PHANTOM DNA– Worth Seeking

Genealogical DNA tracing is quite the rage, of course, for uncovering the guilty party through his kin. But there are crimes far back in history where there is no DNA– lovers’ lanes murders, for instance. There is little reason to suspect that there will be a solution (via DNA) to the Atlanta Lovers’ Lanes murders and several others where the killer merely shot his victims and escaped.

If the crime scene material was better preserved, however, from the Phantom of Texarkana Murders, there is a good chance that a skilled technician could lift touch DNA. A couple of his murders were particularly gruesome, and I should imagine he did some touching.

But to read what has been written on the Phantom investigation there is little reason to imagine the crime scene material was preserved, let alone pristine.

But . . .

Some studious criminalist/archivist in Texarkana perhaps should consider a search.

If the dresses of a couple of the female victims were preserved, there may be touch DNA when he carried their bodies or yanked them by the arm. It would be a great challenge, but one of the greatest discoveries in cold case.

I am eager to visit the area for the bulldog approach. Yet with a crime case like that, at present anyway, another book can only end with an accusation. Perhaps a publisher might put “SOLVED” on the cover, but we all know it is merely another accusation inside. Morris-today

Theory is easy. And too many so-called “solved” books have only given us another theory (on whatever case). If it is a sincere effort, there is, of course, nothing wrong with introducing ideas. But the marketing of today’s book covers is more or less clickbait.

bettyj

Closer to our time, there is the I-70 Killer. If the I-35 Killer and he are one and the same, the last victim survived. He touched her. It’s worth a try there, from her shirt, or wherever they are certain she was touched. At least we have a face in this case, unlike with the aptly named Phantom.

It is unquestionable that the murderer of Winans and Williams touched them. These two were murdered in the Shenandoah in May 1996. They are often associated with the Colonial Parkway murders, though there may be no connection. They are associated because of the similarity (in some respects) to the first pair of murders there– Thomas and Dowski– in 1986.

Now, as to the double murder of Lauer and Phelps, also Colonial Parkway murders, the killer certainly drove their car and sat in it. But how well was it preserved?

There is naturally the Long Island Serial Killer. Much of the evidence was not in a condition to yield DNA, but behind-the-scenes we do not know all the evidence.

Effort I can imagine will be directed at those cases where there is a chance the killer is still alive and therefore represents a potential danger to society. So this would mean cases from the 1980s to today.

The most potent danger in the older cases like the Phantom or the Torso Killer murders is that there is little written on them and there is usually only one suspect proffered. Usually, this is because by the police methods of the time he was the main suspect, often for some reason that wouldn’t impress a detective or criminalist today.

At the very least these type of cases need more investigating and fresh approaches. They are the ones that need books where more suspects are introduced.

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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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Signed, Yours Truley– ZODIAC

For 6 years many of you have followed my very quiet investigation of Steve. Since I posted his picture in 2013 and a one page blurb on Q Files, you have been patient. Q Files held results of my crime scene restoration work, but not my own personal investigation.

In my long pursuit to get vintage penmanship samples, I succeeded in 2 stages, beginning in 2016. I’ve shared on Q Files a couple of samples of his penmanship compared to Zodiac’s. Penmanship does match. But that is not just to slanting style and specific letters and numbers. It is also to variations. Sherwood Morrill had said once that he could easily recognize Zodiac’s distinctive hand just from a bank deposit slip. I think more is better, of course, because you can then come across the phenomenon of how Zodiac varied letters. One example:

69-9-compared

The “9” on the left is taken from the Zodiac’s printing on the Karmann Ghia door. On the right is Steve’s notation. A rare moment of writing a “9” like a backward “P”. Zodiac’s “6” undergoes major changes. Sometimes it is very curved, even elegant. Sometimes it is just the product of his excessive slanting.

Sample-July2

From the comparison above, we see that Steve wrote his “6” similarly. He naturally slanted, as seen at the “u” and then slants the “L.”

But Zodiac was a very careful writer at times, writing both his cryptograms and sometimes letters with a rigid, straight style.

Sample-Jan

The above sample is so radically different that I disputed it. But it does, in fact, appear to be Steve’s as well, written at a moment when he was relaxed.

