Supreme Court Packing

It’s the Roman in me that makes me walk off my usual topics on my blog, but in some respects this is related to cold case. Historic knowledge of its foundation is certainly a cold topic amongst Americans.

The age of the Founding Fathers of the American Republic was Neo-classicism. Knowledge of ancient Greece and especially the Roman Republic was pervasive in educated society. I’m sure it was at the back of the minds of some who drafted the American Constitution that one way to get this controversial document across was to hark back to this glorified Classical era. Constituting the American Federal government according to Roman precepts also had a practical purpose. They had worked. The Roman Republic was a “proof of principle,” as developers call it–

–Constitute government along similar lines and avoid those pitfalls that led to the fall of the Roman Republic. It seems smart. One way the compromises got convoluted was in the area of the supreme power.

There is no greater power than to say unchallenged “I forbid.” In Latin, “Veto.” It is tribunican potestes– the power of the tribunes of the peoples. Ten sat in the Roman Senate and could halt any legislature. Calling out “Veto” (pronounced weto) halted the legislation. “I forbid.” It became the most powerful office to hold in the Republic. Far more desirable than even the Consulate, the head of government.

Again, to be able to forbid is supreme power. You let all others go about and work their good for the country and take it easy. But when one goes too far or gets to of line– “Veto!” It makes governing easy! Everybody wants this power because you don’t have to be proactive in government. You just need to sit back and watch and . . .well, forbid when necessary.

As the Republic was collapsing, Roman politicians fought and bribed to get the office of Tribune. When the Empire took shape, Roman emperors power was based not on the Consular power but on the power of the Tribune. Augustus would be granted the power of tribune for life. Each emperor thereafter would be granted the same.

Seeking to bypass the hazards that led to the fall of the Republic, the American founding fathers knew the power of Tribune could not be overlooked. Instead of 10 tribunes in the Senate, the tribunes would be set apart into their own institution. Their power would not be unlimited over all legislation, but anchored only to the Constitution. As such, they needed to be judges. As such, there could be no equal number. There could never be a tied decision. This became the Supreme Court. They became 9 in number to prevent any tie in a judgment.

Displaying Roman grandeur, the Supreme Court is really a Board of Roman Tribunes anchored only by the Constitution in their power to forbid.

The Roman tribunes could halt legislation while underway and technically so could the Supreme Court if it was obvious the legislation contradicted the Constitution. So the Federalist Papers outlined how the system was the work. The tribunes (judges) had to wait for a challenge to a specific law to go through the appeals systems. This prevented the Court from being proactive and calling out “veto” as a bill was passing between both houses of Congress. They also had to keep quiet after the law was passed. They could only get involved when the law was challenged through the system and brought before them.

Thus it would seem the hazards that led to the battle to get the office and the power that so impeded change or prevented progress in Rome, intrinsic in causing so much upheaval at the end of the Roman Republic, had been avoided. Since the Founding Fathers were paradoxically anti-Government, the Constitution was written in the negative against government. The Supreme Court would safeguard the Republic against the tyranny of future governments by anchoring all laws to the document that forbade the Federal government repeatedly.

However, just like with the collapse of the Roman Republic, the problems are showing up in the American Republic around the same power of “veto.” It is accentuated by something the Romans didn’t have to contend with, and apparently some of the Founding Fathers thought it was a safeguard. Roman Tribunes held office for one term– about a year and a half, if I recall my Republic well. US Supreme Court justices hold office for life.

You can now see why appointment to the office has become a focal point of contention in the American scheme of things. No Roman magistrate could hold the same office back-to-back. Whether Questor, Praetor, Consul or Tribune, they were locked into one term at a time. If Consul one term, then maybe Tribune the next term, then maybe a few terms hence Consul again. They could hold the same office many times, but not back-to-back.

As the American Republic is in convulsions for change, the Supreme Court is targeted first because of its unchallenged power to forbid. Instead of the legislatures changing the Constitution and reducing the tribunes to limited terms of office rather than life terms, there is a move again to “pack the court.” In other words, to add more tribunes by the majority party in the legislature. The purpose? To get its way, of course. It then becomes the legislature’s power to control the Court, via whatever party is in majority, and the Supreme Court will rubber stamp what the party in majority wants.

The world has no precedence for a powerful Republic except the Roman Republic. There have been little, petty republics throughout history, but where there is great power there is great corruption. Only the system of the Roman Republic could forestall the power grab for hundreds of years, but in the end it collapsed from infighting. The collapse showed itself most predominantly at the most powerful office to prevent or allow significant change– the office of Tribune.

The fights over getting that same power of Tribune in the American Republic are a reflection of the dangerous weaknesses in the system. They foreshadow greater danger to come especially if those who want to pack the court rather than require the tribunes have terms get their way.

Few understand that Marius, Sulla, Caesar, and Octavian were necessary.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

The New Mansons

A couple of years ago I deleted lots of posts on my blog here dealing with true crime. One was my section on comparing the current antiestablishment movement with the immortalized original of the 1960s. What I concentrated on was the effect the original antiestablishment movement had on crime. Some of that is still relevant, so I am putting up a series again exploring what may lay ahead in the future.

The original antiestablishment movement was not one homogenous whole. Antiestablishment was Berkeley 1964 and Sproul Plaza, free speech, anti-Vietnam, the New Left. Counterculture was ashrams, Timothy Leary’s Drugology, Flower Children, hippies. To divide them easily, one was politics, one was lifestyle.

As the tumultuous times progressed, Brown Power, Black Power, all sorts of movements came into being. Cops were “pigs.” LBJ was the devil. There were riots by the antiestablishment, bombs set off by the New Left. The campuses of the country were a breeding ground of radical ideas.

When the body is diseased little abscesses develop. Such as? Such as The Manson Family. It was a strange combination of all of the above. Another was The Zodiac Killer. Eventually, as the movements began to disintegrate it got worse.

In 1970, both the counterculture and the antiestablishment movement collapsed. The New Left set off too many bombs, finally killing a lab student. Disillusioned that this was not the way to peace, the youth dropped out of it, leaving it to become nothing but pockets of outright terrorists like Weather Underground.

A series of disasters disenchanted the counter culture. In December 1969, there were two horrid revelations– the Manson Family, a set of licentious counterculture hippies, had been the butchers in Hollywood the August before. Then there was the Altamont. Finally, in 1970 the festival on the Isle of Wight ended nasty. Counterculture realized that drugs was not the way to world peace. The inner journey to peace through drugs ended.

Drugs continued to be taken, even more than before. But it wasn’t for ideological reasons. It was a trip for a trip’s sake. The demand created by the ideology of the counterculture also created a supply line that now turned capitalistic. The drug culture of the 1970s was now made possible, along with the crimes and murders that would come from the cartels that developed to meet the new but purposeless demand.

Now firmly in the throes of upheaval, the nation had to deal with the after affects of lawlessness and bizarre cults. There were the Zebra Murders. There was the Symbionese Liberation Army, chic militant urban guerillas wearing leather jackets and tams.

Most of all society had to deal with the apathy that overcame the baby boomers, so central to both movements. Francis Schafer, a noted Christian theologian and philosopher, observed that the Boomers had come full circle in their attempts to defeat a wholly materialistic culture and ended up even more dissolute and materialistic than their parents.

The 1980s became the counter revolution to the 1960s. It gave us Yuppies and a hyper establishment, materialistic society based once again on the superficiality of impressing the Jones and the new status quo. It is amazing that these were the same baby boomers of the 1960s. They were now the 30-somethings of Reaganomics.

Like their former hippie selves they were known by their image. It was one of double breasted suits, ostentatious haircuts and hairdos, showcase-like glasses, expensive cars, even coats of arms with some rampant beast. They had been the Hippies and the Yippies, now they were the up and coming 30-somethings. Some journalist, whoever it was, hit the nail on the head with “Yuppies.”

Movies like Wall Street typified the Yuppie attitude. Greed is good. Own. Do not create. The screenwriter of the film has lamented in interviews how so many people (Yuppies) came up to him and expressed their admiration for Gekko, the bad guy of the film. He couldn’t believe it. No generation ever swang, and was aloud to swing, so far one way on the pendulum and so far the other as the Baby Boomers.

In the 2000s, it is this materialistic culture, now in their 50s and 60s, who spent vast amounts of money getting butt-lift operations so they could look like their younger and spry Yuppie selves. Bankers didn’t know how to balance their bottom lines, and the banks crashed. Real estate gave bad loans and housing collapsed. The Great Recession ensued. Kids who were 10 years old then were deeply affected by losing their homes. They looked about and saw parents who didn’t know how to take out loans properly, politicians who didn’t understand how to legislate, and bankers who didn’t know the basics of math.

These kids are now on the campuses. Just from Youtube they can see the culture of the last 60 years and they think it is full of sh . . .

Is it surprising that we have a convoluted antiestablishment movement today? It started with the Occupy Wall Street, which was largely an S&M sham. Typical reaction from that culture– sales and market some response. From Occupy Wall Street it devolved into Occupy Disneyland, and while the tongue-in-cheek capitalizing went on, the ten year old kids who felt disaster lost their sense of humor. It’s the kids who have the collapse of the Great Recession indelible in their memory that want change. They aren’t a sham. They also aren’t just kids anymore. Toxic elements are everywhere.

We now have Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and the closest thing to the old counterculture I suppose would be the cancel-culture– destroy any tokens of the society they hate and blame for all the ills. Cops are “pigs” again. There are riots again.

Unlike the Great Generation in the 1960s, the Baby Boomers, now in their 70s, aren’t handling it well at all. They were from insulated, prosperous times, and as such they tend to not understand cause and effect. Some, perpetually rebellious, identify with antiestablishment yet again and agree with the slogan-level intelligence that demands the police be defunded. The Yuppie element has an equally simplistic approach– monetize it and try and profit off of it.

Hippie protests in the 1960s were about peace. Sticking the stem end of a flower into the rifle barrel of a White House guard rated the cover of magazines. Every elements in the antiestablishment of today wants war. Even Cancel-culture rips down statues.

What abscesses can arise in the wake of this antiestablishment movement?

