HorrorScope — Foreword

This is the Foreword of HorrorScope. This is by no means final.  . . . But it gives you an idea.

 

Foreword

This is the Zodiac Speaking

 

Civilization had never seen such a thing before. 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 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, ty-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. 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. They still necked at petting spots. This was an accepted “taboo.” Lovers’ lanes were still unofficially designated.

Shots rang out. Gun powder flashed. Two teenagers lay dead, a boy and a girl. 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 until it sent San Francisco and the metropolitan Bay Area into a panic.

For 7 months the killer did nothing. He was fomenting his game. Then he struck again in the summer of ’69. Soon he proclaimed himself to the world as though he was some pompous comic strip villain:

 

This is the Zodiac Speaking

      From this point forward this mysterious and egotistical villain made a very public game out of murder. He didn’t stop with his sinister confessions to police operators. Under threat of a metropolitan wide murder spree, he manipulated the newspapers to print cryptograms of astrological and old style code symbols. He taunted police that his identity lay therein, and he intrigued the public to guess where he’d strike next. A metropolitan area sat down to try and figure it out. When decoded, all and sundry read the gleeful but simple syntax: “I like killing people because it is so much fun.”

With each new victim there came a jubilant boast in the form of a letter, message, or tally of victims. Sometimes a cipher was included, which he expected the Bay Area to decode and play his game. His murder spree lasted for only a short time, but his love for terror kept him writing these poison pen letters. For years he kept the Bay Area in suspense with his threats. “Be sure to print this part . . . or I’ll do my thing.” Each new letter he sent to the press 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.

 

Zod-icon--July31-VallejoTimes-small

 

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 boasted 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.

Who was this killer? Why did he stop? He has been silent over 40 years now. It has been so long now that Zodiac’s era and therewith the context of his crimes has been obscured by a folklore that has created a master villain in the likeness of Dr. Moriarty, the nemesis of the erstwhile Sherlock Holmes.

Yet the truth is that of a pudgy little man sniggering over his poison pen letters while his TV screen flickered with images of pall bearers carrying out his victims to the hearse. The truth is that of a strange outcast who was completely untouched by the great events of his time.

Man’s first step on the moon, the Manson murders, the antiestablishment movement— nothing contemporary found place in his writings. Only once did he make reference to current events, and this was so his tongue-in-cheek humor could dovetail on it. Peace symbols were popular, he said; others wore “black power” or “Melvin eats bluber.” He wanted to see the Bay Area wear his Zodiac buttons. It would cheer him up and this would keep him from striking again. “Please no nasty ones like melvin’s. Thank you.”

Little is known of this villain, but enough was pieced together to draw the portrait of an odd, festering misfit. In 1969, in appearance there was still a stark difference between the mainstream and the counterculture. Guys still wore their tight, sleek slacks, button-down collar shirts, short hair parted and combed to one side. Gals wore some elaborate hairstyle, often like their mother. Miniskirts came “in” in 1966 and were still “in” in 1968-69. Guys wore thick rimmed glasses; gals cat-eyes. If you were the mainstream you looked like the above; if you were a hippie, you looked “way out.” Yet the Zodiac was neither. In age he was unquestionably under 30 years old— a difficult age to categorize. He was too young to be the establishment; too old to be the counterculture. Nevertheless, even for 1969 he was, for one of his age, a strange amalgam. His hair was stylized, a fashion that went out in the early ’60s. He wore baggy, pleated wool dress pants— the norm for the mid-1950s. He mixed this formality with a touch of current and casual— a thin cotton sport jacket. Strangely, he then added more incongruity by wearing high rim Air Force Wing Walker shoes, standard issue for cadets at Lackland AFB in Texas. He was under 6 foot tall but a heavy 225 pounds— chunky like a gorilla with a young, big face with high cheekbones.

This is the man who bragged he liked to hunt people because man was ‘the most dangerous game of all” and yet he only had the courage, if that word can be used, to pump full of holes kids at lovers’ lanes. He hid his big face under the mantel of the night and behind the bright splatter of a flashlight and fired away at his victims. The reality of The Zodiac Killer was shot up cars and kids at remote petting spots.

From such scenes he ghostly vanished, hurried to confess to police operators, or to his lair to scribble his boasting letters and set in motion his publicity game

It would be unwise to judge Zodiac based on his appearance. For all of his uncouth look, somehow, equally mysterious, that frumpy gorilla neatly managed to melt into the very different background of mainstream life and evade an enormous dragnet.

In fact, Zodiac devoted enormous time and effort to carry off his crimes. For one slaying in daytime he hid his round 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. Obviously, this outfit meant something purely to him. The Zodiac’s crime spree clearly was a bit more complex than merely a means to publicity.

What ultimately was Zodiac’s game?

The need to expose this killer is enormous. It is not the narrow piety to bring closure to the victims’ families. Nor is it simply for the sake of closing the book on a case of crime. The ‘Zodiac’ Killer played a game with the public. He did not murder to merely give himself a thrill. His victims were antes in a game of murder and seek. Such a braggart is unique in the annals of crime. He 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 respected citizen.

This is the complete chronicle of The Zodiac Killer crime spree. This is not an anodyne compilation of the history of The Zodiac Killer and of those events, sometimes decades later, engineered by people who have attempted to write themselves into it, together the above amounting to little more than a journal of urban folklore. This is the investigative thesis that vividly recreates the crimes and times of the Zodiac, and that leads to the outing of the man behind the mask, the killer behind the pompous preamble “This is the Zodiac Speaking.”

In this volume I will deliver the body of the Zodiac. But it takes more to get at the soul— why he killed and why he stopped. Was he a reluctant killer? Was the terror campaign a ruse to cover some other motive? Were the deaths necessary in some greater scheme or ritual? The questions may not seem as important after the killer’s hood is removed. 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. This will destroy his evil soul. 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.

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