" escalation traced back to LHR and BRS? Ever see this kind of pattern in any other serial killer?

And don't tell me again that the writing on the ghia was a "signature". Its only a signature if it is personation that is repeated characteristically. It didn't happen at either LHR or BRS. The symbol appeared in the later letters, which became a signature, but at LB it had only appeared in the letters.

Any real profilers want to chime in here?

I'm going over to the JFK, Roswell and Area 51 sites for a taste of relative reality.


By Jake (Jake) ( - on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 05:24 pm:


The common thread in the murders at LHR, BRS, and LB is situational control. Early in the Zodiac's career, this control was manifested mainly in discretion; he left his fantasy life out of the crimes themselves, and entertained them only before and after the event. At Berryessa, he was much bolder and his fantasy had progressed to the point where a simple hit-and-run wouldn't get him off.

This is, to my mind, equivalent to a man visiting a dominatrix or some kind of underground sex club for the first time. He's never shown an overt taste for this stuff before, but it has been just below the surface, coloring his sexual experiences. If you were to ask his wife if he'd ever used a paddle or a wig before, she'd say no, but in his mind he had been doing it for years.

I'm not going to write a book, or even a lengthy post, detailing the progression in certain rapists from what looks like a normal sex life to sadistic deviance. This kind of escalation isn't just possible, it exists every day in the real world, and it's probably what happened in the case of Lake Berryessa. You've raised an interesting point, but it isn't the challenge to the Official Story that you seem to think it is.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Peterh (Peterh) ( - on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 09:05 am:

But Jake, that's still a post hoc coulda mighta maybe that could explain absolutely any difference between any two crimes and can as easily tie in Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, Kozynski, Manson, you name it. "He didn't brag in the papers about those later crimes and changed MO cause he was spooked by the close call with Stine, and said in the school bus letters he would change methods" and on and on and on. I happen to be one who believes that it is highly likely that Z did go on to others, includng certain hitch-hiker killings that do show a thread, such as focus on the passenger's seat, other MO and personation elements in common with Stine as well as use of .22 LR rounds like LHR. But there is a thread of gradual progression of increased situational control and decreased public/media personation, beginning with Stine. I don't buy that Berryessa-type escalation can develop in the few weeks after BRS, then regress to the more modified approach with Stine, then disappear completely.

Besides, what "situational control" was evidenced at LHR and BRS? It was drive-up blitz, not one word exchanged, no instructions, no confrontation not even any confinement of the victims much less restraints or bondage, blast away, victims escape from the car during the shooting. There was minimal situational control (less in fact than in any other type of felony I can think of except amybe a bombing) in the MO and absolutely none in the personation at the scene. Compare that with the high drama, carefully cased and staged, and no verifiable personation _other_ than at the scene, at LB. I still see no connection between LHR/BRS and LB other than (1) a few elements -- young couple, remote location, z symbol and knowledge of Z's previous 2 dates -- that were previously widely publicized and (2)pure speculation on what _might_ explain the far more numerous and fundamental differences.


By Dowland (Dowland) ( on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 09:37 am:

Don't forget that the primary intention of all the Zodiac crimes, Berryessa included, was not to afford stimulation to the killer, but to make a statement. No doubt, to the killer, a more powerful m.o. would equate to a more powerful statement. Based on the circumstances of the crime, as related by Hartnell, I'm not convinced that Zodiac got any particular enjoyment out of the attack, other than the satisfaction of knowing that he had spoken more forcefully than in the previous incidents. He was obviously nervous, wasn't saying much of anything; didn't abuse the victims (in fact, the entire scenario was intended to convince them to tie one another up so he could have them immobilized) and he left the scene immediately after the stabbing. Two weeks later he went right back to the old, non-confrontational methods, then lapsed into making idle threats.

Douglas Oswell

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 06:22 pm:

Control was exhibited in Vallejo by casing the areas first, making his move while the victims were in their cars, and blinding them with the flashlight. There's no evidence that the flashlight was used at LHR, but I believe that it probably did; the casing certainly took place, as several witnesses descibed the same car in the area for about 2 hours. Personation was exhibited there by terrorizing the kids into leaving the car so he could dominate them further: Faraday wasn't killed while climbing out, but was probably forced to stand by the car; Jensen was smart and tried to run.

