Zodiac's Grammar.

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: Letters: Zodiac's Grammar.

By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 10:04 am:

Have you ever had interaction with good musicians? They are trained to sound good. When they are asked to put out bad-sounding music like, say, in a movie because it’s supposed to be an inexperienced high school band or something, they say it’s the hardest thing to do. They have to try twice as hard to sound bad and sound convincingly bad. It would be the same thing with grammar. Bruce’s post is an example of everything being made bad, but it’s not convincingly so.

There are some basic principles to follow to be convincing. First off, it’s subtle things and little things. People are not out to “sound bad.” They are doing what they think is right -- only they don’t know any better sometimes. A very common example would be to use the past tense for the perfect form of the verb.
Proper example: “Every time I’ve gone to Vallejo, I killed someone.”
Incorrect & overkill example: “Evry time I done went to Vallejo I kilt someone.”
Incorrect & convincing example: “Every time I’ve went to Vallejo, I killed someone.”
“Went” for “Gone” is a common and subtle error. But you have to be conscious of this. “Done went” sounds like a caricature. So my basic point is that like the musicians, a writer trying to sound convincingly bad has placed a larger task before himself than you might at first think. It must remain realistically simple mistakes else, like a ham actor, he blows it, and you don’t believe the performance.

Tom F

By Boojum (Boojum) (151.new-york-08rh15rt-ny.dial-access.att.net - on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 01:47 pm:

There also seems to be some faint homage to the Ripper literature, with the "e"/"i" vowel transposition and certain hamhanded misspellings.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (dialup- - on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 07:57 pm:


Good job. Especially not bad for a physicist. Ask a good singer to sing off key. Ask a good poet to write bad verse. Aren't you supposed to be better with quantitative skills? I trust Sylvie will concur. Sylvie?
So where are you and Occam on the LB issues?

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb7041e.ipt.aol.com - on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 10:02 pm:

Dude, don't start this crap again.
If you can't follow the thread ("Zodiac's Grammar."), don't bother posting. And as I've stated many times, this board is public. If you have specific questions of board members, e-mail them.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-td082.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 12:52 am:

Yes Peter H, I do concur. I read papers and essays by students all the time where they often have a problem with past participles, esp. as Fife mentioned the irregulars, such as I'd went, drives me crazy. Recently I heard President Bush (W.) say "I had came here to ..."
Zodiac, however is very comfortable with his p.p.'s. Take the Stine letter. This letter is also interesting in other ways -- he refers to himself as "the man", this suggests an older male I would think (as opposed to a "guy").
He also uses "shall" instead of will, this is very English, as is "searched the park properly", reminds me of a Prof. I had when I spent a summer in Cambridge who was always berating us for not doing this or that "properly".
I would feel comfortable in saying that Z had quite a high level of formal education.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p15.as1.clonmel1.eircom.net - on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 09:48 am:

As far as being "an older male" is concerned,
at Lake Berryessa, didn't Hartnell say Zodiac told CJB quote:- "You tie the boy up".This again would surely point to someone older.
I did opine before though that when Zodiac(if that's who it was) used the terms Sisters Daughters and Wives in that order in the Confession Letter,that it may point to someone younger.Thinking he may identify most with the first term used!.However I think it was Howard who thought the Opposite was the case.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-ta062.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 11:30 am:

Right Lapumo. I agree with you on L.B. and with Howard on the confession letter. Especially when he refers to her as "Miss Bates", this implies an older man who (though a violent killer) shows a certain politesse. On the other hand this is frequent vernacular in certain states of the South.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (dialup- - on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 12:16 pm:

Dude: What crap, exactly? That did follow the grammar thread. It specifically reinforced the idea that bad grammar is hard to fake, and asked for comment from a third person, our resident grammarian, who responded accordingly. What is the problem?

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (aca4a1f0.ipt.aol.com - on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 12:53 pm:

"So where are you and Occam on the LB issues?"

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p80.as1.clonmel1.eircom.net - on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 01:25 pm:

Yes Sylvie,taken at face value I agree with you on the "Miss Bates" Issue.He does also go on to use the word "deposit"as in "I will cut off her female parts and deposit them".Perhaps a play on words?If for example her killer had known her from the BANK where she worked?Might also account(pardon the pun)for the "Miss Bates" on a name tag!

By Peter H (Peter_H) (dialup- - on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 04:13 pm:

Geez, one little BTW tacked on at the end of a perfectly germane Grammar discussion? Sorry.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb55939.ipt.aol.com - on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 04:39 pm:

Your "one little BTW tacked on at the end of a perfectly germane Grammar discussion" is what causes these threads to get off topic in a heartbeat.

Back to "Zodiac's Grammar."

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-wn032.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 12:52 am:

Interestingly, Zodiac uses the seldomly used SHALL 6 times in the first 2 pages of the Bus Bomb letter, then again on the last page. This is a very rare form of speech in the U.S., though quite common in England. Z uses the past participle often and well in this letter, except of course with "boughten", but this also I have heard in the UK. The "Happy Christmass" in the Belli letter is of course very English. The connections that I know of, if we take the main suspects, are 1)the fact that Bruce Davis was a big anglophile and had been going to England during this time period and 2)that the mother of Lawrence Kane is English. Please enlighten me if there are other "english links" with any of the other known suspects.
On the age issue -- Z refers to Mageau in the "Zodiac" letter as "the boy". This would imply (as he referred to himself as "the man" in the Stine letter), that he is considerably older than Hartnell and Mageau.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (ac916ede.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 01:05 am:

If I were going to emulate Zodiac, I could easily include subtle NASCAR and Country music references in my letters to throw people off the trail. Of course in reality, nobody on this planet can connect me with either.

Gosh, maybe Zodiac did the same thing...and that's why he wasn't caught!

I call Ed "boy" all the time, and he's older than I am.

By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-01-11.sle.du.teleport.com - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 01:24 am:

Sylvie, When males say, "I am the man." That means THE MAIN MAN- THE BOSS- I grew up in Oakland ,CA. The man is the one in charge. I still talk like that today. I'm the man. You're the man. He's a boy. He's a punk. He's a punk boy.
Believe me Slyvie it's a GUY THING. I'm 59. A guy I go to sporting events with is 34 and has his own business and one day will have way more than I do. I was an an elem school teacher(NOT MUCH DO RA ME). Even though he is 25 years younger than me, I call him" THE MAN."
I was college educated but never lost my neighborhood lingo.
Bruce D.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ti043.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 09:37 am:

TV: I think your calling Ed "boy" is friendly banter, I doubt if you called John Walsh "boy" when you met him -- right?
Bruce D., Didn't the "I am the man" thing start in the 90's as a new colloquialism? I don't remember it before then.
As far as the "shalls" go to throw people off, I really think this is improbable. Nascar and country music references would be nouns, not grammarical forms of speech. Zodiac would have had to say "Hmmmmm, I think I will use "shall" as the auxillary verb instead of the usual "will" to indicate simple future time so that I can confuse people who happen to know that this is more England English and they will be totally thrown of course."
Well, maybe but in my opinion, doubtful.

By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-01-29.sle.du.teleport.com - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 09:50 am:

No, Sylvie, we in Oakland were using "I'm the man-you're the man" in the 60's. I had a friend back then who lived in Chicago, they were using the MAN phrase back then also.
Bruce D

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (183.philadelphia08rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 10:02 am:

Sylvie, Kaczynski was very well read in English literature. His mother, who eventually went on to get her degree and teach English, was said to have been steeped in the classics. Part of the linguistic profile used to secure the warrant against him mentioned his use of variant British spellings.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acb57e8c.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 10:21 am:

As for others with English connections, the SF businessman's stepmother was English.

