ZODIAC’s HOOD — Details in Crime

I have been examining these disgusting bits of racial paraphernalia with a more laudable purpose in mind than reveling in redneck ritual.  ZODIAC’s hood. Bryan Hartnell described it to a Napa detective, John Robertson. Then he visually assisted the sketch artist who finally completed a full body composite showing the ‘Zodiac’ Killer wearing the hood.

Lake_Berryessa_Zodiac sketchThe composite  doesn’t really capture the description Hartnell gave. He first described the hood as having 4 flaps. It wasn’t an overt statement, but it was implicit. The front flap hung down below the chest and had the Zodiac symbol sewn thereon. The back flap hung down the back and was of equal length. There were shoulder flaps.

The composite just shows a hood, with the black cloth draping over the shoulders, but in reality that would be awfully hard to imagine working. Hartnell described the hood as square with a flat top, so that it seems his description of shoulder flaps fits with a square hood.

The hood would have to be made with 4 pieces– two long pieces of cloth for the front and back and two shorter ones for the shoulders. The corners had seams, but were these 4 pieces actually sewn together or did each of the 4 pieces have seams?

As you can see in the rather carefully designed and sewn KKK hood above, the two pieces  of the hood have seams, but the pieces are not sewn together. There is a snap sewn on the inside to hold them together.

This may ultimately be ZODIAC’s design. The difference is that with a square top hood,  instead of the usual 2 piece round KKK hood, he would need 4 pieces of cloth.

Just what was used to make the top of the hood square? A graduation cap would be too wide. Remember, the eyeholes had to be close to the eyes. This was a rather small hood that was close to the face.  A piece of cardboard? That would not seem strong enough.

Robert Graysmith’s influential sketch– but it really doesn’t work.

In any case, he used something square for the top and then laboriously sewed 4 pieces of black cloth around it and over it. It had neat eyeholes and a carefully sewn Zodiac symbol in white cloth.  He clipped on shades over the eyeholes and tested it out. If each piece was not sewn together then I suspect each seam had a couple of snaps to hold each flap together.

This took some time and design. ZODIAC’s cryptograms took some time to devise and then carefully draw out.

My point is– ZODIAC carefully thought out much of his game and it clearly meant a lot to him. This must cause us to consider that the statements in his nasty poison pen pal letters were not off the top of his head. His implicit comment that he had a basement, for instance, doesn’t really mean he had a basement. Nor should his claim that his victims would be his slaves in the afterlife be taken as serious. But considering the amount of time he spent on his publicity game, there was something more to his crime spree than merely preying on unsuspecting youths at petting spots. 7112555_orig

Just what was his game and when did he start to develop it? It slowly evolves before our eyes– the confessions, the symbol, the name ‘Zodiac’, the cryptograms.  But the hood was not a part of the publicity game. The letters were meant to be read, the Zodiac symbol meant to be seen, the cryptograms meant to be deciphered in order to intrigue us. Not the hood. The victims were not meant to survive. We were never to know that he had worn it. It meant something purely to him.

Just how long would it have taken for him to figure out the actual size of the square that he’d need in order to fit the top of his head? Did he measure his head around and then square off the figure? That hood really took some doing.

Coupled with everything else– the cryptograms, the murder locations, always mailing his letters from San Francisco– the hood as described tells us to what extent ZODIAC devoted himself to his game of death and to his persona as “The ZODIAC.”

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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.


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