Z actually left the BRS lot for a few minutes to make sure no cars like Stella Borges' were coming. In order to minimize the chance of an escape or a witness, Z fired on Mageau and Ferrin while they were still in the car, blinding them upon his approach.

The phone call to Napa PD was similar to the one made after BRS, but the Berryessa caller left the phone off the hook to prevent a call-back as happened in Vallejo. Would a copycat have the foresight to do this?

I recently chewed the hell out of my thumb on a belt-grinder, and typing is kind of painful for me right now. I apologize to readers who are looking to me to take up the party line here, but come on, this one isn't too tough.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Hurley (Hurley) ( - on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 08:12 pm:


Like a deer caught in the headlights.

By Oscar (Oscar) ( - on Wednesday, October 25, 2000 - 10:13 pm:

You made mention of the fact that the most obviously important elements of the LB incident are not to be found in the 'trivial' (the bag, knife etc.), but in the fact that the crime was about "control and domination." How can you exclude these ideas from the earlier murders? I think one could put forth a fairly convincing argument that these earlier crimes were also indicative of a creep who needed to conrol and dominate. Please make your distinction clear.
p.s. Sorry to hear about your thumb! I hope it is healing. Did I ever tell you about the time I inadverdantly shot my then-girlfriend with a nail gun? Well...

By Peterh (Peterh) ( - on Thursday, October 26, 2000 - 09:06 am:

It wouldn't be tough if someone would step up with some real handwriting analysis. That's still the only potential direct link. All this other stuff is speculative and circumstantial. Why does one bother with this most difficult kind of proof when the easiest is available. Kind of reminds me of the drunk looking for his wallet in the middle of the intersection. The cop asks him if he's sure he dropped it there. No, he replies, in fact he dropped it back in the middle of the block, but the light is better here . . .
If the party line is so well supported, (1) there ought to be a credentialled profiler/and or handwriting analyst out there somewhere willing to endorse it and (2) it ought to be relatively easy to scratch up the scratch to get the job done professionally. I'll put up my fair share. Anyone else?


By Ed N. (Edn) ( - on Thursday, October 26, 2000 - 10:45 am:

I would imagine that what we'd need is access to the actual car door and permission from the Napa sheriffs to even do an analysis. Since Tom once mentioned that getting Allen's writing from 1966 (pre-Z era and therefore he couldn't have tried to duplicate Z's writing if he was only a Z wannabe) compared to Z's writing from 1969-1970 would cost some $2,000 to $3,000 (if I remember correctly). Realtor was also going to have Z's writing compared to the writer of the JonBenet Ramsey "ransom" note too, but no word yet on that expensive project. So, what it comes down to is, if it hasn't been done already (and those quotes from The Napa Register I provided indicate that they were preparing to do so 31 years ago), how much are you willing to put up for this? And who's going to hold the $$$ until a reputable graphologist is found who is willing to do said comparison?

By Hurley (Hurley) ( - on Thursday, October 26, 2000 - 02:15 pm:

Excuse me, but what all is involved in handwriting analysis? Why so expensive?

By Tom Voigt (Tomvoigt) ( - on Thursday, October 26, 2000 - 02:19 pm:

The cost is over $5000.
It takes hours and hours of an expert's time, hence the cost.

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Thursday, October 26, 2000 - 04:40 pm:

Oscar wrote:
"You made mention of the fact that the most obviously important elements of the LB incident are not to be found in the 'trivial' (the bag, knife etc.), but in the fact that the crime was about "control and domination." How can you exclude these ideas from the earlier murders?"

I don't exclude them at all, if I read you correctly. I just think that Z was being much more careful about things in Vallejo. I'd bet that he relished his approach to the parked cars at LHR and BRS, but was so afraid of slipping up or being seen that he didn't linger as he did at the lake.

This, I believe, is why he didn't write a letter immediately after the first murder. Even if he did write some of the Riverside letters two years earlier, the stakes were much higher after actually comitting a murder. In the aftermath of BRS, when it became clear that the police had no idea who was responsible, he became much bolder and began to act out some of his evolving fantasies.

