ZODIAC’s Eyes . . .The Q Files New Update

Please bookmark my new UPDATES page at The Quester Files. A significant piece of information came in today, so it was fitting that the page be inaugurated with it.



Assessing The Black Dahlia in the Annals of Crime

The name evokes the exotic. I have said it represents the epitome of Crime Noir. But it really represents so much more.

There is no secret that I have a person of interest in the case of Jack the Ripper. A few of my English fans (and I only have a few) have awaited my arrival in London, which I had promised long ago, to finally do my archival research for my second tome. In some casual discussion it was put forward, as one might expect, that the person who solves the Ripper crimes is automatically the greatest detective of all time.  Noir

I disagree.

A serial killer leaves so many clues and evidence behind with each installment that they cannot really be considered the greatest mysteries. More clues = less gray cells needed. It is the single, exotic murder that truly tests the mettle of the detective mind. Few clues = lots of gray cells needed.

I do not speak of a spontaneous gang crime or brutal murder for burglary. I speak of the single, intended, premeditated murder, one where the killer is using the victim in a game of intellect. The murder of The Black Dahlia represents this.

The murder of Elizabeth Short was not an end in itself. It was a challenge to the entire police force. As far as I am concerned it was part copycat and part original act. The haughty mind had long wished to mesmerize the Los Angles Police with an unfathomable crime. Elizabeth Short was his guinea pig. Her murder was not revenge. It was the act of pure arrogance and expedience. She was an ante in a game that would not become a series. There would be no evolution of clues. It was one hand, and the killer intended himself to be the master dealer. 1bd1

To capture the public sensation only a serial killing spree can achieve, the killer knew this crime had to be public. It had to be the worst thing imaginable and then displayed so it could not be buried under the carpet. To make this the worst crime, and hence a crime worthy of the most lurid press sensationalism, it had to be exotic. The torture inflicted on Short was stupefying. The torture mocked her, mocked her beauty and ambition. Hers was not an original ambition. She was one of thousands bitten by the desire to make it in Hollywood. Some way or another she had to attract attention to her “glamour.” This was the era of “glamour girls.” Not sex symbols. Glamour gals. Sex symbols came in with Marilyn Monroe. Liz Short was of the era were the glamourous femme fatale was prized. As beautiful as dolls, gentle, dainty, sophisticated,  something for a rich man to wear on his sleeve. A rich old man. Until a glamour gal made it in the magazines, this was one step in her ascent to the top.Noir2

Elizabeth Short was an easy target, in other words. Her killer didn’t hate call girls or professional dates. He needed a means to an end. Those are the most available. It worked. The killer took a woman who most likely didn’t have the stuff to make it in Hollywood– like thousands of others– but he promised it to her.  The end result was, to him anyway, her greatest performance. She became the most famous victim of murder. His performance was to make it look like a Simon Pure with a macabre sense of hypocrisy had killed her.

In truth, he was a petty egotist who needed to feed off the satisfaction each morning in the mirror, when his evil grin curled on his face, that he was baffling the police. He had no other reason. It was his own private thrill. He intended it to go no further than this one victim. Clearly, he succeeded.

To solve such a savage crime as this is to solve the ultimate murder. Not a serial killing. The detective– police, private, or independent– who can solve this murder would be the greatest. Not just because of the complexities. Next year it will be 70 years. A lifetime. To be able to part the ether of time is a rare talent. It takes a lot of gray cells. Noir3

There can be no hot tip for Black Dahlia anymore. It doesn’t take a great detective to follow a tip and find the guilty. Something this old requires sheer investigative genius. Perfect inference from each set of facts. Pure, distilled logic. Pure investigative method– Observe, classify, infer, interpret, measure, predict, questions, hypotheses, experiment, model building. Perfect use of the process of elimination. Perfect processing of the rules of circumstantial evidence.

I refused to take up the challenge after I rediscovered Black Dahlia’s body dump location. (The false one is still referred to on the web).  I had too much in front of me, and still do. But I have started to search here and there. It cannot be intense yet. There is still too much before me. It is a daunting task. But there is an eagerness now, something I have not had in a long time. I had it when I started on ZODIAC, then EAR, then D.B. Cooper. After years of hammering away, it becomes drudgery.

