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.

Cronkite-Zodiac
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.

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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.

lifechair-cropped
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.

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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.

 

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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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