"Did I ever tell you about the time I inadverdantly shot my then-girlfriend with a nail gun?"

I'll ask the obvious question and inquire if this is the reason she's a "then-girlfriend?" Thanks for the wishes.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Ed N. (Edn) ( - on Thursday, October 26, 2000 - 07:04 pm:

There are some things I found in Signature Killers by Robert D. Keppel that might be of interest to this discussion:

p. 88: And the murders themselves will escalate with greater violence as the killer experiments with all the core components of signature murder (italics mine) to satisfy his ever-growing sexual needs.

p. 238: These increasingly lengthy stays (italics mine) with his victims while he meticulously arranged each crime scene served to heighten his entire sexual experience.

The "he" Keppel referred to was George W. Russell in Bellevue, WA, in 1990.

p. 79: The flourish of picquerism in these victims was a signal that he was evolving from being satisfied by bondage alone (italics mine) along the violence continuum to a higher level of need: the stabbing, gouging, and cutting of picquerism. (italics mine)

The victims were those of Richard Cottingham, the Midtown Torso Killer in New York and New Jersey, between 1977 and 1980.

p. 215: Picquerism is actually an advanced state of signature, because it requires that killers spend more time with their victims, (italics mine) experiment visually with a pattern or actually cover a body part with wounds, determine where on the victim's body they're most likely to find satisfaction through inflicting wounds, and penetrate the victim just enough to cause the wound and provide satisfactory sexual feedback without actually hacking up the victim in an overkill signature. (italics mine)

p. 125: Even more important, understanding what turned a killer on and what his expectations might have been at each crime in a series helped us include crimes in an investigation that were related even if the killer was deliberately trying to throw us off or had changed his MO (italics mine) because a situation presented him with new challenges or opportunities.

p. 233: In addition, although the cause of death was from blunt impact in each case, the different variety of weapons used influenced the decision of the MO purists that separate killers were in operation. (italics mine)

They looked exclusively for the exact MO from one crime scene to the next, instead of recognizing that a killer changes his MO as he strives to get more comfortable in successive murders. (italics mine)

This was referring once again to George Russell.

These quotes, while referring to different scumbags and their signatures, might therefore explain a progression from a simple blitz-style attack using a gun and then an immediate escape from the crime scene (LHR and BRS) to where Z spent more time with his victims and ultimately stabbed them (LB). The key here is that he might have experimented with what got him off, which might explain the difference between LB and the other crimes, and why he switched back to his former mode of using a gun and attacking by surprise. Maybe he felt that what he did at Lake B didn't get his rocks off as much as using a gun and making a fast getaway.

As Edward wrote (in the thread "Was the Zodiac a sexual sadist?" October 22, 2000, 1:56 PM): So where does Zodiac fit in? Since he has elements of many different types of murderer (including sexual sadist) I believe “mixed sexual homicide” best describes him. So called because it is a mixture of organized and disorganized aspects. Ted Bundy is classified this way because he deteriorated in his methods, from organized to disorganized murder. Perhaps if and when the Zodiac is identified we’ll be able to categorize him more accurately.

That about sums Z up. As the cover of Zodiac proclaims:

The shocking true story of the nation's most bizarre mass murderer. (italics mine)

The problem here in the West is that we try to pigeon-hole and categorize everything. Some people, like Bundy and Z, just don't fit in with our pre-conceived notions. That's why it'll take a lot more to convince me that Lake B was not a Z crime.

By Oscar (Oscar) ( - on Sunday, October 29, 2000 - 03:58 am:

What you said in your response to my posting makes sense to me. You make mention of the Riverside letters. Do you believe Z was responsible for Bates, or are you joining the crowd that is saying it probably wasn't Z? Has it ever struck you that the Bates killing has a lot in common with the Berryessa murder? By this, of course, I mean the psychology at play as evidenced by what we know happened. Comment?
The Poet Laureate of this Board,
p.s. Yeah, she walked out on me...after her foot healed, that is (re: the nail gun affair)

By The_Adversary (The_Adversary) ( - on Sunday, December 10, 2000 - 07:55 am:

I don't agree that Berryessa was anything special to Zodiac, at least not the costume.
I also don't think his name was that special to him, since he didn't refer to himself as Zodiac when calling the police.