There appears to be no really good book on the subject. I could write something like that, something objective like I did in Scarlet Autumn. But I really want to take up the challenge. I may flame out like all others, but still better to have tried and failed than not at all. There is always a lot of learning along the way of any quest.

Hopefully, I can take up Black Dahlia soon. As a man who loved Crime Noir in cinema, I look forward to delving into the past, into tonal Plus X Negative stock (old B&W photography)  and into a past Los Angeles that is slowly disappearing to time.

*         *          *

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.

HorrorScope — Sample Chapter 3

Excerpt from Chapter 3  of HorrorScope by Gian J. Quasar

“Silence of the Peacocks”

When the moon is in the Seventh House

And Jupiter aligns with Mars

Then peace will guide the planets

And love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius



Fireworks burst over the shipyards at Mare Island, off San Francisco Bay, over a regatta of ships in the estuary. The detonations lit the sky. The house tops of Vallejo glowed many colors and then retreated back into dark silhouettes. Cheers rose with every burst, awed praised cooed with each fabulous sequence of explosions. Sparklers sizzled in driveways. Whistling petes shrilled through middleclass neighborhoods. Barbeque smoke and its flavor— hotdogs, ribs, hamburgers, Americana— mixed with the heavy smell of cordite. It was late night 4th of July in Vallejo.

Americans had much to celebrate. July not only marks high summer, vacations and fun, but America was still supreme. She was leader of the free world. Despite the anti-war protests and strange counterculture, Americans still basked in their glory of having won WWII and in continuing to keep the “Reds” at bay in the current Cold War. The Great Generation was firmly in charge. Shaking its collective head at the youngsters of the baby boom, it was still very tolerant. Even hippies were celebrating. Maybe they weren’t too “far out” yet. Perhaps the antiestablishment mood had made the founding fathers even more appealing. They too had been rebels. All Americans were excited about the upcoming moon walk. Man was about to take a giant step. And it was an American step. It was a time to party, and everybody likes that.

Vallejo was a blue collar town, but it was also a city a on the bay, which gave it a little more opportunity for pageantry. Vallejo always sponsored a boat regatta and a massive firework display. There was little fancy in Vallejo, but it was an old town tied to the ship building yards at Mare Island, the Navy, and a way of life geared with the rustic fringes of the San Francisco Bay Area.

At an opposite to the tempo of men, ships and the sea, were the surrounding grassy foothills. One of Vallejo’s major landmarks was Blue Rock Springs Park. As a therapeutic destination, the springs went way back in popularity to the 19th century. A cultivated green park had been built around the springs. In summer time it was a green oasis amidst the golden chaff of summer’s dried grass. Giant and ancient eucalyptus flourished by the springs, and oaks dotted the brown hillsides like giant green umbrellas.

Aptly named Springs Road was the main road east of Vallejo to Columbus Parkway. Even in 1969 there was little out here. The main destination was always Blue Rock Springs Park or the new golf course built almost across from it. Turn north at Columbus Parkway, pass the only other crossroad out here—Lake Herman Road— and soon a grove of giant eucalyptus formed a canopy over the road by Blue Rock Springs Creek. Light filtered wildly through the shadows of the rustling leaves. Then there was a brief clearing. On the left, there was the new two story golf course clubhouse. Wisk like a dragonfly over knoll and descend into a cleft in the bosom of the foothills. Here under another canopy of clutching eucalyptus was Blue Rock Springs Park on the right.

Nestled within the grove of trees was the parking lot. It was more or less just a wide spot in the road. Two rows of cars could fit, back to back. It was completely open to Columbus Parkway.

Beyond this Columbus Parkway held nothing. The road climbed the slope of the foothills and eventually came down toward nothing but a convenient half cloverleaf in Highway 80 on the outskirts of eastern Vallejo, the main highway from the Bay Area to Sacramento inland. To the south of the park Columbus Parkways was a long snaking tail that wound through the brown, dry grassy hills and meadows to finally end at an onramp to Highway 780.

