The ZODIAC– Signs of Frustration

I know my HorrorScope updates are frustrating for some, but they serve a purpose. They reflect the frustrations of actually outing a major serial killer and solving a cold case. The genre has been choked books that claimed “Solved” and present nothing but hypothesis and accusation.

As the recent solution to EAR-ONS has shown, the people are tired of that. Cold case investigators and the public want solution for real . . .not just claims of it for S&M purposes. Few in the reading audience buy into the claims on a book’s cover anymore. They don’t believe for obvious reasons– the claim of “solution” has failed way too many times.

As more web sleuths get refined in their search for cold case information, they have become more in tuned to what is required in a thesis to start the process rolling for investigating a person of interest. They understand the power of DNA. Compare now this experience with your usual run of the mill cold case accusation “solved” book and it is apparent the authors merely stews in their own theorizing and don’t have enough except to incite some curiosity. The subject of the book really only rates “person of interest” status and not “solved.” With today’s ability to chase down DNA, it is easy to mark a person of interest off the list. Books that rely on just causing suspicion about an individual are now obsolete.

For me, it is not enough that I have moral certainty and even hand printing from a much later date. I wish vintage hand printing circa 1964-1967. This has caused the delay. It is one needed both for the thesis promised to Law Enforcement and for presentation to the public in my own thesis.  

Another delay is that I said I would deliver a thesis outlining how I came to Zodiac and why there is no doubt even without DNA that this man presented herein is the infamous, bragging Zodiac Killer. This thesis could be up to 30 pages. It is to stimulate a behind-the-scenes official investigation.

Although everybody wants the case solved, there is human nature.  We have to accept it. I’ve already been warned in another case that the wagons are being circled around it because I have inquired about it. Everybody wants these cases solved, but some want to be the one to solve it. It is the nature of the beast. You work within this atmosphere. You do not rail against it.

Books that promise “solution” based on mere suspicion are easy to put out.  Unequivocal solution takes times and intricate steps. I don’t mind the delays, as frustrating as they are. And the updates, as frustrating as they may be, help to impose upon you as well that the solution, absolute and unequivocal, is preparing to be presented.  

In the next blog post let’s discuss what must be done to “officially solve” the Zodiac’s identity. Actually, DNA legally cannot do it on its own in this case.

*         *        *

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.

 

 

 

Advertisements

HorrorScope Taking Form– Identifying the Zodiac Killer

I’m glad to say that the cover art that I designed has on the large been accepted as the dust jacket for HorrorScope. It’s simple and doesn’t divert the eyes much, and this is needed over such a subject as this.

Zodiacmockup-icon

William Fiesterman adjusted an actual photo to create the lifeless, cold visage of the Zodiac; and I added the crosshair. Bill was one of Will Vinton’s animators and the animation director on the original California Raisin’s commercial, one of the 1980s’ popular culture icons.  The image of Zodiac, black and white and in shadows, reveals the true Zodiac Killer but also shows how the heavyset villain could inspire the San Francisco PD sketch, which shows Zodiac looking very skinny. Without eyes, he is a heartless killer, and the symbolism of the crosshair you all know.

I will share more aspects of the book’s artistry (back cover,  etc) as they take form. It’s finally time to bury this case, and I’m glad we are in the last mile.

Zodiac-Schoolbus

*         *        *

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.

Did the ZODIAC Kill Again?

DNA is all the rage now for solving old cold cases by finding an unsuspecting cousin in the database and then following his heritage to uncover the miscreant relative. But this method’s success is dependent on several factors. Just because a suspected villain’s DNA is preserved from a crime scene doesn’t mean genealogical searching will pay off.

The identity of the Zodiac Killer may one day be confirmed via DNA, but his MO makes it unlikely that he could ever be proven to have murdered other victims after his last known victim, Paul Stine, in October 1969.  The DNA attributed to Zodiac is actually from stamps on the boastful letters he mailed. But if Zodiac gunned down other victims and didn’t brag about it, like he said he would, there would be no DNA from those unsolved crime cases to compare with his in order to make a connection.

