Lake Herman Road Reconstruction Message Board: Theories: Lake Herman Road Reconstruction

By Ray N (Ray_N) ( - on Wednesday, April 03, 2002 - 02:24 pm:


I haven't read the entire autopsy report. I only read the part describing the locations of the bullet strikes and the descriptions of the bullet paths and locations of all perforations on her front. As far as I can tell from this, the report neither supports nor rules out my theory. Of course, as I said, I haven't read the whole thing. What wording in the report do you think casts doubt about her being shot on the ground?

I only offer this as a second possibility in advance of what I am predicting will be surprising results to some in the reconstructions. After all, if we decide he couldn't have done what was described by RG, then something else must have happened. She certainly wasn't shot that many times in the car, and there's no evidence I've ever heard of that she was dragged to her final location. That's all I'm saying, is that right now I feel it's a real possibility but if it can be disproved by any means, I'm all for it.

I also have a variant of this theory which has Z clearing a weapon stoppage, not an unheard of thing with little .22 autos. This also supports BLJ being shot on the ground and Z abandoning the .22 forever.

By Ed N (Ed_N) ( - on Wednesday, April 03, 2002 - 09:30 pm:

I believe I mentioned some time back that the papers reported that BLJ was shot from a distance of approximately 10 feet. This is supported, for whatever it's worth, by a quote from a report (Zodiac, p. 12) that stated there was "no smoke or gunpowder residue" found on her dress, except for one grain of gunpowder on the uppermost bullethole.

According to Graysmith (Zodiac, p. 3) BLJ was wearing a purple mini-dress. Wouldn't that be a kinda dark target on moonless LHR?

By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) ( on Wednesday, April 03, 2002 - 10:39 pm:

Ray: There are 2 reasons I do conclude, based on current evidence, that Miss Jensen was not shot after she fell. One is the same given by Ed N above, the report lists no powder residue. Also, no where have I read of any slugs being recovered from the ground under her body, which they would have been and I believe the police report would have mentioned this fact. Of course, it is possible they did recover such slugs and traced bullet paths and withheld the information, but if not that argues against her being shot on the ground. I am not totally discounting your theory (or a variation thereof) just that the evidence I have at this time seems to diminish the possibility.
EdN, thanks for reminding me about Graysmith's report of her clothing. Unless the 'purple' was a lighter shade or kind of lavendar you are right, purple would have been hard to see at night. If it was a darker purple Z is a well above average marksman.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Wednesday, April 03, 2002 - 10:48 pm:

Well, I conducted a daylight test with my Ruger MK II today. BTW, the barrel on my gun is 4 5/8" instead of four as I posted yesterday.

Although the target was stationary, it was placed at exactly 28' and 6" from my firing position. Today I simply wanted to focus on rapid-firing -- 7 shots in roughly 2 seconds with some modicum of accuracy was the goal. I only fired 4, 7 round magazines. This is because I felt that the results would be less "accurate" the more I warmed up. At any rate, here are the results:

Mag #1: 7 shots. Grouping = 3 3/8". Time = 2.5 seconds.

Mag #2: 7 shots. Grouping = 1 3/4". Time = 3.5 seconds.

Mag #3: 7 shots. Grouping = 5". Time = 2.5 seconds.

Mag #4: 7 shots. Grouping = 5 1/8". Time = 2.3 seconds.

Some thoughts: As you can see, my theory about "warming up" apparently had no bearing in this session! My best group was an incredible 1 3/4". However, note that it also took me the greatest amount of time to achieve. In fact, I was so pleased with my second magazine that I decided to strictly concentrate on rapid-fire with magazines 3 and 4. Amazingly, I wasn't able to achieve the magic 2-second mark despite my best efforts.

Ray, are you positive that 2 seconds is the right amount of time? If so, then Zodiac was able to accomplish what I couldn't in less time, at night, and at a moving target! If that's the case, then the Zodiac was very familiar with firearms and a damned good marksman. Barring some other sequence of events, such as Z shooting BLJ at close range after the first or second shot had felled her, I can think of no other explanation.

Well, those are today's results. However, I still haven't come to any specific or solid conclusions just yet. I still plan on doing a lot more shooting -- especially at night -- before reaching any final conclusions.

Question: Does anybody know how large the grouping of shots was on BLJ? To be honest with you, the answer to that question seems pretty darned important right now.


By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) ( - on Wednesday, April 03, 2002 - 10:54 pm:

Has anyone considered the possibility that Jensen did what a lot of young girls might have done under the circumstances, namely, hid her eyes and froze?

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Wednesday, April 03, 2002 - 11:01 pm:


Perhaps you are right, but then how do you explain the fact that she was discovered some 28' from the car?

By Spencer (Spencer) ( - on Thursday, April 04, 2002 - 12:11 am:

"Question: Does anybody know how large the grouping of shots was on BLJ? To be honest with you, the answer to that question seems pretty darned important right now."

Jake's got a diagram with the approximate locations of BLJ's wounds over at his site:


By Ed N (Ed_N) ( - on Thursday, April 04, 2002 - 01:25 am:

Without actually measuring the distance between the two most widely separated bulletholes (it's almost 1:30 AM and no one to chart them out on at the moment), I would hazard a guess that the spread was between 12 and 18 inches.