In summer everything was dry and natural out here except the green vistas of the golf course or the wooded serenity of Blue Rock Springs Park.

At night the area had a foreboding air. Darkness clutched the road under the canopies of eucalyptus. Within the curve of the road, in the cleft of the bosom where the park was located, a car would sink into darkness, its headlights retreat in the inky pool over the road. There was a lamp in the park near the parking lot. It stood out like a weak lantern pestered by the shadows of the eucalyptus leaves dancing with the foothill’s bay breezes.

Festivities were ongoing this night, so that the park was neither quiet nor foreboding. There was more than room. Any major outdoor event was centered at the park. The park was huge. The slopes of the foothills here were green and manicured. Winding paths led to more stands of giant eucalyptus. Up on the slope was an old wooden house, now used by the caretaker. Peacocks nestled up here. They sat on beds of dried eucalyptus leaves and mewed over the vista. Pools of the springs were deep green. Their bottoms were impenetrable to the eyes because of the blurred reflections of more giant eucalyptus. One pool was spanned by a fancy wooden walking bridge. It was rustic and meant to be rustic. The tarmac of the parking lot was edged with uncut, raw boulders. It was a rustic, country park, outside of town and sporting an old style timber sign with the park named painted in golden yellow.

As it grew late this night the partiers at the park had thinned out. Columbus Parkway and the park grew lifeless and dark. The brown hills sank behind the ink of country night. The clusters of trees strengthened their clutch over Columbus Parkway. Soon the plaintive cry of the peacocks faded.




*         *          *

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 Silent Zodiac– The Phantom of Colonial Parkway

Gimme a braggart killer who likes to communicate. You can follow them. They’re doing half your work. “Keep your friends close, but your enemy closer” is the perfect maxim to guide you in stalking a serial killer.

It is rare, however, to come across a killer like The ZODIAC, one who likes to send letters and keep you and the world updated on his latest fiendish exploits.

Without that a serial killer can go unidentified. It takes a lot of gray cells to put it all together to reveal a pattern, especially when the killer is using more than one signature. This is very true of the Phantom of Colonial Parkway in Virginia.Colonial

Nevertheless, there are a few things in the greater crime spree that suggest the same killer was afoot, and that it is only one man and not a man with an accomplice or more than one killer acting separately. This evidence has been clouded by too much misdirected press, but logistics helps us to clear the way.

As I wrote in my first Phantom of Colonial Parkway post there is no evidence that a Simon Pure was involved. It is a logistic impossibility that a killer simply roams a parkway on the odd chance he will come across a lesbian couple, know what they are, and therewith be prepared to kill them. When Cathleen Thomas and Rebecca Dowski were found murdered on October 12, 1986, they were found down the embankment on Colonial Parkway in Thomas’ car. They had been bound. Rope burns indicated they had been partially strangled. Then their throats had been cut. The killer poured diesel fuel over the car (inside?) but it failed to do its job and erase the details of how they had been killed. This is quite a lot– rope, knife, diesel fuel, time to bind, etc.– to have handy.

I have been told they were known to come to this Overlook and park. However, it had been nighttime when they were attacked. At night what can an outsider discern in an “Overlook” on Colonial Parkway? A lot of youth came here to park and cuddle. One of the pair had a short hairstyle. At night they could be mistaken for a male-female pair.


But the idea of a Simon Pure enraged at lesbians made for better press fodder.

Behind-the-scenes, however, the idea that a lovers’ lane stalker was on the loose is suggested by the fact the next three couples to suffer murder (or disappear) were male and female. Families were not attacked. The Phantom of CP did not attack couples of college girls seeing the sights. Nor did he attack two buds out fishing. He attacked what appeared to be couples in the romantic or at least dating scene. He had stalked enough of Colonial Parkway, I-64, and Highway 17 to have a general knowledge of certain parking areas. But his victims were spontaneously chosen, just like ZODIAC chose his. As he drove up they must have appeared male and female, young, viable.

This is further underscored by the killing of David Knobling and Robin Edwards. He was 20 . . . but she was only 14. They were hardly a romantic couple. But they were in a parking lot at the Ragged Island Wildlife Refuge. When the car finally attracted police attention, it had been found with the door open, the windshield wipers still squeaking over the shield. But the pair had been found gunned in the woods.