Even if a clear, incontrovertible DNA profile is pulled from the Zodiac’s stamps yet again, it is DNA that is not recovered in perpetration. The features of the man that it leads to would still have to be compared to the PD sketches and then, most of all, samples of his hand printing compared to Zodiac’s printing.  His hand printing constitutes evidence in perpetration.

But before Zodiac turned to becoming the Zodiac . . .? This is another matter.

Although many doubt that the Zodiac Killer ever killed again after he murdered Paul Stine, no one is really too sure if he had murdered before his first Vallejo victims on December 20, 1968. He waited to brag about these murders until 7 months later, so apparently his thrill of killing them was initially enough motive for him. Was this same thrill enough for murders even before December 1968?

There is the murder of a young couple, John and Joyce Swindle, on the “patio” along Ocean Beach, San Diego, on February 5, 1964. It was an unprovoked murder of a young couple. The killer apparently used a .22 pistol. He shot them from a distance and then approached and stood over them and fired a last round into each of their heads.

In many ways this was similar to the murders of Robert Domingos and his fiancé Linda Edwards on June 4, 1963, on Gaviota Beach, a remote area off Highway 101 south of Lompoc, California. They were shot multiple times with a .22 pistol.

The murders of John and Joyce Swindle show a killer that was a little more prepared than the one who murdered Domingos and Edwards 8 months before. Was it the same killer and was he progressing?

The killer of both couples may be the same perp, but this does not make this perp the man who would later use the murder of young couples as a resumé to terrorize the Bay Area in 1969.

The savage murder of Cheri Jo Bates, however, on October 30, 1966, is another matter. Unlike the Zodiac murders and the murder of both young couples in 1963 and 1964, there was no similarity to the Zodiac’s MO seen here. However, there was one similarity here. Someone liked to send in a confession letter and then 6 months after the murder on April 30, 1967, send three nasty notes reading: BATES HAD TO DIE. THERE WILL BE MORE.

There was something about the printing and the tenor of the notes and the writing on the envelopes that suggested an early Zodiac attempt. It if was not an attempt to get yet another thrill over one of his murders, it was at least later viewed by Riverside PD as an attempt to brag about murder by proxy. They didn’t believe he was the killer, but it was possible that he wrote those 3 sick notes to get some sort of bizarre thrill.

Depending on the state of preservation of  evidence from the stamps on the April 30, 1967, notes sent to the Press Enterprise, the Riverside Police, and Cheri Jo Bates’ father, there might finally come proof of Zodiac’s connections with at least writing those notes and dovetailing on the violent murder of the young college coed.

If those stamps are still intact underneath, where the writer of those notes had licked them in April 1967, there may finally come proof one way of the other if Zodiac was involved.

*         *        *

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.

HorrorScope Update– The Zodiac Killer

Sorry about lack of updates on this project. There were a number of reasons to delay.  Handwriting with brief moments of hand printing in between technically made the match between my suspect and the ‘Zodiac’ Killer.  However, because the lettering was of a later date, there was reason to balk. I wanted an incontrovertible  link (short of DNA) from his printing contemporary with the crimes (1960s). A source had opened up over a year ago, but it is slow getting these old records.

This last point alone is what has delayed HorrorScope‘s publication. Everything else is in place.

My recent shock over the antics involved in the EAR-ONS case has underscored the need for intellectual property rights attorneys, libel attorneys, and specialty publicists. Needless to say this bears on delays.

In short, it is a nightmare of ancillary things rather than putting in place the tome. It is finished. The suspect is identified therein. To protect his family, I was going to use his birth surname. (He was later adopted by one of his mother’s string of husbands.) But with securing better hand printing examples I will name him under his legal name, the one he used for the majority of his life.

*         *        *

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.

The Cold Case Late Show

Amidst getting HorrorScope assessed for legal reasons, commencing the artwork for the tome, and preparing other adventures, I am still refining the research into NORCAL Rapist– again not a great handle, but rapists don’t seem to merit them, one reason I think why EAR-ONS really never caught on with history. Murderers get the most exquisite handles, and sometimes they give themselves their own crimson sobriquet: BTK, Zodiac, etc.  But rapists don’t rate the same news or public interest.

