8-4-69 "Debut of Zodiac" Letter

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: Letters: 8-4-69 "Debut of Zodiac" Letter

By Tom Voigt (Admin) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - on Saturday, September 07, 2002 - 02:25 am:

I find it interesting that the Zodiac chose his 8-4-69 letter to the San Francisco Examiner for his unveiling of the name "Zodiac".

Any ideas why he didn't use the more popular Chronicle for such an occasion?

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (128.philadelphia04rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Saturday, September 07, 2002 - 04:25 am:

He probably didn't have the name in mind before writing the Examiner letter, which was actually a response to a challenge put out by the Examiner.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - on Saturday, September 07, 2002 - 01:32 pm:

That's true, but by that point he had to know he was in the clear and didn't need to rush. He could have responded to the Examiner as "the killer" and then debuted his new name with the Chronicle.

I think this demonstrates Zodiac wasn't as big a planner as some like to think.

By Gregusjay (Gregusjay) (12-234-233-242.client.attbi.com - on Saturday, September 07, 2002 - 02:17 pm:

I agree Tom, I think the extent of his "planning" was to check out the crime scenes at, or just prior to, the time of attack.
I personally think that the only scene that Z pre-meditated was the Stine murder, as this murder was to serve an important purpose to him.
So I think the other crime scene locations were arbitrary or picked because of opportunity.

By Daijove (Daijove) (1cust176.tnt2.san-angelo.tx.da.uu.net - on Monday, September 23, 2002 - 04:55 pm:

It is possible Zodaic chose the Examiner because of the late Paul Avery. Avery belonged to AA and it is possible Zodiac might have met him at an AA meeting and even spoke to him. Of course Avery had no clue he was speaking to Zodiac.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-231-193-32.client.attbi.com - on Monday, September 23, 2002 - 05:01 pm:

"It is possible Zodaic chose the Examiner because of the late Paul Avery. Avery belonged to AA and it is possible Zodiac might have met him at an AA meeting and even spoke to him. Of course Avery had no clue he was speaking to Zodiac."

Let me guess: you have a suspect who was an AA member!

First of all, why would Zodiac write to the Examiner when Avery worked for the Chronicle?

Also, was Count Marco an alcoholic? Zodiac wrote a letter mentioning him, too. How about Herb Caen? Gilbert & Sullivan? Dave Toschi?

Daijove, you need to put down the crack pipe. In the last week your posts have deteriorated beyond belief.

By Daijove (Daijove) (1cust247.tnt1.san-angelo.tx.da.uu.net - on Tuesday, September 24, 2002 - 04:54 am:

Tom Voigt quoted "I find it interesting that the Zodiac chose his 8-4-69 letter to the San Francisco Examiner for his unveiling of the name "Zodiac".

Any ideas why he didn't use the more popular Chronicle for such an occasion?"
OK, my mistake Avery didn't work for the Examiner until 1983.
My point was perhaps Zodiac met Avery after the 8-4-69 letter and then decided to change newspapers after he met Avery. And yes , Bob did attend AA meetings. He may have attended the same meetings Andrew Todd Walker attended and even perhaps the meetings Paul attended; however, I dont know when Paul Avery began attending AA meetings. I do know for a fact Avery did attend AA meetings.

By Daijove (Daijove) (1cust135.tnt2.san-angelo.tx.da.uu.net - on Tuesday, September 24, 2002 - 09:38 am:

What I am trying to do is pull some threads together. The 10/27/70 card says "From Your secret Pal" did Zodiac know Avery from AA? Was Avery a Mason and Zodiac knew him from that organization? If Zodiac did know
Avery from either of the 2 organizations then that might explain why Zodiac addressed his cards and letters to Avery.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc2ac1f.ipt.aol.com - on Tuesday, September 24, 2002 - 09:43 am:

Or maybe it was because Avery had written quite a few of the Z stories at the time?

