Zodiac Spelling Bee

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: General Zodiac Discussion: Zodiac Spelling Bee

By Brown (tayhou-tnt-9-216-40-228-73.ev1.net - on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 02:37 am:

What was the purpose of intentionally misspelling words in the Z letters? Z always presented himself as a arch criminal ("I am crackproof") who wanted people to think he was a genius for creating the ciphers and eluding police capture. It makes no sense, then, to intentionally misspell common words. Did he really think that the police believed that he had misspelled those words unintentionally?

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-58-149.phil.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 03:19 am:

Perhaps a jury might have thought so.

By Tex Walker (203-96-93-174.dialup.xtra.co.nz - on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 06:19 am:

It seems a bit haywire really, when you consider that in some of his earlier letters, he mis-spells words like 'motorcicles', 'comitt' and 'extreamly'. Then goes on in future letters to correctly spell words like 'psychological', 'anonymously' and 'glorification'. I think any decent prosecution could have distinguished that.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-58-149.phil.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 09:53 am:

You'd be surprised how many people get sucked in by it, though.

By Ed Taylor (nr8-216-68-180-57.fuse.net - on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 10:15 am:

When I know there is a good chance a unidentified letter writer is still in school, I've taken the letters to schools before asking teachers take a look. Teachers can sometimes tell who wrote the letter by spelling errors and handwritting styles. I would not be surprised Z misspelled words for that reason. Not that he was still in school or anything, but so when the letters were published no one could tie him to the letters because of the spelling or perhaps writting style. Just my two cents.

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-2injkv9.dialup.mindspring.com - on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 10:38 am:


You are right on target with your observations, and your logic speaks for itself. We could say it makes no sense, as you suggest, unless of course we discover that there was a dedicated purpose to this pervasive tendency.


By Brown (tayhou-tnt-8-216-40-236-234.ev1.net - on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 04:23 pm:

Ed Taylor,
Maybe your theory is correct. Perhaps Z was paranoid that one of his teachers (or friends? relatives?) would see the letters and connect them to him. So he used spelling and phrases that he'd never actually use otherwise. Maybe...

If I were trying to project this image of myself as some super-villian out of "Batman," not only would I have spelled all the words correctly, I would've gone out of my way to use difficult words that cops wouldn't understand.

Any way you look it, it comes across as a patently phony and ridiculous scheme that really waters down the Zodiac legend in my opinion.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-58-149.phil.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 07:26 pm:

Just as it's difficult to make yourself appear smaller than you actually are, so also is it difficult to make yourself appear less intelligent. I think that's why Zodiac's efforts here appear so pathetic. If he had given it more thought, I think he would have paid more attention to homophones, which semi-literate people (or virtually everyone under the age of 45 nowadays) invariably get wrong.

By Mike_Cole (Mike_Cole) (12-224-40-230.client.attbi.com - on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 11:59 pm:

IMO, the intent of the misspellings, quite clearly, is to hinder the development of insight into the personality of the Zodiac. Now it's 30 some-odd years later and many people knowledgeable about the case can't even agree on whether Z was an uneducated bastard with an enormous amount of luck, a sophisticated super-genius, or something in between. I'd say the misspellings were part of a campaign that, thus far, has been successful.

Furthermore, Z probably viewed the misspellings as a means to an end, not an end in and of themselves. In other words, I suspect Z derived a significant amount of satisfaction out of not being caught. I doubt he really cared what people thought about the (mis)spelling in his letters... Also, perhaps Z did unintentionally misspell a word somewhere. I certainly couldn't tell you if he did.


Which "difficult" (read "rare") words would you use? The ones that you use often that other people associate with you? Or perhaps the ones you never use and therefore quite likely would use incorrectly? Either way you run the risk of giving law enforcement non-trivial insight into who you are.

Somewhat relatedly, one of the primary reasons Kaczynski was identified was due to a quirk he had where he would say "eat your cake and have it too" instead of the common "have your cake and eat it too"...

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-58-149.phil.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 01:32 am:

Mike, that's not quite right about Kaczynski. His brother's wife read a copy of the Manifesto online and thought the tenor of the anti-technology remarks sounded like Ted.

At my website I have an entire page of styistic cmparisons showing particular turns of phrase and stylstic peculiarities used by Zodiac.