Such usage of "shall," among other words, is also common in Australia (part of the British Commonwealth, so no surprise). I therefore tend to use it quite a lot, because it sounds more formal and different than your average man on the street. I also very often pronounce "schedule" the British/Australian way too ("shed'jull") just for fun too. But I absolutely refuse to spell words their way, but unfortunately do so once in a while anyway (old habits have a tendency to pop up every now and then). My point is though, that Z needn't have had an English connection, but could have had an Australian connection instead.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-te031.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 10:23 am:

Bruce, that is interesting, I was born in Oakland and was always proud of it -- SLY, CCR, -- it could have originated there. BUT I do not believe Zodiac was using his "I am the man" in this fashion.
Doug, thanks for the info. "I shall" is certainly very Dickens, Austen, or any classic English author.

By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 01:12 pm:

Bruce D,

I agree with Sylvie's last post about Z's use of man.

This "I am the man" you're talking about is a Black thing more than anything else. As in "I'm working for The Man." "The Man" was the boss man. The guy in charge, with authority. I do not remember it being used outside of this sense before it mutated into this sense you are talking about maybe in the 80s.

Of course mutations always have to start somewhere and take time to spread, but I really, really doubt the usage you are attributing to The Man could have been in common parlance in 1970.

Tom F

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p98.as1.clonmel1.eircom.net - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 01:14 pm:

Bruce wrote:-"I still talk like that today.I am the man,YOU'RE THE MAN "and "A guy I go to SPORTING EVENTS with".Oh no, please tell me your not the guy stalking the Professional Golf
circuit shouting his head off every time someone takes a shot.LOL
Seriously,a lot of the grammar attributed to be of English origin could also be Irish.The term"fiddle and Fart around" is certainly not uncommon in Ireland

By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-02-40.sle.du.teleport.com - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 01:24 pm:

Fife,I'm a white man and you're saying I'm talking like a black man. How come all the white guys I grew up with
talked liked that. You and Sylvia may have studied or observed certain things in the culture.BUT I LIVED THEM!!! THIS WAS THE WHITE CULTURE I GREW UP WITH IN THE 60's! 60's! 60's! 60's!
Bruce D

By Boojum (Boojum) (135.new-york-08rh15rt-ny.dial-access.att.net - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 01:42 pm:

I hear ya, Bruce. We used it in the 60s here on the East Coast. "The Man" goes back to the 50s, at least.

By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 02:17 pm:

Bruce D,

I wasn't trying to be anything other than observant and objective. I was not intending to offend.

Bruce, I lived it, too. It was not a part of the white culture I grew up in. When I first heard it, it only came from black guys. I actually have very distinct memories of coming across both usages. They were decades apart. I find it hard to think of a white guy talking about working for The Man, whereas I know for a fact black slaves talked about The Man and I think it naturally transferred to the boss man. It wasn't until songs like Proud Mary "Working for The Man every night and day..." that I heard kids on the street really using it.

I just consulted Webster and it says "The Man" is black street usage for "the white society" and "the police." That is precisely how I encountered it.

Now take the sense in which you are using it. I never encountered it until many years later and I remember remarking to myself then how it had mutated and now they are asserting one of themselves as "The Man." I don't see that shift taking place without first the shift in black culture to being able to say that one of them was "The Man." That didn't occur until the 80s -- in my memory.

Again, I don’t think there is a doubt that the origin is black. It very well could have been that you guys in Oakland, being white, mutated the meaning early. I don’t know. I do know when it hit main street America and how it hit it, and it was as I just related.

I really think that the British thread to this is more fertile ground, though.

Tom F

By Oddball (Oddball) (tnt10-216-180-66-64.dialup.hiwaay.net - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 02:23 pm:

If Zodiac was indeed an avid filmgoer, could the "Englishisms" in his letters have been an attempt to copy the speaking style of a favorite English actor? Just a thought.


By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (dialupg152.ptld.uswest.net - on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 03:44 pm:

All Zodiac had to do was include in his letters a few fake, subtle "clues" to his identity. Doesn't mean he's British.

Since we will never really know unless he is caught, what is the point of all this speculation and theorizing?

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-te081.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 01:31 am:

Because we may actually come to some valid conclusions.
But really Tom V., I hate to break it to you but every single thread on this board - past, present and future - is speculating and theorizing.

By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 09:21 am:

Of all the Briticisms that are mentioned I can let the "shall" usage slide as just someone trying to sound formal and proper. The one that really bothers me is "Happy Christmass." In America it is always Merry Christmas. In Britain I have heard both, but almost always "Happy." I can't think of anyone in America, particularly in 1970, saying Happy unless he had some contact with Britain or the British.

The other day I sat through a screening of the film Shadowlands in which there is a small group of people enjoying a Christmas meal in England, and they said "Happy Christmas" to each other. After the movie was over, I asked my fellow viewers if they recalled how they expressed Christmas greetings to each other in the film. Ten out of the twelve said "Merry Christmas." Even after hearing Happy they fetched it back up as Merry. Z either had some rather close connection to Britain or he was more observant than the average Joe.

Tom F

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-ta074.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 12:16 pm:

Tom F, That's so true -- you have to know what you're writing about in the first place, before you can go on to intelligently "make it up" (if that's what Z did).
Sandy brought up an interesting point in a recent post, she said that Happy Christmas may be a cross between Happy Hanakah and Merry Xmas. This could apply to Lawrence Kane as he is 1/2 Jewish--1/2 Christian (plus British roots).
I will repeat my belief that these letters are of the utmost value to determining who Zodiac is. Any psycho-linguist can tell you that. Letters are really windows to the soul.
If we are to go along with the reasoning that these are all fake clues, then we might just as well say that every single word is written to mislead, so why not put these letters thru the shredder? In this case the real Z may actually be a 50 yr. old cross dressing housewife from Winnemucca. LOL

By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 12:58 pm:

In performing some textual research on authorship a while back, I wrote some stylometry programs. This is the method they used to determine who wrote the Federalist Papers. I have fed all of Z’s writing that I can find into these programs. The volume is marginally small, but the biggest problem I have is in being able to find texts written by any of the suspects. If I could come up with some written material from any of these guys I may be able to set some probability on authorship. Does anyone know of existent text from any of these gents?

BTW, the general scheme is to observe frequency patterns in non-contextual words, like “the,” “in,” “of”… They become like a fingerprint of the author.

Tom F

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb73188.ipt.aol.com - on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 01:04 pm:

Wow, that's fascinating.

By Boojum (Boojum) (27.new-york-08rh15rt-ny.dial-access.att.net - on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 01:34 pm:

There's a lot of material by Mike O'Hare around, and, of course, Gareth Penn. There's bound to be something around by Arthur Lee Allen, but getting at it won't be easy, I'm sure. Some of Manson's stuff is in a book called THE MANSON FILE, I don't know where you could get at anything by Bruce Davis.

That's a very interesting method you've got there, Fife.

