Zodiackiller.com Message Board: Letters: Handwriting...

By Anonymous (spider-wn063.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, August 19, 2000 - 05:09 am:

Is there any way to post a handwriting sample? I would like to get some feedback on how it compares to the Zodiacs... Thanks , J

By Tom Voigt (ac8a205b.ipt.aol.com - on Sunday, August 20, 2000 - 12:39 am:

Send me the handwriting in gif or jpeg format.

By Debra ( on Tuesday, August 22, 2000 - 03:53 pm:


Have you received any samples yet?

By Tom Voigt (ac9cab52.ipt.aol.com - on Tuesday, August 22, 2000 - 04:14 pm:

Yes, and an attempt is being made to gain more info.

By Michael D. Brown ( on Wednesday, August 23, 2000 - 12:11 pm:

Are there any more examples of Z's handwriting similar to the style he used in the November 8
"dripping pen" greeting card? Specifically the type described in Robert Graysmiths "Zodiac"
page 121 as the "...splotchy, manic style:"
---> "and i can't do a thing with it!"

By Anonymous (dhcp064.11.lvcm.com - on Wednesday, August 23, 2000 - 12:33 pm:

That wasn't handwriting- is was the card's printed punchline

By Douglas Oswell ( on Wednesday, August 23, 2000 - 01:24 pm:

When I was in San Francisco being interviewed for the "Unsolved Mysteries" segment on the U-Z connection, Inspector Repetto of the SFPD made a remark similar to that of of Michael Brown, above. We were looking at the folder full of Zodiac correspondences he had brought to the taping, and when we came to the Dripping Pen card he remarked "I wonder how he did that?" He was referring to the "can't do a thing with it," writing, which was obviously part of the card.

The Unabomber-Zodiac Connection

By Ed N. (spider-tq052.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, August 23, 2000 - 02:48 pm:

Good thing you mentioned that. Not having seen anything other than reproductions (certainly not the original), it's impossible to tell. I had always assumed that it was Z's writing, and never thought to ask anyone about it.

By Micchael Brown ( on Wednesday, August 23, 2000 - 03:32 pm:

"and i can't do a thing with it!"
I feel so silly! I was certain it was Z's. Which raises questions...Who made the card? Could Z have made it? How do we know for certain Z didn't make it? Where is the card now?

By Jake (Jake) (spider-wl014.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, August 23, 2000 - 08:13 pm:

Michael Brown wrote:
"Who made the card? Could Z have made it? How do we know for certain Z
didn't make it?"

According to Graysmith, the card was made by "Forget Me Not Cards / American Greeting Cards Co." for their "Jesters" line.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Tom Voigt (ac9427ed.ipt.aol.com - on Wednesday, August 23, 2000 - 10:22 pm:

A few years ago, Repetto and his partner got busted down to auto detail for doubling as bookies on the job.

By Anonymous ( - on Thursday, August 24, 2000 - 08:56 pm:

i was just curious as to how carefully the zodiac's letters were examined. The very first two letters appear to be written on regular lined paper. Does anyone know if the police had experts examine the paper for imprints or anything? sometimes when a person writes on a note pad or something the pieces of paper under the top peice will contain slight etchings from the original writing.

By Bruce D. (pm3-03-17.sle.du.teleport.com - on Thursday, August 24, 2000 - 09:52 pm:

I know Z used mutiple carbons when he typed some of the letters so his finger prints couldn't be lifted.
Bruce D.

By Anonymous ( - on Friday, August 25, 2000 - 12:01 pm:

what i'm suggesting with the "etchings" questions is this. Let's say the zodiac was a doctor or something. If we looked closely enough at the notes maybe we could see words pertianing to doctor stuff slightly indented. Or if he was a student then the first two lined paper notes might have some sign of material that would suggest he was a student. Maybe you think you descover the words "english calss-9:00am" for example.

By Jake (Jake) (spider-tj024.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, August 25, 2000 - 04:04 pm:

The two typed letters and the three written on lined paper were part of the Riverside episode, and recent announcements would seem to rule out Z's participation. While it's possible that Z committed the murder and/or wrote the letters, RPD has a good suspect for the murder, and they consider the letters to be cranks sent neither by the killer nor by Z.