By Brown (tayhou-207-218-236-206.ev1.net - on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 02:20 am:

How would spelling words correctly help develop a personality profile of Zodiac? It would only prove that he could spell, nothing more. That's not exactly the biggest of "clews." And we know he COULD spell -- semiliterate people are not likely to spell "psychological" correctly and then turn around and spell "kid" with a "c." So he wasn't fooling anyone with this scheme.

By Linda (Linda) (208-59-124-199.s199.tnt1.frdr.md.dialup.rcn.com - on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 03:43 am:

I don't think it's just the spelling of words that would help to profile this killer. The fact that the killer appears to have a "need" to communicate through writing would be a key to me; then the next step would be in the style of writing, punctuation, mis-spellings (purposefully or not) and types of words and/or phrases used (correctly or incorrectly).

Forensic analysis of writing is an amazing tool to use; combined with other evidence, it can certainly help nail a suspect...

By Bookworm (Bookworm) (12-206-165-69.client.attbi.com - on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 06:49 am:

If Z was trying to give everyone the impression that he was semiliterate by his misspellings, how would that be reconciled with his cipher challenges, where he seems to be touting his genius. His first ciphers were solved quickly, but later ones remained/remain unsolved for a very long time.

Maybe the misspellings were done deliberately as his "signature," and to help authorities siphon out the copycats. That was a problem with the Ripper letters.

I would think that spelling everything correctly would be a better camouflage.

By Warren (Warren) (w205.z064002105.hou-tx.dsl.cnc.net - on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 08:03 am:

Having flagged Psych 101, I tend to remember more from it than any other class. So with goatee in place and wire rim glasses, I see the spellings as evidence of schizophrenia, though he was certainly well aware of what he was doing. He was having fun and bouncing off the walls when he wrote these letters. AC current (redundant, eh?)alternating between the poles. Look at the Son of Sam letters, very similar.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-58-149.phil.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 09:20 am:

I don't think so, Warren. His syntax is too good, and his train of thought is clear and focused. No rambling whatsoever.

By Ed Taylor (nr8-216-68-180-57.fuse.net - on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 11:24 am:


How is the spelling evidence of schizophrenia? Hell, I misspell words all the time, now you got me koncerned.


By Muskogee (Muskogee) (209-223-48-7-dyndsl.oplnk.net - on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 01:15 pm:

Warren, I, too, disagree with the proposition of Zodiac being a schizophrenic based on his spelling. You may be thinking of "word salad," which is not uncommon in schizophrenics. This, however, does not necessarily have anything to do with spelling; it involves content of spoken or written language. But I like the wire-rimmed glasses- very becoming.

Perhaps Zodiac was a smart man, but a mediocre speller. If he spelled certain words incorrectly often enough that someone might notice his personal pattern of misspellings, maybe he threw in a bunch of red herrings so no one would notice his true misspellings. One would then assume all misspellings were purposeful and miss any true patterns which might help identify him.

By Mike_Cole (Mike_Cole) (jffwpr03.jf.intel.com - on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 01:35 pm:


That's true too, but the "cake" quote was definitely a supporting factor. I remember reading about it at the time of his arrest. Here's a quote from a website I just found.


Most telling was the Unabomber’s reversal of the saying “ You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Writing about the negative consequences of eliminating industrial society, the Unabomber wrote: “…you can't eat your cake and have it too. To gain one thing you have to sacrifice another.” Ted’s quirky use of the aphorism was precisely the way he – and his mother – had always phrased it.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-58-149.phil.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 04:02 pm:

Yes, Mike, it was a supporting factor for the arrest warrant, and the prosecution would have brought it up at trial. The defense argued against it, bringing up a number of cases where people had used the "eat your cake and have it too" version. Unfortunately, those persons didn't have bomb making tools in their cabins and voluminous journals linking them directly to the crimes!

By Tim Allen (ip-wv-24-159-113-058.charterwv.net - on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 07:03 pm:

I agree with Warren though I have no formal teaching in the pshyc. He was realy charged up when writing the letters and was still able to maintain a clear train of thought, but he was definitley "pshyced up". Look at what he had just committed. When he was writing in such a state to mispell a few words wouldn't be out of the ordinary,I dont think.
Ever write some one a quik note and mispelled a word or two and thoght "what the heck,They know what I'm talking about?

By Robert SF (adsl-67-122-118-210.dsl.pltn13.pacbell.net - on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 10:26 pm:

Though I think the Zodiac's eccentric spelling was likely just another layer of obfuscation, my initial thought was that he might have a background in computer programming.

