Did Mageau see a Covair?

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: Darlene Ferrin and Mike Mageau: Did Mageau see a Covair?

By Howard Davis (Howard) (ont-cvx1-214.linkline.com - on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 02:03 am:

It has been stated that Mike Mageau recounted that the car Zodiac was in was "similar" in design to Darlenes car which was a Corvair.I posted in the past that another police report claims that MM said the car could have been a Mustang.

I checked on sites that featured the MonZa and found that these cars were certainly similar to the Corvair. Did MM really see a Monza?FYI

By Peter H (Peter_H) ( on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 06:37 am:


The Monza was not just similar to the Corvair: it was a Corvair. Basically a trim and equipment package. I owned a 66, which was a fastback design, very different from the better-known original unsafe-at-any-speed Killer Corvair. Both cars BTW, were also very different from the Mustang of the era.

By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 08:21 am:

Howard, Peter,

Is this what you are talking about?


Tom F

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-tc044.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 08:57 am:

Good point Howard,
Hmmmmmmmm, Just where was this Condit in 69??

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (151.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 09:57 am:

Compare that shot of the Corvair with a 1967 Chevelle at http://www.jw-performance.com/1967%20Chevelle%20SS.htm .

From 1967 through 1973 Kaczynski owned a 1967 Chevelle, tan in color--this according to information given by his brother to the FBI.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (dialup- - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 06:32 am:

Howard: Yep, that's it. Not really a fastback, as I described it, but that's it. Remember, however, that the earlier Corvair was very different, almost symmetrical front ans rear, no rake, no racy lines, sort of like the Beemer 2002.

Doug: As for the Chevelle, the overall style of the body is similar as they are both Chevies, but the Chevelle was much larger -- what was then a midsize -- while the Corvair was a compact. Also keep in mind that if Darlene's Corvair was the original Killer Corvair body, it bore no resemblance to either the later Corvairs or the Chevelle of any year.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-mtc-tj031.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 07:40 am:

"It has been stated that Mike Mageau recounted that the car Zodiac was in was "similar" in design to Darlenes car which was a Corvair . . . another police report claims that MM said the car could have been a Mustang."

This strikes me as extremely odd. It seems to me that MM has no business trying to describe the car he saw. Similar to a Corvair? Maybe a Mustang?
I could identify a Mustang, Corvair, and, for that matter, especially a Chevelle, in less than 2 seconds from 1/2 a mile away. What the heck was wrong with that kid?

Granted, it's fair to say that I'm more of a car enthusiast than MM was/is, but geez . . . we'd better get a consensus going as to which manufacturer built the car before we start attempting to move into specific models. Are we really saying that he couldn't tell the basic difference between a Ford and Chevy? Let alone a mid-size, compact, sport coupe . . . ?


By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 08:24 am:


I’ll tell you what I think about this.

When I read this Corvair and maybe a Mustang thing, I at first was wondering what he was on, but then considered the circumstances.

First, I have no idea what the local artificial light was but…

On 4 JUL 69 the sun had set at 8:36pm.

The moon was just rising as the crime took place. Moonrise was at 11:45pm. The moon was slightly gibbous being 2 days before the last quarter. I do not believe there would have been any appreciable light from the moon at the time regardless of any possible cloud cover. It would not have broken above the tree line or any buildings there.

Please correct me here, but I am going from memory: the perp drove in and kept his front bumper at or slightly behind their rear bumper and the lights were on.

I think it would have been relatively hard to see much more than a rough outline or maybe a glint or two from some chrome, perhaps something of the grill. And all of this would be if you really wanted to pay attention to the car. I presume they were otherwise engaged in conversation, and the next thing they knew there was some shouting and bullets flying, right?

I believe that’s how it played out, which takes some edge from the car make criticism about Mageau. However, there were plenty of other points in his statements that seem squirrelly, too.

