Ghia Door Writing: A New Twist? Message Board: Theories: Ghia Door Writing: A New Twist?

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) ( - on Wednesday, November 20, 2002 - 11:48 pm:

Just to add another element to the controversy, and to hopefully generate some imaginative and progressive thinking on the subject of the Ghia, consider this:

The last line reads "by knife". If you really think about it, particularly in the context of the entire message, that is an odd thing to say. The discovery and subsequent examination of the bodies (plural, as he certainly intended) would have made the knife reference self-evident, unnecessary and, by its inclusion, redundant to an otherwise terse yet richly informative message. So why did he include it, and why was it worded just that way?

Fast forward to the Halloween card 13 months later (to the day): He wrote the words "BY GUN, BY KNIFE . . . the sequence not discernable, the format of the four intersecting references constructed as it was. Could he have been planning, when he wrote the message on the door, to complete the quadruplet with successive murders that employed these same methods of killing, with attendant messages left at the respective scenes to point out the obvious? And for some arcane reason that was consistent with his penchant for cryptic gamesmanship? I can't offer any explanation for why he chose to put all four references in the Halloween card, without first committing the killings by those specified methods with appropriate accompanying messages.

We must assume (I know, it's a hateful word) that he did not leave prior messages at scenes that were overlooked by investigators, and dare to presume (a less offensive word) that LB was the first of his new series of challenges to his would-be captors.

Consider also that the survival of Hartnell might have thrown the proverbial monkey wrench into this plan, and that Stine was anomalous to the game, a responsive act that served yet another, more profound purpose for him. I realize that this is a radical departure from my previous theories on the interrelationship between LB and Stine (and the 1963 SB case), but I felt it merited your unvarnished (often brutal) input.

By Oddball (Oddball) ( - on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 12:32 am:

I can't really add anything to what you've said, William, but it's an intriguing thought.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 01:18 am:

Geez, Bill...what can possibly be added except a healthy round of "You da man!"

You're right, though; something's definitely up with the message on the Ghia.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 08:18 am:

Bill, very provocative message, to say the least, outstanding really. But then, such is always the case with your posts. I'm very grateful that you've returned to the message board. All of us are the better for your presence.

I think you are absolutely onto something here, as you noted, the "by knife" notation on the Ghia is extremely redundant and entirely unnecessary. It would be like leaving a message at Lake Herman Road that read, "by gun." What would be the point? Unless, as I think you are saying, it would serve [in the Halloween card] to authenticate his presence at Lake Berryessa.

Wow! That's cool. Seriously. And to think, all this time we were under the assumption [you're right, I hate that friggin' word] that the Zodiac never made any reference to the crime in any of his missives.

There is one thing that bothers me though, and that is where he wrote, "by rope" and "by fire." Sure, rope was used at LB and SB to bind his victims, and fire was used at SB to try and cover the crime, and Kathleen Johns' car was torched, but it seems there should be at least one example of someone being murdered, literally, by fire, and another by rope. I don't know; it just seems strange to me, especially considering the way in which the language is used.

Nevertheless, I find the concept of the words "by knife" being viewed as a singular clue very interesting. It could be that Lake Berryessa [because of Hartnell's survival and the writing on the Ghia] was so readily attributed to the Zodiac that the Zodiac himself never felt the need to authenticate the crime via a missive. Interesting. Very interesting.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 08:23 am:

"It could be that Lake Berryessa . . . was so readily attributed to the Zodiac that the Zodiac himself never felt the need to authenticate the crime via a missive."

. . . except in a cryptic manner.

By Len (Len) ( - on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 08:32 am:

Bill: Thanks a lot. I really needed this. I don't spend enough time looking through this stuff. Now, I have to go back and look over the Halloween card again and ponder and think and mull and consider. And it's all your fault!

The first (and so far only) thing that pops into my mind as a contrasting thought is that the use of the knife and the use of the phrase "by knife" was all public knowledge by the time of the Halloween card and could have been used as a conscious way of assimilating the stabbing at LB. (If that was, in fact, by a different perp.)

You're so right about the presence of the phrase on the Ghia door at all. What's the purpose? What's the game?

By Lapumo (Lapumo) ( - on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 09:25 am:

Wouldn't the fact that Zodiac made a phone call just after the murders also make the date redundant information? Doesn't the real evidence here point to the fact that there was a game being played out within his written communications?.A game that was in progress right from the start.

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) ( - on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 09:38 am:

You guys have gone and embarrassed me with your kind words. Avoiding the perception of false modesty, suffice to say that praise from peers is particularly 'portant. But on to the matter at hand.

Scott, your puzzlement regarding the absence of murders committed by rope and fire (to complete the quadruplet in the 10-70 note) goes to the core of what I was trying to develop. There could be any number of reasons, not all likely or consistent with what would be expected of Z. However, if there was any truth to his warning that he would continue to kill, but that the deaths would not be readily attributable to him, perhaps within the 13-month period between LB and the Halloween message there were such deaths in the general area, ones that did not arouse police suspicion as being homicidal or did not evoke an automatic connection with Z.

