This page is being updated as of 6/15/20. If
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Kidnapped: March 22, 1970 (Sunday)
Case number: C62677
Time of attack: Approximately 11:15 p.m.
Place of attack: Highway 132 near Patterson, Calif.
Method of attack: Kathleen Johns, age 22, and her infant daughter were on their way
to visit a sick relative in Petaluma, Calif. A man Johns later identified as Zodiac
disabled her car as it was parked along the highway, then kidnapped her and her daughter.
There were no witnesses. Johns car was later found burned about two miles from where she
claimed to have left it.
Below: Kathleen Johns featured on television's "America's Most Wanted" from 1998.
Details: Johns had pulled over because a man in another car had gestured that one
of her wheels was wobbling. The man also pulled over and offered to fix the problem.
Instead, he seemingly made it worse. When Johns pulled back onto the highway, the wheel
came off. Once again offering to help, the man convinced her to accept a ride to a service
station. However, according to Johns, the man drove her and her baby around desolate
backroads near the town of Tracy for almost two hours, threatening to kill them. The man
was approximately 30 years old, 5'9", 160 pounds, had short dark hair and was wearing
heavy-rimmed glasses and dark clothing. Clutching her daughter, Johns was finally able to
escape and found a ride to a nearby town. Once at the police station, Johns spotted the
Zodiac wanted poster and frantically identified him as being responsible for the
abduction. Over the next few days, San Francisco's major newspapers, the Chronicle
and Examiner, ran stories on the incident. On July 24, 1970 Zodiac mailed a letter to the Chronicle,
apparently taking credit for the crime.
Zodiac victim? This case is a mess. First of all, while Johns claims her life was
threatened, the police report
tells a different story. In fact, of the three reports I've read, none detail any
statements by Johns about being threatened in any way. (According to Kathleen, the police
officers must have relied on memory when preparing her reports, as they didn't document
any of her story while she was present.) And even though Zodiac wrote a letter in apparent
reference to the incident, he uncharacteristically failed to provide the details that
would have clearly established his involvement.
Conclusion: If it truly was Zodiac who Kathleen encountered, his actual tally of
victims might be much higher than anticipated. However, the possibility exists that Zodiac
was merely attempting to take credit for the crimes of another.