Police have not had to deal with cult murders and organized political gangs killing people. This was an outcropping of the original antiestablishment movement. The cops of that era are gone. After this antiestablishment movement burns out, Cancelculture like the Counterculture will find a different lifestyle separate from the culture it hates. But radical communists and socialists, at least the modern American indulged versions, infest them all, from Cancelculture to Antifa. In addition, Neo-Nazi type radicals also fester in toxic cells.

When the nation is perceived by any of them to start yielding (or not yielding fast enough) to a certain culture, who will use murder for the purposes of political terror? We could have individuals like the Zodiac Killer who did it for his own amusement. Then there was the complex confection that was The Manson Family. They were not just counterculture. They were a nest of vainglorious hippies under the spell of their mesmeric guru leader. They committed a bizarre spate of murders behind various motives– to get one of their own out of jail, to start the collapse of society by bringing about Helter Skelter. Their new age would ensue wherein they would raise the children whom they saved. Then there were just experimental, twisted killers using religion like The Zebra Killers. The SLA were outright bandits ennobling their bank robbery as supporting a political liberation movement.

All were different. Yet none of them batted an eye about killing. All of the above were not just criminals. They viewed themselves as having a mandate against a corrupt establishment. They all germinated in the medium of the volatile antiestablishment movement and its tumultuous and disillusioned aftermath.

There are those who say that it was drugs, especially LSD, that made the Manson Murders possible, and there is nothing out there like that today. So why should we fear some eddy like this to form in the wake of this torrential antiestablishment movement? This might be true. But this time around there is more anger and violence. There are no peace protests. There are protests for war. There is also more contempt.

The Baby Boomers rebelled against a generation and culture they viewed as giving them the horrors of imminent nuclear holocaust and the slow death of Cold War battles like Vietnam. The young of today view the Baby Boomers as self indulgent wastrels. How does moving to San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury, smoking an hasheesh pipe and frolicking in a love-in do anything about Soviet arms production? Yet the Boomers said they were reacting against the Cold War. They were ennobling a spoiled upbringing, as far as youth of today can see it.

The Great Generation sent their kids (boomers) to college. At grad from High School, the boomers got some treat– a car, a Euro vacation, to Hawaii, whatever. Today, the young have a mountain of school debt and little likelihood of a job thereafter. Where did the money go? Their boomer parents or grandparents are viewed as having spent it all. Remember that Newsweek cover? The Case for Killing Granny. The Boomers would not have expressed that attitude. But today?

What hybrid cells are capable of forming out there that will take the radical ideas of today and turn themselves into champions of selective murder for political or social ideas? It may or may not be a few years off. There are enough disgruntled individuals who could gather under a twisted leader to perform anything horrific. After all, look at how many elements came together to create The Manson Family and then the Manson Murders.

In our next post, we’ll look at more similarities and differences in the antiestablishment movements.

* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

HorrorScope Chapter 3–Silence of the Peacocks

I feel guilty about keeping my readers waiting for the much-delayed publication of HorrorScope: The Zodiac Killer Exposed. So here I share parts of another chapter.

Chapter 3–

Silence of the Peacocks

When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius

Fireworks burst over the shipyards at Mare Island in San Pablo Bay and rain down over a regatta of sailboats in the estuary. The detonations lit the sky. The house tops of Vallejo glowed many colors and then retreated back into dark silhouettes. Cheers rose with every burst, awe cooed with each fabulous sequence of explosions. Sparklers sizzled in driveways. Whistling petes shrilled through middleclass neighborhoods. Barbeque smoke and its flavor— hotdogs, ribs, hamburgers, Americana— mixed with the heavy smell of cordite. It was late night 4th of July in Vallejo— the summer of ’69!

     Vallejo was a blue collar town, but it was also a city on the bay, which gave it a little more opportunity for pageantry. Vallejo always sponsored a boat regatta and a massive firework display. There was little fancy in Vallejo, but it was an old town tied to the ship building yards at Mare Island, the Navy, and to a way of life inseparable from the rustic fringes of the San Francisco Bay Area.  

     At an opposite to the tempo of courageous men, ships and the sea, there were the surrounding grassy foothills. One of Vallejo’s major landmarks was Blue Rock Springs Park. Giant and ancient eucalyptus flourished by the springs, and oaks dotted the surrounding brown hillsides like giant green umbrellas. As a therapeutic destination, the springs went back in popularity to the 19th century. Aptly named Springs Road was the main road eastward from Vallejo. As the city expanded, it did so along Springs Road. It was now modern and developed with businesses— 1960s’ space age gas stations, Mr. Ed’s Drive-In, car washes, storefronts, and off here the new suburban neighborhoods.

    Modernity, however, ended where Springs Road met Columbus Parkway. The latter was a paving of the old dirt road that had led to the springs. Its chief use now was a back way to the highways or to go to the huge park built around the springs. It was a beautiful country jaunt in the day. Take a left at the end of Springs Road onto Columbus Parkway and dash up and down the rolling, brown hills like a dragonfly, whisk under the canopies of tall eucalyptus and then as the road sank into the cleft of the hills, there under the densest canopy of eucalyptus was the parking lot to Blue Rock Springs Park. The lot was but a wide spot in the road, deep enough to fit two rows of cars.

     The slopes of the foothills here were green and manicured. Winding paths led to stands of giant eucalyptus. Up on the slope an old wooden porch house was now used by the caretaker. Peacocks nested up here. They sat on beds of dried eucalyptus leaves and mewed over the vista. Pools of natural spring water were deep green. Their bottoms were impenetrable to the eyes because of the transparent reflections of giant eucalyptus. One pool was spanned by a wooden walking bridge. It was rustic and meant to be rustic. Even the parking lot was rustic. It was edged with uncut, raw boulders. It was a country park outside of town, sporting an old style redwood timber sign with the park name painted in golden yellow.

      Beyond the park Columbus Parkway held nothing. The road climbed a slope of the dry foothills and eventually came down toward nothing but a convenient half cloverleaf in Highway 80 on the outskirts of northern Vallejo, the main highway from the Bay Area to Sacramento inland.  

    At night the area had a foreboding air. Darkness clutched the road under the canopies of eucalyptus. Within the curve of the road, in the cleft of the bosom where the parking lot was located, a car would sink into an abyss, its headlights plunge in a tarry pool. There was a lamp in the park near the parking lot. It stood-out like a weak lantern pestered by the shadows of the eucalyptus leaves dancing with the foothill’s bay breezes.

 This aerial is centered over the park, looking toward Vallejo, showing Columbus Parkway traced in eucalyptus trees. Vallejo Historical Museum

    Festivities were ongoing this night, so that the park was neither quiet nor foreboding. But as it grew late the partiers had thinned out. Columbus Parkway and the park grew lifeless and dark. The brown hills became tope behind the lace of country night. The clusters of trees were black silhouettes that strengthened their clutch over Columbus Parkway, eclipsing it into eerie shadows. Soon the plaintive cry of the peacocks faded.

     Yet in Vallejo rockets still sailed into the sky and burst in electric colors. Kids spun their sparklers in hand, and parties were only beginning.

     At 11:30 p.m. it was still early for Darlene Ferrin. She was one of the most popular people in her set in town. Vivacious is putting it mildly. She was a captivating character with a lively personality. This made up for her somewhat gnomish looks. She was only 5 foot 4 inches tall, but she was a firecracker herself. At 22 now she had already been married twice and divorced once. She was a popular waitress at Terry’s on Magazine Street, and had more than a few admirers who came into eat there just to see “Dee,” as her friends called her. Frankly, she was flighty, always late and often a flake. But her bubbly, unpretentious personality kept friends close.

    Dee radiated in her casual bright blue  slacks and white daisy patterned top. She sped down Springs Road in her brown, sporty Corvair coupé. In keeping with her character she had kept her friend Mike Mageau waiting . . . and waiting. She was supposed to have picked him up at 7:30 p.m. so they could go together to see a film in San Francisco. Things, as always with Dee, had happened. She gave him a heads-up earlier that she might be late, saying she had to take her younger sister Christina to the Miss Firecracker pageant. She would call him later. This was the last he had heard from her. Mike thought the world of Dee. Home alone because his dad was staying at a motel and his twin brother Steve lived with their mom down south, he waited by the phone for hours instead of enjoying this festive day. Now at 11:30 p.m., Dee finally arrived at his home on Beechwood, near Springs Road. Figures!— just as the day was almost over. He rushed out and jumped into the passenger side of her sporty 1964 Chevrolet Corvair.

     It was too late for them to go to San Francisco, and yet as usual Darlene was also without embarrassment over having made Mike wait. She now said she wanted to get something to eat. They headed to nearby Mr. Ed’s diner on Springs Road. Suddenly, impulsively perhaps, she told Mike she wanted to talk. How about if they went to Blue Rock Springs Park? It wasn’t far. Her location of choice wasn’t surprising. It was her favorite meditating place. She turned around on Springs Road and headed to the nearby outskirts of Vallejo.

    This sudden turn of events revealed why the extrovert Dee was always late for events. Right now she was supposed to be out getting fireworks for a late night party. Her husband Dean had called and told her to try and find some. After they closed at Caesar’s, where he was the cook, he was going to bring people home and give a party. After Dee had come home, she tidied up a bit and then walked out on her babysitter, telling her that she was going to look for fireworks and would be back by 12:30 a.m.    Instead she finally went to meet Mike.

     Apparently the fact Dee was married and had a baby girl did not bother the young 19 year old Mike Mageau, at least as little as it bothered Dee. This was 1969 after all, two years after the Summer of Love. Dee liked the beat that came from the antiestablishment pulse— break the norms and don’t assume the most negative thing about anybody acting outside that norm. But the mainstream reaction to Dee’s lifestyle nevertheless would still have been worse than the one embodied in the lyrics of one of the top 10 songs of the year before—“Harper Valley P.T.A.”

Well, the note said, “Mrs. Johnson,
You’re wearing your dresses way too high
It’s reported you’ve been drinking
and a-runnin’ ’round with men and going wild
And we don’t believe you ought to be bringing up your little girl this way”
It was signed by the secretary, Harper Valley P.T.A.

