Task Force meeting, day by day

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: General Zodiac Discussion: 2002 Zodiackiller.com Task-Force Meeting: Task Force meeting, day by day

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc15c20.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, July 01, 2002 - 11:35 am:

Day 1 (June 30th/July 1st): Tom and John arrived in Vallejo after 11 PM, and I met them at the Days Inn at 600 Fairgrounds, about 0.3 miles from 1930 Sereno, the former Faraday residence. We stopped at Papa Joe's on Couch Street for a late night drink, and then headed out to BRS to have a look over the site of the taskforce meeting. On the way, we stopped at the 7-11 around the corner from Allen's old house (right by the IHOP where Dean Ferrin met Darlene), and picked up a copy of the Vallejo Times-Herald for 7-1-2002, which features a front-page story about the case and the taskforce meeting. We continued along Springs Road and stopped at another 7-11, and found the last few copies of the 6-30-2002 Contra Costa Times which also had a story about the meeting.

We arrived at BRS after 1:30 AM, slipped under the locked gate, and walked over to The Pines. There should be enough room for about 200 or so people, but there is not much in the way of shade, so bring hats and lots of cold drinks. It overlooks the site where Z shot Darlene Ferrin and Mike Mageau, and the house from where George Bryant heard Z shoot them is not far away. Afterwards, we headed out to LHR, and were surprised to see that someone had made two new cross-circle symbols on the "no trespassing" sign where Gate #10 used to be; the two we found on 12-20-2001 were still there, but a little faded. With the headlights off, it was not unlike the evening of 12-20-1968, but there was perhaps more illumination from the waning moon than there was nearly 34 years ago.

I mentioned that one can see the headlights of approaching cars as they pass by the LHR Recreation Area half a mile away to the northwest, and it was a good ten or fifteen minutes after we arrived before anyone even drove by; it was the perfect place for Z to commit a double murder (it was also 2:30 AM on a Sunday instead of 11:10 PM on a Friday, which is why it wasn't that busy). When someone finally did approach, Tom and John both saw how bright and obvious the lights of the approaching car were, and it passed us about 30 seconds later. That's why I think that Z was alerted to Stella Borges driving towards him, and why she didn't see Z there; she probably missed him by mere seconds.

We headed back into town, and I dropped Tom and John off at the hotel. Hopefully, we'll get to sleep in for a bit before our busy day on the town in San Francisco.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc168d6.ipt.aol.com - on Tuesday, July 02, 2002 - 02:40 pm:

Day 2 (July 1st/2nd): We all met at the Days Inn on Fairgrounds after 12 to head into San Francisco. "All" includes myself, Tom, Howard, Sandy, John, Scott, and his friend Marcus (who arrived Sunday afternoon but were zonked from driving non-stop from Colorado). We stopped west of Haight-Ashbury and had lunch at the Raintree Cafe on Irving Street, then met with "White Rabbit," a former Manson Family member. He showed us 532 Clayton Street, where Bruce Davis lived when the Family was getting it's start (Manson moved to 636 Cole in late March/early April 1967, right after he was released from prison on 3-21-1967). He informed us it was common knowledge among the Family that Davis was Z, and explained to us the connections between the Family, Z, and the Son of Sam murders, as well as other unsolved cases, such as Arliss Perry and Marina Habe. He then took us over to 636 Cole, and we saw that there was a recent fire in the two buildings next door (the Family's old digs was almost burned down!). Afterwards, Sandy and I had dinner at Mel's on Geary, while the rest ate at a Thai restaurant on the next block. We took Rabbit back to his apartment, and he said he was looking forward to being at the taskforce meeting on Thursday. I must say that it was a psychedelic experience driving with Rabbit.