Scientifically provable or not, programmers are stereotypically considered to be poor spellers. From personal trade experience and education, variable names used in programs (especially those used in more primitive systems and languages) have restrictions that induce awkward spelling conventions (e.g. length of characters; permissible characters; notation standards; etc.).

The longer one works extensively with non-standard spellings, the easier it is to lose sharp spelling skills. Maybe the Zodiac wasn't a programmer, but he obviously enjoyed cryptic communication, which is too often an inherent trait in computer programs. Good professional programmers seek solutions that can be easily understood by others. Insecure and attention-seeking programmers enjoy making things more difficult than they need to be (e.g. obfuscation can increase one's perceived importance and job security).

In any case, I think the intent of the Zodiac's erratic spelling was most likely to distract and to mask his educational background. BTW, has anyone created a list of his misspellings for frequency, variations, and context?

By Oddball (Oddball) (pcp02969883pcs.flrnc01.al.comcast.net - on Friday, August 22, 2003 - 12:38 am:

Maybe this is going to sound a bit shallow, but I've always thought the misspellings were part of what, for Zodiac, passed for a sense of humor.

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Friday, August 22, 2003 - 04:48 pm:

We know from Z that he was into anti detection methods.
He claims,at least,he 'coated his fingertips,'utilized 'fake clues'(also leaving those black gloves in the cab?),such as wiping down the cab to give the illusion he left prints and tried to erase them and that he said he 'wore a disguise,'etc.
To frame and lock in our case context as just given-the one in which we find ourselves-his spelling and other literary errors were probably contrived.Spelling words incorrectly and then correctly in the SAME letter is just one indicator of this.
All anti detection books in the 60s advocated that if a perp writes any form of communication he or she should misspell(then correctly spell) words and deliberately make grammatical errors,so as to confuse the authorities should they research the perps literary style and writing abilities,etc.Note the appearance of Zs Kickoff letters and the '74 series ,all of which VARY in style,spelling and 'outer' appearance and so on.Compare the Citizen letter with the Red Phantom letter both written the SAME year!He was definitely changing his stylistic characteristics in an attempt to confuse the experts-yet he knew they could 'read' deeper than the non professional and see his icy hand behind the wordage.
As an FYI-Riverside police determined that the writer of the '66 Confession letter(which has misspellings,etc.)was probably 'familiar with anti detection techniques,such as 'stacking carbons and papers' to make dectection of the kind and make of typewriter he used in the letters composition difficult ,if not impossible.This effort could indicate the typewriter was either someone else's(and could be traced back to the author)or it was in a 'public' place, so the writer went through all the trouble of doing the paper/carbon stacking when- if it was his instrument -he could have easily have discarded it!We have a violent murder here with the police and public seeking any and all clues ,it's worth the toss-unless,of course, Z was Scotch!
Sabotaging the VW (and wearing military dress shoes?)would be another indicator the perp was into anti detection methods.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-58-149.phil.east.verizon.net - on Friday, August 22, 2003 - 06:53 pm:

Interestingly, in his 1971 Essay, Ted Kaczynski wrote:

Think of all the misery suffered as a result of Victorian repressions, sexual
perversions, frigidity, unwanted pregnancies, and venerial desease . . . .

"Venerial desease" isn't a misprint, nor is it a misquotation. The words appear this way in the original typed manuscript. Now, this is astounding for someone of Kaczynski's intellectual attainments and given the extreme care he took with spelling and punctuation over the course of his entire life.

By Jrevilla (adsl-65-68-249-84.dsl.crchtx.swbell.net - on Saturday, August 23, 2003 - 05:07 pm:

It has been said that some mental patients that have mood swings to multiple personalties have different spelling and speech patterns under the influence of an attack. Is it possible he was writing in a maniac state ?

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-58-149.phil.east.verizon.net - on Saturday, August 23, 2003 - 08:35 pm:

The content and syntax don't bear it out.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) (12-206-165-69.client.attbi.com - on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 08:50 am:

"Venerial desease"

Allen spoke of his own death as being the "cure" for him. Maybe this is a connection between Allen and Kaczynski. "desease" also looks like "deceased" (past tense)

Arthur Allen's initials are AA like American Airlines. Police in their search warrant of Allen's house after his death found a "fruit juice receipe" (bomb recipe) Recipe mispelled. The warrant is under Allen's link on this site.

The bomb on Flight 444, American Airlines was made with a juice "can." This can be found on the unabombertrial website.