Douglas might be on to something here. I am reminded of recently watching a show about Edmund Kemper (mentioned in Zodiac, pp. 257, 322), where he rather clinically described how he murdered each of his victims. After picking up one victim, he left his vehicle (I don't recall why, probably to relieve nature) and not only locked himself out of the vehicle, he left his loaded gun where she could easily grab it. He returned and ordered her to open the door, and this might sound callous, but the fool did exactly that, instead of doing the logical thing like taking the gun to kill him in self defense. Needless to say, she was the one who ended up dead, and Kemper wondered during the interview why she didn't kill him when she had the chance. Could it be then that Z ordered BLJ to stop running and she actually did?

Perhaps the sequence of events I'd mentioned sometime back was how it happened (with a few additional thoughts): BLJ escaped and began to run, and Z grabbed DF with his right arm to prevent him from escaping (this would necessitate Z holding the gun in his left hand). He didn't fire on either of them yet, and told her to stop or he'd shoot DF. She stopped running (perhaps after Z fired a warning shot or two in the air??), and then he shot her five times in the back before she could turn around. Z then turned the gun on DF, who he just dropped to the ground after shooting at contact range. He then got in his car and drove off.

How does that sound? Plausible? Or way off?

By Ray N (Ray_N) ( - on Thursday, April 04, 2002 - 02:32 pm:


I measured the hit pattern on my wife and it came out between 11 and 12 inches. I still think this is remarkable even in light of your recent tests for the following reasons: 1. You were shooting in daylight 2. You were shooting with reference to the sights 3. You were shooting at a well-defined, fixed target that was easily seen even when the gun was not trained on it 4. You did not have the attendant adrenalin rush which no doubt accompanies commiting murder 5. You did not attain the rate of fire required by the theory being tested. It occurs to me that you probably were the victim of the habit pattern shooters everywhere have of trying to get all the shots on the paper in as tight a group as possible. Understandable, but keep in mind that is not the goal here. We have to meet all the parameters required by the theory with respect to lighting conditions, target distance, sighting system, and of course, rate of fire. When these are all met, then we just have to see where the bullets go. Why don't you try it again, this time with an emphasis on rate of fire, and don't worry about striving for as much accuracy, just see what you get and how that compares to the wounds on BLJ. I strongly suspect that when we get to the actual night tests, the accuracy is going to go way down to the point where we're going to be getting lots of misses. If that's the case, so be it. Try it a few more times. If we can't make it work, then we'll have to start considering some other things. I would recommend using a silhouette target. If we just use small targets, when we get misses we won't be able to measure group sizes. Also, I think that in order to make a final determination as to what was/was not possible, we're ultimately going to have to rig a moving target system to allow some of the shots to be fired from a closer range than 28 feet. Again, I understand that these are only preliminary trials. Keep up the good work.


I appreciate your input greatly. I know about the powder speck. In fact, that's one of the reasons I think my theory might be valid. We know that because of it there was some shooting from close range. We just don't know how close or how many shots. The problem is that there are several varieties of close range - contact, point blank, etc. Zodiac could have stood at several possible distances to get the powder onto her clothes. If she only went down to her knees, Z could have been shooting straight ahead. Same thing if she was trying to get up again. Or she could have been prone with Z standing a couple of steps away, particularly if she was rolled partway onto her side at that point. It would also matter what the characteristics of the dress cloth were as some fabrics retain powder specks better than others. And I wonder how breezy it was that night. Sometimes the shooter even ends up with powder on their clothes this way. Also, it's possible for one shot to leave some residue and the next fired from the same distance not leave any. After all, we certainly don't think all the specks of unburned powder from every close-range shot get deposited on the clothes, do we?

With regard to the police not recovering any slugs from under her body, that may well be explained by the possiblity that they never looked for any there. I haven't seen the Sonoma Co. Sheriff's report. I don't think anyone else here has either. It seems certain they will keep it under wraps. My point is that the fact that there were no slugs recovered from under the body doesn't reflect negatively on the theory unless we have a report stating that the police looked there and didn't find anything, and we don't (to my knowledge). The absence of such a report means nothing. (I don't suppose it would be worthwhile to go out there and do some digging around where her body was found?! Can you imagine Joe Citizen with a metal detector turning in some slugs recovered at the scene after all this time? Wow! Would that p*ss the cops off or what?) Anyway, for the reasons I described here, I don't think any of the points you bring up damage the theory at present, at least with the information we currently have available.


IMHO, I think Zodiac would have had a hard enough time as it was scoring any hits under the terrible shooting conditions which prevailed that night. The image of him holding onto DF by the wrist or shirtcollar while firing single-handed into the dark at a fleeing girl and bringing her down takes us well into the realm of Hollywood fantasy. DF would have certainly induced some unwanted motion into the Zodiac's aim, at the very least. This would in itself destroy all hopes of accuracy. Not to mention the fact that DF would then be standing next to someone who was shooting at his girlfriend and would have at least one hand free to grab the gun or thumb to stick in the guy's eye. Of course, the possibility of warning shots fired in the air or commands to "Halt!" are not out of the question even with DF already down. I just don't see someone obediently standing still while being shot five times.


By Peter H (Peter_H) ( - on Thursday, April 04, 2002 - 03:06 pm:

Doug & Ed: Other possible scenarios:

1. At the first back shot, she probably went into immediate shock, certainly if it was also the heart shot. Instead of running, the greatest effort she could muster resulted in something more like a staggering forward, much like the dream where you are running and not getting anywhere. In fact, I believe the physiology of shock and of sleep in this regard are similar.

