Z-Day

I’ve been quiet for a while on here, so I owe some apologies. Those who follow me know that preliminary results, so to speak, get thrashed out on my blog here before being transferred in much more refined detail to Quester Files.

Before I began my minor foray into artless blogging, I presented only the refinements of some of my quests on The Quester Files or in book form. Such was the case of the Zodiac Killer. Some ten years ago my section on my hunt for his identity went up on my website. At an opposite, I used this blog to give updates on my pursuit of the case. So I owe an update here on HorrorScope, my exposé of the ZODIAC. Covid has caused only minor delays. The book will still be coming out this year. It’s been a long wait, I know, and thanks for your patience. I’ve been invited to participate on a couple of podcasts dealing with The Zodiac Killer crime spree and suspects. I am grateful for the offers, but I had to decline. With the book coming out this year, there is no point anymore discussing my investigation. I must wait until the book’s release. Then there is focus for both me and the interviewer.

It has been a long quest trailing Steve. But once again hardest of all was getting contemporary hand printing samples. This alone is the first step in tangible, admissible evidence. There are those who say it isn’t. Well, anybody can write anything they want on the web. Blogs and social media are free. But the fact is that printing samples were the prime bit of evidence, and they remain so. The handbill put out by S.F.P.D. still rings true today– Slugs, Casings, Latents, Handwriting. Of these, hand printing is the open sesame to the others.

It is a big enough hurdle to uncover vintage printing from an individual. But it is an even greater hurdle to get printing that contains matching words and phrases. When SFPD got tired of the ongoing debate over whether ZODIAC had written the confession letter and, especially, the 3 nasty notes of April 1967 concerning the murder of Cheri Jo Bates, they went to FBI printing experts. The results that came back were the most frustrating. On May 2, 1974, the FBI wrote back that the results were inconclusive because there weren’t enough word similarities to make a valid comparison.

This has been the second hurdle that has delayed me so long.

As I have told you all before, it is not enough for me to write a book on The Zodiac Killer and finger another suspect. This has been done too often, and the reading and news audience are desensitized to it all. The evidence must be there. Printing must identify ZODIAC. In doing so, the door is opened to follow the hallway that leads to the guns. There is therefore IDENTIFY (done by me) and then CONVICTION (done by law enforcement).

Thank you all for your forbearance all these years as I have updated you as best as I could on my progress. I didn’t want this to go to the carnival. So aside from speaking on a few friends’ podcasts, I have not spoken about the pursuit that coalesces into HorrorScope and its finale. That is an ordeal still to come.

When HorrorScope comes out, all things ZODIAC will be purged from this blog, and my book and website remain the final product.

This introduces the next update: The Gay Murders of San Francisco. I’m still working on them, but I’ll save this for my next blog post. It deserves its own update.

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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.

Gary Francis Poste– The Echo Chamber

Unfortunately, for most readers news blurbs are presentations they assume came through a strict vetting process. Not so. One disturbing example: It used to be that you could pay and put stories over Business Wire, but that stopped after the Econnect scandal. For popular topics like The Zodiac Killer, however, vetting is still pretty negligent. Once the story gets hot on the wires, legitimate news outlets pick it up and cycle it. An echo chamber ensues, created by a carefully crafted publicity release.

When you see this, know that officialdom isn’t behind it. Behind-the-scenes things are quite different. It’s the politics of publicity. Cold Case has become a market, the jurisdictions carefully protecting their turf so they can get center stage on all newscasts. They would never give glory to an individual or group of amateurs. On another case, the FBI gave me the runaround and finally I was sent down a spiraling funnel to a smug individual who wanted to know why I should be trying to give them any information. The local police jurisdiction patently refused “my offer” when I made no offer, and informed me politely that they were working with the best FBI agent profiler there was, so no need to take my “tip.” My information was refused, and I was only able to sneak the name of the POI in my reply to the lead detective. Months later . . .things changed and he requested the information.

This is reality. It’s not the entertainment level of message boards. Some there try and manipulate their position into being an unofficial conduit for the actual cold case detectives. That’s their place in the food chain, and it gets them a level of prestige and clickbait. Groups get reputations. They make news contacts. They get PR level releases when they present their own edited conclusions.