These comparisons below reveal some similarities, but for Steve they also reveal a shaky hand contrasted by a steady hand.
Samples-numerals2

I do know that some psychiatric problems may bear on printing. From what I have discovered I can certainly say that the man or men who wrote the above samples on this page were suffering from some severe mental disorders. One was released from the USAF psychiatric ward one and a half years before the Zodiac crimes began.

* * *
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 — Printing Match

Since there is more room here than on my website’s update page, I will use this post for clarifications. I finally posted snippets of printing from my suspect matching the Zodiac Killer’s printing. This printing is not done under supervision, but from 50 + year records where he is casually writing. They date to 1966-1967.

My report goes in next week identifying him to the jurisdiction I promised some time ago when I set out on the arduous trip to find vintage hand printing from a man who lived an obscure life. Once my report has been accepted, the jurisdiction will be identified here in an update.

As to the previous posts on ZODIAC identified by DNA: Again, the term “refining leads” got out and passed around– which in the context of months after a DNA submission to genealogy databases means someone has been arrived at by name. This was reported in various ways. One public source reported that they have DNA, which they have had for a while, so that may have been a mistake of not understanding “refining leads.”

In any case, I took down the posts reluctantly, not because of the belief there was inaccuracy (several out there are insisting that one jurisdiction ((Vallejo)) is vehemently denying  they know anything about any lead or name.) But “refining leads” may have been misused by the original source to merely mean DNA tracing is continuing but has not reached a pool of viable suspects yet.

In any case, for my purposes here it is not relevant anymore. It only confuses two entirely separate paths. So as it stands, if this is all true, I’m the only one turning in a suspect by name based on admissible evidence. You know my views on the old gumshoe, bulldog method.

Since sufficiently matching penmanship samples came into me last week, and more are expected Monday, I will confine myself on here purely to the developments, as I am able, as they pertain to my investigation.

I will probably share some more detailed printing samples later, but for now readers can go to the Updates page on my website The Quester Files and view those already placed up.

For those who have followed my pursuit for so many years, I thank you all for your patience.

* * *
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 Texas I-35 Killer

There is so little out there on the I-35 victims that there isn’t much one can say about them, but paradoxically they may be able to speak much in terms of outing the I-70 Killer. And I think if the victims in Texas could speak, that’s what they’d want to say. Unfortunately, they haven’t been given much of a chance since the details are so sparse. We can only detect a general pattern.

After his May 7, 1992, attack in Raytown, Missouri, on the outskirts of Kansas City, MO, the I-70 Killer quit. He quit as suddenly as he had started. During his crime spree, a genuine spree killing lasting only a month, he hadn’t varied his MO much. He obviously wanted to kill women, and for him the most convenient places were small shops and the most convenient times were off hours.

I-70 victims

He prepared himself enough to get away with it. He had watched the shops enough from across the street or knew already that a young woman managed the store. He rubbed his .22 cartridges with jeweler’s rouge to make sure there was no problem with the automatic jamming. This is a little excessive for his MO. He just planned to shoot an unarmed woman in the back of the head. But perhaps this tells us he was ready for a shootout with the police if he should get cornered. Considering his month long spree, he seemed like a homicidal maniac on the loose, so the idea of being ready to go out in a blaze isn’t farfetched.

I think it is fair to say he wasn’t the mumbling transient, even if he might have used that image as a cover.

But he stopped, stopped cold. One month– April 8 to May 7, 1992– he burned hot, killed 6 people, and then was no more.

A year went by. Nothing. Not even in other parts of the country. Summer 1993 then passed. Then . . .

On September 25, 1993, 51-year old Mary Glassock was found dead in her small antique shop at 4708 Bryce in Fort Worth, Texas. She had been shot in the head with a .22 caliber. Naturally, it wasn’t long before a comparison was made: it wasn’t the same .22 as the I-70 Killer had used. . . but . . .

Glassock-large

A lot else fit the I-70 Killer MO. Glassock’s  antique store was a small shop and it wasn’t far from the highway. In this case, the highway was the I-30, a tributary of the main highway I-35. And I-35 was the main highway south from the St. Louis and I-70 area. It went through Wichita, Kansas, where the I-70 Killer had taken his 2nd and 3rd victim, so it was a highway that the I-70 Killer worked right away. (Then he kibitzed back and forth in between his first strike point in Indianapolis and Wichita.) Nothing indicated that there were similar murders in Oklahoma City, the only other main city on the I-35 south, suggesting the same killer was moving south and following the highway. But after Oklahoma, Fort Worth was the next major city.

