The ZODIAC’s Handwriting


In my thesis I must explain my process of elimination regarding the Zodiac Killer’s handwriting. It is not as easy as it seems. It is embedded in the narrative that Sherwood Morrill, then documents examiner for the State, could easily spot Zodiac’s distinctive hand printing merely from his bank deposit slip.

Too many variables have happened since then to indicate Zodiac took some trouble to disguise his hand writing. The extreme angle of his “r” and the slanted nature of his “d” are examples. But more importantly there are his last few letters. He had dropped the nefarious Zodiac moniker and wrote under various handles– a “friend” or “Citizen.” Lastly, it was “The Red Phantom.”

The Badlands Letter is blatantly Zodiac’s classic printing. The SLA note is quite similar. But the Red Phantom letter– the last in his corpus– is most at odds. It is probably closest to Zodiac’s natural handwriting. The 2 stroke “Y” is there, but it could be the “k” is the normal 2 stroke “k” and not the unusual 3 stroke “k” he usually made.


The tilted “d” and the slanted “r” are gone. Zodiac’s normal writing probably doesn’t have the 2 stroke “y” either, though it is present here. His natural 3 stroke “k” is probably nonexistent in his real writing. It is this letter rather than his others that probably approximates his normal writing.

But The Red Phantom Letter betrays Zodiac even more so by the envelope. It is clearly written by the same hand that had written the envelope for the earlier SLA note.

The Zodiac’s style– seldom an address for the Chronicle. Same style of form.

Zodiac was good at imitating. The envelope to the letter to Mel Belli reveals that too. Zodiac also had shifted his printing style in a couple of his letters, like the Belli Letter. In the beginning of the letter he is careful, and he is writing in very square script, then his usual slanted and apparently hurried scrawl takes over. Below, is an example of his usual hand printing.


The typical Zodiac letter above– where he confesses to Stine’s murder. We should not be fooled by this. We must look for something much more refined like The Red Phantom Letter.

So, as you can see, it is not so easy to truly track and be certain what was Zodiac’s natural handwriting. Looking at a suspect’s casual handwriting isn’t going to necessary reveal Zodiac to you. It won’t jump out at you.

To compound problems with my POI, one of his numerous stepfathers was a draftsman for a major steel company. Zodiac could clearly have learned a few tricks of angling his handwriting.

Since I am inspiring a hunt, inspiring hunters to follow my trail and go where only badges can go, I must lay this out, so they too are not misled by popular and false impressions of exactly what was Zodiac’s handwriting.

How smart was Zodiac truly? This is a factor that must be laid out next. Two pieces of evidence have been deemed good for eliminating a suspect. But some jurisdictions are not so certain about San Francisco’s own certainty that they have Zodiac’s prints and DNA. We must look at this next.

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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 or Q Man. “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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