Zodiac Symbol

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: General Zodiac Discussion: Zodiac Symbol

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-149-178-89.bos.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, November 04, 2003 - 10:08 am:

I'd like to put out a question that was in another thread, but then pretty much dropped. That is the quote from Susan Morton that the Z letters with the signature had never been released by police until shortly before the CN (Channel Nine) letter was received. That comment drew a lot of fire to the effect that the letters had been published -- copies, not just text -- long before. It turns out that the full photocopies of the letters may not have been published as early as we had assumed.

For example, after a lot of inquiry into the particular time period, I haven't been able to find any such publication -- in full, with signature -- during the period from the first known letter to the Stine murder. I haven't looked specifically for any later period, but I thought I would put this out there before I do:

Can anyone pinpoint when the earliest publication of a Z letter with the signature symbol was? Can you provide a copy of the article? A text description of the z-sign could be a close second in significance, but the first photo of the Z-sign itself would be very interesting indeed.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-39-171.bos.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 - 12:02 pm:

I found a partial answer. Amazing how valuable an occasional reviw of what Tom has already provided can be:

Tom's reproduction of page 3 of the Zodiac debut letter says "The porton of this letter in red brackets [including the Z signature] has never been photographically reproduced, although the text has been quoted"
Don't know when Tom first posted this, but certainly late 90's. As of that date at least one Z-signature sample had never been published. Any chance of nailing down the first publication date of the only other other Z signatures between BRS and LB, those on the July 31, 1969 TH/Examiner/Chronicle letters?

By Ann (Ann) (cache-dk01.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 - 02:05 pm:

Peter, The only references to this I have found online have been statements such as "portions of the letters were printed in newspapers" and based on just that, I don't know if that means copies or text. I would guess one would have to search the archives at a S.F. library. Tom seemed certain they had been published; I assume he knows. I also would like to see a copy of the article. Hopefully someone will come up with it.

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 - 02:12 pm:

Wait a bit...

By Jake (Jake) (cache-mtc-af02.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, November 06, 2003 - 07:29 pm:

The earliest photoreproduction of a cryptogram cover letter that I've seen is in the Vallejo Times-Herald, 1 November 1981, p. 21. Its two pages are printed in their entirety, with signature. Someone may be able to predate this one (I'm surprised it was so late), but I remember it being a tough one to track down back in the olden days.


By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-149-180-49.bos.east.verizon.net - on Friday, November 07, 2003 - 06:40 am:

Thanks, Jake. (BTW, have you changed your email? I tried to contact you on this point and never heard back)

SO far, we have the earliest publication of either the 3-part crypto cover letter signature or the Zodiac debut signatures ( the only letters with the Z-sign before Stine) in 1981. Anyone else?

Going once . . .

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-33-21.bos.east.verizon.net - on Monday, November 10, 2003 - 06:43 am:

Going twice . . .

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-129-44-182-202.bos.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - 07:05 am:

I have 1981 going three times: no earlier publication of the Z-sign?

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-129-44-182-202.bos.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - 07:07 am:

OK, I am reminded that we have a phone-in bid of 1978 from Susan Morton. Anythng earlier than 1978?

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-61-238.phil.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - 04:51 pm:

I've a number of articles from the time of the murders, but have yet to see a reproduction of the crosshair circle. It was, however, described in a number of accounts.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-129-44-182-202.bos.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - 05:11 pm:

How early? And can you provide chapter and verse?

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (pool-141-151-61-238.phil.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - 06:54 pm:

Here are the ones I was able to locate. Sorry; no chapter and verse, but I've got sources and dates!

"The message, written with black felt pen on the white car, included a crosshairs symbol ...." San Francisco Chronicle, 10/1/69

"The knife fell again and again and formed the mysterious symbol -- like the crosshairs of a gunsight -- that has come to be Zodiac's hallmark." San Francisco Chronicle, 10/18/69

"In these letters, signed with the circle and cross symbol of the Zodiac ...." San Francisco Chronicle, 10/19/69

"Dr. Leonard Thompson ... has found a number of different meanings in the killer's crossed-circle 'signature.'" San Jose Mercury News, 10/16/69

"Three times he has written to the newspapers, ... and once he left the Zodiac sign -- a circle bisected by a cross ...." San Jose Mercury News, 10/19/69

"The writer of the letter to The Chronicle signed it with a cross-hair symbol, which has shown up in other taunting messages." San Francisco Chronicle, 10/15/69

By Warren (Warren) ( - on Thursday, November 13, 2003 - 07:38 am:

Nice work, Doug.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-129-44-182-202.bos.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, November 13, 2003 - 07:46 am:

Thanks, Douglas. Very helpful indeed.

Very interesting. No photo reproduction at all, and only one mention, that of a "crosshairs symbol", before Stine. Let me pose a question for everyone, that requires some suspension of what you know. Suppose you had never seen the Z-signature, and forget everything you have learned about its possible associations. You only read these accounts and descriptions: "crosshairs symbol" "crosshairs of a gunsight" "circle and cross symbol" "crossed circle" "Zodiac sign . . . circle bisected by a cross" and again "crosshair symbol". How would you have drawn the symbol based only on these descriptions, and what you knew before you ever heard of the Zodiac Killer?

By Warren (Warren) ( - on Thursday, November 13, 2003 - 02:14 pm:

If I had to draw the crosshairs of a gun sight, having looked through many, my perpendicular lines would not extend past the circle. I would have had no idea how to draw a Zodiac circle.

By ScottN (n2h24.dhcp.oxy.edu - on Thursday, November 13, 2003 - 05:06 pm:

Here's my take: the symbol HAS to be related to the Zodiac watches. The notion that an individual would coincidentally come up with THAT design and THAT name together is just beyond belief.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-129-44-182-202.bos.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, November 13, 2003 - 05:39 pm:

Thanks, Warren.

Not playing by the rules, Scott. The question is not where the symbol comes from, but how would you have visualized it based only on the descriptions I quoted, forgetting what you have learned about the killer. Just on what you knew before you knew anything about the Zodiac killer. The point of the exercise is to determine what a reader of those early accounts, generously provided by Douglas, might have surmised about what the signature symbol looked like. Approach it like Warren did, and you have the idea.

By Wendi (Wendi) (dpc6682009048.direcpc.com - on Thursday, November 13, 2003 - 09:02 pm:

Having a background that involves some astrology and several different firearms groups....I would have known what a Zodiac circle or a gun sight was.I started target practive when I was six or seven, and poured homemade bullets for my dad's black powder group.So yes, a gunsight would have been my impression first...easily replicated in drawings.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-26-159.bos.east.verizon.net - on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 06:42 am:

Thanks for responding, Wendi, but the question starts with "crosshairs of a gunsight". The question is how would you have drawn it from that description? "Gunsight" can mean a lot of things. It doesn't tell me what it would have looked like. Look at Warren's answer. Do you agree with that?

