Letters....posting times and dates

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: Letters: Letters....posting times and dates

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p34.as1.dungarvan1.eircom.net - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 09:37 am:

Unlike Zodiac's murders,Zodiac posted his letters on just about every day of the week.While I am aware that he posted from different areas I wondered if there was ever an analysis done on the posting times,especially those on weekdays.If of course this is something that could have been determined.
Using Allen as an example we know where he worked and his hours.Some questions therefore that may be of benefit would be
1.Did he have the opportunity to post on the way to or from work?
2.Were the letters posted in the evening?
3.Were they posted while Allen was in class?
I am sure similar questions could be applied to some of the suspects!
I do also wonder about the later letters,namely the Badlands and red phantom letters.
Posted Wednesday may 8th from Almeda county and
Monday July 8th from San Rafael respectively.
Graysmith(I KNOW)attributes the following statement to Toschi--"He's not fooling anybody-no matter what his game is.There's no doubt in my mind about either one.I took them to a document expert and in less than five minutes he told me positively they were in fact written by Zodiac.
He's trying to slip letters and cards into the Chronicle without being detected".
I do not think Zodiac would have been that dumb to think these would not be attributed to him,however,would it be fair to say that these were not part of the "series".My point....could Zodiac have relaxed the rules?...could he have had a connection to either Almeda or San Rafael?
If not can it be determined if Allen and others
had the time given the day of the week or at least what time it would have taken for them to do so?

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (243.philadelphia08rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 10:05 am:

I'm not too sure what, if any, significance arises from the actual days of the week, but one thing that really stands out, in my opinion, is the extremely sporadic nature of the mailings. They occur in "clusters" of one or two letters, separated by weeks and even months. Especially amazing is the fact that it took four and one-half months for Zodiac to respond to the Bates connection.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p36.as1.dungarvan1.eircom.net - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 10:30 am:

Well for one it does not rule TK out since he had plenty of time.The clusters would also stand in his favour.As far as other suspects go there may be an instance where timing would rule them out,I don't know.Might be worth a look!.
I see where your going with CJB,how do you suggest Ted got hold of the information and when?
As far as an alternative goes...maybe he was panicked by it,knew he had made mistakes there and spent time considering any possible links and
how best to respond!.

By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 10:34 am:

I had thought about this, but came to the personal conclusion that we can never know.

For instance, the post box that is across the street from my place is picked up 6 days a week at noon. If I want an 8 May postmark, I would drop it in the box any time after noon on 7 May. I could drive to the next county after work on 7 May and get the same date on the postmark and a different PO. So I think it is easy for just about anyone in the area to drive from Vallejo to San Raphael in the evening and guarantee a postmark of the next day at that PO.

I also remember reading some place (Graysmith?) that there was an AM or PM indication on at least some of the postmarks, but this seems to have been inconsistently reported. I even noticed that some source or other had erroneously reported the date received as the postmark date!

One of the frustrating things about this case is that the reporting is so incomplete and spotty. There are a lot more details out there than have found their way into print. Good luck in you effort.

Tom F

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb7393e.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 10:59 am:

"I had thought about this, but came to the personal conclusion that we can never know."

But you believe we are going to discover if Zodiac stalked or trolled for victims?
Seems to me we won't know the answers to any of this until Zodiac is identified, and even then we may not.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (152.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 02:48 pm:

Lapumo--I think the most logical time for Kaczynski to have picked up the information was during the three weeks in early 1971 when he moved away from his parents' house in Lombard, Illinois, and headed west. His brother stated in 1996 that he left home in the winter of 1971, and in a later article stated that he arrived at his (David's) apartment in Great Falls, Montana, early in the spring of 1971, following the three weeks' absence. The three weeks between "winter 1971" and "early spring" 1971 would encompass the date of the L.A. Times letter. Since no one knows where Kaczynski was during that three weeks, and since he was heading toward the West Coast, we can surmise that he might have spent some of that unaccounted-for time in the Bay Area, perhaps catching up on developments in the case.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-td034.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 04:11 pm:

