ZODIAC’s 3 to 6 inches

There is little reason to doubt that ZODIAC used a J.C. Higgins duramatic purchased mail order from Sear’s, as Solano County Sheriffs suspected. Since he later boasted that he affixed a pencil flashlight to the barrel (taping it) he probably had the long barrel attached.

It is in this way that he said he hunted two teenagers, David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen, on Lake Herman Road on a very cold night of December 20, 1968.


This doesn’t tell us, however, if he came to Lake Herman to kill that night or if he was doing some squirrel hunting.  If he told the truth  about having had the pencil flashlight attached he probably came to kill. We should, however, assume he had squirrel or small game hunted this way before.

The J.C. Higgins model 80 was perfect for that, and a squirrel was even featured on the operator’s manual that came with the gun. Over 200K were sold, so it wasn’t a rare gun. It was mass produced. It is probably for this reason that Solano Co. Sheriffs had little faith in linking the weapon to the bullets they recovered.

But, over time, this faceless villain has taken some very good form. He was a stocky, heavyset guy with rounded shoulders and wavy dark brown hair parted low on the left. In early October he got a crew cut. News broadcasts in the Bay Area had shown a composite between October 3 and October 7 representing what was thought to have been ZODIAC at Lake Berryessa as he scouted about for his prey. It is probably at this time that ZODIAC butched his hair.


Walter Cronkite announces. . . This was late in October when ZODIAC achieved national fame, but it gives you an idea of what the local broadcasts looked like in early October, for this shows the same Napa composite aired in early October.

A few days later on October 11, 1969, ZODIAC strikes in San Francisco. Yet he is seen again, and he is still wearing the same strange outfit– old pleated wool pants (brown in color), a blue casual jacket, and high lip shoes. Only now he has a crew cut. He clearly had seen the news broadcasts of his Napa composite. He wore glasses. Probably fake. He had a new hair cut.

The sketch doesn’t really quite catch the truth of ZODIAC’s weight. He was a heavy guy around 225 or more and under 6 feet.

Before our eyes a nameless perpetrator evolved, largely thanks to the clues he left behind.

Truth can even be picked out of some of his boasting letters.

Starting at Lake Herman Road:

Eight bullets had been recovered. There were 10 shells found on the gravel turnout. Two bullets must have gone wild. The J.C. Higgins carried a 10 round clip. The ZODIAC said he bought his killing tools mail order, and the J.C. Higgins was most definitely sold that way. He said one of his tools was bought out of state. The J.C. Higgins Model 80 was sold between 1957 and 1961, meaning if I am correct in my suspect he could have bought the gun in Kansas or the Bay Area before the ban in California went into effect. We also know he fired all rounds the clip carried, pumping 5 into one victim alone.

For those curious, I suggest you tape a pencil flashlight on something at least 8 inches long and that has a knob at the end and then shine it on a wall as ZODIAC suggested in order to appreciate what he declared was his method of hunting on Lake Herman Road.  Those who are proficient in weapons may already have done so and even tried to shoot the way ZODIAC said he did. You will discover it takes some time to perfect. ZODIAC may have devised this way to hunt at night and then realized it could be used on humans. If not he spent some time mentally going over how best to attack people at night. He may have been far more cerebral than we imagine to start off with.


But I suspect he did it for small game hunting. When he used it on people, he found the .22 J.C. Higgins, the only pistol he had with a long barrel, wasn’t powerful enough. So he takes out his 9mm luger, a short, square automatic, and carries a high powered flashlight in his next attack.

Every little bit helps in trying to reconstruct the crimes. It is a fundamental necessity to do so in order to envision not only who was capable of these cold, brutal crimes, but also to contextualize his character. ZODIAC has been allowed to evolve into a master villain when he was really a ruthless coward who attacked teens at petting spots and then incongruously bragged they would be his slaves in the afterlife.

