Zodiac's Tactics

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen : Zodiac's Tactics

By Len (Len) ( on Friday, January 31, 2003 - 08:13 am:

Does anyone have any thoughts on where the Zodiac may have gotten the tactics used in the attack at Lake Herman Road? Assuming that shooting into the car was meant to drive the occupants out, was this something that was learned in the military? Is this a standard tactic to be used in some similar situation?

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-af07.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, January 31, 2003 - 10:09 am:

Len, I'm an avid reader of journals and books on elite military forces from around the world -- not that that makes me an expert, mind you -- and I've pondered exactly the same questions that you've posed. In all honesty, the conclusion that I've come to is that such an approach would have been one of sheer terror designed to force BLJ and DF out of the car. Considering the caliber of the gun, a .22 Long Rifle, I can't imagine that he could have 'secured' himself a 'victory' -- which all pertains to MO -- unless he could get the occupants of the vehicle out of the car. I also think that it is quite possible that Zodiac was yelling at them as well. Something along the lines of, "Get out of the car! 'BANG!' Get out of the car, NOW!" 'BANG!'

I think it is fair to say that a pistol and a nasty disposition will get you nearly anything, and a good portion of 'tactics' or armed confrontation is exactly that: disposition and armament. However, another key component is rehearsal and preparation, and that is the part that keeps coming back to me: Of all of the known Zodiac crimes, LHR, BRS, LB, and PH, one can easily argue that Zodiac was 'prepared' for all of them. In other words, none of them, IMHO, were spontaneous acts of violence. All of them had been 'rehearsed' or imagined beforehand. In my mind, that unto itself is a tactical advantage.

By Len (Len) ( on Friday, January 31, 2003 - 11:40 am:

Scott: I agree with everything you posited. His tactics are different each time out, evolving through trial-and-error and necessity. This one, however, being the first in the series, is interesting. It has almost a gangland feel about it. However, it couldn't have worked as well as he imagined since he employed, shall we say, subtler tactics at BRS.

I'm curious whether the tactics he used--specifically at LHR--show any link to a particular branch of the armed forces or experience gleaned in Viet Nam.

You also bring up the subject of the .22. Do you think that choice of weapon showed savvy on his part or a lack of knowledge?

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Friday, January 31, 2003 - 09:44 pm:

Your comments that Z probably shouted for them to get out of the wagon is very interesting.I don't think I have heard that before.I have always thought that since he didn't say anything at BRS,but just walked up and started shooting- as MM reported-that he did the same thing at LHR.This certainly would add to their terror!
I think it was also to get them,especially the girl, running so he could hunt them down as it were.The scene seems to indicate BLJ ran about 28 feet or so before she was felled.
We know from BH Z spoke to them about 15 minutes or so,but that was a different scenario.
Good idea.

By Nick (Nick) ( on Saturday, February 01, 2003 - 12:22 am:

It does appear a strong possibility that Z herded them out of the car at LHR. That may have been a learning experience. Many things can go wrong with this type of encounter. The adrenaline is flowing on both sides of the spectrum. A victim can escape or lunge at the attacker, especially if he is popping rounds from a .22. Z got lucky that night and probably realized a few refinements were in order.

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) (lsanca1-ar6-4-63-090-167.lsanca1.elnk.dsl.genuity.net - on Saturday, February 01, 2003 - 09:29 am:

There seems to be an important parallel between LHR and BRS that might offer some insight. As MM told investigators, he and DF believed that they were being approached by the police, and had their identification ready. Nothing was said by the man before he started shooting.

If Z made his approach at LHR in a manner that suggested to the victims he was a police officer (positioning of his car in relation to the victims' car; using a flashlight), he may have shouted out commands in a manner consistent with that guise, which compelled them to exit the car. Whether or not Z wanted them out of the car so they could attempt escape -- and he could pick them off using the illuminating device on his firearm -- is not clear. On the one hand, he risked loss of control of his prey, which does not seem consistent with pre-planning and organization, and could well have resulted in one or both of them getting away. I don't recall (too lazy to look it up) if the windows of the car were open or closed at LHR, but Z must have been mindful that a .22 fired through windows at the victims would have been less than effective and certain, which might explain why he wanted them out of the car. Shooting DF immediately after he exited would have reduced by half the risk of successful escape.

As has been pointed out by Nick and many other times here, for Z, each crime was a learning experience. He might have used the police officer guise in both LHR and BRS, but on the latter, once he had planted the police pretext in the victims' minds in order to establish control, he made no effort to get them out of the car and began shooting immediately. Z had increased his firepower with his use of a 9mm, so any closed windows would have presented less of an impediment.

