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In and '69, the Zodiac Killer attacked seven people in four different Northern California locations. His first three targets were couples in secluded areas; two of these people survived. His last known victim was a taxi driver killed on October 11,in San Francisco. During and after his killing spree, Zodiac received attention and spread fear as he shared ciphers, letters, information and threats with authorities and the public. No murder has been officially linked to the Zodiac Killer since Octoberbut the unsolved case continues to fascinate. Though the Zodiac Killer may also be responsible for other crimes, there are the five murders and two attempted murders officially attributed to him.
On December 20,in Benicia, California, year-old David Faraday and year-old Betty Lou Jensen were shot while parked on a lovers' lane during their first date. Police initially had no idea a serial killer was responsible for these deaths.
Therefore the investigation followed more standard steps, such as checking out Jensen's ex-boyfriend. Jensen's best friend later told SF Weekly"All the detectives thought it had to be because of drugs. They refused to hear anything else. Ferrin was killed, but Mageau survived the wounds to his jaw, shoulder and leg.
Why the zodiac killer has never been identified
Less than an hour following the attack, Zodiac phoned the Vallejo police department to report the crime. During the call, he stated : "I also killed those kids last year," a reference to Faraday and Jensen. They were approached by a man wearing a hood that bore a symbol of two intersecting lines in a circle.
The man used a gun to threaten Shepard and Hartnell, tied them up, then stabbed the pair. Both Shepard and Hartnell were alive when help arrived. Shepard ended up succumbing to her wounds, but Hartnell recovered. While in the taxi, Zodiac shot Stine in the head. Witnesses saw Stine's murder, so police were soon on the scene.
The witnesses had described the murderer as white, around 25 to 30 years old, wearing glasses and sporting a crew cut.
Police, who assumed the killing was a robbery, spotted a man matching this description — but a dispatcher had mistakenly told them the suspect was a Black person. The man was allowed to leave, and the Zodiac Killer was not caught. After his July attack, the Zodiac Killer began to contact newspapers via letters that included details only the killer would know. And in addition to phoning the police after the murders he committed in July, he made a phone call confession to law enforcement in September. The Zodiac Killer took responsibility for Stine's death in a letter postmarked October 13,enclosing a piece of the driver's bloodied shirt.
He also reached out to the police by phone several days following that crime. His messages also often included a crosshairs symbol, which resembled the sight on a rifle — the same symbol on the hood worn during his September attack. Zodiac seemed to enjoy the publicity he received. He took steps to ensure messages were widely shared, such as threatening to go on a "kill ram" unless a cipher was printed in the San Francisco Chroniclethen issuing a separate threat to have a cipher published in The San Francisco Examiner.
In a letter postmarked November 9,he taunted his pursuers, saying, "The police shall never catch me, because I have been too clever for them. Of Zodiac's four coded messages, a married couple was able solve the first cipher to reveal that Zodiac had writtenamong other things, "I like killing people because it is so much fun. Yet despite decades of trying, no other Zodiac cipher has been officially solved.
The letter Zodiac sent taking responsibility for Stine's murder also declared, "School children make nice targets. I think I shall wipe out a school bus some morning. Some parents opted to keep their children home from school entirely. InZodiac was consistently front- news, while the knowledge that an unhinged serial killer was on the loose terrified the public.
People rushed to call tip lines with the slightest information, overwhelming the police. Among letters that came in were threats to bomb a school bus and orders for residents of San Francisco to wear buttons with the crosshairs Zodiac symbol. Zodiac letters and notes, including one declaring that each new victim meant "the more slaves I will collect for my afterlife," arrived until March A few more letters and postcards arrived that year.
There was silence again until when a letter purportedly from Zodiac was sent to the San Francisco Chronicle. However, the legitimacy of the letter was questioned, as the handwriting and tone differed from earlier Zodiac communications.
In addition, the discovery that year that a San Francisco detective had faked letters to the editor praising his own work on the case made some wonder if the detective had also falsified this Zodiac letter, something the detective and San Francisco police denied. The authenticity of the letter has not been confirmed.
Though he'd claimed to be responsible for 37 deaths, no Zodiac victims have been discovered since Did he stop killing? Popular culture often depicts serial killers as operating under irresistible compulsions, but under certain circumstances, they can refrain from murder. Perhaps coming so close to getting caught on the night of Stine's murder scared Zodiac onto a safer path. Another possibility is that the terror he fomented in the public served as a substitute for killing. In addition, simply growing older may dampen predatory impulses.
A psychology professor who wrote a book about Zodiac has posited that the murderer may have recovered from dissociative identity disorder, otherwise known as multiple personalities. With recovery came an end to his desire to kill. It's also possible Zodiac stopped taking lives for a reason outside his control, such as institutionalization, incarceration or his own death.
Or perhaps Zodiac continued to hunt victims, but in a different way. Both members of law enforcement and amateur sleuths continue to track the Zodiac Killer. Their dating an irish Vallejo CA man relies on the original investigations handled separately by law enforcement in Vallejo, Napa County and San Francisco.
The case was not under federal jurisdiction, though the FBI provided support for analyzing handwriting, fingerprints and decoding Zodiac's messages. Over the years, more than 2, suspects were consideredranging as far afield as Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.
A search warrant was executed for one prime suspectArthur Leigh Allen, but no definitive evidence was discovered. In addition, Allen's fingerprints did not match prints from Stine's taxi, and inDNA pulled from a Zodiac-sent stamp did not match Allen's. However, the DNA sample was small and the somewhat inconclusive — plus Allen often had other people lick stamps for him. Today's more advanced DNA techniques offer the tantalizing possibility of a definitive answer regarding who the Zodiac is, or was. But police in the s and '70s had no idea that DNA analysis would arrive on the scene.
Therefore some evidence was mishandledor the chain of custody was broken. And pieces of evidence remain spread across various law enforcement agencies.
Fired vallejo officer details killing ronell foster, lax investigations in deposition
In short, few things are available to analyze. But inthe Vallejo police department announced plans to submit some evidence in their possession for up-to-date DNA testing. A full DNA profile would make it possible to search open-source genealogy databases for a match. Another California killer, the Golden State Killerwas apprehended in thanks to this approach.
But in the case of the Zodiac, no have been reported thus far.
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However, inthree code breakers were able to solve one of Zodiac's ciphersfurther providing evidence to help solve the identity of the killer. His chosen field of study came in handy when targeting women. And his college-boy persona fooled not only his victims, but the authorities as well.
From Gary Ridgway's first murder to his eventual capture and arrest, here are the key moments from his killing spree that claimed the lives of at least 48 women. The French filmmaker was murdered in a quiet part of Ireland one night in Decemberand despite years of investigation, questions remain about who killed her. Dennis Rader tormented his Kansas community with a string of murders and taunted the police who couldn't solve his crimes, but blew his own cover through an insatiable desire for attention.
His heinous crimes and murders sentenced him to life in prison, but after less than three years behind bars, the cold-blooded killer became the victim. From Gacy's first sexual assault conviction to his eventual execution, here are the key moments from one of the most notorious murder sprees in U. More than a century after his untimely demise, there are still rumors and legends about how the author met his end.
The gruesome death of year-old Elizabeth Short confounded Los Angeles investigators in the late s and remained a topic of intrigue in the decades that followed. The true-crime writer spent the last six years of her life chasing down the infamous California serial killer and rapist. By Sara Kettler. By Colin Bertram. By Tim Ott.
By Jordan Zakarin.