I read and reread the Zodiac letters all the time for I am sure therein lies the clues as to Z's identity whether intentionally or not. One of the subjects I teach, along with French and History is creative writing. I think Z even has some talent. I sometimes give the "little list" poem out to the students to have them critique it.(Only after do I tell them of the author).
One thing that hit me recently was the way he spoke of Vallejo, it gave me the sense that he does NOT LIVE in Vallejo but frequents and is very familiar with it. He speaks of the "good times I've been having in Vallejo". I don't think he would have written that if he actually lived there. I go to Catalina alot and it sounds like something I would write to a friend about my good times in Catalina.
So speaking of the Alameda Co. postmark, it would seem reasonable that he lived in say Oakland, or elsewhere in the East Bay.

By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-04-42.sle.du.teleport.com - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 04:33 pm:

Whereever I lived -Oakland, Concord,etc- I always spoke of the good and bad times I was having in those cities when I was still living there ,and I am not the Zodiac. I'm right now having good and bad times in Salem,Oregon. By the way I'm living in Salem,Oregon right now.
Bruce D.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb400ba.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 04:38 pm:

Sylvie, it sounds like you don't have fun where you live.

It seems obvious to me Zodiac write his letters knowing very well they would be read by people throughout the Bay Area, including those who may not be familiar with the story.

Since Z never had a letter postmarked in Vallejo, I think it is more reasonable to assume he did live there.

By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-03-40.sle.du.teleport.com - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 04:52 pm:

Also,not only did Z probably mail his letters away from his home area,here is another interesting tidbit. I lived in Concord for 29 years and worked in Walnut Creek for 29 years. They are both in Contra Costa County-BUT ALL MAIL "MAILED" from Walnut Creek and Concord(CONTRA COSTA COUNTY) is postmarked in OAKLAND(ALAMEDA COUNTY) because that is where the mail goes before it is delivered.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-tc064.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 05:06 pm:

Well you are right there Tom V., I do have to go out aways to "have fun", though shooting up couples wouldn't be my idea of fun.
Bruce D., you pinpointed my inkling --Thank You-- you spoke of the good and bad times you were "having", while "living" and that now you are "living" in Salem. Do you see?? You are using the past PROGRESSSIVE and the present PROGRESSIVE. Progressive is what you use when you are doing something continuously, sush as LIVING there ALL the time as you just said.
Zodiac did not do that, he used the simple past leading one to believe that he WENT there to kill or what have you from time to time.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (161.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 05:12 pm:

Good point, Sylvie. These are the kinds of clues that professional linguists look for, but tend to escape the average person who isn't trained to look for them.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb400ba.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 05:19 pm:

"Good point, Sylvie. These are the kinds of clues that professional linguists look for, but tend to escape the average person who isn't trained to look for them."

Doug, maybe us average people made notice, but just happened to disagree.

By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-01-12.sle.du.teleport.com - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 06:33 pm:

Well, I may be an average person,but different people use different,lingo-EVEN if they are born and raised in the same area as the rest of the people in the area in which they live.
I was born and raised in Oakland, CA and so was my mother and father. But people still make fun of me because I pronounce words ie. (INTENTIONAL MISSPELLINGS-PHONETIC) "warsh" the clothes-"arn" my shirts. -the girl is"purty,"etc.,etc. and I retired as an elementary school teacher.
Bruce D

By The Fife (Thefife) (hsa207.pool007.at001.earthlink.net - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 07:40 pm:


Here's my take on your verb tense comment. I follow your argument, but don't necessarily agree with the conclusion. The progressive form does indeed mean a continuing action, but perhaps he didn't think of the killings (fun times) as a continuing action but quite discrete events. Then I can see him using quite naturally the present perfect "have had." This is used to describe events in the past up to the present. I think you are thinking his discrete events were his visits to Vallejo whereas they could have been the discrete killings themselves. This very well could be the case if they meant a lot to him.