But still we must wonder about motive. He’s been called a sex killer. But he became the ultimate ad king of murder. There was no point in writing to the newspapers in his crafty way if he was a sex killer alone. He misspelled his letters intentionally, devised cryptograms, and sewed together an elaborate hood which could have been quite cumbersome during an attack. He became cerebral with his crimes and then became a detached braggart in poison pen pal letters. He declared he enjoyed hunting man, but he limited himself to unarmed necking couples. One doesn’t really lead to the other.

There is much work that needs to be done in reestablishing the vivid clarity of the ZODIAC’s crimes and times in order to expose the villain at last.

For me one thing is certain. Lake Berryessa was his mistake. He might have seen that too. Despite the hood, he was confirmed as heavy set, and the composites being broadcast are the only reason I can imagine as to why he suddenly cut his hair. He had made a great mistake at Blue Rock Springs Park too. He didn’t realize Mageau had fallen out of the car and had seen him enough to identify him as beefy and heavy set with a big round face.

It would not be until October 24, 1969, that the full body composite of ZODIAC at Lake Berryessa was finished. What does this tell us? He only saw the head composite on TV or in the newspapers. Had he known his odd ensemble had attracted such comment by Bryan Hartnell to police artists, he would not have worn the same odd and obsolete outfit at Washington and Cherry.  All he did was have a hair cut and wear glasses.

It would have been a far better broadcast over northern Cal. to compare the composites and ask people whom they knew that fit this description and had a drastic hair cut between September 27 and October 11, 1969.

ZODIAC was careful and opportunistic. His 3 to 6 inches of light beam with the “darck” dot in the center may reflect both, but if you recreate it on your ceiling or home wall, then coast it about  and recall how he then used it on a dark night against a 17 and 16 year old you’ll see how evil the hunting braggart of “kids” really was.

*         *          *

For 25 years 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. “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.

ZODIAC Observed. . . but not Explained

As I plug along in HorrorScope you’ll all be able to guess where I am by my posts here.

ZODIAC has been called “the most cerebral killer”– this is an after-the-fact assessment. His first attacks merely look like he took advantage of kids at petting spots and was little more than a drive-by shooter who got out of his car quickly in these cases. If anything was cerebral here it was his choice of Columbus Parkway and Lake Herman Road– two main backroads that allowed several ways to escape. He could appear to be local, but these roads were rural arteries to 3 major highways.

However, with the Lake Berryessa attack he became more cerebral. He planned out in advance his interaction with his victims and selected the general area carefully. It must also have taken him some time to devise and create that ceremonial hood.  He was thinking and preplanning far more now, perhaps weeks in advance.

This is evident in his San Francisco attack. He must have spent some time figuring out the length of the cab ride and the best location for 10 p.m. at night to shoot a cabbie and escape.  He either parked his car up by Jackson somewhere or had a hideout nearby in Presidio Heights. Then in early evening or late afternoon walked to Mason and Geary (about 3 miles). To Washington and Maple in Presidio Heights he told the cabbie, Paul Stine, to go. They drove together for the three miles through traffic. The ride was probably 10 minutes. . .

Paul Stine


. . .Then in our reenactments he just shoots Stine.  In these reenactments we imagine him in the backseat. Why?

ZODIAC was observed.

He was observed to wipe off the passenger side door with what looked like a kerchief. If he had been in the backseat when he shot Stine why not simply use the handkerchief he was observed to have and open the back door with it and then open the front door with it?

Rather his actions give us the impression that ZODIAC sat in the front seat for the whole ride and was not wearing gloves.

The kids in the upper windows of the house across Washington Street see him sitting in the front seat and rifling the cab driver. They believe he is robbing the cab driver and they call the fuzz. ZODIAC looks like he is then wiping down the wheel and dashboard area. Why?


It’s been theorized that he shifted the car into park after he killed Stine. Perhaps. But why do we assume it was here at Cherry?

The kids heard no gunshot.

Why not at Maple, the actual destination? When he reached into his pocket to pay the fare at Washington and Maple he pulled out his gun, told Stine to shift and then remove his feet from the pedals. After Stine acquiesces, thinking this is a robbery, ZODIAC then blows his brains out.