Ultimately, the actual nature of solving popular topics is what delayed HorrorScope. Too much politics, and often the politics of publicity. I got the admissible evidence on my suspect, Steve,, but I realized that you have to beat a dead horse. Without that, you are in danger. You are in danger of being lumped into the same circus that has repeatedly touted umpteen men as The Zodiac Killer, each promoted dogmatically as the culprit. In this strange world of debate, a tiny little thing like wrinkles on the forehead is promoted as evidence, and actual evidence is brushed aside to keep the clickbait going.

This not only contributed greatly to HorrorScope being delayed, this also explains why there has never been a news release about me and ZODIAC. I don’t pay for them. I don’t have a PR agent broker them. I don’t cater to the echo chamber. HorrorScope is coming out in spring 2022. I have my say. I will avoid all the behind-the-scenes controversy. No one wants to read that anyway, and it wouldn’t help me in future cases. The crimes and seasons of the ZODIAC will be laid out, and then my own search for and discovery of the Zodiac Killer will be presented.

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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.

Blog, Boldly Blog . . .

After 22 years on the web, and by this I mean a massive website as a vanguard for my explorations and investigations, for the next few months there will be no Q Man. Quester Files comes down for a few months so that a new site can be uploaded.

Each and every time a site redesign has occurred it has been done shanks mare, each section evolving over the other until it is not easy to navigate. Q Files is currently over 400 pages, and some links don’t work, are dead, or there aren’t enough interconnecting links. It’s time to start from scratch with something simple and a lot less verbs. By verbs I mean words.

In the meanwhile I will keep you updated here on any and all events. A reminder, as an example: HorrorScope is finally being prepared for pre-sales on Amazon to be released in Spring 2022.

Then Came the Dawn was released in digital Kindle exclusive (for a short while) on July 2, 2021, and along with most of the other Kindle editions of my books it was made FREE with Kindle Unlimited. Please check out Amazon and select those books you’d like to read on your Kindle.

I will also be able to much more easily update on social media. I know I am almost non existent on the outrage networks, but if something big comes along I have that platform.

My next blog update will be about details on HorrorScope, when it will first appear for pre-sales, and the differences between the published paperback and digital versions. And the few things that had to be done to cover me legally in naming the Zodiac Killer before an official pronouncement.

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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.

The Zodiac Killer and Ray Davis

Although for the last 6 years I have pursued Steve as the Zodiac to the point of getting matching hand printing, I have still reached out to other crimes to see if he/Zodiac could fit. There is more than one chapter in HorrorScope dedicated to putting in place the Gaviota, Riverside, and Swindle (San Diego) murders. I don’t believe the Riverside murder of Cheri Jo Bates was related, but the others are certainly disturbingly suggestive of the Zodiac. There is something instinctive about the Faraday/Jensen murders (December 1968), if you truly study the actual evidence, that suggests their killer had killed before. One example: after dispatching Faraday with one bullet to the head, the killer held his composure to put 5 bullets in Jensen’s back in “remarkable close grouping” while she ran away.

The question has always been, ‘Had the Zodiac killed before or killed other victims than those he boasted about in the Bay Area?’ Even identifying the Zodiac Killer does not immediately answer that question.

Except for Cheri Jo Bates (1966), the other pre-1968 suspected murders– Bobby Domingos/ Linda Edwards (1963); Johnny Ray and Joyce Swindle (1964)– are often glossed over.

But let’s get a little more detailed here, for a new “possible victim” has been put forward that is officially being considered by at least one jurisdiction responsible for investigating the Zodiac murders.  The victim is Ray Davis, a cab driver who was murdered in Oceanside, California, on the night of April 11, 1962. This puts him first before all the other suspected murders.

The time was 11:10 p.m. Ray Davis, 29 years old, reported to his dispatcher that he was taking a fare to south Oceanside. He never reported again.

At 1:45 a.m., April 12, officer Terry Stephens found Davis’ body dumped in the alley between two upscale streets. His body was, in fact, found behind the houses of the current mayor of Oceanside and the former mayor of Oceanside. The killer seemed to be making a statement, a statement that was intended to upset the powers that be. Otherwise the killing was quite utilitarian. The murderer had shot Davis in the back and in the back of the head with a .22 caliber pistol. He removed the body from the cab and drove off.  The cab was dumped on South Pacific a few blocks from Davis’s home on Tremont, but it was also close to a bus stop.

