Mention the name Zodiac and you get a picture in your mind just like the picture at left. A hooded man, brandishing a gun, killing couples in parked cars. Maybe even codes and ciphers come to mind.
But there is far more to the Zodiac Killer. It’s the most famous UNSOLVED murder case of all time, and his identity is STILL UNKNOWN!
The Zodiac Killer case is even above the ranks of other famous cases like that of Ted Bundy, Jack the Ripper, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Son of Sam, and the Boston Strangler. If you follow this case, whoever he (or they) were, he represents nothing but evil. Definitely a sick and twisted individual that should have never been born. Not only did he kill, but he sent taunting letters and cards and cryptograms to the news media, long after he supposedly stopped killing. Really sick! But did he really stop?
The Zodiac started his murderous campaign on December 20, 1968. Did he end his killing on October 11, 1969 like some believe? From the known victims – yes – but more victims are suspected as Zodiac murders.
The Zodiac Killer has 7 known victims, 5 of which he murdered and 2 survived. But there are other suspected victims of the Zodiac – 3 that were killed and 1 possible survivor. And a very good case that another victim (murdered) may be added to the list. Are there more?
There have been hundreds if not thousands of suspects. Below is the list of the most credible and well known suspects associated with the Zodiac case:
Guy Ward Hendrickson – In April 2009, Deborah Perez, the step-daughter of Hendrickson, held a press conference claiming her step-father was the Zodiac killer. She made lots of claims. She even had a pair of sunglasses purported to belong to Paul Stine, the cab driver that was killed. She also claimed that she was with her step-father on occasions during his killings, wrote 3 of the letters, and stamped the envelopes. Oh, and she claimed to be the illegitimate daughter of JFK. She failed a polygraph miserably and the glasses don’t match Stine’s. (See photo at left) He died in 1983. That ends that!
Bruce Davis – Bruce Davis (see photo to right) was a former Manson family member who is now in prison in California for murder. Although he was in the San Francisco area in the 1960’s, he has been ruled out as a Zodiac suspect, due to analysis of his handwriting and the fact he had very long hair at the time of the crimes. I also don’t think he ever wore glasses(?) He’s not the Zodiac killer.
Arthur Leigh Allen – Allen (photo left) has been the main suspect for a long time now. And hasn’t been ruled out yet, officially. He was the only one that had a search warrant served on him. But his fingerprints didn’t match the Zodiac and his DNA didn’t match either. So that rules him out for me. Two letters from November 1966 were found to be typed on a Royal model typewriter, that Allen had in possession, which made him a suspect at the time. He supposedly spoke of liking to “Hunt People” cause they were intelligent. He was an elementary school teacher and child molester – go figure. He is suspected of the murder of Cheri Jo Bates on October 30, 1966 at the Riverside City College, who was stabbed to death. Not the same MO as the Zodiac. But some do link this murder to the Zodiac murders. He was also given a Zodiac watch for XMAS from his mother that had the Zodiac sign on it. He was 35 years old at the time of the crimes. He died in 1992.
Rick Marshall - He was born in Texas in 1928, which would make him 40 yrs old at the time of the Zodiac crimes. (photo to right) He did live in the area of the Cheri Jo Bates murder in 1966. He also lived in a basement in San Francisco only a few miles from the Zodiac’s crime scene in San Francisco. He worked as a projectionist for a silent movie theater in San Francisco. That’s about all we know about him. He does resemble the wanted poster somewhat, except for the hair. But not enough is known about him to say he could be the Zodiac. And since no one can tie him to the Zodiac crime scenes or letters, I would rule him out until further evidence is found.
Richard Gaikowski – Born in 1936, and was a medic in the US Army. He does resemble the wanted poster. He would have been 33 years old at the time. He was an editor of ‘The Good Times’ newspaper in San Francisco. Some investigators claim that they find his name in one of the Zodiac ciphers. Victim Darlene Ferrin married and moved to Albany, NY- in which Gaikowski followed her. Her husband was employed by rival newspaper ’Albany Times-Union’ while Gaikowski worked for the ‘Albany Knickerbocker News’. Even Paul Stine’s sister stated that she saw Gaikowski at the funeral. But I don’t see any evidence that he had the knowledge of writing codes or code breaking. He was a writer, but a code breaker? Although some circumstantial evidence points to Gaikowski, his background doesn’t seem to work for me. Was he clever or smart enough to plan all the ciphers, letters, and taunting? He lived in the area and that’s about it. I rule him out. He died in 2004.
Lawrence Kane – At the time, he was 45 yrs old in 1969, 5’9’ and 160 pounds. Darlene Ferrin’s sister, Pam, claims that Kane followed Darlene for months prior to her murder. And survivor Kathleen Johns also identified him as her abductor. He does resemble the wanted poster somewhat, but did he wear glasses? He was also arrested in August 1968, 4 months before the Zodiac started. He is still living. What is lacking about Kane as the Zodiac, is that he had massive brain damage from an auto accident in 1962. He was diagnosed as “losing the ability to control self gratification”. I find no evidence that one with such brain damage could in fact plan the murders, the ciphers, the letters, the cards and intricate clues. Did he have the background in code breaking? None that I found. With his brain injury, I doubt he could have done the years of planning and executing the murders and get away with it and not leave a clue to his identity, due to his “not being able to control himself”. I rule him out as well.
