Zodiackiller.com Message Board: General Zodiac Discussion: ZODIAC'S HANDPRINTING

By Mike (Mike) (spider-wm012.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, December 27, 2000 - 04:57 pm:


I am posting this discussion of some observations I made with respect to Zodiac's hand printing. It may be reproduced within this MB for the sake of discussion.

Mike Rodelli

In his many letters and coded messages to the press,
the Zodiac killer indicated that he was planting clues
to his true identity for us to find. This, of course,
has led some people to apply the codes and letters to
any number of specific, named suspects, and extract
specific clues to that particular person's identity,
which may be contained in these documents. There is,
however, another possible clue to something very
intimate and very important about the Zodiac killer.
This clue may be found in the very manner in which the
letters were actually prepared. It was while exmaining
the entire body of Zodiac's work for consistent themes
or writing styles that I stumbled upon this trait,
which seems to run pretty uniformly through all the
letters. It is described below.

If one gathers up all the known Zodiac letters, there
is something that
becomes obvious about almost all the "crossed circle"
signatures that close each letter: If you look only at
the "circle" part of the signature, you will notice
that with only one exception (the "Pen Card), the circles are created by a pen stroke
that begins and ends at the "1 o'clock" position.
(This type of circle is seen in all three 7/69
letters, the 8/69 letter, the Dragon card, the timer
of the 11/9 Bus Bomb, the L.A. Times letter, etc.)
While I am not an expert on handwriting and cannot say
whether such a circle is more a left-handed trait or a
right-handed trait, that determination is actually
beside the point of this discussion. The main thing
the different circles tell us is that Zodiac seemed to
have been making his
signatures in one particular manner--maybe with the
same hand each time. (NB: In some of the
letters--Belli's for example--it is not possible to
readily see, on the reproductions I have to work with,
where the signature circle begins and ends.)

A very interesting thing occurs when you now take a
look at Zodiac's "embedded" crossed-circles (i.e.,
those contained in the
7/26/70 "Mikado" letter), as well as his "letter 'O's"
from within the body of the vast majority of his
missives. In the "Mikado" letter for certain, most if
not all of the circles within the letter begin and end
at the "11 o'clock" position--the "opposite" one from
the origin of the "signature" circles at the ends of
the letters. (i.e., the capitalized "O"s in the many
appearances of the word "Others" in that letter are
examples of this). In contrast, the large
crossed-circle at the end of the missive begins and
ends at the "1 o'clock" position. This pattern of
"embedded" "11 o'clock" circles and signature "1
o'clock" circles is seen in almost all the letters.
Using the "Mikado" letter again as an example of this,
you can see that even the four "embedded"
crossed-circle symbols begin and end at the "11
o'clock" position. If you look at the "Mt Diablo"
letter, the signature crossed-circle begins and ends
at "1 o'clock", while the small, "embedded" Zodiac
symbol at the bottom begins and ends at "11 o'clock".)
To me, all of this implies one thing: That Zodiac was
possibly writing the text of the letters with one hand
and then signing them with the other. Thus, we seem to
have some preliminary, tangible evidence of
ambidexterity, which has been purported for Zodiac for
many years.

There always seems to be discussion/debate about the
writing on the car door of Hartnell's Karmann-Ghia as
possibly being from someone other than Zodiac. I
believe that the technique outlined above may be used
to shed some light on the origin of the lettering on
the door. The crossed-circle on it is, after all,
essentially a "signature circle", similar to what
Zodiac used at the end of his letters (which the
writing on the car door essentially was). If one looks
at the circle part of the Zodiac signature on the
door, it becomes obvious that it begins and ends at
the "1 o'clock" position, just as almost all the other
signatures on his letters. Thus, this may be objective
evidence that Zodiac himself was indeed responsible
for the writing on the car door, as well as for
committing the LB attack, as it is consistent with his
other "signatures".