BTW, here’s something I just got from a conversation with an old buddy from Cleveland. I was chatting with him yesterday and had remarked about this Mageau guy and that he had all these layers of clothes on in July. He immediately said, he’s preparing for a rumble. My friend had a shady past as a Fifty’s gang member and he said primarily they used knives and they tended not to stab, but to slash. They would layer their clothing to act as just a little more protection against those slashes and occasional jabs. He said from his gang experience, that’s exactly what he would think.

Tom F

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (155.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 09:51 am:

Peter, given the situation, I think the two makes are close enough. See Fife's comments above.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ti023.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 09:59 am:

Thanks for the reiteration of events that took place on the night of 7/04/69 - 7/05/69, but I'm already very familiar with them. I know what the moon was like on that night, and I also know that there was little, if any, ambient light that evening. However, he supposedly got a good enough look at Zodiac to describe him as he got into his car to drive away from the scene, right? The difference between a Corvair and a Mustang is immense. Even if all he could see was the car's outline and, perhaps, its headlight and taillight configuration, that would still be enough to distinguish between a Ford and a Chevy, or a sedan, mid-size, and coupe, don't you think? I'm just saying that his testimony strikes me as odd, that's all. Besides, as has been noted, Mageau's account of the entire incident is shaky, at best.

As for, "he’s preparing for a rumble. My friend had a shady past as a Fifty’s gang member and he said primarily they used knives and they tended not to stab, but to slash. They would layer their clothing to act as just a little more protection against those slashes and occasional jabs."

I have also thought that this was a sign that Mageau knew something was in the works. It makes perfect sense if he knew something was going to happen that night. However, he may have been preparing for something other than a Zodiac attack. Just because Darlene had a shady past, was apparently being stalked, and knew things that perhaps she was better off not knowing, doesn't mean that Zodiac had anything to do with her past. I believe that there are too many loose-ends to successfully make that connection "beyond a reasonable doubt." I'm not saying that it is not an avenue worth pursuing, just that it would be naive to not also explore the possibility that this was a random event.


By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ti023.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 10:08 am:

Doug wrote: "(G)iven the situation, I think the two makes are close enough."

For the record, I disagree with this statement completely. "Close enough" shouldn't even be in an investigator's vocabulary.


By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-01-03.sle.du.teleport.com - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 10:54 am:

Just to throw something else into the dsicussion-I'm a TYPICAL MALE in that I'm a nut on sports. But I am a very ATYPICAL MALE in that I have never been able to tell cars unless I could read the name on the car. I can't tell makes or models.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (aca5006f.ipt.aol.com - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 11:33 am:

Fife, in an effort to shorten your posts, allow me to help you:

By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 02:49 pm:



weren't the car lights on? That would light up objects (read people) but still not light up the car itself.

Tom F

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ti021.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 03:53 pm:


My point doesn't get any simpler than this:

Mageau's testimony with regard to Zodiac's car doesn't amount to squat. It's eyewitness speculation at best; virtually, if not completely, useless.

For the sake of brevity,


By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb4a434.ipt.aol.com - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 04:36 pm:

Even under the best conditions, eyewitness testimony is shaky at best...and the conditions at BRS that night were not the best.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (188.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 05:38 pm:

Scott, too bad I'm not an investigator. But my point is about the same as yours: given the lighting conditions anything resembling a corvair is in the ballpark.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-10407-2.linkline.com - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 07:44 pm:

We are talking about a teen that was shot multiple times and is in extreme pain after having a blinding light directed to his eyes!Plus it was dark outside and the fiend is coming back to "finish the job". I don't think that car make was on his mind. Remember he recounts these things under sedation and is still suffering pain and psychological trauma.

All he told the police was that the guys car was "similar in design" to Ferrins car-he doesn't go beyond that at this time.Mageau later speculates that it could have been a Mustang. He obviously wasn't sure of his first assessment.

We simply don't know what car Z was driving that night as Mageau was not positive.The 'shabbily dressed black man' could possibly be the only one that could have told the police for sure-but he may have been too far gone to make a judgement anyway-and there is controversy concerning his existence even though Z refers to him!The car was described as being a shade of brown-we think!

