ZODIAC’s Echo– HorrorScope– Chapter 15 –Titwillo–

A sneak peak at the first couple of pages of Chapter 15 –“Titwillo”– from HorrorScope.  Still in the rough, but let’s see. . .


Now I feel just as sure as I’m sure that my name

Isn’t Willow, titwillow, titwillow,

That ’twas blighted affection that made him exclaim

“Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow”




It didn’t take long for Zodiac to fade away. His little epilogue in January 1974 really wasn’t much. For almost 5 years he had proved himself nothing but a sporadic and empty braggart. This was 5 years in which society had undergone a huge change in which the Zodiac’s crimes had paled by comparison. The Kodachrome flamboyance of the late 1960s may have gasped at a grandstanding predator haunting lovers’ lanes, but the dim, trash strewn reality of urban decay was to see militant groups like the Symbionese Liberation Army and the bizarre Zebra Killings. San Francisco had been the center of the latter, a crime spree which seemed to come from the pages of Kipling and the deadly Thuggee uprising in the name of Kali. The entire Bay Area was affected by the SLA, who had kidnapped Patty Hearst from Berkeley.

Worst of all, of course, was the fear that these crime sprees could only be vanguards for more urban guerilla uprisings or cult gang murders. Mindset was fueled by anxiety now, and “What’s next?” was the attitude. Altogether the Zodiac, that pudgy braggart who boasted of shooting unarmed teens at petting spots, was relegated to a dated past, and his boasting letters to an archive drawer at SFPD, one of the 9 filing cabinet drawers where Dave Toschi kept everything.

Weeds were waist high in public sidewalks now. White Flight had occurred. Winos walked in fashionable business centers. Post Modern skyscrapers were artless glass boxes whose shadows plunged the classic old downtown buildings into cold obsolescence. Fashion seemed a thing of the past. Unkempt was the hairstyle, long and “casual.” Hip huggers showed too much. What kind of fashion was “afros”? Morality was in the tank. Disco seemed lewd. The new lingo included ‘fuzz,’ ‘foxy,’ and ‘far out.’

Society, as a result, had become overwhelming nostalgic about “How sweet it was” before the counterculture movement of the late 1960s, and the drug, crime infested culture that followed. Movies may have continued to churn out the “dystopia” genre showing a negative post nuclear holocaust future, but TV with its stricter censorship rules found success in catering to the nostalgia. Happy Days, which aired only 2 weeks before Zodiac’s final “Exorcist Letter,” was a tremendous hit, joining The Waltons as the primetime favorites.

The social activist stuff like Room 222 was already fading from the channels. The mainstream was adapting the counterculture attitude only in terms of lifestyle, wanting a much freer social environment but not the constant tambourine beating of philosophy.

Newsmen are like drama critics. They hate a good performance. It makes them struggle to write their reviews. News concentrated on all the bad, but there were sordid things they didn’t think their middleclass audience was ready for. For San Francisco, there was little coverage about a pimp butchering drag queens in the Tenderloin, and the bizarre case of The Doodler was largely swept under the news carpet.

The Doodler Murders were especially sordid. The Black Doodler, as he was also called, was an artistic young black man, probably from nearby George Washington High School, who went into the late night bars of The Castro, the district which was now becoming the center of San Francisco’s nighttime gay culture. He came in with his sketchpad handy, and with this and his charming manner he captivated patrons. He also ingratiated himself. He drew caricatures of them, and at one point some offer was made and they left the bar. Next time the patron would be seen he would be carved up in Golden Gate Park or at Ocean Beach. On more than one occasion the patron survived, with or without slash wounds from The Doodler’s formidable butcher’s knife.

Because there had been survivors, The Doodler was easily identifiable, as you might imagine. However, the three survivors were of prominent positions. One was a “European diplomat,” the other a “nationally known entertainer,” and the last of the three survivors was a “prominent local citizen.” Since these were pick-ups in gay bars, at night, and in such circumstances that they would be classified as “Dinge Queens,” none of the trio wished to admit to anything or any wrongdoing. The prominent citizen left for Texas, the entertainer couldn’t remember and refused to return, and the diplomat insisted no sex had occurred . . . before he went back to Europe.

The diplomat was probably right. There is no evidence from the circumstances that I could uncover to indicate that The Doodler was interested in any dalliance, shall we say. He seemed to want to kill his victims rather than indulge in any erotic interlude. They were found in such circumstances that indicated they were taken completely by surprise by their charming and talented sketch artist before anything had occurred. He either hated gays or . . . no one was really sure. But no charges were ever brought. Seven or 8 victims fell in slashing violence little different than the victims of Norman Bates in Psycho, but SFPD could never get enough information out of the survivors. The Doodler quit . . . and faded away.