It is also believed that Zodiac wrote the 1967 "Bates
had to
die" letters. A close examination of the envelopes
shows that in the word "California" (in the
Press-Enterprise address) and in the word "Joseph" (on
the letter sent to Mr. Bates himself), there are the
same "11 o'clock" circles that characterize the text
of the later Z letters and envelopes. Thus, these "11 o'clock"
circles, in and of themselves, may serve to tie the April, 1967
letters with Zodiac's later writings. (i.e., The "11
o'clock" circles on this envelope compare with the
same type of circles seen on other Z envelopes, such as the 1969 VTH and Examiner envelopes (and with the exception of the 1974 "Badlands" envelope, which has a more "cramped" type of writing from what we are used to seeing from Zodiac, and, maybe not coincidentally, "1 o'clock circles", on it).

What I have discussed here are simply some observations
I have
made, as a layperson, in the Z literature. I have
never seen any analysis of Z's letters by Morrill or
any other professional and certainly am not holding
myself out to be an expert on handwriting, by any
means. Maybe Morrill or others have keyed in on the
"11 o'clock vs 1 o'clock" circles issue before me,
maybe not. I have no way of knowing. I certainly
welcome any input from a professional handwriting
analyst that might tend to corroborate, refute or
amplify upon my findings. In particular, I'd like to
know if
it is more likely that, say, a left handed person
makes circles beginning at the 11 o'clock position, or
if that is more likely for a right handed person. (Or might the differences be attributable to some other thing, such as Z's mood when he wrote, and the signed, the letters?) In
any case, there seems to be a definite pattern seen in
Zodiac's circle-drawing, which may lead us to some
important insight into his methodology/personality/handedness.

c 2000 Michael R. Rodelli May not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the expressed, written consent of the author.

By Juno (Juno) (ip-209-215-165-204.browardlibrary.org - on Wednesday, December 27, 2000 - 05:33 pm:

Very interesting stuff.

Being left handed, i have noticed that all of my circles and Os begin at the 1 o'clock position.

This is due to the fact that the left hand itself blocks the 11 position. The opposite is true for right handed people.

This is also why lefties tend to have sloppier writing: the left hand covers words previously written as the hand moves across the page. Right handed people can, of course, see what they've written, thus enabling them to more easily write in stright lines.

By Chalandra (Chalandra) (tsway1-75.du.gate.net - on Wednesday, December 27, 2000 - 05:54 pm:

Yes, very interesting stuff.

I have also noticed on some of Zodiac's signatures that he made a capitol "T" first and then went back to draw a line making it a cross.

By Mike (Mike) (spider-wk054.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, December 27, 2000 - 06:53 pm:

Hi Juno-

The funny thing is that I am left handed but make my "O"s beginning in the "11 o'clock" position! I do not "curl my hand around" (i.e., so my thumb would be point towards me as I write), as many lefties do, so maybe that is why I make "11 o'clock "O"s". I don't know. It is for that reason that I am reluctant to assign the different "O"s to one hand or the other. However, with respect to Z, I am almost sure that it meant that he was using different hands at different times. I'm just not sure which one represents which circle...


By Rogerr (Rogerr) (user-v3qs445.dialup.mindspring.com - on Wednesday, December 27, 2000 - 07:42 pm:

This lefty starts his circles about 2:00, maybe 1:45. Also the slant in the handwriting in Z's letters is usually backward, i.e. top leaning to the left

By Juno (Juno) (ip-209-215-165-204.browardlibrary.org - on Thursday, December 28, 2000 - 07:14 am:

Hi Mike.

Well, i was writing a bunch of zeros and circles and i think it also depends on whether you make clockwise or counter-clockwise circles, in addition to left or right handedness. Maybe it's not as indicative of hand preference as i thought at first.

Oh, I can't do that "hook" style writing either. Very uncomfortable.