Ray Davis-dump-2

The dump location behind the mayors’ houses.

On top of an already brutal murder, it was no doubt this daring act of dumping the body behind the mayor’s house that reminded Oceanside Police that a crank called them on the night of April 9, two nights ago, and said: “I am going to pull something here in Oceanside and you will never be able to figure it out . . .” or words to such an effect.

The murder of Ray Davis fit. He was killed for no reason other than being a target, a target the killer could get to any place in town. He hadn’t been robbed. Nothing else had been done to him. He had been shot in the back and the back of the head and unceremoniously disposed of where it would shock the town the most– behind the houses of the powers that be. Everything fit the caller’s warning of two nights before.

Ray Davis-locations

Yellow star indicates where Ray Davis’ body was dumped in the alley behind South Pacific. The cab was ditched in the alley in the 400 block of South Pacific, so the killer simply drove north along the road after throwing Davis’ body out in the alley. This was, coincidently or not, not too far from Davis’s house (red star). 

That the caller and the murderer were one and the same was underscored a week later when he called the police again and declared: “Do you remember me calling you last week and telling you that I was going to pull a real baffling crime? I killed the cab driver and I am going to get me a bus driver next.”Ray Davis-locations2

Chief of Police William Wingard believed they were dealing with a deranged killer. Yes, but it was a specific type of deranged killer. It was a man for whom killing was merely an ante in a game of death and community terror. Ignoring Zodiac’s claim he wanted slaves in the afterlife, Zodiac’s murder campaign was essentially the same thing.  His motive to murder was actually to send the Bay Area into a panic.

The same thing had ensued in Oceanside in April-May 1962, of course.  Bus routes were watched. Two drivers were assigned to busses. Guards were at the terminals. It was written up far and wide in the southern California newspapers of the time.

Nothing transpired. No bus driver was murdered. There were no murders that fit the pattern again.

But on June 4, 1963, at Gaviota Beach near Lompoc, north of Los Angeles, a couple would be brutally gunned down by a man using a .22 caliber automatic pistol. In February 1964, Johnny Ray and Joyce Swindle would be murdered in a very utilitarian way while they cooed along Sunset Beach in San Diego. They were also murdered with a .22 pistol. It too sent the Ocean Beach area into a panic fearing the “Sniper Slayer.” Extra patrolmen were assigned, and a chopper patrolled overhead. Lompoc sheriffs came down to see if there could be a connection to their killing, but nothing was publicly made of any connection, except a .22 caliber had been used.

Perhaps Lompoc sheriffs were a bit blind-sighted. Heavy suspicion existed around a suspect in Lompoc for the murder of the couple there. So perhaps the general similarities weren’t noticed, only the specific one of a similar .22 caliber weapon.

Overall there were similarities, naturally. Both were cooing couples. Both were gunned down pointlessly along the coast. But though there are more similarities than this between these double murders, there is actually far more similarity between the Swindles’ murders and Ray Davis’s murder, also along the coast, than to the Gaviota slayings. Davis had merely been a stepping stone to set the city in panic. That was the appearance anyway. The result of the Swindles pointless slaying was the same– a district wide alert. Their killer had to have known this would happen.

Four years later David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen are murdered while cooing on Lake Herman Road near Vallejo. A .22 caliber pistol (most likely a J.C. Higgins Model 80) was used. It was such a common weapon with common lands and grooves in a right turn that the actual model could not be identified if it was in the hands of the ballistics experts. Perfect weapon for a utilitarian killer.

After this there were no more. .22 caliber murders. Zodiac used a 9 mm at Blue Rock Springs Park and thereafter. But he took credit for the Lake Herman Road murders.

The progression seems damning in the couple murders in California in the 1960s indicating one perp was involved. Thrill of murder, yes, but it was secondary to the greater thrill of looming over a community by sending it into a panic. Was Zodiac trying to rekindle the thrill he had unintentionally achieved in San Diego by merely gunning down a loving couple? Only now in 1969 during the open throes of antiestablishment it works?

But does the single unexplained murder of a cab driver in Oceanside in 1962 fit in?

It is made to fit in because Zodiac’s last victim was a cab driver, and his motive appeared to be the same: kill a cabbie in the heart of San Francisco to finally send the metropolis over the edge. That’s all a life meant to both killers. Murder for the sake of the greater thrill to send society into a panic. 