Records show that the cab ride was to Washington and Maple.  If it is here at Maple that ZODIAC kills Stine, then  ZODIAC would lean over, shift the car into D and drive it on to Cherry one block ahead. If any sound is heard at Washington and Maple, anyone looking out their window would see nothing but a cab slowly moving through the intersection. Nothing to get excited about.

ZODIAC pulls over at Cherry, shifts. He rifles Stine, rips the shirt piece off and takes the wallet and keys. He wipes down where he touched. He gets out and wipes off the front passenger door where he had got in at Mason and Geary and then walks around, as he is observed to do, and wipes off the driver’s side door. Why the latter?

Stine_s_cab_-left passenger_side door handle

There is a bloody print. All Zodiologists know of it. Why would there be a bloody print? ZODIAC later claimed he was making fake clues on the cab door, and says he did not leave any finger prints.  But who believes a ZODIAC letter?

So why would ZODIAC need to wipe down the driver’s side door?

The villain who called himself The ZODIAC was becoming far more cerebral in his murders now. His game of death revealed his calculating mind back in July when he sent those 3 letters to major newspapers, each containing a third of his cryptogram. It must have taken him the better part of a week to devise this, formulate the code, draw a rough copy and then neatly draw 3 parts.

Stine's_cab in police garage

With Lake Berryessa and then with San Francisco we see ZODIAC becoming equally cerebral in planning more complex attacks.

Then he suddenly stops and continues his publicity campaign of poison pen letters to the Chronicle.

Though this raises many questions, the one here is important in recreating the events before ZODIAC is observed. Why the driver’s side door? Why did he need to wipe anything here?

*         *          *

For 25 years 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. “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.

Silence of the Peacocks. . .

Christmas Eve was rainy and cloudy here, and for some reason, though not in keeping with the holiday spirit, I ripped through three chapters in HorrorScope (in the rough) and now today I approach the Lake Berryessa attack. I’m pondering an appropriate name for the chapter. Hooded Approach?

From the updates here you will probably get an idea of where I am in HorrorScope. I am going to plow through Part I (the recreation) and then as much of Part II (my personal investigation) and up to the moment where I am now. By the time I am there hopefully the final bits will have come in to me to where I can prepare my dissertation and send to Napa and proceed with my own path.

As I get detailed and recreate (as much as possible in print) the circumstances of the crimes, I am amazed at how ZODIAC got away with these and wasn’t caught in the act by others. I think there is some reason to question Mike Mageau’s recollection that ZODIAC went back to Vallejo before he returned. Logically, he should have gone to the right toward the highway to mount the rise in Columbus Parkway to see if any traffic was coming. Apparently, he didn’t. He could have been taken by surprise easily from this direction. Blue Rock Springs Park lay in the cleft of the bosom of these foothills. If a car was just over the top of the rise on Columbus Parkway it could have been on the parking lot in seconds. Indeed it seems that the trio of teens just missed ZODIAC when they came on the park.

I haven’t found many pics of Columbus Parkway the way it used to look before it was redesigned with the emerging developments in the 1980s. I got a few scans of significant pics from Jim Kern at Vallejo Historic Museum. I took pics of the others, some clear, some perhaps I should get scans of. It was 4 years ago. I didn’t have my best camera with me. But let me share a few here.


From a bird’s eye view over the center of Blue Rock Springs Park we can see bits of Columbus Parkway when it was only a two lane road. It wends off toward Vallejo in between the stand of trees. There were two major groves of trees amidst the brown grassy hills– here at the park at the springs and then by the creek (those seen in the distance). In the clearing in between stood the clubhouse to the golf course. Here you can only catch glimpses of Blue Rock Springs golf course when young.

It is down this road that ZODIAC came and apparently went back once and then escaped down this way again. This  direction leads to Springs Road, named of course from the old springs out there (you can see the ponds in the picture). The peacocks cry over this whole area. It can sound quite unnerving.