By Tom_Voigt (12-231-193-32.client.attbi.com - on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 12:59 pm:

Bookworm, you're doing it again...

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 04:12 pm:

"Yo u're"- yo, a term for summoning attention from someone-Bookworms..."Do ing"- do, as in cease those hairy(do) metaphysical meanderings."Again," gain more perspective...

By Bookworm (Bookworm) (12-206-165-69.client.attbi.com - on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 07:33 am:

Tom and Howard,
OK, maybe AA as Arthur Allen is stretching it a bit. But I am going to defend myself here. I thought it would fit here since we are talking about spelling and misspelling. The misspelled words are documented. Their meaning or interpretation is based on other words in the sentence ONLY.

Why are the words misspelled?

Take the word "cerous" in the "My name is..." letter. It was interpreted as "curious," but phonetically, judging from words of similar spelling, it's closer to "cereus," a genus of cactus. There isn't even an "i" in "cerous."

Also close is Ceres, "series" is a homonym. There are a series of letters, series of murders. The price on Z's head should be going up with each murder. Ceres is also a town in California.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc396ca.ipt.aol.com - on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 11:08 am:

Just as "clews" is actually a proper word, and an alternate spelling for "clues," "cerous" is also a proper word (although Z appears to have used it by chance or design as a misspelling for "curious"), which means, "of or pertaining to cerium or containing cerium in the trivalent state." Penn pointed that one out in Times 17.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) (12-206-165-69.client.attbi.com - on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 03:13 pm:

Hi Ed,
It's my feeling Z liked word puzzles. The ciphers are big word puzzles.

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 04:04 pm:

I was a just funnin' with ya!There is a possibility Z did like word puzzles...

By Raewyn Ivory (tor58-19-117-160.dialup.sprint-canada.net - on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 07:34 pm:

My first post on the message boards... That's why my name dosen't ring a bell.

I think Zodiac, by intentionally misspelling certain words in his letters, was trying to have fun with the public and with the police. I think that it might be a clue about the ciphers. I'm guessing that when people look at these things and try to figure them out, they think that everything is going to be spelled correctly. I feel that Zodiac knew this and decided to start misspelling words in his cipher puzzles to make them even tougher to solve. He then started to give clues about the cipher mistakes in his letters by misspelling simple words like 'cid' and 'woeman' because the police and public didn't suspect the cipher misspellings and he wanted to see if they would catch on.

It's just an opinion. It made sense to me, anyway...

By Raewyn Ivory (tor58-21-126-102.dialup.sprint-canada.net - on Friday, August 29, 2003 - 08:14 am:

*Just a bit of a P.S. here, I realize that Zodiac misspelled words in his letters before releasing his ciphers. I worded part of my response wrong by writing '...Decided to /start/ misspelling words...'. I realize that he didn't begin misspelling words only after the ciphers were sent. I have a feeling that he knew what he was going to do and that he was going to play with/misspell words in his puzzles /eventually/ and was giving clues as to how to solve them before he even sent them in the mail.

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Friday, August 29, 2003 - 07:07 pm:

The first three Zodiac letters contained,as you know, misspellings and yet,the three part cipher wasn't solved at that point-it was a simultaneous presentation-there was no "before" action in regards to sending missives with the ciphers,which was a publicity tool.
The misspellings must have been a ploy(and a form of rebellion to standard norms-we see this in other areas of his persona and acts)as Zodiac gave every indication he was concealing his real identity and this would be a further extension of that criminal mind set.
Teasing is a form of power over another and degrading others in its negative form,but can be a source of ordinary humor too(and anger in disguised form-other things also)and he teasingly states his "name" is in the cipher as a motivator to crack the cipher and yet in this same work he tells the public and police "No Address"!
Z did have a "plan" as BH asserted in his TV interview.
Just commenting on your good post-it made me think and that IS a trick!

By Tim Allen (ip-wv-24-159-113-058.charterwv.net - on Friday, August 29, 2003 - 08:41 pm:

Since we're on misspelling..what about paradice,he misspelled it in several places right? I'm sure he knew the right spelling of the word. I've often wondered if these misspelled words had two meanings. Pair a dice? see a pair of dice dangling from his mirror. I know I'm stumbling in the dark on that but you see what I mean,right?
Carried a pair of dice around always fooling around with them.Misspelled or double meaning?