By Linda (Linda) (207-172-74-29.s29.tnt2.fdk.md.dialup.rcn.com - on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 02:44 pm:

Tom F... Of all the suspects, Ted Kacyznski is the one who has a "need" to write…which is what I feel Zodiac had to do…it was his way of of identifying himself to the world…it was his way of having someone pay attention to him. If you read all you can about Ted Kaczynski from his youth to his capture, you will find that Ted had a need to communicate with people by the only way in which he felt comfortable (through writing). You can find copies of Ted's Manifesto, professional papers, letters to newspapers and/or victims of the Unabomb attacks, in addition to personal letters written to friends AND numerous excerpts from his hand-written and coded diary. Many can be found on the internet or in a number of the books written on the Unabomber.

Douglas' "Unabomber/Zodiac" website features a "comparison of styles" page (See: http://home.att.net/~mignarda/style.html) in which similar phrases and/or style of writing from both Zodiac and Ted Kaczynski are identified. Additionally, within his site is a section of "Linguistic Analysis" being developed by Forensic Linguist B. Becker. (See: http://home.att.net/~mignarda/analysis.html).

Not trying to be redundant, but as I have said many times in discussing the Zodiac case… they key to solving the mystery of the Zodiac is in the writings!

I think your idea of obtaining known, written material on EACH of the SUSPECTS and analyzing each and every one is a great idea! Good luck in finding sufficient, available material to analyze on each of the suspects! I'm very interested to know what results you come up with!


By Linda (Linda) (207-172-74-29.s29.tnt2.fdk.md.dialup.rcn.com - on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 02:55 pm:

Sylvie... Sometimes, just for fun when writing a card around the holidays, I'll say, "Happy Christmas & Merry New Year!" I think just to be a little different on occasion, people mix usual phrases up a little... just for fun.

And, I agree with you that most everything we discuss is speculation and theorizing... hoping to brainstorm and maybe come up with some new clue that might lead to solving the Zodiac crimes!


By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (11.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 03:44 pm:

The classical literary work "A Christmas Carol," first published in 1843, contains not a single instance of the term "happy Christmas." "Merry Christmas," is used exclusively throughout.

By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 06:06 pm:

As a note: Stylometry is different from linguistic analysis in that it is more objective. The simplest basic method is to divide a text up into equally sized sub blocks and count the non-contextual words in each block. Determine mean and standard deviation. Find words with small SDs and do statistical comparisons between the candidate author and known authors. More the text the better. It has been shown that such signatures have been stable for authors over their lives and even when they are writing in different “styles.” This is how it is more objective than comparing text and musing over the construction and such. This is precisely the sort of investigation where it has worked well in the past: a questioned text and a list of candidate authors. Police investigators have added it to their arsenal of tools, but it was in its infancy in the mid-60s. I am thinking it may never have been performed on Z’s text. I found a copy of K’s Manifesto on the net. I can give that one a spin. In the past I have successfully used it to show an incorrect crediting of authorship.

By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-01-29.sle.du.teleport.com - on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 07:48 pm:

I can't understand why somebody can't interview Ted K. He wants to die. He was denied a new trial, and that disappointed him because he doesn't want to spend his whole life in jail-That is worse than death for Ted K. I bet he would be happy to lay claim to the Z killings if that could get him the death penalty. Let's TALK TO TED K. THE MAN WHO SAID HE WOULD RATHER DIE THAN SPEND FOREVER IN JAIL.
He won't get a new trial so the only way he can get his wish is to be found guilty of the Z killings. SOMEONE INTERVIEW HIM LET'S STOP SPECULATING. GET A LAWYER TO TALK TO TED AND THEN WE CAN GO FROM THERE!
Bruce D

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-tc051.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 08:55 pm:

As Douglas notes in his site, Ted K steadfastly refuses to talk about the Zodiac crimes. Ditto for Manson friend Bruce Davis. That is the one I'd really like to see interviewed on Zodiac. When I found out that when he was arrested in 1970 he had a crew cut, I started giving him a closer look. (As much as things fit, I had a problem getting past his long hair). As preposterous as it may initially seem at the onset, I believe he is a very good candidate. But this belongs on a different thread.
BTW Douglas, I am told by my English friends that "Merry Christmas" is the very old way of expressing yuletide greetings, and that for many decades the usual way has been "Happy Christmas".

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (spider-ntc-tb034.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 09:07 pm:

Who cares if Bruce Davis had a crew cut in 1970?
Davis was arrested in October of 1969 with long, stringy hair.

Sylvie, for such an avid reader you sure don't retain much.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (16.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 11:41 pm:

Sylvie, you got to your English friends just before I did. The one with whom I spoke affirmed that "Happy Christmas," is now in usage, and that "Merry" implies consuming alcoholic beverages, which not everyone in the Christian community approves of (although why this should be I can't say, because the founder of Christianity was quite an imbiber himself!). A similar change in usage can probably be seen in this country, where people have taken to saying "Happy Holiday," in lieu of "Merry Christmas."

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (16.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 11:48 pm:

Fife, I've got plenty of "non-Manifesto" material at my site, and you can find some quoted journal entries at http://home.att.net/~mignarda/psych.pdf.

Bruce, Kaczynski has stated that death would seem preferable to life in prison, but he has also stated that death is preferable to being labeled a "sicko." The latter sentiment has been backed up with action. I strongly doubt whether he'd do anything to take credit for the Zodiac crimes, no matter what the circumstances. After all, the Unabomber is a principled killer, with lofty, philosophical motivations and an steady base of loyal "fans." Zodiac is basically a "sicko."

By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-01-29.sle.du.teleport.com - on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 01:09 am:

The real sicko and coward was the Unibomber.He had no balls .He killed from afar. Z was a killer who killed up close and personal. The only fans that the Unibomber had were other SICKOS w/o guts who had to be far from the real action. Don't get me wrong ,but I'd rather be in a foxhole anyday of the week with Z than Ted.
They were both wrong.
Z was a madman who got right in your face!
Ted was an intellectual with the guts of a worm
Bruce D.

By Ryan Olesin (Ryan) (d141-193-74.home.cgocable.net - on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 01:28 am:

Hey Bruce,

Why would you want to be in a foxhole with Z if he was the one who got in your face?

I'd rather be in a cab with Ted than Z anyday. :)


By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-01-29.sle.du.teleport.com - on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 01:41 am:

Bruce D

By Boojum (Boojum) (106.new-york-06rh16rt-ny.dial-access.att.net - on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 06:37 am:

It doesn't take much courage to blitz attack unarmed kids or cap a cab driver from behind, Bruce. Z would most likely wet his pants if somebody pointed a gun at him.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (175.philadelphia08rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 07:24 am:

Neither Ted nor Z would wet his pants in a situation requiring courage. Bruce, you obviously don't know anything about Kaczynski except what your imagination has derived from your preconceptions concerning killers. Not liking people doesn't equate into a fear of people. And Zodiac's blitz-style attacks were just about what one could expect from someone who had the mentality of a bomber but no bombs with which to work.

By Boojum (Boojum) (93.new-york-06rh16rt-ny.dial-access.att.net - on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 09:09 am:

Let's get back to the subject at hand, this idolization of murderers is ruining the taste of my beer.

By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-01-22.sle.du.teleport.com - on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 10:01 am:

Doug, You say I obviously know nothing about Ted K.
Well one thing I know, you are what Parry Haskins said you were . Now you've cast the first stone toward me personally.I usuasally don't get personal. How dose it feel. But I guess Ted Z is most of your life. GET A LIFE!
Bryce D

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (8.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 11:17 am:

Very funny, Bruce. I can't tell you how hurt I am, but I suppose I deserved it.