Tom F

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-ta023.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 09:26 pm:

Yes TF, you'e right, it is not just the use of the perfect but, as well, the feel of the sentence. I am also not sure if he would fell comfortable really mentioning Vallejo by name if he actually lived there.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-ta023.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 09:35 pm:

Sorry for the errors, I typed that way too fast.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p25.as1.dungarvan1.eircom.net - on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 02:53 am:

Tom V,
I was watching a documentary last night about Serial killers(I want to give you some detail in case your familiar with the particular programme).It was half way through when I switched on and was just finishing up on a Zodiac case in New York.They had a composite drawing of a black male, receding hair line and a moustache.
The narrator went on to say that this case was obviously inspired by the San Francisco case of 20 years earlier.The programme then went on to deal with "our"Zodiac case.It was only a 10 minute
deal,it showed Sherwood Morrill examining a few letters,Toschi on a 3 man panel ,giving a short interview.To make a long story short,it then showed a detective flicking through a folder which contained all the Zodiac letters and envelopes in plastic covers.The Halloween card for example stood out.Right at the end,just for a split second,there was an end of a letter shown
and the last three words were "ON HALLOWEEN NITE".
Not being familiar with this I wondered if you were aware of any letters withheld by police or have I made a mistake? I am confident this is what I have seen.FYI the programme then went on to deal with the Green River Killer!.

By Peter H (Peter_H) ( on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 07:01 am:


"good times I've been having in Vallejo is not the simple past. That would be "good times I had in Vallejo". The former, which is a past progressive (not a present progressive) implies continuity, possibly but not necessarily continuing into the immediate present or future. Somewhere between the simple past : "I had in Vallejo", implying I am done there, and present progressive "I am having in Vallejo", implying continuity into the future.

I think all this is a basis for predicting whether he intends to continue operating in a particular locale, but not whether he lives there. A transient (or one who moves regularly but less frequently less frequently) might use the past or present progressive about a place he was currently living but did not intend to stay forever. The simple present would indicate an intent not only to stay but to continue the activity. I think Z's use of the present progressive indicates a strong but fairly recent past presence there, frequent visits or short term residence.

BTW: what talent exactly do you see in Z? Your discussion of the "Little List" does not indicate that you or your students are aware that it is not a Z original: that it's Z's take off (which doesn't go far) on Gilbert & Sullivan, somewhat clever, but a orders of magnitude lesser in talent than the original.

By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 08:16 am:

Sylvie, Peter,

What letter are you quoting? I am looking at the SF Examiner letter of 8-4-69 and it says, "... the good times I have had in Vallejo."

Tom F

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-tc044.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 08:49 am:

Peter. Fiife,
I know I made a mistake--there I was mentioning the "I have had", which is as Tom F. said the present perfect, though I reiterate that the sense one gets from the sentence is something that happens occasionally in an occasionally frequented place.
That is the feel of it, for me anyway.
I'm aware of the "little list" take off. That is part of the excercise, to take a piece and make it into something of your own. Paul McCartney in a recent interview said that The Beatles used to do that--take an old song, change it around and come up with something original of their own, it is a form of plagerizing but then what is inspiration, it all has to come from somewhere. I like "little list" because you can put a metronome to it very well. It might be quite bizarre using Z as some sort of example of inspiration but, OH WELL, the students enjoy it.

By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 03:05 pm:


"Paul McCartney in a recent interview said that The Beatles used to do that--take an old song, change it around and come up with something original of their own, it is a form of plagerizing ..."

In the film industry they call it "paying homage."

Tell me, do you come you with any "meaning" to this little ditty beyond what it is on the surface?

Tom F

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (spider-ntc-tb022.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 04:23 pm:

You two should get a room.

Meanwhile, the board is for group discussion, not personal conversation. You can e-mail each other for that.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (dialup- - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 06:43 am:

Tom: This is at least a three-way discussion, so I hope you are not suggesting . . .

Also, I was quoting Sylvie, not any letter. In any event, thanks for the correction. "Have had"> SO we have Z speaking of the Vallejo activity not in the simple past or the past progressive, but in the past perfect. Ironically, the connotation of "good times I have had" is "good times I have had so far" rather than "I had and am done with". Further connotation is that good times had in Vallejo are "good times as compared with times had in other places," implying that Vallejo is not long the time permanent residence, but he either arrived there fairly recently, or may leave soon, or both.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-tb064.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 08:29 am:

Yes Peter, I agree, thanx for the specifics.
You are right about the connotation and I repeat, it does not go along with someone who is a long time permanent resident of Vallejo.