Jack Tarrance – In 2000, Dennis Kaufman (Jack’s step-son) claimed that his step-father was the Zodiac killer. The Zodiac case was marked “inactive” in April 2004. It was reopened in March 2007, but not because of Jack Tarrance. DNA test have since been analyzed and the results were inconclusive. Dennis is still claiming the handwriting matches due to one person saying that Jack Tarrance’s writing is that of the Zodiac.
Dennis claims to have found the “costume” consisting of a hood and cape like shirt that had a large Zodiac symbol on it among the possessions of his step-father as well as a weapon. It was turned over to the FBI for DNA testing. Dennis also claims that his step-father “confessed” to him and he taped the confession. Dennis has been using the media for attention since 2000, trying to get anyone to bite on his story. Maybe Jack Tarrance did confess to him, but there has been NO evidence whatsoever linking Jack Tarrance to the Zodiac crimes. Jack Tarrance’s name only resembles the infamous “Jack Torrance” from the movie “The Shining”. This is why many still spell his name Jack Torrance instead of Tarrance. I rule him out as well.
Gareth Penn – Gareth Penn (photo right)is a freelance writer, was in the Army as a surveyor, and author of “Times 17” about the Zodiac killer published in April 1987. In his book, he accuses Michael O’Hare of being the Zodiac Killer. Penn has gone so far as nearly destroying O’Hare’s life in the process. Investigators actually never thought that O’Hare was the Zodiac, but instead actually turned to the author, Penn, as a suspect. Gareth Penn is a serious suspect. He is a member of MENSA, is highly intelligent, knows codes and code breaking, and actually is very arrogant. He sees himself “smarter” than everyone else. Remember, the Zodiac was angry that his cipher was solved very quickly. The Zodiac then unleashed a series of taunting cards, letters, and ciphers. He was angry that people were so stupid that they couldn’t crack his clues. Gareth Penn was also described as the same way. He was the first person that described the “radian theory” as the way the Zodiac picked his victims and places to do his crimes.
Unsatisfied that his work had gone unsolved and that he didn’t get the limelight he craved, Gareth turned to MENSA to publish works regarding the Zodiac as a way to “help” qualified people get the idea of how the Zodiac thought. Then maybe someone smart enough (from MENSA) could crack the clues he left in his letters and cards.
The Zodiac did indeed leave lots of clues to his identity. He didn’t just do the ciphers. He wrote cards, letters, cryptograms, and sent pieces of torn clothing to the news media, police, and one lawyer.
The famous 408 cipher (photo to right) was solved in only 8 days. (they call it 408 cipher because 17 lines across times 24 lines down and 17 x 24 = 408) It was sent on July 31, 1969 and cracked on August 8, 1969. It reads like a psychopath wrote it, which fits the Zodiac killer. All his ciphers were 17 characters across, hence the name of Penn’s book ‘Times 17’.
The taunting letters and cards started on July 31, 1969. And the last one was possibly April 24, 1978. The 3 cryptic ciphers were sent to three newspapers, and were demanded to be published or he would kill more people. There are a few of the later letters that are debated as to being authentic works from the Zodiac or just from a copycat.
On November 9, 1969, the 340 cipher was received, and it is still UNSOLVED. (see photo to right) The Zodiac killer was silent for 3 years after the dripping pen card (seen at bottom). Then he started again with “The Exorcist” letter postmarked January 29, 1974.
On March 3, 2007, there was a new Xmas card found, postmarked in 1990, that is believed to be from the Zodiac. Authentication of this new card may not be published yet. I couldn’t find anything stating such.
The Zodiac left clues in his cards and letters about his identity which have baffled investigators ever since. The Zodiac was one sick puppy, whomever he was. Some believe that according to some eyewitness descriptions, there may have been more than one person that did the killings and/or abductions. So there may have been a team of Zodiac killers. But this hasn’t been confirmed nor officially denied.
The Zodiac case may have already been solved. I have read and re-read the 68 page document that actually spells out the solutions to the ciphers, the letters, the cards, in a very easy to understand way. The link is at the bottom under sources. It is very compelling indeed. Even I can follow the logic behind the solutions.
It was written by Christopher Farmer, of the OPORD Analytical, a premiere intelligence company. Anyone who is interested in learning the identity of the Zodiac Killer can read this and be blown away.
The analysis points directly to Gareth Penn as the Zodiac Killer. Some of it is a little over my head, but still easy enough to get the main conclusions of each solution and come to the same conclusion yourself.
The Zodiac killer case will be solved, if it hasn’t already been from the above. I encourage interested people to read it and come to your own conclusion. It is very well done and easy to follow.
And remember, investigators also have a very strong interest in Gareth Penn as the Zodiac killer. So there is something to this, maybe much more.
I assume that one day an official announcement will be made regarding Gareth Penn and the Zodiac case. Or could we all be wrong?
http://www.opordanalytical.com/articles1/zodiac-340.htm (possible 340 cipher solution)
http://www.opordanalytical.com/ (best case for proving the identity of zodiac killer–68 pages long in pdf)