By the way, just exactly what does the term "zodiac circle" mean to you? I have looked at dozens of astrology books and web sites and have never found that term or "sign of the zodiac". Symbols for individual planets, signs, etc, but the term "zodiac circle" or "zodiac sign" doesn't appear to have any specific meaning.

Just to let you know what I'm looking for here, my inquiry doesn't have anything to do with what the sign means or where it comes from. I am trying to determine the earliest date when it could have been duplicated by a copycat, as Susan Morton suggests was the case with the LAPD/CN letter.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p50-25.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 07:20 am:

Personally I don't think there is much else one could have drawn. "Circle bisected by a cross" is sufficiently technical. Also,as I recall,didn't all the old movies (which showed someone aiming through a gunsight) show these "crosshairs" I think it's a fairly reasonable connection to make.
In any event,is this only relevant if we assume that the only person who could have duplicated this was "Joe Public"? I imagine by the time 78 came around this was well know within Law Enforcement and media circles (at least).

By Warren (Warren) ( - on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 07:46 am:

Another thought I had last night, and before reading the morning posts. If I had been asked to draw a gunsight with crosshairs, I would have added the elevation, windage cross hatches. (is that the term?)

Looking through some modern astrological books recently, the only zodiac circles I saw were the ones divided into 12 pie shapes with the name of each sign at the top of each segment. In none of the books which I thumbed through did I see anything which looked like our boy's sign.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-26-159.bos.east.verizon.net - on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 11:10 am:

Again, Warren, excellent thinking. Good answer on the astrology symbols too. In fact I don't think there is any such thing as a (single) "sign of the Zodiac" or "Zodiac circle". I think all the references to "Zodiac circle" are strictly referring to its use by our boy, not some general use in astrology. I could be wrong, but I have yet to see the term used. I think you are right about elevation and windage markers, right, Scott?

With all due respect, Lapumo, "circle bisected by a cross" is not sufficiently technical. Again, look at Warren's answers. There are at least three possibilities here. As Warren sees it, a circle with a cross with "perpendicular lines not extend[ing] past the circle". (Which happens to be what I would visualize based on these descriptions) Maybe with elevation and windage crosshatching. Or the lines could extend past the circle, or they might be diagonal rather than perpendicular, or they might not even reach the circle, sort of a circle with a plus-sign within it. This last may not seem likely, but it is commonly used as the sign for earth in astrology. On some telescopic sights, 4 lines extend inward from the circle but do not meet, leaving blank in the center.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p50-179.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 04:34 pm:

Bisect= divide equally by passing "through".
A circle = O , A cross = +, A circle bisected by a cross = (+)(closest) .I'm not trying to be a smartass Pete.You asked for opinions,that's what I would have done.Someone else might see it differently!
I appreciate where Warren is coming from, but he speaks of being asked to draw a "gunsight with cross hairs". For me it's a question of taking all descriptions in context.
Agreed on the Zodiac circle though, if that was the only information I had, I would have drawn a circle divided into 12 segments.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-26-159.bos.east.verizon.net - on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 05:27 pm:

Thanks, Lapumo, I know what the terms mean. I guess I didn't put the question very well. I'll try this one more time, just in case anyone else is confused by what I am asking. Look at the quotes Douglas provided. Based on all of them, knowing only what you knew before you had ever heard of the Zodiac Killer, never having seen the symbol, I am asking what you would think the symbol would have looked like. I'm NOT asking which of Douglas's list best describes the symbol, ok? I am asking what you would conclude the symbol looked like if you had never seen it but only had those descriptions to go on. I know what bisect means, what all the terms mean. A "circle bisected by a cross" just repeats the terms of the question. It can describe at least three configurations I can think of. Crosshairs of a gunsight can also look like a few more things. Just putting the words together does not tell me what it would have looked like to you. Warren said the lines would not have extended beyond the circle. He then said they might have included smaller calibrations. I provided a few other possible descriptions. Pick the description that comes closest to how you would have visualized it, or describe one of your own.

By Tom_Voigt (12-231-193-32.client.attbi.com - on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 05:52 pm:

A "crosshairs" symbol would have been easy enough to figure out, especially for someone familiar with the gun and detective magazines of the era.

However, in a traditional crosshair symbol the lines don't break the circle. Therefore, someone drawing the symbol based on the newspaper descriptions would probably have drawn the cross contained entirely inside the circle.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-26-159.bos.east.verizon.net - on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 09:31 pm:

Thanks, Tom. I think that's the most likely, too, if by "entirely inside the circle", you mean touching it but not extending outside it. Anyone else?

By Wendi (Wendi) (dpc6682009031.direcpc.com - on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 11:07 pm:




I have amazing amounts of Zodiac circle files and elements stored. Books galore.

images of a traditional basic gunsight

There’s so much more to dig up. The Z circle is found in Aviation, astrology, witchcraft, and basic symbolism. A zodiac circle to me represents the cardinal points in astrology and pagan religions...Earth ,Air, Fire, Water. North, South, East, and West are those points.
It’s represented in the Air Force as a aiming device on the older planes. I’m used to gunsights having nothing more than a piece of metal on the end of the barrel to line up with your intended target, no scope just eyesight and skill. Gunsight in black powder days only referred to the line of sight, since no instrument was affixed, at least not on our family’s black powder guns. Crosshairs represent to me exactly what the Zodiac circle is.
A Zodiac Circle does exist....
Forgive me, I’m just a silly girl who thought I could participate . I'll stay on topic now Tom.

By J Eric Freedner (J_Eric) (dsc03-lai-ca-204-30-131-252.rasserver.net - on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 11:39 pm:

I wouldn't know how to draw the CROSS. A mere + sign, or more like Jesus'? Or an X. But in any event, Zodiac's "circle" was not always drawn round, by which I mean, it had a "tail" where his hand motion ended.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p51-80.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 10:07 am:

No confusion Peter,I understood perfectly first time. I could come up with a few variations of the "Zodiac circle" and a few different "gunsights" sketches. However,taking all of Doug's list into account, the clincher(for me personally) would be the "cross bisected by a circle".
Considering the "full" list does make the difference in my mind.Why? because we are combining two different descriptions.
The first,a Zodiac circle....There are a few variations one could imagine. However, there is no question of including "elevation" or "blank centres" in a Zodiac circle.
Had we only been dealing with "Gunsights/ crosshairs",using the term "Zodiac circle" does not fit well.
However I suggest the "circle bisected by a cross"
(cross upright, not an X)
brings the two together. Full circle, Full cross, no mention of anything else. Because the word bisect was used, I would have extended the cross beyond the circumference.
Of the four people who gave a definitive opinion, all came up with the same drawing. Two extended the cross beyond the circle ,two did not.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-26-159.bos.east.verizon.net - on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 11:27 am:

"Because the word bisect was used, I would have extended the cross beyond the circumference."