Gee, ANOTHER problem for the infamous "Don" report to MBPD? If we are to believe this suspicious report, then the alleged Allen quote (in January, 1968, more than a year-and-a-half prior to LB!):

"He would call himself 'Zodiac'."

would mean that the name "Zodiac" WAS VERY IMPORTANT TO HIM! So which is it?

By Tom Voigt (Tomvoigt) ( - on Sunday, December 10, 2000 - 12:09 pm:

It wouldn't mean that at all. Perhaps he merely realized he would get greater media coverage if he had a nickname, like all the movie and cartoon villains.

By Howard (Howard) ( - on Saturday, December 30, 2000 - 11:55 am:

Doug- the knife that Harnell describes at the LB attack is very similar to a knife mentioned in books on the Manson Family complete with tape being wrapped around the handle,etc. When I first read of Hs account several years ago and his dipiction of that knife,I remembered reading of a Family knife that fit Hs description. Larry Melton an ex Fam' member related how that he was asked to go to Northern Ca. and kill someone, and he was told that he would be given rope,3 girls to assist(the Napa dispatcher seems to have heard 'female voices' in the background when the caller set the mouth piece down)and a knife. He refused and this angered Good and Share the 2 M girls that made the request for Manson.In August of 69' Manson told Bruce Davis to 'stab victims until the blood flowed'.An ex Family member told us that she knew Bruce had disappeared the 26th of September 69' and returned to the group a short time later. She remembered the date/time as a significant event took place at that time. She said Bruce was the most feared of all the male members.Just some thoughts. I have got to get a copy of your book -I'm sure if its like your posts its gotta be good!

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) ( - on Sunday, December 31, 2000 - 08:57 am:

Howard--So far as the Zodiac information is concerned, my book is a quite a bit dated. The information is still good, but thanks to people like Tom a lot of data has been added to the mix since it first appeared in 1998. However, if you're interested in the Kaczynski connection you really should consider ordering a copy.

By Howard (Howard) ( - on Monday, January 08, 2001 - 05:39 pm:

Don't know if it has been brought out that there was no call after the 12/20/68' 87'. Of course, the caller told Slover 4/5/69'that he killed 'those kids'12/20/68'.Z does vary his operations from time to time.Even if we don't have a call to RSPD/newspaper he still claims to have made a call. The 10/27/70 Halloweem card does say "by rope -by knife"which could reference LB.When Z states "by fire" he could refer to Johns car and possibly the hapless 63' 87' couple.To him the attempt is 'real'. Of interest Bruce Davis/an associate tried to kill Paul Watkins by setting his van on fire as he slept in it! Another attempt was made on another man. Also, the Family burned a skip loader.

By Joe P (Crucifer) ( - on Sunday, March 25, 2001 - 04:55 am:

the fire also could refer to the gun he had brought with him to the LB crime scene, though he didn't use it on his victims. i know there's been some talk of a manson tie with the Z killings, but i doubt that manson or any of his "family" were involved. they were in the area at the time. but what evidence is to connect any of them to the case.

By Oscar (Oscar) ( - on Monday, March 26, 2001 - 03:11 am:

There is very little solid evidence. I am placing the emphasis on the word solid, because this case is so incredibly complex. What makes matters worse is that the coincidences- actually, amazing coincidences- abound in this case. How many other cases have as many different candidates that, to some degree or another, look as good on paper as Allen, Kane et al.?
Personally, I tend to agree with you that Manson's charming little tribe of misanthropic meatheads had nothing to do with the Z killings, but every now and then I read something that really does make me wonder about the odds. However, I am also reluctant to believe that Z was one person. I have always thought that the Berryessa attack was rather "parodic" in a sense- almost like Z (or whomever) playing a satirical boogeyman, rather than a cold-blooded killer like in the earlier slayings. I have always felt that there is a serious attempt at communication in this Berryessa attack. The key problem with this is that one would have to believe that Z wanted Hartnell to live...if so, he went about it in a rather strange way.
Berryessa is such an anomaly in so many ways. There is more here than meets the eye.

