Possible Zodiac Suspect? From the Green River Case

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: Other Suspects: Possible Zodiac Suspect? From the Green River Case

By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) (dpc6682009027.direcpc.com - on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 09:36 pm:

In the book The Search For the Green River Killer by Carlton Smith and Tomas Guillen there is a very interesting scenario described on pages 312-18. When I re-read parts of the book recently with Ridgeway conivced of the crimes I was struck by how much another person who was breifly a Green River suspect might have in common with what we believe about Zodiac.
The case occurred in Tacoma when aman with a rented van hired a prostitute, but once in the van he produced a long knife, threatedned her, and tied her up. Part of the restraints were /b{pre-cut lengths of rope he had with him}. He drove out to the country and drove around for a while during which she managed to get herself loose (biting through the rope) and make a grab for the knife. The struggle resulted in the van going into the ditch and some good samaritans stopping and calling police. His excuse didn't wash and he eventually plea-bargained to 2nd degree kidnapping. The police involved stated they had no doubt she would have been killed if she had not resisted. The man, who the authors name as Richard Horton was interviewed by the Green River detectives but cleared as he had seemingly air-tight alibis for many of the killings.
Besides the obvious similarities to Zodiac of pre-cut rope, a long knife as weapon, and (if Johns was a Z victim) of kidnapping a female and driving around aimlessly he had other similarities. Horton was a career Navy man, had been a Navy medical corpsman in Vietnam, and fits the general Z description: 5'8" tall, 210 pounds, military crewcut and he would have been about 25 years old at the time of the Z crimes. A bit on the young end of the range but not out of the question. And while I doubt Miss Bates was a Z victim, there are the initials rh!
As I have no other information than that in the book I know this is extreme speculation. I have no idea if this Robert Horton was on the west coast at the time, or he could have been in Vietnam for that matter. I don't know if he fits any other parts of the description either, and we are not likely to ever find out.
Before everyone jumps on me let me agree, that it is very unlikely Robert Horton was Zodiac. But he is probably a better suspect than Citizen Q or Robert Hunter. It is just that it kind of jumped off the page at me with the thought, "This could have been Zodiac!"
Note: I want to give credit where due. All the comparisons between Xodiac are my ideas alone but all the information about this suspect, including name of perpetrator and description of the crime are from the aabove-named Smith and Guillen book

By Warren (Warren) ( - on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 09:53 am:

That's interesting and worth following up, although after this much time I don't know where you could start.

But remember, serial killers are always driving around, often aimlessly. Most have "rape-kits" of one form or another so pre-cut rope wouldn't suprise me.

By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) (dpc6682009023.direcpc.com - on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 02:25 pm:

Several other frightening aspects of the case I mentioned. As you say, Warren, serial killers, at least organized type, may often have 'supplies' handy most of the time. But this guy, named as Robert Horton in the book (I assume that is his real name) had NO OTHER RECORD ANYWHERE! But it sure sounds like he had practice with other crimes, this does not sound like his first.
The other thing is he had a background squeaky clean like Ridgeway. In fact, his alibi for the Green River killings was that he was at sea on a nuclear submarine serving as part of the boats medical staff. IT was an Ohio class submarine, which means missles, which mean nukes. True, his job had nothing to do with missles or nukes, but somebody who did such a violent crime handy to nuclear weapons. VERY SCARY!!

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (cache-dk01.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 04:02 pm:

Go back through the San Francisco Chronicle far enough, and you'll find the letter that Gareth Penn wrote to the editor, his first published comment on the Zodiac Killer. It's a very interesting read.

By Jake (Jake) (cache-rh01.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 10:05 pm:

Whoooah now -- I thought I had all of his stuff! You got a date for that, Alan? A year, even?


By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (cache-mtc-af02.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 05:12 am:

I'm not of a mind to dig through my "files", they consist of a pile of boxes in total disarray. The letter was cited, including month and year, at the tail end of that CALIFORNIA magazine article. It's how I derived Penn's identity from the "George Oakes" nym.

Penn, of course, erroneously deduced that Ken Narlow had told me who "Oakes" was. The fact is that Ken Narlow never returned my calls, a clear mark of superior time management skills in a cop.

Penn's theory at the time is very interesting and worth the trouble of looking up. It is at distinct odds with his later work, unless his suspect had some occult connection with nukes.

By Jake (Jake) (cache-mtc-af02.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 01:06 pm:

Okay, I think I know what you're talking about here. I've got a 2-part article here called "Detectives Who Still Pursue Zodiac Killer ... And Amateurs Who Cling to the Case" (SFC 4 May 1981, pp 5-6) that reads, in part:

"Gareth Penn, a freelance writer and novice detective from Napa County, recently presented both [SFPD Insp. Jim] Deasy and [Napa Cty. Capt. Ken] Narlow with the novel theory that the Zodiac was a nuclear weapons expert stationed at Travis Air Force Base during the period in which the Zodiac was active.

"Under this explanation of the crime, the cross-hair design that Zodiac used on his letters, cards, and ciphers is actually a symbol that is used in targeting nuclear bombs, and the place where each murder occured can be plotted by drawing lines on an aerial map."

Penn mentions this a bit in T17. The Z-symbol, among its many uses and appearances, apparently serves as a map notation among Strategic Air Command types to identify Soviet missile silos for potential B-52 raids, and in their parlance is called a "reference point." Put this together with the "RP" on the return address of the Red Phantom letter and Penn's early theory that Travis AFB was the apex of one or more Z-significant radians, and you get ... well, something.

Anyway, I just wanted to make sure that you weren't referring to a letter-to-the-editor type of thing, which would no doubt be a gas. Sorry for getting off topic here, folks.