By Tim Allen (ip-wv-24-159-113-058.charterwv.net - on Saturday, August 30, 2003 - 09:18 am:

Paradise Cal. One story says it was once called pair a dice. There are other stories also on how this town got it's name. just some thought on whether the word paradice was misspelled or had other meanings.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) (12-206-165-69.client.attbi.com - on Sunday, August 31, 2003 - 07:07 am:

Double meanings for misspelled words is a possiblity. FBI has two meanings; Federal Bureau of Investigation AND Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity. Z could have been doing the same thing.

By George (cache-mtc-ak04.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 03:04 am:

I agree with Howard. Teasing is a form of control,
the words misspelled are still easily understood and Z was trying his best to control everything he could.

Zodiac was too complex (especially in his preperation) to have suffered any sort of full-blown psychotic disorder.

In terms of capturing him, I think Z's misspellings mean nada. My favorite is "phomphit" in the List letter.

PS-- Did he ever misspell the word "kill?"

By George (cache-mtc-ak04.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 03:08 am:

Uhh, make that "preparation."

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (cache-rp06.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 03:09 pm:

Bookworm, you left out Fumbling Bureaucratic Ineptitude. That's one of the appellations in vogue at CIA. The other is sexist and probably won't make it through Tom's obscenity filter.

George, why do you suppose that complexity precludes a "full-blown psychotic disorder"? Many psychotics are capable of remarkably complex artistic gestures.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-81-54.phil.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 03:32 pm:

Alan, the artwork I've seen produced by psychotics isn't complicated at all; like their thought processes it's a tangled mess of scattered associations.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (cache-dh03.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 05:06 pm:

Have you read A BEAUTIFUL MIND? Disregard the movie, it softens the problem. That's just one example.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-81-54.phil.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 05:22 pm:

Nash supposedly performed great intellectual feats before and after his delusional episodes, but I'm not aware of any such accomplishments during them. Considering the mercurial nature of his ailment I'm inclined to wonder whether the affliction was actually schizophrenia or some other problem that manifested itself in the same way.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (cache-dh03.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 07:43 pm:

The point is, he is a DIAGNOSED schizophrenic.

Hell, I don't even believe in "mental illness", as such. I'm with Thomas Szasz on the issue. Psychiatry is voodoo.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (cache-dh03.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 07:51 pm:

BTW, I'm "psychotic." It works for me.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-81-54.phil.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 08:38 pm:

Well, Alan, we're agreed on psychiatry.

By Muskogee (Muskogee) (209-223-48-21-dyndsl.oplnk.net - on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 06:08 pm:

Alan said:

"Psychiatry is voodoo"

ALL of medicine is voodoo. Just because we doctors say something with authority doesn't make it true. Psychiatry is just the most obviously FOS.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (cache-rp06.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 06:28 pm:

That's a refreshing statement comming from an MD.

This board is some kind of statistical anomaly: we have an honest cop AND an honest doctor. That's roughly the equivalent of putting a kettle on the stove and having it freeze.

I'm curious about the similarities between the Z literature and the Ripper and Son Of Sam documents (the "i" and "e" misspellings particularly). Do you folks think it's imitation, or something else?

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 10:15 pm:

Dr.Muskogee is not only qualified to practice medicine,but is expert at skeletal dynamics and clinical nutrition,etc.Now that's holistic zalance,er balance!

By Bookworm (Bookworm) (12-206-165-69.client.attbi.com - on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 06:33 am:

Where can Son of Sam documents be found to compare? I think there is a lot of imitation of the legendary Jack the Ripper and his letters. He's probably the patron saint of serial killers.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (cache-rp06.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 07:02 am:

The addle-headed Maury Terry included the letters in his penny-dreadful THE ULTIMATE EVIL, available just about anywhere cheap thrillers are sold. I don't know if they're up on the Web, but I'm sure Google does.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) (12-206-165-69.client.attbi.com - on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 07:04 am:

Thank you, Alan.

By Warren (Warren) ( - on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 07:40 am:

I've pointed out before the similarities in the missives of Zodiac and Son of Sam. Now look at the Black Dahlia letters. Note upside down and double postage. Read some of suspect Dr. Hodel's poetry and then read the desk top poem. Weird minds think alike.

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 11:17 am:

There is the possibility that Z was influenced or inspired by the Dahlia case with its letters,etc.,through detective magazines and occasional newspaper articles.

