Fairfield Daily-Republic, 7-5-02

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: General Zodiac Discussion: 2002 Zodiackiller.com Task-Force Meeting: Fairfield Daily-Republic, 7-5-02

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-178-109.client.attbi.com - on Friday, July 05, 2002 - 05:07 pm:

Task force gathers to analyze Zodiac

By Tim Fields

VALLEJO -- A motley crew of amateur sleuths, a handful of curious teenagers and a man with an "X" tattooed on his forehead converged on Blue Rock Springs Park Thursday with one thing on their minds - the Zodiac Killer.

Under the shade of trees and near the dirty barbecue pits, nearly 40 enthusiasts attended the first-ever Zodiac Killer Task Force meeting where the goal was simply to share ideas and information on a series of unsolved murders occurring some 30 years ago.

One of those murders happened at the park on July Fourth, 1969 where the Zodiac shot and killed 22-year-old Darlene Ferrin.

The Zodiac spawned a trail of terror in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1968 and 1969. Fueling the public's fear, the killer wrote 21 letters to the San Francisco Examiner, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Vallejo Times-Herald giving sordid details of his crimes. While Bay Area law enforcement say the Zodiac killed six, he claimed 37 murders. One suspect in the case was a former Vallejo school teacher who died in 1992.

Some find those unsolved cases irresistibly intriguing.

Although a massage therapist by day, Ed Neil's real passion is in detective work.

After reading a book on the Zodiac years ago he was hooked by the mystique and now has an extensive collection of research materials, he said.

"The Zodiac is very interesting because he's like Jack the Ripper of the Bay Area," Neil said. "Anything is solvable and I believe there are missing pieces out there. That's why this event is important because it may shed some light on something new."

One story that surfaced at the meeting came from a woman from Walnut Creek who claimed she was a former roommate of Cecelia Shepard, a 22-year-old that was stabbed and killed by the Zodiac at Lake Berryessa on Sept. 27, 1969.

The woman did not want to be identified but said Cecelia and her were students at a La Sierra University in Riverside. She recalled Cecelia talking about a military man who pressured her to go out with him. When Cecelia finally went out with the man he took her to Gilbert & Sullivan's classic musical Mikado. Years later, in one of the Zodiac's chilling letters was a paraphrased song from the musical.

For another attendee, Sandy Betts of Antioch, the Zodiac is alive and well as he's been stalking her for

33 years. She actually saw him two weeks ago.

Betts said her connection to the killer goes back to the very beginning as she was dating the same Vallejo police officer that was dating victim Darlene Ferrin.

Another attendee, nicknamed White Rabbit, removed his tie-dye hat and revealed a faded "X" tattooed on his forehead.

He claimed to be a former member of the Manson Family and supported the theory that the Zodiac murders were actually inspired by Charles Manson.

Some just showed up to the meeting out of sheer curiosity to see who would actually show up at the event.

"My dad thought I was a freak for coming here but I wanted to check it out," said Julie List, 19, of San Francisco. "I doubt the Zodiac is alive and if he is, he's such a lame-o because he couldn't get his MO straight."

Emilie Moneda, 19, traveled from Moraga because she thought something exciting might happen at the meeting since the Zodiac was so media hungry, she said.

"You never know a bomb could go off or something and I wanted to be here if it happened," she said.

Task force organizer Tom Voigt said the meeting was never about glorifying the killer but keeping the cases in the public eye. Voigt is a commercial Web designer from Portland, Ore. and in May his Web site www.zodiackiller.com logged about 870,000 hits, he said.

Amateur sleuth Rick Salas of San Francisco said people are drawn to the cases because there were so many clues.

Such public interest keeps the search for the killer alive, Salas said.

Ferrin's younger brother, Leo Suennen of Vallejo, will never forget his sister.

"This (event) is a good thing," he said. "Because it keeps the case of my sister's death alive."

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-178-109.client.attbi.com - on Friday, July 05, 2002 - 05:07 pm:

There may have only been "40 enthusiasts" in attendance at the time this reporter was there, but the total was actually closer to 100.

By Spencer (Spencer) (revenant-e0.ucd.ie - on Monday, July 08, 2002 - 06:33 am:

"[M]assage therapist by day"

It sounds like the back cover of a really bad slasher flick.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc16e9d.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, July 08, 2002 - 10:20 am:

Doesn't it though??? lol But it actually happens to be true, however...