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tb042.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, September 24, 2002 - 09:49 am:

I think Zodiac exposed his pseudonym to the Examiner first because that was the particular paper he read on a regular basis, perhaps even daily. I think it's fair to say that Zodiac was the type of guy who kept in touch with the media, especially the newspapers. Maybe the Examiner was his rag of choice.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tb042.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, September 24, 2002 - 10:13 am:

"What I am trying to do is pull some threads together."

Isn't there already a thread called My suspect Bob? Pull them together over there; I'm interested to see how it develops.

By J Eric (J_Eric) (dsl081-238-156.lax1.dsl.speakeasy.net - on Wednesday, September 25, 2002 - 03:31 pm:

Back to Tom's original post: could it be that Zodiac was feeling playful and sending the Examiner--something to really "examine"? Is there anything in the 8/4 letter that ought to be "examined" in greater detail than already done? Well, on to more campaigning for me.

By Zander Kite (Zk) (dialup- - on Thursday, September 26, 2002 - 08:32 am:

Why has this thread been edited? I though the idea behind creating a thread was to kick around ideas, go places. If the question is asked why The Zodiac revealed his name to the Examiner on 8-4, it is within the thread to answer that he may have desired to reveal his name on the one month anniversary, and then show how a suspect has interesting one month connections. If the thread develops to where the question is asked: "Was the Examiner The Zodiacs rag of choice?" Maybe it was. Kaczynski launched his Unabomber publicity campaign by writing to the Examiner. That's an amazing connection to Zodiac and falls naturally into the development of the thread. All the other threads would have to be edited if this was the standard. So Tom, I have to assume that you don't like Kaczynski having such a strong connection to the thread you started. Otherwise I would have to believe you're boneheaded enough to start a thread to confirm that The Zodiac craved publicity. J ERIC: you wrote: is there something to really "examine"? It ought to be "examined" in greater detail." Please spare us. We all can keyword search Bookworms old posts if we knead any more of that.

By Ray N (Ray_N) (sdn-ap-007scfairp0366.dialsprint.net - on Thursday, September 26, 2002 - 09:19 am:


The reason threads get edited on here is because the natural tendency is for them to get out of control as you very well know. I have had some of my posts edited too. The problem you have is that you try to turn every thread you post on into a discussion of amazing connections to Ted Kaczynski. All you'd have to do is start a new thread, but you'd rather disrupt the the forum and cry foul when Tom does something about it.

I found J Eric's comments about "examining the letter in greater detail" to be quite interesting. In fact, since the change of newspaper coincides with the appearance of the name Zodiac, why might we not think that this letter is indeed meant to be closely "Examined"? Yet you write that J Eric should "spare us", this on the heels of your statement that the board should be a forum for discussing and kicking around new ideas. I submit that it is you that should "spare us".


By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (245.philadelphia06rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Thursday, September 26, 2002 - 03:53 pm:

Actually, it was I, not Zander, who broached the subject of Kaczynski and the Examiner. Not only is the connection cogent in the obvious sense, but in the fact that, like Zodiac, Unabomber committed his first murder in a city outside of San Francisco (Sacramento), yet chose to mail his "introductory" letter to a paper in a more visible market. If Scott's remark about the Examiner being Zodiac's paper of preference bears any weight, this is a valuable and highly relevant observation.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19105.linkline.com - on Thursday, September 26, 2002 - 04:08 pm:

This idea that a serial killer kills 'close'(and then fans out) to his place of residence is NOT always true!I have read and studied many cases where this assertion is simply NOT factual.
In the case of Zodiac being a probable dweller in Vallejo does not fit the fan approach in the standard and orthodox manner we've leard about. In THIS case the killer or Zodiac went PUBLIC with letters!This would greatly increase his chances of being apprehended.A killer with Zodiacs personality was deceptive and secretive.Not living FULL time in the Bay area and sending letters, mainly, with a S.F.postmark(does this mean Z lived IN this city-most believe it was a ploy),would be another example of Zodiacs duplistic,insidious ways to be sure!Remember the ciphers,fingerprint guards,disguise,handwriting,change of cars and a host of other anti detection techniques?This comes out in all the evals' from a psychological frame of reference.
It is far MORE likely that Zodiac was NOT a local resident,but an occasional visitor.The wording in his missives indicates this also.There is a pronounced detachment from the 'people of the Bay area'.Reread the letters for this indicator.
Learning-if indeed it should warrant this designation,the kill sites was easy.
In his letters Z shows a penchant for detail-including directions,etc.(lots of examples)-sometimes too much attention to detail,so this qualifies him as someone that could case an area,for say,one to two weeks and have a good grasp on escape routes,etc.If he visited the proleptic attack areas/cities/park/s,etc., at times,as I believe,then so much the easier to know the area well enough to plan(wait for a couple in a car-approach car and shoot occupants leave area-tough deal!) an attack.We are making this far more difficult than it is/was.
I can argue it either way and I think,that's what Z intended-'I have been too clever for the police''the police shall never catch me' and 'I am crackproof',etc.
I know this will still remain a hot topic of debate and should be,but after all, so is just about everthing else in this complex case!

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (212.philadelphia06rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Friday, September 27, 2002 - 03:22 am:

Additionally, Howard, I don't think it would have taken Zodiac more than four months to respond to the Riverside revelation if he had been a local resident.

By Tony (Mahalo) (hnllhi1-ar1-4-65-053-180.hnllhi1.dsl-verizon.net - on Friday, September 27, 2002 - 05:48 am:

In a case such as this, seemingly filled with loose ends, endless suspects, ridiculous ciphers, radians, and an array of different geographic mailings,ect... we're easily & quite naturally compelled to over analize every aspect of these bizarre events, Penn being the most supreme example. Surely Zodiac's intention. Lets not loose sight of the possibility that the most elementry and simple evidince may be still right under our proverbial noses. In the 8-4-69 letter, Z states that when the code is cracked, we'll have him. Unless Robert Emmett (Rodifer?) is Z, (I think not) then Zodiac is full of sh*t in this statement, as well as many others he made, all in an attempt to confuse his pursuers. The theory of Vallejo residency, the fact ALA knew & despised a Robert Emmett, the Calaveras student's 'Titwillow' story (if true), bloody knifes on the car seat, ect..are simple & elementry examples we should not ignore. Looking seriously at Z's maze, it's easier to overlook & discount the obvious. Maybe he knew of Kane's shoddy lifestyle & tried to frame him in the 'My name is..letter. He also states he will NEVER give us his true name. Making phone calls close to police stations seems a cry to look under our nose. The main message Sir Doyle states in so many of his great works is not to overlook the elementry & obvious. My point is that it might be foolhardy to over analize something that may be quite simple. Z was surley relishing in this.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - on Friday, September 27, 2002 - 11:53 am:

"Additionally, Howard, I don't think it would have taken Zodiac more than four months to respond to the Riverside revelation if he had been a local resident."

Zodiac waited over seven months to acknowledge the Faraday-Jensen murders...even though Ted Kaczynski was living and working nearby.

Guys, even if Zodiac was not a local resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, that wouldn't explain why he chose the Examiner.

By Zander Kite (Zk) (dialup- - on Friday, September 27, 2002 - 01:53 pm:

Tom, you said it all when you said it. Kaczynski was working and living nearby. This might suggest that Kaczynski only felt comfortable enough to initiate a publicity-campaign after he quit his job and was out of the public eye and free to roam. This is consistent with a paranoid personality.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-130-215.client.attbi.com - on Friday, September 27, 2002 - 02:05 pm:

"Kaczynski was working and living nearby."
So was Allen. So?

Once again, your post has nothing to do with the subject of this thread. I'm getting tired of being a babysitter.

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) (lsanca1-ar16-4-47-002-059.lsanca1.elnk.dsl.genuity.net - on Friday, September 27, 2002 - 09:34 pm:

Regarding any possible inference as to the possibility of calculated design in the selection of the Chronicle or the Examiner (or other medium) for Z's debut, I wonder if Allen (or his family), or any other named suspect, had home delivery of one or both of the dailies. While it's not uncommon for people to simply go to a nearby coin-op paper rack, or store, to purchase newspapers, it's not nearly as convenient as home delivery, especially when the reader wants/needs to keep up with the very latest news. Z strikes me as the kind of person that wouldn't have wanted to leave the sanctuary of his home for such an errand, particularly on a daily basis. Unless, of course, it was part of his "ritual."