The Ragged Island Refuge parking area off Highway 17.

It does not seem that the Phantom sat there and studied his victims much. He made yet another mistake. This was not a couple in the dating sense of the word. At least they could not possibly be mistaken for that up close. The Phantom seems to have blocked Knobling from pulling out or tricked him to pull into the parking lot.

The rest stop killing of Daniel Lauer and Annamarie Phelps also suggests a spontaneous attack . . . but that the killer had knowledge of the rest stop.

Again, they were a male-female couple.

The similarities between the murders of Lauer/Phelps and Knobling/Edwards were obvious. The police suspected a cop-imitator . . . or a cop gone bad. It did not look like a lovers lane attack. The two pairs looked like they had been pulled over and then led away at gunpoint. Still, there were things that didn’t add up. For instance, this cop-imitator only need pull off his crimes in the autumn? It was noted that Edwards purse was missing. The cop-imitator need strike only once a year, and a 14 year old teen’s purse was enough to satisfy him until the next year? It doesn’t add up, does it?

So, by the end of 1989 there had been one pair killed per year in the general vicinity of Colonial Parkway, Virginia. Only one– Richard Call and Cassandra Hailey– were not in September or October.  They were also the only ones that vanished. It had been April 10, 1988, when  they had vanished. Yet their car was found parked at an Overlook on scenic Colonial Parkway.

Victim map

Map of victim locations in Virginia.

For 7 years nothing. Spring again, 1996– May. Two young women– Lollie Winans and Julie Williams– are found murdered 180 west of the Colonial Parkway area. They had been camping in the Shenandoah National park, but not too far in from the main lodge on Skyland Road. Williams had been sleeping about 40 feet from the tent, on her cushion, in her sleeping bag. Somehow, despite the fact they had a dog, the killer had approached and surprised her in her sleeping bag. She had been bound by duct tape. He then used the same tape to seal her mouth. He also wrapped her ankles with it, binding her legs together. Winans had been found inside the tent. She had been bound by the same tape, but her ankles had not been bound at all. She was not gagged with tape.

When finally found, both of their throats had been cut.

The press jumped on the sensation that they may be lesbians and a Simon Pure was responsible. In retrospect it seemed a link to the double murder of 11 years previous of Dowski and Thomas. Was it the same killer? If so, it fed the theory more than one unconnected killer was responsible for these murders– a Simon Pure for the two female couples; a cop-imitator/thief for the other male-female couples.

It is, of course, possible. After all, the details are so few out there. Winans/Williams-Dowski/Thomas are connected by certain similarities, this is true. But there are also clues that infer that the killer did not know they were female pairs. Given the circumstances, the clues do not allow him the ability to even suspect they were lesbian if he did know both were women. cover-Julie

Equally, it is a fact that similarities attach the Dowski/Thomas murders to the Phantom of Colonial Parkway murders. Rich Call’s car, for instance, was found only a couple of miles on the parkway from where Dowski and Thomas had been murdered. Every other couple-slaying that took place after Dowski and Thomas was male-female, with one, the Knobling/Edwards double murder appearing to be another misidentification of an “interested” couple.

I-64 and the main major roads off there appear to be the center of it all.

I am not familiar with the exact layout of Williams’ and Winans’ camping sight. But nothing suggests a killer who even could have known they were lesbians. The families and close friends had not known of this. So how does a stalker walking along at night with a knife and duct tape deduce this? Moreover, what are the logistic chances a Simon Pure is going to think he can come across a lesbian couple in the area? What does he do, just walk around prepared? We will delve into this case later, since more details exist, but the idea that a Simon Pure was afoot has no bearing based on information that is in the public forum.cover-Lollie

Collectively, the Phantom of Colonial Parkway appeared to make spontaneous mistakes in identifying couples– a 20 year old-14 year old couple; two young women– one with a short haircut. For nighttime and a rainstorm, they fit the pattern. The killer was assuming what they were. The Williams and Winans killer seemed to do the same thing.