Finally. That's all you you had to say. I don;t now what four you are talking about. So far, only Tom and Warren, and now you have answered the question. Two would not have extended the lines, one would. Wendi and Eric. Pleas go back and read the question.

By Warren (Warren) ( - on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 02:32 pm:

Wendi - those are excellent links. I especially like the gunsight link.
Since we haven't heard from the Book lately, let me assume the mantle:

Zodiac appeared to have an affinity for water. Perhaps he was a fisherman. Maybe he used a Zebco rod and reel. Zebco stood for Zero Hour Bomb Company, who made bombsights during WWII and later oil drilling equipment. Zebco's founder was R. Hull, who was known as "rh".

By Mike_Cole (Mike_Cole) (12-224-40-230.client.attbi.com - on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 10:22 am:

Here are some thoughts:

(1) PeterH, it's a possibility that some people want to comment without answering your question. Also, I notice you characterize the answers of those who support your conclusion as "excellent", those that don't as something less than "excellent"...

(2) Another possible source of the symbol is the unit circle or some type of equivalent circle. This fits well with the one-time usage of the term "radians".

(3) I probably would have come up with the correct Zodiac symbol. Having said that, it's pretty hard to exclude one's subconscious from a question such as this: "How would you answer if you didn't know what you now know..." If there is real interest in determining the answer, one should try showing these descriptions to people unexposed to the Zodiac killer case and then ask them to draw the described symbol.

By Wendi (Wendi) (dpc6682009042.direcpc.com - on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 12:09 am:

If I had no idea about the ZK case, I still would have pointed to astrology as what a Z circle means to me. I would have thought it was odd to be asked, but a description of the cardinal points or elements in pagan relgions would still come to mind. I thought my first response was clear, I guess it wasn't to some.
Mike, you've reminded me yet again that I should be bribing you for Zodiac research materials instead of begging from our dear Tom for any lead or scrap of information.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-26-159.bos.east.verizon.net - on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 07:21 am:

Mike sez:

"it's a possibility that some people want to comment without answering your question."

Ya think?

I have a renewed respect and synpathy for Tom, in his struggles to keep threads on topic.

Actually, Mike, I was hoping for answers that refelcted your view, that the description would have been "circle with a perpendicular cross extnding outside the circle" for reasons I'll get to after a couple more posts. The excellence of Warren and Tom's answers had nothing to do with their choice: it had to do with the fact that they addressed the topic, as did Lapumo, finally.


Yes, your first answer was perfectly clear. It just didn't tell me what you would have drawn. WHICH gunsight? WHAT Zodiac circle? As your own post and link shows, "gunsight" can mean dozens of very different things. And the term "Zodiac circle" may suggest a lot of things, but the term has no specific meaning in astrology. At least I have neve seen the term used. Yes I now there are a lot of circular images and symbols and diagrams in astrology, but the exact term "Zodiac circle" doesn't appear to refer to any specific diagram or symbol. I seems to suggest the 12 piece pie, but certainly nothing like our boy's signature.

So, should I put you down for "circle with a perpendicular cross extending outside the circle" with Lapumo?

thanks for the responses so far. A few more and I think I may have a postulate to set out here. Still waiting to see if anyone has an actual publication of the Z-sign itself from 1969.

By ScottN ( on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 02:42 pm:

I'm having a really hard time with this thread. Peter's on his 17th post and I still don't understand his point. Are we engaging in this exercise to prove the authenticity of the 1978 Channel Nine letter based on the cross-haired symbol not being published until after then?

What about anyone who saw Hartnell's Ghia at the lake, or the door in the NSO evidence room; anyone who knew someone in law enforcement during this era and asked them about the letters, anyone who worked at the Chronicle, etc? Is it possible Avery told someone about the symbol or maybe even *drew* it for them and the word spread?

Rather than a class in sophistry, why don't we try to get the bottom of the source for the symbol? I still think it's the watch.

By ScottN ( on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 02:43 pm:

But Wendi, where is the word "Zodiac" linked with any of these images.. or vice-versa?

By Muskogee (Muskogee) (209-223-48-54-dyndsl.oplnk.net - on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 04:35 pm:

Peter, very interesting thread!

I have no great insight. I concur with Warren and Tom. If I were to draw the symbol, based on the descriptions provided, I would draw our "known" Zodiac symbol without the perpendicular lines extending beyond the circle.

If I were to draw a "Zodiac circle," I would simply place the 12 signs of the Zodiac evenly around a circle with the cardinal signs (Capricorn, Aries, Cancer, and Libra) at the points where the lines would intersect the circle at the x and y axes.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-26-159.bos.east.verizon.net - on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 07:25 pm:

Scott: "why don't we try to get the bottom of the source for the symbol?"

Uhh, because that's not the topic?

To answer your question to Wendi: its linked in Doug's quote from the San Jose Mercury News of October 16, 1969, which calls it "the Zodiac sign", and in the 10/18 Chronicle, which calls it "Zodiac's hallmark" and the 10/19 Chronicle, whaich calls it "symbol of the Zodiac". Even a careful reader could easily interpret this as some kind of ID as an astrological symbol rather than the mark of this particular Zodiac.

The point of the exercise is not to speculate on where Z got the symbol, but on what was known about its apearance, whether anyone but the cops and the papers knew exaclty what it actually looked like, when it started turning up on things that may or may not have been real Z artifacts.

Let's look at the following facts:

1. Based on what has been submitted here (and every inquiry I have made elsewhere on the topic) the earliest actual publication of the Z sign itself was 1981 (thanks, Jake). I know it seems unlikely, but no one has come up with anything earlier. All concede that it was a tough search even back in the day, and Douglas confirms that he has NEVER seen a contemporaneous picture of it. At first Tom seemed to recall one, but no one produced one.

2. The contemporaneous descriptions of the symbol are all over the lot. To some they suggest a gunsight with the crosshairs not extending beyond the circle. To others, the "Zodiac" association (which appears to have been inadvertent and inaccurate) suggests the representation of the entire zodiac, with 12 sections and perhaps the 12 signs.

3. The LEAST common response is that the newspaper descriptions suggest the symbol as it actally looks: a circle with the cross extending beyond the circumference.

4. Without exception, every one of the Zodiac's undusputed, authentic letters was signed with the Z-sign. For purposes of this discussion, I note that the Exorcist letter may widely be considered authentic, and is not signed with the Z-sign, but I think it is fair to say that it is not undusputed, and with good reason. If Z wrote it, he delibeerately changed important features of his hand, as he certainly did with the Belli letters. I am also classifying all of the Riverside letters, Citizen, and Red Phantom as disputed.

