It is unknown whether your astrological sign actually impacts certain aspects of your personality, however, it can dictate your fate. California, 1963, two people’s lives were taken based solely on their zodiac sign. At least that is the belief. Multiple people were slain for the day of their birth. The Zodiac Killer taunted the people of California by flaunting the mystery of the zodiac sign on his chest. He is an astrological sign. There will always be speculation, but the world will never be certain of the truth behind it. The Zodiac Killer that terrorized California in the 1960’s remains anonymous to this day.
The Zodiac Killer’s first attack was in 1963. On senior ditch day, Robert Domingos and Linda Edwards fell under the curse of the zodiac. They were attacked on a beach near Gaviota State Park. They were shot multiple times with a .22 caliber weapon, then were dragged into a shack where a failed attempt to catch them on fire took place (Butterfield). His next victim was eighteen year old Cheri Josephine Bates. She was stabbed multiple times and her throat was slashed. Her car was found at the library, and she was laying in between two houses nearby. There was no sign of sexul asult, and all her belongings were intact. In 1968, two high school students were on their first date together when they fell victim to the Zodiac Killer.
Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday were found on the side of the road with bullet wounds. Betty was shot five times, and David was shot once in the head. Their car had multiple bullet holes through it, and the shell casings matched that of the .22 caliber weapon used in the first murder. The next murder was more of a hit and run style. Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau were shot with a 9mm handgun. A call from a gas station pay phone was made reporting the murder, and admitting to doing it, as well as the very first Zodiac Killer murder. They were both rushed to the hospital, but only Michael made it out alive. His next kill was just months later. Two college students, Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard, were relaxing on a beach 30 miles north of Napa when they were approached by the zodiac. He stabbed them both multiple times, and used the knife to write the dates of the previous murders on the car they drove to the beach. He called in the murders and disappeared; leaving only Bryan alive. 28 year old, taxi driver Paul Stine was the Zodiacs next victim.
He was shot in the head by his passenger, which we know was the zodiac based on a message sent to the police. Witnesses gave mixed descriptions of the killer, so no new leads arose. The next victim was a pregnant mom, Kathleen Johns, and her infant daughter. Neither of them were killed, however, they were still tricked. He convinced her to pull over and help her with a loose wheel on the back of her car. Then when he convinced her to get in his car, she realized he had other plans. She and her daughter were able to escape, and were driven to the police station by a passing driver. In 1970 on Lake Tahoe, a 25-year old woman by the name of Donna Lass disappeared. Her car was found abandoned by her apartment.
She was never found, but an unidentified make claims she had a family emergency during work, however, her family claims otherwise. The last of the Zodiac Killer’s attacks took place in Albay. No one was attacked, but a message from the zodiac stated the name of his next victim. Authorities couldn’t verify if it really was the Zodiac Killer, but no more zodiac kills took place after the letter was found (Butterfield). The Zodiac Killer had a wide range of victims. He had no particular type, however, it is peculiar that in most situations the male had less torture, and usually made it out alive. The variety of killing styles is also very strange. The Zodiac Killer seems so meticulous yet so random. He is a very strange man that seems to match the zodiac, a mystery.
On August 1st in 1969, three san Francisco newspapers received an identical handwritten letter saying, “Dear Editor: I am the killer of the 2 teenagers last Christmas at Lake Herman,” along with details or the murders, and no return address. Along with the taunting letter, a symbol was written. It was a circle with a line through it. This quickly became known as the sign of the zodiac killer. It was his signature. Along with this iconic symbol, in each letter there was a three part cipher that claimed to hold the identity of the killer.
Although none of the ciphers depicting who he was were solved, one ciphered message was solved by a high school teacher and his wife. It read, ‘I like killing people because it is so much fun. It is more fun than killing wild game in the forest because man is the most dangerous animal of all.’ (Biography.com Editors). Multiple letters were sent to the San francisco newspapers, each reciting details about the murders that weren’t yet released to the public. The abundance of information, codes that couldn’t be cracked, and diction of the letters was very threatening to the detectives working the case. The killer was taunting them, and did not stop until 1974.
Numerous suspects were interrogated as being the Zodiac Killer, but they all were eventually ruled out. The first suspect was Lawrance Kane. He worked at the same hotel as Donna Lass, one of the victims in 1970. He was never ruled out, but no evidence was strong enough to convict him as the Zodiac Killer. The next suspect was Ross Sullivan, who was a worker who disapeared days after Cheri Josephone Bates murder, and worked at the library at which her car was found and she said she would be. It was reported that he made people feel uncomfortable; he was never found, but had a history of being hospitalized for bipolar tendencies and schizophrenia. Arthur Leigh Allen was the next suspect.
He became a suspect after multiple people turned him in for talking about wanting to kill people in a similar way that the Zodiac Killer did. One of the Zodiac Killer survivors, Michael Montegu saw a picture of Allen and identified him as the killer, however, he was still ruled out. He didn;t match witness descriptions, his fingerprints didn’t match, and neither his left or right handwriting samples matched that of the Zodiac Killer’s. Richard Marshall was the next suspect. He has very similar characteristics as the Zodiac Killer, and is interested in the same things included in the Zodiac Killer’s messages, however he does not fit as the killer himself. Ken Narlow, Napa County sheriff’s detective, was the one that ruled him out. He has since passed. Richard Gaikowski was turned in by a former coworker as the Zodiac Killer. Upon hearing his speak, a police officer that talked to the Zodiac recognized his voice as the same. He however, was ruled out. He is a known conspiracy theorist with no credibility. DNA samples were still requested, however they were denied. He passed away in 2004.
The next possible killer was Earl Van Best Jr.. In 2014, his son wrote a book about how his biological father, Earl Van Best Jr., was the Zodiac Killer. He resembled the composite sketch, was interested in ciphers, was in California around the time of the murders, and his handwriting matched. Unfortunately however, the fingerprints did not. Other evidence proved against his sons claims, and he was ruled out. Dennis Kaufman also gained fame from telling authorities that his late stepfather, Jack Terrance, was the Zodiac Killer. He presented a large sum of evidence, however, the police threw it all away claiming it was nonsense. The next suspect actually murdered someone and had escaped from jail. His name was Donald Lee Bujok. Fellow inmates claimed he talked about the same stuff that was written in the Zodiacs letters. However, fingerprints didn’t match, and the traveling logistics did not add up. He later died in 1993 (Beck). These are the only men that were ruled possible suspects, however they were all ruled out. Is it possible one of these men were behind the killings after all? The world may never know for sure.
Similar to the astrological signs, the zodiac killer is a mystery. As of now, no truth of who the killer is has been revealed. The killer terrorized thousands, yet the FBI was never asked to investigate (“The Zodiac Killer”). Was the Zodiac killer that good at remaining hidden, or were the wrong people working the case? The world may never know, but new suspects arise each year. The Zodiac Killer investigation is still open, and new evidence and theories are seen each year, but so far none have been correct. The mystery of the Zodiac killer lives on forever with the uncertainty of the astrological sign significance.