But aside from motive, the similarities end there. Zodiac didn’t even contact the police or press after his first double murder in 1968– he waits 7 months until after he strikes his next victims. No crank calls the police in the Swindles and Gaviota murders. Thus the progression can still fit Zodiac. He finally wanted to take credit after his attack in Blue Rock Springs Park. But the ruthless maniac who killed Davis begins by taunting the police.

Davis’ killing doesn’t really fit with the Zodiac’s MO. The killer’s motive does. Yet there’s a big difference in the two. The Zodiac’s MO was to kill couples, usually quite quickly, in rural areas. It became apparent he wanted to set the entire Bay Area on edge, and his rural murders weren’t cutting it. So he strikes last in San Francisco itself. He kills a cab driver and then sends a letter proving he is the murderer. He ends the letter with the one thing that will finally get San Francisco’s undivided attention: he threatens to shoot out the tire of a school bus full of children and pick them off as they come “bouncing out.”  It had its effect. Until that time, Zodiac had garnered little attention in the metropolis except briefly in August 1969 for his cryptograms to 3 newspapers. Zodiac became the No. 1 arch villain after the school bus threat.

Ray Davis’ killer had killed a cab driver for effect and now threatened to kill a bus driver for an even greater effect. There’s a big difference here compared to the Zodiac’s motives. From cabbie to bus driver is an obvious step for a killer, even when the killer is hoaxing. Zodiac shooting a cab driver and then threatening to snipe school children doesn’t mean he was involved in the Oceanside 1962 murder of Davis, or even knew about it. Unfortunately, cabbie killings aren’t rare, nor are threats against school busses. One reason, perhaps, why nothing resonated in 1969, only 7 years later, with Oceanside Police so that contact could be made with San Francisco PD and an attempt to link the cases.

The progression in the Zodiac’s murders and in his publicity campaign to get attention shows how he constantly wanted to terrify the whole Bay Area. This only happened when he finally struck in San Francisco in October 1969.

In the summer of 1969 Chief of Police in Vallejo Jack Stiltz had made a big noise  about his doubt that the bragging writer of the letters was one and the same as the murderer. This same doubt hung over the case until Zodiac erased it on September 27 when he wrote on his latest victim’s car door. The writing proved the letter writing Zodiac was at the crime scene and therefore was one and the same as the murderer.  About two weeks later, Zodiac kills a cab driver in San Francisco. The stage is now set for the panic Zodiac wants.

Ray Davis’ murder does not entirely fit in this pattern.

It can be argued that in 1962 Zodiac was merely learning his trade; that he expanded to couples thereafter. However, the Gaviota slayings really didn’t indicate the killer wanted to terrorize the community.  They were in a rural area, like with Zodiac’s other murders, but even more remote. The Swindles were in a crowded area, gunned down from the slopes off Narraganset Avenue, approached while wounded and then dispatched with a bullet to the head. This was a frightening murder case.

There are points that connect and do not connect these early double murders to the Zodiac Killer. The same can be said for Ray Davis’s murder. Much of the speculation could be dispensed with if more details were released– a valuable one would be the impression of the voice’s age that called the police. Was it young or not? Zodiac had a young voice in 1969.

The Ray Davis case is connected to Zodiac’s only by the broadest of generalities, and crucial specifics are sadly wanting in the public forum.  Those who draw the most connection are those who limit themselves to the Zodiac case and therefore are impressed by the generalities, but unfortunately, once again, cab killings and boastful slayers weren’t a rare thing in the 1960s and 1970s.

We do not even have enough information to know whether someone wanted to murder Davis specifically. If a single murder merely to send a community into a panic was not the killer’s motive, then the only explanation is that he could have been someone who knew Davis and wanted him dead. Everything else was an elaborate hoax on his part to direct attention to a crazed killer.. . .and away from himself. If so, it worked. Davis’ murder never has been solved or even sufficiently explained.

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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.  

The Trial of JJ DeAngelo

My blog has been rather quiet here. I have deleted most of the cold case information since EAR-ONS is largely old cabbage now. However, you may be interested in my last major article on the case, as presented on The Quester Files, my website.

The Trial of JJ DeAngelo and The East Area Rapist

The article is quite long (over 12,000 words) and it organizes (as much as I could in the medium) the evidence for more than one perpetrator in the East Area Rapist and Visalia Ransacker crimes. It is evidence a trial must face.