By Peter_H (Peter_H) ( - on Monday, March 26, 2001 - 01:26 pm:


Good to hear this serious analysis. I think Occam's Razor applies more to Berryessa than perhaps any other aspect of the case. One simple explanation -- it wasn't the same killer -- explains everything about Berryessa. All other explanations are so complex and convoluted they amount to almost pure conjecturew. BTW: nothing strange at all about the Berryessa approach to communication. The killer didn't need to establish a relationship with the victims, or not one that would last beyond the attack, if that's what you are implying. The killer need not have wanted Hartnell to live in order to make the attempt at communication serious. In fact, what better person to open up to than one who can't talk about it later.

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Monday, March 26, 2001 - 03:16 pm:

Peter H wrote:
"The killer need not have wanted Hartnell to live in order to make the attempt at communication serious. In fact, what better person to open up to than one who can't talk about it later."

Great point, but I think even "communication" implies too much. My take is that Z wanted to witness the victims' terror, but didn't want to open up to them or learn anything about them. I also guess that Z figured, "If I just tell these kids to lie down so I can kill them, they'll run, so I better give them a less threatening story until I can tie them up."

"I'm not a Serial Killer, but I Play One on the Board."

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Thursday, March 29, 2001 - 03:23 am:

It would seem that most students of the Zodiac case are willing to admit that Zodiac was the perp at BRS and that he called the police after the crime and said "I want to report a double murder.If you will go one mile east on Columbus Parkway to the public park, you will find kids in a brown car.They were shot with a 9-millimeter Luger. I also shot those kids last year.Good -bye."That was 7/5/69. Now we move to 9/27/69 after another couple has been attacked we have another call"I want to report a murder-no ,a double murder. They are two miles north of Park headquarters . They were in a white Karmann Ghia.I'm the one that did it." There are enough similarities in both calls to indicate the same person made them.

Both callers say they want to report a "double murder" to a police Dispatcher . Both callers state the number of miles and the direction of travel to reach the victims.Both calls mention a park.Both mention the car's color and that the couple was in the car.Both end with the attacker saying he was responsible for the murders. One says" good -bye" and the other ends with "I'm the one that did it."

To me, it is not so much the two crimes ,separated by some two months ,entail calls, but it is the very close similarity of content and expressions of the caller like "a double murder"that lead one to believe it is not a copycat, but the same person.

Both leave writings with one sending one in the mail and the other written on a car door(perhaps a letter was sent in the mail but was lost at some point-not a first for the post office!).In both cases a couple is involved and he mistakenly thinks both persons are dead.In one ,the killer comes back or lingers to do something-on one to shoot and the other to write.A gun was used at both crime scenes-one was fired and the other was drawn.Both settings have a form of water-Lake B and Blue Rock Springs. Both calls had the water element with one at a road with the name Springs and the other next to a car WASH. Both calls were placed near the police station.

For those that demand a call to indicate a Z hit must look at 12/20/68 where there was NO CALL OR LETTER!No call after Stine either. All something to think about.

There was a call in connection with the Lass abduction ,but not to the police, but a call nevertheless.The Bates typed letter mentions a call and of course,we have a letter/s.This murder took place in a water element- Riverside, and the killer's car was on Riverside Dr.Some form of deception was involved in each crime -I will defend later if challenged on my last statement-or any statement.

By Peter_H (Peter_H) ( - on Thursday, March 29, 2001 - 09:19 am:

As the No. 1 LB skeptic on this board, let me say, Howard, that I find your analysis of the similarities between the phone calls the most compelling (indeed the only) connection I have seen between the previous attacks and LB (even perhaps conclusive IF), maximum IF and ONLY IF we know that the details of the earlier call you quote had not been publicized at the time of the LB attack. Otherwise, the call is in the same category as all the other supposed connections: fair game for a copycat (and not a very good one at that). I asked repeatedly in the LB thread some months ago whether there were any details -- any at all -- that show up at LB that only the killer at LHR or BRS could have known. The consensus was: no, all were previously publicized. Is that the case here, or do we finally have a connection that only the BRS/LHR killer could have made?

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Thursday, March 29, 2001 - 02:16 pm:

I'm with you, Peter, in tipping my hat to Howard on this one. I wish I'd thought of that comparison.