     Dee was as much a reflection of the counterculture as she was, by type, part of the cause for the receptive attitudes around San Francisco. Her life was certainly not the typical mainstream life of a 22 year old wife. Nor had it been. Her reputation for excitement must have been such that the young Mike Mageau had a definite impression of her and geared his introduction accordingly. When they had first met, he had said he was wanted by the FBI, thinking this would make her like him.

     But Dee had liked him anyway, though he had some peculiarities. He thought he was too skinny. As a result he dressed to build himself up. For instance, despite the summer’s tepid air from the bay he had dressed tonight in 3 pairs of pants, 1 t-shirt, 1 long sleeve shirt, and over these 3 sweaters.

     In this combination— her thin but lively flower print and his built up stork’s physique— they sailed down Columbus Parkway  in her brown Corvair, windows down and radio playing the currents hits. Under the clutches of the canopy of eucalyptus, into the starlight, and at last they plunged into the cleft of the bosom where the solitary orb of light floating in the ink marked the lamppost at Blue Rock Springs Park.  

     The Corvair’s headlights swept the golden letters of the painted redwood sign, steadied, closed-in and stopped. Dee parked at an angle, her headlights obliquely lighting the sign. She didn’t park in a stall. No one was there. There was no point in being picky. Dee was never picky. She turned the headlights off and the sign went dark. She turned off the engine and kept the radio playing softly.  

    There wasn’t much time to say anything before a couple of cars came rolling in. Teens cheered, laughed, set off some firecrackers, and rolled back onto Columbus Parkway and into the clutching shadows of the eucalyptus canopy.

    They had barely been left alone when yet another car came from the direction of Vallejo and pulled in next to Dee on her driver’s side, only 6 to 8 feet away. Considering she was parked crooked, it was bold to mimic her angle. The driver was alone. He turned off his headlights and sat there.

    Mike and Dee looked over. He joked about how she knows everybody.

    “Do you know him?”

    “Oh, never mind,” she replied.

    He didn’t know what she meant. No matter anyway. The lights on the strange car soon came on, the engine started and it pulled out and drove off back to town.

      It was a queer moment, but Dee knew many odd people. After all, she liked the far side. Mike didn’t pursue it.

     Only minutes later the same car returned, this time pulling up behind them and slightly to an angle. At least they thought it was the same car. They looked over their shoulders at the blinding headlights. It might be a policeman. The policeman on this beat checked the lot occasionally. A powerful flashlight came on and started to move behind them and up to Mike’s open window. Now Mike was sure it was a cop. As the light came to the window he looked over his shoulder. He saw a beefy guy; under 6-foot tall he estimated. He had a blue short-sleeved shirt on. He carried one of those big handheld flashlights in his left hand. Mike leaned back and reached around to get his wallet. It was a fortuitously timed act.  

    A shot burst forth. Mike felt burning pain in his neck. He jumped back. Dee clutched the steering wheel in surprise, but 2 more shots pumped out, piercing through her right arm and then through her left. Another shot spit out. She slumped from a bullet in her ribs. Mike was flailing about. From behind the blinding splatter of the flashlight, another shot hissed out. His hip burned with pain.  

     The bright flashlight beam streaked off the car. Footsteps casually thumped away. Blood trickled and dripped down the interior, lit only by the surreal angles of light slicing through the windows from of the assailant’s headlights. As the killer passed before them, the headlights cast his lumbering shadow over the gruesome scene in the Corvair.   

     Mike let out a scream of agony, mixed with anger.

     The shadow stopped, steadied. The flashlight beam streaked over the car again, sparkling off the rear window and illuminating the blood streaking down the interior paneling. The footsteps were returning. Mike panicked. He started jumping about in the backseat. The flashlight splatter stopped at the side window. From behind the splatter two more shots burst out. His shoulder burned in back and then his leg. Two more shots burst out at Dee. She was slumped over the wheel and took the shots in her right back without any attempt to block them.

    The splatter of the flashlight beam dashed off the car again. Moments later the killer’s shadow lumbered over the blood in the Corvair as the villain passed in front of his headlights again to the driver’s side of his car.

     Mike reached out and unlocked the passenger side door. He fell out. The assailant’s car had just backed around. For a brief moment he saw the attacker in silhouette. A big face. He let out a wail of pain on the tarmac. The attacker hadn’t heard him. The brake lights snipped off and the car surged forward. Mike saw the back of the car and noticed it seemed to be a lighter brown than Dee’s, but of a similar model. The assailant’s car drove off and turned left onto Columbus Parkway— back to Springs Road and Vallejo.

      Just moments later, a truck came coasting up from the other direction, that is, from the right, down from the rise in Columbus Parkway from the north, from the direction of Highway 80.      Roger, Jerry and Debbie were a little more radical looking than the mainstream. They were morphing into mainstream hippies, which was largely just veneer for teens their age. Presently they were looking for one of Jerry’s girlfriends. They came this way from Vallejo to see if she was at the park, perhaps one of the leftovers from the evening celebrations here. Debbie, the oldest at 19, was driving. She stopped on the road and they looked up to the dark Corvair. (The parking lot slanted up at an angle, so that Columbus Parkway was noticeably below the apex of the lot.) They debated for a moment whether the girl they sought was in the car and whether they should pull in and look. At this moment, what must have been only seconds after they arrived, the Corvair’s lights came on and so did the left blinker. They saw a young man roll out from behind the right side and heard him scream. They pulled in.

The park and parking lot (obscured at the low point in the parkway by the stand of trees, seen from Columbus Parkway from the direction Jerry, Roger, and Debbie came. Vallejo Historical Museum

saw a young man roll out from behind the right side and heard him scream. They pulled in.

    Roger jumped out.

    Mike Mageau lay in the fringes of their headlights. Blood burbled from his mouth: “We’ve been shot,” he groaned. “Get a doc. Quick!”

     Jerry had barely come forward when Roger bolted back. Jerry wanted to stay, but Debbie and Roger blurted “No way!” They assured Mike they would get help quick. They ripped out and sped toward Springs Road. They sped through the clutches of the eucalyptus canopy. Emerging into starlight again, Lake Herman Road cutoff was soon on their left. They noticed a car’s taillights receding away as it headed to Benicia. They couldn’t tell what type of car. They squealed right onto Springs Road. Soon they squealed onto Castlewood Drive (not far from Beechwood) and Roger’s house.

     Frantic about the shooting, Debbie tried to explain to the police. Neither Roger nor Jerry had time to look into the car to see Dee Ferrin at all, so Debbie had little to screech over the phone except there had been a shooting at Blue Rock Springs Park. As such, the police were unsure of the extent of the carnage that awaited them.

     At 12:10 a.m. all units heard the broadcast. Closest were officers Meyring and Lindemann in Unit 119, and in Unit 130 officer Richard Hoffman. Each turned around and went screaming onto Columbus Parkway, heading north to the park.

    Hoffman was the most surprised by the report. He had just checked the park about 15 minutes before (around 5 minutes to midnight). No one had been there.

    Now just by the clubhouse of the new golf course (on the opposite side of the parkway), oncoming headlights emerged from the darkness of the canopy of trees by the park. A gray late model Caddy passed them heading toward Vallejo. Meyring and Lindemann do a squealing U-turn and hit the overhead lights. Hoffman plunged forward into the darkness of the dip in the road. His headlights bounce up and down as he took the gutter at quick speed. Then the headlights swept a young man rolling in a pool of blood by the rear of the parked Corvair.  

     Hoffman rushed up. Mageau is retching in pain. Blood is flowing freely from his mouth. In such severe pain, Mike Mageau could say little as Hoffman knelt by him. He only said they had been shot and didn’t know who it was. Hoffman then got up and looked in the open window of the Corvair. Dee Ferrin was breathing, but only shallowly. He could see the holes in her arms and one in her side a few inches below her right armpit. He went around to the driver’s side. He saw no more bullet holes, but recoiled at the amount of blood splattered about in the car. Angered by the scene, Hoffman impatiently awaited other units.

     Headlights quickly appeared through the stand of eucalyptus between the parking lot and Columbus Parkway. It was a plain car racing in. It pulled up behind Hoffman’s car and out jumped Sgt. Roy Conway of detectives. Hoffman confirmed both victims had been shot. Both were barely holding on. He suggested that Conway go back and tell Meyring and Lindemann the details, since they had stopped a suspicious car. Conway acknowledged and, after seeing the carnage for himself, pulled out. At that moment Officer Doug Clark pulled in from the north, from the Highway 80 direction.

. . .Excerpt from Chapter 3 Silence of the Peacocks from HorrorScope by Gian J. Quasar.

* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

California and Covid-19 Herd Immunity

I break the usual blog entry of investigation of crime and other world mysteries to drop a note on what will be my only comment on the recent Covid-19 epidemic and the belief that California’s low numbers could imply herd immunity already existed here in March 2020 when California was locked down.

First, it is necessary to remind my readers of the 10 Process Skills of Scientific Inquiry– Observe, Classify, Infer, Interpret, Measure, Predict, Questions and Hypotheses, Experiment, Model Building. Together these 10 process skills constitute Scientific Method. The brain cannot break this sequence. It is the process it follows when tackling any equation. This is why Einstein said that “Science is merely the refinement of everyday thinking.”

The first two, of course, are critical to proceeding correctly: Observe and Classify.

There are repeated and reliable reports from Californians that they had a strange virus starting last November. If it got bad enough they eventually went to the doctor. Doctors, as is their calling, comforted their patients and told them it is a virus and don’t worry, take the necessary precautions. In contrast to all the fearmongering today, doctors are the last to hype fear. Naturally,  they could not know of a new virus. So the patient went home believing they had the seasonal flu.

There was no reason to condemn the classification upon the observation of virus symptomology.

But now in April 2020 the knowledge of a new virus is widespread and so are its symptoms. It is believed to have originated in or about Wuhan, China, sometime last autumn. Amazingly, based on reliable math taken from South Korean and Chinese studies, 25% of the people it infects show no symptoms. Up to 81 percent will show minor to moderate symptoms.

Mathematically speaking, this would mean many thousands would have the virus and not know it or have minor symptoms that require no medical visit. They would dismiss it as a minor cold. Within these thousands there would be those experiencing strong symptoms. After a week of this, it is usual that they then go to the doctor. Unaware of a new virus, the doctor would diagnosis this as “a virus.”