The press never demanded any action. These were late night, sordid tenderloin murders. By contrast, the Zodiac had generated metropolitan wide news because he had attacked John and Jane Q. Citizen. The Doodler was a bizarre denizen of a very controversial district in town, and most of the news was covered only in underground gay magazines and newspapers.

In terms of publicity, all the other jurisdictions but San Francisco had long been out of the limelight. Zodiac’s letter writing had kept San Francisco as the center of attention and the center of his publicity campaign. This made the publicity dangerously disproportionate to the meager evidence SFPD had, but since an echo’s strength is dependent on the strength of the original sound it is not surprising San Francisco would always dominate the echo. As echoes also take a while to reverberate, and are only a pale reflection of the original sound, so was the era that was to follow.

*         *          *

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.

Behind the Franchise — ZODIAC’s Link

Santa Barbara County– the rugged unchanged coastline, the morning fog, the sandstone cliffs. There is no one about in the early morning. The train even appears to be intentionally more quiet than usual.

I am in spirit and mind brought back down south in my search for ZODIAC.  As I await more handwriting samples on the man I have called “Beard” — Wilcox– The Omicron Suspect has excited some possibilities. It requires I go back on the trail of Leigh Allen. No, I do not believe he is the ‘Zodiac’ Killer. Nor do I think there was a conspiracy of more than one man. But Leigh may have been an inadvertent link to the real man, and I think he may have suspected it. It’s a clue anyway, and you know my opinion about clues.

The first image of “Zodiac,” October 1969


Leigh was in the Lompoc region working as a life guard. He was gone by the time of the double murder of Bobby Domingos and his girlfriend Linda Edwards on June 4, 1963. But Leigh knew a wide range of people in the south, both from Cal Poly and from his side jobs. If Bay Area investigators ever thought him a link, they must have dismissed his sojourn down here, thinking, well, this was long before he had his Zodiac watch and the principles of his make-believe game to hunt for people. . . . but this presupposes he did not stay in contact with someone he had known in these parts.


The public pool in Lompoc, closed now because it is supposedly not earthquake proof. Leigh Allen was a lifeguard here

The Domingos/Edwards double murders show some of the signature of what would become the ‘Zodiac’ Killer’s. But there was no publicity campaign. This is in keeping with ZODIAC’s first Bay Area murder in December 1968, 5 years later. His publicity game wasn’t developed yet. The killer just seemed to enjoy finding youths at remote places and gunning them down.

In the broader and basic form the Domingos/Edwards double murder reflects the ZODIAC’s knowledge of rural places where couples went. ZODIAC most definitely knew main backroads of Vallejo/Benicia and the area around Lake Berryessa. The latter is most significant. He needed a remote but not so remote location in order to stab a couple. How many remote lakes in California have young couples visiting them?  I can’t think of any. It’s not a question of knowing Lake Berryessa. It’s a question of how did he know that students came from Angwin frequently?  That takes having known the location for a while.

Leigh Allen’s old lifeguard chair.


In like manner, how did the Domingos/Edwards killer know that the remote area of Gaviota is where couples went? Yes, people went to fish there. But so did the teens to hang out. It’s someone with local knowledge and knowledge of remote but still visited locations where he might find a couple.  I don’t know if the killer recognized Bobby Domingos’ distinctive car parked on the highway, but he took the chance and walked down the canyon far enough to see a couple on the beach. When that was done he must have walked back up to his car and retrieved the ligatures and his .22 automatic.

I stay behind the scenes usually. I dispassionately investigate through records and then the crime scenes. I seldom encounter members of the victims’ families. I am not a collector of Zodinalia, so to speak. But in Lompoc I met Bobby’s cousin, Brian, and he introduced me to Lee Gnesa, who as a youth had led the highway patrolman to the area in the dark after they had found Bobby’s car parked by Highway 101.  There is no question after speaking with them that the area was known locally to be a hang out. It is also clear how popular the couple were. The murder still affects the area to this day.

There is more than the fact that Leigh once lived down here and formed friendships that drives me on to believe he could be a link with the man who would later call himself the ZODIAC.  But I must start anew for this unnamed suspect. The clues are there. At present I have to go on the assumption he had contact with Allen later on after her moved north.


A rugged, weathered old coast. There’s only one way down, down the game paths at the mouths of a couple of canyons. Bobby and Linda were sunbathing at the mouth of one canyon, where the beach was etched by the trickle of the canyon stream.