One independent detective argued about all of these being unconnected except for the supposed “hate crimes.” Knobling and Edwards were the victims of burglary, he suggested. Lauer and Phelps were victims of a police impersonator. Call and Hailey weren’t killed on the parkway, but some place else and their car driven there . . . by someone we must assume who then had another means of escape or an accomplice.

It must then be a coincidence that all these different killers struck only once per year in September-October or, for Call/Hailey-Winans/Williams, in spring. The FBI admits they have many different suspects, but they proceed on the case as though they were serial murders.

True, from the looks of the Kent County rest stop and the Ragged Island Wildlife Refuge parking area, it seems like someone imitating a cop. But why lead them off into the woods? Taking a big chance that someone would come along and see the two cars parked there. Why leave the car door open and the windshield wipers on? Or did the killer stage these clues to mislead us?

The Kent County rest stop in 2003, just before it was redesigned. It was first built in 1976.


A cop pretender is hard to fathom as the culprit. He needs to thieve only in the autumn? A 14 year old girl’s purse was enough for him for a year? Why take the trouble to drive one victim’s car to the parkway and then, somehow, get away?

Yes, indeed, give me a braggart killer who creates a famous crime spree. They are so much easier to document. The fame of their crimes forces the release of much information in the public forum from which the crime spree can be comprehended and the killer, hopefully, pursued and brought to book. The details are thin in the Phantom of CP case, but the theories are even thinner.

From the clues we have, it still seems wise to call this killer the Phantom of Colonial Parkway.


*         *          *

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 Horrible Headhunter of Kingsbury Run– The Tattoo Man

It was a hot, muggy June in Cleveland. The city proper was agog over the coming of the Republican National Convention, much like this year 2016 . . . except this was  June 1936 some 80 years ago. It was June 5 to be precise. Two boys were playing hooky. They moved along through the dry grass of the inside slope of Kingsbury Run. None of the excitement of cosmopolitan Cleveland trickled to this rustic area. Smokestacks belched smoke in the distance. Trains roared by below. Shanties were the skyline. Thin smoke curled up from hobo fires. Cars putted along over the East 55th bridge spanning Kingsbury Run to Jackass Hill.

The boys continued along in the dry grass and seedy brambles. They were about a 1,000 feet southwest of Kinsman Road when they spied brown tweed pants rolled up. They lay between a spread of tracks, the line of the Silver and the rapid transit tracks. They rushed over and picked at it with their fishing poles, thinking there may be money in the pockets. They lifted a pant leg, and there they saw it. It was a man’s head. They darted off.

Victim 5-June 5 1936

Eventually the police found it, based on the boys’ account. Sure enough, it looked like the city was going to have a real problem on its hands at a very political time of the year. The connection seemed obvious to the first beheaded bodies found in September 1935. The Andrassy body dump site, along the opposite side of the Run on the slopes of Jackass Hill, was less than a half a mile across the Run. In this case, however, there was no body. Just a head. He had been a handsome young man, about 20 to 25. They picked up the ghoulish parcel and took it to the coroner. He cleaned it up and examined it before taking pictures. Then it was put on display so people could come by and identify the person it belonged to.

Seeing a dismembered head, eyes peacefully closed, facing you is quite disconcerting. I personally don’t care for any part of it. But it is something that has to be done, and the coroner tried to make it easier by wrapping a towel around the base of the severed neck, so it was just a peaceful head propped there. I won’t show the picture here. I only use the death mask taken from it. It is still on display in Cleveland at the crime museum. You can Google the real thing if you like.

We won’t get into the newspaper sensation here. But it was obvious that there was a madman on the loose, and the case was immediately connected to Edward Andrassy and John Doe’s case of the September before. In this case, however, the head could not have been tossed into the Run. The killer had to walk with it parceled under his arm in the pants, and then set it down.

Vict4 location

Just east of East 55th Street, the general area where Victim 4– the “Tattoo Man”– was found. 

The only other theory was that the killer road the rails and tossed or just dropped the head from a boxcar.