By Peterh (Peterh) (adsl-141-154-74-188.bostma.adsl.bellatlantic.net - on Thursday, December 28, 2000 - 10:06 am:

Mike: A very interesting observation, indeed, and verifiable from the letters as far as they go. But where have you seen the Ghia door in good enough quality to determine the style of the the three circles on it? I have seen the photo at Jakes's site, and a facsimile drawing, but neither of these confirme your observation. In the photo, which I assume is the only reliable one of the two, the crossed circle and the o in Vallejo show no indication of beginning or end, and the 0 in 6:30 appears to be a "one o'clock" 0. Is any better view of the Ghia door available?


By Tom Voigt (Tomvoigt) (ac8a16a8.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, December 28, 2000 - 10:16 am:

Have you ever looked at my Hartnell-Shepard page???

By Realtor (Realtor) ( on Thursday, December 28, 2000 - 10:46 am:


If you don't mind, go to
and let me know if you think these o's are the 11 or 1 o'clock type.



By Mike (Mike) (spider-wm061.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, December 28, 2000 - 11:27 am:

Hi Peter-

First of all, I believe that even the rendition of the car door in Graysmith shows that the (crossed) circle begins and ends at 1 o'clock. The one in "Vallejo" is hard to categorize. The one in "12-20" is an 11 o'clock one. The odd man out is the one in "6:30". That appears to be an aberration compared to the bulk of Z's other circles and "O"s. It is a 12 o'clock circle.

I could try to account for the 12 o'clock circle in "6:30", by stating that Z may have had to reach over, etc., since he was writing on a car door, not a piece of paper. However, I will only say that I am trying to describe what I believe are general and distinct trends in the handwriting and signatures (i.e., embedded circles vs. signature circles). There will obviously be exceptions to any rule...


By Bruce Monson (The_Adversary) (mail.ci.colospgs.co.us - on Thursday, December 28, 2000 - 05:44 pm:

Hi Michael,

I found your comments compelling, and after looking over the material I could see many instances where your observations seem to hold true, but on closer examination I also found many others where it did not hold true. I will go over a few of these below.

If you look only at the "circle" part of the signature, you will notice that with only one exception (the "Pen Card), the circles are created by a pen stroke that begins and ends at the "1 o'clock" position.

Observation #1: First, I would like to point out an observation that seems to hold true among all the "O's" and zeros in the Z literature, regardless of size; that being that he wrote them in a COUNTER-CLOCKWISE MANNER. This is evident in many instances where you can see the darkness and thickness of the beginning stroke (where the pen first contacts the paper) and the ending stroke where the ink is thinner and lighter as it "feathers" off the page.

Observation #2: When drawing the LARGE signature symbols (compare the Mikado letter vs the "a little list/Mt. Diablo/radians" letter), "Z" appears to have actually been turning the paper upside-down when drawing the cross and overlaying circle. For example, in the "Mt.Diablo/radians" signature, the VERTICAL line of the cross was drawn from TOP-TO-BOTTOM, while the HORIZONTAL line was drawn from RIGHT-TO-LEFT. However, in the "Mikado" signature, while it was not clear enough to determine the terminal direction of the vertical line in the cross, the HORIZONTAL line was drawn from LEFT-TO-RIGHT.

Now, going back to the "Mt. Diablo/radians" signature again, the CIRCLE begins at the bottom of the page (6 O'clock), unless, of course, if "Z" had turned the page upside down when drawing the circle, in which case it begins at (12 O'clock).

(This type of circle is seen in all three 7/69 letters, the 8/69 letter, the Dragon card, the timer of the 11/9 Bus Bomb, the L.A. Times letter, etc.)

But this isn't exactly consistent though, at least from how I am seeing them. I can see a range of "starting position" in the "O's" from around 10 O'clock to 1 O'clock, and everywhere in between. Also, sometimes the "O's" look almost like a mirror-image letter "e" with varying degrees of slant and roundness. On the Vallejo Times Herald envelop (7-31-69) alone, there are three quite different variations in the lowercase "o" just in the space of only four O's that appear on it. Also, looking through many of the other letters (SF Examiner, 7-31-69; Mikado, Johns') I see the same variances.