The loss of control at LHR and the survival of one victim at BRS, may explain why Z committed no further nighttime assaults on young couples in cars at "lovers lane" sites.

I'm reminded of Caryl Chessman, the so-called "Red Light Bandit" of the 40's in Los Angeles, who used the guise of a police officer (complete with a red spotlight on his car) in his approach to the parked lovers. Although there is no indication that Z's tactics were that involved, the national publicity of Chessman's crimes over the many years he spent on Death Row before his execution in 1961(?), wouldn't have escaped Z's attention.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acbe6d55.ipt.aol.com - on Saturday, February 01, 2003 - 02:14 pm:

Bill: the passenger side window was down, which certainly suggests that some communication occurred between Z and his victims.

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Saturday, February 01, 2003 - 08:51 pm:

Right Ed.Bill has given more food for thought.
With the passenger window down, Zodiac must have said something,but why didn't he just open fire if he simply wanted to kill the hapless couple?
Was he using a ploy to get them out of the car?Did he walk up and say something is wrong with the wagon-like a flat tire,etc.Or did he ask them for weed or if they wanted to buy any,if so it was in his car-did they want to get out and check it out?Wild,I know,but so was Z!I still can't help but think of CJB and that deceptive plan to get her away from the car.My last thought is more chilling.Did he try to get them out of the wagon so he could control and then stab them and it just didn't work?SB and LB, as the final fulfillment of his probably long standing fantasy.The penlight(I find it incredible that one won't accept many of Zs statements-like KJ,etc.,in his letters,but take his word that he used this kind of a deal on his gun!)taped to his gun seems to indicate his desire to shoot them though,but I believe while one or both were fleeing.Quite a thrill for a psycho like Zodiac.
Or did he, as Bill suggests, approach the car as a member of law enforcement(maybe in the capacity of a narc officer considering the type of car he was in)and asked them to get out of the wagon,maybe on the pretext they may have some drugs in the vechicle and knowing they didn't and very suspcious of his intentions refused to comply.With this he shot at the rear window shattering it and then went around and shot at the left rear wheel housing to get them out of the car.This worked,but it forced the killer to run around the front of the wagon to shot DF and then he had to chase BLJ to shoot her.
When he shot at the right rear window,wouldn't that force them out of the left side of the vehicle?If so,then we have a herd intention deal here.This seemed to have failed,so he quickly went around to the left rear of the wagon and shot at the left wheel housing for another fear effect- to get them to comply with his get out order(if indeed he gave some kind of order as Scott suggests-really good theory though),wouldn't that be to get them to flee from the right side ,having failed to get them to exit the left side of the car?
If so,his original intention was to get them to exit on the left and when this didn't work he tried the right side ,which did and he got to shoot a fleeing victim on his'most dangerous animal'hunt.
Was he,at LHR, shining a bright light in the vehicle as we had at BRS,if so did he even need a penlight or 'eletric gunsight' as he called it?We know he used a large light at BRS which was sufficient to blind his victims and fool them into staying in the car since they would think he was an officer.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc010a4.ipt.aol.com - on Saturday, February 01, 2003 - 10:29 pm:

I wonder if that was his intention at LHR: an attempt to duplicate in some small way Count Zaroff's chase of his victims at the end of The Most Dangerous Game. Herd them out of the car and chase them down the road for a bit before killing them. If he spotted the lights of Stella Borges' car passing by Lake Herman half a mile away, that would have cut his chase short.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-af07.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, February 02, 2003 - 09:28 am:

Nick wrote, "The adrenaline is flowing on both sides of the spectrum."

Excellent point! How many realize that, of the 30+ shots that were fired at the infamous gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, AZ., only 7 actually hit their intended target?

I agree that 'adrenaline' is a key issue that rarely gets discussed, if at all. That is part of what makes Zodiac's 'abilities' with a firearm so remarkable if you account for all of the evidence that LHR has to offer. Zodiac fired 10, .22LR caliber bullets from a semi-automatic weapon and 8 of them hit their intended target -- counting the 2 that he fired at the vehicle to force them from the car -- in well under 30 seconds, and managed to kill two people and escape into the night. A stroke of luck? Maybe. Granted, Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday weren't armed and able to fight back, but it seems more likely, in my opinion, that Zodiac did either 1 of 2 things: rehearsed, or learned from a previous situation of like manner.