The Lake Herman Road slayings stand out as most similar to the Gaviota murders. ZODIAC used a 10 mag .22 caliber J.C. Higgins Model 80 on Faraday and Jensen. Faraday tried to fight him and lost. ZODIAC shot Jensen on the run and grouped his shots. Bobby fought his assailant and both he and Linda fled. Both were shot numerous times with a .22 caliber automatic pistol.  There was no gloating to police after each attack. It was 7 months after the Lake Herman Road murders that ZODIAC begins his terror campaign.

If he committed both sets of murders, he evolved into the ZODIAC only after coming north and learning the Vallejo area, and perhaps after renewing friendship with Leigh Allen.


*         *          *

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.

The Omicron Suspect

A little sneak peak from HorrorScope, Chapter 17 “The Iota of Omicron” (some names redacted at this point).


It is that one stroke; that one download into space, into nothing but space. It gave me the Omicron Suspect. It is a link to the legend.

With all the publicity that surrounded the ‘Zodiac’ Killer crimes I found it hard to believe that there was not one viable clue that came in to the police from at least one citizen. This instinct drove me to pursue Dave —- ‘s [redacted] lead for —– [redacted] Wilcox. The coincidences I uncovered looked good, enough for me to take it a step further and try to get handwriting samples.

As it stood, however, there was a great irony, one that was sewn into the fabric of the legend. It was one that should give pause to any investigator faced with coincidences, but it was also an irony that was hard to accept as merely coincidence. There were many more incriminating coincidences in the life of No. 1 Zodiac suspect Arthur Leigh Allen than in Wilcox’s case. The difference was that Allen had been exonerated by the applicable evidentiary tests— handwriting, fingerprints, and eventually posthumously even by DNA lifted from more than one stamp on more than one of the letters sent in by the Zodiac. Wilcox had not been pursued and exonerated at all. Allen had been, but the exoneration didn’t explain how so many coincidences could possibly exist, far too many coincidences remaining to be statistically believable as mere coincidence.

Instinct, and perhaps nothing more but nagging instinct, has kept Leigh Allen alive as a viable Zodiac suspect, and for those who continue to believe him to be guilty it is the only thing that causes them to deny the fingerprints, doubt the handwriting tests, and to question if somebody else licked his stamps.

It is necessary to look into the investigation into Arthur Leigh Allen to pursue the coincidences to the one logical compromise— that he was a link to the real ‘Zodiac’ Killer. In fact, all the evidence and coincidences together not only suggest this more than anything else, the actual link stands quite apparent as a giant loophole.

The investigation into Leigh Allen was one that created loose strings. To begin with, John Lynch didn’t bother to get the names of those witnesses that Allen said he had met at Salt Point Ranch on the day the Lake Berryessa crimes took place. Apparently, John Lynch had no interest in Allen after hearing his story and seeing he was bald. Verifying his account, however, would have terminated interest in Allen permanently.

When Leigh Allen emerged two years later in July 1971, perhaps knowledge of a solid exoneration for Allen would have inspired the investigators to pursue him as a link rather than as the suspect. Instead the investigators were bent on the same process of elimination, only hampered now since two years had gone by. As a result they would give us another frustrating loose string after they uncovered the most tantalizing lead they had into Zodiac.


*         *          *

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.

Peak Through the Pines– ZODIAC Folklore

One of the first things I had to get used to in true crime and cold case studies were emails from people asking me, in the case of The ‘Zodiac’ Killer anyway, why my take was so different. It wasn’t different. Well, if it was it was because I just followed the clues and evidence and limited myself to official documentation. I had read Graysmith’s books, but they aren’t that reliable. In other words, I avoided the legend.

I set out to investigate mysteries in an attempt to solve them. Otherwise what’s the point? I can get some chill and thrill reading mysteries on my own. I don’t need to contribute my own rewording of the same franchise.

When one enters the public forum they have to have some goal outside of their own self satisfaction. I have learned much from those who have shared their adventures and investigations into intriguing subjects. I like to share as well. But it can’t just be my own experience. The information must be reflective of the common goal of all those who truly want to see the issue, whichever issue it may be, addressed– to solve it or to help toward that end significantly.

The ‘Zodiac’ Killer saga was just that– a saga, a drama of legend and constant regurgitation of folklore rather than investigating and analyzing. This did not apply to everybody, but it was certainly the material that dominated published accounts.