In "Badly Wounded Youth Holds Key To Gun Mystery" (Vallejo Times Herald, 6 July 1969), Z is quoted as saying "I shot them. I used a nine millimeter automatic." This is quite a bit different from Officer Slover's account of Z's words that night, so if the Berryessa killer was copycatting the call he should have been just as abrupt, right?

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Colette (Colette) ( - on Thursday, March 29, 2001 - 04:22 pm:

With the calls made near a police station, maybe Zodiac liked to watch the police leave for the scene. (as in the arsonist that watches the firetrucks,ect.)

By Peter_H (Peter_H) ( - on Monday, April 02, 2001 - 04:05 pm:

So how about it, Howard? Ready to throw the payoff pitch and say that the first phone call was not publicized before the LB attack?


By Ed N (Ed_N) ( - on Monday, April 02, 2001 - 05:57 pm:

Peter: Z's call after BRS was made public on 7-5-1969, on the front page of the Vallejo Times-Herald in the story, "Two Victims Found Lying Beside Road: Police Get Anonymous Message From Slayer":

Less than an hour after the shooting was discovered by three young passersby, police received an anonymous telephone call which was traced to a pay telephone at a Texaco service station (this was, as far as I have been able to determine, Silvia's Union Service gas station at 700 Tuolumne) at Springs Road and Tuolumne Street.

"I shot them," a youthful male voice said. "I used a nine millimeter automatic." Police said such a weapon was used in the shootings.

Before the officers could get to that location, the caller had vanished in the early morning darkness.

According to "Vallejo Woman Is Slain" by Richard Kirkpatrick (The Napa Register, 7-5-1969, p. 1):

Police received an anonymous telephone call less than an hour after three young passersby discovered the victims. "I shot them," a youthful male voice said. "I used a nine millimeter automatic." Lt. James Dwiggins stated that cartridges found near the scene were from a nine millimeter gun.

The call was traced to a pay telephone at a service station at Springs Road and Tuolumne Street. Before officers could get to that location, the caller had disappeared.

According to "Vallejo Killings Linked" (Vallejo News-Chronicle, 7-7-1969, p. 1):

The anonymous telephone caller who notified Vallejo police he had shot a couple early Saturday also said he had killed the two teenagers on Lake Herman Road last December, police revealed today.

His call was received at 12:30 a.m. Saturday, 30 minutes after a woman had reported the shootings, also by telephone. He told the police switchboard operator:

"I want to report a double murder. If you will go one mile east on Columbus Parkway to a public park you will find the kids in a brown car. They were shot with a 9 millimeter Luger.


"I also killed those kids last year. Goodbye."

According to "Police Seek Slaying Aid" (Vallejo Times-Herald, 8-5-1969, p. 1):

A letter by the anonymous claimed slayer said he was seen by a Negro man after the Blue Rock Springs Park shootings. This allegedly occurred at the Union 76 service station phone booth at the intersection of Springs Road and Tuolumne Street at 12:40 a.m. July 5, the night of the crime.

"Switchboard Girl Tells Of Killer's Call" and "Killer" (Vallejo News-Chronicle, 8-13-1969, pp. 1 and 2) gives even more detail than the previous four I quoted from. Suffice it to say, it was pretty well-known that Z made a phone call after BRS. But... so what? That makes LB no more a copycat crime than BRS being nothing more than a crime copycatting LHR. Or PH being a copycat crime. Or...

In the spirit of fairness, I've posted these quotes which seemingly support your contention. But I've also posted in this thread on a previous occasion the opinion of police that LB was a Z crime (on Tuesday, October 17, 2000 - 01:11 pm).

There's something I ran across in "Couple Attacked By Hooded Man" by L. Pierce Carson (The Napa Register, 9-29-1969, p. 1), to append to that previous post:

Investigators feel the hooded man who stabbed the two college students is the same person who claims he murdered three Vallejo residents (italics mine) during the past year by gunning them to death.

The consensus since the very beginning is that LB was a Z crime. The original investigators all seem to agree that it is. I still don't see why you don't.