Or 2: each shot or 2 knocks her down (again from shock, not necessarily impact) she gets up and he shoots again, until she stays down. Either way, he's walking behind her, neither of them is running, and there are seconds, rather than fractions, between each shot.

As to the grouping: the vertical spread (between the 5th ICS (intercostal space, i.e. between the 5th and 6th ribs) and just above the iliac bone) is maybe 10" to 12 " , but the horizontal spread is only 4 inches, from 1 1/2" off the midline to 5 1/2", all on the right side. See skeletal diagram Four of the shots are within a horizontal spread of 2". I'll bet most groupings of that many shots, such as the ones Mike and Scott did recently, are roughly circular, i.e 3 inches wide by 3 inches high, or in diameter. It is a fairly tight grouping in the horizontal dimension, not nearly as good in the vertical.


BTW, for you fans of macabre zynchronicity, if you connect the dots of these entrance wounds, from top to bottom, guess what you get.

By Ed N (Ed_N) ( - on Thursday, April 04, 2002 - 07:34 pm:

I see your point, Ray, it's possible that DF could have struggled. He also might have watched with stunned disbelief as his date was gunned down, and only struggled after she was dead and he realized he was next. But then, perhaps Z did shoot him first, but, if it was a contact wound, there would have been little, if any, noise, much the same as with Stine. Perhaps it was then that BLJ ran, only to stop when Z ordered her to and/or fired a warning shot or two. If he said something like, "I'm not going to hurt you," and began walking towards her, she might have been terrified and unable to run; at a distance of approximately 10 feet, he opened fire on her, certain that he'd hit her with most, if not all, of his remaining shots.

Anyway, just more speculation as to a possible scenario; one thing I know for certain is that the official version has always bothered me. I'm glad we have some people able to conduct these tests and report on the results...

Which reminds me, my brother mentioned something of interest yesterday: it seems that cops, in high-stress situations (ie, shootouts with the bad guys), hit their target approximately 40% of the time, or 2 out of every 5 shots. It seems that the crims only hit around 10% of the time in the same situations! Also, cops have to keep in constant practice, as after only 8 days, their accuracy diminishes significantly in stress situations. Thus, given the currently held scenario about LHR, if we are to assume that Z was a crack shot (which I still do not believe; I'll have to rethink my position if the current experiments prove otherwise to everyone's satisfaction), then he must have been not only a gun owner, but someone who kept in constant practice, either at home or at a shooting range.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Thursday, April 04, 2002 - 08:23 pm:


I agree with you on every point. Like I said, there's still a lot of shootin' to be done before this particular chapter of the Z saga has ended. In fact, I'm not even going to field test again until all of the points you made have been addressed.

You wrote, in reference to the grain of powder, "We know that because of it there was some shooting from close range. We just don't know how close or how many shots. The problem is that there are several varieties of close range - contact, point blank, etc."

Personally, I feel that it was the first shot which left the (small) powder residue. If I'm correct, there is also a pretty good chance that that particular bullet completely traversed her body. Why? Same reason for both -- very close range.

Ed: As for your LHR scenario, out of curiosity, is there anything in particular that makes you think that could have been the sequence of events? I mean, it seems pretty detailed considering all of the possibilities. Nevertheless, my gut is telling me that DF was shot first. Hopefully, I'm not unnecessarily staying tied to conventional thinking on this issue. But I really would like to know if there is anything in particular about LHR that leads you to believe DF was shot after BLJ. Seriously. The more info the better.

Peter, you asked, "Conclusion?"

HMM? Good question. Perhaps it was intentional? Trust me, I'm confident we'll know more later. Also, with regard to the "macabre zynchronicity" you mentioned, very bizarre indeed. Is it possible that zynchronicity is not applicable here? I'm being absolutely, 100% serious. Is it possible to be THAT good with a firearm? Actually, I'm quite certain that it is; allow me to rephrase that question. Is it possible that the Zodiac was that good with a firearm? If so, it puts, IMHO, the "half dollar" myth to shame.

Spencer, thanks for the information. Ya know, I really should visit that site more often, if only out of a desire to be more thorough. Thanks again.


By Ed N (Ed_N) ( - on Thursday, April 04, 2002 - 09:38 pm:

The main reason I suspect BLJ was shot first and not DF is that, if it takes a few seconds to traverse 28.5 feet, would Z have had enough time to shoot him first and then her? Given the current thought, would not Z have had to reach through the open passenger window (or something similar) to shoot him first, then turn and aim at BLJ, who by then could have been much farther away than 28.5 feet? Or, did she stop in terror after hearing DF get shot, only to have Z turn and shoot her?

That's what I think anyway... since she had escaped first and presumably began to run as soon as she got out, I would think Z would want to get her first; perhaps he grabbed DF with his free right hand while acquiring his target with his left hand and shot. Maybe I'm thinking too hard about this, I don't know...