Here is a rough outline of the sequence of events, as I perceive them:

1. Zodiac parks in front of David Faraday's car, gets out, and approaches them in the manner that Bill described, very cop-like.

2. Zodiac tells them, "Get out of the car." His initial words were barely audible to DF and BLJ, which is why, thinking that the approaching killer was actually a cop, David rolled down his window. He probably says something like, "Excuse me, sir?"

3. Zodiac, probably feeling that his masculinity has been challenged, fires 2 rounds into the car then states louder and with more authority, "GET OUT OF THE CAR! NOW!"

4. At this point, panic has struck BLJ and DF like a lightning bolt, their instincts turn primal, and their 'natural' reaction becomes one of safety, causing them to scramble away from the direction that the bullets are coming from.

5. Betty gets out of the car first as Zodiac maneuvers around the back of the vehicle. Zodiac is in time to meet David Faraday at the passenger-side door where he delivers 1 fatal blow to him.

6. BLJ, obviously terrified, starts running toward Lake Herman Road. However, before she can even cover 30 feet of ground -- less than 10 yards -- Zodiac fires 7 shots and 5 of them hit her in the back. This, at night, at a moving target, on uneven ground, using a penlight that probably won't even penetrate the darkness that far.

7. Zodiac inspects certain details of his bloody act [How else can we explain the details of his letter of authentication?], then gets in his car and heads toward Vallejo. Remember, if he chooses the other direction that night, we might not even be having this discussion right now.

8 of 10 shots hit their intended target given the scenario outlined above. What does this tell us about the adrenaline rush that Zodiac obviously must have experienced at LHR?

My best guess is that Zodiac was well enough prepared to experience and execute that which is known about LHR in a fashion that was completely within his 'abilities.' Meaning that, he'd always maintained enough control of the situation to where MO and premeditated murder were obviously involved.

It's a helluva thing, murder. So much so, that I honestly have to wonder if LHR was Zodiac's first. The more I ponder it, the more I think to myself that, no, it couldn't have been Zodiac's first. My gut instinct tells me that LHR was satiating a bloodlust that had already been established at some prior time.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (128.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Sunday, February 02, 2003 - 11:38 am:

The prospect of Zodiac yelling peremptorily at his victims doesn't jibe with his behavior during the commission of the other crimes. I'm more inclined to think he let the pistol do his talking for him.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc36aa4.ipt.aol.com - on Sunday, February 02, 2003 - 10:10 pm:

He did speak with them at some point, or at least went through the motions enough to get BLJ to open her window; it makes no sense otherwise to open it when it was 22 outside that night.

By Nick (Nick) ( on Sunday, February 02, 2003 - 11:08 pm:

They might have thought it a cop, a lost soul looking for directions or even a friend. My natural inclination would be to roll down the window if someone had pulled into the lot on that lightly traveled road. You know, just to see what the guy wanted. I'm sure they had no idea what was about to transpire.

By Len (Len) ( on Monday, February 03, 2003 - 05:55 am:

Twenty-two degrees is cold enough to keep the window rolled up until you're asked to roll it down, at least in my experience. The sequence of events is difficult to determine. We can't know for certain that he shot into the car first, in order to get them out. He could have been expressing some of that adrenaline after the murders. Given the amount of detail that he gave in his later letter, he must have spent more than a couple of seconds at the scene before leaving. Perhaps the approach of Stella Borges instigated his egress.

Howard: I always assume that he's lying unless the information he's conveying is verifiable or is meant to verify his participation. (For example, when he talks about the use of dogs and sirens while hiding in the Presidio. I doubt that there were dogs used or that fire trucks ran their sirens for his benefit. However, it was an attempt by him to provide verifiable detail--and he only had his own perceptions to go by--that he was still in the neighborhood.) I've known a number of liars in my life, and the only thing you can believe is what you can verify.

Scott: Couldn't his previous experience have been in Viet Nam? (Perhaps as an MP?) Might he not have had situations in which he approached suspected Viet Cong in a similar manner? (I understand that there weren't many station wagons in the rice paddies, but I don't think the Viet Cong were exclusively rural, either.)

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tj051.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, February 03, 2003 - 09:18 am:

Bill, you wrote, "[Zodiac] risked loss of control of his prey, which does not seem consistent with pre-planning and organization, and could well have resulted in one or both of them getting away...Z must have been mindful that a .22 fired through windows at the victims would have been less than effective and certain, which might explain why he wanted them out of the car."