By Jennifer (Jackyl1) ( - on Monday, April 02, 2001 - 06:23 pm:

Forgive me if this is already posted elsewhere (I didn't see it). Were the words on the car door or the Skeleton card made public at the time of the crimes? I believe LB was the work of the same killer for many reasons, but on the door he wrote "by knife." In the skeleton card he wrote "by fire, by gun, by knife, by rope," etc.
Doesn't it seem odd that both would happen to be worded it as such? Why would he write "by knife" on the car door anyway? It's obvious that he killed them that way. Jenn

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Tuesday, April 03, 2001 - 01:57 am:

Peter- I am familiar with the news articles on Zodiac. I worked with Dave Peterson the author of many articles on Zodiac. We discussed the copy cat angle based on public reports and what was available at the time.

Actually one could make a case with the copycat motive on the first Z strike 12/20/68 when one examines the BRS case. Someone reads where an assailant attacks a young couple parked at night on 12/20/68 and then does the same thing at BRS.Of course, in the first there was not only no call to the police, but there were no letters either.

So what do we do- reject the BRS as a copy of the Benicia attack -what criteria do we have if we say LHR was in the papers so BRS had to be a copycat? I know the caller said he killed the kids at LHR but does that prove the caller really was the shooter?The fact is he did call the police close to their station and later wrote a letter relating details that showed he was the killer.I was told I was the first to see and parallel the similarities between both the BRS and LB calls.I would think the copy guy would pick more overt Z deals to indicate he is the "same man". Some do not accept this as proof as they say the copycat could have gotten his info from police reports and other sources like newspapers and talkative policemen.

The same arguments are employed for the Riverside case and those 'secret details' the writer of the '66 typed letter recounted as proof he was the murderer.

Now, we go to the 9/27/69 attack and I think it is here that you base your copycat theory on the CHANGES in this strike as opposed to the 7/5/69 87. That is, if the same perp is involved in the BRS and the LHR-remember some discount both as being the same man.

This attack was during the day and not at night and since the attacker wore a costume with a cross/circle and tied up his victims and stabbed them and did not use a gun in commission of this crime then it was the work of a copycat.I say the copycat did a very poor job- as the fact of the matter is- by creating these vast differences between the known crimes and LB he certainly is defeating his purpose!

When the Family wanted to do a copycat they at least wanted to duplicate the crime not manufacture huge differences between the crimes!

The costume was not meant to be reported as he was certain the two would be dead after he left them-"dead men tell no tales." Tom, has wisely pointed out that if Z killed other unknown victims, as he asserted, how do we know he did not use a costume-these people would be dead and ,therefore, would be unable to give a Hartnell like account!

We have those two phone calls(7/5/69-9/27/69) and they were alike in detail, but this copycat changed everything else around,but he had to replicate that call from Vallejo!

Being a first time copycat you would expect him to kill at night, in a deserted area ;use a gun which is clean and easy and then dart out of the area as we have from those newspaper accounts -this he did NOT do and he sure did not follow the news stories at LB relative to the methodology manifested at LHR and BRS!

Worse yet ,we now jump to 10/11/69 and we do not have a couple in a parked car or on the ground for that matter,but instead a lone male cabbie going to the perp and then driving him to a specified location and then the attacker presses a gun to his head killing him and he then tears a portion of his shirt off and leaves on foot instead of a car. What is not done is that call -he did send a letter and a piece of Stine's shirt with the commication. This was not done with the Vallejo missives-no physical proof was sent to the police or the newspaper.

Going back to LB we do have a writing from the hooded attacker on the door and as Tom has said he could have sent a letter but it was lost.

What I am saying is I believe if it was a copycat he was far afield if he wanted the populace to think he was the "horoscope killer" as he was dubbed by Police reporter Dave Peterson. He changed the rules by a mile.

But,so did the Zodiac at S.F.and I think the real Zodiac did a switch at LB except for that call.Why copy the call from the papers and then basically IGNORE all the other news accounts of methodology?Why leave writing on a car door- free hand -knowing the police are going to compare it to the known exemplars, as given in news accounts-exposure is certain and all that hard planning and risk of the death penalty,etc. to do an uncopycat right out in the open-I just do not think so!

Ed is correct- all the authorities believed it was the same man at the time and I will follow in this regard.