By Spencer (Spencer) ( - on Friday, April 05, 2002 - 01:36 am:

According to ZU, Conway and Bawart don't think that LHR was a Z crime. Graysmith quoted Conway, who mentioned that he and Bawart developed several good LHR suspects, and that neither he nor Bawart feels that LHR was a Z crime. Could this reconstruction be for naught? :)


By Peter H (Peter_H) ( - on Friday, April 05, 2002 - 09:26 am:

Scott: Thanks for taking the time to consider the implication of my analysis. As for the Z pattern, keep in mind that Z did not adopt the cross signature untill after BRS and the Zodiac signature even later.

Other than the z pattern, what do you make of my analysis on the relaitvely tight horizontal grouping, versus the vertical? All shots are betwee 1.5" and 5.5" of the midline, all on the right side. Four of them are within 2" horizontally, and there two pairs of shots in each shot in the pair is within 1/4" of vertical.

Also would like to now what ypu think of the idea that she was staggering away slowly, or went down a couple of times, either of which would have given the shooter seconds between shots.

BTW: The ricochet off the r. scapula through the heart indicates to me that she was turned partially to the right at impact. Otherwise the bullet path would have to have made a near right angle off the scapula. The entrance wound would not necessarliy indicate the angle of entry, as the bone is just below the skin and a relatively thin and highly mobile latissimus dorsi at that point.


Could you elaborate on Bawart's opinion? What did he ever say or write to support it? Does he discuss the inside knowlege on LHR that Z later demonstrated?

By Spencer (Spencer) ( - on Friday, April 05, 2002 - 02:05 pm:

"Could you elaborate on Bawart's opinion? What did he ever say or write to support it? Does he discuss the inside knowlege on LHR that Z later demonstrated?"


"Bawart's opinion" was expressed by Conway, when Conway was expressing his own opinion on LHR. The statements were made at the 26 April 1993 Z conference (recounted in Chapter 35 of ZU, "The Conference") and are as follow:

"The reason we know the three [BRS, LB, and Stine] are unequivocally the Zodiac is because he gives physical evidence or verbal evidence that only the killer would know . . . The other killing, on Lake Herman Road, happened a (seven months) before the Zodiac killing. We had some very good suspects in that case, and Detective Bawart and I are satisfied that the Zodiac didn't really do that case, although we don't have unequivocal proof on that." (emphasis added)


By Ray N (Ray_N) ( - on Friday, April 05, 2002 - 04:21 pm:

Wow, what a thread this is turning out to be. Very interesting.

First things first. Spencer, these guys are still trying to solve this case, but there has been plenty of politics which have gotten in the way over the years. I really hope that was a misquote, because if Conway really said that, then he hasn't even read the Zodiac letters. There's an entire section in there devoted to LHR under the heading "Christmass". Number of shots fired, brand of ammunition, BLJ's clothing, orientation of body, etc. What in the world is Conway talking about? I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict their "suspect" is someone who was also a young kid at the time of the murders and who is still alive, healthy, and prosecutable.


I think you have some good ideas about the sequence of events. It may well be that she fell down and got back up. The only problem I potentially have along these lines is the caliber of gun used. I think any shot which knocked her down would have done so only because it was a vital hit, and that seems to me to preclude her getting back up. Besides, if she was staggering away, it would take a long time to go as far as she did. Why would he take his time? They were right next to the road, so time was a factor. As it was, he missed being witnessed by only a minute or two, I think.

As far as your statements concerning the scapula bone, I would comment that the scapula bone moves and changes its angle significantly when the arm is pumped back and forth as when running. This would account for a wide range of deflection angles off this bone.


In my theory, I have Zodiac coming around the car, ordering the kids to halt. So I have them all about where DF's body was found, standing together for however long before he shot DF. That's when I think BLJ took off. This is still speculation obviously, but maybe we can do a lot of narrowing down after we do some more shooting. BTW, Ed, do you have or can you make a good diagram of the scene as the cops discovered it? Was the car pointing towards Benecia like I think or do you know?


One last thing on the powder speck. When was the speck noted? At the scene? Not likely. Could it have been after her clothes were removed and examined at autopsy, after she was rolled over in the dirt, placed on a strecher, taken to the hospital, etc. Remember, she was shot in the back and there would have been plenty of opportunity for additional specks to have fallen off or been transfered to other objects. Maybe the speck doesn't mean that much, other than she got shot, which we already know.

Also, it wouldn't take a lot of skill to sign your work if you were standing over the body, would it? It might even be a bit tempting. Food for thought.


By Spencer (Spencer) ( - on Friday, April 05, 2002 - 04:32 pm:

"What in the world is Conway talking about?"

From the various quotes attributed to him throughout ZU, including the one about LHR, I would label him a kook.


By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) ( on Friday, April 05, 2002 - 10:22 pm:

Peter and Ray, Re: bullet "ricochet" off scapula bone. Remember it is only my conjecture that the heart wound was caused by a richochet inside the body. As there is no entry wound listed on the right side of the body just under the arm, I concluded the heart wound entered, hit a bone, and then went towards the left. I mentioned the scapula as that is one possibility, though it could hae been one of the hits on a rib. I mentioned it originally as it explains the wound. BTW, Miss Jensen would not have to be turned any direction to make this happen as the .22 bullet is notorious for doing weird stuff just like 90-deg.
turns upon hitting bone or even weirder stuff like entering a tendon or muscle then following that tendon or muscle! A classmaate of mine who went to medical school said he learded quickly on his surgery rotation that .22 wounds are the most hated by medical staff. While a larger slug usually does more actual damage, the damage is straight-forward and easy to find.
This thread is very fun, and I will chew the fat about the case and our recent experiments with a couple of buddies after we hit the Tulsa Gun Show tomorrow. We Okies like our guns, and we're not ashamed of it! I'll check back next week.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Saturday, April 06, 2002 - 07:57 pm:

You know, I'm still curious about the Zodiac's selection of firearms. The main reason, at least for me, is that I would never choose a .22 caliber pistol to murder somebody with. It just seems, well, uncomfortable to me. As I've noted before, I'm 6'10" tall, weigh 290 pounds, and am willing to go to blows with virtually anyone, if necessary. I'm not trying to act like some sort of tough guy; the reason I told you that was to say this: I still wouldn't feel "safe" carrying a friggin' .22 caliber pistol.