SO what I am suggesting here are three things: First, that up to some point in time, the Z-sign itself is a good if not perfect indicator of Z-authenticity. Although not exactly scientific, the responses here seem to indicate that someone studying the published description of Z and his crimes was unlikley to be able duplicate the Z-signature closely enough to pass for the real deal IN A CASE WHERE HANDWRITING WAS DISGUISED OR COULD NOT BE MATCHED.

Second, my most important point is this: Look at the quotes in Doug's post. Notice anything about them? Aside from the fact that thery appear to mention the Z-sign only once each, and then only in passing? How about this: Only one of them appears before PH, and NONE appear before Berryessa.

Seems unlikely, again, but it would appear that at the time of LB, there had been not one single mention in the press, much less a picture, of the Z-sign. It certainly was not featured as an important element of the crimes.

Now, Tom has pointed out to me that I may be the only person on the planet to whom this will be a big surprise, but I may fnally have the answer to a question I have been posing here for over two years: without a letter, what do we have that ties LB to Z as definitively as LHR, BRS and PH? the answer has always been, "Well, nothing, exactly, but the handwriting on the Ghia looks good".

Well,folks, as it turns out, the handwriting on the Ghia isn't so good, but more about that later. When some of us were discussing this 2 years ago, no one, myself included, could come up with a single thing that nails LB as a Z-crime. Makes it LOOK like Z, sure, but nothing that nailed it like the letters nails the other 3. Everyone assumed that everything in the letters, the phone call to police, the whole Z MO/personation continuum was widely publicized, and no one even suggested that only Z knew what the Z sign really looked like. The Holy Grail of the case would have been an authentic Berryessa letter, something that conmpleted the signature pattern and made LB fit. turns out it may be that the Z-sign itself was the Grail.

As you can see, it now appears likely that in fact only Z DID know what the Z-sign looked like after all. As far as I know and anyone else has been able to inform me, the sign was not even MENTIONED, let alone reproduced, publicly until after LB. If this is the case, then the Z-sign is the one fact in the LB case that only the killer could have connected. Even if it had been disclosed, the almost perfect reproduction of it on the car would have been unlikely if done by anyone other than the Z of BRS and LHR. I wonder if even law enforcement at the time was aware that only Z knew the exact sign.

So what's the big deal? Morrill would have nailed him on the Ghia writing, right? I don't think so. I am more convinced than ever that Morrill was way off base when it came to Z. Napa Sheriff's detective Ken Narlow, who knows the LB case better than anyone, said a few years ago that Sherwood Morrill went WAY out on a limb by claiming Zodiac had written on the desk top and car door. I am not the only one who believes that Morill would have been eaten alive on cross on the handwriting ID. I believe Tom agrees with me on that, and Susan Morton, SFPD's current documents expert on the Z case also confirms that the difference in writing media and position precludes associating the Ghia writng with the Z letters under modern standards.

Oh, the third thing. Relatively minor, but I believe that Z's consistent and reliable use of the (semi) secret Z-sign rules out the Exorcist, Red Phantom and Citizen letters a Z's work. they weren't signed with the mark because they weren't Z. Even the Exorcist, which apparently made a conscious effort to convice of authenticity: the writer didn't knoe the secret sign.

Finally, please know that I am not married to this: if nothing turns up on the Z sign pr Sept 27, 1969,i am forced to give up my favortie theory: that LB was just as likely a copy cat as Z. But I think at the very least that this establishes that the definite tie to LB turns not on the Ghia, but on whether the Z-sign had been published befroe Sept 27. So far, it does not appear to have even been mentioned. but I haven't heard from Ed on this, and he is reputed to have the best collection of contemporaneous clippings from the day. Barring his checking in with that full color reproduction of all the pre LB letters that ran in the Sunday spread of every paper from Napa to San Simeon Labor day weekend 1969, it looks as if Z actually kept his signature secret that "only I and the police know" -- a true serial killer signature -- for quite a while.

By Wendi (Wendi) (dpc6682009030.direcpc.com - on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 08:46 pm:

Okay, here's where I think I screwed up in trying to repond; I thought your question was basicially " Where has the exact term 'Zodiac Circle' been used outside of Z's letters that could have influenced him" or " Zodiac Circle is not a term used with that symbol in any capacity, where are you finding this?" So I went in search of the term Zodiac Cirle and a picture. Finding pre-Z materials has not been easy, I have found a few,but I'm sure they won't answer the question either.
I have a rather lengthy search for results today that I forwarded to Tom to make sure first that I stay on topic, and second, that I understood the question and provided an answer that was at least semi-compentent against the other brains here.If its alright with him and not a waste of space, I'll post it.

By Wendi (Wendi) (dpc6682009030.direcpc.com - on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 08:48 pm:

Ignore my typos as usual...Not only am I a lousy typist but Doug killed my thumb by slamming it in a car door.

By Jake (Jake) (acafacef.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 09:20 pm:

I gotta check this board more often.

I thought you were looking specifically for the cryptogram cover letters' signatures, Peter. The earliest photographic appearance of any crossed-circle as a signature was actually way back in 1969, when it ran in the Chronicle following receipt of the Pen Card.

See "'I've Killed Seven,' the Zodiac Claims," in the SFC, 12 November 1969, p1. The symbol appears in a photo of the entire 340-character cipher and in a photo of the inside of the Pen Card (these aren't on p1 -- they're inside the paper on p.6).

Next appearance: in a photo of the Stine Letter which appeared in the Chronicle on 16 March 1971 ("Zodiac Writes Again -- '17 Dead'"), followed by 31 January 1974 ("Zodiac Mystery Letter -- the First Since 1971").


By Wendi (Wendi) (dpc6682009032.direcpc.com - on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 09:35 pm:

The earliest publication of any letter that was actually handwritten (that I can find), minus the symbol, was oct.15th 1969. No luck with letters containing the symbol in subsequent letters etc.

By Wendi (Wendi) (dpc6682009032.direcpc.com - on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 09:38 pm:

ah, Thanks Jake, I'll quit looking for material now.

By Warren (Warren) ( - on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 07:33 am:

Nice work Jake, as always. So as I understand it, still no pre September 27'69 publication of the Z glyph?

And by the way, when you first see and hold a Zodiac watch, although not the diver's model, what a shock it gives you.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-26-159.bos.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 07:58 am:

Ok Wendi, thanks for the explanation. And Jake thanks much for the update. The earlier publication moves the date up a bit, but not enough to affect my tentative conclusions on the Z letters and especially Berryessa. My basic thesis still stands. Any reaction to this?

