Vallejo Times-Herald, 7-5-02 Message Board: General Zodiac Discussion: 2002 Task-Force Meeting: Vallejo Times-Herald, 7-5-02

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Friday, July 05, 2002 - 05:02 pm:

Zodia maniacs: 50 gather for 'task force meeting' at park

By Kyle Hopkins and Tiffany Corr, Times-Herald staff writers

With the 'X' tattooed on his forehead still clearly visible above thick, horn-rimmed glasses, a man named "White Rabbit" spoke to a rapt audience Thursday at the Zodiac "task-force meeting."

Answering questions about one author's theory on the infamous murderer's identity -- that he was a pawn of Charles Manson -- the alleged former Manson family member joined roughly 40 to 50 participants at the Blue Rock Springs Park gathering.

Guests ranged from amateur sleuths to people who knew the victims or suspects. They swapped theories and details about the series of Bay Area killings, which began in the late 1960s and has fueled endless speculation about who the Zodiac was and even who he killed.

Some attendees believe the killer is still alive, and speculated it would have been hard for him to resist attending the meeting personally.

With black and white photos of five Zodiac victims, a composite sketch and a handwritten letter ironed on to a white shirt, guest Sandy Betts greeted attendees and handed out Zodiac buttons.

"Absolutely, there is no doubt in my mind that he is still very much alive. He's getting older, walking a little slower and I've seen him from time to time," said Betts, who said she was a target of the Zodiac while working as a cocktail waitress in Vallejo. She claims he continues to stalk and taunt her.

Napa resident Ed Neil, who co-moderates a discussion board on the Web site along with the site's creator, Tom Voigt, said former Vallejo resident and teacher Arthur Leigh Allen is considered a prime suspect. Allen is deceased.

As a moderator for the site, Neil doesn't officially endorse any single theory. Still, he suspects the Zodiac was born in Vallejo and lived here most of his life.

Sharon, a Northern California woman who said she was a student and friend of Allen -- who she considered a confidant. She would like to believe he was innocent.

"He was very good to me and I cared a great deal for him," Sharon said. While her name and contact information were included in Allen's address book and presumably found by police during a search of his residence, she said she's never been asked for copies of letters he sent her prior to his death in 1992.

The woman -- who declined to give her last name or city of residence -- said she is not convinced Allen was the Zodiac, and said he never laid a hand on her. "I don't regret for one minute having been his friend."

Allen also was a dialysis patient of Vallejoan Dr. Rodney Faucett.

"I thought that (Allen) was kind of strange individual who took pleasure in thinking people thought he was the Zodiac killer," said Faucett who was raised in East Vallejo and remembers the Zodiac scare well.

"I think it's great that this many people still have interest in crimes that occurred 30 years ago. But you never know, one of these people might turn over a stone that (Allen) actually did it or didn't do it."

While the event was expected to draw a larger crowd, many attendees still took pains to make first-of-its-kind event.

Rick Salas took the ferry to Vallejo from the East Bay and said he spotted Zodiac graffiti on his way to the park. Chalandra Cheryl-Wainwright came all the way from Georgia to share her theory. "My suspect is from the East Coast. He looks just like the man in the composite sketch."

Many Zodiac "fans" jumped at the chance to spread their ideas across a few picnic tables, but others wanted to talk to those actually involved in the case. The spot marked the anniversary of the Zodiac's 1969 murder of Darlene Ferrin, and those close to her did attend.

The guest list included Ferrin's brother, sister and Howard Davis, author of "The Zodiac/Manson Connection." Howard's book outlines a theory linking the murders of Charles Manson and the Zodiac, illustrating that Manson may have master-minded the Zodiac case himself.

White Rabbit -- who said he sold acid to Manson -- said the suspect outlined in the book, another former Manson family member named Bruce Davis, could be the killer. "Bruce was definitely capable of murder. He had already committed a bunch of murders by then."

Ferrin's brother, Leo Suennen, said he approved of the gathering, and that he doesn't believe Allen was the killer.

Saying the investigation was bungled and evidence lost, Suennen doubts the Zodiac's identity ever will be determined. "They'll never find out who killed my sister."

One guest, Sue Jones, said she was a college roommate of alleged Zodiac victim Cecelia Shepard and wondered if a military man Shepard dated once may be a suspect.

Other theories range from the Zodiac as a San Francisco businessman to the Zodiac as Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber.

Between the constant interviews -- reporters and cameramen represented almost a fifth of the attendance -- Voigt was happy to step away from the limelight as guests discussed the case.

"I don't like being the center of attention," he said.

Voigt hoped somehow the event would provide new insight into the Zodiac mystery, but guests hoping to see the meeting become an annual event may be disappointed.

"I probably won't be doing anything like this again. I'll keep the Web site up, but I'm not comin' to Vallejo ever again if I can help it," he said.

Neil, who also created, said he would like to see meeting become a regular event. "This is the first and I hope it will not be the last."

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Friday, July 05, 2002 - 05:03 pm:

Good story, except there were at least 80 to 100 attendees, not 40 or 50.