In all honesty, the latter seems very likely. As to pre-planning and organization, however, I simply have a really hard time conceiving of LHR as an act of spontaneity. Granted, perhaps everything didn't go exactly as planned, but he did achieve his goal and escaped to kill again.

I can't help but think that Zodiac had been driving up and down LHR looking for victims that night. To be honest with you, it stands to reason that Zodiac had to have passed the couple at least once because, in terms of direction, it seems logical that the Zodiac had to have driven onto LHR heading away from Vallejo. At some point, having ventured onto LHR, one has no alternative but to turn around and return to Vallejo because LHR out of Vallejo literally comes to an end at the ocean's edge. LHR. Note: 'Zoom out' 1 click.

[Can anybody tell me when I-680 was built? I'm going on an assumption here that I-680 didn't exist in December of '68. Yeah, yeah, I know...]

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is this: IMO, the LHR murder site, unless one is driving unusually slow, is not the kind of location that you can just happen upon and stop at unless you possess prior knowledge of its existence and are anticipating pulling over there. Otherwise, you'll see it and drive right past it without a second thought, especially if you drive past the spot heading east, away from Vallejo.

I'm guessing that Zodiac passed them at least once, heading in either direction, saw David Faraday's car, then turned around and came back to the location once BLJ and DF were parked there. Otherwise, what need would he have had to stop? Also, we know that Zodiac pre-planned LHR to some degree if only because he had a penlight strapped to the barrel of his gun. This fact, in my mind, argues in favor of premeditation and MO.

Len: In my opinion, 'yes,' a certain amount of Zodiac's tactics could very well have originated with experience in Vietnam. However, I'm troubled by the fact that Zodiac would have subsequently used a .22LR pistol at LHR if only because he would have had more experience with guns that are much more suitable for the job, so to speak.

The one tactical advantage that Z would have gained by using a .22 is that the sound of its report wouldn't be as loud. I agree with Bill when he wrote, "Z must have been mindful that a .22 fired through windows at the victims would have been less than effective and certain, which might explain why he wanted them out of the car. Shooting DF immediately after he exited would have reduced by half the risk of successful escape." That statement, in my mind, is filled with more truth than speculation. All of these things are 'tactical' considerations, in my opinion.

By Len (Len) ( on Monday, February 03, 2003 - 09:48 am:

Scott: Interesting thoughts on the .22LR pistol. Thanks. In fact, all the posts in this thread have been very helpful and enlightening. My thanks to all.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tj051.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, February 03, 2003 - 09:53 am:

Here is another link: I-680.

Ed, because I know you live in the area, can you please expand on this? Am I mistaken in reading that I-680 and LHR wouldn't have linked up prior to 1973?

If anyone else knows and cares to contribute, by all means your insights are just as helpful and I’d appreciate your input.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tj051.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, February 03, 2003 - 10:01 am:

Actually, upon closer inspection [eh, uhm], it appears that the interstate was approved in 1955. When was it actually completed, especially through Vallejo?

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) (lsanca1-ar6-4-63-090-167.lsanca1.elnk.dsl.genuity.net - on Monday, February 03, 2003 - 10:33 am:

Scott, your response to my saying, "(Z) risked loss of control of his prey, which does not seem consistent with pre-planning and organization, and could well have resulted in one or both of them getting away.", with your words, in all honesty, however and granted . . . but, appears to disagree with what I said. To be clear, I was commenting on the unlikelihood that Z purposely gave the victims an opportunity to flee so he could hunt them down as most dangerous game.

If, as I've suggested so many times here, he had previously lost control of his victims in 1963, necessitating very chancy (def: uncertain in outcome or prospect; risky) long-range shooting in daylight, he was not likely to allow that to occur at LHR, at night. My sense is that Z was very mindful of maintaining control at all times, and his plans would not have included a chaotic scramble that could well have quickly gone south for him.

As for Z driving around looking for victims, going past and returning to DF's car, if Z was as careful as I suspect he was, I'd guess that once he spotted the car he drove around briefly to make sure there weren't other cars/witnesses in the immediate area, before launching his attack.

Regarding the shots into the car, the more I ponder this, I'm inclined to think that they occurred not as warning shots but during the brief period when the victims realized this was not a cop but someone who meant them harm, and were trying to get out of the car so they wouldn't be sitting ducks. I can see Z scrambling around in momentary panic, popping off rounds before they made it out of the car, with DF emerging first and getting nailed. BLJ, meanwhile, was able to exit via the passenger side door and cover some ground before Z took aim and dropped her. The location of the spent casings would pretty much indicate where he was positioned when these 7 rounds were fired, which I suspect would not support him having to give chase any appreciable distance from where he was when he shot DF.