By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-03-07.sle.du.teleport.com - on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 11:20 am:


By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (115.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 01:24 pm:

Fair enough, Bruce.

Speaking of cowardice, I can't really think of any murderer, serial or otherwise, who commits his crime in a "heroic" way. With the exception of suicidal mass murderers, they uniformly seek easy victims and plan their crimes in such a way as to minimize risk to themselves. Sexually sadistic killers, of course, want to get their hands on their victims--that's how they get their jollies, and in many cases the murder itself is only secondary to the outrageous acts they force upon those victims. Consequently, we wouldn't expect to see that kind of killer turn to bombing, even though bombing is a far safer means of avoiding capture. Mass murder types, on the other hand, might very well resort to bombing as a safer methodology, depending on (1) whether they have the ability to create bombs; (2) the immediacy of their desire to kill and (3) the strength of any suicidal impulses.

By The Fife (Thefife) (hsa119.pool009.at101.earthlink.net - on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 03:18 pm:

First of all, thanks Tom V for adding the post of Allen’s personal letter. That is invaluable material. Do you have any more text like that to add to the mix? As you can see below there are some similarities with Zodiac and a larger sample size would help.

I have run that text through the preliminary part of my analysis along with Zodiac and Kaczynski (Manifesto). The comparison of mean occurrence in 100-word blocks follows:

    The in of a/an and but though that which
Zodiac   2.02 0.65 0.77 0.70 0.96 0.15 0.03 0.31 0.04
Allen   0.34 0.11 0.23 0.10 0.13 0.03 0.00 0.05 0.01
Kaczynski   13.62 5.63 10.42 9.77 6.42 2.02 0.04 4.98 0.42

This just on the surface seems to exclude K from being the author of the Z letters. For example, K used "the" 13 times in every 100 words as opposed to Z's 2. I have not passed the raw cells through the statistical analysis yet, but K sticks out as radically different from Z. Allen on the other hand was a very small sample, but compared to K is roughly in the same order of magnitude. Like I said, if I could get some more Allen samples I could make a better calculation.

Likewise, if I could get samples of text known to have been authored by any of the other guys.

I want to remind you and stress these are just simple means. I have yet to actually analyse these data, but I wanted to show the stark visual distance of K from Z just with this.

BTW, is there some good volume of non-Manifesto K? It is not impossible he was quoting a lot in there without attributing it all. I'll hack at this a bit more.

Tom F

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-tb021.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 03:54 pm:

Tom F.,
That really IS fascinating. I know the expert that correctly attributed PRIMARY COLORS to Joe Klein used a similar method. (BTW, with the same method he attributes the JonBenet ransom note to Patsy).
I would like to see the Key though as to what percentage would relatively assure authorship.
There is a woman on this board who had been penpaling with Allen. Maybe she could privately e-mail you some more writing samples.
Don't forget Penn's writing is easy enough to find. And Howard I am sure has something of Davis.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (231.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 03:58 pm:

Tom, in what kind of language does a person use the definite article .34 times in 100 words? Latin, perhaps? Russian? The 2-page letter recently posted by Tom has it at least 24 times.

You need to show us what exemplars you used, and how big a chunk of each.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (232.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 05:40 pm:

I didn't mean "Tom," I meant "Fife." Sorry, Tom.

By The Fife (Thefife) (hsa011.pool012.at101.earthlink.net - on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 08:48 pm:


Thanks, for pointing that out. I reported the wrong line of numbers for each man. I had to manually pull the intermediate numbers and got the wrong lines -- ended up with the relative deviation. This is the actual means as I meant to report.

  the but though that which a/an in of and
Allen 0.057 0.005 0.000 0.010 0.003 0.017 0.018 0.035 0.023
Zodiac 0.053 0.004 0.001 0.008 0.001 0.017 0.016 0.018 0.024
Kaczynski 0.032 0.006 0.000 0.013 0.001 0.027 0.016 0.028 0.018

See how close Z and Allen are on “the” and how far K is from them -- the same with “a/an,” and “and.” Articles are often a good indicator of a different author. Like I said, I'll continue with the real statistical work.

And if anyone does have other samples of text from anyone I'd love to run them through and include them. The accuracy goes up with sample size.

Tom F

By The Fife (Thefife) (hsa011.pool012.at101.earthlink.net - on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 09:01 pm:


I am not quite sure what you mean by assuring authorship.

Usually you have a questioned document and some candidate authors. You look for non-contextual words that have small standard deviations and of good usage. Then you can run some statistical analysis on the compared texts and come up with probabilities of error if you reject that the person is the author. Then you can compare these probabilities. Usually someone sticks out like a sore thumb. Right now with what I have, it's looking like Allen. I really wish I had more samples of him and others.

Another question that this technique answer is if there are multiple authors or an intrusive author.

Tom F

By The Fife (Thefife) (hsa041.pool012.at001.earthlink.net - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 12:25 am:

Preliminary calculations using the texts I have available show that I can't eliminate Allen or Kacsynski as the author of the Z letters, but it appears that Allen is at least three times more likely to be the author than K.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (207.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 12:51 am:

Fife, you need to show us the exemplars you used and how much of each.

By The Fife (Thefife) (hsa133.pool013.at001.earthlink.net - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 08:05 am:


I used all the text I have from each person.
For K, the Manifesto minus the footnotes and any quotes. [30,633 words: very good sample size]
For Allen, the two-page letter from prison that Tom recently posted. [672 words]
For Z, I used all the prose from all his letters minus the List Song Parody. [3075 words]

I broke each text stream into 100-character cells and performed frequency counts on each cell for a list of non-contextual words. At the same time, I calculated the mean and standard deviation for each word for each author and presented the means to you. This was all the simplest of math. Multiply those probability mean numbers by 100 to get average expected count per 100 words.

Later I went back and did a quick Chi-square test of each against Z. I see that for the material I have and the words tested so far, I don’t have enough to reject either as the author, but the odds are riding on Allen being the one. This is even visually noticeable. The chi-square calculation for Allen was extremely small, which roughly means, you would be extremely wrong in rejecting him as the author.

Completely ignore that first post I did. I was manually copying numbers from the screen and picked up the wrong line. The second posting of means is the set I was actually using.

Like I said before, more text in the samples helps.

Let me know if you have any more questions or comments.

Tom F

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (12.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 09:29 am:

I agree. Larger sample sizes will get you better results. What you've done is compare a 30,000+ word document by Kaczynski with an exemplar by Zodiac that's only a tenth of that, and one by Allen that's only a fiftieth of it. Something tells me that the results would "even out" quite a bit, given larger sample sizes from Zodiac and Allen. We may eventually get that from Allen, but Zodiac's are all we'll ever have.

Microsoft Word has a feature called "readability statistics" that comes with its spelling and grammar checking tool. Applying that feature to selected paragraphs of similar length by Kaczynski, Zodiac and Allen offers some interesting insights, not least of which is Allen's use of passive voice, unlike Zodiac and Kaczynski, who steer well clear of it (this is uniform throughout all the exemplars; not just the ones I used). Also (and this is borne out by visual assay) Allen's sentences are far less "wordy" than either Zodiac's or Kaczynski's. You can see the results of this analysis at http://home.att.net/~mignarda/ZKA.pdf .

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ti072.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 09:30 am:

Tom F,

Very, very interesting! I know this is a stupid question, but I'm wondering what kind of results you've ascertained when using control subjects? Is there still a margin of error? If so, what kind of percentage are we talking about? Can you give us an example of results obtained using control subjects? I know you mentioned the Federalist Papers, but do you have examples where the author/s and text/s are known beforehand?