I recall back in the 60s and 70s, home delivery to American families was more the rule than the exception; naturally, here I'm talking about normal, not dysfunctional entities or families. If any of the suspects or their families did subscribe, it wouldn't be all that significant as an investigative lead, but if he/they did receive one or both of the major papers, as well as perhaps the Vallejo newspaper, it would tend to add an insightful element of interest to the mix.

The circulation departments of virtually all papers would have maintained records of subscribers at the time, although it's questionable if 30-35-year-old records would still still be retrievable, even for major publications.

In all likelihood, one of you posters, or even the police or newspapers themselves, have already looked into any of the known suspects, or their families, as being past subscribers; at this stage of the game, little is really new. I'll bet that the paperboy, or a neighbor, or even a relative, would remember if there were folded papers sitting on the lawn or driveway or front porch.

As always, my thoughts are just that.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - on Friday, September 27, 2002 - 09:59 pm:

Bill, maybe the Examiner was, in fact, Zodiac's newspaper of choice. However, he sure had an odd way of showing it, as he chose the Chronicle for his next letter: the 10-13-69 "school children make nice targets" doozie.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19105.linkline.com - on Saturday, September 28, 2002 - 12:28 am:

The Examiner seemed to be a "scrappy"newspaperaccording to at least one old time employee who said the Examiner tried to 'magnify news' to "comptete" with the more "staid",but wider circulation Chronicle.
Zodiac seemd to like to play off 'competors,i.e police agencies/new media, for his own glorification and deceptive practices in his crimes and communications such as killing in the areas of disputed jurisdictions.
When he said that he wrote to the Los Angeles for the first time,because they didn't "bury"(letter in the same mo./year 3/71) and few days apart, indicates a 'burial'in LT FYI) him on the 'back pages like some of the others.'
So with these thoughts in mind concerning Zs mindset,one theory I have is that Z thought the Examiner would do MORE splash than the Chronicle, the Examiners 'foe'and hoped they would take the name "Zodiac" one up and over the more "staid"Chronicle.The Examiner was a Hearst owned paper( until 11/22 2000 when it joined with the 'old' Chronicle) and we all know mr.Hearsts' papers played up news in a colorful,vivid manner and really fought the competiton to get scoops,etc.Hearst was famous for this trait.Z was a PR guy for sure and very strategic in his publicity planning!

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (148.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Saturday, September 28, 2002 - 06:06 am:

Zodiac waited over seven months to acknowledge the Faraday-Jensen murders...even though Ted Kaczynski was living and working nearby.

Two points. First, this scenario is not analogous to the Bates revelation acknowledgement because by that time Zodiac had long since established his persona and his "line of communication" to the public. Second, Kaczynski might well have been loathe to make the Zodiac revelation while he was still a resident of the area. It would have left him vulnerable to scrutiny by informed individuals on a daily basis.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p51-15.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Saturday, September 28, 2002 - 06:08 am:

I think Howard and Doug have it between them here.The one thing we can be sure about is that Zodiac would have been checking all three newspapers,to gauge the reaction of each.Zodiac wanted publicity,he most likely reacted to the challenge from the Examiner,knowing for sure that this one would follow up.This one took the bait,ahead of the others.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (236.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Saturday, September 28, 2002 - 06:13 pm:

Bingo, Lapumo. And I have to wonder why, when the Examiner gave him the opportunity to follow up, he didn't keep the ball rolling.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) ( on Sunday, September 29, 2002 - 12:05 am:

Was he commuting?