More speculation, and just my impression of what might have occurred.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-te074.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, February 04, 2003 - 06:59 am:

You're right Bill, I did misunderstand your post. Sorry about that.

Does anyone know when construction was started on I-680 or when it was finished? Also, it appears from the map that LHR and I-680 intersect. However, are you able to get onto I-680 from LHR?

By Spencer (Spencer) (acbf7551.ipt.aol.com - on Tuesday, February 04, 2003 - 08:29 am:


I-680 does connect to LHR -- there is a Lake Herman Road exit on 680. From the way that I read the link that you posted, it appears that what is presently 680 between Benicia and Fairfield used to be called 21 (but was merely renumbered to correspond to the rest of 680). It existed -- merely as 21 -- before it became 680.


By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-te081.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, February 04, 2003 - 10:19 am:


A. Where have you been and how the hell are you? Damn, dude, I'm glad to see that you haven't vanished from the planet!

B. When was '21' completed as an actual, usable highway and/or interstate? What year man, what year?

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc0db93.ipt.aol.com - on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 - 02:59 pm:

Scott: I wish I could help, but I know just as much as the rest of you on this one. I moved here in 1988, long after it was finished.

By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) ( on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 - 09:40 pm:

Scott, Ed, Bill, Howard, etc.:
Interesting posts from all in this thread. I think a close look at tactics will yield the closest description of Zodiac's behavior than anything else. It isn't any secret that I worked in the field of psychology for many years. My favorite of the 'old masters' was Alfred Adler. One think Adler said was, "Trust only movement." In other words, if you want to understand a man, don't focus most of your attention on his words, but rather on what he DOES. (As my favorite group, Steely Dan said, "You swear and kick and beg us that you're not a gambling man, But we find you back in Vegas with a handle in your hand"). I believe Zodiac fits that to a tee. If we want to understand Zodiac, his actions are much more reliable than his words. While any analysis of Zodiac is admittedly speculative, I believe the actual range of possibilities is much more narrow analyzing tactics than his choice of words, possible codes, etc. Not that we should ignore any aspect of the case, but let's keep this tactics thread going. I'll write more in the next few days but I worked late. My best to all.

By Nick (Nick) ( on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 12:17 am:

Problem is, if you take away the letters and codes, your left with a crime series like so many others. Simply put, no way to solve it.

By Len (Len) ( on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 05:15 am:

We can, though, come up with interesting things about the person from the tactics. Also, the writing of the letters and the inclusion of codes are interesting actions in and of themselves.

This thread has raised interesting questions. For example, what does the choice of a .22LR pistol indicate about Z's knowledge of weaponry? I know that I'd now like to see a diagram of the crime scene showing the position of the cars relative to each other, the final positions of the victims, the pattern of the footsteps.

There is a general assumption that Z had a military background. Do the tactics used support that assumption? As I get my thinking more organized, I'll probably start a few more threads, that is if usuable ones don't already exist.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (vail-65-38-142-50.vail.net - on Tuesday, April 29, 2003 - 08:55 am:

Did Zodiac shoot out the rear driver's side window or the passenger side? I honestly can't remember. I have a hard time believing that DF and BLJ would have sought to exit the vehicle on the same side that Zodiac was shooting from.

Tom, Ed, anyone?

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-151-197-112-232.phil.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, April 29, 2003 - 10:11 am:

Scott, I believe he shot out the rear passenger side window, then the tire, then started working his way around to the other side, firing into the roof at one point. There's no way you can really prove this, but it makes sense. I doubt if they would have exited out the side he was firing on, but by the time they decided they needed to get out of the car, he had worked himself around to the driver's side. That left the passenger-side door as the logical means of escape, which is why we see Faraday sliding over to that side in order to get out.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc15399.ipt.aol.com - on Tuesday, April 29, 2003 - 11:31 am:

It was the rear passenger side window and the roof that Z shot through. There was a pic in the Vallejo Times-Herald (I don't think it was the News Chronicle) that showed the window in question.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (vail-65-38-142-50.vail.net - on Wednesday, April 30, 2003 - 09:41 am:

Something is wrong with this entire scenario, but I can't put my finger on it yet. The driver's side window was rolled down: The passenger's side window was shot out: Faraday and Jensen exited on the passenger’s side: Hmm? I'll let y'all know when I'm more able to put it into words.