Sorry, I know that was more than one question. But I'm not familiar with the procedure you're using and am interested in knowing more about it.

Good stuff! And I'm not just saying that because I believe that ALA is the best suspect.


By The Fife (Thefife) (hsa070.pool010.at001.earthlink.net - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 09:58 am:


I was wondering how long before someone would bring that sample size up. Things don’t “even out” they settle down. Standard deviation helps in getting over your sample size problem. That plus a second processing I made of K's work.

I broke the Manifesto into several units of 3000 words each (matching our sample from Z) and they each settled down nicely to essentially the same means. None of the parcels deviated very far from home and none very close toward Z. So I had 10 Z-sized samples of K, and none looked like Z any closer than another.

Also, I was surprised how well Allen's text settled and I was secondarily surprised at how closely it settled on Z's means. I honestly did not expect that.

Don’t get wrapped about the axel with those readability calculations. All that sort of information are red herrings to the matter before us. We are looking at non-contextual words that have been displayed to be better indicators of authorship than trying to follow sentence structure and divine an answer.

The most interesting thing I can think of for K’s case would be to find lots more and different samples from him and see if we can come up with anything that looks like it deviates toward Z any more. Right now, given K and A, I have to give it to A without batting an eye.

Tom Fife

By The Fife (Thefife) (hsa070.pool010.at001.earthlink.net - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 10:06 am:


The entire way this is ultimately expressed is in terms of a "margin of error" or "level of confidence." I have a couple of life's tasks to perform to-day and then be back to this later. The initial level was taken at 5%. Both were below that. However, A was much more below that than K. I want to go back and look at this a bit more closely.

Tom F

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (22.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 11:02 am:

Fife, you can't atone for the small sample size in the Zodiac and Allen samples simply by cutting down Kaczynski's to a comparable, or smaller size. You've got to have larger samples simply to indicate that the idiosyncracies of the Allen and Zodiac samples are not the result of chance.

I notice, too, that the matchups are not uniform across the entire list of indicated words. If you had keyed only on "but," "though," "which," and "in," Kaczynski would have emerged the "winner."

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-mtc-tc064.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 06:25 pm:

That's a good point, Doug.

That's why I'm trying to get a better sense of the margin of error in a controlled situation. For example, if you had a short story written by a particular author, and you were to administer this technique to four or five different authors, one of which was the actual author, what would the margin of error be knowing, without a doubt, who the real author was? Is it possible to differentiate between, say, Stephen King and John Saul, with the aforementioned method?

Even though I wasn't very familiar with the method until Tom F enlightened me to it, I honestly feel that I can distinguish between the writing styles of two authors who co-authored a book, simply by reading the text. The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub, is one such example.* Can one actually apply this method to such a work and be able to determine who wrote what, given that there are plenty of novels written independently by each author?

I love the concept, but I'd be more willing to lend it credence if I knew the margin of error in controlled situations, like those I mentioned above.


*It's a well known fact that Straub and King did not integrate their styles while writing The Talisman. One author wrote one chapter, and the other author wrote the next, etc.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (59.philadelphia08rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 07:05 pm:

I haven't got a copy of the stylometry program, but it's not difficult to count words within a text. I thought it would be interesting to compare two large pieces that I wrote myself. The first is a short satirical novel written in 1994 called "The Emasculation of Harry Toole." The second is "Dr. Zodiac," the 1998 account of the Kaczynski connection. (Note that while Mike Rusconi contributed heavily to the research, the writing effort was entirely my own.) The nonfiction work was just over twice the size of the fiction piece, but given its length (about 44,000 words)I believe the sample size was more than adequate. I searched the same words listed by Fife above, and found, to my surprise, that the results varied considerably between most of the words in the list.

Bemused, I downloaded copies of Charles Dickens's "Hard Times," (100,000 words) and his long, nonfiction work "American Notes (also 100,000 words). Once again, the results varied widely.

Just for grins I threw in a copy of Kaczynski's letter to the Montana State Commerce Department and the Sally Johnson Psychiatric Report.

Source length the but though that which a/an in of and
Harry Toole 42K .042 .007 .000 .014 .001 .031 .014 .014 .031
Dr. Zodiac 93K .075 .002 .000 .014 .002 .031 .021 .034 .021
Psych Report 22K .044 .002 .000 .021 .002 .027 .024 .035 .031
Kaczynski Letter .4K .076 .002 .002 .007 .005 .020 .015 .025 .027
Hard Times 100K .044 .005 .001 .014 .003 .026 .018 .026 .034
American Notes 100K .064 .006 .001 .012 .008 .029 .023 .038 .044

Probably the most bizarre conclusion one would make is that I didn't write my own novel, or that someone other than Dickens authored "American Notes." What seems more likely is that authors can vary widely in their use of particular words, when writing in different modes, i.e., fiction versus nonfiction.

It seems to me that there are all kinds of factors that can skew these findings, and that it would be wise not to jump to any conclusions based on them.

By The Fife (Thefife) (hsa148.pool015.at101.earthlink.net - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 07:27 pm:


You do not seem to understand the science of Stylometry or you wouldn't be saying what you are saying.

I was not atoning for anything. I was verifying that a 3000-word sample size taken randomly from K never looked like 3000 words from Z, rather begging the question: if K settled down to his normal mean in any 3000-word sample in the Manifesto, then why didn't he while being Z? Maybe it’s because he's not Z!

The SD shows the variance and therefore the chance for deviations and errors. Likewise if the SD is small enough for Z then you can't squint hard enough to make Z's 5.3 look like K's 3.2 (for "the"). Sample size is not quite so critical then. I would bet that if you did a 3000-word rolling average of the Manifesto you would never see one of those 27,000 samples looking like Z.

Also, I used all the words in the signature and didn't pick and choose to try to make anyone win other than the winner. A is winning right now, fair and square. [Besides you can't rely on words that get sub-unity occurrences per cell size. The words you chose are all the least reliable ones.]

I really don't want to burn up bandwidth here on math. If you want to continue jousting this a bit then let's do it off line.

I still think your most productive exercise would be to find more independent samples of K to see if the Manifesto for some reason is an anomaly. I doubt it, but that is what I think I would do in your place. In lieu of that, I should get a calendar and circle 5 Aug 2001 and write, ‘Today I was shown that Kacsynski was not the Zodiac and I wouldn't believe it.’

Sincerely, if you want to tilt over the math let's go off line for a while.

Tom F

Right now my belief in the possibility that K is Z is nearly zero [P(K=Z) ~ 0].
I would like more samples of Allen and some of the other suspects if at all possible.

By The Fife (Thefife) (hsa148.pool015.at101.earthlink.net - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 08:18 pm:


This shows nothing at all. All it shows is that your use of the word "the" has too much variance. It is also possible that your use of a given word like "the" became partially contextual in which case it is not in the running as a candidate word. Your use of "a/an", "that", "and" look pretty tight, though. Why didn't you refer to them??? Maybe because you like to pick and choose to make a point instead of looking at all of reality???

It is stupidity in the highest to think you are going to argue against an established science just because you don't like the results and don't understand the science. Look at Dickens. He matches so closely across the board it isn't funny. His Chi-square is 3.2 at 8 Degrees of Freedom. You have to go down to X(.10) to get close to it.

This isn't worth talking about. You just don't know how stupid you are making yourself sound.