By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 09:48 am:


“good times I have had so far" I think is the perfect way of presenting the intent of that tense. My only problem with carrying this sort of analysis very far is that at some point you begin to cross out of the actual level of proficiency in English of the speaker and begin dwelling on improbably presumptions.

The other half of any study of this sort is to look at the totality of his writings and come up with a comfortable sense of his knowledge and use of English and compare against that as a norm and not purely proper English.

In any respect, I do believe I have noticed enough in his language that he uses the progressive and perfect tenses at least nominally correctly – that said within the observation that he likes to play with words and language almost like a personal or private joke.

Tom F

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (155.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 09:59 am:

A lesser light might have said "my good times in Vallejo."

By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 02:56 pm:

What I find interesting is Z's peculiar mixture of fairly good English, almost sounding proper sometimes, mixed with strange misspellings and oddball constructions.

I have a friend that plays with language in a similar fashion and he sits there talking with a crooked smile on his face presumably wondering if you get all of his verbal fun.

I have often wondered if Z would sit there talking to you with a half-smirk on his face – laughing inside that he’s so much superior.

Tom F

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (188.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Wednesday, July 25, 2001 - 05:46 pm:

Good point, Fife, and naturally I'd like to point out that that's exactly how Kaczynski writes in his so-called "highbrow" Manifesto. Here's just one little example:

The revolution must be international and worldwide. It cannot be carried out on a
nation-by-nation basis. Whenever it is suggested that the United States, for example, should cut
back on technological progress or economic growth, people get hysterical and start screaming
that if we fall behind in technology the Japanese will get ahead of us. Holy robots! The world will
fly off its orbit if the Japanese ever sell more cars than we do!

Quite formal and scholarly, eh what?

(Eduard will no doubt find the "holy robots" interesting from a Batman point of view.)

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acb4c81e.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 12:48 am:

As Bruce D wrote on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 04:52 pm:

BUT ALL MAIL "MAILED" from Walnut Creek and Concord(CONTRA COSTA COUNTY) is postmarked in OAKLAND(ALAMEDA COUNTY) because that is where the mail goes before it is delivered.

It hadn't occurred to me, but mail in Napa used to go to Oakland, even if it was addressed to another Napa location (go figure). I don't know, but is it possible that mail from certain surrounding counties was processed through San Francisco in the 1960's and 70's? If so, then Z needn't have made special trips to the City just to get the SF postmark, and that could also mean that he had no SF connections at all.

Peter, Sylvie and Tom F: is there really any point discussing the fine points of English grammar etc when the subject at hand (Z) is obviously not a literary giant? The average serial killer-on-the-street is probably not even fluent in English (fluency being measured by the number of words known in a language, ie, 10,000+), and probably does not have a very good working knowledge of how to construct tenses or whatever. If so, then chances are that anything he writes will be incorrect grammatically as far as what he really intends to say, such as when it comes to tenses ("simple past," "past progressive" or "past perfect," etc).

I consider myself fluent in English, reasonably well-read, and have a good working knowledge of my native language, and yet, to be honest, I have no clue about the fine points of what you're discussing. Therefore, would Z, when writing his letters, sit down and work out what tense he'd use when taunting the police? Or would he use whatever words and tenses came to mind, just to attempt get his point across? Personally, I'd suspect it would be the latter, considering how poorly most native English speakers actually communicate (stop in any AOL chatroom to see what I mean).