Taken near the entrance to the parking lot (on the right) this photo from the early 1970s shows us what Columbus Parkway looked like heading toward Highway 80. It is from this direction near midnight on July 4, 1969, that the trio known as Jerry, Roger, and Debbie, came perhaps moments after ZODIAC had gone the opposite direction. The beautiful rockwork can be seen along the side of the road, the extra parking area on the other side of the parkway, and how narrow the road was here.

Redevelopment has robbed Blue Rock Springs Park of its rustic atmosphere and rural ambiance. It was then a forested green oasis in a desert of brown foothills. Today Columbus Parkway is as wide as a highway and just as trafficked. The cry of the peacocks can barely be heard over the din. It is just a park amidst suburbia.


Taken in the early 1980s perhaps, it is still unaltered. The stand of trees in the center of the picture are those seen graphed in the police sketch of the parking lot in 1969. The parking lot had been built around them, so that they stood within it. The parking lot of which I speak, of course, is not the one in the foreground. It is the one in the back. Downloading the pic will reveal it to you in its large size. It is in that parking lot where the shooting occurred.

In 1986, I believe, everything would begin to change. Bulldozers came in and much has been widened. The parking lot was doubled, biting into the park, and the extra lot on the other side of the road (seen in foreground) was removed in preparation to widen the road.

ZODIAC was more than lucky here in his timing. But he didn’t realize he had made a terrible mistake. At the end of the month, he sent his first trio of letters and started playing his game. Then he replied to the Examiner. Then there was nothing until September 27 when he had to prove something. In this time he was fomenting his most brazen attack. But he would repeat his mistake at Lake Berryessa.

*         *          *

For 25 years 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. “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 have long discussed the probability that David Faraday tried to wrestle the gun from ZODIAC. After all, David had a lump on his cheek and his class ring was almost twisted off his finger, indicating a struggle. The ring in particular indicted grasping and clutching, as a wrestler would do. The young lightweight wrestler from Vallejo High was no match, however, for the beefy ZODIAC.


Journalist Victor Cantu, however, brought up the point that there would be ZODIAC DNA on Faraday’s shirt, certainly on his sleeves (he wore a blue long sleeved shirt). I don’t know if that shirt is still in an evidence locker. Nor do I know how much contamination it had. But it may be worthwhile pulling it and checking it to see if DNA that matches The ZODIAC stamps can be found.


From the stamps on ZODIAC’s nasty missives, DNA was finally extracted decades later.  But no one is entirely sure it is ZODIAC’s, though it seems probable. However, if David Faraday and ZODIAC locked in a wrestle, his DNA should be there.

Since there could be much contamination, the easy way for the DNA to be positive is for it to match the stamp DNA.

What if the stamp DNA is not ZODIAC’s? In this case, a process of elimination will have to be done. This would be costly. David went to a musical that night. But it is unlikely he would be touched in areas where ZODIAC would have touched him in a brief wrestle for the gun.

So what it comes down to is lifting DNA and trying to match to the stamps. If not, then process of elimination with the police/medics who handled it.  It also comes down to location of the DNA on the shirt and any pattern to it that would indicate more than casual contact at a musical. It is the pattern of the DNA on the shirt that would make a link likely. Tedious, yes. But it may finally give us ZODIAC in undeniable DNA form.

*         *          *

For 25 years 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. “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.

ZODIAC Begins. . .

Those of you who follow me know I don’t care for syrupy memorials. If the dead could speak, they would say “Go get the guy.” But today is the anniversary of The ZODIAC Killer’s first strike, this the one on Lake Herman Road, 1968. ZODIAC didn’t admit to it until he called after he attacked at Blue Rock Springs Park on July 4, 1969, where he shot Mike Mageau and killed Dee Ferrin.

Even to this day, in a sense, the murders of David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen have been overlooked. Dee Ferrin’s vivacious character has led to the legend of Darlene in Vallejo; the exotic nature of ZODIAC’s attack at Lake Berryessa has made the black hooded executioner his image today; the murder of Paul Stine in San Francisco introduces us to the cosmopolitan world of San Francisco at a very unique time in history. By contrast, the murder of two teens at a necking spot on bland, rural Lake Herman Road offers very little. In the movie Zodiac (2007) it doesn’t even find re-creation. The film begins with Dee Ferrin and Mike Mageau’s attack at Blue Rock Springs Park.