Tom F

"What seems more likely is that authors can vary widely in their use of particular words, when writing in different modes, i.e., fiction versus nonfiction."

This is pure claptrap and further reflects vacuous thinking.

By The Fife (Thefife) (hsa148.pool015.at101.earthlink.net - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 08:31 pm:


If you gave me a text of mixed authorship like you just said and you gave me samples of the candidate authors, I will tell you who wrote which chapters. And when I was done I could tell you with what level of confidence. This would just be the Federalist Papers all over again.

Without a doubt. The example you just gave would be a piece of cake. Believe me, this is a well-worked science, contrary to the belief of some who are nursing and guarding fantasies.

Tom F

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (249.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 09:38 pm:

You're right, Fife; I can't parley with you on this, and I'll stop trying. But your approach reminds me of a very funny "Herman" cartoon I once saw. A man is sitting in his doctor's office with a knife firmly implanted in the middle of his back. The doctor, who is holding up the patient's X-ray, remarks, "according to this, it's in your left ear."

I like Kaczynski as a suspect for the numerous reasons I've laid out on my web site. Neither Allen, nor any other known suspect can approach him on the basis of psychology, criminal signature and a host of smaller details that buttress the larger ones. In the final analysis it may not be Kaczynski, but if it isn't, it's someone just like him. And it's highly unlikely that that someone was Arthur Leigh Allen.

Since you asked for other exemplars of Kaczynski's work, I've uploaded a couple that you can have a look at: "Ship of Fools," a cautionary tale by Kaczynski at http://home.att.net/~mignarda/shipfools.txt and Kaczynsi's 1971 Essay at http://home.att.net/~mignarda/1971Essay.htm.

I'd appreciate it, too, if you could supply me with a list of the individual word counts you derived from the Manifesto, and the total word count you employed in your findings. I'd also like to know which particular Zodiac letters you used in your concatenation.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb43a69.ipt.aol.com - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 09:46 pm:

Zodiac was much more flamboyant than private Ted or Unabom Ted, which is one reason I think Allen as Z is much more likely.

I like Fife's idea, Doug; you two should spar through e-mail on this.

Personally, I'm not excited about this method even if it implicates Allen. There are so many other circumstantial points against him it is hard to keep track.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-td023.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 10:41 pm:

Yes Tom V but there are also many circumstantial points against Rick Marshall, but I somehow doubt that he was Z.
But returning to this thread of Z's grammer , I'm having a hard time seeing how Allen would go to all the trouble of changing his auxillary verb from will to shall to get others to think he's probably British or at least someone other than how he regularly speaks, YET he boldly flashes around his Zodiac watch, and tells friends he's being arrested because cops think he is the Zodiac. HUH?
There is not a single use of "shall" in the two page letter, instead he chooses the commonly used (and very American) future progressive.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb43a69.ipt.aol.com - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 11:01 pm:

Gosh, Sylvie, maybe he was just a tad smarter than you are giving him credit for.

After reading his articulate, humorous two-page letter, would you have ever guessed he was capable of orally raping a nine year old boy??? Obviously, the guy was capable of altering his behavior to suit his needs.

I've said it before, if I wanted to emulate Z I would merely make a NASCAR reference or two in my letters and I bet you would swear I was an auto buff. (Which I am most-certainly not.)

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-td023.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 11:17 pm:

Let me just clarify that Allen used the progressive future when he spelled it out, the rest of the letter is filled with contractions, something that Z simply never used except, interestingly in the desk top poem. This is a form of writing that is hard to fake.
But if we follow your line of reasoning Tom, then you would have to say that Zodiac probably knew nothing about the Mikado, nothing about old movies, never even saw "The most Dangerous game", and we really have to discount "Cindy's" rememberance of hearing Allen chirping "titwillow" to himself, especially if it IS true, because Z would never be so stupid as to include a phrase that he's been known to say. No, all of these things were included to throw people off!!
Don't you see how you are contradicting yourself Tom?? You cannot have it both ways.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb68cab.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 12:37 am:

Zodiac's writings were contradictions.

Sometimes he appeared to be a drugged-up hippie spewing popular slang, other times a mature elitist exercising his thesaurus.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb68cab.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 12:51 am:

Sylvie, Zodiac did use contractions. You need to brush up on your familiarity with his writings.

Allen's two-page letter from 1975 was a casual letter to an old friend. His more formal letters from his 1966-68 personnel file showed hardly any contractions.

By Tony (Mahalo) (1cust214.tnt2.wailuku.hi.da.uu.net - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 01:17 am:

Maybe in Z's letters, he's simply emulating his British hero...Jack the Ripper.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb41225.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 01:28 am:

Those Ripper letters were fakes, weren't they?

(BTW...Tony, where in the hell have you been the last couple of months??? You disappeared faster than Chandra.)

By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-02-35.sle.du.teleport.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 01:33 am:

I believe the only authenticated Ripper letter was the one that was packaged with part of the kidney of one of the victims-ELIZABETH EIDES(NOT SURE OF THE SPELLING OR IF I HAVE THE CORRECT VICTIM)
Bruce D

By Linda (Linda) (207-172-73-63.s63.tnt1.fdk.md.dialup.rcn.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 02:40 am:

Tom F... Have you tried comparing each of the Z letters to each other to see whether the stylometry results indicate they were or were not all written by the same author?


By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (50.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 04:11 am:

We should be able to determine whether Zodiac authored the Riverside letter, or the Citizen and Count Marco Letters. Eh?

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-ta032.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 09:21 am:

Goog point Linda.
Tom V., I've read and reread all of Z's letter's, if he uses "I'll" istead of "I shall" it is most infrequent, whereas Allen uses this form all over the place. The way that Z uses "I shall".

Look, all I am saying is that you can't pick and choose. You can't say AHA - Z says "bussy work", so that goes along with him being a teacher (and it fits you your guy), then say in the same breath, Well yes, you know, that thing there does not fit because it was a "fake clue". Ever think that maybe the way of getting one to think he's a teacher was no perhaps THE "fake clue". Much more likely to play around with nouns than auxillary verb usage which is generally unconcious. Even your example of Nascar is a noun -- like "bussy work".
It weakens your own arguments when you pick and choose.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-ta032.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 09:42 am:

I meant to say "subconcious".

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb7196a.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 12:20 pm:

I simply believe Zodiac included hints about himself in his letters, but also included red herrings because he didn't want to get caught.

If you are expecting someone to match the letters 100% in personality you will be waiting a long time. Just like the handwriting, the letters were filled with contradictions.

By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-01-14.sle.du.teleport.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 12:38 pm:

Also, if Z had 5 separate personalities, the left hand may not have even known what the right hand was doing. One personality used I shall,another I'll-maybe both in the same writing. Maybe the person who was Z didn't even recognise his own literary style when he saw it in the newpaper.
Bruce D

By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 03:05 pm:


As per a remark here, I thought I would give the Riverside Confession a quick spin around the block. The bottom line is, of course, it’s rather short. Only three of the words I was using before had enough occurrence to be used. These words are “the”, “a/an” and “and.”

They came out like this (I included Allen, also):

  the a/an and
Confess'n 0.050 0.017 0.037
Zodiac 0.053 0.017 0.024
Allen 0.057 0.017 0.023

The Chi-square calculation comparing all three against each other are these:
Degrees of freedom: 2
For significance at the .05 level, chi-square should be greater than or equal to 5.99.