Thanks Doug and Ed.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc1a72d.ipt.aol.com - on Wednesday, April 30, 2003 - 10:18 am:

Scott: the passenger's (BLJ's) window was rolled down, and the rear window on the same side was shot.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (vail-65-38-142-50.vail.net - on Wednesday, April 30, 2003 - 05:00 pm:

The passenger's side window was down? I'd always thought it was the driver's side, as though they believed a cop was approaching them?

I'm so confused.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p51-210.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 12:43 pm:

Just read in one of the old newspaper clippings about an acomplice theory the cops had.
Apparently this was based on the fact (or so it was claimed) that one of the Bullet holes in the car was made by a .38!
Quote;- "The new evidence of a possible accomplice
at the murder scene consists of a .38 caliber bullet hole in the roof panel of the Faraday station wagon.The hole is on the passenger side of the vehicle and is slightly forward of a .22
caliber bullet in the rear window at that side".

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc6d910.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 03:09 pm:

It seems that it was actually a deformed bullet hole or something; I had wondered whether Z had two guns instead of one, rather than there being a second shooter.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-14-167.phil.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 03:14 pm:

According to the Vallejo Times-Herald, the bullet was later determined to have been a .22 that had been severely deformed.

By Jake (Jake) (cache-dh03.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 07:05 pm:

Scott wrote: "The passenger's side window was down? ... I'm so confused."

I'll drink to that. Has anyone ever come up with an explanation for the odd position of DF's body? Judging from his chalk outline, he clearly wasn't shot while climbing out of the car, as is often reported: his head is near the door, while his feet are down near the rear wheel, pointing about 45 degrees away from the car. One suggestion I've heard is that Z somehow cowed the kids into standing next to the car, then killed Faraday, which sent BLJ running; even this, though, raises more questions than it really answers.

I don't think anyone's yet mentioned the fact that BLJ was a smoker -- this might also account for her window being rolled down before Z even showed up (I don't know how far down it was).


By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-231-193-32.client.attbi.com - on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 07:11 pm:

Betty Lou was a smoker? That's news to me.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc7125b.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 09:12 pm:

I'd never heard that before either. I thought she was supposed to be a good Christian girl...

In the meantime, I've always wondered if Z had grabbed DF as he was getting out of the passenger side door, perhaps putting him in a necklock, and shot BLJ first as she was escaping. Once she was down, he turned the gun on DF, which would account for the position his body was in as well as the contact wound behind his left ear; it would also indicate that Z held the gun in his left hand.

By Mike Rodelli (Miker) (cache-dh03.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 04:03 am:


Yes, Betty lou was a smoker. I learned this from a confidential source in 2001 and shared it with Jake in March or so of this year. But since the horse is now out of the barn...

One person who became a suspect had threatened Betty Lou--the threat was simply that he was going to tell her parents that she smoked. So my belief is that since David was an athlete, she was blowing the smoke out of the window and no conversation necessarily took place between Z and the two kids. At least the partially rolled down window was not evidence of this alleged conversation.


By Mike Rodelli (Miker) (64-8-195-168.client.dsl.net - on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 05:55 am:


BTW, I think that Betty Lou was a "good, Christian girl"--but she was also a teenager and apparently simply had a bit of a rebellious streak against her strict upbringing, which should not really suprise anyone.


By Bookworm (Bookworm) (12-206-165-69.client.attbi.com - on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 09:32 am:

Maybe Z told Betty Lou to run or "get out of here" because he planned to shoot her in the back. He could have held a gun to David, told her to run, shot David when she started running, then shot her.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-14-167.phil.east.verizon.net - on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 09:39 am:

Typical teenage attitude--you define maturity by adult pleasures, rather than adult responsibilities.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-231-193-32.client.attbi.com - on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 01:00 pm:

Mike, I'm sure Betty Lou tried cigarettes, as most teens seem to.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (cache-rp06.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 03:01 pm:

Makes ya wonder what else she might have tried, and from whence it came.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc63ef3.ipt.aol.com - on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 08:15 pm:

Mike: I was being facetious. Either way, if she was rebellious enough to smoke, she was undoubtedly rebellious enough to stay out at LHR after the time she promised to be home...

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (coral.tci.com - on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 01:59 am:

Jake wrote, "I'll drink to that," in response to my saying, "The passenger's side window was down? ... I'm so confused."

