A Room and a Record — ZODIAC and the Mikado

There are many contemporary renditions of Gilbert & Sullivan’s song “I’ve got a little List,” but this is the classic that ZODIAC listened to in his lair.  This is sung by John Reed, the quintessential Ko-Ko.

Listen over and over while you read The ZODIAC’s letter of July 26, 1970, and you can see where he had trouble hearing the lyrics and wrote what he thought he heard, or he simply improvised (in one area improvised significantly).

As the record played on, clunk and a whirl, he scribbled his tongue-in-cheek letter. This must be imagined clearly to appreciate it. How many times did he play it? I do not know. I’m on my 20th time as I write this. Remember, vividly, this is a murderer sniggering happily as he writes this and listens to a wonderful Gilbert & Sullivan comic operetta.

Here is John Reed as Ko-Ko in the scene of singing titwillow.

Pay close attention to the lyrics after those quoted by ZODIAC in his final letter under that identity (January 29, 1974). After this moment, no more did ZODIAC use that moniker.

15_a_-_San_Francisco_Chronicle_Exorcist_letter_January_29_1974

There was no “This is the Zodiac Speaking.” No crosshair. It was over.  . .with a hollow threat and a mysterious graffito.

*         *          *

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. “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. 

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EAR & The Ripon Court Shooting

Like the Maggiore double murders of February 1978 in Rancho Cordova, the shooting in Ripon Court, February of the year before in Sacramento’s Glenbrook south of La Riviera, has often been linked with EAR. The difference is that the Ripon Court shooter was alone. In the case of the Maggiore double murders two men were seen, though we are not entirely certain if they were truly together. The locations are both off Highway 50 only minutes apart.

But the description of one of the two men out there at La Gloria and La Alegria in Rancho Cordova, and the description of the Ripon Court shooter in Glenbrook, are quite similar. Both were young, around 20 years old, both had oval faces and hair of the same color parted not-so-commonly on the right side.

Both were killers . . .

The circumstances

Ripon Court, south of Highway 50 near the La Riviera area. EAR had struck in La Riviera before. It was one of his early comfort zones.  But he had never struck south of Highway 50. Nevertheless, he had come from this direction before. In the case of Number 11 on Grand Rio Circle he had taken her car afterward and parked it at the apartments on Great Falls Way, several blocks away down Occidental, the main road into Glenbrook from La Riviera. This is quite puzzling. It indicates that he came to her house by car or foot from several, several blocks away down here, and then drove the victim’s car back some place from which he could once again escape.

In any case, it underscores he traversed the area south of Highway 50.

In other respects Ripon Court fits EAR’s stalking MO. It was across from a school and park. It was off a fairly central street to the main road (Notre Dame/Julliard) out of there back to La Riviera or Folsom Blvd. It was a cul de sac. EAR frequently struck around them or stalked in them. The yard in which he was first found was the second house. EAR frequently struck the second house from the corner. This may not have been the intended house. It may have been the house behind it on Notre Dame Drive, also a house second from the corner.

Ripon3

Ripon Court marked by an exclamation point in relation to main roads and the other victim locations in La Riviera (marked by their number) and the exclamation point marking where EAR left Victim 11’s car.   

The shooting occurred because Ray and his son Rod Miller returned home fairly late one night, about 10:30 p.m., February 16, 1977, and found this young guy — the “lurker”– in their backyard. Rod, 18 years old,  chased him. The guy hopped the fence and ran across Ripon Court to the house opposite and disappeared into the shadows of the yard. Rod likewise was close behind. He jumped up upon the fence and there got a bullet in his stomach. That one bullet made 13 holes and left his father begging for his son to live.  Thank God he did. Both Ray and Rod helped with details for a police composite.

EAR-Composite5

One composite shows a man with hair parted on the right that seems to easily part to the middle when running, for the other shows him with hair parted in the middle. He has a bland, morose and yet sinister face. One composite shows thin lips, the other quite thick lips. The truth no doubt lies between. One of the Maggiore double murder POIs was considered to have “thick lips.” The “lurker” was young and shot to kill. He didn’t shoot Rod in the leg, arm or shoulder. He shot him right in the gut and then bolted away in that yard and escaped. The Maggiore double killer chased them down and made sure each was fatally shot before he too jumped a fence and escaped.

Police and sheriffs immediately considered it might be EAR. No proof has come to this day. (I do not know if ballistics were even attempted to link with the gun that killed the Maggiores or Offerman/Manning.)

It is clear that the lurker didn’t think he could get away and that if Rod continued he would at least see him get away in his car. He stopped on the other side of the fence and fired when Rod came over.

Obviously this young “lurker” needed a gun on his prowling of the neighborhood. EAR packed more than one type of gun over his crime spree.  What was the “lurker” up to otherwise, if this was not EAR?

Ripon2

Ripon Court in relation to Occidental, which leads to and from La Riviera and to Great Falls Way where EAR had parked Victim 11’s car. Notre Dame Drive leads to Folsom Blvd. Lake Forest leads across the nearby CAT corridor– the long clear area under a row of power pylons. EAR’s first La Riviera victim’s house backed the corridor and he would show a frequent use of such areas in his prowling and striking.