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (52.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 08:29 pm:

Howard, I'm not even too sure about the shabbily dressed negro referenced by Zodiac. That is, I'm fairly sure that he existed, but not too sure that he ever spoke with the police. The next day's news reports described the car as brown, and I don't think the shabbily dressed man in question would have known about the incident in time to contact the police and have it in the press the next day. What's more likely is that the description was Mageau's, and Zodiac assumed that it had come from the individual who had passed the phone booth.

By The Fife (Thefife) (hsa032.pool015.at101.earthlink.net - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 09:32 pm:


So you are believing that the color of the car is brown.

Tom F

By Kevin (Kevinrm) (proxy1-external.rdc1.az.home.com - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 09:34 pm:

To give you an idea of how unreliable the memory can be... last Friday night at 2:30 am, while reading the "Zodiac Killer Message Board", I hear a noise outside of my house. It wasn't normal, that I knew. So, grabbed my gun, went out in my backyard. Just on the other side of the block wall of my backyard is a neighborhood mailbox unit. This, mind you, is sitting right under a street lamp. As I peeked over the wall, I saw, no less than 15-20 feet away, a woman busting open the mailbox with a crowbar. Parked next to her on the street ( which is facing me ) is a car, and there is a male passenger in it. Being that the street light was right over the car, it cast a shadow and I could NOT see the male's face. The woman I did see, but if I try to picture her face in my mind now, I can't. I remeber that she had blond hair, was wearing white pants and a black top. That, even though we had a short conversation. When they saw me peek over the fence, she ran back to the car, got in, and drove backwards so that I wouldn't be able to get their drivers license. Was it a Buick? I THINK so, but I'm not actually sure. Good lighting, 15-20 feet away, yet I cannot picture that womans face in my mind, nor am I sure on the car. You see, we all THINK we would be able to grab all the details, but when it's going down fast, you just can't. Even after all these years of loging in to Tom's site too!

Regardless, they didn't get my mail. Cop's barely missed them... dang!

By Howard Davis (Howard) (ont-cvx1-125.linkline.com - on Thursday, July 26, 2001 - 11:03 pm:

Doug:Yes,that incident is controversial,but of course, so is the whole case or, at least, certain factors and incidents!

Kevin made a good point and lets consider he was not blinded with a bright light in his eyes at close range with total pain from multiple gun shot wounds and crippled with intense fear in darkness!

Another report indicates that the Z car 'could have been a Falcon.'Either way ,it was a compact ,a shade of brown and capable of motion!

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (185.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Thursday, July 26, 2001 - 11:29 pm:

Fife, yes, I believe it was brown, or a shade thereof.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (dialup- - on Friday, July 27, 2001 - 07:23 am:


What two makes? The Corvair and the Chevelle. OK: same general lines, and even though very different in size, let's give you that one. Doesn't begin to answer a very basic question about Mageau's comment: what year was Darlene's Corvair. What was he comparing Z's car to, exactly? If it was a 66 or later, then OK it had the general Chevelle/Nova lines. If the original, then it was very different and in no way similar to _any_ Chevelle type ever made. Which is it? Given her occupation and probable income, I would bet that it was the earlier, original Corvair type. This entire discussion is useless without knowing this.

By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Friday, July 27, 2001 - 07:58 am:

Peter H

Ditto. To get off of dead center this is prerequisite knowledge. To tell you the truth, based solely on financial assumptions I immediately made the presumption that it was the old design.

Tom F

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-td041.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, July 27, 2001 - 10:35 am:

Wait a sec guys, this wasn't her car, she did not even have a license. So her own personal income situation isn't at stake, unless you are assuming birds of a financial feather flock together.
P.S. Howard, your above post shows exactly why Mageau's i.d. of Allen is so utterly ridiculous.

By Peter H (Peter_H) ( on Friday, July 27, 2001 - 01:48 pm:

Sylvie: It has been referred to repeatedly as Darlene's Corvair. Whether that's technically correct or not, the question still remains: what year?

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb40870.ipt.aol.com - on Friday, July 27, 2001 - 02:30 pm:

If you want to know what year the Corvair was, why not just e-mail me and ask?