We returned to Vallejo, and since it was getting late, Sandy and Howard headed back to their respective homes, while the rest of us bought some beer and headed out to the remains of the Zodiac Shack. It was dark when we arrived, and we picked our way to the site through the thistles with flashlights; all that's left is a big pile of rotten timber and other junk. We couldn't find the barn, however. As we returned to the cars, we spotted someone driving along Sky Valley Way, who apparently spotted the cars, made a quick U-turn, and drove away. We discussed the case under the stars by the gate leading to the Shack, then moved out to the LHR site to continue the discussion and have another beer or two. Three cars drove past us from Vallejo towards Benicia, but minutes later, they cruised back and parked at the entrance to the Marshall Ranch. They eventually drove back and parked near us at the site; they were teens (probably all of about 16 or 17) and were probably there to smoke weed or drink. They left, came back again and asked the directions to some Lake (I couldn't make it out, but it wasn't Herman), then they laughed and shouted and drove off. Whenever I'm there, strange things happen, but this time I had four other witnesses!

We then drove out to BRS and slipped under the gate to show Scott and Marcus where the shooting took place, talked some more and eventually made a run for the border on Springs Road. We found our way back to Papa Joe's for one more drink, and made our way back to the motel around 2 AM.

We plan to sleep in, have lunch in Napa, then head out to Spanish Flat Resort to relax, and then meet with a few more posters at Moscowite Corners for dinner and drinks.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acbe3c82.ipt.aol.com - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 05:01 pm:

Day 3 (July 2nd/3rd): We all got off to a late start (up way too late the night before), and stopped by Zeller's Ace Hardware in Napa to pick up some things for the taskforce meeting tomorrow. While there, one of the employees named Rob noticed Scott wearing a "nice Zodiac button," and we got to talking. It turns out that he and two other employees worked with Art Allen in the Vallejo Ace Hardware 10+ years ago. He mentioned a few things about him: he was more intelligent than anyone gave him credit for, and he had a habit of drinking 5 or 6 quarts of beer every night. He would then bring the bottles to work the next day and put them in the dumpster at work, since he apparently did not want his mother to know that he was drinking. He also was the sort of person to get revenge if he felt he had been wronged, and actually found a dirty diaper and smeared it all over Rob's truck one day for some slight, real or imagined!

I met with Howard and Sandy and Rosita's for a late lunch (it's across the street from where the old Napa Car Wash used to be), while Tom, John, Scott and Marcus continued on to Spanish Flat. We eventually checked in to cabin #9 after 6 PM, then drove back to Moscowite Corners to meet everyone else at 7 PM at the deck off to the side of the bar. There were a total of 13 of us: myself, Tom, John, Sandy, Howard, Scott, Marcus, Kendra, Chalandra and her mom Victoria, Roger Redding, and Dave and Kei (pronounced "Kay"; they're two non-posters who have had an interest in the case for some years now). We all had a few drinks, and at one point, a bee or wasp seemed to like Tom more than anyone else and chased him downstairs back into the bar.

After 8, I thought that perhaps some of the others might want to check out Zodiac Island, and so I took Kendra, Chalandra and Victoria out there; just before we left, Howard sold two of his books (The Zodiac/Manson Connection) to Chalandra and Victoria. Since the park closed at 8, we parked by the exit and hiked back towards Twin Oak Ridge. It took about 15 minutes, and we stayed there for 10 or so minutes in the gathering darkness as I explained what happened where. I took a couple of pictures of the ladies by the remaining tree under which Hartnell and Shepard were stabbed by Z. We hiked back, and by the time we returned to Moscowite Corners, most of the others had departed. It was after 9 and dark and the wind started to pick up, and Tom, Howard, Roger, Kendra and I chatted for a while as Chalandra and Victoria headed back into the city.

We got back to Spanish Flat Resort around 11 PM, and John and Sandy were barbecuing some chicken for a late night snack (the grills are just outside the cabins), and we settled in for a late dinner with some macaroni salad Sandy made. It was pretty blustery, and I realized that I should have brought my hockey mask and machete with me (unlike most of the other installments, it was very windy in Friday the 13th, Part 3 rather than raining; it would have been cool to get some pictures, oh, well). We eventually all gathered in cabin #10 (where Tom and John were staying; Scott and Marcus were in #11), and knocked back several more brews as we discussed different facets of the case into the wee hours. Sandy was the first to go, followed by Howard and Marcus. Around 2, I headed back to #9 and Howard and I chatted about Bruce Davis until 3. Meanwhile, Scott finally headed back to #11, but first sat in the truck and drank a few more beers while the wind howled outside.