For Wendi (and Jake) and anyone else who finds my grammar hard to follow, let me offer the following: I am really a pretty literal-minded guy. I was just asking for the earliest publication date, and what people thought the thing looked like based on the newspapaer reports before it was actually published. I was testing to see if it could have been duplicated by anyone other than Z at Berryessa and in subsequent letters. I thought I posed two questions (neither of which was "basicially 'Where has the exact term 'Zodiac Circle' been used outside of Z's letters that could have influenced him' ")?

The questions were:

1. "Can anyone pinpoint when the earliest publication of a Z letter with the signature symbol was?"

2. "How would you have drawn the symbol based only on [Douglas's quoted] descriptions, and what you knew before you ever heard of the Zodiac Killer?

So, Wendi, can you answer the second question now? And no, I wasn't lookng for any pre-Z material. Just a short, simple answer on what the newspaper accounts suggest to you. There was no wwweb 1969.

PS, Muskogee: thanks also for an excellently direct and cogent answer. Just what I wanted to know. I'd like to see a couple dozen more just like it.

Jake, I would REALLY like to hear your take on this, too. And yes, you shpould check the board more often. I, for one, miss your participation.

Scott? Gunsight? Would the cross extend outside the circle?

By Mike_Cole (Mike_Cole) (jffwpr07.jf.intel.com - on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 09:32 am:


"To others, the "Zodiac" association (which appears to have been inadvertent and inaccurate)...

As I've described elsewhere, within the Zodiac evidence there are at least three references to a circle being divided into twelve equal, 30-degree segments - perfectly consistent with a Zodiac Circle. (1) the X'ed signature, (2) the map, and (3) the precise definition of the killer's self-assigned name. Additionally, two of the references explicitly show the Zodiac symbol as a subset of the implied circles, which arguably makes the symbol itself a fourth reference. Perhaps you're willing to casually dismiss the connection. I certainly am not.

...Z's consistent and reliable use of the (semi) secret Z-sign rules out the Exorcist, Red Phantom and Citizen letters a Z's work.

This is very one dimensional. You are ignoring a plethora of other factors that may have contributed to the absence of a Zodiac symbol. Two important such factors include: (1) more than three years had passed since the height of Z's letter writing, and (2) two of the three are explicitly signed as some persona other than Z.

Also, I'll point out that Susan Morton appears to be on board with at least a subset of the '74 letters being authentic. Therefore, you are apparently dismissing the opinion of the same person you are using to bolster your conclusion regarding the LB writing.

By Warren (Warren) ( - on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 11:25 am:

For want of a better place to put this, but it does show the linkage of the name "Zodiac" and what we call the Zodiac symbol, see www.vintagezodiacs.com. Tom may have posted this link before and I apologize if its just a repeat, but it is a neat little site for the history and photos of the various Zodiac watches. Note the anchor in the zodiac circle from the paper that came with a '60's Zodiac Sea Wolf.

By Wendi (Wendi) (dpc6682009023.direcpc.com - on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 02:13 pm:

Can't get that page to load, although I do own a vintage Zodiac seawolf watch myself.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-3839.linkline.com - on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 05:13 pm:

The symbol or circle/cross is called the (Arabic)Part of Fortune in astrology.Of course it is used as one of the astrological symbols in the First cipher.See past posts.
Since the "murderer" called himself ZODIAC, we may assume he obtained that symbol from astrology.At least this is a fair assumption as there is a CONNECTION to his 'name' or moniker,which is,of course, "Zodiac."
Zodiac was into secondary meanings(even ciphers depict this )so this symbol could be extrapolated to mean other things also.
For example,the cross/circle was called the "Mark of the Devil" on the Dark Shadows series,which was being aired in 1969,70,etc.I have a copy of the paper with the symbol pictured on it ,which was shown during one of the segments in '69.With writngs speaking of 'slaves in the afterlife' and 'torture of victims in paradise,'one gets the impression the Mark of the Devil was just childs play!
Of course,the ancient Celts used this symbol too.There does seem to be a British/Irish connection to Zodiac.See past posts.
There's 'room in the inn' I guess.
Zodiac was certainly into astrology.This is difficult to explain to someone who has not carefully studied the subject(not trying be smart )and I found it isn't worth my ulcer or time trying to 'force' someone to see this fact.
Dave Peterson was very firm on this matter.I have his letters he wrote to me over several years.He was with the case since Day One and knew astrology and the occult.He privately advised detectives on this and related subjects.I have copies of letters he sent to the police.
I studied these subjects to gain an understanding into Zodiacs thinking(!),etc.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-26-159.bos.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 09:10 pm:

Mike: At the time of the first publications that Douglas provided, Z had not provided a twelve\part circle. Anyone who came up with that based on the name Zodiac would not have duplicated the Z signature.

I am not ignoring any factor: I am suggesting that there may be a perfect correlation with one of them, up to some point in time.

Why do you think Morton has authenticated any of the '74 letters? I missed that. Which ones? the ABC story that ran earlier this year said only that "handwriting experts" believe the last Z letter was sent in 1974. I am sure that's true. If the expert being quoted were Morton, however, the reporter would have said so. The statement is separated from the direct Morton quote by one sentence.

By Mike_Cole (Mike_Cole) (12-224-40-230.client.attbi.com - on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 11:09 pm:


First, I have to acknowledge that it's too bad the author wasn't more explicit on this point... However, I have the exact opposite interpretation as you: if Morton disagreed with these "experts", the author would have said so.

Basically, the story introduces Morton, talks about some authentic letters, and then shortly mentions that "experts" (plural) believe the last Z letter was received in 1974. To me, the implication is that Morton is one of the multiple experts. This is especially true given that much of the article discusses how Morton doubts the authenticity of the 1978 letter. If Morton were at odds with other experts over the 1974 letters (or at least the Exorcist letter since it was apparently written by Z as Z), the author would have been compelled to point it out.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-26-159.bos.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 07:33 am:


That's a lot of assumptions working there.

The fact that she was not mentioned indicates neither that she agreed nor disagreed. If she had done either, it would have been mentioned. There is absolutely nothing in the article to indicate that the question on 1974 letters was ever put to her. And you can't assume that it was. Sources don't review stories, and when a reporter wants to challenge or verify one source against the other, that is explicitly stated.

You can ask her if you like. Doesn't matter whether she authenticates a 1974 letter. (And I would stilll bet heavily against all but Exorcist. Even money on that one. Just means the Indicator isn't perfect. Just raises a question as to why Z dropped the sign.

Expert opinion is not an all or nothing deal, you know. the fact that I may doubt her judgment on a particular letter doesn't mean I have to doubt her on all of them. the exorcist letter, for example, is a much closer call than the 1978 LAPD letter. And even beingwrong on that letter doesn't impugn her expertise on much more important issues, such as the invalidity of any association of the Ghia writing (and the Desktop Poem, BTW), with Z. After all, the Ghia writing is probably the single most significant instance of the z sign in the whole case, including the map and X'd sign.

