Questions Message Board: General Zodiac Discussion: Questions

By ml (Ml) ( - on Friday, April 13, 2001 - 10:23 am:

I have spent several days when time allotted reading the comments of those that have posted here for the last several years. I have read Graysmith's book and some websites only on this subject. I have questions.

1. It would appear that the consensus here finds fault with books by Penn and Graysmith. Is this because they used literary techniques to hold the readers interest, or is it more the "facts" as they present them that falls short?

2. Of all the theories on the Zodiac, is it possible that this was really two people acting together? It would account for the disparity in both the identifications and the writing of the letters. (handwriting samples)" I would suggest that criminal history has shown that this is possible with both Leopold and Loeb and Kenneth Bianci and Angelo Buono. I have nothing to base this on but notice the inconsistency of handwriting in some of the notes to the newspapers and police.

3. I would appreciate it if each of you would tell me who your suspect is and briefly why. At this point I have no first choice so I will defer to those that have spent time researching this subject.

I must say this is a diverse group and I have enjoyed reading your opinions and banter.

By Oddball (Oddball) ( - on Friday, April 13, 2001 - 10:53 am:

Ml, I believe that at least two men were involved.
A lot of circumstantial evidence points to Arthur Leigh Allen--and therefore I believe he played a part in the murders--but, in my opinion, none of
the eyewitness descriptions closely match Allen, since everyone described a man with hair. Of course, it's not impossible that this was Allen wearing a hairpiece.
I do feel that Allen wrote the Zodiac letters(see his 1966 handwriting).

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Friday, April 13, 2001 - 03:53 pm:

ML wrote:
"1. It would appear that the consensus here finds fault with books by Penn and Graysmith. Is this because they used literary techniques to hold the readers interest, or is it more the "facts" as they present them that falls short?"

The first half of Graysmith's book is a valuable introduction to the case. His depiction of the crimes and their context is quite accurate. It's in the interpretation that he stumbles, at times deliberately misleading the reader -- a major flaw in what is billed as a nonfiction account. By 1986, when the book was published, Graysmith must have known that the case against Allen ("Starr") was not very strong, but he did his damnedest to paint him as guilty, and continues to do so. Ditto for the theory that the Zodiac knew Darlene Ferrin: this is an opinion held almost exclusively by marginal parties with an agenda, and not by "legitimate" investigators. These two misconceptions may be dramatically interesting, but they are also fallacious.

Facts are few and far between in Penn's ouvre. Most of his case is built on misconceptions informed by slapdash newspaper reports, and his own research is abysmal. He came up with one contribution to the case -- to wit, his radian discovery -- and surrounded it with so much claptrap that most folks are eager to write him off entirely. His personal behavior and outright arrogance don't help him out any, either.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Friday, April 13, 2001 - 05:41 pm:

MI-Please see my and Zodiac Expert Dave Peterson's statement. I concur with it. Just as we can theorize that there was more than one person-and I can give some arguments for that-there are excellent points for a one man show.

This case is unsolved and all considered opinions can be looked at and checked out by those who wish to ,for whatever reason, as it is only by tracing down a suspect's past that he can be eliminated or brought more sharply into focus as a possible.

No suspect- no case- no solution, and that means no justice for victims and families.

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Friday, April 13, 2001 - 06:03 pm:

I guess Z was always shooting for a Hole in One!(Or was it shooting a hole in someone?)

By Ed N (Ed_N) ( - on Friday, April 13, 2001 - 11:51 pm:

ml: Graysmith also fictionalized some aspects of the case, such as the chase to BRS. As far as the theory that Z and Darlene knew each other, I think Graysmith took the real fact that she was being stalked by at least one man, and tied that to her murder at the hands of Z, when in fact the two might have been totally unrelated.

I am disinclined to relegate Graysmith to Penn's level, however, because were it not for his efforts, Z would have been forgotten and we would not be here today. He has his problems, but Zodiac does give one a good feel for the case as it was back in the day.

Penn, on the other hand, don't waste your time with. While Jake is correct that Penn identified an angle approximating one radian between Mt. Diablo and two of the murder sites, Penn makes that central to his "case," while I am inclined to regard it as nothing more than an artifact coincidental to the crimes, and bears no relationship to them.

The rest of his book you can use to line your bird's cage with, it's not much good for anything else. He certainly did not use "literary techniques to hold the readers interest." It was one of the most dry and boring books I've ever had the misfortune to read (to be honest, I never read it all the way through, just bits and pieces here and there till I got it all. That was the only way I could stomach it).

The other thing is, while Graysmith fictionalized parts of Zodiac and was apparently fed mis- and disinformation which he also incorporated into his rendition of the case, Penn has not told the entire truth about how he found his suspect, Mike O'Hare, and instead made up an obviously bogus story about it. He also altered evidence to make the facts fit his suspect, and tends to play fast and loose with the facts in general. What makes it even more unbelievable is that Penn claims to be a member of Mensa. Let your dog eat Times 17 rather than your homework. Hmm... on the other hand, feed it to your neighbor's mean dog. It might get indigestion or something worse...