Fort Worth is just west of Dallas and, of course, on the I-35.

In addition, Glassock’s shop was on a main road off the highway. Her age at 51 made her an outlier in terms of the I-70 Killer’s victim, but he had also made a mistake and shot a man with a pony tail in the back of the head. He could have made a mistake about age in Fort Worth, or age simply meant nothing to him after all. Also, who robs an antique store in an older part of town while simply driving through? Except for the age of the victim and the fact it was a different .22 caliber, the pattern was the I-70 Killer.

Yet it was one murder in a shop. Unfortunately, those happen and it doesn’t mean a serial killer is afoot. However. . .

Nearby in Arlington, Texas, it happened again. This time everything fit the I-70 MO. The location was off Highway 20, the next major cross highway along the I-35 south of Fort Worth. The killer was obviously moving along the I-35 going south. The victim  was a young brunette, Amy Vess. She was working in a dance apparel store at 4001 West Green Oaks. It’s in a shopping center near the main road from the highway. The date was November 1 (gravestone says death on November 2), 1993.

Amy Vess

The pattern wasn’t reflecting the month long spree like back in April 1992, but it seemed either the I-70 Killer had started again, without the same urgency, or another creep was hitting the Fort Worth area and basically doing the same thing, just not all in one month in fairly rapid succession.

The rest of November and December would pass without another murder. But in January 1994 it happened again, further south in Houston. This meant the creep had followed the I-35 highway to San Antonio and then went west to Houston. Texas realized they now had the “I-35 Killer.”

He made a significant mistake in Houston, and we will come to that case in our next post.

* * *
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.

END of ACT ONE– The I-70 Killer

By early May, St. Charles police, Wichita police, Indianapolis and Terre Haute police– police from 3 states– knew they had a homicidal maniac going back and forth on the I-70. This creep liked to kill women, relatively young, with long brunette hair. He used a high capacity .22 caliber pistol. He rubbed the cartridges with jeweler’s rouge to make sure the bullets didn’t jam. The guy was calm and cool obviously. How did he stalk these places and remain essentially nondescript? 4f972048ccab6.image

There was one report– a store owner in Indianapolis had noted there was some homeless guy wandering around the area of the crime scene, sometimes hours before. He would be mumbling to himself, like so many of that hapless variety. However, it was hard to believe that some killer with a highly polished .22 automatic pistol and the ability to drive long distances was some druggie idly stumbling about businesses.

It was May 7, 1992. A man in his 30s, average height, average build, everything average, was mumbling to himself as he ambled about the Woodson Village shopping center in Raytown, Missouri, a small town on the outskirts of Kansas City, Missouri, near the Kansas border.

Mumbling to himself, this figure peered into the window of the Video Attic– the clerk thought this was just another bum.

Next store, in the Store of Many Colors, Sarah Blessing continued her work. It was late now, close to 6:30 p.m. We don’t know the before-the-fact details much. But the clerk next door heard a “pop.” It wasn’t long until Sarah was found dead– a bullet to the back of the head. The cash was missing from the cash register. I-70 Victim-Sarah Blessing

Later, a witness reported seeing a man walking up the incline to the main road behind the complex.

Woodson Village isn’t a large shopping center. It is a bit sunken, set in the sides of sloping hillocks, over which was paved the main roads. It isn’t close to I-70 really. But the main road behind it goes there.

The murderer was the I-70 Killer, of course. He obviously had continued west from St. Charles Missouri. Was he going to hit Kansas again next?

The truth of it is, as time would prove, he wouldn’t strike again. Not along the I-70 anyway. It would be over a year before similar killings would recommence. But they would do so along the I-35, the highway that leads from Kansas (through Wichita) and down into Texas. The gun would also be a .22 caliber, but of a different model.

Raytown MO murder scene--Probable6

From the main road looking down the slope to the back of the store in Woodson Village. 