It was a 1963 model.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (247.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Friday, July 27, 2001 - 03:24 pm:

Mageau also mentioned the possibility of a 1958 or 1959 Falcon. The only trouble is that Ford didn't produce a Falcon until 1960.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (ont-cvx1-218.linkline.com - on Friday, July 27, 2001 - 11:52 pm:

The Ford Falcon was many years in developement.The "1960"Falcon was in show rooms October 2,1959 and made its public debut on the third of October.Mageau not being an expert on cars may have drawn on the 1959 appearance of the Falcon and speculated that it was a '58 or'59 model when it was a 1960 car that made its debut in '59.

I spent most of the day some time ago with Darlenes former husband Dean Ferrin who told me the Corvair was a two door bronze coupe and that- as Tom states-it was a 1963 model.He said the car was full of blood and I could see and feel(just a little I guess) just what a horrifc event that was as Dean spoke about all the various details and the events that followed.

Mageau thought that the intruder was driving a car that was larger than Darlenes car and was similar in design to her Corvair, but it left and a short while later came back ;so his first impression was certaintly based on that first "visit."This is when he recounts that it may have been a '58 or '59 Falcon lighter in color("light tan")to Darlenes car.He said this car was older(than Dalenes car which was a '63) and had old CA plates.

Later,he said that it could have been a Mustang.He cautioned while making his statement "that it was dark out and hard to see."He probably did not realize how the trauma affected his recollection of those tragic moments and that blinding light Zodiac cast on his face and EYES!

On top of this he was no expert on cars and the various makes.We come to the conclusion that there is really no clear evidence what make or model this death car was.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb705c8.ipt.aol.com - on Saturday, July 28, 2001 - 12:33 am:

Thank you, Howard.
This should be the end of the thread...but will it be??? I mean, there are additional abstract questions to be probed to death:

1) How do we know Mageau couldn't see?
2) Could Zodiac have been a car dealer?
3) Why was Darlene so quick to die?
5) T.B.A.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (63.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Saturday, July 28, 2001 - 12:33 am:

It's tough, but given the circumstances nothing short of a VW Beetle would probably have been distinct enough for the purpose of drawing conclusions.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (ont-cvx1-101.linkline.com - on Saturday, July 28, 2001 - 01:44 am:

My last post on this matter!Honest Tom! Later Mageau said that the car could have been "a light tan Chevy."Three ID's and an unknown so take yer pick-he did!

Could M have been color blind?Did he have a dislike of Falcons, Chevys and Mustangs?Z may have liked car rotation.Did he favor dark colors -we may never know...

By Sandy (Sandy) (c531918-a.ptbrg1.sfba.home.com - on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 07:00 pm:

What happened to M.M.'s statement of the car looking like Darlenes ex's car? And the police asking Phillips what he did with that car? He gave a lame story that he drove to L.A., and called the previous owner to pick it up. The car that followed me from Vallejo to Napa in 68, looked more like a Comet, golden brown in color. Anyone know what kind of car, and what color Phillips had at that time? I still don't believe that was a random killing. The others I believe were random to make the police think Darlene's was also.Bottom line is, it all had to do with a drug and counterfeit ring, in Vallejo at that time. Darlene and I both knew some of the same people, I knew one of the people in this ring. He spoke of "someone named Dee" involved.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-te031.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 10:08 am:

Sandy, your post is as always very interesting and I may give it more creedence were it not for the Zodiac letters. I have yet to hear of drug hits with prolific (of a sort) letter - writing
communications, complete with Mikado references,
views of an afterlife, pleas for help, even "Titwillows", etc. This very much relates to the view held by many board members that the letters were in fact, if not the whole point, then certainly an enormous co-thrill.
It does not seem to fit with a drug ring conspiracy. BTW, I gather from previous posts of yours that the author in this ring theory would be, in your opinion, Kane. Is this not correct?

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acb57e8c.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 10:33 am:

In reference to Tom's last post in this thread, there was a car dealership on either side of Sylvia's Union station where Z made his phone call to VPD on 7-5-1969. One is still there, but the other and the service station are long gone (a conspiracy to destroy evidence???).