One particular bit of folklore was ZODIAC and Donna Lass, a nurse who had vanished from the Lake Tahoe area. On March 22, 1971, a postcard  was sent to Paul Avery purporting to be from ZODIAC. It was a picture of an advertisement about a housing development at Incline Village around Lake Tahoe. On it was written, among other things, “Sought victim 12.” The implication was that ZODIAC had picked off his 12th victim around this area. Coupled with the illustration showing the development deep in snow, the inference was the body was buried somewhere around the development.DonnaLass

At the end of his June 26, 1970, letter (which included the map), of the previous year, ZODIAC’s score was 12 and SFPD as always was 0. In his next letter, that of July 26, 1970, ZODIAC gives himself the score of 13 and SFPD, naturally, zero. By agreement with SFPD the Chronicle did not publish these letters to see what ZODIAC would do.

On October 5, 1970, a postcard was mailed to the Chronicle claiming to be from the ZODIAC in which it also claimed that “The pace isn’t any slower! In fact, it’s just one big thirteen”  like that number was just achieved. The ZODIAC had not sent a card like this in before. This card had no handwriting. It was the usual crude communication of anonymity– cut and past sentences and words from newspaper clippings. The writer’s ignorance about the summer 1970 letters also made it suspicious.

The  Chronicle would publish these summer 1970 letters later that month.

On  March 22, 1971, the “Sought Victim 12” postcard would be sent to Avery. It was of a similar type to the October 5, 1970, postcard. “Sought victim 12” was incredibly obsolete now. On March 13, 1971, ZODIAC was already claiming 17 plus to the LA Times.

It is hard, if not impossible, to picture ZODIAC being behind those postcards. It is equally impossible to imagine how Donna Lass got associated with being Victim 12. ZODIAC already claimed Victim 12 in June 1970. Lass did not vanish until September 1970. She could not possibly fit as Victim 12.

Walter Cronkite presents to the nation the first composite on what Zodiac could look like.

. . . But a hoaxer wouldn’t know that Victim 12 and 13 were already claimed months before in the summer of 1970. So when that October 5 postcard claimed Victim 13 it was a dead giveaway something was wrong. But this same hoaxer could try and make Donna Lass, who vanished just the month before in September, fit as Victim 12, in a similar style of postcard later. This hoaxer clearly didn’t stay in touch with the latest reportings on the ZODIAC. This wasn’t a retro reminder from ZODIAC to wait for the spring thaw in order to find Lass’ body from last autumn. He had already claimed Victim 12 months before Lass vanished. He would not have made that kind of mistake. And even if he did, Donna Lass still couldn’t be Victim 12.

Still the case of the disappearance of Donna Lass is perpetually regurgitated with ZODIAC, and her name is listed as a possible suspect.

Enough of this. Put a period on her case and link her with the Nightingale Murderer of Sacramento.  She has no association with ZODIAC, and the postcard is probably a forgery anyway.

*         *          *

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’s Crimes and Times– Update

I’ve been immersed in the early 1970s for months now in order to catch the spirit of the times and seasons as I write HorrorScope. It is amazing what comes back to you. I was just a nipper, of course. Sometimes, to hear me speak of my age, I was not even born yet. But watching these old movies, remembering our visits to the city as a kid (I grew up south of there in Gilroy) when mom visited her old friend Eileen, does create a powerful impression of lost horizons.

Much has changed since then. I’m one of those who dearly misses the Embarcadero Freeway. I don’t care what some say. The area is a traffic nightmare, one that did not exist when the double decker freeway was in place.


We do not live in the wake of the counterculture movement of the late 1960s, as so many think. We live in the wake of the highly overproduced Yuppie era of the 1980s– the decadent 80s and the age of excess, where Philistines dominated and acted, as Philistines always do, according to their unlearned impressions of what its like to be responsible. Part of that attitude carries with it a misplaced cynicism. Marketing was replaced by conning.  I can’t imagine that anyone would believe it would be wise to remove the Embarcadero Freeway.

But this is not a rant. This is an update on HorrorScope. I am done with Part 1– the Crimes and Times section. Now I enter the picture with my analysis and my own investigation. Wisely, this is titled Part 2. Well, I’m over my word goal. I’m at 72,000 words and still have much to write, so some editing will be necessary. As it stands, these are the chapters for Part 1.

Introduction                    “This is the Zodiac Speaking”

Chapter 1                        The Sign of the Crimes

Chapter 2                        Sadistically Gunned

Chapter 3                        Silence of the Peacocks

Chapter 4                        Murder Said Easy

Chapter 5                        Gamester of Death

Chapter 6                        Good Times in Vallejo

Chapter 7                        Ceremonial Bum

Chapter 8                        Zodiac

Chapter 9                        Ante

Chapter 10                      Boastful Player

Chapter 11                      Comic Strip Crusade

Chapter 12                      Quixotic

Chapter 13                      Southern Exposure

Chapter 14                      Billowy Wave

Chapter 15                      Titwillo


It’s nice to be writing a book again. I had given up for a few years, burdened by EAR/ONS and an entire new website — The Quester Files– and by life’s gambols. Hopefully, I can get myself up to pace again. Also,  I wait upon a few pieces to fall into place to make it sure the investigation into Wilcox will proceed smoothly.