Law enforcement and media outlets are a buzz with the whole idea of genealogical tracing based on DNA in order to out the nasties of cold case. If there is enough DNA, then this would be a great avenue. I fear, however, that if this is how cold case (and hot case) goes (where there is enough DNA) then HorrorScope will be the last attempt of the old school, where gray matter and deductive and inductive reasoning leads to the final conclusion.

For me, it is a race the outcome of which I will find particularly interesting. Will DNA be lifted anew from a ZODIAC letter stamp and will it be sufficiently accurate that genealogical tracing is done and leads to my guy? My method, of course, has had to be more cumbersome: first uncovering his trail, his past, his ability, motive, then his hand printing, fingerprints-— the old school.

No one is sure if the DNA is good in the case of The ‘Zodiac’ Killer, just as there was always debate whether those bloody fingerprints were really his in the cab. He obviously disguised his printing. It’s only after cases are solved that we see how clever or not-so-clever the perp really was. From what I discovered, ZODIAC was a mixture of careful gameplaying and bungling perpetration.

But touching on the future of cold case, what about those cases where the perps were very careful? I mean, where they anticipated forensics? The case of Melbourne’s Mr. Cruel comes instantly to mind. It seems to be the home invasion creeps who really take care. They know they are risking the most to begin with and they plan meticulously.

DNA will become part of a methodical process, but when there is none: what to do?  The Shadow Slayer of Colonial Parkway (The Colonial Parkway Murders) also comes to mind. There are no footprints, no sketches, and the only chance of lifting touch DNA would seem to come from the first victims’ car or ligatures, but there is doubt there too. Without DNA, this case is the hardest out there to crack. At least by gray cells.

However, we can’t rely completely on DNA for the future. Right now there are perps in the shadows, killers lurking waiting to come forth into the night to start their evil sprees. They are considering how to avoid the science of DNA. Old fashioned gumshoeing will still be needed for these.  But are we turning the true detective into The Late Show— a dinosaur sentimentally reserved only for the past? We will need them in the future, but will we be able to recognize 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.

HORRORSCOPE– Bringing to Life The Zodiac Killer

Above, the aerial is situated over Blue Rock Springs Park. From this angle we can see Columbus Parkway traced by the tall canopy of eucalyptus trees as it wends on its way to Springs Road and Vallejo.

Context is everything, and it is something that is often missing from the repeated rehash of cold cases in popular literature. Yet reenactment of the crime is an essential step to investigating it. It is the “French” method. I rely heavily upon it before I write anything on any case. I must know what the layout of the land was like. After all, we are tracking the human predator. We are on a hunt for the hunter.

This is so clear in the ‘Zodiac’ Killer case. Like with Jack the Ripper, economic rehash dominates. It is used merely to quickly get through the crimes in order to introduce an unlikely suspect.

The longest I ever spent on trying to re-visualize a case was on trying to reconstruct Blue Rock Springs Park parking lot– the scene of Zodiac’s second strike. Since July 4, 1969, Columbus Parkway has been greatly altered. The park’s parking lot was once a wide spot in a two lane road. Now the parking lot has been extended inward to the country park, and the road is a couple of meters higher than the parking lot, not lower as it used to be, and a 4 lane busy thoroughfare.

dfr3

The crime scene as preserved in the Vallejo PD report. This is as the parking lot used to be– open to Columbus Parkway and narrow.  The parkway was only 26 feet across!

The lot used to angle up from the road, and it even had a stand of trees on one side of it around which the cars parked. It was truly a country park, carved out of the natural topography. That atmosphere is gone. The clutching canopy of eucalyptus that used to line the parkway is gone. I’m trying to bring it all back in HORRORSCOPE so the reader can understand what things were like back then.

I want to give you a little taste here, with pictures and blow ups of photo blocks in the upcoming release.  This is made possible by Vallejo Historical Museum. As you might imagine few people go to a park to take pictures of the parking lot. But the parking lot exists as an incidental in the background of pictures centered on other events held at the park.

BRSPL

In this blow up above from 1963 we see the angled parking lot and narrow Columbus Parkway behind it, then the white line marking the gutter and the extended parking on the other side. Dee Ferrin had parked at an angle near where those two white cars are parked. One of the two lamp posts can be seen.