Yet, on the contrary, ZODIAC’s first attack offers much. It was not impulsive in any strict sense, though it may have been opportunistic.  I say ZODIAC was prowling and he already knew or quickly deduced that the pump turn out was a petting spot.  He may only have had a .22 caliber with him, but he came to kill. Not only that he came to experience killing.

The shot in the back window, the shot in the roof over the back passenger side door have been said to have been fired in order to get young Faraday and Jensen out of the car. No reason to disagree. He only had a .22 and he wasn’t going to shoot through windows. It was cold out that night, 10 degrees below freezing. He fired the shots, no doubt after shouting at them. All seem to agree.

But notice the placement of those shots. They were in the back window and the roof just over the frame of the rear door. ZODIAC didn’t want to hit one of them. He was careful not to fire near them. He wanted them out.


Nothing indicates that David Faraday was shot as soon as they got out the front passenger’s side door. (ZODIAC must have ordered them out that door.)  Indeed that would have been too swift. Faraday’s class ring, moreover, was found almost pulled off his finger. He had been shot once in the head behind the left ear at close range (there was powder burn). He was shot while lying down. Everything indicates that the middle weight wrestler at Vallejo High tried to wrestle the gun from the assailant. He failed. He went down clutching onto ZODIAC– almost losing his ring from gripping and pulling– and on the ground it was goodbye.  The hulking, moon-face ZODIAC fired into his head point blank and Faraday’s arms released and fell down.

Vallejo High 1969, David Faraday is 3rd row up from the front, 6th from the right.

I do not know what Betty Lou was doing during this time. But soon ZODIAC told her to run. He shot first while she was close enough for her bright purple dress to take one grain of gun powder. He shot her 5 times. She was running away to the West. Yet when her body was found, her feet were facing West.  The physics of momentum cannot be violated. If she fell while running away, she would fall forward. She didn’t. She fell backwards. This means that ZODIAC kept pumping bullets into her until she staggered and finally after the last bullet she plumped down on her side.

This is ZODIAC’s first attack.

Det. Leslie Lundblad points to Faraday’s blood and the chalk outline of his body, while another detective looks at the spot where Jensen was found about 30 feet away.

ZODIAC learned from his mistakes. He had parked next to Faraday’s station wagon. Perhaps David had started the car and was backing out. At Blue Rock Springs he parked behind Dee Ferrin. He used not a .22 caliber here but a 9 millimeter luger. It was warm and summer and the windows were down. He just walked up and started shooting. He ripped it out of there into Vallejo to confess to both crimes, those of Faraday and Jensen 6 months before and now these. His farewell to the police operator was taunting.

This isn’t the place to debate the meaning of those 6 months of silence. I have desired to make it plain here that he came to kill.

Contemporary photos of Lake Herman Road. The turnout was at the top of the rise, quite prominent and hard to miss a car there. A sheriff’s car is parked in the turnout in the second photo.

However, it must  said that it was unlikely that there would be lovers at the lovers’ lane on Lake Herman Road that night. If ZODIAC was prowling, he may not have had that turnout initially in mind. Where else was he thinking? I don’t know. The turnout may have been something impulsive in that regard, but ZODIAC wanted to experience murder firsthand.

Blue Rock Springs Park is just the opposite. It was 4th of July 1969.  The probability someone would be there was much more.

I have maintained that ZODIAC only had a cursory knowledge of the backroads and was not a local Vallejoan. Think of these attack locations. A turnout that is very visible in a bend of the road to the highway. A famous local park on 4th of July. It too on the other major backroad (Columbus Parkway) to a highway. Not a lot of stalking needed to be done to come across kids at both locations.

I took what photos I could while visiting Vallejo Historic Society. This is not so clear, but this is taken from Columbus Parkway during some major event there. The cameraman is not at the top of the rise but you can see how the road mounts up. The parking lot is way down in the grove of trees in the turn.