That said, there is a notation in one of the search warrants pertaining to Art Allen that some blank paper found in his house, and that lab techs checked it for the indenting phenomenon that Anonymous referred to above. They didn't find anything.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Tom Voigt (ac8a3eed.ipt.aol.com - on Friday, August 25, 2000 - 04:05 pm:

I don't recall anything about lab techs checking it...

By Jake (Jake) (spider-tj024.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, August 25, 2000 - 04:10 pm:

The two typed letters and the three written on lined paper were part of the Riverside episode, and recent announcements would seem to rule out Z's participation. While it's possible that Z committed the murder and/or wrote the letters, RPD has a good suspect for the murder, and they consider the letters to be cranks sent neither by the killer nor by Z.

That said, I do remember a notation about lab techs checking for the indenting phenomenon that Anonymous mentioned. I've been looking for it for a few minutes, but can't seem to find it. I'm not sure if it was a Zodiac letter that was being checked or paper from Art Allen's house, but I do remember that they had no luck.


By Jake (Jake) (spider-tj024.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, August 25, 2000 - 04:13 pm:

Here I am responding to myself. I realized I was going off half-cocked, so I tried to revise my post, but sent both of them. Sorry.


By Colette (spider-tq033.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, August 28, 2000 - 10:14 pm:

In the 3rd Bates letter there is something at the bottom of the page that looks like a "z" to me, as in a signature.Then again maybe it was a "2" as in 2 victims, who knows?

By Anonymous ( on Tuesday, September 12, 2000 - 05:09 pm:

I have read a number of discussions of "handwriting" comparison without seeing any discussion of the differences between the (at least) two very distinct hands attributed to Zodiac: the careful printing of some letters and the manic scribble of others. Has anyone studied or analized (1) evidence that both are authentic (i.e., that they could only be the hand of the one who did the crimes) and (2) any correlations between the different hands and the content, style, spelling, chronology, etc. of the letters?

By Jake (Jake) (spider-wd071.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, September 13, 2000 - 03:23 pm:

Anonymous wrote:
"Has anyone studied or analized (1) evidence that both are authentic (i.e., that they could only be the hand of the one who did the crimes) and (2) any correlations between the different hands and the content, style, spelling, chronology, etc. of the letters?"

Z sent swatches of Paul Stine's bloody shirt in three letters. One was sent with an example of the "manic" style of handwriting (10/13/69), and another was sent with a sample of the "careful" style (12/20/69). In a few letters, these styles both appear ("Being that you will not wear some nice buttons" letter, I can't find the date right now). So I'm pretty sure that they are all from the same hand.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Anonymous (slip-32-100-21-62.al.us.prserv.net - on Thursday, September 14, 2000 - 09:18 am:

I agree. It appears that in both the 6-26-70 letter to the Chronicle and the letter on the back of the Jolly Roger card, Zodiac started out by printing every word carefully and deliberately, but then got in a hurry and scribbled the rest. This can also be seen towards the end of Z's letter to Melvin Belli.

By Anonymous (cbrg0093.capecod.net - on Friday, September 29, 2000 - 08:23 am:

Any theory on the significance of the two different styles? Personality disorder? Disorganized or undisciplined mind? Evolving identity? I note that Z's crime signature apparently went through a significant evolution, culminating in the costume and car door message at BL. I would say his MO changed, too, with Stine. Any correlation with the writing?

By Michael (ip90.lancaster5.pa.pub-ip.psi.net - on Friday, September 29, 2000 - 01:31 pm:

Different authors??????

By Thefloydboy (Thefloydboy) (proxy.buf.adelphia.net - on Wednesday, November 22, 2000 - 03:22 pm:

tom, i might have asked for this a few months back, would you happen by chance to have a copy of the map that had the zodiac cross and circle on it , the one that has the radians on it. if so think i might be able to get a copy of it through the e-mail

By Jake Wark (Jake) (spider-wg081.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, November 22, 2000 - 04:22 pm:

The map is posted on this site. Click on the "Rare Zodiac Letters" link on the main page. There are no radians drawn on the map -- that's why there's all this controversy.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Realtor (Realtor) ( on Monday, November 27, 2000 - 12:38 pm:


You asked about differing handwriting due to a disorganized personality. That made me think of something I read recently. It's in a fairly new book by John Douglas, known as the father of FBI profiling. The book's title is something like "The Crimes That Haunt Us"...I didn't buy it and only had time to skim...but there's a chapter in there on Zodiac.