We got to sleep in a little, but Sandy and Howard had to leave by 9 or so, and the rest of us left around 12:30 to make our way out to Zodiac Island for a little while and then back to Napa. We met Roger at 2:15 PM and had lunch at Rosita's (killer Mexican food!), picked up the pipes (for the banner tomorrow) at Zeller's, and Tom and John set off to Vallejo to check back in to the Days Inn, while Scott and Marcus settled in at Motel 6. The plan for this afternoon is to head back into the city to check out Presidio Heights, and take a cab trip from Mason and Geary to the corner of Washington and Cherry.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc20efc.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, July 04, 2002 - 10:03 am:

Day 3, Part II (July 3rd/4th): Just to add a little more about Allen from speaking with Rob, he indicated the reason they couldn't fire him was that the Vallejo Ace Hardware was unionized, and they happened to be shorthanded when Allen showed up. He said he was either "from the union" or "the union sent me," and so they snatched him up immediately. He apparently was not union, but they didn't know that at first, and it takes an act of God to fire a union employee. He never showed up to any union anything, never went to the store parties, etc. I guess he preferred to drink alone.

Yesterday afternoon, we met with Scott and Marcus, but Scott's foot had been giving him problems since he arrived, and he decided he'd better get to the ER to check it out; they went off to Queen of the Valley in Napa, where Hartnell and Shepard were taken after the stabbing at LB. Meanwhile, Tom, John, Roger and myself drove into the City, and did some filming at Presidio Heights, but there was an unbelievably cold wind blowing that evening. I took some pictures of Hunter's and the three teens' homes (they turned out pretty good, illuminated by the setting sun), and we drove back towards Mason and Geary. After parking in a garage, we stopped for a bit at David's, and Tom and Roger had strudel while I had a Spaten. Afterwards, just across the street from the Pinecrest (where RG theorized that Z hailed Stine's cab; Zodiac, p. 83), Tom hailed a Yellow Cab, and the four of us drove west along Geary to Van Ness, and retraced the supposed route Stine took to PH (since one can't make a left on California Street, we turned one block earlier on Pine and eventually made our way over to California).

We arrived at the corner or Washington and Cherry approximately 10 minutes later, stopped for a few minutes to film some more, then turned around and headed back by the most direct route. The entire trip took about 25 minutes and cost $18.90, compared to the $6.25 that Stine's meter showed after some 75 minutes back on 10-11-1969. It was getting dark, and so we returned to Vallejo. It was already 10 and we hadn't heard from Scott since we parted company around 6, and called Marcus on his cell phone; it turned out they had to wait 3 hours before anyone saw Scott, and they had just finished dinner at the Sizzler on Trancas near the hospital. John wanted to interview them, and met them at their room at Motel 6 around 10:45, while Tom, Roger and I searched for a restaurant that was open for a late-night dinner. The only one was Applebee's, but it was crowded, so we opted to make a run for the border. Tom was wiped out (as were we all), so he decided to return to the Days Inn and turn in early, while I gave Roger the Z tour in Vallejo. We eventually stopped at the Taco Bell on Springs Road and munched during the tour (not quite what I had in mind but, oh well), and I dropped Roger off after midnight.

One thing that must be noted is that July 3rd, 2002, is a date that will go down in history: 32 years after Z requested "to see some nice Zodiac butons wandering about town," he finally got his wish fulfilled. Tom, Roger and myself all wore our nice Z buttons in the City yesterday, and we did in fact wander around a bit (in PH, one passerby spotted Roger's button and scowled at him). So, everyone remember this date!