The theory sounded good, but it was soon dashed to pieces. The police combed Kingsbury Run looking for the rest of the poor fellow. Eventually they found him. The body was naked and lay about 800 feet from where Andrassy had been dumped. He was nude but not emasculated. His clothes were found scattered about. His shirt bore a clue. It was bloody. A large stain of blood violated the dirt. He had been beheaded here, while dressed, and then the body striped. The killer then took the head, wrapped in the victim’s pants and walked it to the point where he dropped it under a willow tree between the tracks. This was a real maniac.

The evidence here fit what the coroner had discovered. The head had not been neatly severed by a sharp instrument like the first two victims.  There were hesitation marks. Was it because of the darkness? Yet like Andrassy and John Doe this victim was murdered by beheading. Where were the signs of struggle? None. How does one peacefully submit to this? There was no injury or contusion showing he had been knocked out first or strapped down, unlike in Andrassy’s case.

1 2 4

Andrassy, 1, John Doe, 2, body drops compared to Victim 4– Tattoo Man” in Kingsbury Run. East 55th spans the Run in the center of the photo. East 49th has largely been obliterated by the highway heading to East 55, so that the slope where the first two victims were dumped is no longer at the end of East 49.

Despite being able to get fingerprints off the victim, there was no match up with them in the files. He bore distinctive tattoos, however, and he became known as the “Tattoo Man.” There were the initials W.C.G. with crossed flags on the left forearm; Paul and Helen on the right forearm; an anchor and cupid on the outer right calf; an anchor with a heart on the left forearm; a butterfly on the left shoulder; the comic character Jiggs of the outer left calf. None of them could be traced. But since there were anchors, it was thought he could have been in the Navy, though Merchant Marine was far more likely. For a man about 25, there were quite a few, with 3 of them implying romance. He was tall, lean and handsome.


More investigation, over the whole nation, was put into finding the Tattoo Man than in any other manhunt. But his identity was never uncovered. He was thought to be Slavic in origin, but this didn’t help in the long run.

His death had to be the work of the same killer. Yet it was a crude advance over the skill shown in his first two victims. Why here in the Run this time? The first two victims showed the sophistication of the killer. Now, the fiend got a willing man to come into the Run at night, in the very dim fringes of the hobo fires where quietly, if not so surely, he beheaded him, without  sound or sign of a struggle. He stripped him but left the clothes about and then carried the head over the tracks down along Kingsbury Run and gently set it down. Everything was to be found. That is obvious. Was this a clever killer playing a game or some kind of compulsive madman?

The “Horrible Headhunter” wasn’t like Jack the Ripper at all in this regard. The Ripper wanted things. He took parts from his victims. The Headhunter was taking nothing. He was killing, sometimes torturing, and now playing games with the body parts. At the time of Jack the Ripper a similar MO had been used in London by another killer. He had been dubbed The Torso Killer. He played a taunting game with the government by parceling out pieces of victims’ bodies and leaving them where they’d be found but in circumstances that would cause a scratch of the head. He had liked mystery.

Before we go there, we have to go back and look in details at the first two victims– Edward Andrassy and John Doe. A serial killer always makes his mistakes in the beginning. Cleveland police believed that too. They realized they had a serial on their hands now. They constantly went back to Andrassy to see what clues could be found. He had been the only man thy could identify. We too must go back to the beginning in our next post.

*         *          *

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.

Night Predator

I have been going through the indexes of the civil cases that I pulled up on the computer for the trials at the Gordon Shaber Judicial building. It comes down to one case. I will soon request it for viewing. It is most likely offsite, so it may take a couple of weeks for them to be made ready for viewing. In the interim I have to go to Yolo County courthouse and check their records in hopes of pulling up something with another civil incident.

The purpose, once again, is several fold:

1, find a sample of handwriting

2, find any statement in interrogatories that will help me track my PPOI through the State– locations, jobs, etc.

3,  match these with EAR’s known movements.

As it stands, he appears in files as a security guard in the late 1980s, but apparently didn’t get a job in this endeavor until the early 1990s. He was 31 years old when his first license was issued. BSIS was explicit with me that they could find no records prior to this time.