As far as my Zodiac Killer investigation, you know if you have been following the updates of the snippets of hand writing from “Steve” that the printing matches ZODIAC and I have expressed my certainty that ZODIAC is now identified. Behind the scenes, how all this goes through the system, well, that is another matter from which I have at present excused myself.

But perhaps a look at my Quester Files Update page might be in order.

As I delve deeper into some X Files topics, I recede from posting on my blog. Sorry about that, but these subjects I really don’t present until my investigation is finished and my thesis is written.

More cold cases are pending– The Monster of Florence really needs a good work up. It is not represented well on the web, though a couple of books have done a fairly admirable job of bringing us the details. But analysis needs to be done in order to direct us to a satisfactory answer. We cannot just tick-tock between theories of a fat old Tuscan peasant and the Sardinian Trail.

My next blog post will be on the Il Mostro.

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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.

Quietly Unraveling The ZODIAC

I’m sorry once again that my blog has fallen silent for the most part on current cold case investigations. I know this is especially frustrating for those who have been waiting for HorrorScope, which I have delayed more than once.  You all have learned how I have contempt for books that advertise “Solved” when the contents are nothing more than a dangling accusation against yet another suspect (on whatever case the book may be based). That is not the purpose of HorrorScope.

I don’t really classify myself as a writer. I write about some of my real life investigations, and HorrorScope is the result of my investigation into uncovering the true identity of the most boastful slayer in history.

To update you, several avenues are being pursued right now to secure contemporary hand printing examples from my suspect, including help from former law enforcement and private eye’s. Other sources are being sought to locate him during February 1964 and June 1963, to see if he and therefore ZODIAC are truly a viable person of interest in these early double murders.

If the contemporary hand printing sample comes back a match, a sample will be released on Q Files and I will proceed from there with all that is required to present the case appropriately and also let law enforcement take the next steps for their own investigation.

Aside from that no more information will be released until everything is finalized. Thank you again for your patients.

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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.

The ZODIAC Killer and San Diego

I am adding just a brief account of the double murder of Johnny Ray Swindle and his new wife Joyce on February 5, 1964, and since it is a last minute addition to HorrorScope I thought I’d share an early version of the treatment here with you. The case has had little written about it despite its similarity to the Gaviota slayings. There’s more than one reason for this, and I touch on both in HorrorScope. But for now, it is best to present the crime.

From the chapter “Southern Exposure” from HorrorScope by Gian J. Quasar.

The one dissimilarity is that Bobby and Linda were murdered on a Monday and during the day and not on the weekend at dusk or at nighttime. But 5 years is a long time. ZODIAC’s work circumstance could have changed. The general similarities remained— the killer was someone who knew the rural hangouts for young couples and saw that only Bobby’s car was in the parking space by the highway. There was even a military base nearby, like in Riverside, and this was Vandenberg Air Force Base.

An attack on a weekday seemed less significant when another double murder of a young couple popped up from the cold case files, this having been committed on Wednesday February 5, 1964, only 8 months after Domingos and Edwards had been murdered. This was a strange span. After ZODIAC’s first Vallejo strike, he had waited a similar time to strike again—7 months and 15 days. It too was along the coast in California.

There is a constant whoosh in your ears from the sizzle of the nearby sea and its breakers. Like all beach sections of San Diego, Ocean Beach is crowded but quiet and laidback, especially at this time of night. Old streets cross each other in a grid, crowded with bungalows, apartments, small houses, motels, and small shops, and all end at the beach. The boardwalk along the beach eventually wends around nearby cliffs. Here the boom and roll of the surf echoes up from the cement retaining wall of the boardwalk, up the cliffs to Narragansett Avenue. Ice plant covers the entire slope all the way to the silhouette of a wood railing and the back of a single traffic sign. The dark silhouette of apartments and homes can be seen flanking the street. By the wood railing a trodden game trail leads down the slope, through the thick ice plant, to the boardwalk.