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc16592.ipt.aol.com - on Saturday, July 06, 2002 - 12:55 am:

Day 4 (July 4th/5th): The vanguard (the usual bunch of Zodiologists, ie, Tom, John, Kendra and myself) arrived at BRS around 11 AM, and Dave and two others were already there. It was a beautiful day, and it fortunately did not get too hot (although a lot of people eventually got pretty red and sunburned), and we attempted to get things set up as people started arriving early. Clark Kent, Tom and I attempted to pound two poles into the ground in order to put the zodiackiller.com banner up, but since Scott was not there (we wanted to make use of his tremendous strength), we decided to put it up on the fence nearby. There were at least three newspapers and nine TV stations represented: the Calaveras County Ledger Dispatch, the Fairfield Daily Republic and The Vallejo Times-Herald, as well as FOX news, ABC, and KGO, among others. They descended on us like vultures, and before we knew it, several hours had passed.

From among the Z-searchers from this board, in attendance at BRS were Tom, myself, Sandy, Howard, Scott, Marcus, Esau, Roger Redding, Kendra, Victoria, Chalandra, Vic, Rick, Jennifer and Clark Kent. Other notables were Mike Kelleher, Kenny Kilgore, White Rabbit, Linda and Leo Suennen, Carolyn Shepard, Sharon (an old friend of Allen's), Susann (a former roommate of Cecelia's), Rick Gilmore (a cousin of Darlene's) and others. It was hard to tell how many were in attendance, but there were perhaps 50 to 75 altogether, maybe more, during the course of the day (the newscrews apparently scared off many others who were interested but otherwise didn't want to appear on TV).

Sandy directed me over to a woman who identified herself as an old roommate of Cecelia Shepard's, who had an amazing story to tell about her from ca. 1966-1967, before she attended PUC. It seems that she went on one date with a man who claimed to be military but moonlighted as a shoe salesman, who took her to a production of "The Mikado." He was apparently from the Bay Area, and started calling her a lot, but she always had her friends answer the phone in case it was him. After she moved north, she was at LB one day, and turned around to see this same guy standing behind her! It certainly made me wonder if he was Z, and, if so, was her murder not random as has been generally accepted? I gave her my e-mail address, and asked her to write everything down and send it to either me or Tom, so we can get it posted here on the site somewhere.

Sandy made a sign with "I am not Tom Voigt" and a target on it for me, and one that read "I am not Ed Neil" plus target for Tom. I later went to get something from the car, when a woman stopped me and asked what I had on my back. I attempted to explain that it was an inside joke that had something to do with Z when she introduced herself as Linda, and took off her sunglasses. It took a moment for me to recognize Darlene's features in her sister, and I realized why she was concerned about the target on my back. I removed it, and her reaction drove home the reason why we were all there: not for the Zodiac, but for the victims. She made her way down to the picnic tables, and said she wasn't sure what to expect from the taskforce meeting; she hoped we weren't there to glorify Z, and I told her something to the effect that, as far as I was concerned, Z can burn in hell. She met her brother Leo there, who she hadn't seen in some 10-12 years.

Sandy got to talk to Linda for some time, and she showed her the pictures she has of the man who's been stalking her for three decades. Without any prompting or hesitation, she identified the subject of the pictures as Larry Kane, who she said she also picked out of a photo lineup some years earlier as being the mysterious man at the "painting party." Howard spoke with Leo, who said that the night Darlene was murdered, two of his friends were on the ridge above BRS watching fireworks, and heard Z shooting rapid fire, but they obviously didn't know who the victims or shooter were at the time.

Scott and Marcus arrived around 2 or so with Rabbit, and he was the center of attention for a while as I don't know how many people filmed/videotaped him as he spoke about the Family. Two gentlemen (sorry, guys, I don't recall everyone's names, it was so hectic) spoke with me about the Z crimes with an emphasis on Riverside and BRS for a script they were working on based on Z. Unfortunately, it got so busy that I completely missed Mike Kelleher and Carolyn Shepard; none of the others who were invited were able to participate (Rust, Hoffman, etc) as far as I know. Tom ended up doing interviews with all 9 newscrews, but he wasn't able to talk to the BBC (yes, he had an interview with them too).

It was after 4 when Sandy and I slipped away to McDonald's (heartburn alley is fortunately only a couple of miles from BRS), and I later spotted Tom holding a drink from McDonald's; I guess it was easier to grab some fast food rather than wait for the barbecue, which we finally got started around 5:30-6:00. Around 7:30, the gate guards made the rounds to inform us that the park would be closing at 8:30, and he wasn't joking, because he locked the gate and took off as promised an hour later, despite the fact that there were still about a dozen cars left in the parking lot. Fortunately, another city employee happened by and spotted us, and called to get someone over to BRS to let us out.