BRSPL-2

This blow up from 1961 shows the other side of the parking lot and the stand of eucalyptus noted on the crime scene illustration. Columbus Parkway was so narrow that you can distinguish it only from the painted crosswalk. The furthest row of cars are actually parked in a dirt area on the other side of the road.

DSC01625-cropped-50%

This photo, taken in the 1970s, is centered at the crosswalk, and it shows Columbus Parkway in the direction from which Roger, Jerry, and Debbie, came from I-80. The cars in this shot are parked on the other side of Columbus Parkway. The parking lot is actually on the right of the photo, off frame.

With the photos above– the header showing the parkway traced by the tall eucalyptus back to Vallejo– and the others of the lot and road, we can begin to visualize this very rustic area back late night 1969.

Columbus Parkway terminated at a major highway at both of its ends, and in the middle it connected with Lake Herman Road, which also terminated at a major highway.  These were hardly your basic country roads. They were backroad arteries to 3 major highways and two local towns. They held two major attractions– Lake Herman and Blue Rock Springs Park. Zodiac did not have to be a local to know this. These were easy roads in and out in many directions. Perfect for the drive-by killer.

*         *        *

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.

The ZODIAC Begins 49 Years Ago

Come tonight 49 years ago in subfreezing temperatures of 22 degrees, the ‘Zodiac’ Killer began his crime spree. His victims were two cooing teens– David Faraday (17) and Betty Lou Jensen (16). For about 6 months he was silent. He took no credit. Solano County sheriffs had to come to the conclusion that a “murderous maniac” had been responsible.  Then along with his second victims he took credit and bragged about it in the press.

LHR_-_Betty_Lou_Jensen_and_David_Faraday

Some things didn’t fit– for instance, the signs that the “maniac” was actually very calm. Betty Lou had 5 bullet holes in her back, in a “remarkable grouping.” This was amazing considering the murder must have taken place around 11:15 p.m. in a very dark area like the turnout (petting spot) on Lake Herman Road.

A small game pistol had been used– a .22 caliber J.C. Higgins Model 80. No real witnesses, not to the presence of the killer. Only a fleeting glimpse to his car parked next to the victims’ car in the cold turnout. The freezing temperatures hardened the gravel turnout to such an extent no footprints or even tire tracks were left. The killer might well have been a ghost.

LHR_-_Crime_scene_at_day_with_car_as_Rambler_location_reference_2
Sheriff’s car parked in the turnout the next day.

 

This unfathomable rural murder would become the first known killing by the man who would later proclaim himself The ZODIAC. More would perish over the next year– in other rural spots and in the metropolitan beauty of San Francisco– and the villain would build himself up into comic book grandeur. But this killing more than the others reveals ZODIAC’s gruel, bloodless soul.

The boy tried to defend his date and got a bullet in his brain pointblank. Betty Lou ran away in her bright purple miniskirt and received bullet after bullet in her right upper back over the 30 feet she was able to run before she collapsed. The killer drove off after emptying 10 rounds from his small game pistol into them and their car.

In 2012 I began my active investigation. Naturally, this was the first crime scene I visited. It remains largely intact, though it has shrunk considerably and I don’t think  local teens use it as a petting spot. There is usually a Zodiac symbol graffiti’d somewhere.  Most prominently it was on the “no trespassing” sign on the farmer’s property beyond the turnout.

DSC07649

The turnout in June 2017

I’ve visited the site several times, most recently in June 2017. The sign has been switched out. For now there is no Zodiac emblem painted anywhere. . .but it won’t be long. This insignificant turnout on a busy backroad on the fringes of the Bay Area should not be forgotten. A serial makes his mistakes in the beginning. The crime here may still hold a significant clue.

In the distance looms through the haze the mountain that ZODIAC would come to use to play his poison pen pal game– Mount Diablo. He knew the area well enough and he came fully prepared to kill.  . . .but not to brag about it.

There is much that says the ZODIAC was just beginning here, but the cold execution of his crime inspires some to believe he had killed before. But insofar as being definitely linked to the ZODIAC, it all began here on Lake Herman Road late night December 20, 1968.

*         *          *

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.