*         *          *

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.

The Sonoma Coed Killer Part 4

I have been promising a post on the clues that support the theory that all the victims in Sonoma County in the early 1970s were the victims of one serial killer rather than two distinctive predators. So let’s look at that in this post.

This serial killer has been called The Sonoma Coed Killer or the Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Killer. He was considered active after the death of Kim Wendy Allen in March 1972 and he is suspected to have ceased at an unknown time after 1973. The ambiguity is the result of the fact that one victim was found in 1979 and from the evidence she must have been killed sometime in 1972/73.

Confusion as to whether one or two killers exists is due to the fact that two distinct MOs can be gleaned from the evidence. Earlier in February 1972 two girls, Maureen Sterling and Yvonne Weber, but 12 and 13, had vanished from near Snoopy’s ice rink in downtown Santa Rosa. They were last seen hitching on Guerneville Road. In November of 1972 another 13 year old would be seen “abducted” by at least 3 men on Calistoga Road and later her body would be found cast from the road and down a 60 foot embankment. In December the bodies of the first two missing teens would be found down an embankment off Franz Valley Road. In July 1973 another 14 year old would be found near the previous two victims’ location off Franz Valley Road. All had been nude when dumped.KWA

In this period of time more mature women, those who were 19-23, would disappear or be found in similar circumstances– nude, raped and basically slow tortured via an elaborate way of hogtying them and then using a slip knot on the neck. In essence, they slow-choked themselves to death. Beyond descriptives really, but it was sophisticated. It was estimated that the first victim found like this, Kim Wendy Allen, took 30 minutes to die. For pretty Jeannette Kamahele, the second suspected victim, she would never be found.

The rub is that Kim Allen’s nude body, the official “first,” had been dumped off Enterprise Road about 8 miles southeast of Santa Rosa. The young girl victims– Weber, Sterling, Davis, Kursa, had been dumped to the northeast of Santa Rosa. Only after their deaths (and the locations) achieved notoriety in the press would the case take a turn. Then, in disturbing parallel, those subsequent victims that matched the signature seen in Allen’s murder would be found dumped off Calistoga Road or off Mark West Springs Road. Both locations are in the northeast of Santa Rosa, nowhere near where Allen had been dumped. In the case of the unidentified Jane Doe victim, she had been found quite close to where Lori Kursa’s body had been found in November 1972. (Age estimates for this Jane Doe were older, about 20 years old. This put her in Allen’s and Kamahele’s age category.) Jeannette-Kamahele

Nevertheless, the signatures of the crimes in these later victims remain quite distinct from those of the signature of the young girls. The signature is that seen in the Allen murder. It is possible that the more brutal and sophisticated murderer of Kim Wendy Allen decided to give himself some cover by dumping his later victims near the other publicized murder sites. But it could be the killer of both types were one and the same killer.

Let’s clarify the two categories. The bold listings indicates those who were found in sadomasochistic positions. The italicized are those victims that were mere girls and not killed in the same sadomasochistic way.

February 1972– Sterling and Weber hitching back home from Snoopy’s Ice Rink.

March 1972– Santa Rosa Junior College coed Kim Wendy Allen was hitchhiking back to Santa Rosa from her job in Larkspur. She never made it. Nude body found off a rural road. She had been bound in a sadomasochistic way.

April 1972– Jeannette Kamahele was hitching up from Rohnert Park, just south of Santa Rosa, to go to class at Santa Rosa Junior College.

November 1972– Lori Lee Kursa hitching on Calistoga Road or abducted.

July 1973 — Carolyn Davis ran away from Anderson, northeast of Santa Rosa, and hitched south. Body found at Weber and Sterling’s body drop location.

December 1973– Therese Walsh hitching to her family home from Malibu to north of Santa Rosa. Later found in Mark West Creek, bound in a sadomasochistic way.

1979– skeleton found having been bound in same sadomasochistic ways. Estimated victim murdered in 1972. Found near where Kursa’s body had been found off Calistoga Road. First suspected to be Kamahele, but dentals prove otherwise.

Despite the variables, one thing is common here: each had a connection with  Highway 101 or, in Kursa’s case, a main road off Highway 12, the main rural highway off 101 that heads to Napa. None of the victims, despite their age differences, were kidnapped or picked up in the heart of the town. Even in Kursa’s case this is questionable. When she was last seen on Calistoga Road, the witness described her as being propped up by two men who rushed her between them to a van in which was sitting a driver. She may have already jumped from the van and hurt herself in doing so. Her body would later be found with a broken neck. She seemed to have died from trauma.