Of course, the astrological setting was similar in many respects with all the Zodiac crimes according to expert astrologers I consulted.This means LHR, BRS, LB and S.F.and Johns were very similar in detail-yes, LB too!My experts and Dave Peterson, who was with the case since the First attack all are firm on this.Dave on the information availible,including PD reports, and the astrology -which he learned to be proficient in the Zodiac case!Very professional and he wasn't being intellectually lazy like some who refuse to gain an understanding in this side of the case.In WWII he was with Special Intelligence, so his abilities were reconized as he applied himself to his tasks even though difficult.

I have a lot of letters from detectives who consulted with Peterson on the astrology angle because they believed Zodiac was into that subject!I saw this early on and learned all I could and sought out the best experts in astrology to be certain of my facts in this complicated subject.More later- I am sure you will always have more!

By Peter_H (Peter_H) ( - on Tuesday, April 03, 2001 - 09:52 am:

Ed: Thanks for the detail, I appreciate the effort.

Howard: So what I hear you saying is that
1) the similarities between LHR/BRS/PH and LB are so nconsequential that no self respecting copycat could have got it so wrong, AND

2) the similarities between LHR/BRS/PH and LB are so important that they prove one perp did all four Z crimes.

A couple of fundamental points.

1) I do not have a copycat theory. My opinion is that there is no substantial evidence that the LB perp did any of the other three.

2) My opinion is not based on the differences between LB and any of the others, It is based on the similarities, specifically on the unrebutted fact that not one of the similaroties -- unlike among the other 3 -- can be explained ONLY by the single perp theory.

3) Occam's Razor: Look at all the convoluted explanations you have to lay out (above) to explain the differences AND the similarities. (Tom says there "could" have been a letter that was lost? Come on. Allen "could have" left a full taped confession that was lost, too.) My approach explains everything in two words: different guy.
Inspired, copycat, creatng cover, call it what you will. I'm not even saying anything proves it was a different perp. All I'm puttng forth is that based on what is known, and the relative simplicity of the competng theories, it is far more likely that LB was a different perp.

A couple of lesser points:

1) The LB perp did not "change everything else around". He got a number of details right on, the Z sign, the dates of the ther attacks, the couple, the remote 20.

2) It is these similarities -- not the convoluted post hoc theories trying to explain the differences -- that had the authorities convinced at the time and apparently to this day that the perp was the same.

3) He was not "far afield". He obviously convinced just about everybody.

4) On Ed's acceptance of the consensus. Since when do we "follow" the authorities just because they believe something? I thought we were here to question those who dropped leads, smudged perfect prints, forged letters etc etc etc

5) A weak copycat theory on LHR and BRS is completely irrelevant to proof that Z did LB.

6) The riverside confession letter is equally irrelevant.

7) And finally Astrology. Astrology is off the relevance chart.

First there is a big enough fudge factor in astrology to find parallels in anything. Do you realize how many variables are involved in the signs alone? Add in the planets, a few stars and I can prove you and I are the same person. Of course there are going to be impressive coincidences. About as impressive as the following example: 30 randomly selected strangers are in the same classroom. Someone suggests comparing birthdays, and oh my gosh: out of only thiry people and 365.25 days in the year, two of the people discover they have exactly the same birthday! What are the odds? that's not a rhetorical question: what are the odds? That's how astrology, numerology and Psychic Friends Network all work, my friend. Get a competent statician to work on all these astrological alignments and see how impressive they are.

Second, suppose LB shows alignments that are way beyond statistical probability. This is no more impressive than getting the Z sign right: IT"S ALL COMMON KNOWLEDGE. Even more common than a publicized phone call or murder dates.

By Scott White (Scott_White) ( - on Tuesday, April 03, 2001 - 12:01 pm:

I agree with Jenn. It seems obvious that Zodiac was the Lake B. assailant. The costume is a lot of work for someone who's a copycat. It's more consistent with someone consumed with the Zodiac identity he's creaTed for himself.If he meant to kill the couple, no one would even know of the costume.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Tuesday, April 03, 2001 - 12:15 pm:

We should continue this is a new thread. This one is getting way to big...

By Ed N (Ed_N) ( - on Tuesday, April 03, 2001 - 01:17 pm:

Lake Berryessa: Zodiac Crime? (Part II) is the new thread to post under...