Confession vs Zodiac
Chi-square = 0.00235883676577197

Confession vs Allen
Chi-square = 0.0034850563174902

Allen vs Zodiac
Chi-square = 0.0000358656671628533

The idea here is that you only want to be wrong 5% of the time in saying that these two people are different. In this case the chi square number must be greater than 5.99. The chi-square numbers here are soooo small that you must expect to be wrong almost all the time to say that any two of them are different. Now this doesn’t say that they are the same, but with these data you are liable to be very wrong to say they are different people. These texts do not support saying they are different people.

Tom F
It's going to take more time to do some real statistical work-up on this, but this shows what ball park we are in.

By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 03:11 pm:


I didn't compare the letters against each other as such. I created one long text file by concatenating the text of all the letters. Then I did a study that all the sample cells of that aggregate looked like they belonged to the same population. They did. There was no reason to expect any portion of it was intrusive.

Tom F

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-ta072.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 03:17 pm:

Fife, again that is interesting. While I have a hard time placing Allen as the murderer of Cheri Jo, true, I've often wondered if the killer and the letter writer were one and the same. Maybe Allen managed to scoop up some details and then went on a letter writing fantasy.

By Linda (Linda) (207-172-76-26.s280.tnt1.fdk.md.dialup.rcn.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 03:33 pm:

I think it would be important to compare all suspected Z correspondence to each other especially since there are some that are certainly questionable...such as the Riverside letter, the the Citizen letter, etc.. I think it would be interesting to compare each of those against the KNOWN Z letters (the ones that included pieces of Stine's shirt and the letters which included cryptograms.

Wouldn't that be an easy thing to do? It sounds like lumping all the suspected Z correspondences into one (if I'm understanding you correctly) wouldn't necessarily give you an accurate account...especially if we aren't absolutely positive that every letter was authored by Z. The results should be very interesting...

Thanks for the response...


By The Fife (Thefife) (host020.bro.capgroup.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 05:41 pm:


What I did was a common practice way of creating a large sample from several smaller sources. I can try to compare single letters, but each letter except for a couple of exceptions is very short. By comparing all the 100-word cells to each other, if there is an intruder the average will shift. That’s what I look for to suspect an intrusive text.

It’s the nature of the beast that you can’t look at each word separately but in groups of sample cells. Each cell becomes a data observation. So you are looking at the text stream with a resolution of 100-word groups. I’ll have to take a look at those specific letters to see if they are long enough to calculate independent averages worth a darn.

Tom F

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (120.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 06:34 pm:

Sylvie, referencing your earlier observations about Allen, the one thing that can't be overlooked is his use of passive voice, to a far greater extent than Zodiac. The avoidance of passive voice is, to my mind, indicative of a more extensive formal education. It's something that people in academia try to steer away from, and people who have good formal educations have probably been instructed against its use. Zodiac uses hardly any at all; so little as to be almost negligible, whereas Allen, based on the samples Tom has given us, uses it in approximately fifteen percent of his sentences.

That quality by itself wouldn't be sufficient to rule a person in, but it might help rule him out. The question would remain whether someone could consciously alter that particular characteristic of his writing style.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-tb032.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 07:11 pm:

Douglas, That is a great obsevation. I agree on the differing usages of the passive voice, but not the reason why. I do believe that Allen was, in fact, extensively formally educated. I think he has two Master's degrees and that is BY FAR more than the general population. Whatever further education to obtain a doctorate would simply be a concentration in one's own particular field.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (242.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 08:06 pm:

Sylvie, there might be another reason for it; that was just a casual thought (since I don't think in hexadecimal, such thoughts do occasionally crop up). The linguist who presented the papers for my web page opined that it had a lot to do with personal evasiveness, and it might simply be an indication that Allen (or anyone like him) felt he had something to hide.

By The Fife (Thefife) (hsa107.pool008.at001.earthlink.net - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 08:15 pm:

Douglas and Sylvie,

I am failing to see the point with the passive voice. First of all almost the only part of the letter in passive voice seems to be the part describing the elevation of rodents to a Phylum and displacing primates back into the trees. The reason that people are taught not to use the passive voice is because it weakens the sense of the doer. You are eliminating information. Well this is precisely what scientists have been doing for years because the doer is not the point. All that is of concern is the action and the object of the action. This little section of the letter is in imitation of a scientific paper. Z used the active voice because the whole point of the letters was to dwell on the doer of the action – himself. Z using passive voice would have diminished himself. Of course Z used the active voice!

The other points I see are the passive used in respect “being honored” and the other “being allowed.” Since he’s in jail, of course he is going to be in a position of being passive with respect to more things than on the outside. Also, his construction here uses him as the object so he is not lost in the sentence.

For that matter, did you notice that Allen uses the + (I think, it’s not too clear) twice on page two line 1? And we know that Z was fond of this much more than &. He also makes a single stroke 8 and not stacked circles, again like Z.

Tom F

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb7bd4f.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 08:48 pm:

I already started a thread discussing Allen's letter.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-ta054.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 09:02 pm:

I would agree with your linguist, and that something he had to hide was that he belonged to the most despicable lowlife group of society -- the pedophile, a man who had abused and stolen the innocence of helpless children. One never gets the impression that Z is ashamed of himself though.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (242.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 09:07 pm:

That's an ampersand Zodiac uses, not a plus. It's very common--virtually a copy of the one I use myself. It appears to be a one-stroke character; down, up, loop left, then back to the right. He uses it almost exclusively in lieu of "and," except in a place or two where he slips, and in the Mikado paraphrase.

Notice the very large inter-word spacing Zodiac uses, and contrast this with Allen's tight word spacing. Some of Allen's letterforms are reasonably good matches for Zodiac's, but in many other respects they're quite different. The capital I doesn't rise above the lower-case ascenders, unlike Zodiac's, which is large and prominent (suggesting an ego-problem, perhaps). Allen doesn't cross his "f"; virtually all of his capital "A" formations are one-stroke, and most of his apostrophes slant to the left. His commas and periods butt right up against the preceding character, whereas Zodiac leaves a one-half or even full word space.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (242.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 09:13 pm:

Sylvie, that could very well be. Back in 1996 I spoke a bit with Vince Repetto of the SFPD, who told me he had once worked on the "pedo" detail, and related how easy it was to get confessions out of child molesters. According to Repetto, the typical pedophile actually feels ashamed of himself and, if I understood him correctly, actually feels better once the confession has been made.

By Tony (Mahalo) (1cust184.tnt1.wailuku.hi.da.uu.net - on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 03:58 am:

Hey Tom
It's busy season here for us 'Convention Entertainers', AKA musical prostitutes, so I've been trying to catch up on the board. Besides, I'm just a 'Lounge Chair Slueth' on a rock in the Pac. I really like the stylometry theories Tom F. has produced. Good work, Fife!
Were the Ripper letters known to be fake at the time of Z's rampage? I thought that was a relatively recent developement.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (57.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 09:02 pm:

Here's something interesting--the American Heritage Dictionary lists "boughten" as an American term; part of a regional dialect associated with the northern United States. See http://www.bartleby.com/61/72/B0417200.html .

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-tc042.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 09:55 pm:

Thanks for that point Douglas. That is true, it can be correctly used in this fashion, though I did not know this was Northern U.S. vernacular.
That is very vague actually, what exactly do they mean -- Minnesota? I wonder how far West, East, and how far South they are going.
At any rate, it makes sense as Zodiac has an excellent handle on his past participles.
Note: On the Z video, we hear GRAYSMITH saying "....zodiac had wrote". I just found it amusing that Z had better grammer than the author of "Zodiac".