From the clues and evidence, I see someone who came to kill and who seized opportunities. Why? I don’t know. I could easily venture a guess had he not gotten so theatrical at Lake Berryessa. That attack has always thrown a kink into theorizing.

ZODIAC’s murders became a means to an end for public boasting. But here at Lake Herman Road he seemed to want to take his time with the victims. He wanted them out. He may have demanded that Jensen run rather than taking it point blank.

Suffice it to say here that Lake Herman Road and the Faraday/Jensen murders should not be overlooked. That ZODIAC knew these backroads, yet not so well, is an enormous clue. So is the fact that Faraday knew to fight back and try and wrestle the gun. He is the only one to have ever challenged ZODIAC. There was a big man in that little 17 year old.


*         *          *

For 25 years 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. “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.


In our last ZODIAC post I touched on the logistic ease of using Columbus Parkway and Lake Herman Road as a giant U turn for using both Highway 80 and 680. One need only touch the fringes of the Bay Area on these roads and be easily back out on either highway and going east again. All it required was a general knowledge of the area.

Despite clues to the contrary, it became accepted to believe that ZODIAC was local; that he knew Vallejo. After his attack at Blue Rock Springs Park he drove into Vallejo– either down Tennessee Street or Springs Road– and finally called from Joe’s Gas Station at 700 Tuolomne Street.

Mike Mageau, Darlene Ferrin, the Blue Rock Springs victims and a photo of the 1970 phonebook showing Joe’s (now Nick Houtz’s) gas station ad.

We have the great vantage point today of hindsight. We know that after the Lake Berryessa attack ZODIAC drove to Napa (about an hour away)  and called from a payphone. Why should we believe he lived in Napa? No reason and, in fact, no one thought he did. Yet after his Blue Rock Springs Park attack (Ferrin/Mageau July 4 1969) he drives into Vallejo to call from a payphone on the corner of Springs and Tuolomne and for some reason we get the impression he must have been a local. Why?  It’s the same MO as with Lake Berryessa.


This is not the actual Joe’s gas station, but its layout gives you a good idea. The gas station on the corner of Tuolomne and Springs had a phonebooth on the sidewalk like this one. ZODIAC need not be seen by any attendant, if it was open.

In addition, the location for the gas station on Tuolomne and Springs is perfect for using Tennessee and Springs in like manner as anyone could use Columbus Parkway and Lake Herman Road. The route in from Columbus Parkway to Tuolomne is a giant U-turn.

Let’s look at this below.


The top most street marked in yellow is Tennessee. The lower one is Springs Road. Tuolomne (pronounced Twahlomee) is the cross street marked in yellow. So we have Columbus Parkway on one side and a few blocks from where both main streets cross Highway 80 ZODIAC turned onto Tuolomne and called from a gas station phone booth.  After he called he need only go back a few blocks to Highway 80 and he is gone.

This historical aerial from 1968 gives us a bird’s eye of the area.


The gas station is marked by the yellow arrow. As you can see Springs Road was recently re-paved. 

Which way did ZODIAC come from Columbus Parkway? Was it Tennessee  and did he turn south onto Tuolomne and cross the street? Or did he come Springs Road, know how it took a little jog to the right and drove up the residential streets to the gas station? He could just park on the street then by the phonebooth. He might have come Springs Road to where it merges with Solano Avenue and then turned north.

My point, however, is that whatever way he came he could merely keep on going and turn around and get out of Vallejo quickly.


ZODIAC’s directions to Blue Rock Springs Park were terrible, and he didn’t seem to know the name of the very famous local park. Feigning ignorance would get him nothing. There was a big sign upon entering the parking lot. Any stranger would see it.

Nothing, in fact, indicates ZODIAC knew the Vallejo area well. He knew the outskirts and perhaps a few main roads. If he was not local, nor had been local, what brought him here before so that he should know these locations?

For certainly he did know these locations, the outskirts anyway. He knew there were petting spots here (though a park parking lot is quite common).