Such happened to my sister a week before Christmas 2019. She works in the financial sector of the California government in Sacramento. In adjacent offices and floors there are many others within the financial sector who travel a lot on seminars and tours, etc., for the government, including to China, returning last November. There is a lot of water-cooler contact and socializing.  Just before Xmas a number of them get a virus. My sister doesn’t usually get sick, and this was the worst thing she had. It didn’t affect her nose or throat really– she got a fever and a cough. The day after Xmas she goes into her doctor– it is a virus. “It’s only been a week,” he told her comfortingly. For my sister that is an enormous amount of time to be sick.

I have not had a cold for 5 years, and I dread chest colds– my lungs are my weak point. But I finally get something minor from my sister. This thing only glances off me, though wrecks my sister. I notice some minor symptoms and relax for a day or two. She’s Type A blood. I’m Type O. They say Type O is hit the least with Covid-19. Perhaps.

Two weeks before my sister is hit with this virus, our neighbor– Italian, 75, smokes– is hit really hard for weeks with a chest cold. In January, our other neighbor, 81, a retired nurse, has pneumonia. They wipe it out with really good antibiotics. A week later she develops a fever and then a deep cough, much different than the pneumonia cough. By early February she is much better.

We are only half a mile from the convalescent home that saw the first death assigned to Covid-19 in Sacramento county. Several other people there were diagnosed with Covid-19.

Experiences such as these are not limited to my immediate contacts. In general Californians started talking amongst themselves about similar experiences. My sister learned that a friend of hers had it really bad and it wiped out his whole office before Xmas. A friend in London told me he and his wife had something strange before Xmas, and a Scottish barrister now informs me that his wife travels a lot and returned home to Scotland last November from none other than Wuhan. She developed a bad virus; he caught it to a lesser degree a few days later, and then several of her workmates.

The above and many more examples are mere observations.  The initial classification was that of a flu. In light of Covid-19, the suspicion is that the virus was here in California (and Britain) earlier than the first “confirmed” case in late January.  Since the incubation period could be up to 2 weeks, and then a week before the patient goes to see the doctor, California’s first confirmed cases of late January 2020 could have contracted it in late December 2019.

The first cases reported were those where travelers suspected they might have it, and therefore went to the doctor. But then a case turns up in Santa Clara that cannot be traced. It is declared the first community transferred case. But no one knows from whom this person got Covid-19. In late January the chat about the media was that it is just now coming here from China, but this was based on the rather simplistic equation it had to come here on a straight flight from Wuhan.

It stands to reason, however, at the present time, that Covid-19 spread much earlier and didn’t have to come here direct on a flight from Wuhan. If 25% percent of those infected are asymptomatic carriers, how many had been traveling within and without China months before China even discovered there was an issue? It is the narrative to condemn China for the hiding the virus, but logically it must have been around for a while before a pattern of deaths called even their attention to it in December.

Since the Process Skills can only be manipulated by logic, it is a legitimate induction to operate under the interpretation that coronavirus of the Covid-19 strand was here in California much earlier, infecting tens of thousands with no symptoms, many others with minor symptoms they dismissed, and then vexing others with symptoms diagnosed as flu. Many may even have died, and it was written up to the flu or pneumonia, since the medical profession would not be able to specially test for a virus China had not yet disclosed and no other nation suspected existed.

Developing an hypothesis along these lines would require predictions. Such a model would predict that California would have much lower numbers of active cases after the virus has become known, which is one fact that continues to fuel the interpretation above. To follow the general induction, the following predictions would also be made by this model at this time:

1, Once relieved of lockdown, California sees no real spike in Covid-19 cases.

2, the extent to which California was infected by Covid-19 could only be revealed by antibody tests, which confirm someone has had the virus.

3, Antibody tests in those who had been sick last November and December that show Covid-19 antibodies would be a powerful indicator that the virus was here much earlier than the first confirmed case in late January.  Since Mathematic Probability is a law of science, those noting they had been sick last year have to be mathematically considered as a separate stat. A large number of people would preclude the deduction that they were all asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19 at a later date in 2020.

By the way, anecdotal is scientific evidence. It is a part of Observe and Classify, from which Inferences and Interpretations must be made. Again, Science is a method of investigation by which houses of knowledge are built. Its conclusions are tried and repeated and found to be correct. It is then an established fact and not a theory. This end result is now called “Science,” and these discoveries are placed within houses of knowledge– geology, cosmogony, biology, etc. Science is from Latin scientia, meaning “to know.”

Obviously, it is too early to speak dogmatically to what extent Covid-19 spread in California. But it is a rational inferences from the observed data of oral testimony and mathematic percentages, and from these the interpretation is that it was here much earlier must be pursued to be confirmed or refuted. Antibody tests would prove critical in determining this.

Unfortunately, “Science” as a word is used incorrectly in the popular forum to denote some isolated fact rather than the method that uses this fact to build a complete and accurate whole structure. A single observation is merely a factoid, and then incorrectly classified will only lead to anti-thesis, anti-knowledge, and anti-science. “Science” is also often used heretically to declare some immoveable status quo, when in truth Science as investigative method is forever in motion, forever advancing to confirm and discover in the upward momentum of progress. “I stand on the shoulder of giants,” declared Newton. Knowledge builds upon knowledge. It never stops except in closed minds.

* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

HorrorScope– The Zodiac Killer Exposed– Chapter 1 Sample

Part of Chapter 1 from HorrorScope By Gian J. Quasar


      Chapter 1– The Sign of the Crimes

If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you’re going to San Francisco
You’re gonna meet some gentle people there

THERE ARE FEW MOMENTS IN ANY GENERATION WHEN AN event is so momentous it becomes a reference point for dividing a way of life and attitude “before” and “after.” One of those in the 20th century is the counterculture movement. It smoldered through 1966 and then in June 1967 the events in San Francisco were broadcast from coast to coast. The Summer of Love inaugurated a movement and 1967 became the dividing line between the way things were—traditional and idyllic— and the way things would become thereafter— dark, dystopic, and drug strewn.

It was a pervasive attitude in the 1970s that the time before this was the time of “How Sweet It Was!” Children heard of a time when people didn’t have to lock their houses or cars; when kids didn’t have to check their Halloween candy for razors and pins. Men had looked like men—Cary Grant and Paul Newman; women were classy— Ava Gardner or Audrey Hepburn.

The Great Generation, the parents of the counterculture Baby Boomers, was anti-establishment in mentality. However, their attitude was not belligerence against their culture; they were skeptical of the powers-that-be. As children they had seen the corruption and bribery that dominated some cities, like Chicago, and in the 1930s the Great Depression was a reminder of incompetence at high levels. Just because someone held a powerful political or economic position didn’t mean they were qualified. Getting elected didn’t mean one was qualified to do the job. It only meant they were qualified to get elected. That generation then fought World War II and viewed it as another masterfully engineered bit of incompetence from the establishment. The Great Generation never forgot the Munich appeasement or the fact that the United States sold Japan most of the scrap metal they then shot back at the US. They came to adulate Franklin Roosevelt for taking a strong hand and cleaning out corruption and leading the nation through the war. The most glorified guiding light of the Great Generation had been Ike Eisenhower. In his farewell address from office in 1960 he warned the nation of the disturbing power of the growing military industrial complex.HS-DJ-final-cover-50%

What caused the elder generation to shake its collective head now was how the Baby Boomers adapted antiestablishment. Despite the ennobling claim they were acting in response to the Cold War, there was nothing in growing your hair long, smoking an hashish pipe, and moving into a San Francisco love-in that would address Soviet arms production. Frankly, it would not affect US arms production either. In attempting to justify their extreme behavior, the counterculture revealed how non sequitur was their reasoning. For the Great Generation, “government bears watching.” For the antiestablishment movement, it needed to be blown away.

The elder generation’s negative attitude about the 1960s became more rancorous in the 1970s because they blamed the current dystopia on the 1960s. The slide to hell in the wheelbarrow all began with the counterculture. The Manson Family and their murders had come to typify the hippie movement. And when one of them tried to gun down President Ford in 1975 it was for the Great Generation just the ugly face of pointless, mindless hippie rebellion.

But the elder generation’s attitude did not make the 1970s a darker decade. It was a darker decade because the younger generation had lost its idealism. Ideals were the factor that had motivated all 1960s protest, from lofty arguments over war and peace, to forsaking the materialism of the current culture. Ever since Berkeley 1964 the Baby Boomers had sought to cure the ills of a solely materialistic society, but when they lost their momentum to the grim reality of human nature and an easy chemical journey only one thing could ensue: apathy. And this dissolution began in 1970.

The counterculture and the antiestablishment movement had never really been one and the same. The counterculture indulged in eastern mysticism and in the ideology of taking drugs, largely LSD, as the pathway to world peace. The antiestablishment was more aggressive, hardcore, and protest oriented, wanting to change the world politically and ideologically and not just through their own inner experience.

Both coexisted and both coincidentally met their demise in 1970. The radical protest element of the antiestablishment movement’s “new left” had set off one too many bombs, finally killing a lab student that year. Disenchanted, the proactive, sober element of 1960s’ protest walked away.

The philosophic counterculture and its belief that world peace could be found not in objective truth but in LSD-induced inner peace fell apart after the disastrous Altamont in December 1969 and then the ugly ending of the festival on the Isle of Wight. Counterculture saw what people on drugs could do, and it obviously wasn’t the cure-all it had been preached to be. As an ideology drug taking stopped. Drug taking increased, but it was recreational. The motive was now escapism— a trip for a trip’s sake.

In diluted forms, both went on. Counterculture continued mostly as a mindset which 1970s’ mainstream merchandising tailored (or watered down) to fit the inquiring mind. Yet without the counterculture’s world purpose the new attitude was only a mindset without any real focus or philosophy other than to sample anything that was contrary to the establishment’s tenets of the past.