The I-70 Killer had engaged in a month long killing spree and, as time has also proved, got away clean with it. He didn’t molest, torture, even fear-torture, his victims. He just shot them in the head and took minimal cash from the register. He hit small stores at off hours. He was, really, just interested in killing the clerk; perhaps also in the thrill of the hunt before-the-fact.

Raytown MO murder scene--marked

Woodson Village is marked with the yellow star. The killer seemed to know the area. It is relatively far from all highways, though at the intersection of main roads which lead to them. This is the furthest from a highway that he struck. 

The I-70 Killer struck furthest from the highway in Raytown and Wichita. His strike points in St. Charles, Terre Haute, and Indianapolis were right off the highway or just a couple of blocks away. There were auto businesses at all locations except Raytown and St. Charles. The general pattern of his strike points induce in us the theory that he was based closer to these points, and indeed these points are closer to the I-35. From this area, a killer enlarging upon his MO could do so by heading south along the I-35.

I-35 probe The strike points of the I-35 Killer. The highway leads down from Raytown and through Wichita, through Oklahoma, and then into Texas, through the first major city of Fort Worth, where the I-35 Killer would strike first.  

Before we attempt to connect those Texas murders to these I-70 murders, it is best to consider a few clues. One is the jeweler’s rouge. This was a cool, careful man with a knowledge of guns. He didn’t want one jamming on him. Two, the mumbler. The killer did some scoping before-the-act obviously. Did he use the disguise of being some transient druggie? No one would suspect such a person as the killer. Three, after the shot in Raytown that killed Blessing, the clerk next door looked out the window and saw a man walk away. He was calm and cool. Was this the mumbler, no longer needing his disguise?

Such a cool killer as this, stalker and premeditator of murder, is smart enough to shift model of weapons if he intends to start a crime spree elsewhere.  And we must bear this in mind as we descend into Texas next on the trail of a similar 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.

Quick Exit– More Clues in Missouri– The I-70 Killer

With the pattern so far laid down, you’d think the maniac of the I-70 might be going back to the Indianapolis area; that he had simply stopped off in Terre Haute after protracted business in the west (Wichita or Kansas) and did very minimal reconnoitering and then put another notch in the handle of his highly charged .22 automatic pistol.

But he didn’t. He swung westward again, through Illinois and then not far into Missouri. He struck just outside St. Louis in the suburb of St. Charles. The crime scene was closer to the highway than he had so far struck anywhere.

The date was May 3, 1992, only 6 days after he had shot McCown in Terre Haute.

The Boot Village Shop was in the large Bogey Hills shopping plaza right off Highway I-70. It was, however, quite different than the other stores therein. It was located in the corner, by a walkway that led to the back street and a small parking and loading area behind the center. Zumbehl Rd-I-70-5I-70 Victim-Nancy Kitzmiller

Within this shop worked 24 year old Nancy Kitzmiller. It was about 2:30 p.m. when a customer wandered around looking for her. He finally found her in the back room. She had been shot in the head. The murder had not happened much earlier, of course. This was the dull time of the day. The I-70 Killer waited to strike at these times. The shell casing and the ballistics proved it was him.

Most likely he had parked behind the store and then casually walked away again and drove off.

It took a little bit of stalking to discover that a young woman worked in such a convenient location in an otherwise very inconvenient and large shopping center. But the killer certainly hadn’t strayed far from the I-70, as the photos here show. He was probably quickly back on the highway and long gone by the time the police had arrived at the crime scene.

Kitzmiller-StCharlesMO-10

From our vantage today, the location offers a contrast to the others– there is no apparent autobody or mechanics or car dealership nearby. This was apparent in the other locations. Perhaps there was an auto parts store in the large center, but that is a bit of a different retail establishment than the others.  Corundum and red rouge had been found on the shell casings before, indicating the killer may have had some connection with a facility that did, among other things, some sanding. Corundum is used in sanding and on sandpaper, and is even on emery boards for nail filing.

There was one similarity in the location with the others (aside being next to the I-70). There were condos and apartments right by the shopping center, behind the small back road that serviced the center, on Fairways Circle. The other crime locations had been right off residential areas, though not in as busy a part of town as Bogey Hills.

I70_serial_killer1

So far, The I-70 Killer had struck with the zeal of a homicidal maniac. He robbed very little from the cash register. He robbed stores operated by young women (with one exception), and he simply shot them to the head. There was no molesting.