Against the cement retaining wall that holds back the breakers along the walk here, a loving couple snuggles. The young man is in his Navy jumper, the blonde girl in a leather jacket and plaid capris. By them on the ledge is a red heart-shaped Valentine candy box— an early gift for his beloved on this Wednesday night February 5, 1964.Swindle-scene12

Fifty feet up the ice plant covered slope behind them stands a man by the wooden railing and the traffic sign. It reads “Dead End.” The concrete stairway down begins here, but he does not take it. Instead he walks forward along the slope and watches the couple cuddle below. He walks down the slope several more feet. No one can see him from Narragansett now. Over his right shoulder in the distance the streetlamps of Ocean Beach are dull pearls in the night’s hazy moisture, strung out in crisscrossing lines. He raises a pistol in both hands and aims. The roar of the surf is his ally. There is no sound of death issuing forth.

The Navy man’s upper left back burns. The girl he cuddles collapses against him, her left upper back burning as well. Then his left thigh went tight and burned. Her left arm stung. His left ear stings painfully. Both collapse onto the “patio,” the name for this wide sightseeing section of the boardwalk. Swindle-scene4

The figure atop the slope strides down and stands over them. She is lying face down. He fires a round into the back of her head. The Navy man is on his left side, next to the wall, just under the Valentine’s candy box. The killer stands over him now and puts a bullet into his upper right temple. The killer rummages in his victim’s pocket and takes his wallet. He pockets his automatic pistol and walks away.

Hours later a neighbor, Ed Nelson, is walking to the beach. He sees the figures. Shadows in the dark, he thought they had been drinking and passed out. He approached with his flashlight shining on them and then saw, in the cold round beam of his flashlight, the pools of blood coming from them. The man was moaning inarticulacy. Ed Nelson rushed to get the police.

The girl was dead, but the man was rushed to the hospital where he died a few hours later.

The San Diego PD detectives quickly came to the conclusion that a “psychopathic killer” was responsible. Despite the missing wallet, the true motive was chalked up to thrill. They had solid reasons to come to this conclusion. The couple was Johnny Ray Swindle and his new wife Joyce. They had been childhood sweethearts in Jasper, Alabama. During furlough in January he went back and married her on January 18. They drove back out to San Diego and had been living here for only a week in a bun-galow 9 blocks away. They had no enemies. They were a quiet couple, but they had one habit. Joyce was fascinated by the sea, so each night they went for a stroll along the beach. Each night they passed the same hamburger stand, got coffee, and walked along the boardwalk. (Johnny had bought the Valentine Day box of candy at a local shop only 30 minutes before they had been shot.) Their schedule made them the perfect targets for a stalker who wanted to kill a couple. Without enemies there was no choice for the lead detective, O.J. Roed, but to conclude that a psychopath did this purely for thrill.

Johnny-Fresh
Johnny didn’t make is past freshman because he had to go to work to help support his family. 

The killer was obviously a good shot with good nighttime vision. He had used only a .22 caliber, but at only 50 feet up the slope it proved deadly. And he obviously went for the heart first and came close each time— both victims had a shot to their left back. The police had quickly found the 5 shining brass shells where he had stood; and two, of course, had been found by the bodies, where he killer had stood and delivered what the papers called the “coup de grace.”

Twenty five detectives swarmed the area looking for the weapon— the police assuming he must have ditched it somewhere in order to walk away and look casual. Navy divers combed the sea bottom of the nearby shore. Other detectives went door to door asking the neighbors to voluntarily surrender their .22 weapons for testing. About 40 weapons were tested. None matched.

From statements that detectives scoured the rooftops from a helicopter to see if the killer had thrown the weapon up on one, it is fairly easy to deduce that ballistics indicated a pistol had been used rather than a rifle. This obviously made sense given the context. No one is going to be able to walk around Ocean Beach with a rifle, even at night, and not stand out.

It wasn’t long before Santa Barbara Co. sheriff detectives arrived. There was immediate suspicion that the killer of Domingos and Edwards was responsible here. However, ballistics didn’t match—it was not the same .22 automatic that had gunned down Bobby and Linda. But it was the same type of gun.

No connection was ever made between the two slayings except for similar circumstances— a young couple at the beach, no motive, and a .22 caliber. But there are actually more similarities, especially if one adds into the equation ZODIAC’s first murders in Vallejo. The ZODIAC was an excellent night shooter who first used a .22 automatic pistol. When not challenged, ZODIAC was a utilitarian but not necessarily efficient killer. Similar to Johnny Ray’s killer, the ZODIAC left Faraday and Mageau to linger. When challenged, ZODIAC seemed to pour it on— he unloaded his magazine into Jensen’s back and Domingos/Edwards killer reloaded to give them “coup de grace,” but he calmly re-turned to shoot Ferrin and Mageau to make sure, where he had also not been challenged.