The relation of Guernville Road,  Highway 101 and Snoopy’s. All pick-ups most likely occurred off Highway 101

As far as prowling, it seems the MO is the same– Highway 101. This sounds like a single prowling MO. The problem is that this is the only highway and this is where anybody seeking hitchhikers is going to look. It is, in fact, the only common MO. This doesn’t mean one killer is involved

Hitchhiking was common back then, all too common. Hitchhiker murders were also far too common, not only of those hitching but of those offering. Stanley Dean Baker is a notorious case.

Other than the fact all were hitchhiking and along Highway 101 we have nothing but differences. We have one group which are 12-14 years old. The cause of death in Sterling and Weber could not be determined, but obviously it was done by someone who could overpower both. Davis, whose body was found close by, had died by massive strychnine poisoning– quite odd. Kursa died of trauma, possibly the result of having tried to escape the speeding van. Her case tells us that more than one person was involved. The distance down the embankment from Franz Valley Road and Calistoga Road where the victims were found tells us either a single killer was very strong  and could throw bodies far or that more than one person helped in tossing their bodies. Each of the young girls seems to have died differently than the other.

At a contrast, Allen, Walsh, and Jane Doe, died the same way, and each was about 19 to 23 years old. Kamahele was never found. Each died in a complex way in which they basically choked themselves to death.HHtoH


Hitch Hike to Hell  accentuated the dangers of young women hitch hiking in 1977. It was inspired by the increasing fears in society over the practice.  Though an incredibly bad, low budget flick, it did help put an end to the fad. 

All victims were found nude.  Aside from having been picked up on or around Highway 101, that is the only common link between them.

What shall we then say? With the facts at hand it is hard to see only one hand involved in this. The older teens do not seem to have been killed by a few guys working in tandem. Each was killed in a sophisticated, sadomasochistic way. The young girls were killed in various fashions and possibly their deaths were the result of two or more killers.

But did these disparate killers operate together at times and the leader had his own individual kinks? The driver of the van awaiting the two men rushing Kursa back to it was described as a white guy with an afro. There was a witness who saw Jeannette Kamahele jump into an old pickup on the onramp in Cotati. He described the driver similarly.

There’s always that one other curious link: the killings stopped at the same time. However, from the records of other counties in California, young girls would still vanish while walking along the secluded arboreal roads. The 1970s was a dark time. It was a time that reminded us of something we do not like to believe. Human predators exist. They have territoriality. Like sharks they cruise about. How many missing young girls and women in northern California exist in the records? How many skeletons of unidentified  Jane Does still need a name put on them?

Officially the Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Murderer has gotten away clean, whoever he or they might have been.

*         *          *

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.

The ‘ZODIAC’ Killer & The Process

The Process Church of the Final Judgment has often been accused of many diabolical things. Invariably, the accusations have proven unfounded. Its Baroque flamboyance is often the reason why the extinct counterculture cult continues to attract so much attention and it explains why its controversial iconography is still with us in some academic respects. It had iconography. That is the key word. Film, TV, magazine layouts, our own minds, need something to look at, need something to capture our attention. The first thing I learned in 1999 when TV started beating down my door because of my real life adventures is that they need something to film. Sitting at your desk typing away doesn’t interest them and frankly it wouldn’t interest an audience.

Processeans’ odd, arcane and convoluted philosophy has faded, but their thin figures, black slacks and turtlenecks over which were draped the crimson surcoats fit for medieval knights are not something quickly to be forgotten. They had a love for use of symbols in a decade that loved symbols. They mixed Christian symbols with sinister occult symbols. The result was a shocked society.13753_913227528716378_4025772067556476118_n

They mixed the Goat of Mendes with Christian staging of the Pieta. They had a cross on one side of their worship altar and their unusual “4 P” symbol on the other– it represented the 4 “gods” of The Process. But it rather looked like a swastika without serifs.  They wore the symbol on their crimson surcoat, about breast level. The top echelon wore the “Omega” symbol on a purple surcoat. It was a cult with a secret higher order that regular members knew little about. This is always exciting!

Although The Process never did anything heinous as a group, did their odd philosophy and Hammer Film ambiance inspire others? At issue here, of course, is the ‘Zodiac’ Killer– that odd hood of his, that need to knife a couple at Lake Berryessa, his strange claims of victims as slaves in his afterlife, the iconography on his hood, its elaborate design. Why was all this necessary if he was only a thrill killer? medproceseans

One of the symbols The Process used and mixed was the celestial Zodiac symbol and the cross. Though they did not wear hoods, one drawing shows a hypothetical and elaborate hood. The mixture of the symbols can be seen on the hood between the eyes. It was theoretically planned for some ceremony that involved their adulation of dogs, in particular German Shepherds.