We retired to the Days Inn, and Tom and John decided to go to dinner, while Marcus and Scott drove Rabbit and Rick back to San Francisco (Rick caught the ferry to Vallejo and then a taxi to BRS for the meeting--now, that's dedication!). I took Kendra, Roger and Vic to the city, and we had a quick bite to eat at the Burger King on Van Ness, then drove over to Washington and Cherry. On the way, we stopped by Mrs. Doubtfire's house (need I explain that reference??? It's on the corner of Steiner and Broadway), then past Robert Hunter's old residence at 2255 Lyon, then to the Stine site, where we met Scott, Marcus and Rick. I gave them a guided tour of the crime scene and environs, and demonstrated to them the impossibility of the three teens being able to see any ptosis in Z's eye (with one eyelid slightly drooped, they couldn't see it; I had to almost close it completely before they saw any difference between my eyes).

We then drove over to Spruce and Pacific, to the gate through the wall that leads to the playground. Everyone saw the impossibility of an eyewitness being able to see anyone dashing across the playground, although it was certainly possible to see someone cross West Pacific to get to the park. Scott and Marcus took Rick home, and the rest of us returned to Vallejo, but got stuck in 4th of July traffic on Van Ness. I took some side streets to get to the Bay Bridge, and we got back to the Days Inn around 1:15, and chatted for over an hour. We parted ways at 2:30, and since Kendra hadn't been out to the LHR site yet, I took her there (don't worry, she's still alive, lol). It was around 3 AM when we finally headed for home. It must be noted that five of the seven of us wore "nice Zodiac butons" (Marcus and Roger didn't) in the city; that was probably the only other day in history that will happen.

All in all, the last four days were very intense, but it was very fruitful and I think all involved had a great time. Considering the local coverage of the event, this case is not likely to be forgotten anytime soon, and, with any amount of luck, this will be the first of many such amateur taskforce meetings. Many thanks to all who participated!

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (193.philadelphia06rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Tuesday, July 02, 2002 - 08:55 pm:

Ed, it looks as if teenagers are still utilizing LHR as a venue for doing what teenagers seem naturally inclined to do.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-17-202.bos.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, July 04, 2002 - 06:36 am:


Thanks for the very interesting update. Loved the scoop from Allen's colleagues, especially comments like "more intelligent than given credit for"

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p50-25.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Thursday, July 04, 2002 - 01:20 pm:

How's the turnout Ed,everybody show?
Did you guys get a chance to time the walk from the Stine crime scene to where Foulkes and Zelms
supposedly passed Zodiac?

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (132.philadelphia08rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Thursday, July 04, 2002 - 04:30 pm:

Club life at its finest.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (95.philadelphia04rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Thursday, July 04, 2002 - 07:28 pm:

I just want to wish everyone the best on this Independence Day and hope all the Zodiac enthusiasts are having fun together on the West coast. I spent the day having a barbecue with my immediate family and enjoyed the usual good times and unanimity. Later my wife and I walked into downtown Dover, Delaware, tracing the footsteps of historical giants, and watched a modest but sufficient fireworks display. I hope everyone enjoyed their day as much as I enjoyed mine!

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (95.philadelphia04rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Thursday, July 04, 2002 - 07:29 pm:

Incidentally, for those who are interested in these things, I drank my share of beer. It just happened to be Coors original--pretty good American brew.

By Spencer (Spencer) (revenant-e0.ucd.ie - on Friday, July 05, 2002 - 04:38 am:

I spent Independence Day in Ireland, drinking Guinness, Strongbow, and finally Budweiser, while it rained all afternoon and evening. It sounds like Task Force Z is having a good time and not getting into too much trouble.


By Kendra (Kendra) (pluto.cds1.net - on Saturday, July 06, 2002 - 01:08 am:

Yes, everybody, I'm still alive. Although, there were at least 2 cars that passed us on LHR (around 3am, which surprised us both). It has crossed my mind that one of them could have been the Zodiac searching for his next victim...