This made the occult deeply popular in novel ways. If the 1960s were viewed as “being shot to hell,” then hell shot back in the 1970s when every form of hybrid occult religion filled the void, including “devil worship,” the devil being promoted as the ultimate rebel. The “Satanic Panic” gripped America. Where else but in San Francisco would such a thing as the Church of Satan take root? Clad in black capes and hoods, the Black Mass was declared by its adherents:

In nomine dei nostri Satanus luciferi excelsi
In the name of Satan, the ruler of Earth, king of the world, open wide the gates of hell and come forth to greet me as your brother and friend. Grant me the indulgences of which I speak, for I live as the beasts of the field rejoicing in the fleshly life. I favor the just and I curse the rotten. By all the gods of the pit, I command that these things of which I speak shall come to pass. . .
. . . Blessed are the strong, for they shall possess the Earth. Cursed are the weak, for they shall inherit the yoke. Blessed are the bold, for they shall be masters of the world. Cursed are the righteous and humble, for they shall be trodden under cloven hooves — Hail Satan!

New open-mindedness led to any number of self-indulgent experiments into the current milieu of the dark and bizarre. There was no collective purpose. It was just doing your “thing.” As a footnote, an irony should still be noted: what constituted evil was still being defined by Judeo-Christian values. Those reciting the Black Mass sounded like Sunday School kids gone bad. There was nothing original in the attitudes; they were just counter the pervading norms of their upbringing.

As for antiestablishment, it too had filtered into mainstream. Although the universities had quieted down, society had not, Crime waves were rampant. Now there were chic urban guerillas like the Symbionese Liberation Army, though liberating money from banks was largely what they did. The Zebra Murders were a bizarre spate of gang murder. Race riots plagued the early 1970s— Brown Power, Black Power. America: Love it or Leave it!

Protest finally trickled down to the frivolous. Carrying signs that read “Don’t Bust My Bust,” women protesting for equality held a topless parade down main street in Santa Cruz. Where else, again, but in Santa Cruz would drugs and the current fascination with devil covens be combined? To celebrate Halloween, a local rock band performed for free in the public park. They were dressed up in black witches’ costumes and tall cone hats while they passed around free joints to the audience. The banner behind them read: “Halloweed.”

In sum, counterculture and antiestablishment had become two different commodities, but both basically failed at the same time, with the former essentially disappearing because it was deprived of its ideological base. Altogether the younger generation was disenchanted, and the darker, dystopian 1970s was upon us. Broadmindedness may have been one of the good side-effects of the movement, but it is undeniable that the most toxic elements had also been emboldened to commit the most audacious crimes this country had seen during a time when anxiety ran high.

This little summation of the times and seasons does bear on the subject at hand. The first criminal to dovetail on the volatile sign of the times was not a militant who claimed greater political or social motives. He was the exotic ‘Zodiac’ Killer. He struck while counterculture was still lively and he struck at the cradle of the movement’s inception. He mixed counterculture occult ideas with the terror methods the “new left” had come to rely upon. His motive was more than terror merely to serve his tastes to inflict fear. His motive became societal domination through terror— it was the ultimate thrill, the ultimate “kick.” And he had the intelligence or just the evil good luck to know that the high anxiety of the times made it possible for an individual to set upheaval in motion with a bullet and the stroke of a blue felt pen.

No city had been set on edge to the extent San Francisco would be in 1969 since the socially tumultuous year of 1888 saw London go into a panic over a faceless night stalker named Jack the Ripper. His crimes began from some individual motive until he too sought to dovetail on the racial and social tensions of the time. He then tried to incite riots against the Jews and protests against the government— an interesting evolution to a crime spree which had begun by the killing of prostitutes in the East End’s Whitechapel district.

In many ways the pompous ZODIAC was identical, and it seems the convulsive times influenced his evolution as well. He had started late December 1968 on a dark rural road with the pointless and cowardly murder of two necking teens, but until the summer of 1969, seven months later, he had made nothing of it. Only after his next murder did he indulge his thrill to use his rural crimes to set the stage for a game in which every citizen of the San Francisco Bay Area was a potential player if he decided to target them.

And it seems the time was indeed ripe for terror campaigns. Only a week after the ZODIAC had sent his first series of letters threatening a “kill rampage” if they weren’t published in the major newspapers, Los Angeles too went into a panic over a spate of audacious and savage murders known as the Tate/La Bianca Murders. Acting upon the racial tensions of the time, the killers had etched “War” in a victim’s stomach. With the victims’ blood they had written “pigs” and “rise” on the walls of the victims’ houses to impress upon the police that this was a guerilla movement of Black Panther militants out to kill whites.

Until December of that year Los Angeleans didn’t know the murders had been committed by a hippie cult on LSD at the instigation of their mesmeric guru leader Charles Manson. Months of fear had gripped the city between that hot, bloody August and that cold, shocking December.

And we are back to the first pages of this chapter— the psychedelic and once fascinating 1960s came crashing to an end in 1970, with the total destruction of the counterculture leaving unfocused the residual antiestablishment mindset.

But of those audacious crime sprees that had inspired so much terror and awe, the case of the ‘Zodiac’ Killer continues on. It was the one which was never solved. The Mansons were imprisoned, the SLA battled and broken up, and the Zebra Killers rounded up. The ZODIAC, who only had the courage, if that word should even be used, to pump full of holes unsuspecting teenagers at petting spots as the base to create his terror campaign, lived on incognito never to be identified.

It is impossible to separate the ZODIAC’s crime spree from the times and place of his crimes. But there are obviously different elements involved in his case that do not exist in the other terror and murder campaigns, one that allowed him to go unidentified. One, of course, is that he acted entirely alone. All the others had accomplices, and identifying one led to others. But it is a fact that all the major crime sprees were committed by those who could be called members of the antiestablishment. The ZODIAC’s crimes were not militant in nature, and the language in his letters was that a cheap pool hall punk, not of an angry idealist. In fact, he went out of his way to make himself sound uneducated. Unlike the others he was most likely the establishment, a spectator of the new movement and morality from afar.

San Francisco was the center of an industrious, profiteering culture. Stately and cosmopolitan were surrounded by the Bay Area’s unique rural culture— the sea, the fog, the farms, the bays and quays, the old towns. The city was affluent and yet adventurous. She was a great modern Venice. She was queen of the Pacific, and through her passed the trade of the most exotic locales of the Orient. In fact, when antiestablishment began at Berkeley in 1964, Jack London’s San Francisco was still felt in the brine and tar of the docks wafting over the once-raucous Barbary Coast. The unique past of the city was heard in the cable car bells clanging up and down the famous hills. But the shadows of the new skyscrapers in the financial district moved like the arm of a sundial over the older and more elegant buildings, a sad symbol of changing times. The most disliked new thing was the surging artery called the Embarcadero Freeway. This double-decker freeway was the quickest way into downtown. It stood on heavy cement legs and was the objectionable mascot of progress to handle the city’s congested traffic. Haight-Ashbury-Quasar

There was, however, a huge difference between the San Francisco of the summers of 1964 and 1967. Antiestablishment had rated news in 1964. Now counterculture was in the spotlight. The Summer of Love was in full swing. Youth from all over the United States had been coming to the Haight-Ashbury district as if an in-visible pied piper had summoned them. It had begun in the fall of 1966. At least 30,000 had come for the “Sit-In” in Golden Gate Park. It was such a success that the “Human Be-In” had been scheduled for January 1967. This too had been a great success. Many had remained, faithfully awaiting the greatest festival yet announced— the “Love-In.”

Since March, Scott McKenzie had gone to the top of the charts with San Francisco, announcing as a herald the coming Concordia. Music videos (though a term not yet used) showed him walking about San Francisco landmarks in an Eastern tunic— one patterned with daisies, of course. As January saw the Be-In, the gathering to understand and to “be,” so the Summer of Love was to practice it. It would be a summer of drugs, love, music, peace, enlightenment— debauchery painted with a philosophic brush.

The Haight had begun to swell during the spring. Guru leaders were instilling the vibe, the third eye and every other hybrid Eastern concept into the American youth. Posters still kicked about the streets or hung in windows showing the “Be-In” swami, cross-legged, ratty hair, the triangle and third eye in his forehead. Some were pasted over with the new ad— psychedelic posters advertising Timothy Leary as a speaker. With palms pressed together—“follow the way”— he urged youth to “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.” Philosophic TV jargon. “In” was the new word. To be “in.” Not in the fad sense, but in the philosophic sense of “with it.” With the vibes, man. “Tuned in.” On the right “Bat Channel.” For Leary, this meant LSD and the drugology of inner peace.

Geographically, the Haight was situated perfectly to become the unintended incubator for the Flower Children movement. There is one way into Golden Gate Park here on Fell Street and one way out on Oak Street. Only a few blocks down Oak Street from the park and turn right— this is Ashbury Street. The center of the Haight is the intersection of Haight & Ashbury streets. Renting was far more affordable here. After the Sit-In and Human Be-In, Flower Power naturally started to bloom here. The Haight was quickly becoming the navel of the hippie culture.

The response to the Summer of Love was enormous, beyond anything planned. What was intended to have been a brief flame, a brief Concordia of spiritual empowerment for the “hip generation,” continued to be a fire stoked all summer. What was to be a folk festival with metaphysical preachers and a choir made of the greatest rock bands became a culture, and those here created a Constitution of life without using paper or print.

Like blood circulating in the body through the heart, the “hippies” coursed through Haight for rooms, for washing, sleeping, kitchens for bread, and then always back to the heart— Golden Gate Park.

Music was everything. It was the soul. Flower children hung out in small groups around folksy amateurs or crowded around the professionals. Flowers were always in their hair— always. Bare feet, ponchos, painted faces, smoldering joints passed along lip to puffing lip. They were reverting to their concept of innocence behind a drugged stupor. To a civilized world, it was galloping immorality.

Innocence to the hippies meant sexual freedom too. Marriage and anything organized was the oppression of the establishment, the establishment that gave them the Cold War and the angst of living in the shadows of potential nuclear holocaust. When San Francisco saw that these sedentary vagabonds weren’t going to move on, a medical facility was set up to treat venereal disease. Hygiene was deplorable. There were communal baths or, more accurate, rotational tubs.

The Process Church of the Final Judgement set up a mission outpost on Cole Street. Instead of “Jesus Saves” there was the Goat of Mendes fixed on the wall. It was a polyglot of philosophy and medieval and occult symbolism. Members walked around the Haight in their black slacks and turtlenecks, and over this hung their bright red surcoats with the heraldic symbol of their order— 4 Ps. This symbolized the 4 deities of the Process. An equal worship of Jehovah and Satan, Lucifer and Jesus, would balance out the way of life.