This isn’t the place to try and understand The Process’ complex philosophy, but it is clear by how they mixed their iconography that it was a convoluted one. What is of interest here is how their philosophy may relate to being a possible inspiration for the ‘Zodiac’ Killer. Let’s put a few things in place.

During the momentous Summer of Love, The Process had only one chapter in the world– in New Orleans. They were quite a stark contrast to that partying French city.  They walked around in their black slacks and turtlenecks and were always thin. There is something diabolical about thin in black. During their ritual, teaching and proselytizing they wore the crimson cloak and those Omegas wore the purple cloak. Processeans had long hair , beards, and had taken religious names, usually Biblical names– another odd mix with occult symbols. The leader, the aloof Robert DeGrimston and his wife Mary Ann, walked their German Shepherds about the city. Dogs, and especially German Shepherds, were a big deal. 215952_199978233374648_3598676_n

In November 1967, there had been a revelation– they were to go to the Haight in San Francisco. In December, Father Moses and Father Cain arrived in Bloomtown. Flower power was still pollinating the area. They tried to forge some association with Anton LeVey, but he dismissed them as kooks. The rest of the Processeans arrived in February 1968 and set up residence at 407 Cole Street. Within a few months (by June 1968) they had decamped and went to Los Angeles. (Other sources will say that The Process remained until the end of 1968.) California, I guess, wasn’t really welcome to their philosophy, so they went to New York. Some say they left because threats were made to turn some of them in for having expired visas.DSC03090-25%

They were English, you see. The core, fundamental group– the “Inside Processeans” and Omegans at least– were almost all English. They had begun in posh Mayfair, London in 1962. They then went to Xtul in the Yucatan for a few years, survived more than one hurricane, received higher attainments in their philosophy, and then in 1966 returned to England. Their philosophy was quite complex now. They had left England with only Jehovah and returned with the 4 gods concept of Satan, Jehovah, Christ and Lucifer. To reconcile these opposites would bring inner peace and this would prepare them for the final judgment to come. It was fulfilling Christ’s words to “love thine enemies.”

From London they came to New Orleans. Failing West of the Mississippi, they went to New York, then they opened a chapter around Boston, then Chicago, in Toronto, then back in New Orleans and also in Miami. They had more success here and remained until about late 1974 before they dissipated. The gritty urban reality of the disillusioned but nostalgic 1970s wasn’t truly conducive to this Beat religion and its Baroque façade.DSC03164-25%

For all of their short time in San Francisco, did the man who would soon call himself the ZODIAC visit their mission or read their tracts? It is possible. Wherever they went they attracted news, from London rags to the Chicago Tribune.  They printed monthly magazines. They printed brochures. They had an editorial staff. Despite being only one of many oddball cults in the Haight, they stood out the most. After they decamped from their locations they left disciples behind.

I am more than idly speculating. I will soon get to what suggests ZODIAC stole and twisted inspiration from them and perhaps even tried to implicate them.

Processeans actually did some good works, so my next comment is not a negative. They simply were not a “do-gooder” movement. If you grasp Proceasseans’ complex metaphoric ideology you realize it is an introverted one. The first thing you might ask is “Why not just stick to ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’? OR: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ The Golden Rule solves everything, does it not? The Golden Rule, however, is the extrovert’s way of bringing unity and peace. It’s the sociological approach. The Process did not teach unity by actions to others. The Process was the evolution of a psychoanalysis technique, and psychoanalysis is not sociology. It was the introvert’s way of bringing unity by uniting within oneself the disparate and dichotomous attributes metaphorically represented in the Christian west by Satan, Jehovah, Christ and Lucifer.  The motif was Christian, but the philosophy was actually Eastern– unite opposites to bring unity.

It is obvious that Processean philosophy would be easy to twist. The Christian West finds the Golden Rule much simpler and more efficacious. The psychoanalysis of The Process was too peculiar, at least when overlaid on a Christian motif. What does it mean for Satan to love Jehovah? How does that manifest itself? The last question again is from a sociological point of view. It is anticipating action. Yet The Process was psychoanalysis.

By character, in Processean ideology, each person favored one of the 4 extremes. Each Processean became “advocates” for that particular “god.” Those who wrote little tractates or advice columns, wrote from the point of view of being “The Advocate” of Christ or “the Advocate” of Lucifer. Those who were advocates of Christ had certain qualities we would find laudible. Those advocating for Jehovah were stern, disciplinarians. They condemned sensuality and sex. Those “Advocating” for Lucifer were the most sensual of the lot. Those “Advocating” for Satan were the most, well, Satanic. Any form of perversion was all right.