By Mark Coombs (Mark) (100-118-237-24.anc-dial.gci.net - on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 03:44 am:

Ed N-
You rule Doooooode, cool beans! (Sorry, I couldn't help myself). I agree, I think it's quite a reach to think that Zodiac was THAT well versed in grammar. I doubt that he would've used such subtle nuances to convey his actual residence as well as whether he had recently moved or not. Expecting the authorities to pick up on them would be far fetched also. I must confess that I also had no clue on what was discussed, I do applaud all of you for your knowledge of grammar. Now if we could just get some people at my job to get some basic spelling skills together-someone wrote "muscles" instead of "mussels"! Are we going to the gym or ordering shellfish-it's spelling bee mayhem! Forgive me for the sidebar! -Mark

By Peter H (Peter_H) (dialup- - on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 05:00 am:

As I think Sylvie would confirm, we choose most of our language unconsciously -- at least unconscious of grammatic correctness -- and naturally; that is, usages are learned by rote, by imitation and by common usage, regardless of whether we are aware of their technical correctness. Z would not have to be aware of the grammatical analysis of his various usages in order to choose them for the precise connotations that Sylvie and others have observed; children do it all the time without being able to explain why. So, Ed, there is a point in discussing the meaning of Z's English usage: he would use "whatever came to mind" and the connotations of his choices can tell us a lot, even if Z himself could not parse a sentence. You prove the point yourself when you observe, and demonstrate, that you are fluent -- even accomplished -- in the language, but are not analytically aware of certain "fine points" of syntax and grammar.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-tc081.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 08:01 am:

That is exactly correct.
Especially with aspects of time, we use what feels comfortable to put the point across, usually subconciously. BTW, ED I was under the impression that the average serial killer was of above average intelligence, Ted Bundy -- case in point (he was accepted to Stanford and that's no easy thing), Dr. Swango, etc.
At any rate, if we take any of the suspects (except Kane because I do not know his scholastic history), we have men who know grammer. Allen had a B.A. and taught (no doubt grammer amongst other subjects that 5th grade instructors teach), then we have Ted K., a Harvard grad., there is Bruce Davis, ed.of his h.s. yearbook and now with a doctorate in engineering, the S.F. businessman -- no slouch, Gareth Penn, enough said.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acb7fb09.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 05:14 pm:

Peter, Sylvie: you're quite right, we do subconsciously choose the correct grammar (most of the time), but I'd hardly say it was a foolproof way for determining anything. Z purposely misspelled simple words, and so how do we know that he didn't also purposely attempt to use incorrect grammar at times? While I might be fluent in English, I bet I can come across as being just as ignorant as an uneducated farmboy if I really put my mind to it. The point is, while such discussion can certainly be illuminating, I have to wonder if it can really tell us all that much when we consider the source.

You're also right that the average serial killer does seem to have above-average intelligence, but does that necessarily imply fluency in a given language? Probably, but then again, maybe not. I shouldn't have used the term, "average serial killer-on-the-street," I was thinking more in terms of the average moron who kills without a plan, not the Z-type killers.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acb7fb09.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 05:19 pm:

BTW, as far as Penn goes: he might be a member of Mensa, but he couldn't investigate nor argue his way out of a paper bag, if his book of tripe, Times 17 is any indication...

By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-03-12.sle.du.teleport.com - on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 05:54 pm:

Ed, Was wondering if that postmark dilemma could change anything in the way we are pursuing the solving of this case.
Bruce D.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (11.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 10:26 pm:

Ed, could you give us an example or two of how you might go about altering your grammar to sound uneducated? I'm not being sarcastic; just curious as to whether you could actually pull it off.

By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-01-33.sle.du.teleport.com - on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 10:51 pm:

I'd ruther not talk two much cuz ywal might learn me tings dat our nought wong butt inted owl here anyhows.
Bruce D-retired Calif elem. school teacher.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb689eb.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 11:00 pm:

Ed, maybe you could start a new thread for that request...

By Peter H (Peter_H) (dialup- - on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 07:53 am:

Ed: The grammar we are discussing is not incorrect on its face as is the spelling. It would require another layer of subtlety and deception entirely for Z consciously to use grammar with correct construction but incorrect or misleading connotative meaning. When he misspelled, it was obvious, and when he lied, he did so expressly. I don't think he sat at his desk and decided, "hmmmm, if I say "good times I have in Vallejo" they'll know I live here, I better say "have had" so that when Sherwood Morril and the gang get down to the short strokes, they'll think I'm a transient from Riverside, heh heh heh . . . "