This was not the San Francisco that any San Franciscan had known only 5 years before. For any “outsider” looking in, it was a potent experience. Teens, little better than waifs, stood there in Golden Gate Park mindless, with vacuous expressions, flowers behind their ears, and twirling fig leaves in their numb fingers; their faces painted with pastel daisies, their eyes dull and “far out.” New converts to hippiedom still sported short hair, but they had been painted all over with bright colors by the unofficial welcoming committees. Hippies danced to the bands. Danced? They were more like drunken storks trying to fly, arms flailing under multicolored ponchos. Some gyrated to no rhythm at all in their drugged stupors.

This was not just a contained carnival. The press loved the movement. It represented something exciting. The press themselves was made up of those who had fought WWII and Korea, and despite them being the distrusted generation (those over 30) by the hippies, the audacious message of living a new lifestyle to bring in universal peace was something they indulged. Hollywood enjoyed the message as well. Escapist movies weren’t vogue anymore, and neither was all the artistry of Technicolor epics. Current events were the new vogue, and movies and TV shows began to integrate the antiestablishment themes, both seriously and in comedy. It was one of the most powerful and financially profitable formulas. In short, the whole concept was spreading to the mainstream.

Those closest to San Francisco, especially the youth, could naturally partake firsthand in the extreme examples of the counterculture as represented in Haight-Ashbury. . .well, dabble at least. Mainstream youth certainly weren’t allowed to adjust their image to Flower Children— parents wouldn’t allow it and PTA’s were aghast at the thought. Schools, whether public or private, would still enforce dress codes. But this is only appearance and appearance is only a manifestation of communal reinforcement. Mentality was changing in the individual mainstream youth. Many were embracing some of the concepts of the counterculture even if they weren’t morphing in appearance.

The rural areas of the Bay Area may still have moved to the tempo of rustic traditions and the work whistle of the great ship building yards, but flower power symbols were popping up along with marijuana and the new morality. Casual sex was becoming so, well, casual with the young everywhere so that movies, of all things, had to moralize. In the family trials of Yours, Mine & Ours, also set in San Francisco in 1968, the pater noster had to advise his son that love is found not in going to bed with a woman but when you wake up and have to endure the trials of everyday life with her.

Moralizing though it may have been, it reflected the elder generation’s indulgence of the younger. Hellfire and brimstone for fornication was not something going to be found in TV and movie parental guidance. Of course, the fundamental chunk of society found this compromise to be immoral. To them, society was going to hell in a VW, pure and simple.

However you view it, things that had once been done behind closed doors were now being addressed in public. Society was changing, and it was changing openly. Some extremes were quite weird and unnerving— Flower Children and hippies. But the mainstream liked some of the message. It too was beginning to change, if only subtly in attitude.

History moved on. Events came and went. The clock ticks slowly and we come forward. The Summer of Love was long over by the end of 1968.

The San Francisco Bay Area of was actually the perfect place to inspire a killer to become the first fruits of the bizarre combination of the establishment and the philosophic counterculture. And now it began.

* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

The ZODIAC Solution– Snippets To Journey’s End

Conceived to a 16 year old mother, who threw virtue to the wind, shall we say, Steve was later adopted by her first legal husband. Momma later went on to marry several men, the next one bigamously. For such a small Midwest town, it became a scandal. It was a secret marriage to her husband’s co-worker/friend, but he died soon thereafter. Upon returning, she left her legal husband and took her son Steve with her to San Francisco.

As far as the rural Midwest town had known, she had merely run off with another man and he was then found dead. But I was fortunate enough to ferret out the trail and uncover the bigamous marriage certificate. No one had known of the marriage. She still used her (last) legal husband’s surname when she popped up in Carson City to marry another man. Yet she used the surname of her bigamous marriage in business in San Francisco because it had an “upmarket” ring to it.

Steve kept the surname of the man who adopted him, and he kept his Midwest drawl. When it came time to bury his mother, he put no sentiment on the tombstone. She had had about 5 known marriages. She had only him, at 17 years of age, and didn’t want any more kids.

Needless to say, this is not something that will pop up in genealogical tracing.  DNA will not uncover all of this. An adoption scrambles the pathway to tracing DNA by identifying cousins. Steve didn’t have an close cousins, and no siblings.

Had I not continued to refine my quest for him, there is much that could never be discovered that sheds light on the ZODIAC crime spree. I am quite proud of the old bulldog grip approach.

As we know, DNA is being used from a stamp by only one jurisdiction to trace the owner of said DNA through the genealogical databases. This method was announced after the arrest of Joe DeAngelo in April 2018. That’s two years ago. The cause for the lack of tracing supposed ZODIAC DNA through genealogical databases is a problem about which I will let the reader theorize.

It is something that impacts us all, especially since it returns any investigation back to the default mode– the bulldog approach, the method that for 50 years did not officially solve the case.  I was going to use it to confirm my own investigation, but now I am denied that. So I am quite impacted.

The bulldog approach, the laudable path of all investigation prior to DNA is particularly intimidating in the ZODIAC case. Part of this problem has been the case’s popularity. More than one official investigator has labored under incredibly false premises. One example here is the belief that ZODIAC could possibly have been 50 years old back in 1969.

With the advent of the web there has even been a few popular attempts to denigrate hand printing as reliable evidence. This is largely based on the fact that several enthusiasts have ardently believed in their personal suspect as being ZODIAC, and when the printing did not match, instead of moving on they condemned hand printing as reliable. It was, in fact, one of the two cornerstones used to assess and eliminate POIs officially– hand printing and fingerprints.

Official investigators who have come to adopt the web’s ill-founded attitude can quite easily dismiss the right ZODIAC. This is crippling because the greatest problem about hand printing is one of logistics. Of course, you must have a person of interest first. And this only comes with a lot of gumshoe investigation. Yet without believing the hand printing, you create a blind alley.

As the last post conveys, there are reasons to disbelieve the fingerprints left in Paul Stine’s cab. Trying to reconcile the witnesses’ later statements with the police statements leaves one to believe that the cab was contaminated by someone who came to the scene before the police, or the later statements of the kids is completely flawed. If an official investigator today still believes the prints, and your POI is a non match, there ends the investigation. Despite Dave Toschi and Bill Armstrong’s

Contemporary photo of witnesses' home across street
What did the kids see from this angle? Over time, it evolved and contradicted what was recorded that fateful night in 1969.  

dogmatic statements on the reliability of the fingerprints, their own investigation revealed to what extent there was doubt on their reliability. Leigh Allen, for instance, was completely ruled out by fingerprints, but they still tested his hand writing, and when they learned he was an ambidexter they wanted to test him again, thinking he may have fooled them.


The Lake Berryessa investigation is laden with missteps, far more than just the raking up of the evidence at the crime scene. Lake Berryessa’s investigative log reveals some astounding mistakes and lack of follow-up at vital testimony. Such as: the inability to consistently get down the description of the POI’s car (the shape of taillights is sometimes erroneously listed as the shape of headlights), the tire tracks behind the victims’ car, the inability to clarify if Dr. Clifford Rayfield saw the POI– years later his son David said he did not. In addition, no detective went to scour the scene of the three coeds or Rayfields to look for the distinctive Wing Walker imprints. This would have solved definitely the question whether they had seen the same man.

Harold Snook’s more than able description of the tire tracks behind Brian Hartnell’s car completely undermines the coed’s description of the potential perp. His car can be identified as a Chevy Impala, 1966 or 1967 model. But the thin tires behind Hartnell’s car were a retread, indicating an older and smaller car. KarmenGhiatracks

Here it would have been vital for the investigators to have gone up Knoxville  Road and checked the shoulder to see if they could find the Wing Walker imprints near where the Rayfields had parked. This would prove young David had seen the killer. This would also tell us that ZODIAC would have come upon Harntell’s car from the north and probably would have parked in the turnout across the road and not have parked behind him.

But, alas, we can only speculate. Back then such speculation would have been viable inductive logic that would have propelled the investigators onward to do the above. This could have cemented for us the image of the killer and given us the model of car he drove. Today, for any official investigator going back in time, it could be disastrous to believe that ZODIAC drove some old car with a retread and yet at the same time believe that the Napa sketch of the young man in the late model Chevy can be reconciled with it.

I had to work through all these contradictions and missteps. It is not easy and it took intense study to see the holes.

These are only the beginning. One has to take on and basically eradicate the legend and the folklore from their mind in order to proceed with a clear path to any person of interest. One example of how dangerous the popularized legend can be: some key official detectives believed that the phone calls the Ferrin households received shortly after her murder were indeed from the ZODIAC. It would be over 30 years later that they learned who actually made them. For that long detectives labored under a false clue. How many POIs were given top billing because they had known Ferrin?HS-DJ-Cover-50%

Missteps are never intentional, but when detectives inherit the missteps of predecessors it is destructive to investigation.

I certainly learned how difficult it is to secure contemporary hand printing from 50 years ago, and my readers have known my long journey. It ended an 8 year pursuit that paid off. But now I have to deal with the fallout of 50 years of folklore. To assail this wall of time and misconceptions I will be sharing more tidbits of information from HorrorScope that lead to the identity of ZODIAC and the plain man behind the mask of the master controller of the universe.


* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Are the Bloody Fingerprints Zodiac’s?

Interpretation of evidence is what causes investigators to take certain pathways or refuse to do so. One of the critical bits of disputed evidence in the Zodiac case are the bloody latent fingerprints found in certain locations on and in Paul Stine’s taxi cab. They can lead or dangerously mislead.

The Zodiac Killer murdered Stine point blank with a 99 millimeter on the night of October 11, 1969. There is more than one interpretation as to how Zodiac pulled this off– reenactments based on being in the back seat or in the front right seat (passenger’s), and whether it was at Washington and Cherry or Washington and Maple.

Some of these reenactments are based on what Zodiac was seen doing by the kids watching him across the street. He was seen sitting in the front passenger seat rummaging through Stine’s pockets while the victim was slumped over his lap. Then he pushed him upright and wiped off certain parts of the cab’s dashboard. He was seen to exit the cab and reported to walk around to the driver’s side, open the driver’s door and pull Stine upright again, then wipe off the dashboard some more.

