Lake Herman Road and the ZODIAC– 50 years later.

I’m not one for memorials. I think that like the rest of you we want the issue addressed, the perpetrator caught. But remembering David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen has more of a purpose than merely a memorial to 2 teens “sadistically gunned down” 50 years ago December 20, 1968. Knowledge of the details helps us to shed light on just what their killer was really like.

The ZODIAC’s image has become distorted in the years since he murdered them. He has grown to the level of comic strip arch villain. But the murder of these two young kids was anything like that of the great white hunter bagging his game, like he boasted about. He hardly had the guts to take on someone who was ready for him. He even boasted in one of his poison pen pal letters to the Chronicle that there was more glory in killing a cop because a cop could potentially shoot back. ZODIAC only had the guts, if that word can be used, to shoot full of holes unsuspecting teens at petting spots.LHR_-_Betty_Lou_Jensen_and_David_Faraday

Extracting 2 pages from my upcoming HorrorScope from Chapter 2 “Sadistically Gunned” may help to convey to the reader what the crime was really like and what kind of perp could really murder kids in the manner in which they were killed.


Extract Chapter 2 “Sadistically Gunned” by Gian J. Quasar from HorrorScope.

Next morning the lead detective, Sgt. Leslie Lundblad, stood at the gravel turnout. He looked somberly at the bloodstains and white chalk outlines. His features seemed tired, perhaps just resigned to the wave of pointless violence gripping the nation. Lundblad was the old school. His thin hair was salt and pepper. Wearing his dark trench coat and fedora, he was the image of a crime noir detective. But this wasn’t some mob hit scene or sordid gin hall murder. These were two kids. Now the shadows of their presence were large dark, putrid bloodstains, and the white chalk a hollow tracing of where kids died on their first date.

    Russell Butterbach, Lundblad’s partner, looked modern. The thin lapels and tight cut of his dark suit were entirely 1960s. The thin dark tie was perfectly drab and businesslike, a sliver over his white shirt. Hands in the pockets of his narrow pants, he looked about and his eyes pondered the morbid scene more logistically. Despite his gray temples, he was a young detective. Close cut hair and dark-rimmed glasses, he represented the establishment that was, at least locally, growing more and more worried about Haight and the hippies. detLun

    What was left today was only the residue of last night’s carnage. Cold winter sunlight vanquished the cloak of horror, but the black scars of blood trickling from the empty chalk frameworks strangely symbolized life drained away. The crisp breeze from Suisun Bay seemed careless as it gently blew away the chalk, slowly erasing the violation of the rustic innocence of pastoral winter.

  Amidst the klieg lights last night the crime scene was revealed to be full of clues. The Rambler’s doors were all locked except for the front passenger side door, which was found open when the police arrived. There were two bullet holes in the station wagon, both carefully placed in the rear of the vehicle. One had shattered the rear side window; the other was in the roof of the car just above the rim of the rear passenger side door. Ten shots had been fired in all. Eight shell casings peppered over a fairly tight area by the passenger side of the car. One was found on the passenger side floorboard of the front seat; another about 20 feet away from the car. The killer had used only a .22 caliber, a small game or target practice weapon.
     Neither Dave Faraday nor Betty Lou were wearing jackets. Coupled with the location of the shell casings it was thus quite easy to put back the chain of events.   DSC09834
    The petting couple’s attacker had fired a shot through the Rambler’s roof and then through the rear window to force them to come outside. He must have ordered them out the passenger side door. They opened it, letting the warm air rush out. Betty Lou was first out, naturally, then Dave slid over and got out. Facing them was their attacker, close up now pointing the gun at them while they trembled by the open door.
     A couple of clues indicate David challenged the attacker. His class ring was found between the tip of his ring and index finger, barely held into place by both fingers. He had a lump on his cheek, as if he had taken a punch. It seems likely that David, a lightweight wrestler at Vallejo High, had tried to wrestle the gun from his attacker. This is hardly surprising. With two bullet holes in his car, David Faraday must have known what awaited them. The position of his ring, just dangling there, indicates he had clutched and pulled around his assailant’s waist.
     Sadly, he hadn’t succeeded in his struggle. The killer had pulled him to the ground. David lay there on his back, arms locked around the hulk on top of him. The killer fired the .22 into his head. Faraday’s arms fell limp over his head.
     Nothing indicates Betty Lou had tried or had time to help David wrestle the attacker, but she had stood close by. Patches of blood sprinkled the gravel between where she lay and the bumper of the car, so it was easy to follow her trail. Perhaps before he was shot, David yelled at her to run. Perhaps the killer, angrily standing up after shooting Faraday, ordered her to run in order to juice his fun. In any case, she took off.

Sheriff’s car parked in the turnout the day after.

     The killer started pumping bullets into her right away. A single grain of gunpowder had been found embedded in Jensen’s dress by one bullet hole, indicating it was the first bullet fired when she was close enough that a grain of powder could still reach her dress. This hadn’t dropped her. She continued to dash away. With each step she took, the killer squeezed the trigger again and again. He did not chase after her. The shell casings grouped by the car prove he had remained by David Faraday’s body.
     Within the trail of blood from the bumper to where she lay there was found one of the spent bullets. It had gone through her and fallen down as she ran. This bullet was only one of three bullets that had passed through her. One exited the left breast and left a hole in the front of her dress. Another ricocheted through her body and came out at her panty elastic and lodged in her underwear. The other, the one mentioned first, had come out her stomach and fell down into the “blood splattered” path.DSC00749
     In her final moments, she could not have been running anymore. She was found face down, with her feet facing west, the direction to which she had been running. The physics of momentum cannot be violated. If she had been running she would have fallen forward with her feet facing east. Thus at the end she was only staggering, still trying to escape; the killer still shooting her. She had been shot once through the heart. This must have been the last. She fell to her knees and slumped onto her side.
     This is not indulging in the macabre for the sake of it. These are clues to the character of the attacker. The killer got the boy out of the way quickly. The girl was then shot several times until she fell. He watched, coldly enjoying shooting her as she had fought bitterly to escape, shooting repeatedly, from the beginning to the very end.

No one in Vallejo or Benicia has forgotten. Driving along the quiet rural Lake Herman Road, it is easy to find the turnout where it all began

When pursuing the case of the ‘Zodiac’ Killer one must keep focused on the real villain and not the comic strip alter ego he created in print. He was a pudgy, festering madman who loved to boast of his crimes even more than committing them.

* * *
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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