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc137f9.ipt.aol.com - on Sunday, July 07, 2002 - 10:50 pm:

Some of the things I didn't add for the 4th were: as you know by now, Sandy made a Z costume, and after she put it on (Sandy is very female and difficult to pass off as Z! lol), I donned the hood and everyone started taking pictures.

Later on, I asked Rabbit about a few paragraphs from Helter Skelter (pp. 645-646), where an unnamed informant told Los Angeles Times reporter Jerry Cohen that he was present when Zero was murdered the night of 11-5-1969 (pp. 107-108), but wouldn't say who did it, only that it was one of the girls. He wanted money to go to Marin County, and Cohen gave him $25, but never saw him again. Rabbit told me that could have been him, but that Cohen might have changed some of the details to protect him, and that he didn't remember being given any money. In any case, while Rabbit might not have been mentioned by name, he seems to have made a brief appearance in Helter Skelter. As we were packing things up to leave later on, I was surprised to hear Rabbit start singing something! I was close enough to hear it, but I don't know what it was; no one else was nearby, because Tom and the others were surprised when I mentioned it.

The other thing was that when we were in PH at the corner of Spruce and Pacific, Vic spotted a skunk! I thought he was joking until I saw it, and a few minutes later as we drove west along Washington towards the corner of Cherry on the way back to Vallejo, I spotted it again running past Presidio Hill School. I didn't know there were any skunks in San Francisco until then.

By White Rabbitt (Whiterabbitt) (adsl-64-172-180-164.dsl.snfc21.pacbell.net - on Monday, July 08, 2002 - 10:04 pm:


By Paul (Paul) (spider-ta024.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, July 08, 2002 - 11:25 pm:

i never met charlie, never carved a swasi in my forehead, but i'm pretty sure it's "always is always FOREVER". not TOGETHER.

By White Rabbitt (Whiterabbitt) (adsl-64-172-180-164.dsl.snfc21.pacbell.net - on Tuesday, July 09, 2002 - 09:35 pm:


By VSCANTU (Vscantu) (netcache-1113.public.svc.webtv.net - on Thursday, July 11, 2002 - 10:42 pm:

Hey ED: Fantastic reporting!
Remember my story about ZODIAC paying a personal visit to famous attorney MELVIN BELI's house I told to you in your car on our late-night trip to "7-11", and again to everyone (Tom, etc.) at the DAYS INN on the night of the 4th of July? I know it sounds pretty crazy, but it's absolutely true.
Just thought I'd mention it because I thought it was Big News- even bigger than the "Zodiac skunk" incident, which was pretty hilarious. Maybe if we get the story out to the public, someone can research it (with BELI's close family or friends) to see if it's true. Just a thought. VICTOR

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc12e24.ipt.aol.com - on Friday, July 12, 2002 - 09:22 am:

Vic: I'm glad you enjoyed the rundown of the week's events. Sorry I didn't include your story, my brain was fried and I could remember only so much! Tell you what: since I basically encapsulated everything to get most of it in a few paragraphs each day (and therefore missed a lot of detail), why don't you post the entire story here, since it was part of the meeting, after all?

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acbe1963.ipt.aol.com - on Friday, July 12, 2002 - 03:23 pm:

BTW, this goes for anyone else who was there too: if something noteworthy happened during the week relating to the taskforce meeting, feel free to mention it here as an addendum to my notes.

By Ryan Olesin (Ryan) (d150-160-190.home.cgocable.net - on Friday, July 12, 2002 - 06:43 pm:

Anyone else have any pictures? I'd post them on my site if you don't have one.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc15288.ipt.aol.com - on Saturday, July 13, 2002 - 10:56 pm:

Working on getting mine posted, hopefully on Monday...

The Amateur Zodiac Taskforce Meeting, July 2002.

By Tom Voigt (Admin) (12-231-193-32.client.attbi.com - on Saturday, August 23, 2003 - 04:45 pm:

Here's a link to pics of the event.