In my mind, choosing to carry a .22 caliber pistol for self-defense is like bowling with a marble; it reeks of amateurism and unknowing. Now, I'm not saying that the Zodiac wasn't familiar with firearms because I'm quite sure that he was. What I am implying, however, is that it seems very possible, at least to me, that Lake Herman Road was his first act of murder.

Also, it occurred to me today that, if I was going to choose a "weapon of choice" to murder people with and I wanted it to be a gun, I'd probably choose either a Dan Wesson "pistol pack," a Sig Arms pistol, or a Desert Eagle. Why? Well, the Dan Wesson comes with 4 different barrels (use one barrel for one murder and a different barrel for the next), most Sigs can be had not only with different barrels, but also in different calibers, all in one firearm, and the same goes for the Desert Eagle, which can be converted into a variety of calibers, all on the same platform.

Now, I'm not sure when the Sigs and Desert Eagles became available, but the Dan Wessons were available in 1968 and were all the rage amongst firearms enthusiasts. I can see a lot of advantages in owning such a gun; the only major drawback being that they were (and still are) pretty darned expensive. However, I'm positive that such a weapon would still be cheaper than ditching and/or using a different firearm for each murder.

So, I guess what I'm trying to ask is this: Was the Zodiac unfamiliar with such guns? Was he familiar with them and still preferred something else? Or, was he familiar with them but simply couldn't afford one? And, last but not least, why did he choose to use a .22 at LHR?


By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) ( - on Sunday, April 07, 2002 - 05:57 am:

Scott, I think you're on the right track. At the time he had finally had had enough, Zodiac might have owned nothing more than a .22 that he used for target shooting. Perhaps the state of his emotions was so high at the time that he simply couldn't wait to get something more powerful, or perhaps he was so naive about pistols that he didn't think it would be necessary.

By Classic (Classic) ( - on Sunday, April 07, 2002 - 09:03 am:

Scott and Doug, I agree somewhat. However, I can see how z would think that a .22 would be quite adequate in LHR. If you were to walk up to an unsuspecting person and just shot them, a .22 would be an ok choice. I think z's inexperience at killing instead of inexperience with guns might be the answer. He might have been going for the quietest weapon he could to avoid detection. After LHR he probably surmised two things. 1. The noise factor was irrelevant. 2. Unless you have the situation firmly in control, a .22 leaves a lot to be desired.

z's choice of .22 leads me to believe he knew a lot about firearms. The J.C. Higgins brand is very underrated. It never did get the "publicity" of the major brands. Only people with more than a laymans knowledge of firearms ever even heard of them. Why spend 3 times more when you can get the same quality from J.C.?

I guess this question of z's guns is like the glass being half empty of half full. There are so many different ways to look at it. Classic

By Ray N (Ray_N) ( - on Sunday, April 07, 2002 - 10:18 am:


You know, we may very well have found the answer to Zodiac's selection of weapons. I know we have had the conversation already about the potency of the .22 so I'll refrain from re-engaging on the subject. Suffice it to say that there are more powerful guns to be had, and that opinion on the matter varies even among persons knowledgable in the field. Therefore, selection of a .22 cannot automatically be construed to indicate unfamiliarity with firearms. The answer we are looking for may simply be that of configuration. Possibly, he had decided to use a small flashlight sighting system and that decision controlled his selection. In other words, slide autos were out. He could have used a revolver, but maybe he preferred autos for some reason - familiarity, reloading time or whatever. Another possibility lies within the ban, Z's knowledge of which he even indicated in a letter. For some time there was also a requirement to provide a driver's license and fill out a log sheet with one's name and address when purchasing centerfire ammunition. It did not apply to rimfire ammo, like the .22, so it would have been easier to avoid detection by selecting a .22 caliber weapon. (Eventually, the ammo statute was lifted.)

As far as the J.C. Higgins pistol goes, this was a brand name only. Back in the day, Sears and Roebuck carried the J.C. Higgins line of sporting goods. The Higgins pistols were part of this line and were actually manufactured by Hi Standard, so the quality of their manufacture is not in question. However, since these were not target grade pistols, they were available at a good price. And although they may not have been the rage in the popularity department, neither did one have to be an afficianado to have heard of them - one only had to look in the display case at Sears.