By ml (Ml) ( - on Saturday, April 14, 2001 - 01:22 am:

Thank you very much for responding. I find this case fascinating, as I am sure most of you do.

It is difficult for me to think of Z as someone that is brilliant. As Ed mentioned in a previous post the radian theory is just enough off kilter to throw a large shadow of doubt about it's true meaning, if there ever was one.

I suppose the fact that this man got away with these murders gives him an aura of diabolical brilliance.

I stole this line from a movie as use it when the need arises. I think it may apply here. "Somedays, the sun shines on a dog's a**."

Maybe this guy just had a incredible string of luck.

But then I am not qualified to make that statement in any form but a supposition.

Thanks again for your replies.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) ( - on Saturday, April 14, 2001 - 02:12 am:

What is it with you with Dogs and Cats?????:)

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) ( - on Saturday, April 14, 2001 - 09:21 am:

it is clear to me that Z was indeed incredibly lucky--just think of the night of the Stine murder when the police had their man right there but somehow thought they were looking for a black man. There was also a lot of shoddy police work.
I agree with you I do not think Z was all that intelligent which is one reason why I am sure it was not Ted. I highly doubt Zodiac went to Harvard, got a doctorate in Mathmatecs, taught at Berkeley, etc.

By ml (Ml) ( - on Saturday, April 14, 2001 - 11:36 am:

Perhaps one of the more burning questions that arises in my mind is, with the killings and his penchant for writing the newspapers and police, don't you think he is almost busting at the seams to tell someone just how he beat everyone in this case? Brag on just how smart he was.

Which may speak to his demise, perhaps the only true way to silence him.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Saturday, April 14, 2001 - 11:54 am:

Zodiac enjoyed bragging, but he never signed his real name. Obviously, he didn't want to go to jail.
I think a good suspect would be someone who was under suspicion in mid-1971 when the letters ceased for almost three years, and in late 1974 when they finally stopped altogether.

By ml (Ml) ( - on Saturday, April 14, 2001 - 03:55 pm:

Good point Mr. Voigt. Although I don't believe in any event this man would sign his correct name. (which, in my opinion, renders moot the cipher that indicated it would reveal his name)

It seems that he was so intent on taking credit for these crimes, albeit anonymously, that, psychologically speaking, he would at some point want to shout it out to someone that he had successfully outwitted the different police agencies involved in bringing him to justice.

I really have no basis for this opinion other than the nature of his writings and actions in claiming his deeds. At what point would that become unfulfilling and the need to 'place credit where credit was due' compel an individual such as this to act.

Which brings up two scenarios. Either the killer died at some point or if he did make some type of ownership confession then perhaps he eventually killed the person he confided in.

I realize this is all supposition and based on nothing that has been discussed here, or revealed in any text on this subject, but I would be curious to see what a criminal profiler would have to say about Z and this conjecture.

By Mark (Mark) ( - on Wednesday, April 18, 2001 - 03:32 pm:

ml-lots of excellent questions!(This is my first
posting, hi everybody) As far as two people being
involved I have a hard time believing it, as you
know both cases you mentioned were solved. I don't
think there is any question that Zodiac was
intelligent, but putting him in the "genius" cat-
egory would be a mistake. I'd say extremely clever
is a better description. I'd agree on him being
very lucky, the Stine murder as was mentioned he
had it in spades! The Johns abduction also was a
good example-here they had an eyewitness that had
spent considerable time with him and it looks like
the police didn't follow up on it at all. Did
they have trouble locating her afterward? I really
don't see how Zodiac could still be alive, with
his ego and compulsive tendencies it's hard for
me to fathom him going underground all of this
time. Like alot of people I think Arthur Allen
is the best suspect, he certainly was no stranger
to the media before his death. In denying that
he was the Zodiac on camera (and not very conv-
incingly I might add) he was continuing to get
that thrill of being in the spotlight. However,
maybe he wasn't the Zodiac-that's why this case
is so fascinating AND frustrating! I'm willing to
be openminded and accept that even though quite
a bit of circumstancial evidence points to him
he may not be the guy! I have a question, do you
think that the Zodiac kept trophies ? (i.e. the
rest of Stines shirt,etc.)
Ps-sorry about the margins!!

By The Fife (Thefife) ( - on Friday, July 20, 2001 - 03:38 pm:


I have a question.

I have seen reference to Z having some sort of slight limp or gimp in his gait. I think it was remarked on after PH. Does anyone know the nature of this gait? If it favored a leg. Did it seem to come from pain or from malformation?

Any knowledge on this point?

I looked and found nothing very definitive.

Tom F

By Sandy (Sandy) ( - on Saturday, July 21, 2001 - 06:58 pm:

The Fife, Yes I have heard the same thing. One of the suspects has the limp that you read about. I have seen this suspect limp many times, it looks like it hurts for the first few steps, then as he walks the limp lessens . His limp I thought was from a car accident he had in the early 60's.The last time I saw him sitting down , he had a much harder time getting up and walking.His hands shake a lot, I don't think he can write any more, even typing would be a task now.