It very well could have been EAR. He was prowling but probably not intending to strike this night. This gives us yet another glimpse of him without his mask. A young man with hair parted on the right, lurking in dark yards, agile enough to bolt over fences but not a distance runner. He packed a gun and shot to kill. Also, he never returned. Once EAR was outed from a neighborhood he never returned.

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Ripon Court in 2013. This is right where the chase took place.

EAR loved the night. He prowled day and night, but his serious, invasive prowling was largely at night. He prowled many more places than he ever struck. This was an obsessive hobby that he enjoyed. He remained in the shadows, his dull eyes always scanning people in their routines. This seems to fit the Ripon Court lurker.

If EAR, it reconfirms for us EAR/ONS as a night person with hair parted on the right, a long face, and a ruthless drive to continue his hobby undiscovered at any cost.

*         *          *

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. “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 Taunts — South By NorthWest

My own personal opinion after wading through the ‘Zodiac’ Killer case is that, at least to begin with, ZODIAC wasn’t too good with directions. His directions to Blue Rock Springs Park were lousy, including his estimate of the mileage.  Nevertheless, one can’t be cynical with a clue.

In ZODIAC’s letter of November 9, 1969, he boasts that he was in Presidio during the search. He says the dogs didn’t get near him. They were 2 blocks away.  Then he said the motorcycle cops passed him 150 feet away going from south to northwest.

There was really only one viable place for ZODIAC to have parked in Presidio, and this was on Rodriguez or Liggett. Behind Liggett is the little Clark Street and the wooded area between Presidio Blvd. I wouldn’t say it’s a great place to hide for long, if the cops got off their choppers. But . . .

Clark2

Clark Street and the walking path and woods behind Liggett.

Was ZODIAC in the woods? I doubt that. But this was the only area nearby in Presidio where the road heads from south to northwest. He may not have been there, but had he parked here for the attack? If he knew how the road aligns he must have had a compass in his car. Not too many had that back then. But by now in his crime spree he was fully entrenched as the astrological assassin. Did he have a compass in his car?

Woods

All speculative. But it doesn’t require ZODIAC was telling the truth to ponder this. It only requires that he had parked around here initially. He had to have parked somewhere. Unless he parked on Jackson further down, then he had to have parked somewhere in Presidio. I doubt he could have made it out of West Pacific in time before Fouke and Zelms went down that way, so it seems he continued on through the dark grounds of Presidio to the roads that accessed the old brick cottages on Rodrigues or Liggett.

Maybe yes; maybe no. But Liggett is the only one that is South by Northwest.

*         *          *

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. “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.

Was Melvin Belli to be the 6th Zodiac victim?

I don’t think there is any doubt that the crank who wanted Mel Belli on the Jim Dunbar show on October 22, 1969, inspired The ‘Zodiac’ Killer to dovetail on the idea of bringing the famous and flamboyant attorney into the picture. Anything with Belli after all was big publicity, and ZODIAC liked to play that game.

We all know that in late December 1969 the real ZODIAC wrote a letter to Mel Belli addressed to his Montgomery street house. The tenor of what’s in the letter springboards from the character of the alternately whimpering and angry caller on the Dunbar show called “Sam” who said he was the ‘Zodiac’ Killer. The real ZODIAC saw enough of the show to imitate the mindset of the caller.

Bell-Dunbar

Belli and Dunbar listen to “Sam.”

Some years ago some web sleuths realized that in writing the envelope to Belli, the ZODIAC imitated the font used in Belli’s own address. The clarity was a stark contrast to previous and succeeding ZODIAC envelope printing.  It was his little way of saying he had been physically in front of Belli’s house, long enough to note the seemingly unimportant type of characters used in his address.

Bell-letter envelope-2

It was one way to strike terror, though it clearly had not worked. But that doesn’t mean ZODIAC didn’t think it would work.

It should have been taken seriously. He threatened school buses. This implied he had a powerful rifle with a scope.  He had used a .22 on Lake Herman Road, a 9mm at Blue Rock Springs, possibly had a .45 at Lake Berryessa, and used a different 9mm on Stine. Why shouldn’t SFPD believe he had a powerful rifle as well?

ZODIAC needed a big ante in his game to get attention. Terrorizing or killing the King of Torts would do that. It would be sensational frosting on an already sensational cake that had begun on October 22. It never came about, but did he contemplate it for real?

*         *          *

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. “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.

 

Way Bill and Where From to Where to?

As I approach my chapter “Comic Strip Crusade” in HorrorScope, I have had to be quite detailed with the circumstances of Paul Stine’s murder. His murder is the stepping off point to the ZODIAC’s publicity campaign of terror. It also marks his last murder.

Many of those who have followed the case have lamented on what little SFPD has ever released. However, there’s actually enough to recreate the general circumstances. There are nevertheless some points that it would be preferable to have qualified, and a few clues certainly are contained therein.

mag1

This old pic of Mason & Geary found its way onto the web.