According to John Douglas, Z was a very organized criminal, spending hours of meticulous work composing the ciphers and hunting his victims. He went on to say that Z's signature was taunting the police. He said that he would expect Z to have had a special place to do his writing--maybe a desk--where he had code books and all the supplies needed to write both letters and ciphers.

Douglas presents Cheri Jo Bates' case first and does not say for sure that this was or was not the work of Zodiac. He did not, however, point out any reason why it could NOT have been Z.

Anyway, since John Douglas was (I think) the first to categorize crime scenes as organized/disorganized, he would be the authority on the subject...so Z was an organized-type killer.

He also figures Z to have an IQ around 135.

I think his handwriting gets sloppy because he was the type of guy who starts out with one intention and gets distracted by what he's writing or by what's going on around him.


By Edward (Edward) (adsl-63-204-74-39.dsl.scrm01.pacbell.net - on Monday, November 27, 2000 - 03:52 pm:


In Douglas' assessment of Zodiac, he feels Arthur Leigh Allen could very well have been the Zodiac. In fact, Douglas says that Allen "certainly fits the description I would have put together: highly intelligent, IQ estimated at around 135; spent much of his adult life living with his mother, with whom he had a difficult relationship; educated in chemistry and trained in codes; a hunter who once described man as the "most dangerous game" to a friend. And he could be placed in the different jurisdictions at the time each of the Zodiac murders occurs, [and] lived near the crime scenes.

Douglas said that any good suspect in the case shares the qualities listed above.

By Edward (Edward) (adsl-63-204-74-39.dsl.scrm01.pacbell.net - on Monday, November 27, 2000 - 05:28 pm:

It should be also noted that, according to John Douglas, although labeled as an organized-type killer, Zodiac exhibited both organized and disorganized aspects in his personality. He made mention of the fact that it was most interesting that Zodiac seemed to display both intelligence and illiteracy. It should also be noted (in deference to other suspects) that the above description was in specific reference to Arthur Leigh Allen and not a "profile" of Zodiac per se.


By Ed N. (Edn) (spider-ntc-tc083.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, November 27, 2000 - 11:57 pm:

Illiteracy? I assume he means Z's intentional misspellings of words, which can hardly be thought of as "illiteracy" if they were intentional. His incorrect spellings of simple words and variant spellings of the same words certainly indicate that Z was only attempting to appear to be an insane, illiterate, uneducated moronic serial killer.

By Spencer (Spencer) (acb52aa0.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 07:00 pm:

I found a sample of Penn's handwriting from the FBI file at APBnews.com, it's one full page of a handwritten letter, dated in April 1982, that he sent to the FBI regarding O'Hare, the Harvard police, and the Boston FBI office (among other things). The page with this on it is at the following URL:


A photocopy of the envelope he sent the letter in is at the following:


I'm no expert in handwriting, but perhaps others will find value in this . . .


By Doug 2 (Doug_2) (snv-global1.corp.yahoo.com - on Friday, May 31, 2002 - 10:38 am:

Are there any statistics about how accurate handwriting analysis is? I don't think any science is 100% accurate, and I'm wondering what the possibility is of a fake Z letter being proclaimed genuine -- and vice versa.

This reminds me somewhat of an essay I once read about Jack The Ripper where the author claimed there was no single Ripper but the fact that detailed descriptions of the murders had appeared in the newspapers basically provided a clear "how to" for copy-cats, and that's what he theorized happened.

So I'm wondering if the same could be applied to Z's letters/handwriting appearing in the newspaper, which might invite forgeries that would be (and still might be) thought to be genuine. Especially Z's later letters where specific crime details are not given.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-10407-2.linkline.com - on Friday, May 31, 2002 - 08:36 pm:

Doug 2,
All one can say is that there was the top Expert on Zodiacs writing and that,of course,was the late Sherwood Morrill.He said that if he were in line at the bank and Zodiac signed a deposit slip he would reconize his writing immediately while looking over his shoulder!