Mike, why don't you help me get this thread back on track, and let me know what you think of the core thesis here, idea that the certainty of tying LB directly to Z now depends on whether the Z-sign was still a secret signature on 9/27/69.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p51-46.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 08:10 am:

As far as I know,(at some stage after the letter and/or Morrill's verdict on it) came under suspicion,the Exorcist letter was forwarded to a panel of independant experts. They deemed it authentic.

As far as this thread is concerned,I believe the term "Zodiac circle" has only served to confuse.
The original question went to how people would have drawn this symbol based on the quotes(from reporters) supplied by Douglas.
(By the way Peter,as with previous posts, my intention here is not only to say what my conclusion is but to explain how I arrived at it.In other words, your comments of "thanks,I know what the terms mean" "finally" and "that's all you had to say" were uncalled for)
In any case, the term "Zodiac circle" was never used.What we have is six quotes from people trying to convey to the readers what they are looking at:-
1.A crosshairs symbol
2.Like the crosshairs of a gun sight
3.Signed with the circle and cross symbol of the Zodiac
4.the killer's cross circled signature
5. A circle bisected by a cross
6.signed with a cross-hair symbol

Comment no.3 is the interesting one here because it's open to two different interpretations.
a. Signed with the circle and cross of the Zodiac (astrological symbol)
b.Signed with the circle and cross of the Zodiac (murderer's symbol).
While it is only my opinion that the second is more likely, had the first interpretation been the intended one, this comment comes from the Chronicle as another three of these comments.In other words,probably from the same reporter trying to mix and match to explain what he is looking at.
It is interesting that the other 3 quotes from the Chronicle mention cross-hairs.The other two (less dramatic and more to the point)from the San Jose mercury times.
I think the vast majority of people who give it some thought will either come up with the "cross inside the circle or the symbol as we know it.
Having said that,I don't believe that someone is going to be "forging" anything,in these circumstances, based on an guess,educated or not.
If we don't have a picture in a newspaper before LB I think your observation is sound.Simply because it occurred so soon after the first letters and murder was involved.

By Muskogee (Muskogee) (209-223-48-116-dyndsl.oplnk.net - on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 12:45 pm:

Warren, if I ever pay off my med school loans, I'm going to get you a Zodiac watch for Christmas!

Off subject, but if Tom holds a fundraising raffle and we could get someone to donate one, that would be a terrific prize! I've seen them on Ebay for as cheap as $45 (of course, who knows if they run?).

By Warren (Warren) ( - on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 02:54 pm:

Good Dr. - You and I both know that med school loans are never paid off. You will be an indentured servant forever, so I'll never get that watch. Sigh. I wanted to wear it to the next task force soiree and be a pain in the ass by asking everybody, "Ya want the time? Ya want the time?"

I thought the Zodiac I saw at the gun show was overpriced but that neat little website showed it to be in range. The more I looked at that site, though, the more I became convinced that Z, even if not ALA, owned a Zodiac watch. The name and symbol are just too convenient. Did you notice that the 12, 3, 6 and 9 on the Sea Wolf watch face are like the 's in the 340 code? Like maybe they represent L, C, F and I or their reverse? Not the right thread, but just a thought.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-26-159.bos.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 02:55 pm:


Your take on the Exorcist letter sounds familiar, but I don;t have the impression, or the recollection, of how definitive the results might have been.

Thanks also for the careful and well laid out analysis. "I believe the term "Zodiac circle" has only served to confuse." I couldn't agree more. Same goes for similar terms, such as "Symbol of the Zodiac" . They imply that there is in astrology some such specific term, when there is none. And the one that is implied -- a diagram of the entire zodiac - is not the signature symbol. Which is perfectly illustrated by your analysis of the ambuguity of Comment 3. the only circle and cross symbols in astrology do not refer to the zodiac, but to Earth and possibly the Part of Fortune (although I have only seen that as an X in a circle.)

And again "I think the vast majority of people who give it some thought will either come up with the "cross inside the circle or the symbol as we know it." I agree wholeheartedly. But it makes a huge difference which of these two choices is more likely. I think the former is, and the response to my question tends to support this. Meaning that it is rather unlikely, though not impossible, that a copycat would come up with the right one. Hence my readiness to abandon my favorite theory, on LB.

By Mike_Cole (Mike_Cole) (12-224-40-230.client.attbi.com - on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 08:27 pm:


Let me see if I understand. According to you, Susan Morton (who "has years of experience with the Zodiac, most of it identifying fake letters or eliminating potential suspects through handwriting samples") has never considered the authenticity of the 1974 letters. And... I'm making a lot of assumptions. Ummmm, okay...

Regarding the core thesis, I'm not really interested. I consider the probability of LB being perpetrated by someone other than Z to be extremely low.

By Muskogee (Muskogee) (209-223-48-6-dyndsl.oplnk.net - on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 04:06 am:

Ah, Warren, you've caught me! Isn't there a legal name for that: when one makes a promise while, technically they intend to keep, will likely never come to fruition?

By Warren (Warren) ( - on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 09:07 am:

Refer to Seinfeld episode, Good Dr.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-43-111.bos.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 09:36 am:

No, Mike you don't understand. You want to argue with what you want to pretend I said about Mortobn, go ahead, but i'm not gonna waste my time explaining it again.

As far as LB goes, we all consider the probabiltiy that LB was someone else low. But nobody seems to want to analize why. Up till now that belief had no direct basis, and may still not, other than our willingness to accept apearances in place of hard facts. And one such fact is, LHR, BRS and PH can all be tied with either direct or conclusive circumstantial evidence: the handwriting and exclusive information and the shirt fragment in the letters. LB can't be tied with any of that, with the sole possible exception of a secret Z sign. If the z sign turns out to have been as widely publicized as everything else about LHR and BRS, then there is exactly zero direct connecting evidence. In that case, even a signed confession and conviction on LHR, BRS and PH coud not support a conviction on LB. You'd have to rule out a copycat, and without the secret Z-sign, or something similar that could ONLY have been connected to the other three crimes and could not have been derived from the publicity on the first 2, you can't rule a copycat out.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-dk01.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 12:36 pm:


Your summations in that last post are ridiculous.

"As far as LB goes, we all consider the probabiltiy [sic] that LB was someone else low [sic]. But nobody seems to want to analize [sic] why."

"[F] act is, LHR, BRS and PH can all be tied with either direct or conclusive circumstantial evidence: the handwriting and exclusive information and the shirt fragment in the letters. LB can't be tied with any of that, with the sole possible exception of a secret Z sign."

Huh? What sort of nefarious comments are those? First of all, the conclusion that LB was anyone other than the Zodiac can ONLY be derived at if certain key pieces of evidence are eliminated from the equation. Are you really saying that LB can't be tied to the Zodiac via handwriting? Why do you always choose to envision a world where the writing on Hartnell's car door doesn't exist? That's pretty "conclusive circumstantial evidence" in my opinion.