For instance, was a trail of blood found leading down Cherry Street? The 7 K-9 units were used for searching that night-early morning. None are bloodhounds. Was a bloodhound used later? It seems unlikely. ZODIAC’s trail was never followed and backworked.

When did Stine pick up ZODIAC? It is commonly said today that he picked him up on the way to pick up a fare at 500 9th Avenue in Inner R.  The time elements don’t seem to allow this.  At 9:45 p.m. the dispatch sends him. It’s about 10 minutes from Mason and Geary to Washington and Maple. With the traffic today, Google will say 12 minutes and 2.8 miles.

Mason2

Mason is pretty much the same today here.

The murder occurred around 9:55 p.m. Stine’s fare was reassigned to another cab at 9:58 p.m.. A couple of minutes late is cause to reassign another cab? Even if Stine had simply let a passenger off at Washington and Cherry at 9:55 p.m. he could not have made 9th Avenue in 3 minutes.

The silence of SFPD, however, is not that important when it comes to investigative leads. There is a method of investigation, so that it is fairly easy to second-guess the methods they used and what steps they took. They had a cab killing. Dave Toschi was always frank about what little evidence there is from a cab killing. The letters gave them a few more options they wouldn’t otherwise have had.

But for the sake of reenactment, official details would be invaluable. I suspect there aren’t any. If ZODIAC parked nearby on Jackson or in the Presidio bloodhounds could have traced him. But they weren’t used. Nevertheless, if he was drenched with blood there are a few places in the Presidio where he would have bounded about when stepping down to the nearest roads. It is likely at these places that blood drops would have been cast from him. Obviously they didn’t find any. Don Fouke later changed his official statement and said that he saw ZODIAC go into a specific address on Jackson. SFPDWantedPoster

ZODIAC’s flight from the crime scene was calm and cool. This we know. He wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry. He may not have known that kids were watching from the window across the street. But he had to take into consideration he might be spotted. He had what he believed was a sure fire way to escape without a clue, and it seems to have worked.

Following a trail through Presidio is impossible today. But logistics tells us ZODIAC had parked or had an abode nearby. The biggest clue is probably the one Captain Martin Lee declared publicly. He was sure ZODIAC knew the neighborhood.

*         *          *

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. “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.

 

Confessions of a Star Wars Collector

On a happier note to all that I do, I’d like to start taking the reader through the classic world of vintage Star Wars toys, posters, and memorabilia. I was once a completist and had a huge collection.  Though much has been sold off, I photographed every piece.

I discovered many variations and was known in California as one of the most anal of the collectors during the first phase of collectible glutting– 1995 -2000. Because of my unusual name I was always known by my nickname of David. “Star Wars Dave.”

This is the true, fun hobby. It’s a fun adventure film series. It took us all by surprise back in 1977 and launched us into a galaxy long ago and far away. It was to be the new Flash Gordon and we awaited the next installments. It ushered in Hollywood’s epic space genre which dominated the box office for years to come. We grew up with Battlestar Galactica, Black Hole, Buck Rogers, even John Boy Walton did a Roger Corman space adventure. Space was in, and Star Wars started it all.

It’s well-known by antique and collectible people that there is something called the “20 year turn around.” Every 20 years people seem to turn nostalgic for the period 20 years before, especially 20 years after childhood. In the 1990s the first generation, like me, waxed nostalgic and couldn’t believe Star Wars was going to be 20 years old soon.

The old action figures we had played with were gone. The many sequels to Star Wars we ourselves had created  were only memories, written by kids playing with Kenner’s toy line. We started buying them back. We started searching for them in original packaging when we heard some had survived unopened.

They began clocking up in value like stocks, with trader magazines each month giving us pricing changes.

But for the purist, like me, the fun part was the sentimentality. The figures reminded us of Kodak days in the 1970s, warm Christmases and lots of fun. Now that we had money, it became a fun hobby, and often a ruthless one.

Toys we once played with were carefully examined in gloved hands. Each variation was noted. Things that meant nothing to us as kids became a reason for a price hike. Taiwanese issued figures verses Hong Kong issued figures. Green guns verses regular blue or black guns. I discovered that green guns were issued with all 12-Back figures and were not unique to Chewbacca in the Early Bird Kit. Sounds weird, huh? You’ll get used to the lingo.

 

EAR & The Next Step

How I dread it comes down to going through records trying to find some court action in the case of the severe injury action in which the person of interest was involved. Cal/OSHA purged all documents. Security training academies refuse to respond to me.

I’ve been through this before with other topics. The deep basements full of boxes. Somewhere you are sure that you will find the lost Ark of the Covenant. Then if found (not the ark!), you have to hope that there was some handwritten statement. Some handwritten note. Something that got copied. Short of that it is finding a yearbook from High School or some other arcane application.

The only other chance is military. But so far no response, and the death certificate may be accurate where it states he never served. Interestingly, my first request was mislabeled by myself and went not to the personnel records center in St. Louis but to Washington and the National Archives. They passed it around departments. I’ve gotten more than one response stating they can’t find any military records or pictures (not surprising), but I’ve never gotten gratuitous replies from more than one department. When it comes to something like this everybody seems happy to help. That’s the one good thing.

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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. “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.