7-31-69 Letters

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: Letters: 7-31-69 Letters

By Tom Voigt (Admin) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - on Monday, August 26, 2002 - 08:45 pm:

Interesting how Zodiac included much more detail in his 7-31-69 letter to the San Francisco Chronicle than he did in his 7-31-69 letters to the San Francisco Examiner and Vallejo Times-Herald.

The Chronicle letter contains more detail regarding the "girl on the 4th of July" murder as it gives the location.

The Chronicle letter is the only of the three that mentions "in this cipher is my identity".

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) ( on Monday, August 26, 2002 - 09:12 pm:

The Chronicle had a bigger audience.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - on Monday, August 26, 2002 - 11:04 pm:

I'm not questioning why Z wrote to the Chronicle, just why he left out the "in the cipher is my identity" detail to the other newspapers.

By John Prisk (Prisk29) (dsc05.lbv-ca-3-93.rasserver.net - on Monday, August 26, 2002 - 11:38 pm:

Perhaps the Chronicle note was the last one to be written; and as such had personal revisions not written into the first two.
Could that say something about the location of the killers home? Maybe he would write to the one closest to his home first, subconsciously of course. Anyway that kind of thing can be determined?

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (162.philadelphia05rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, August 26, 2002 - 11:42 pm:

Actually, the word he used was "idenity." I think it's obvious that these letters were composed one at a time without copying from a master. It's almost as if he did each one as a discrete unit, placing it in its envelope, before moving on to the next one.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - on Monday, August 26, 2002 - 11:50 pm:

Doug, that might be. However, Zodiac managed to include other key components in all three letters. Why not the significant detail about his name being in the cipher?

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - on Monday, August 26, 2002 - 11:58 pm:

Prisk, the main selling feature to the newspapers of his initial three-part cipher was the idea that his identity was concealed within.

It would be unbelieveable to me if that crucial detail merely slipped his mind...

By John Prisk (Prisk29) (dsc05.lbv-ca-3-93.rasserver.net - on Tuesday, August 27, 2002 - 12:08 am:

I did'nt mean to suggest it slipped his mind. Rather that he possibly had not made up his mind as to what he wanted to include; and the details you mention came to him after one (or more) had already been composed.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (162.philadelphia05rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Tuesday, August 27, 2002 - 12:50 am:

John, that's my thought, too. He's already composed the first two letters and sealed the envelopes (perhaps because he's afraid someone will walk in on him while he's working) then has an afterthought while working on the third. Which, in this case, would suggest that the allusion to his "idenity" is nothing more than a red herring.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-19-52.bos.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, August 27, 2002 - 08:04 am:

I can't count the number of times that I have written one version of a document that was to go to three or more similar recipients, and finding myself refining it as I go along, only sometimes returning to the original to include the revisions.

As for the identity detail, I think that would have been really important if it had been true. As it is, I can see Z thinking "I know, I'll tell the Chronicle my name is in here. Hee-hee-hee" on a one-off whim.

By Zander Kite (Zk) (dialup- - on Tuesday, August 27, 2002 - 07:49 pm:

It appears to me that the SF Chronicle letter was written first. The writing is the neatest. Zodiac also includes "OVER" on that letter and not on the others. The letter is more precise and detailed, suggesting Zodiac viewed it as more important(bigger audience etc.) and made sure he got that one just right. Judging by the writing neatness and the ink etc., I would place the order at 1.SF Chronicle,2.Examiner,3.Vallejo. I don't know what to make of the cipher part choices. If my order is correct, that places the ciphers at 1.2, 2.3 3.1. The word "lyeing" is spelled incorrectly in all 3. "Cipher" is only misspelled "cyipher" in the Vallejo. I'd offer that as further evidence that the Vallejo was written last.

By Zander Kite (Zk) (dialup- - on Tuesday, August 27, 2002 - 09:06 pm:

It is nearly confirmed that Zodiac prepared the Vallejo writing last! On the SF Chronicle and Examiner, he uses: (the others) "are being mailed". On the Vallejo, he writes(the others) "have been mailed". In my opinion, that gives away that he prepared the Vallejo last.

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Thursday, August 29, 2002 - 12:01 am:

Good suppositions Zander and the other feeds.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-10407-2.linkline.com - on Thursday, August 29, 2002 - 01:15 pm:

In the Vallejo paper and Examiner Zodiac refers to himself as the "killer",but in the Chronicle letter he uses the word "murderer"in reference to himself.I would say that murderer is somewhat more of an emotionally charged word than killer-so as Tom pointed out, there seems to be more of a focus/difference- to some degree, with the Chronicle.
Zodiac certainly sounds better in regards to public perception than killer/murderer and this may have been another motivation to give himself a pen name.
As Alan stated it was the largest circulating paper of the three and obviously Zodiac was seeking maximum publicity.The code assured this also and as Tom indicated,promising the police and public his 'indentity,'(which can be defined in different ways-see dictionary) really increases full exposure and interest.He wanted "frunt page"coverage.To cement this he tries to control(the first of many such attempts) the editor by warning he will kill 12 people over the weekend if his 'deadline' of August first is not meant.Why a deadline?Hmmm.
Sending three portions of the code to each newspaper-and not the police as they could suppress it- was a masterful stroke for his public launch as Zodiac!
This whole scenario reminds me of the Confession letters that were sent to the local paper and police.And later the three(actually four as published in my book)'67 Notes.Sending a note to Joseph Bates was to a personal address just like when Belli got a Zodiac letter sent to his personal office- not the paper or police.
Kelleher was correct when he says that Zodiac was a PR man!