One last possibility I can think of is that usually when people write they will sit with the paper at a slight angle OPPOSITE to the hand they are writing in (i.e., a right-handed person will generally have the paper angled to the left--it's the most comfortable position to write in). As such, there will generally be a right-slope to the lettering. [NOTE: This doesn't mean that "Z" was not left-handed or ambidextrous, but it does mean that he would still be angling the paper to their left (if they angled it to their right, then their letters would slope to the left).]

This right-slope is a definite feature we see from "Z" and this INCLUDES when he draws his CROSSED-CIRCLE symbol in the body of his letters (exempting ciphers, of course)! To see this look at the Mikado letter and how the crossed-circle symbols begin nearly verticle (actually DELIBERATE, just like all the letters in the first three lines of text), but then they become more and more angulated as he continues writing. Now, go to the end of the letter and look at the BIG CROSSED-CIRCLE signature--once again, it is VERTICAL (deliberate)! If you look at other examples (Mt. Diablo/radians; SF Examiner 7-31-69;) you will see the same DELIBERATE vertical presentation.

To me, all of this implies one thing: That Zodiac was possibly writing the text of the letters with one hand and then signing them with the other. Thus, we seem to have some preliminary, tangible evidence of ambidexterity, which has been purported for Zodiac for many years.

It's my opinion that this "difference" in presentation is *more likely* the result of Zodiac taking a short break (perhaps to read over what he just wrote) before actually signing it, rather than the result of an ambidextrous person switching hands after completing the body text, solely for the purpose of making the circle slightly different in the closing signature. I suppose it's possible, but unlikely IMO.


Bruce Monson

By Peterh (Peterh) (adsl-141-154-74-188.bostma.adsl.bellatlantic.net - on Friday, December 29, 2000 - 07:56 am:

"Have you ever looked at my Hartnell-Shepard page???", said Tom, incredulously.

I sure have, and did not recall that it linked to such a good shot of the door. Thanks. Now that we have that, Mike: I don't think this helps the theory. The crossed circle sure enough is a "one
o'clock". More specifically it is about a 12:30 to 1:30, since the beginning and end overlap. the "Vallejo" o is, as you say, indeterminate. I don't see the 12-20 o as a 11:00 but rather as 12:00, due to the deviation from a smooth circle at about 1:00, and the 6:30 0 is definitely the same as the crossed circle. Now far be it from me to start the "Berryessa: Zodiac crime?" debate anew, but . . .


BTW, Tom: it doesn't appear that due appreciation has been shown on this site in general for your posting of the Berryessa report. Thank you, and happy holidays to you, too. It is rich with detail and background that clarifies much of what has been lost about LB in translation, in particular the physical description of the responsible. Makes one wonder a couple of things about the Napa composite, particularly (1)why it is of such poor quality and refinement of detail compared to the SFPD composite (after all, it is the result of numerous separate but consistent eyewitness descriptions); (2) why it isn't as well circulated and famous as the SFPD composite and (3) why there isn't more serious discussion of the stark differences between the Napa and SFPD composites. After all, the generally accepted description of Z appears to be the Napa/Hartnell description which doesn't seem to match the SFPD composite at all. I mean, come on, the guy in the SFPD pic is definitely not "beefy" or any of the other accepted descriptions, particularly from Hartnell or Mageau. Has this discrepancy ever been addressed to your satisfaction?