As far as Darlene dying so quickly, Harry (The Napa Rag, uhh, Sentinel) Martin claimed that corrupt CHP officer Paul Petri shot Darlene and Mageau but somehow screwed that up, and seemed to suggest without actually naming him that Hoffman might have killed her in the ambulance to finish Petri's incompetent drug hit. He conveniently and conspicuously neglects to explain how he failed to kill Mageau in that same ambulance, however.

I don't know where the Corvair is though (we had a white 1962 Corvair, so it couldn't have been hers).

By Spencer (Spencer) (ac96ccca.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 02:33 pm:

I was digging through some Times-Herald articles regarding the BRS incident, and came across the following passages regarding the Z-car:

"Officers at the scene broadcast an alert for a young, heavyset, white male adult, riding in a brown automobile, as wanted for questioning in the shooting" (Vallejo Times-Herald, "Two Victims Found Lying Beside Road," 5 July 1969, p. 1).

"The officers are looking for a stocky young white man who was driving a brown car" (Vallejo Times-Herald, "Police Seeking Clues In Vallejo Shootings," 6 July 1969, p. 1)

Both of the above two quotes came from articles published before police had been able to interview Mageau.

"The interrogation was brief, but Mageau at least was able to describe the killer's car, [Det. Sgt. Clarence] Rust said.

"Rust said Mageau believes the car was identical or similar to the one his companion, Mrs. Darlene Ferrin, was driving.

" . . . He tumbled to the ground, however, and saw the slayer's car as it sped away.

"The killer's car bore a California license, Mageau told Rust" (Vallejo Times-Herald, "Gunshot Victim Fails To Identify Attacker," 7 July 1969, p. 1).
"He [Mageau] elaborated on his description of the murderer's car. 'It could have been a 1958 or 1959 Falcon.' The body type was similar to that of the 1963 Corvair driven by Mrs. Ferrin, Mageau said. The color was bronze or brown.

" . . . Mageau stressed that his description of the onslaught was not positive in his mind but was more impressional than exact. He pointed out he was suffering from the critical wounds most of the time" (Dave Peterson, The Vallejo News-Chronicle, "Killer's Sole Survivor Talks," 19 August 1969, p. 1).

That's all folks . . .


By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p25.as1.clonmel1.eircom.net - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 03:13 pm:

I suppose,Ed,there wasn't a car dealership,near the car wash in Napa?

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acb4ed19.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 05:17 pm:

Not that I know of... I just happened to discover the two by Silvia's many years ago as I was attempting to reconcile Graysmith with the known landmarks...

By Sandy (Sandy) (c531918-a.ptbrg1.sfba.home.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 11:23 am:

Sylvie, a cover up is just that, a cover up.Z would not write about why he really did what he did ,if he was trying to throw off the police.It is a well known fact, that some of the packages delivered to Darlene, were the size of stacks of money, and were flexable.She gave her sister 20.00's that were brand new,Pams husband told Pam to give the money back to Darlene.It sounds to me that he was suspicious about the money.I don't think Kane was the brains behind the ring, I feel he was the hit man, because he is crazy, and likes to kill.All I know about the men in this ring, is that the plates for the money came from Chicago, also two of the men involved.Kane did stay in Chicago, while he was in the Navy.The other "crazy" person who liked to travel from state to state,who had a car like the one seen at BRS,who also had just came back from Colorado, at the same time the killer told his victims at Lake B., that he just came back from Colorado,was Darlenes ex husband.This guy was a beach bum ,who also had a "22 cal". gun had his home paid for in "cash" about the same time Darlene paid cash for her home.I suspect he had a part in the ring.I would think at least one would have to be a artist,he is a artist. The printer would be RH, who is a printer by trade.This is only what I believe, that doesn't make it a fact of what really happened. Only the Z and the others involved, have the real answers.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (ac84e948.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 11:53 am:

Sandy, Darlene didn't pay cash for her home. Dean borrowed $1500 from his parents as a down payment, and financed the balance at $90 a month.