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The Zodiac Killer

The Unsolved Mystery of the Zodiac Killer

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Zodiac - Crossed-Circle Symbol

Zodiac - Crossed-Circle Symbol

Police Evidence
The Zodiac Killer was a serial killer who stalked parts of Northern California from December 1968 through October 1969. Through a series of cryptic letters he sent to the press and others, he disclosed his insanity which motivated the killings, offered clues to future murder plots and adopted the name Zodiac.

He took responsibility for murdering as many as 37 people, but police investigators confirmed that seven people were attacked by the Zodiac of which five died.

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December 20, 1968 - Jensen and Faraday

Betty Lou Jensen, 16, and David Arthur Faraday, 17, were parked at a secluded spot located on Lake Herman Road on the eastern side Vallejo, California.

Witnesses noticed the young couple huddled together in the front seat of Faraday's Rambler station wagon between around 10:15 and 11:00 p.m. Nothing about the couple seemed unusual to those who saw them, however by 11:15 the scene had taken a tragic turn.

They were discovered lying outside their bullet-riddled car. Betty Lou was found several feet from the car, dead from five gun shot wounds in the back. David was found next to the car. He had been shot at close range in the head, but was still breathing. He died while in route to the hospital.

Clues

Detectives had few clues to go on although there was an earlier confrontation in the same area. Bill Crow and his girlfriend were parked in the same place as Faraday and Jensen, but 45 minutes earlier. Crow told police that someone driving a white Chevy drove past them, stopped and backed up. For unknown reasons Crow sped away in the opposite direction. The Chevy turned around and followed the couple, but was unable to keep up after Crow made a sharp right turn at an intersection.

Two hunters also reported seeing a white Chevy parked at a gravel turn-around on Lake Herman Road. They approached the car but did not see the driver inside.

July 4, 1969 - Ferrin and Mageau

Darlene Elizabeth Ferrin, 22, and Michael Renault Mageau, 19, were parked at the Blue Rock Springs Golf Course in Benicia around midnight. The golf course was four miles from where Jensen and Faraday were gunned down.

A car pulled up behind the couple's car, blocking them from driving away. A man, who Mageau believed was a police officer, got out of his car with a bright flashlight which blinded the couple from being able to clearly see his face. As the stranger approached the driver's side of the car he immediately began shooting at the couple, firing five nine-millimeter rounds into the car. Both Ferrin and Mageau were shot.

The shooter turned to leave, but came back after hearing shouts coming from Michael. He fired four more times, one bullet hitting Michael and two striking Darlene, then got into his car and drove away.

Within minutes after the attack three teens found the couple and went for help. When authorities arrived both Ferrin and Mageau were still alive, but Ferrin died before reaching the hospital.

Clues

Michael Mageau survived the attack and was able to give a description of the shooter to authorities. He described the attacker as a short, heavyset white man, about 5' 8" and around 195 pounds.

The Call

At 12:40 a.m. an anonymous male caller contacted the Vallejo Police Department and reported the double murder. During the call he also said he was responsible for the Jensen and Faraday murders. Police traced the call and found it was made from a phone booth located just blocks from the police department and less than a mile from Darlene Ferrin's home.

The caller told police:

    "I wish to report a double murder. If you will go one mile east on Columbus Parkway to a public park, you will find the kids in a brown car. They have been shot by a nine-millimeter Luger. I also killed those kids last year. Good-bye"

The Zodiac Letters

On Friday, August 1, 1969, the first known Zodiac letters were received by three newspapers. The San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Chronicle and Vallejo Times-Herald each received an almost identical letter written by a person who took credit for the attacks on the four teens. He also gave details about the murders and included one-third of a mysterious cipher in each letter.

The self-proclaimed killer demanded that the three letters be published on the front page of each newspaper by that Friday afternoon or he would go on a rampage and randomly kill a dozen people over the weekend. The letters were signed with a crossed-circle symbol.

The letters were published and efforts to untangle the messages in the ciphers began by authorities and citizens.

August 4, 1969

Police investigators stated publicly that they had doubts as to the authenticity of the letters in an attempt to get the killer to contact them again. The plan worked and on August 4 another letter arrived at the San Francisco Examiner.

The letter began with the words that have since haunted many involved in the case:

    Dear Editor This is the Zodiac speaking...
It was the first time the killer used the name Zodiac. In the letter the Zodiac included information which proved he was present during the murders and a message that his identity was hidden inside the ciphers.

August 8, 1969

A high school teacher and his wife cracked the 408-symbol cipher. The last 18 letters could not be decoded. The message read:

    I LIKE KILLING PEOPLE BECAUSE IT IS SO MUCH FUN IT IS MORE FUN THAN KILLING WILD GAME IN THE FORREST BECAUSE MAN IS THE MOST DANGEROUE ANAMAL OF ALL TO KILL SOMETHING GIVES ME THE MOST THRILLING EXPERENCE IT IS EVEN BETTER THAN GETTING YOUR ROCKS OFF WITH A GIRL THE BEST PART OF IT IS THAE WHEN I DIE I WILL BE REBORN IN PARADICE AND THEI HAVE KILLED WILL BECOME MY SLAVES I WILL NOT GIVE YOU MY NAME BECAUSE YOU WILL TRY TO SLOI DOWN OR ATOP MY COLLECTIOG OF SLAVES FOR MY AFTERLIFE EBEORIETEMETHHPITI.
The fact that the code did not contain the killer's identity was a disappointment to the police, however some believe the letters can be rearranged (and three more letters added) to spell "Robert Emmet the Hippie."
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