Those who have followed my ZODIAC investigation for the last 4 years know that by 2012 I had already settled on a suspect that I was relatively sure of. I put one of his pics up and gave him the alias “Beard” for a variety of reason. Unlike with EAR/ONS more recently I have not been releasing snippets of facts discovered or clues uncovered as I went along. From the point of view of publicity and grandstanding, ZODIAC is a nightmare case. It has become a real life comic strip, both in the factual and negative meaning of that term.
One thing I had made clear. I believed my suspect came from afar to his killing fields. I did not believe he was a Vallejo native. I believed he may have known some of the rural areas from game and recreation shooting. He enlisted in the Air Force in Oakland and then short of his 4 years he was separated from the Service at the hospital. His sole earned medal was the small arms Expert marksmanship ribbon, which means he was a superb aim with the standard issue Colt M11 semi auto .45 pistol.
I proposed that ZODIAC drove at least 1 hour distances, perhaps even coming from Sacramento to the Lake Herman Road and Columbus Parkway area. His crime spree would soon tell us that he would certainly drive long distances in subsequent attacks. Lake Berryessa is far more than an hour away from Vallejo. San Francisco is at least that, at least to Presidio Heights, from Vallejo.
This same pattern was, in fact, visible from the beginning. Lake Herman Road and Columbus Parkway don’t reveal this to us, but the little postmark on his boasting letters do.
ZODIAC mailed his poison pen pal letters from San Francisco almost exclusively. There is no doubt of this. The envelops remain today. The postmarks are intact.
This, of course, helps my approach to the investigation and why I went outside the dragnet to a suspect who could only be placed around Sacramento at the time or his mother’s house in the Bay Area.
The postmarks underscore for everybody that ZODIAC was cerebral enough when he first began his letter writing to travel quite a distance. If you believe he was local to Benicia or Vallejo, he traveled quite a distance to mail the letters in San Francisco. The opposite is true as well. If he lived in SF he traveled about an hour or, for Lake Berryessa, more than 2 hours to his killing fields.
We must accept that simply because ZODIAC began in the rural backroads of Vallejo and Benicia does not mean that he came from there. Those two roads, as I showed in an earlier post, aren’t just backroads. They are main rural roads to 3 major highways in and out of the Bay Area.
ZODIAC, naturally, thought he was being clever in posting his letters from the metropolis. Up to a point he was. ZODIAC knew to go to the most populated area from which to mail them, where someone simply dropping off a letter would go unnoticed. But he revealed for us that from the very beginning he traveled. Which direction? With my own suspect, I naturally believe in a certain direction. But my own conviction does not alter the fact that ZODIAC’s letter mailing identifies him as a man who traveled distances to carry off aspects of his game of death.
The dragnet must widen and at the same time take some local clues into consideration. For one, the first TV newscasts showing a composite were telecast between October 3 and October 7, 1969. After this time, ZODIAC gets a hair cut. I do not know how far such newscasts were broadcast. I doubt as far as Sacramento, but they may have been. They were certainly broadcast in the Bay Area, including the Contra Costa Corridor. They also appeared in print, but I do not know in what papers. ZODIAC must have seen them. If they weren’t broadcast or in print in Sacramento, it means ZODIAC was in the Bay Area as well.
My suspect’s mother lived in the Bay Area, where my suspect had actually gone to school and then enlisted into the Air Force in 1963.
How does one place a suspect at a given location in such a huge area as the Bay Area at a given moment on a dark night? No one can, then or now. But by realizing that ZODIAC was more cerebral than given credit for, we can broaden the dragnet and justify looking at suspects that were never considered before.
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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.