The Processeans were supposed to accept and indulge in their character but not stop there. They were then to unite all these opposites to bring perfect unity within themselves. But what if one didn’t go that far as to unite?

Their monthlies are hard to find. Some are on the web, but only a handful.  In one issue the “Advocate” for Lucifer, named Eden, likens him to death and rebirth, following the ancient regard for Venus which is actually the planet Lucifer referred to in the Bible as the “son of the morning.” Venus would rise early, the brightest of the stars and eventually through the year would sink over the horizon before being reborn again and being the brightest star.

You can see that some of those who listened to their philosophy could twist it and get confused, especially those who had a dark streak in them and thought that they by “advocating” for Satan might be able to do anything dark they fancied. In addition to this, someone of a haughty mind might view the Processeans as horribly naïve in their introvert attempt to unite the metaphorical opposites. This evil person might be emboldened to form a darker cult of his own.

ZODIAC certainly had a haughty mind and to some extent a Baroque façade. His bizarre hood at Lake Berryessa carried with it some occult ceremonial meaning bearing the celestial Zodiac symbol. He had his own rituals, to say the least. His boasts in cryptograms seem false, but he tried to convince his readers he followed some strange cult wherein his victims would be his slaves in his afterlife. He would be reborn and be a master over others because he had killed them. Yet he was also contradictory. At other times he needled the police as though he was a common thug with base lingua urbis.

Amongst all the cults in Haight, why should it be The Process that inspired his bizarre modus operandi and signature? As I said it was the most flamboyant and literary, but there is another reason. Peculiarly,  his letters showed he consistently used some British words or expressions– “kiddies” is pretty thin, but he also spelled “clues” as “clews.” It is not a misspelling. It is the British spelling. He used “Happy Christmass”– much more British. He quoted from Gilbert & Sullivan– very English– and he let us know he had seen the Beatles new movie in 1969, The Yellow Submarine. We know this because he used the expression from the film “blue meannies.”


An Omegan. The lines on the cross also have the circle at the center. The Process subtly mixed many symbols. It is the cross, the celestial Zodiac, and then 4 circles concentrically place. You can gather what those represent.

One could almost think this was a Processean gone bad, since many of the teachers (the inner circle) were English. But by December 1968 The Process was long gone from the Bay Area. By the time ZODIAC developed his terror campaign via his nasty letters it was the summer and then fall of 1969.

However, this does not preclude that ZODIAC had some Process pamphlets or had sat in on some meetings. Moreover, it was speculated he himself might be of English or Welsh origin.


Were ZODIAC’s letters complete ruses? Did he want to cast suspicion away from his real and very American identity? It would be rather thin to think anybody reading his letters in San Francisco would also think of The Process. Perhaps some might and call the police. But the greater question would be, why write the letters to begin with? One can say he wanted to put out false clues. But why bother with false clues? He was simply taking unnecessary risks.

Unless almost everything in his letters was intended as false clues it doesn’t make any sense that he continued to write them and subtly convey both an English background, an unlearned background, a strange ritual cult motive, and just plain thrill killing. It makes sense only if he accidently had killed someone he really knew. Only then would he need an elaborate character disguise. Did he actually know Dee Ferrin? It is after her murder that the letters and the whole publicity game begins.

Theorizing on this makes for much more interesting reads. There are those who love the idea of a genuine connection between the ‘Zodiac’ Killer and Darlene Ferrin. I find it awfully hard to believe. But it is a fact that ZODIAC’s publicity game developed slowly. Another problem with believing it was all publicity is that he wore the hood at Lake Berryessa. This indicates there was something to ZODIAC’s game. Remember, his victims were not meant to survive. We were not to know he had worn that hood. It meant something to him.

Strolling the Haight probably gave ZODIAC inspiration for some of the symbolism and ideas for his publicity campaign, but what gave him the motive to kill people at lovers’ lanes and then a cab driver?  Then, on top of this, what motivated ZODIAC to suddenly stop?

On the surface the ‘Zodiac’ Killer’s crime spree doesn’t look too complex. But it evolved before our eyes and began to suggest the Haight, the occult, and some ulterior motive than just thrill killing. It is the most frustrating thing to try and explain. Now that I am 60,000 words into HorrorScope, I must grapple with more than identifying ZODIAC. I must explain not only the motive but the shifts in his MO. It all comes down to that bloody hood at Lake Berryessa. It truly meant something to him. That nut really had some ulterior motive and believed in 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.