This has left us with a huge gap– late 1970s to 1989. He emerges in the records as a young man, with an association to Carmichael and Placerville, liked nature, was associated with Volkswagens and auto wrecking, perhaps trucking.

In 1979 paperwork was found after he fled an aborted attack in Danville. This paperwork had irrelevant classwork, for lack of a better descriptive, on lined paper. A map was also found, on paper that was not lined. It showed a community centered around a lake that was in development. On the back I noticed a scribbled and largely hard to read word which mentions “Teichert Leasing.” Their headquarters are at Watt Avenue and American River drive. Their field offices and quarries were in the locations where EAR struck– Modesto, Stockton, Woodland (Davis), Contra Costa.

The search continues. . .

The Quester Files is undergoing optimization so that it will be uniform. Soon I hope to have it completely and fully functioning, with all links working. This has been quite a chore since I really require two webpages in one– borders and banners for the master site– The Quester Files– and then within this a page with its own menu for the subject matter. EAR, for instance, requires a huge menu bar.

In a month it will be 40 years since EAR began. I have hopes to be rid of the case soon, so we can all move on. For those interested in HorrorScope, I am finished on the first draft. It is about 90,000 words. The final couple of chapters are not in, as I am waiting on obtaining more handwriting samples. I will update you with an outsert from one of the chapters soon.

I was sent a link to these videos below. They were done by Janelle Cruz’s sister mentioning my site The Quester Files. Janelle was the Night Predator’s last known victim.


To see a victim’s sister read about her loved one’s case is quite startling. It shows to what extent family still want this villain to be outed. I know a number of victims, of course.  I know many tune in every day to check my updates. Even though it may be frustrating waiting for the final moment when the incontrovertible evidence comes in, we can take some satisfaction that each day more and more are becoming aware of the Night Predator and this can only help in solving the case.

Once again, I am not writing a book on EAR. The Quester Files is my three-pronged attack, so to speak, on mystery. Some of what I investigate will culminate in a book. Others simply cannot. EAR is one that can only be assailed by videos, photos, and text that can get the highest profile viewing possible.

For those interested in a book, there is Larry Crompton’s Sudden Terror, Richard Shelby’s Hunting a Psychopath, and  Jack Gray’s Hot Prowl. These books document the crime spree admirably. The purpose of the Quester Files section on EAR/ONS is to be a step by step investigation that enables the final solution.

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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.

The Phantom of Colonial Parkway

He is the silent Zodiac.A lovers’ lane killer, for lack of a better expression. He is the third of the major lovers’ lane killers– the Phantom of Texarkana (1946), The Zodiac Killer (1968-1969), and then in 1986 The Phantom of Colonial Parkway began to strike.

By fire, by rope, by gun, by knife. He used them all. And possibly for one case he used the sea– the couple was never found.

Sadly, the bizarre case of the Phantom of Colonial Parkway is little known outside of the Virginia and DC area. He is known as the Colonial Parkway Killer there. I gave him the name Phantom. It seems to fit with the locale and with his method. Mixed with the rustic, colonial beauty that is old Virginia, there is something of Sleepy Hollow here. The old woods, the sequestered old houses and barracks, recall primitive American beauty. They contain a modern legend now. It is not so nice in the retelling like Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow  from his Scratchbook. And there is far more truth in this one.


The Phantom was a careful predator. Except for one strike, he came out only in autumn, and he tainted this beautiful, sleepy area with death and mystery.

Colonial Parkway is a carefully maintained road. There’s no curb, no gutters. It is asphalt and winds through woods. In autumn the trees are a dazzling display of red, amber, orange, burnt umber. The York River is on one side for quite some distance. Open areas allow the moonlight to reflect into the arboreal areas. The moonglow glitters off its methodical wriggle and dances with the trees. Then the deep woods again– leaves gently falling down, like the sandman dousing you with slumber.

