Hindsight it is said has 20/20 vision — yes, probably, if you are looking!
When it comes to cold cases I’m afraid that much gets lost because there is no look back at the context around key events. This is especially true of the ‘Zodiac’ Killer case despite the fact it is within reachable history. Devotees look back and they see the villainous media vulture’s reputation in place long before it really was.
By the time of the Lake Berryessa attack on September 27, 1969, The ZODIAC identified himself only once as “The Zodiac” and this in only a quick reply in answer to Jack Stiltz’s doubt and subsequent request for more information. This was the only time ZODIAC quickly replied. He spent quite a bit of time fomenting his publicity game, but he knew it was to no purpose if he could not prove that he, the letter writing ZODIAC was not one and the same with the killer. Had Stiltz not questioned this, ZODIAC would have left it with the three simultaneous confession letters and his oblique warning he was going to continue to kill.
The area of the road where Bryan Hartnell had parked.
Doubt, however, still remained after ZODIAC’s August 4, 1969, reply to Stiltz in the Examiner.
Near two months later and still no attack from the ZODIAC. He had faded from the news. His name really didn’t stick with anybody. He was known more as the “Code Killer” if and when his case was referred to. He could still strike again, of course. He had taken lots of time between his first and second kills, so the law knew he was still out there.
After he attacked at Lake Berryessa, he walked back up the hillside and lettered the side of victim Bryan Hartnell’s door. A ledger of death, yes. But the ultimate purpose must have been quite utilitarian. He finally dispelled any doubt that he the letter writing ZODIAC and the killer were one and the same. Here at the scene of a crime there was proof in the form of his writing.
This was all ion preparation for his most crucial attack yet– in San Francisco, the heart of the Bay Area. In consequence of his writing on the car door, his threat letters had to be taken seriously. Without proving he was one and the same as the killer, the autumn of angst that would soon follow would not have been possible.
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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.