The reason why ZODIAC did not call from a gas station along Tennessee (there was one by the overpass) on the other side of the highway while coming into town can be interpreted as not wanting to appear as if he was just headed back to the highway.  This is, of course, assuming my interpretation is correct.  One thing is certain, the case has officially never been solved. There was no true prime suspect, not even Leigh Allen until Robert Graysmith made him popular.  As Inspector Dave Toschi put it, “he was one of a few that looked good.”

This argues for the theory that ZODIAC covered himself fairly well. The best way, perhaps, was to strike where he was not local. The police would not suspect anyone from an hour away.


Springs and Tuolomne today. The gas station was on the left on the opposite side of Tuolomne, where the brown building is today. 

Springs Road was the most commercially developed road in Vallejo east of Highway 80. There were gas stations, shops, restaurants and more. Today there are still many reminders of 1950/60s architecture.


But ZODIAC drove a distance in order to get to a payphone in the heart of town. Why? Should I suggest he had used it before and knew it worked? My suspect’s work certainly might take him to the criminal courts building just down the road.

In the end, however, we must look away from Vallejo. Nothing has truly suggested he lived there at that time. As his crime spree would prove, he would drive quite a distance. Even if you believe he lived in Vallejo, it’s an hour drive to Lake Berryessa and with traffic at least that much from Vallejo to Washington and Cherry in San Francisco. Why not an hour to Vallejo for the first two attacks?


*         *          *

For 25 years 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. “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.


A little sneak peak at HorrorScope. It is not enough to finally expose the identity of The Zodiac Killer. We must get into his mind as he worked out his crime spree. Without this it is impossible to try and unravel his identity and glimpse, at the very least, his motive.

What I present here helps underscore the case that The ZODIAC was not excessively familiar with Vallejo. Added to other facts which will come forward in HorrorScope, we will see how the sequence of events and clues reveal that ZODIAC came from afar to an area of which he had a general knowledge.

This is how I was able to seriously pursue my suspect as coming from as far as Sacramento. The map below accentuates the fork in Highway 80, the main highway into San Francisco’s Bay Area from Sacramento. The southern fork becomes Highway 680.  The first off ramp of either highway before one gets to the northeast Bay Area towns of Vallejo and Benicia, where ZODIAC began, are marked by the arrows. The off ramp at Highway 80 is Columbus Parkway. The off ramp at 680 is Lake Herman Road. In essence, the two create a huge U-turn coming from Sacramento.

Without even touching Vallejo or Benicia, someone could come from Sacramento in an hour, even less, take one off ramp and then drive along an isolated country road and take the other back. He need only know that Columbus Parkway and Lake Herman Road join in the center and that at each terminal they are at a major highway.

Even at this altitude Lake Herman Road and Columbus Parkway are evident as the major and only backroads.


ZODIAC began here. He struck at the turnout on Lake Herman Road in December 1968 and then returned to Blue Rock Springs Park on Columbus Parkway in July 1969. Blue Rock Springs Park is basically the only major reason general traffic would travel Columbus Parkway.

After ZODIAC’s July 4 attack, he drives into Vallejo and calls from a phone booth at Tuolomne and Spring. It is not hard to see how he could quickly get to the location, call, and merely head back to Highway 80. He had crossed it on the way in to Vallejo from Columbus Parkway. An hour or less away and he is home.


In calling the police dispatcher he gave terrible directions to Blue Rock Springs Park and didn’t even seem to know its name.  Nothing indicated ZODIAC was overly familiar with Vallejo.

What first brought him to the back roads? The first time he had a .22 caliber. The second time a 9 mm.

He strikes at Lake Berryessa in September 1969.  After that he drives to Napa and calls the police, not the sheriffs. Why would driving to Napa indicate he is returning to Vallejo? He could easily take Highway 12 to Highway 80. If he lived in Sacramento, why would he drive from Lake Berryessa to Winters and make the call? It would be a dead giveaway the dragnet would have to spread eastward.

There is a pattern here which shows he was not coming from the Bay Area but rather coming to it and only tickling its fringes in the northeast section. And he knew it was necessary to do so.

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For 25 years 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. “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.