Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Zodiac Killer

Image attribution: author unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Zodiac Killer was/is an as yet unidentified serial killer who has been conclusively linked to 7 attacks, though the killer claimed to have taken 37 lives. The 7 confirmed attacks took place between December of 1968 and October of 1969. Two of the 7 victims survived the attacks.

December 20,1968 - Betty Jensen and David Faraday
16-year-old Betty Lou Jensen was out on a first date with 17-year-old David Arthur Faraday. They had stopped their car at a well known lovers' lane in a quiet spot on Lake Herman Road, California. Evidence suggests that a second vehicle pulled up beside Jensen and Faraday. The driver got out and walked round to Faraday's door, before shooting the young man at point blank range. Jensen ran, but was shot 5 times in the back. Betty Jensen died at the scene; David Faraday passed away on route to hospital.

July 4,1969 - Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau
22-year-old Darlene Elizabeth Ferrin and 19-year-old Michael Renault Mageau had parked at Blue Rock Springs Golf Course in California at around midnight. A car pulled in behind them and a man got out. He approached Ferrin and Mageau's car and aimed a flashlight through the window at their faces, temporarily blinding them. He immediately fired 5 shots into the car, hitting both Ferrin and Mageau. He started to walk away, but  heard Mageau cry out in pain. He returned to the vehicle and fired another 4 shots, hitting Mageau once and Ferrin twice. 

Fortunately, three teens stumbled across the crime scene only minutes after the killer had left. They phoned for help, which arrived in time to save Mageau's life. Ferrin, sadly, died on route to the hospital.

Mageau was able to give a partial description of the assailant, describing him as a white male, about 5'8'' and 195 pounds.

Approximately 30 minutes after the attack, police received an anonymous call taking responsibility for it, as well as for the murders of Betty Jensen and David Faraday. The call was made from a public phone booth situated just minutes from the local police station.

September 27, 1969 - Cecilia Shepard and Bryan Hartnell
The next confirmed victims were students Cecilia Ann Shepard and Bryan Calvin Hartnell (who were 22- and 20-years-old, respectively). They were enjoying a picnic at Lake Berryessa in California when a man claiming to be an escaped convict approached with a gun. His face was covered with a hood.

The assailant threw Shepard a piece of clothesline and forced her to hog tie her boyfriend. Then the attacker tied Shepard up in the same manner. He stabbed them both repeatedly and left them for dead.

A fisherman found the victims still breathing and called for help. Hartnell survived but Shepard was not so fortunate: she fell into a coma and died 2 days later.

Again, the killer placed a phone call confessing to the crime. Again, he did so from a public phone booth situated just minutes from the local police station.

October 11, 1969 - Paul Stine
The Zodiac's final confirmed victim was 29-year-old San Francisco cab driver, Paul Stine. The killer shot Stine in the side of the head and walked away. Three youngsters witnessed the crime. They described the shooter as being a heavily built white male between the ages of 25 and 30 with a crew cut. Someone matching this description was spotted by police officers just a stone's throw from the crime scene. But, for an unknown reason, the officers thought they were looking for a black male. They didn't give the man a second thought. Paul Stine died at the scene.

Letters and Ciphers
During the time of the killings, and for many years afterwards, the Zodiac Killer  taunted the police by sending messages and ciphers to local newspapers. One of the letters referred to the possibility of killing school children. The killer could, he wrote, just find a school bus, shoot out the front tire, and "pick off the kiddies as they came bouncing out"[1]. Fortunately, he never acted on this threat.

Four ciphers were also sent to the local newspapers. The killer claimed that if anyone could break the ciphers, then his identity would be revealed. To this day, only one of the ciphers has been conclusively broken. It did not reveal the name of the killer.

Over the years, around 2,500 suspects were interviewed, but none were ever charged. The case remains unsolved to this day.

You might also be interested in:
Madame LaLaurie, Ted Bundy - The Charismatic Killer, Amelia Dyer - The Angel Maker


No comments:

Post a Comment