The MO was different, as was certain signature aspects, but Zodiac can reasonably be determined to have been the perpetrator of the Berryessa crimes via the writing on the VW Ghia.

Keep repeating to yourself, "Sherwood Morrill, Sherwood Morrill..."

By Sandy (Sandy) (adsl-67-123-76-149.dsl.snfc21.pacbell.net - on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 12:43 pm:

Ed, After reading these post,do you still believe someone other than the Z put the LB costume in my car with the true Z logo on it , before anyone knew what it looked like ?

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-43-111.bos.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 02:09 pm:

Scott: Keep repeating to yourself: Ken Narlow, Ken Narlow, Ken Narlow . . . Tom Voigt, Tom Voigt, Tom Voigt. Under the scientific standards of the time, and today, the handwriting on the Ghia door cannot be associated with that of the letters. Could I be any clearer? Morrill was on an ego trip on Z's writing and would have been sliced to ribbons on defense cross for concluding that the Ghia writing was definitely that of the letter writer. Conclusive circumstantial evidence is only those facts which can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. There is far more doubt than that with respect to the Ghia writing.

So, what else have you got? Please, if you have it, I would like one piece of evidence -- other than the Ghia and the secrecy of the Z-sign -- that ties LB to the others anything like as tightly as the letters and Stine's shirt. As I have said, i am ready, willing and able to let go of this on that basis. Look, even law enforcement fo years (except for a few old timeres) has been under the vague impression that the letters tied this in, that there was something conclusive about it all that made LB a slam dunk on the same level as all the rest. All I have done is to examine that assumption to see what it is based on. Turns out it was based entirely on the Ghia writing match, which is full of more holes than Allen's head.

And the question is not whether he can "reasonably be determined" to have done LB. Of course he can. The question is whether a copycat can be ruled out.

By ScottN (adsl-67-120-50-110.dsl.lsan03.pacbell.net - on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 03:06 pm:

Peter, if the symbol wasn't published until November, 1969 AND letters containing the symbol had only recently been received prior to September 27, 1969, AND the Lake Berryessa killer wore the symbol AND wrote it on the victims' car AND called in the crime like he had on July 4th in Vallejo, it strikes me that the Lake killer was probably the Zodiac.

Is it 100% for certain? No. Does a guy who presses the opposite case for shits and giggles feel like a guy who is doing so for the masturbatory pleasure of listening to himself? Uh-- yeah.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-43-111.bos.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 04:46 pm:


I take it then that there is nothing but the Z sign that ties LB to the others.

" if the symbol wasn't published until November ... it strikes me that the Lake killer was probably the Zodiac. "


That's exactly what I have been saying for the last several posts, Scott. Have you been following this thread, or just sniping?

If you read these posts, you know that I have hardly been pressing the opposite case for trivial reasons. I have been asking for over two years whether there was anythng beside the Ghia that nails LB. In all that time, no one has come up with any "key pieces of evidence", not one, that clinches LB. You think the fact that I can revise a theory based on this new information means I wasn't serious about it to begin with?

Sounds like someone who still thinks we will find WMD in Iraq, or that WMD never really mattered anyway.

Maybe its just too much of a shock to understand that some of us are really in this to investigate, to find out, rather than just press and press and press our pet theories without being confused by the facts.

The tie-in of LB, while ultimatey possibly sound, has been based on wrong facts all these years -- the Ghia just doesn't cut it -- when in fact the only thing that actually ties it in is the secret Z-sign, IF in fact it was a secret. As the initial reaction to Susan Morton shows, everyone -- Tom, myself, lots of us included -- believed that the entire debut and 3 part crypto letters, including the Z signature, had been published right after they were received. Turns out they apparently were not (unless someone is holding out) and in fact the Z-sign was a true signature: known only to the police, the papers and Z, until at least October 1, 1969.

I am still waiting for a few sources to weigh in on the question of early publications of the signature. I am told that Ed has the premiere collection of such materails, but he has out of the game for a bit. i hope he will provide the definitive word on what the papers published before Sept 27, 1969.

Until then I have to assume that the Z-sign alone ties our boy directly to LB. And actually it is 100%, if there was no mention of it in the press before October 1.

By Jake (Jake) (acac167e.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 09:36 pm:

It's taken a week, but I've finally been able to read every post in this thread. I'm as surprised as everyone else that the Z-sig hadn't been published earlier (I've got a pretty good collection over here and I think it's a lock), and as impressed with Peter's realization of this -- and its significance as regards Berryessa -- as I've been with almost any amateur contribution to the case. That it contradicts his longstanding opinion on LB ought to qualify him for some kind of Z-award. You guys wanna chip in for a Sea Wolf?


By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-46-112.bos.east.verizon.net - on Friday, November 21, 2003 - 09:43 am:

Thanks, Jake, you rock! BTW, I take a 7" band . . .

By MikeR (cache-dk01.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, November 21, 2003 - 04:10 pm:


The Z signature symbol is one of the characters in the three-part cipher. It was therefore published in August 1969 and was there to be seen...by the astute observer.


By Scott_Bullock (coral.tci.com - on Saturday, November 22, 2003 - 02:47 am:

Good point, Mike. How did we all manage to overlook that?

By MikeR (cache-rh01.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, November 22, 2003 - 04:54 am:


In a page one 8/2/69 article in the VTH mentioning the three-part cipher, they talk about the letters that, "...were mailed in SF and which were signed with a sketch of a telescopic rifle sight."

On page 2, they show the blocks of code that were sent to the other two papers. There are three instances of the "rifle sight" in that block of code, so it is possible that someone could have put two and two together.


By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p50-210.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Saturday, November 22, 2003 - 11:26 am:

Aw Hell Mike, what did you have to go and do that for, now Peter will never give up his favourite theory.
Seriously,I don't think it affects the main find here.All we had to work on before now was the term "cross-hairs",telescopic rifle sight seems as it could be a little more involved again.
While not imposible that one could have made the connection, I find it a stretch that a copycat could murder a little more than a month after this and gamble on being correct with the symbol.
I still think the fact that there was no photo (apparently) is the important issue. Just MO.

By Scott_Bullock (cache-dk01.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, November 22, 2003 - 12:03 pm:

Peter H:

Being the fair individual that I am, allow me to voice an apology followed by one small complaint.

I apologize for originally reading this thread in such haste. If I hadn't done so, I would have understood your position and the overall purpose of this thread much better. Now, having reread the thread in its entirety, I see exactly where you are coming from and happen to agree with you wholeheartedly: I agree that the first publicized reproduction of the 'Zodiac symbol' is the Rosetta-Stone that you've been looking for all these years with regard to Lake Berryessa. It seems, perhaps finally and forever, that LB can be logically and reasonably included as a known Z crime.