Come on, Jake; there's no sense in being rude, is there? I've always shown a good deal of respect for you, so what gives?

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-231-193-32.client.attbi.com - on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 02:06 am:

Scott, I'll stick my neck out here and guess Jake was expressing an emotion (frustration) that many of us probably feel and it wasn't directed at you.

The Lake Herman murders are the least archived of the bunch and God only knows when that might change.

Until then, for all we know Betty Lou was huffing Marlboros while David wrestled with radians.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (coral.tci.com - on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 03:42 am:

Hmm... I suppose you might be right, Tom. Thanks.

"According to the Vallejo Times-Herald, the bullet was later determined to have been a .22 that had been severely deformed."

Jeez, I must be in the wrong line of work... A typical .38 special bullet weighs 158 grains, almost 4 times the amount of the average .22LR bullet, which weighs 40 grains. I don't care how distorted the recovered slug was, the weight difference between the two types of bullets should have been enough proof that it wasn't a .38 caliber bullet.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-14-167.phil.east.verizon.net - on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 07:15 am:

Hold off a bit on the deformation thing. I was sure that was what the article had stated, but I dug it up and the reference isn't there. They may have simply jumped to an incorrect conclusion based on the size of the hole it made in the roof, then backed up after digging the bullet out of the upholstery.

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) (lsanca1-ar17-4-61-194-098.lsanca1.elnk.dsl.genuity.net - on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 08:01 am:

Or perhaps is was not an intact slug that was recovered, only a fragment, which was initially misinterpreted when aligned with the larger hole in the car roof, but later determined to be consistent with the other recovered projectiles.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-mtc-ak04.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 10:58 am:

"...perhaps is was not an intact slug that was recovered, only a fragment..."

I'd contemplated that also, but the ammo was copper jacketed, which is specifically designed to penetrate without fragmenting. That is not to say that it never happens, but then why would a fragment of a bullet that was originally 40 grains be characterized as an even larger caliber?

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p51-217.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 11:10 am:

Something curious from the same report is Lunblad speaking about the possibility that the perp could have stood on the bumper to shoot through the roof.I don't know but isn't there a contradiction of sorts here?
On would imagine the higher he was able to get the "cleaner" the entry hole would have been.
Yet this hole was apparently larger than the others. Could this not have been caused by bullet entering from a lower angle? Could the angle of trajectory not have been measured to determine position?. Or is any of this even relevant?

By Jake (Jake) (cache-rp06.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 11:36 am:

Hey Scott, I was agreeing with you -- no sarcasm. Because of the lack of survivors, we have no first-hand report of what actually went down, we have next to nothing in the way of investigatory documents, and the traditional (ie, Graysmith's)interpretations of the evidence just don't add up to what we see in the crime scee photos. You and I have had it out plenty of times, but this wasn't supposed to be one of them.


By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-mtc-ak04.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 12:17 pm:

Sorry Jake, I simply misinterpreted what you'd written; something that happens amongst everyone all too often in this particular forum: thanks for the verification. I must also add that your posts are all too scarce these days, but I'll certainly take what I can get.

Lapumo, I think your assessment of the bullet's trajectory is pretty accurate: a bullet hole can be deceptively larger than its outside diameter depending on the angle at which the bullet penetrated and the type of surface that it is attempting to penetrate. Obviously, the more perpendicular the bullet is to the surface it hits, the farther it will penetrate and the cleaner the hole will be. I have to assume that the larger sized hole in the Rambler's roof was either there to begin with, or was the result of a bullet striking the roof with an 'indirect' trajectory, but one at which it could still penetrate.

By Warren (Warren) (w205.z064002105.hou-tx.dsl.cnc.net - on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 12:48 pm:

We sometimes refer to it as "keyholing", though usually when the bore of a rifle is shot up.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p50-122.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 04:49 pm:

I know very little about such things but it strikes me that the bullit hole in the roof could be very important.Don't they use dowels to plot the trajectory of the bullit?
What I'm saying it may be an aid to finding out the position of the shooter and maybe even height!
For example, as the angle approaches the perpendicular,the taller the prep has to be and/or he stood on the bumber or he raised his hand to shoot "down".Alternatively, if he shot from several feet away then perhaps his arm would be extended in a straight line from the body.
Is it possible to work in reverse to plot positions and heights? Would it not also go to "intent" on the part of the shooter? Perhaps in shot indiscriminately to kill or it was his intention to to force the occupants out of the car.
According to the same newspaper reports Lunblad stated the the "hole" was not noticed before.
Scott, can you explain what you mean by an "indirect trajectory" I'm not sure what you mean.
Warren,keyholing I can get. "The bore of a rifle shot up"!!!! Please?