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p29.as1.dungarvan1.eircom.net - on Friday, December 29, 2000 - 10:03 am:

I don't know if this will add much to the discussion on handwriting,but I have a book called The Criminal Hand-an analysis of criminal handwriting.I was excited when I picked it up as a copy of Zodiac's bomb threat letter was on the cover.Unfortunately it does not go into an in-depth analysis of Zodiac except to say:-"Again in the sample of the Zodiac murderer's handwriting we see the same heavy,smeary writing and pressure seen in so many samples of handwriting where the writer has sexual problems of a sadistic or perverted nature.The handwriting becomes more angular at the bottom of the page and the right slant more pronounced as he becomes excited while writing".The sample used for analysis was the "Blue Meannies"letter.The first section of the book deals with "Clues to criminal types" and discusses this under such headings as Slant,
pressure and speed,Script size and formation etc. etc.It does point to the crossed "t" for example(similar to Zodiac's)as denoting a person with a temper!Also Zodiac's lack of loops in his handwriting apparently shows a lack of emotion. The book itself is only a light read at best ,however there is substantial Bibliography at the back if anyone is interested.

By Mike (Mike) (spider-ta057.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, December 29, 2000 - 03:06 pm:


I think I had better clarify something. When I talk about the differences in the circles that are "embedded" in the letters, as opposed to the ones used as "signatures", I am saying that the "embedded" ones are made on the 11 o'clock SIDE of the clock-face, and the signatures are made on the opposite (or 1 o'clock) SIDE of the clock-face.

If a signature circle starts and ends at "1:00", "1:30" or "2:00", it is STILL on that SIDE of the clock-face. Conversely, if an embedded symbol begins at "10:45" or "11:00", it is STILL on that SIDE of the clock-face. (That is the ONLY distinction I am making--which side of an imaginary "12 o'clock line" the circle starts and ends on.)

In the actual signature circles themselves at the end of Z's missives, you can use Z's "cross" ovelying the actual circle as the "12 o'clock" line. In that case, I submit that the majority of his signature circles begin and end on the "1 o'clock" SIDE of that actual line.


By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p133.as1.virginia1.eircom.net - on Saturday, December 30, 2000 - 03:28 am:

If you look at the circles in Zodiac's sign at the bottom of the letters,you will see that the left-hand side of these are consistently "more rounded"than the right-hand side.Further evidence that they were in fact drawn in a counter-clockwise direction.This is particularly evident on the second cipher and also on the car door. While Mike seems to be right about the differences between the starting positions between these and the o's in the letters,close inspection of these also seems to indicate that they are drawn in a similiar direction.

By Bruce Monson (The_Adversary) (mail.ci.colospgs.co.us - on Saturday, December 30, 2000 - 10:21 am:

Yes, I think it's clear that the terminal direction of the circles is counter-clockwise. However, I think the *starting position* of the signature crossed-circles is different because the author pauses and makes them with deliberate motion (causing the crossed-circle to be very vertical--just as when he deliberately tries to make vertical letters in the Belli letter, but soon reverts back to normal), as opposed to when he draws them *imbedded* within the texts, where they are drawn in the same rhythm (and slant) as the other lettering around them.

Also, if you'll look at the many different forms and starting positions of upper/lower case "O's" and zeroes throughout the "Z" literature, you will see a wide variance.

Lastly, if "Z" was turning the paper to different positions (upside down) when making his signature crossed-circle (and I think he did so at least once--see my earlier post), then that would kind of throw a wrench into the theory as well--if he didn't then he started one of his crossed-circles at neither (11) nor (1) O'clock, but (6) O'clock!

As an interesting side note on this, however, the question begs to be asked, "why did he feel the need to spin the paper around while writing?" and further "Did he have this idea in mind anywhere else?" This is something I have postulated before, especially in regard to the 13-character "My Name Is" cipher.

Maybe Mike is onto something, I'm not sure, but I have seen enough variance to cause me some doubt.


Bruce Monson

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p107.as2.dungarvan1.eircom.net - on Saturday, December 30, 2000 - 10:47 am:

Bruce,a "Zodiac,s Handprinting 2"thread has been started. Did you miss it? Sorry if you did not.