You are right that a would-be Zodiac suspect would most likely only be convicted for LB if the jury were to buy into Morrill's conclusion with regard to the writing on Hartnell's car door. However, herein lies my complaint: I've always sort of assumed that the Z symbol on the Ghia, in addition to the writing itself, WAS the significant factor that tied the Zodiac to Berryessa. Granted, I'd never thought of it in terms of when the symbol was first published, or that that factor alone could rule in or out the LB copycat theory, but I've ALWAYS had faith that there was something about the writing on the car door that conclusively linked the Zodiac to that crime. To that end, I fail to see how Morrill's conclusions regarding the handwriting on the Ghia wouldn't be significant in a court of law, or how Morrill could be taken to task on cross-examination with regard to said writing, as you suggest. I mean, isn't that exactly what I and others have been saying all along; that the writing on the Ghia, ESPECIALLY with regard to the Z symbol, both on the car door AND the one emblazoned on Z's hood, is what definitively links the Zodiac to that particular crime? Just because you've finally found a way to rationalize it in your own head doesn't mean that others couldn't possibly have known what you are now just discovering. Admittedly, I hadn't thought it through as well as you have in this thread, but I've always had faith in, if not Morrill's conclusions, certainly Ken Narlow's. I admit, however, that you are to be congratulated for turning the stone that was probably intended to remain untouched.

Finally, you asked, "Scott? Gunsight? Would the cross extend outside the circle?" No, I don't think so, at least not intentionally. On that note, I'll be happy to pitch in on the Sea Wolf watch in recognition for landing this nugget of information.

By Tom_Voigt (12-231-193-32.client.attbi.com - on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 11:30 pm:

This might be of interest. (Note the date)

By Scott_Bullock (cache-rh01.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 04:53 am:

That's interesting Tom. Note that the Z symbol itself is absent in the photographic reproduction, which further promotes the notion that a Z copycat would have been virtually impossible at LB.

By Bruce Monson (Bruce_Monson) (mail.ci.colospgs.co.us - on Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 07:57 pm:

Well, this may or may not be of importance--since it's somewhat indirectly related--but I think the 1971 movie poster of "The Zodiac Killer" movie proves that the cross-hair circle signature used by The Zodiac (with the cross hairs extending outside the circle) was well known by that time. Indeed, I would find it difficult to believe that it was not a common understanding well before that time.

And even supposing for the sake of argument that it wasn't well known, the fact that the movie producer was albe to reconstruct that particular symbol as The Zodiac's signature simply from the available textual descriptions extant in the press would demonstrate the viability of a copycat doing the same without too much difficulty.

Food for thought...

Bruce Monson

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-151-199-34-212.bos.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, November 27, 2003 - 11:39 am:

Mike, Scott, & Lapumo.;

I think Lapumo has nailed Mike's issue. First, we didn't overlook it, any more than we overlooked any of the dozens of other symbols used in the ciphers. there had to be something to make that particular one stand out. Mike, good catch on the VTH description, but I agree with Lapumo that its a real stretch to think a copycat could have put that together. that particular description "sketch of a telescopic rifle sight" suggests to me a picture of the scope itself, say as it might appear in an ad or a catalogue, not the crosshairs sighting through the scope.


First, thanks for the confirmation how you would have seen the symbol from just the written descriptions.

You bring up an excellent point about the writing and the symbol on the door. A recurring theme th4rughout both the official investigation of this case and the efforts of us so-called "amateurs" is that so much of the conventional wisdom about it is based on such "faith" as you describe. This is not a criticism, but just an observation of the very human phenomenon that the will to believe is so powerful, that we draw such firm conclusions on the basis of not quite firm information. As the Anonymous one put it, we can't help but think that the reason that ALA is found at so many busy intersections in the case is that he is Z. Neither I nor Anon, howeve, could ever get a judge to instruct a jury that being found at so many busy intersections is enough to conclude beyond doubt that ALA is Z. Its just too fuzzy. Meaning "general" and "abstract"

Sure, we can both agree that there is something about the writing on the Ghia that connect LB. But what is critically important -- and to date has been missing -- is precisely WHAT IT IS about the writing on the Ghia that nails it.

Its not the handwriting, because Morrill is fatally weak on the handwriting. And its not the Z sign in the sense that it can be identified as Z's hand in the same way handwriting can be identified. that relies on the same comparison
as Morril's analysis. It can be identified in the same way as the info on ammunition, number of shots and positins of the bodies can be identified : it is information that only the letter writer could have. If it had been done in a completely different hand, so that Morrill could not possibly have linked it on the basis of the hand, it would still be critically important as long as it was diagrammatically correct: i.e. it was a cricle with the cross extending beyond it.

Morrill's testimony does not becom insignificant because of the validity the Z-sign: its quite the contrapositive: the Z-sign becomes extremely significant because of the invalidity of Morrill's testimony. Remember, in a circumstantial case, the prosecutor has to prove each fact beyond a reasonable doubt: in order to prove that the writing was done by Z, he would have to prove EITHER that the handwriting matched
OR that only Z knew the sign. Since ther would be more than reasonable doubt on the handwriting match, knowledge of the Z sign becomes the only linlk. Morrill's conclusion is then supported ONLY by the Z-sign information, and becomes irrelevant as independent support of the linkage.
Proof of the linkage could help Morrill, but Morrill can't help establish the linkage.


Of great interest. It is the letter you reproduce in full as the debut of Zodiac, with the note that as of your publication, the last few lines and Z signature had never been published. Also, the way it is presented in the paper, the tear is near the top of page two, but it is made to look as if it is at the bottom of the first page. I note two things about this.

First it could imply that the papers were cooperating with police in keeping the signature secret. Sure, they described it, but in such general and sometimes misleading terms that it was unlikely to have been reproduced by a copycat. If there was anyting in the letter that was newsworthy, I would think it would have included rthe unique signature. In fact, the information that police were unsure of the link and had only the habdwritng to go on seems to have been delivberately misleading. AS of Aug 4, the z sign was surtely a link between the letters, although not the crimes. So maybe law enforcement was aware of the importance of the signature with respect to Berryessa, but just never said so publicly. Betcha Ken Narlow knows.

Second, the letter is cut off just before the info about Z being on the phone with the Vallejo police. Another important assumtion that I believe we have all made about LB is that the phone call was publicized before LB. Is it possible that this, too, was actually secret info?? Douglas, care to do your thing on ths tidbit? You were vitally inmportant in nailing the Z-sign descriptions.


Interesting point, but I can't find the image to confirm. Very post-LB, as far as that goes, but as far as guessing from the written descriptions, we'd have to see the image to judge.