By Ed N (Ed_N) (ac8a3215.ipt.aol.com - on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 10:45 pm:

Has anyone heard of the novel Gadsby, by Ernest Vincent Wright? It apparently has your average run-of-the-mill plot, but it's known for the fact that the letter "e" cannot be found anywhere within the text of the story (although it apparently occurs in the introduction, written by someone else). Would not using stylography on such a text in comparison to other works by Wright indicate that he did not author Gadsby? If so, can one use the same principle (consciously or subconsciously) to throw such analysis off?

By The Fife (Thefife) (hsa174.pool012.at001.earthlink.net - on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 12:32 am:


If you want to consciously throw Stylometry off then the answer is yes, you can. It will take considerable effort, but in theory you could never cover all our tracks. There are tests to do for internal integrity of the texts. But as far as Z is concerned, the science was in its infancy. I believe it was 1964 that the Federalist Papers were assigned to the proper authors. I think it is safe to assume that Z was not writing letters to throw off Stylometry. Heck, to this day people are caught all the time with it.

There was a famous comparison study of John Fowles done since he wrote in several very different styles. Two in particular were the French Lieutenant’s Woman and The Collector. You can look at these two texts and they look like night and day from each other, yet Stylometry showed that it was the same author.

To tell you the truth, right now I am very impressed at the closeness of fit of Z and Allen. And this is coming from someone who wasn’t particularly in the Allen camp. Now I am very sure Kacsinski was not Z. Allen’s the best bet right now.

Tom F

By The Fife (Thefife) (hsa174.pool012.at001.earthlink.net - on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 12:43 am:


I guess I have to disagree with you. You just described a plus sign. An ampersand is a single continuous stroke way of writing the word, ET which is the Latin word for "and." You did not describe such a character.

Tom F

I think it is interesting that you used the words "He uses it almost exclusively in lieu of "and," except in a place or two where he slips."

I guess he slipped and forgot he was supposed to be following your regiment to not look anything like Allen. Damned. Good help is so hard to find these days.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-ta071.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 01:05 am:

Yes Tom F. I understand the ampersand to be - & .
But look at that weird sqiggle in the Bus Bomb letter after talking about "the ban", I believe that's an attempted ampersand. That is certainly very different than Allen's "Glen + Kathy".

By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-01-17.sle.du.teleport.com - on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 01:07 am:

Tom F.,
Are you going to get ahold of any of the other writing specimens of the other suspects like Marshall or Kane. If anybody on this Board has any writing specimens of the other subjects please send them to Tom F.
Congrats! You've done a fantastic job so far.
Bruce D ( the guy originally from Oakland,CA)

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (ac958476.ipt.aol.com - on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 01:25 am:

Sylvie, maybe you wouldn't put much thought and effort in disguising your potentially-incriminating letters, but just perhaps Allen (if he was the Zodiac) did.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-td013.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 07:07 am:

Well if Z did, Tom Voight, if Z was that clever, then WHY would he be SO DUMB as to say he lives in a basement when he really DID live in a basement???

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-mtc-tj064.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 07:52 am:

Many people have tried to point out the fact that Allen lived in a basement, only to be rebuffed by claims of "that's purely circumstantial."

I've asked this before: When does enough circumstance lead to high probability?

I've been doing some research into stylometry and have come upon some varying conclusions. It appears that this method has been used to determine that a number of works written (supposedly) by Shakespeare were actually written by someone else. However, this same technique was also used to determine if Stephen King actually authored the "Bachman" books, and the results were deemed inconclusive. It wasn't known for sure if King wrote the Bachman novels until King himself admitted to it. What does this say about an author's ability to consciously write with a different style?


By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-td014.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 08:41 am:

If you want to ask the question "when does enough circumstance lead to high probability", them you HAVE TO take a closer look at Marshall, who as Tom V points out has so much circumstantial evidence on him that certain investigators are still hooked on him.
I personally do not believe Zodiac was either one of them, though I keep an open mind. Neither of these two were known murderers.
Marshall had the better basement.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ti081.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 09:23 am:

Yes, Sylvie, I agree. I was merely trying to point out the idea that Zodiac, while writing his letters, was at times truthful and at others less than truthful. It's probably pretty obvious that I'm high on ALA, but I'm also trying to keep an open mind. However, I admit that I'm probably more guilty of "tunnel vision" than you are.


By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (173.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 10:01 am:

Regarding the ampersands employed in the Zodiac letters, some of them may appear to be "plus" signs, but only because, having been formed with a felt-tipped pen, some of the strokes bled into the others. Allen's ampersands (if such they be) are little more than squiggles, so far as the eye can discern.

Zodiac's use of the term "in my basement," doesn't of necessity imply that he either owned or lived in a basement. Consider the quotation from Kaczynski's 1971 essay in which he observes, "For example, it will not be physically possible for everyone to have his own full-scale computer in his basement to which he can link his brain." The only thing that this suggests is that "in his basement" is the association to which Kaczynski mentally refers when considering the prospect of an individual tinkering with an unwieldy object. Growing up, Kaczynski's house was a small-sized dwelling with a basement, and that was where he probably carried out the physics and chemistry experiments described by his mother as "messy."

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-tc072.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 12:43 pm:

Yes, Douglas, that is true, and by Tom's own argument Z would have to be pretty idiotic to say he's doing things in his basement if he actually were.
I think he may be referring to "the basement of the mind", you know, one's lowest animalistic instincts.
Also, to comment on Tom V.'s post that Zodiac's style is much more flamboyant than the Unabomb Ted. This, I believe could be largely attributed to age. We're talking 15+ years difference here, obviously Ted's style would have mellowed and matured -- we all do.
I hate to use sex as an analogy but the way a man makes love in his 40's is very different than the way he makes love in his 20's.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (ac9b27eb.ipt.aol.com - on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 01:33 pm:

Here's the link to Zodiac's Grammar, Part II, to continue this discussion...

By Bruce (Bruce_D) (pm3-02-13.sle.du.teleport.com - on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 03:33 pm:

If a man is super kinky in his twenties, he will be also in his forties unless he takes drugs or drink which can alter it. By this I meanwhat if quote/ unquote standard sex never really turned him on but only sex using other body parts did and still does.

By Ray N (Ray_N) ( on Friday, October 05, 2001 - 12:47 am:



Guts? Fans? Z had guts and fans? Wow, unlike the gutless worm Kaczynski, Z actually had the courage to sneak up on 16 year olds in the middle of nowhere, shine a flashlight in their faces and shoot them until he was out of bullets. Yeah, I can see where he could really have got his behind kicked there. Wow. I wish I could be more like that. Not afraid to step right up and shoot someone in the back of the head while he was driving a car. No wait, point a gun at two scared kids and make them tie each other up. Then stab them. Holy cow, that's courage man! That's way better than that spineless piece of crap Unabomber. Bet there were lots of other people who wanted to be like Z! Was he ever on the Wheaties cereal box? He was like...THE MAN! whereas Unabomber was a PUNK BOY! Right?

Please people. Before typing - engage brain. Serial killers are not sports teams. People lost their lives. Isn't this kind of nonsense reassuring hope for the future of mankind? If you feel comfortable making this kind of irreverant posts, perhaps you need a new hobby like pulling legs off insects?

The BS Sheriff

[Flameproof suit already donned.]