Contemporary photo of witnesses' home across street
The kids watched from these windows. 

Bloody fingerprints were found on the outside driver’s side door frame, where you’d expect someone to touch it when holding it open or closing it. Then Zodiac walked casually away, through the inverted cone of downward street light and into the darkness of Cherry Street, heading north toward Jackson and the Presidio.

The problems with this recounting is that none of it fits with the actual SFPD evidence and report. It is based on the later statement of a couple of the kids at the slumber party.  To wit:

“At this time, Lindsey went downstairs to get a better look at what was happening, while one of the kids upstairs called the police. Downstairs, the lights were off, so Lindsey knew he could not be seen from the outside. He got close to the window and watched his actions. He was shortly joined by Rebecca. They both watched and observed in silence as Zodiac pushed the driver to an upright position behind the steering wheel, exited the car and walked around the rear of the car and opened the driver’s door. Stine had fallen over onto the seat and Zodiac pulled him back up into the seated position and had some difficulty keeping him upright. Once upright, he was seen to have a rag, or something like a handkerchief and began to wipe down the door area and leaning over the driver, part of the dashboard. When he was finished, Zodiac calmly walked to Cherry St. and walked north”.

The kids’ point of view. The white car with black top is parked where Stine’s cab was found that night. 

The problems with this statement are enormous. It makes no sense for Zodiac to want Stine found sitting upright, and it is contradicted by the evidence. Stine’s body was found laying sprawled out over the passenger side area of the front seat of the cab. His head hung over the seat almost touching the floorboard, and his arms were over his head. Blood had pooled over the road. paulstinecabcrimescenezodiackill-3685347_p9

A dead body artificial set upright at the steering wheel is not going to slump slowly over and take this flung out position. 

A dead body in the upright position at the driver’s wheel cannot slump over and attain this position on its own, especially with the arms flung over him and his shirt pulled up over his stomach. This is how the responding officers found him. This is how he was photographed by forensics.

There’s two answers to explain this:

1, the kids’ later accounts are totally inaccurate. Zodiac did not open the driver’s side door to pull up the body.

2, someone came and contaminated the scene before the responding officers arrived. The officers insisted no one had touched the scene after they had arrived, but . . . before?

We have to face the fact that Zodiac doesn’t seem stupid enough to leave bloody fingerprints on the victim’s cab, especially in avoidable places like the outer driver’s side door.

Despite some of the literature on the subject, it is obvious that SFPD came to doubt the viability of the bloody fingerprints. One famous vignette in the books underscores this. Dave Toschi and Bill Armstrong tested Leigh Allen’s hand printing– this clearly indicates a building lack of faith in the prints. When they found out he was an ambidexter, they continued to suspect him, thinking for a time he might have fooled them.

With time stories have become more elaborate; some like the above account of Zodiac trying to position the body are egregiously untenable when compared to the actual hardcore evidence.

So far, the only reliable evidence is handwriting. Ballistics can be used to trace guns, but first the police must have a suspect in order to locate his guns for testing.

It has been close to 2 years since DNA was taken from a Zodiac stamp, and yet there has been no tracing of him in the genealogical databases. It is close to one year since I finally obtained such matching hand writing on Steve and submitted him officially. I had promised not to publicly confirm him as Zodiac until an official announcement. I had mentioned he would not be easily traceable in the databases– there had been an adoption. Two years of silence would seem to reflect this forewarning.

In our next Zodiac post, we will discuss this further.


* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

I-70 Killer– Time For Logistics

I’ve already posted articles on Geo-profiling the I-70 Killer and have been for a while searching out persons of interest from the area where I believe he made his base along the I-70. But now, publicly, it is time to get down to details of how he planned his attacks. There’s no DNA, so it’s the old bulldog grip, plus gray and ferret cell approach.

The Raytown, Missouri,  attack holds particular interest for me. He went in deep and didn’t park in the parking lot of the small mall. He was last seen walking up the slope back to the street. It was a residential area and not developed. It is not a street you can park on. There’s only a couple of side streets nearby, where there were houses. In 1992 the lot across was an open field not yet developed.

Before he struck, he had to have his escape planned. All the successful serials do that. And this was a daytime shooting. He knew he most likely would have to be quick.

Consider this Google aerial from 1997.


The shop where the victim was murdered backed Woodson Road, the road in the center. Go down to the location using Google Earth and see the difficulties of having parked on the street. Did he use a motorcycle? Where did he park his car?

Raytown1-parking4-cropped Above, he walked up the slope in this area after exiting the shop (corner). He obviously didn’t want his means of escape to be seen. Thus he didn’t park in the parking lot. But where? Does the area give us a hint on what type of vehicle he used?

He had sleepy eyes, high forehead, thin lips. Perhaps ginger/sandy hair. He stole very little from the till. He came to kill the woman tending the store. He didn’t particularly stalk them in advance (he shot a man with a pony tail once). He did a lot of driving.

I would suggest (again) that something brought him to these areas during his work, and at these times he noted viable victims. Then he later came back (weeks or who knows how long) and quickly made sure the coast was clear before entering the shop and killing the victim.

He was in operation for a short time– thus more of a spree killer than serial killer.  He’s one of the last major serials without DNA, so this case has to be cracked the “hard way.”

* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

HorrorScope– the Final Introduction

The following should constitute the final foreword for my upcoming book on the Zodiac Killer. Obtaining admissible evidence and the events of the last year made the original foreword antiquated.

HorrorScope by Gian J. Quasar


This is the Zodiac Speaking

CIVILIZATION HAD NEVER SEEN SUCH A THING BEFORE. THE                                fabric of American society was viewed as coming apart. National curiosity was now dissolving into national disdain and even national jitters. A counterculture within the younger generation was spreading like a contagion. They cast off the conformity of the “establishment” to become dropouts, long-haired hippies, anti-war flower children, and radical student yippies. San Francisco was the center. An elegant society tiptoed around the psychedelic flamboyance of peace, love, and drugs, wondering when this unnerving fad was going to ebb. Yet a year and a half after the momentous Summer of Love there was no end in sight. The river of youth had become a torrent, entering the city’s tenderloin and parks to reside in “Love-ins,” to adorn themselves in symbols, tie-dye, Indian feathers, to smoke hashish, and to hear the preaching of the Age of Aquarius.

There could be nothing more at a contrast to this mixture of giddy colors and staid culture, diamond tiaras, minks, and daisies behind the ear, than a midnight, lonely rural road near Vallejo, a utilitarian city across the bay. Shots rang out. Gun powder flashed. Two teenagers lay dead, a boy and a girl.

Now in December 1968 the mainstream youth still looked like their parents— clean cut guys with thick-rimmed glasses, and gals with elaborate coiffured hairdos like their mothers. They still necked at petting spots. This was an accepted “taboo.” Lovers’ lanes were still unofficially designated. These were the victims. The victims were John and Jane Q. Citizen, not tunic wearing gurus and licentious members of “Love-ins.” Kids at a petting spot on a backroad. Here the terror began. Like a drop that starts a ripple, it began here in this drab, unlikely place and grew wider and wider with each victim until it sent San Francisco and the metropolitan Bay Area into a panic.

Yet as horrible as the murders were, it was not the murders in and of themselves that started the terror. The killer made it plain that his victims were merely pawns in a game of death, a game he intended to play randomly throughout the entire metropolis. It was the summer of 1969 when he introduced himself and his game to the world. In the manner of a pompous comic strip villain, he proclaimed:

Throughout the frightful autumn that followed he forewarned what was to come. Each letter began with the above proclamation “This is the Zodiac Speaking.” It was a preamble to tasteless bragging. His boastful letters revealed a hideous villain with dark, misplaced humor. He bragged about his murders. He threatened more murders. He rejoiced over the fact his victims would be his slaves in his afterlife, thereby invoking some primitive, arcane religion that seemed inspired by the esoteric mysticism of the disturbing hippie movement. Finally after his 7th victim he reached crescendo. He now threatened to become a sniper and wipe out school busses. As always, in his tasteless humor, he demanded appeasement.

A bizarre villain was being born in print and published in the newspapers and talked about on radio and on TV. He was The ZODIAC. The name doesn’t reflect witty press sensationalism nor is it a catchy police moniker. He is, in fact, one of a few serial killers to give himself his own handle. It reflects his own megalomania as the celestial controller of the game of fate— in his case the game of death.

History has shown us that in 1969 network news would be at its apogee. The colorful antiestablishment movement was part of the reason network news scored so high in American homes. Racial tensions in the nation, anti-war protests, and the latest news on the war in Vietnam were other factors. The moonshot had long been promised and in the summer of 1969 it would be fulfilled. Political assassinations had drawn Americans to the TV. It had only been 6 years since President Kennedy had been assassinated, 4 years since Malcolm X had been brutally gunned down, less than 2 years since Martin Luther King Jr. and then Bobby Kennedy’s assassinations. News was really happening, and it was news that had mattered. It was news at hand.

Whether this phantom killer’s publicity campaign of murder is a reflection of the era or inspired because of the massive stage news could give, preying upon the fears of the time became a large part of his game. His threats of a “killing rampage” rode the crest of a popular wave of fear the likes of which was never to be seen again. Indeed he made such a success out of it that despite the fact he is only one of several killers who stalked lovers’ lanes he is the second most famous serial killer in world history, ranking only behind London’s Jack the Ripper.

When all was said and done, 5 victims were dead and 2 went on to live with their viciously inflicted wounds. His murder spree lasted for only a short time, but his love for publicity kept him writing these poison pen letters for years, each claiming more and more victims and each threatening to take more victims. Each new letter he sent was introduced as an oracle: “This is the Zodiac Speaking.” Each was sluiced with sarcasm, and with his dark humor each in its way was a sinister chuckle. Each in turn was signed by the symbol of the celestial zodiac— a circle with a crosshair through it. It looked little different from a gunsight, and the double meaning was no doubt intended. Then he played the ultimate hand in his game. He vanished. To this day the San Francisco Bay Area has never forgotten, and the most bragged about murders in history remain unsolved.