So here we are - cheap, disposable, prolific (I wouldn't want to own a Dan Wesson if the police knew the killer owned one), used untraceable ammo, readily adaptable for a flashlight sight, rapid fire, rapid reload. When you consider what Z had in mind for the use of his guns, walking right up to unarmed kids, it's hard to imagine that he necessarily predicted the need for a "girlstopper" round. He may well, however, have realized that something more was called for when he saw that the .22 won't dependably bring down a fleeing victim quickly before they get out of range. I still see this as a probable factor in the decision to switch to the flashlight in one hand/nine mill in the other style at BRS. Plus, he didn't "allow" them out of the car there, either. Thus, it seems that he might have had a pretty good familiarity with guns, but little or no experience killing people with them. Often one can project experience in one area into another with success, but sometimes one's assumptions are challenged and that may well have happened in this case. So I think we have to remind ourselves that shooting and shooting people are two different activities altogether.


By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Sunday, April 07, 2002 - 03:13 pm:

Doug wrote, "At the time he had finally had had enough, Zodiac might have owned nothing more than a .22 that he used for target shooting."

Doug, that's pretty good reasoning. Perhaps his murderous impulses were sparked before he'd had the opportunity to purchase another weapon. I still believe that part of the reason for ditching the .22 pistol was because Z felt uncomfortable using it. Like I said, I'd never carry such a weapon for self-defense; I feel much safer carrying either a .357 or .44.

Classic wrote, "I think z's inexperience at killing instead of inexperience with guns might be the answer."

Ray wrote, "Thus, it seems that he might have had a pretty good familiarity with guns, but little or no experience killing people with them."

Those are my thoughts exactly, gentlemen. That's why it seems likely, to me, that LHR was his first murder. This LHR reconstruction is far from over but the one thing that I feel we have already discovered is that the Zodiac was familiar with guns and was very possibly unfamiliar with murder.

BTW, Classic, I know that you are also familiar with firearms. I'd really appreciate any info that you'd be willing to provide if you'd like to do some field-testing of your own. What do you say?


By Classic (Classic) ( - on Sunday, April 07, 2002 - 07:44 pm:

Scott, I wouldn't mind doing testing. However we can't totally quantify the results because we don't know exactly what happened enough to be able to repeat the "experiment". What we know is this:

The grouping of shots on BLJ was not exceptionally small, but z did manage to keep all or almost all of his shots on target.

z was not shooting from a static postion, according to ZU. Shell casings were found at different distances in a row from the body.

Where the difficulty in repeating the test comes in is: Was z running or walking when he was firing? Was BLJ running the entire distance? She probably started running, but did the first bullet strike slow her down?

I can do testing if a set of parameters are established.

It is unfortunate that Graysmith was wrong in Zodiac. If the grouping had been half-dollar sized, the killer would have been easy to find. Classic

By Ed N (Ed_N) ( - on Sunday, April 07, 2002 - 11:41 pm:

Perhaps Z had killed with other weapons before, such as a knife. Therefore, LHR was his first murder using a gun. However, if Z was also responsible for SB in 1963, then LHR becomes problematic. LB would perhaps become more understandable though since a knife might have been his first choice in weapons.

Now, one question: while familiarity with guns implies some (possibly much) skill with guns, is it always the case? In other words, could Z have been book-smart about firearms but very inexperienced with actually handling them?

By Kevin (Kevinrm) ( - on Sunday, April 07, 2002 - 11:47 pm:

Back in my Navy days, I worked for a Chief petty officer that used to be in SEALS during Vietnam. He told me that he used to use a .22 with a baby bottle nipple over the barrel as a silencer. This was supposedly used in the form of assasination. I was pretty surprised by his use of a .22, but from what he told me, they can be quite effective. Now, I have no idea what type of .22 he was talking about, or if the whole story was a load of BS, but I tend to believe him. Yes, a .22 can easily kill you. So perhaps the use of a .22 shows more familiarity with weapons than not? I guess it depends on who is using it.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) ( - on Monday, April 08, 2002 - 12:35 am:

I like Scott's observation--familiar with guns; not so familiar with killing. He used a larger calibre pistol in all his succeeding murders, although it's ironic that even with 9mm he couldn't manage to kill Mageau at BRS! Maybe that has something to do with why he tried a knife at Berryessa.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Monday, April 08, 2002 - 03:48 am:

Classic wrote, "However we can't totally quantify the results because we don't know exactly what happened enough to be able to repeat the 'experiment'."

I see what you mean, Classic. However, the results can be quantified through field-testing. For example, I can already tell you that the Zodiac was familiar with firearms. But I would never have been able to make that claim with any degree of certainty unless I'd seen the results for myself. Trust me, Classic, your participation, even at the most rudimentary level, is better than not having it. I certainly believe that Ray and Mike would agree.


By Ray N (Ray_N) ( - on Monday, April 08, 2002 - 06:31 pm:


I doubt the story is bs, there is such a thing as improvising in the field, but the standard SEAL sentry snuffer is a S&W M59 with a screw-on silencer that makes about as much noise as a pellet rifle. In any case, someone who knows what they are doing with a .22 is a very dangerous person.


I think that, at least in my mind, that "reconstruction" is a slight misnomer. You are right, we don't know what happened exactly, but if we could figure it out, we might learn somethings about the person and also about how this crime may/may not be related to the SB killings. I think it's worth a shot, anyway. That said, since we don't have the ballistics report, we are at a disadvantage. Attempting to find out what happened must now largely be eliminating scenarios which did not happen. The first one I had in mind to try out was the "official" or "RG" version, however you want to call it.