But the strike at Bogey Hills Plaza is the outlier. Could the I-70 Killer have been based in between the points where he was hitting? This would indeed indicate Missouri. Was he familiar to some extent with the shopping center for other reasons not associated with any form of work or delivery?

Where would the homicidal thrill seeker strike next? The next location will give us another clue. It would be only 4 days later and much further to the west.

* * *
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.

Terre Haute Clue– The I-70 Killer’s Mistake

Terre Haute, Indiana, is right off the I-70. Not only this, the I-70 Killer’s next victim’s establishment was only a few blocks north of the I-70 along the main road that cuts off from the highway.

Sylvia’s Ceramics was, as you might expect, in a lower rent part of town, close to the downtown. It was located in a small building with a couple of other businesses. It used to be a Barber’s shop, but the owner retired and his wife ran her ceramics out of his old shop. Across the street is a car dealership and mechanic’s garage/body shop. Sylvia's Ceramics7

On April 27,  1992, a man walked into Sylvia’s. It was just after 4 p.m.– not a busy time of day. Mick McCown, the owner’s son, perhaps didn’t know he had a customer. Perhaps no bell on the door. He continued to stock shelves. The man may have padded quietly about the shelves of inanimate figures and vases. It is hard to believe that McCown gave him any acknowledgement, else the I-70 Killer would have known Mick was a man. He remained crouched, stocking shelves. In this position, the narrow hips of a man are not distinguishable, and his long brunette pony tail could easily make him look like a woman. The I-70 Killer stood behind him, raised his deadly automatic .22. With one squeeze of the trigger, Mick slumped over. He had been dispatched with a single bullet to the back of the head. Sylvia's Ceramics-MikeMcCown-large

Perhaps the killer now noticed that the petite, long hair brunette with a ponytail was a man and not a woman. Maybe he laughed at the irony. In any case, the killer left the store and drove away.

What greeted Terre Haute police was the same evidence at the other two I-70 Killer crime sites– the same .22 caliber had been used. The pattern clearly now fit the I-70 as the main route the killer used. But there was one more thing here. The killer’s victims were women with long brunette hair. Mick obviously didn’t fit the MO. Therefore it is easy to deduce that the demented killer’s level of stalking before-the-fact was quite limited.

For us today, the automotive pattern is overwhelming. Payless Shoes was in a similar part of Indianapolis. The bridal shop in Wichita was in a strip mall with a mechanic’s auto body shop therein. And now here in Terre Haute the evidence was that the I-70 Killer simply scoped out his victims from watching the shop from across the street or parking lot.

But was the psychopath on business? Was it some form of body or mechanics work? Had business brought him to these locations in times past and now he was coming back to do his “thing”? Or was he busy doing business right now and simply detoured long enough to scout out parts of town near the main highway?

The location of Sylvia’s Ceramics near to I-70 and the fact the male victim from behind could have appeared as a woman (when crouched) reveal much about the killer’s MO. Add to this the forensics– red rouge on the shell casing and corundum. There was suspected to be some industrial connection– metal working . . . or? Corundum is on emery boards and sandpaper. Was this guy sanding off his fingerprints?

Despite the locations by the highway, this creep put some amount of premeditation into his crimes. But here his mistake is vital. To get into his stalking MO is to get into his mind.

One, Sylvia’s also backed residential area. There are homes behind it.  This is true of every location.  These stores were not in busy downtown areas. These were the older parts of town where the business street was the main street and the residential areas were right behind it.

Could he have been a contractor who traveled far to work on homes under refurbishment? Did he deliver something needed in home renovation?

Where did he come from? Was his first strike in Indianapolis closer to home or was it the extreme of his driving distance? Had he been in the Wichita area ever since his double murder there on April 11? Was he now driving back to Indiana or Indianapolis? Or, was he located somewhere in between and was now on the road again driving back and forth, direction either way?

Sadly, the next strike doesn’t tell us anything but that he drove back and forth. The next strike would be back west, in St. Charles, Missouri, on the outskirts of St. Louis. It looks like he was going back and forth, but there was another major MO change here.

We examine this case in our next post.

* * *
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.