He knew all the ins and outs of Zs writing and there was no one that has come close to that kind of expertise,then or now.He made it his mission in life to one day indentify Zodiac by his script.He said that he hoped that he would live to see Zodiac prosecuted for his crimes.Sad to say,that day never came for him.He carefully weeded out all letters that he determned to be fakes or copycats over the years.


Document examination results vary from state to state and from country to country, so it is difficult to render stats.Like many forensic methods ,it depends on the individual experience and mental sagacity of the expert.

You should click on Google and check it out.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p51-233.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Sunday, October 20, 2002 - 08:13 am:

Just an observation;-
I do notice a strange quirk in Zodiac writing style.In "dotting" the "i's" in some cases he is inclined to push these way out of place,high and to the right.This is most evident in the Bus Bomb letter where he pushes these so far that they appear over the letter following the "i".As can be seen in his introduction(in this letter)in the word "Zodiac", the "dot" is actually over the "a".
It is unusual! I do also notice the copy of Allen's driving liscence in Graysmith's book.
In signing his name "Arthur Leigh Allen" in 1967 the dot in Leigh is similarly pushed out to the right,where it actually appears over the "G".

Just to counter that idea or offer another observation I do also notice that Zodiac seldom or never fails to dot an "i" in any of his letters.That is with the exception of the Stine letter. There are four times he fails to do it here.This is peculiar because he does so in the introduction where the writing is large and the other punctuations and "dotted i's" are also large.The omissions are from "is" "Zodiac" "taxi"
and also from the "ing" in "waiting" !!!!!

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - on Sunday, October 20, 2002 - 11:31 am:

Lapumo, check out his link:

(You'll see another example of Zodiac and Allen dotting the wrong letter.)

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-20-157.bos.east.verizon.net - on Monday, October 21, 2002 - 09:30 am:

Tom and Lapumo:
I am sure you will be shocked to know that I have a very different interpretation of this "i" dotting angle.

In the samples Tom links to, only Allen's dots are high and to the right. Z's are ALL directly in the line of the stroke of the "i". As in "i". Allen's, on the other hand, are to the right of this line. This is because Z's writing is slanted and Allen's is vertical. SO, what may appear at first as a similarity, is actually a very important difference between these samples.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p51-198.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Monday, October 21, 2002 - 10:12 am:

Go to the "bus bomb" letter.Zodiac's hndwriting is slanted and in several instances the "dot" does follow the line of the "i" as in the samples Tom links to.However there are several more instances where the "dot" is way out.
Two examples ;-
" The police shall never catch me"
taking the word "POLICE", at first glance the dot appears to be over the "C".However on closer inspection,it is as you say ,only following the line of the "i".
However look at the words "ZODIAC" and "DESCRIPTION"
the dots over "a" and "p" are a mile out as they in several other instances.
It is an unusual trait.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-17-99.bos.east.verizon.net - on Monday, October 21, 2002 - 11:17 am:

It's not a trait if its not consistent. Allen's was very consistent, but the ones you mention are anomolies. Regardless of the placement of the dot, the slanting versus vertical is a very significant trait. The only times Z exhibits the vertical lettering are in the ciphers and at the beginning of certain entries, beginning with the Belli letter, where the lettering is also very careful and neat. As each of these progresses, however, the writing degenerates into what has been called a "manic scrawl", and it is always slanted.

Allen's exemplars on the other hand are consistently vertical.

I suppose this was one reason why Sherwood Morrill concluded that the z letters and Allen's exemplars were not prepared by the same person.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p51-183.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Monday, October 21, 2002 - 04:44 pm:

Of course the "slanting versus vertical is a very significant trait". However what this whole thing is about is one disguising his writing.The idea Peter is that perhaps, the misplacement of the dot
may have been something that"slipped" in there.
Perhaps the unconscious took over and he reverted back to an old habit.Appreciate this only started with an observation,nothing more.There's only so far one can take this.However we are NOT dealing with anomolies here.He does that at least seven times on that same page.There are more examples in the Stine letter AND even in the Belli letter,with vertical handwriting.Look at the full sentence about adjusting the "triger mech".
Am off for a few days,so apologies,if I do not reply for a while.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (176.philadelphia-18-19rs.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, October 21, 2002 - 10:14 pm:

Actually, there's one trait in the Zodiac writing that appears to be unusual. Over the years I've noticed that most, if not all, people writing in a free, fluid motion, tend to create certain characters by re-tracing lines so that the character can be drawn in a single motion of the hand. An example of this would be the letter "p." The pen starts at the top of the line, moves downward to make the first stroke, then retraces that line in order to end up at the top of the stroke, where the concluding loop of the character is made. Zodiac doesn't do this. He draws the initial line, then lifts his hand from the page to create the remainder of the character. The same is true for the lower-case "b." It's been my observation that people tend to do this when writing in an unnatural or forced style, especially when attempting to write with the opposite hand.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-20-13.bos.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, October 22, 2002 - 10:35 am:

I sure don't see 7 examples of this. All but four are directly in lie or tangential to the line of the I ans two of those four are to the left, not the right. Leaving two that are pretty clearly high and to the right, and even those are consistent with all of the others in that they are no farther to the right than about the middle of the next character.

Oh yes, and that's out of 31 dotted i's on the page.

I call that an anomoly, not a trait.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p50-204.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Sunday, October 27, 2002 - 03:07 am:

Well Peter,we agree on something.A "dot" is adjudged to be out of place if it not tangential to the line of the "I".On the first page of the "Bus bomb letter" I see seven instances where I would consider the "dot" out of place.
Placing a ruler along the slant of the I the dots are not "directly in lie" in the following words;-
Zodiac line one,lies line five,killings line eleven,description line sixteen,time line nineteen, consists line twenty-two, and behind line twenty four.I see a definite inclination to the right in these examples.There are many other examples in this same letter and in other letters including Stine and also in the Belli letter where the handwriting is vertical.In fact within the Belli (although many of the dots would "connect" with the i) the inclination is to the right.
Trait? Anomoly? it happens,it's unusual!
Doug does "fluid motion" even apply here? I think not.Whether we look to the neatness of the Belli letter or the "manic scrawl" of other letters,they are all printed.Another trait here is the bad spacing between words and even letters.
Gives the impression that the author is trying to write quickly while trying to print(forced) at the same time.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (92.philadelphia06rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Sunday, October 27, 2002 - 06:36 am:

I agree; he's trying to write quickly. But he's using some kind of technique to impede the normal flow of his writing.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (pluto.cds1.net - on Sunday, October 27, 2002 - 09:47 pm:

It's that old projector thingie he used...

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (196.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Saturday, November 23, 2002 - 07:17 am:

While masturbating, of course.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p51-103.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Sunday, November 24, 2002 - 11:26 am:

Don't know whether I am correct or not but in looking at the first three letters it appears as if (looking at the thickness of the print) three different pens/markers could have been used.
The Chronicle letter in particular looks as if a marker was used.I wonder if it is possible or if in fact anyone ever examined a cross section of the letters in all the Zodiac communications to see if some kind of copying device was used.
Perhaps he worked from a smaller "pool".There was a device called the polygraph that used two pens
for copying letters.Maybe it was possible to trace over letters/words from one text to produce these letters. Just a thought.

By Spencer (Spencer) (acc182c7.ipt.aol.com - on Sunday, November 24, 2002 - 04:38 pm:

>the polygraph

In the States, a polygraph is the name used for one kind of lie-detector test. I think that the device that you're thinking of is called the "autopen." It's used by U.S. presidents, sports figures, and others to fake signatures on letters, pictures, and other items.

For info on the autopen, here's the manufacturer's page http://www.realsig.com/Autopen.htm

By Spencer (Spencer) (acbf9403.ipt.aol.com - on Sunday, November 24, 2002 - 04:54 pm:

Sorry, Lapumo, I just re-read your post and realized that you're talking about a device that is used at the time that one is writing the original (or tracing over it) -- maybe it is called the polygraph.


By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p51-176.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Monday, November 25, 2002 - 07:55 am:

Yes Spencer,the Autopen appears to be an updated version of the Polygraph first invented around 1803 by John Issac Hawkins.The original version consisted of two pens mounted on a simple frame used for copying letters.It was the idea rather than whatever device could have been used that I was getting at.I just wondered if a samle of different individual letters taken from different places could produce a match.
Like I said,don't know ,just a thought.