It is such an historic roadway that it is carefully maintained. There are a number of “Overlooks”– viewing areas of the York River on one side. The section of Colonial Parkway in question here begins at historic Yorktown, where America won its independence. These “Overlooks” are of particular importance. Couples come here and park. They are not particularly wooded portals to the beauty of the area. They are largely open, shallow turnouts from the parkway.ColonialParkway-overlook3-angle

In the autumn of 1986, it began. On October 12, 1986, two young women were found dead in their car. They were Cathleen Thomas, a US Naval officer, and her friend Rebecca Dowski.  They had been killed by rope and by knife, and then the killer apparently pushed their car over the embankment and tried to light the car on fire. He had poured diesel fuel– curious– over it but it failed to ignite. An attempt to hide the crime it would seem. The murders were brutal– their throats had been cut.

Naturally, there was talk that the couple were lesbians. The news likes to root out stuff like that and then speculate it was a Simon Pure who did it. Just how does someone anticipate lesbians on a parkway? Does someone go out there with diesel fuel on hand, rope and a knife, and lay in wait? How would he know what they were? It was nighttime. One had short hair. At night, on the parkway, they could easily have been mistaken for a guy and girl. The killer did not sexually molest either, it is reported. He killed them and disposed of them, in a rather crude way.


It is hard to imagine he did it on the parkway. How does one man do this to 2 women on a turnout? Like a phantom he left no real trace.

The idea that this phantom killer was after couples was underscored when the next victims were found. They were not on the Parkway, but at the Ragged Island Game Refuge, south of the James River. It was now the autumn of 1987, the time of the equinox on September 23. David Knobling’s pickup was found in the parking lot. Its door was open, its windshield wipers still sweeping the dry windshield. Who would have gone out here in rainy weather? Three days later his body and that of his companion Robin Edwards was found. They had been shot to death.

As in all serial killing sprees, the attacks seemed to be getting closer– on April 10, 1988, Richard Call and his date Cassandra Hailey vanished from Colonial Parkway only a few miles from where Thomas and Dowski had been murdered. His abandoned car was found parked in an overlook. They have never been found. There is no place along the Parkway to hide the bodies. Were they taken out to sea? How did the Phantom get their car here and get away if he had not attacked them here?  Did he have an accomplice?

Nothing happened in summer. As a serial killer learns his grotesque trade his strikes usually increase in frequency, but the Phantom of Colonial Parkway did not. He did not even strike again in autumn. He waited until summer ebbed to autumn in 1989– September 5, 1989, to be precise. Daniel Laurer and Annamarie Phelps vanished from a rest stop on I-64. Their bodies were found later. Due to the time interim, it was impossible to say how Phelps had died, but Laurer had been stabbed.

Four couples had been murdered– one couple was officially missing and presumed dead– and no one has been tagged with the murder spree.

The killer was careful. He was the kind that bided his time. He killed only in September and October each ear, except 1988 when Call and Hailey went missing in the same area. Each couple appears to have been killed a different way, with Call and Hailey missing. Gun, strangling (partial), knife, fire, rope.

Cathleen Thomas


The rest stop abduction on September 5, 1989, suggests forced kidnapping, spontaneous (in terms of the couple selected) but the area preplanned. How could the same killer do this in the case of Call and Hailey? How could he arrive at the right time, catch Knobling and Phelps in the parking lot at Ragged Island and lead them into the woods? How could he do all that he did to Thomas and Dowski on the spot?

There was nothing again until late May 1996 when Lollie Winans and Julie Williams were found murdered Friday the 13th style at their campsite in the Shenandoah National Park, about half a mile from the lodge house on Skyland Drive. This was 180 miles west of Colonial Parkway, but there was great similarity to the murder of Thomas and Dowski. The news pollinated the airwaves with the possibility of a hate crime (as opposed to a love crime?) when it was suspected that they too were lesbians. Yet like with Thomas and Dowski there was little way for the killer to have known this beforehand. The circumstances, as known, suggest that the killer might not have even known they were both females. Instead of thinking Thomas and Dowski were not victims of the Phantom of Colonial Parkway, many investigators thought the Phantom was afoot in a national park. That was the one constant in these– all were near or in a national wildlife or scenic area tended by rangers.

Slowly but surely, we must developed these cases in detail here in order to see what progress can be made. It is 30 years now for the first victims, 20 for the last. Perhaps they are all not linked, but only details will tell us. Sadly, there are very few out there.

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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.