This is The ZODIAC Killer. He is inexorably linked with the summer and tumultuous autumn of 1969, but his legacy is decades of anxiety that he’d return, decades of frustration that a killer escaped justice; not just a killer, but the most boastful, haughty killer in the annals of crime. “The police shall never catch me,” he crowed in one letter, “because I have been too clever for them.” He won. He got away. The faded ink of his bragging rubs this fact into our face even today. . .until now.

When I penned the above in 2012, it rang true. The case had not yet been solved. Worse, it had become lost in modern folklore. The greatest braggart in true crime history had inspired too much speculation on who he was and what his actual true motives had been. Theories replaced facts. Speculation became evidence. Debate centered on suspects rather than clues and evidence. Altogether the actual facts and the context of these facts became lost to the sensationalism of a real life comic strip that evolved the real killer into some evil genius looming diabolically over Gotham. The truth, as I was to prove, was very different. I finally cracked ZODIAC’s identity, the thing he pompously declared no one could ever do. I secretly followed the life of the “Boastful Slayer.” I could not only put a face and name on him. I could assemble motives and methods.

Except for the last chapters of this book, and these few paragraphs I now insert, this work was completed when I finally attained my goal. My intended layout was to reveal the ZODIAC in stages. First I would vividly restore the actual events and facts of the crime spree. These would lead to a likely suspect. From there it was a question of comparing him against the actual evidence. This is how the book progresses and it was fortuitous that I intended to do it this way. The actual circumstances of the crimes are quite different than the usual presentation of them, which are simple glosses engaged in by authors as an obligatory step before presenting their own suspect. Not only for the sake of history do these need to be restored, the true facts and their context do lead and did lead me to the ZODIAC. Writing before solving allowed me to objectively and in detail recreate the crimes and seasons of the ZODIAC. Though I heavily suspected my suspect when I began writing, the first section of this book is not a simple gloss of the crime cases with him in mind. The reader will relive the era and examine the crimes through the narrative. I limited myself to the official documents on the cases, and it paid off.

After 6 years of hunting my suspect I finally obtained admissible evidence—hand printing. It matched the ‘Zodiac’ Killer’s, even down to repeated variations he used in the formation of certain letters of the alphabet. As the time element involved conveys, it was not an easy task. I needed contemporary hand printing— i.e. printing from the 1960s done in everyday, casual writing. Years of investigation gave me a suspect; years followed trying to get admissible evidence; and when I finally had my man, I had to search out his past to discover why and how he became the most boastful and theatrical murderer in history. It was indeed an arduous task.

Putting a name on the ‘Zodiac’ Killer, however, is not enough to present the case for preservation. The toxicity of the legend would remain. The entire case must be presented chronologically in one volume, and the facts coupled with the identity of the true culprit by effect demolish decades of glorifying folklore.

Part of the legend has proposed that if all the unsolved murders over the USA dating from the late 1960s to today were connected by an imaginary line they would form a giant Z— proof that the “astrological assassin” continued his crime spree in secret and killed his victims according to locations where he could create his astrological symbol. The ZODIAC had encouraged this. “I shall no longer announce to anyone when I comitt my murders,” he had once written, “they shall look like routine robberies, killings of anger, + a few fake accidents, etc.” The legend bought into it, and the discussion of the crime spree wandered to include dozens of other unsolved murders, muddling and meddling their evidence with ZODIAC’s known crimes.

Amateur and professional detectives alike have examined ZODIAC’s undeciphered cryptograms and poison pen pal letters with a metaphoric zeal usually devoted only to Biblical exegesis; each sure that the fateful clue to his goading, infamous identity lay therein. Mathematics has been done to try and find a code or sequence in the ciphers that would finger the culprit. Others have put together all the misplaced letters in the misspelled words in ZODIAC’s nasty missives, trying to see if the misplaced letters would together form a coherent sentence or confession.

Via this method college professors have been accused. Unibomber Ted Kascinski seems perpetually suspected of every crime. Poor Leigh Allen reveled in the limelight over the years he was suspected. When he died in 1992 it even merited national news, billed as the passing of the man suspected of having been “The infamous Zodiac.” Others have insisted on elaborate conspiracy theories. Those who were 50 years old at the time— doctors, car dealers and winos— have been accused in their 80s and 90s and in one case even DNA tested. None of these suspects were ever anchored to the ZODIAC crimes by the actual evidence.

During this fiasco of folklore, ZODIAC rested assured that he was untraceable and therewith incapable of being exposed. He had unintentionally created a personality cult of crime that grew far more elaborate over the decades in the hands of others. The legend more than all else came close to justifying his other boast: “I am crack proof.” In his egotism he may have complimented himself on his cleverness, but the truth of him evading the law was pure dumb luck.

The ZODIAC had not inspired the legend the most by his garish boasts or intriguing ciphers but by accidently being seen in full regalia. For his only slaying in daytime he hid his face under a sinister black hood. It hung down incongruously over his shabby appearance and thereon was neatly sewn the symbol of the celestial zodiac. Since the victims were by no means meant to survive (one was stabbed 6 times, the other 21), we were never to know he had dressed like this. But one of them survived to give us the account. The ZODIAC’s crime spree clearly became more complex than merely a means to publicity. Obviously, this outfit meant something purely to him, and he went to great lengths to plan a murder where he could effectively use it. This image truly is the image of a comic strip arch villain, and this image has become the embodiment of the ZODIAC arch killer myth.

Taken into the collective evidence, this attack above conveys a very disturbing pattern that cannot be explained by merely putting a name on the killer. One must dig into his past and mental diagnosis to try and understand his convoluted evolution. For just as certainly as he was seen attacking victims in his sacrificial outfit, he had killed victims dressed as an average citizen, though perhaps an unusual amalgam of obsolete fashions. In real life, the ZODIAC was a plain, unaccomplished man who grew enamored of the exotic and diabolical image he put on paper, and the alter ego he created in print came to possess him in real life. This had motivated him to live action roll playing.

Explaining the ZODIAC is far more difficult than identifying him. His entire crime spree began a game with the public. He did not murder to merely give himself a thrill. The victims were a means to an end to glorify this killer’s much more theatrical alter ego “The ZODIAC.” When he got tired or the dangers outweighed the thrill, he quit. This is the ultimate arrogance: he dabbled in murder. Such a braggart is unique in the annals of crime.

The need to expose this killer is enormous, and my hunt could not end like so many others where there is only an accusation, a dangling tongue accusing but not truly proving. That is not the purpose or culmination of this book. Crafting a case around a “most likely suspect” is not solving. I needed to solve the ZODIAC crimes. This meant positively identifying the killer on admissible evidence. This killer threw the gauntlet down and forced society to play his terror game. This gauntlet, as all gauntlets, must eventually be picked up and slapped in his face, even if that face is only the reputation of a long passed and seemingly respected citizen.

What I have added to unsolved historical cases is my approach. I completely reinvestigate the crimes as though they just happened. In essence, I start all over. I visit the crime scenes. I examine the evidence and, more importantly, I look for clues. Often clues are more important than evidence, for upon investigation clues lead to evidence, and new clues lead to new evidence. And this case needed new evidence.

In this book I plunge the reader back to a volatile and colorful era. The crimes and times shall unravel before us. Context is everything. Within context lie the new clues. Only by ignoring 50 years of folklore could these be uncovered again. Only by reliving the crimes and times of the ZODIAC could that one kernel be uncovered that leads to the identity of this cerebral braggart.

In this volume I will deliver the body of the ZODIAC. To unmask the ZODIAC is to reveal more than the soul of the killer. It is to isolate the pudgy, insecure madman from the pomp of his publicity. The result is an empty hood devoid of any substance of the theatrical master controller that he created from dark shadows. It leaves us with his true image, the one he drew for himself in the cowardly barbarity of his crimes.

* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

No DNA Way– Cold Case Shootings

It’s a fact of the past– it’s a reality for the future. Some serial killers don’t like close contact, and after all the wonders of DNA tracing (through genealogical databases), it is the modus operandi of the future’s calculated thrill killers. Some murderers just like to shoot their victims. Only one bit of evidence is left behind– the caliber of the bullet and perhaps with this the model of the gun used. It is a daunting task to solve such a case.

For example, in the 2016 case of Anchorage, Alaska, serial killer James Dale Ritchie, the FBI profilers advised local police in a way that may seem strange at first. They recommended that the police not announce that the deaths of couples and an individual were linked to a serial.  The reason? All they had was a gun model determined by ballistics. The couples were unrelated and found on bike trails or in parks, and one near his aunt’s house where he was going to check on her dog. Their killer had walked up and just shot them. Had it been announced that a serial was afoot  (determined by the fact all victims were shot by the same gun), the killer could switch to another weapon. The only bit of evidence was then gone. Had it not been for a shootout later when Ritchie refused to stop for an officer, the string of shootings possibly never would have been solved.

The serial killings in Anchorage were a hot case too!  Think now about how hard it is to solve a cold case where there is no DNA.

One has to wonder if this is the reason why little information is presented on some cold case serial killings that desperately need more public light on them. They simply may not be solvable killings and as such, and this sounds more callous than I mean it, they may not be worth it. The case becomes famous, the police are burdened by amateur hour enthusiasts, and the tips can lead nowhere unless the actual gun is found. What are the chances?

The Atlanta Lovers’ Lane killings in 1977 are a case in point. Three couples were attacked by a man who simply walked up to their car in a parking lot (a park’s parking lot), squatted down and started riddling the car with gunfire. Like with Zodiac, he would kill some of his victims and maim the others for life. But little is known of the cases even though they are probably just as intriguing as the famous case of the Phantom of Texarkana or the Zodiac Killer murders. It is 43 years now, and the only evidence known is the type of weapon and the wadcutter bullets used.

No DNA exists in the case of the I-70/I-35 Killer, and now it is 28 years since he struck for a brief frenzy of deadly mayhem in 1992 and possible 1993 and early 1994. His case is receding in time even though there appears to be a couple of reliable sketches of him.

Sadly, in the future there will be more murders like these. Giving a weapon a sort of DNA is probably the best way to thwart such killings. But how to do so? How to give each weapon produced a very definite signature so that the actual firearm can be traced to an owner, or a chain of use via which the killer got a hold of it?

Food for thought.


* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.