Where did the information come from about the shell casing locations? I'd be very interested in doing some reading along those lines, because it was my assumption we did not have that information. If we do, this changes things. Where did you find it and what do you know about it?


By Classic (Classic) ( - on Tuesday, April 09, 2002 - 10:37 am:

Ray, The shell locations are mentioned in ZU. I am not sure what page though. That darn book is so confusing. So many flashbacks and flashforwards. I think there is a flashsideways in there too.LOL.

As far as testing, if we can come up with a set protocol, that we all are following, that would be of greatest benefit. If several of us are doing the same thing, we should be able to get a idea of what average or exceptional shooting is. Classic

By Ed N (Ed_N) ( - on Tuesday, April 09, 2002 - 05:13 pm:

Check out page 111. The distances are as follows (presumably from the open passenger door of the Rambler): 1'0.5", 1'11", 2'3", 3', 4'0.5", 8'2", 14', and 20'. In addition to the one on the floorboard, that totals nine shells; it seems that RG either missed one, or that two were found at one of those distances. Either way, it shows that Z clearly chased BLJ, but was he running or walking at a steady pace? Also, it looks like he was, at least as far as the last shot is concerned, 8.5' away from her (about 10', as the papers said). However, it depends from what point those shells were measured from: was it from the rear bumper, or from the open door?

By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) ( on Friday, April 12, 2002 - 11:48 pm:

In response to the various speculations on this thread in the past week I would agree with most of it.
EdN, thanks for the data about distances of the shell casings. That helps.
I discussed the shooting facts with 2 high-school buddies I've shot with off and on for almost 30 years, and they had some very interesting insights. First, they each agreed that without seeing an accurate sketch or reading a very detailed description of the scene it is impossible to draw more than general conclusions. But they both agreed to hit a running target 5 times at night even with a flashlight on the barrell would require an above-average shot who practiced regularly. The better pistol shot of the friends I questioned (he was once on a pistol team in jr. college and though perhaps not a high level of competition he got 5 first or second places in 6 matches attended) agreed the shooter would have to be familiar with the gun and with shooting at night. He said if he were to try something like that he would want to practice several times in the preceding week or so. He also said the shooter would have to be VERY CALM during the shooting. Someone pumped on adrenaline with heart pounding would have real difficulty achieving that level of marksmanship, at least in his opinion.
The other friend made a very insightful remark I have not seen anywhere and wish I had thought of it. He said Zodiac would not have to use 2 seperate Browning Hi-Powers for the 2 crimes, but merely to CHANGE THE BARRELL AND EJECTOR! Replacement parts for the gun could be purchased seperately, in another state, even, and back in the '60's I doubt records were kept of the purchase of parts! In fact, if Zodiac had any of his guns for 4-5 years previous any records are unlikely, as that type of thing didn't really get started at all in most parts of the country until after the JFK killing. For gosh sakes, Oswald bought both the 6.5mm rifle, bullets, and a .38 revolver THROUGH THE MAIL!!!!
btw, the Tulsa gun show was great.

By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) ( on Saturday, April 13, 2002 - 12:00 am:

More thoughts on this LHR reconstruction: In trying to decide how fast miss Jensen would have moved we have forgot one key question: What kind of SHOES was she wearing? High heels or wedgies would slow her down a lot. Wearing a mini-dress on a date meant she was at least dressed up a little and probably was not wearing tennis shoes (there were not yet any running shoes!). In Oklahoma the type of clunky, high heeled shoes didn't become popular for a year ot two after 1968 but what about California? I remember penny-loafers and similar styles being popular for casual wear with dresses about that time. My research is based on the fact I was an adolescent male at that time and frequently observed girls legs in mini-dresses. I just realized; if Miss Jensen hadn't been gunned down by Zodiac she and I today would be the same age.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Saturday, April 13, 2002 - 01:17 am:

Mike, 2 more excellent posts. I'd been thinking about the shoes BLJ was wearing that night, as well. What got me started thinking about it was Ray's 2-second time frame.

Ray, to be honest with you, we need to recalculate the time it would take to run that distance. I'm almost positive, if we account for BLJ's shoes, size/stride, distance, and terrain, that 2 seconds is simply too fast. Either that or Zodiac was capable of completely blowing me away with his shooting skills.

Mike, with regard to the Browning, I'm surprised that all of us hadn't thought of that before. If you read my post from 2-3 days ago, you'll see that this idea occurred to me, as well. I mean, I own a SigPro that cannot only accommodate different barrels, but 2 different calibers, also. It can chamber, having only to switch-out 2 parts -- the magazine and the barrel -- both .40 S&W and .357 SIG.

I'm assuming that the barrel can be switched on almost any semi-automatic weapon. I mean, why not? The barrel on such a firearm is an individual part that can generally be singled-out from the rest of the parts simply by field stripping the weapon. I also made note of the Desert Eagle. Again, as with the SigPro, more than one barrel and caliber, all on the same basic platform.

Additionally, let's not forget what I consider to be a darn fine, American made, classic, six-shooter: the Dan Wesson line of firearms. Personally, I own a model 15 "pistol pack" that is chambered for .357 magnum and comes complete with interchangeable front sight blades (red, white, and yellow), 4 different barrels and shrouds (2.5", 4", 6", and 8"), and 2 different grips (large/smooth and small/fingered). I can literally switch out the barrels in about one minute and the 8" barrel is match-grade. This gun has been with me since the 80s and is the only revolver I own with a "Wesson" name on it that I've never had to have worked on by a gunsmith.