As an example, the more obvious cases would be fire-related deaths, whether in a structure or vehicle, and any deaths by ligature strangulation or garrotting. Would any of the Santa Rosa-area murders have occurred during this time period and by means consistent with my second example? A review of the various Coroner's offices' records of deaths in the area, within that time frame, where burning or ligature strangulation were the modes of death, could reveal some interesting grist for the mill.

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) ( - on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 09:42 am:

Lapumo, yes, I think just that, although the question of when he charted out his game plan, whether from the start or at some point along the way, is something that has yet to be determined.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 09:43 am:

I would certainly think that there is a fair amount of premeditation here with regard to the murders and the authenticated Zodiac missives. I can't recall at present, were photos of the Ghia door ever published prior to Zodiac's Halloween card being mailed? If not, I'd say that's pretty strong evidence that Zodiac was responsible for Lake Berryessa.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 09:50 am:

Bill, you wrote, "A review of the various Coroner's offices' records of deaths in the area, within that time frame, where burning or ligature strangulation were the modes of death, could reveal some interesting grist for the mill."

Absolutely amazing, I hadn't thought of it like that. Seems like a viable lead to me. Do you know of any offhand?

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) ( - on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 10:06 am:


By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 11:14 am:

It certainly seems to warrant further investigation in my opinion. Unfortunately, I have the inclination but not the time, especially in any post haste type of scenario. Tom? Ed? Spencer?

By Bucko (Bucko) ( - on Thursday, November 21, 2002 - 11:22 pm:

To me, the writing on the car door was (pardon this) like a proud artist signing his work. Proud of the prior murders, proud of using a new weapon, proud of his symbol. As we discussed a year or two ago, LB seemed, at least to Z, to be his masterpiece. Everything was planned right down to bringing along an extra large felt tipped pen for the writing. He probably knew exactly what he would write which lends credibility to Bill's theory, but then......

By Peter H (Peter_H) ( - on Friday, November 22, 2002 - 12:09 pm:

Too many variables here to identify a most likely explanation. Each of the above theories is equally speculative and noner of theeither matchesd all the facts or answers many questions. Oh some basic conclusions are still sound: there's definitely something up with the Ghia tag, the Halloween card seems to echo the "by knife" phrase too closely to be coincidence, but what inferences to draw from all that? It was Z's way of claiming LB and playing games at the some time? Z was claiming Z but like so many other claims its false? Rpe and fire refer to past like KJ and Tajuigas? Refer to future cycle that was never completed? Each seems as likely or unlikely as any of the others. Or maybe I'm just tired.

By Len (Len) ( - on Friday, November 22, 2002 - 01:36 pm:

I'm going to bow out of this discussion because I am skeptical about the authenticity of the Halloween Card. It's a pastiche; the lettering's in capitals with the pointlessly backwards "N"; it was sent to Avery and the only other thing sent to him (according to Tom--and I've no reason to doubt him on this) was a forgery; it lacks the "This is the Zodiac speaking" letterhead.

I don't expect anyone to go with me on this. It's just my observation. The use of the phrase "by knife" on the door is interesting, but would be more so, perhaps, if the Halloween Card had come first.

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) ( - on Friday, November 22, 2002 - 01:49 pm:

Peter, I'm tired too, of your consistent "The glass is half empty" approach to anything that doesn't fit your personal perspective. Do me the favor of not responding to any messages I post. The annoyance far outweighs any probative value.

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Friday, November 22, 2002 - 07:27 pm:

For "By Rope" see Pam Tan in Archives as an FYI.I am getting her autopsy.She is in line with Zs words"So I will CHANGE the WAY the collecting of slaves..."(11/9/69)It's the "etc.",though,that bothers me most.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) ( - on Saturday, November 23, 2002 - 09:26 am:

We must remember that the "By Knife" phrase on the Halloween card was,in turn, linked to Zodiac identifying himself."I feel it in my bones you ache to know my name....and so I'll clue you in".
At the beginning Zodiac killed,provided proof that he was the killer and claimed to provide his identity.We have the last line in the first cipher,that is as yet unsolved.
Zodiac kills Stine and sends a piece of his shirt to again provide proof that he was the killer.However he adds a piece of this shirt to two other written communications.Given the timing of these communications I suggest that the theory
of Zodiac "wanting to provide proof" that he was the author of these subsequent communications,does not make alot of sense.(When Zodiacs second major cipher arrived,who I wonder, would have doubted it's authenticity. Everything was proven up to now)The possibility exists that Zodiac may have encoded his name in one of these communications thus providing proofs
that not only was killer and author one in the same but also providing the link to his true name.(Proving it)
Even in taking Stines I.D he hints at this symbolically.As perhaps he did in taking his key
Here again with LB, Zodiac provides the link,with the "By Knife" phrase and clues us in.
I suggest the murders and written communications go hand in hand.The Game....linking all together and putting his name right there under the noses of law enforcement.