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p50-87.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Sunday, September 29, 2002 - 03:50 am:

The first round here was all about getting as much coverage as possible.After the opening salvo,even for practical reasons,I imagine its difficult to keep track of all newspaper coverage.
The most obvious choice after that is to stick with the most popular one.I would however,look to the actual coverage itself.The amount of space given to the story and more importantly maybe how
they chose to portray Zodiac himself.Zodiac would be very sensitive to this.The actual language used
may have been a factor in Zodiacs choice.
Wasn't it the Examiner again later, that challenged him to give himself up?....he never responded.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (53.philadelphia08rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Sunday, September 29, 2002 - 06:06 am:

It appears to me as if he were a commuter. He leaves the area for a time, then comes back and checks the local newspapers to see what's current, then composes one or two letters before moving on. Notice how the letters seem to come in closely-spaced clusters, each cluster widely spaced from the others by a period of at least (but in many cases more than) a month.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p51-99.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Sunday, September 29, 2002 - 10:50 am:

Of course that is one possibility.However,Zodiac appears not to have missed a trick.He seems to have had a pretty good knowledge of local events as they unfolded.Even events that he was not involved in,the bomb at the cop station,the guy shot with a .38. If we are including John's as a Zodiac victim and the subsequent letter claiming responsibility,it brings us right up to the summer of 70.Apart from writing letters,he would have been kept pretty busy,planning attacks,killing and not least,composing ciphers which would have taken much time.I think its also reasonable to assume that he would have been around for at least a week after posting to see if his letters were published.This cuts those "gaps" between letters down all the time and its not as if he would have written every week otherwise.
Wouldn't a commuter have to go to the trouble of searching through old newspapers etc, if he was elsewhere for a few weeks at a time?

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) ( on Sunday, September 29, 2002 - 04:44 pm:

Not old newspapers: he'd just have to stay current. That was pretty easy in most big cities at the time.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19105.linkline.com - on Sunday, September 29, 2002 - 04:54 pm:

One example.In Los Angeles(or any large city) one could in the 60's and still can,buy the S.F.,Vallejo and the Riverside papers at any good news stand.One could easily keep up with the current news in those areas.

If one had contacts reading the local news and viewing t.v. new shows then being in contact by phone is another method.This would be fit a conferate theory.I note GS has toyed with a 'associate' linked to Zodiac and says so in WU.He has theorized that one man wrote the letters and the other killed the victims.

Det.Baker has mentioned that many people had the local paper of their choice sent to their home (or a mail drop,etc.)and this would be a means for anyone to keep up with the news.
I have always felt that even if the Z wasn't a local man he could have subscribed to any paper(including the Press Enterprise) and an address of his selection,so he could be informed as to local events,and his crimes,etc.
Back to the Examiner.I still think Z saw The Examiner as an "aggressive" paper seeking out 'flashy' news with their own spin and he thought they would do more with an unusual PR laden name like "Zodiac" than the "staid" Chronicle.
It was noted by GS in Zodiac that after the Examiner printed its call for Zodiac to surrender(10/19/69) and that they would help him,etc.,Zodiac never again wrote to them.GS does believe the Pines card was from Z,but it has three S.F. papers for a send address and one of those is the"The Examiner."G.S. may have missed the contradiction.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (105.philadelphia06rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, September 30, 2002 - 12:14 am:

Even if Zodiac had access to the Bay Area newspapers from another city, he wouldn't be able to respond from that city without blowing his cover. If we take Kaczynski as an example, we see that there were considerable gaps between his correspondences, simply because he had to physically get from Montana to the Bay Area in order to mail them. For all that, the majority of law enforcement continued to believe he was from the Bay Area.

By Nick (Nick) ( on Sunday, March 16, 2003 - 02:10 am:

I hear the SF Examiner is going out of business soon. I assume the unveiling letter is safely in the hands of the SFPD. I'd hate to see it lost in the shuffle. As time moves on, more and more links to the Zodiac dissipate.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acbe2c17.ipt.aol.com - on Sunday, March 16, 2003 - 11:56 am:

I believe I heard that the Fang family fired everyone but for a skeleton crew of a few people. How a handful is expected to get a paper out every day is beyond me, when there are usually dozens involved...