More of a connection would be made between ZODIAC and the Gaviota slayings because of events that would soon unfold. In 1972 Santa Barbara County Sheriff John Carpenter and detective Bill Baker held a TV news conference after Carpenter had issued a formal statement in which he declared that ZODIAC was responsible for the 1963 double murder of Robert Domingos and Linda Edwards. In this concisely written statement, Carpenter declared:

End outsert

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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– Final edit on HorrorScope

An except from part of Chapter 1 of HorrorScope— “The Sign of the Crimes” by Gian J. Quasar. I set the in place the times and seasons. . .

 

History moved on. Events came and went. The clock ticks slowly and we come forward. The Summer of Love was long over by the end of 1968.

Rural East Bay area hamlets were still mainstream. Hippies weren’t in large numbers here. Though they had been exiting the Haight for country communing and impromptu ashrams, Vallejo, an industrial, shipbuilding town was not an expected destination for them. Some of the locals may have begun to morph, but it was only appearances. These were known as “hippie types” because their hair was sprouting or they had a peace symbol necklace or some such other paraphernalia that middleclass youth adapted as fashionable. The average youth still looked like pre-antiestablishment teens. Guys had short hair. Their slacks were nicely fitting, their shirts had button-down collars. Some had long sideburns. Some had Beatle haircuts. Elaborate coiffures adorned mainstream gals; cat-eye glasses, miniskirts of bright colors— the full monty of 1966 was still vogue in 1968.

The Haight was only an hour away, if that, and Vallejo teens could sample the “far out” when they wanted. But pure hippie veneer was still too extreme for the mainstream, especially for high school kids with their sense of peer pressure. High schools forbade the extreme looks anyway. PTAs would not bend. Yet the new morality could be sampled behind any veneer. It didn’t require morphing into a hippie. Pot was smoked. Sex was free. Both could be sampled easiest at the lovers’ lanes.

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Columbus Parkway was a significant northeast Bay Area road, even if your average metropolitan Bay Area resident didn’t know it. It was the first exit off Highway 80, the main highway coming to the Bay Area from Sacramento. It was just before Vallejo. It skirted the town by wending along the grassy foothills. But it wasn’t a dead end country road. It connected with Lake Herman Road. This was also a main country road. It connected this rural area with Highway 680 to the east of Vallejo. Coincidently, Lake Herman Road was likewise the first cutoff coming from Sacramento on Highway 680, on the outskirts of Benicia. These two highways formed a huge fork around Vallejo and Benicia, each coming from Sacramento to the Bay Area. They came together again at Highway 780 along the Carquinez Strait. Short of 780, these backroads were the quickest and easiest ways between these two highways.

Easy access made these roads perfect for lovers’ lanes; remote at night, dark, with turnouts and entrances to unattended ranchland in the rolling hills. Paradoxically, despite the convenience these roads offered they were not heavily trafficked. Most traffic along Lake Herman Road went to Lake Herman and the recreation areas. Most traffic on Columbus Parkway was for going to Blue Rock Springs Park or to the new golf course. This was Vallejo’s famous and beautiful country park situated in the foothills. While locals more than metros knew how these roads connected, tens of thousands who used the lake or visited the parkland would have learned over time how they were a major convenience.

From the peak of Lake Herman Road, at night, the only light was the distant and the bloodless halogen lights of the new Humble Oil Refinery on the outskirts of Benicia. They gave a faint indigo glow to the inky veil hanging over the Carquinez Strait. During the daytime this veil was a thin, milky haze, turning the silhouette of Mount Diablo far to the south into a transparent shade. Devil’s Mountain was like the island volcano rising high from the jungles. Every mountain range in the Contra Costa corridor cringed at its feet. Mt. Diablo was visible from every angle of the Bay Area, from San Francisco across the bay, looming over the Berkeley Hills as they genuflected on their knees before it. A particularly nice vantage point is at the end of Lake Herman Road, where it meets Highway 680. Here a special viewing area exists.

I do not belabor these points without reason. This area is indeed an integral part of the sign of the crimes. Not only was a time and season in history being assaulted, so was a place . . . but most of all a type of victim.

*         *          *

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.