Anyway, back to the two main points: the running time and the type of shoes. Ray? Is it possible that the 2-second mark is just a smidgen fast?


By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Sunday, April 14, 2002 - 07:19 pm:

I will try and locate the Jensen report at my office and see what kind of shoes she had on.She was wearing a mini skirt and t-straps so they were probably, at least, half heels.If they were high heels then her motion while fleeing would,of course,be more erratic,thus making Zs aim more difficult and her chances of survival very dim as we all know didn't happen.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Thursday, April 18, 2002 - 01:38 pm:


By Ray N (Ray_N) ( - on Friday, April 19, 2002 - 01:26 pm:

Yes, I think it is possible that two seconds is too fast. We could measure it again, with a girl wearing different shoes. My whole point with that is I don't know how long it would take her to run that distance, it just took me that long. It's not a very long distance, 29 feet. Maybe I'll get my wife to do it for me. Even if we double the time to 4 seconds, I think we're seeing pretty darn good shooting, especially in light of the observations of Mike's shooting partner, and we haven't done any night speed tests yet. Of course, if my wife runs it the same speed, we've got some thinking to do.

You know, the first four or five of the shell casing locations could be consistent with an individual shooting from one location.

Scott, and Mike, in which general direction do your respective guns eject the brass? Sideways, back and to the right, some combination?

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Friday, April 19, 2002 - 01:47 pm:


Didn't you also mention that you were in running shoes? If so, we also need to consider the type of shoes BLJ was wearing that evening. However, I do believe that you are right about "doubl(ing) the time to 4 seconds." That's still going to be very good shooting. BTW, I'll have to make note of the way in which my gun ejects brass the next time I shoot. I honestly can't tell you right now without using a bit of guesswork.


By Jim (Jim) ( - on Friday, April 19, 2002 - 01:49 pm:

let me throw a wild one in on this one here!
is it possible that Z staged the entire scene, in which the couple was killed elsewhere and then transported to the area and placed in their positions??? the casings dropped at regular "apparent" intervals (with maybe forgetting to count out the proper number of casings to leave behind?). in this way there was never a chase, or a chance that Z would have to chase and miss his targets in the dark, awfully chancy there to do that, even if he was a great marksman? i know that this sounds a bit out there. we know that he shot DF up close, right? and there seems to be evidence that BLJ has some powder on her? so why not have these two people being shot elsewhere and then staged? Z could have had something under BLJ body to collect any additional shot put into her after the staging?

he could have even had two differnet cars in the area. one parked off raod near the staged area with which to flee into the night and another with which he stalked out his victims with, killed and then used their car to transport them to the staged scene, then left later in his own vehicle. his second car could have been picked up any old time later on none the worse for wear or suspicion. since we do not know that exact intinerary of the couple that second car could have ben left anywhere? but he did have an idea of where to stage the scene and therefore could leave the first car near the scene to hike over to and then leave?
ok, maybe I am rambling now?

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Friday, April 19, 2002 - 02:48 pm:

As Tom has posted recently, the men that worked this crime scene did it in a professional manner and it was their conclusion it transpired as given in their reports.No staging here!

By Jim (Jim) ( - on Monday, April 22, 2002 - 12:58 pm:

alright, no worries there on that one...but if Z was that good? sheesh with all of the theories flying around here, and all of the specific coincidences, and supposed tie-ins make Z seem super humanly intelligent and I thought that I would merely propese a possible staging of the scene.

By Ray N (Ray_N) ( - on Monday, April 22, 2002 - 07:20 pm:


The main problem with your theory is simply that the evidence is counter to it. There is a remarkably complete timeline for DF/BLJ after leaving Miss Jensen's house, which improves to nearly minute by minute quality towards the end when the car is parked on LHR. It seems that the couple would have had to disappear off the radar for a substantial period of time in order for your theory to have a chance. All indications are that this did not happen.


By Classic (Classic) ( - on Tuesday, April 23, 2002 - 10:17 pm:

One thing that bothers me about trying to estimate z 's shooting ability as it concerns LHR is that is was a one time occurence. Maybe he got lucky? Maybe he got unlucky? How can we judge his ability from one incident?

Last year I missed a deer at 40yds. Just couldn't get a clear sight picture. The very next day I shot a deer at 120yds. that was running full bore across a field. An absolutely perfect shot. Each situation would lead a person to believe two seperate things, either I'm a clod or a crack shot. So which am I?

z's ability with firearms is important. It just seems that being to quantify his ability is almost as elusive as z himself. Classic

By Jim (Jim) ( - on Wednesday, April 24, 2002 - 09:12 am:

but with the victims no longer being alive to substantiate their whereabouts then how do we know for certain that they had been at certain places at certain times other than what was witnessed by other people? other than that there could easily have been dead times where no one knew where they were? it is easy enough to sneak around as teens even if you were just in a group at a dance or movie or any other social gathering where there are alot of people and sort of disappear into the wood work and have many people lose track of the last time they were seen. if i could do it at dances in h-school and have no one notice that my gal and I had slipped away, why not them too? this could easily provide an ample opportunity to have conflicting times reported by people....
just throwing some thoughts out there....