By Muskogee (Muskogee) (209-223-48-21-dyndsl.oplnk.net - on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 06:06 pm:

Howard knows his osteopathy! Too bad I don't follow my OWN advice regarding nutrition...

Warren, would your recommend Mr. Hodel's book about his father?

Howard, I have always wondered how much interest Z would have had in the Black Dahlia case. It seems too eerily Zodiesque for him to have ignored.

By Warren (Warren) ( - on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 07:30 am:

Howard - a good possibility that Z was aware of Black Dahlia. However, I've always felt that if you had two taunting serial killers on opposite coasts acting at the same time, and unaware of each other, their letters to the police and/or press would be very similar.

Yes, Dr. Muskogee- it is well written and compelling. He makes a far better case, almost conclusively so, than those poor saps that screed about their step-dad, uncle, grandbrother, etc being a killer. The $30.00 hardbound price is tough to swallow - it will show up at Half-Price books before too long.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-62-151.phil.east.verizon.net - on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 10:09 am:

The difference between Berkowitz and Zodiac is that the former rambles, and the latter presents himself in a perfectly straightfoward manner, with no equivocation about what he's doing or what he wants. Zodiac identifies himself by using fairly straightforward and clever literary allusions (i.e., "The Mikado," "Most Dangerous Game"). With Berkowitz you can only guess, because he's all over the place.

By Tim Allen (ip-wv-24-159-113-058.charterwv.net - on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 09:20 pm:

Phomphit always struck a cord with me. Outside of Phom Penh, in Cambodia . When the locals talked about Phum Phiet, it sounded like they were saying vomit. But so did a lot of the other villages around Phom Penh.Another misspelling or clew?

By Tim Allen (ip-wv-24-159-113-058.charterwv.net - on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 07:56 pm:

ooops,that's PhumPhniet,it still sounds like vomit in vietmanese.

By Oddball (Oddball) (pcp02969883pcs.flrnc01.al.comcast.net - on Sunday, September 07, 2003 - 03:05 am:

My opinion is that whoever wrote the Son of Sam letters--and I don't believe it was Berkowitz, but of course that's another can of worms entirely--deliberately imitated Zodiac's letters.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-85-69.phil.east.verizon.net - on Sunday, September 07, 2003 - 07:18 am:

Oddball, if he did imitate them, he didn't do a very good job. Perhaps what he imitated was the actual process of writing letters, but even in that regard we can observe that Berkowitz sent the bulk of his letters to the police while Zodiac sent his to the media.

By Oddball (Oddball) (pcp02969883pcs.flrnc01.al.comcast.net - on Sunday, September 07, 2003 - 11:08 am:

Well, they're not exact imitations, but the overall tone of the Sam letters is quite similar. Lines like "I am deeply hurt by your calling me a wemon hater" seem to echo Zodiac, as does the overall mocking tone of the missives("Here are some names to help you along"). "Sam" did write to the police, but he also wrote to Jimmy Breslin--even including a symbol with his signature.

By George (cache-mtc-ak04.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, September 27, 2003 - 02:44 pm:

George, why do you suppose that complexity precludes a "full-blown psychotic disorder"? Many psychotics are capable of remarkably complex artistic gestures.

As Tom pointed out so well, somewhere in the archives I think, the LHR attack was so faultlessly carried out that a Navy Seal could not have done a better job.

I also believe Zodiac was one of the best prepared
multiple murderers in US history, as evidenced by the very detailed preparation of his codes, even more by knowing what to bring to his kill sites, but above all, the locale of his attacks sites. LHR, BRS, even LB and PH; the preperation was there, the actual commision was not as good at the latter two sites, but the bottom line is that Zodiac still got it done. And there is a gigantic difference betwixt "complex, artistic gestures" and multiple homicide.

Alan, please give me one name of a multiple murderer who suffered "full-blown psychosis," murdered a minimum of five human beings, yet has never been apprehended. Thank you.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (pool0284.cvx12-bradley.dialup.earthlink.net - on Monday, October 06, 2003 - 10:45 pm:

Jack the Ripper...

By J Eric Freedner (J_Eric) (dialup- - on Tuesday, October 07, 2003 - 09:10 pm:

I've always felt Zodiac was mocking other people who misspelled words. Say, school kids. They could have provided him with a near-endless list of botched spelling test papers. That's assuming Z had access to cast-off tests which a school janitor certainly would have had. Now, if only some "grown up kid" from a particular school would remember how he blew the test by misspelling something and then saw it written just that way in a Z missive!...