Zodiac's Familiarity with Weapons, Continued

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: General Zodiac Discussion: Zodiac's Familiarity with Weapons, Continued

By Jake (Jake) (spider-wo034.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, September 25, 2000 - 05:36 pm:

With all the discussion about the Lake Herman Road attack as evidence of Z's marksmanship, I don't think anyone mentioned that Z missed with one shot. There were two rounds fired into the car, one at David, and five at Betty Lou. This accounts for eight shots, but nine casings were recovered (Graysmith, p9). Presumably, this shot was fired at Betty Lou, since a car is pretty hard to miss, so this could be seen as further argument against Z's sharpshooter qualification.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Ed N. (spider-wd074.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, September 25, 2000 - 06:50 pm:

Jake: I'd forgotten about that with all the arguing about the five bullets in the "tight pattern"/"half-dollar shot group." However, weren't there actually ten shots fired? In Zodiac, page 8, Graysmith describes one .22 shell found on the passenger side floorboard of the Rambler as well as those nine on the ground. In Z's first three letters, he claimed he fired 10 shots. Thus, he shot one at David, two into the car, and five into Betty Lou. Therefore, he actually missed two out of a maximum of seven shots he fired at her. The statements from Betty Lou's death certificate coupled with Z's claim that all he had to do was "spray them" indicates that he did just that: he fired seven times and hit her with a spread of five bullets across her back and missed twice, and did not hit her in one little "half-dollar" formation. I suspect that the autopsy report indicates just that. Hopefully, Howard will locate it in his files!

Thanks for the reminder, Jake! It looks more and more like what I've been arguing all along about Z's marksmanship and general competence with weapons: he sucked.

By Tom Voigt (ac8aba6c.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, September 25, 2000 - 06:54 pm:

10 shots were fired, 8 have been accounted for.

By Douglas Oswell (17.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, September 25, 2000 - 06:56 pm:

Something that few people are aware of is that one of the shots was fired into the roof of the car. At first it was thought that this bullet was a .38, but later analysis showed it to have been a .22. For the Vallejo Times Herald article detailing these events, see this link.

By Ed N. (spider-wd083.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, September 25, 2000 - 07:29 pm:

Quite right. It was thought at first that there were two guns, therefore two perps. When they realized it was a .22, they were back to one perp.

By Jake (Jake) (spider-tj023.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, September 25, 2000 - 08:24 pm:

Ed N. wrote:
"In Zodiac, page 8, Graysmith describes one .22 shell found on the passenger side floorboard of the Rambler as well as those nine on the ground. In Z's first three letters, he claimed he fired 10 shots."

You snooze, you lose. I'm going back to bed.

"This is way past your bedtime..."

By Ed N. (spider-mtc-td061.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, September 25, 2000 - 10:46 pm:

We've all had those days...

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-wq071.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, June 05, 2001 - 01:59 am:

Okay, I know it's been a long time since anyone has posted on this thread, but I've recently read both of the "Z's Familiarity with Weapons" threads and thought I'd add my two cents to the pot.

It seems that this subject is, for lack of a better word, paradoxical. Can we really determine Z's familiarity and competence with weapons given the known facts? Cases in point:

1. One could argue that he wasn't a good marksman because of the sizeable pattern of shots on BLJ's body. On the other hand, one could argue that the spread of shots was done deliberately by Z to guarantee himself a victim. Or maybe he panicked when the first shot didn't kill BLJ and began blasting away as fast as possible.

2. One could theorize that a .22 caliber pistol is the "weapon of choice" for "professional killers" because it has a relatively quiet report, is easily and cheaply obtainable, and can be easily disposed of because it didn't cost a fortune to acquire. Conversely, a true firearms enthusiast would know that a .22 semi-automatic pistol is extremely prone to malfunctions and not that great of a "man stopper" to begin with. (Get yourself a ballistics chart and apply "Taylor's Knockout Formula" if you don't believe me.) A revolver chambered for either .38 special or .357 magnum could be obtained almost as cheaply, is much more reliable in terms of it's mechanics, and substantially more lethal. Then again, perhaps Z knew this and chose a .22 caliber pistol anyway because the inherent risks of using it on a human added to the "high" of committing the murders.

3. One could argue that he used a 9mm pistol at BRS and again on Stine because he had disposed of the .22 following the LHR incident. Then again, maybe he was just testing a new gun on the three victims and kept the .22 as a "trophy" or "totem" from the LHR murders. Perhaps he switched to a larger caliber because he felt uneasy about the amount of shots it took to kill BLJ.

4. Again, at BRS, Z didn't exactly display the marksmanship of "Dirty Harry." However, as is the case with BLJ and DF, we can't be sure that his placement of shots weren't intentional. Perhaps seeing his victims "die horribly" fueled his sadistic fire, so to speak.

In closing, I ask again, what do we REALLY know about Z's marksmanship, familiarity, and competence with weapons, given the facts at hand? For me, this question can be answered with one word: NOTHING.

One additional comment. Some time ago, someone made the claim in one of their posts that he was able to hit a Coke can at 3/4 of a mile with a rifle chambered for 45-70 government. (With open sights to boot.) Hogwash! That particular round has a trajectory like a rainbow. A Navy S.E.A.L sniper would be LUCKY to hit a V.W. at that distance with a rifle chambered for that particular round! Again, consult a ballistics chart if you don't believe me.

For what it's worth,