By Warren (Warren) (w205.z064002105.hou-tx.dsl.cnc.net - on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 12:37 pm:

Lapumo - When a rifle (or pistol) is used a lot and the barrel is not properly cleaned and oiled, the lands and grooves deteriorate and the rifle in effect becomes a smoothbore. Thus it does not properly spin the bullet for accuracy and often the bullet tumbles in flight producing a keyhole effect in a target.

Now that I think about it, "shot up" is a fairly Texas way of saying "shot out." We also say things like "Put that up" when properly, it should be "Put that away."

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-dh03.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 02:03 pm:

"Scott, can you explain what you mean by an "indirect trajectory" I'm not sure what you mean."

Yeah, that was a bad way of phrasing what I was trying to say. Essentially, I'm saying that the bullet that caused the larger hole probably hit the roof at an angle that was closer to horizontal than perpendicular to the surface.

By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) ( on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 08:09 pm:

Re: deformation of a .22 bullet. IF the .22 slugs were copper jacketed it would indeed limit deformation, but if they were just copper coated, as some are, that means only a thin layer of coppper plated on the lead. This does reduce lead fouling in the barrell and reduce cleaning needs, and it also reduces the smoke out of the barrell
(some of which is lead dust, a pleasant thought) which would be important at night. But a copper coated (rather than jacketed) would still deform on impact pretty much the same as a plain lead slug. Does anyone know if the slugs were hollow point or solid? If hollow, they could mushroom upon hitting the real metal used in the roof of a car that vintage and could well make a hole .38 inches in diameter. But I agree it would be very difficult to mistake a .22 slug for a .38 slug.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (user-38ldubg.dialup.mindspring.com - on Monday, December 29, 2003 - 03:16 pm:

In the Vallejo news article for 12/24/68 we read"Only one gun was used in the double slaying Friday night on Lake Herman Rd...The investigator[Lundblad] said that what appeared to be a .38 caliber bullet hole in the roof of the Faraday station wagon actually was made by a small caliber bullet...Moreover,he[Lundblad]added,it would not have been necessary for the killer,if he were of,at LEAST AVERAGE height, to CLIMB ON THE BUMPER of the car to shoot through the roof..."We had the car stripped,"Lundblad said,"and the slug that was fired through the roof was found embedded in the upholstery..."[My EMP]
Was Lundblad saying he had evidence that the killer STOOD on the wagons bumper and that he concluded he did so because he wasn't of "average height,"or a 'short' individual and that he needed this boost to fire the single shot through the roof of the wagon?
We recall Mageau said Z was 5'8' and that he considered him "young" and "short."
We know Z shot at the rear window also-so was he still on the bumper after shooting at the roof?Was he then trying to cause the wagon to move up and down?Crazy,but we need to lay out all theories even if they are highly speculative.I am not saying this happened just trying to revisit the crime.
Some of us have climbed on someones bumper and tried to move the vehicle up and down in jest.I know I have.Of course,here,it would have been an added way in which to get the couple out of the wagon.
In order to 'bounce' a smaller vehicle just requires grasping the rear or trunk area.
What seems to be certain was that Z was attempting to herd the two out of the wagon by firing his pistol and it finally worked.

By J Eric Freedner (J_Eric) (dsc01-lai-ca-199-35-205-127.rasserver.net - on Monday, December 29, 2003 - 09:11 pm:

IF we believe RG, raccoon hunters were in the vicinity that night...I seem to recall that hunting the li'l varmints can be done with a spotlight. 'Coons are nocturnal. Shine it around, pick up their eyes and blast 'em! So I am thinking, Z was copying the technique in the right season and right area, just shooting the wrong species...

By Nick (Nick) ( on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 12:53 am:

The perp might have gotten pissed that the occupants didn't immediately follow his orders, perhaps in a drunken or stoned rage. Rocking the car and firing a few rounds would have certainly conveyed a message. At that point though, I think most would just put the pedal to the metal. Even in a blitz attack, running from the car seems like the worst of action.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (user-uive8i4.dsl.mindspring.com - on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 06:28 am:

I don't think Zodiac was inclined to get high on the job, Nick. I agree with you that "pedal to the metal" is the best defense, but these were kids, and I'm a 50 year old former NYC cab driver. They panicked.