The serial killer who called himself the Zodiac in the late 1960s is one of the most mysterious in history. Zodiac killer is never discovered, he has been officially charged with five murders but took to himself thirty-seven before he collapsed into the wild in 1978.
The Zodiac Killer (or Zodiac) raged in northern California between 1968 and 1969. To his credit 5 murders, 2 attempted murders and a kidnapping. But he is more widely believed to have committed between 37 and 200 murders between 1966 and 1978. Unlike other serial killers, the Zodiac killer never really used the same method to murder his victims, stabbed or shot. His trademark was the letters he sent to local newspapers. Like Jack the Ripper, his letters are there to provoke the authorities and demonstrate his superiority. Many people have been suspected and accused, but until today, no one officially knows who the Zodiac is.
This case has inspired many books and films; i.e. Netflix
The total number of victims of the Zodiac killer remains uncertain. He is attributed at least five murders in the towns of Benicia and Vallejo, on the shores of Lake Berryessa near Napa and in San Francisco, between December 1968 and October 1969. In his book on him, Robert Graysmith establishes a list of 49 names. The killer claimed 37 victims.
Its known victims are mostly young couples who were in their car, arrested at nightfall in a secluded place (parking lot, lakeside, etc.). In two similar cases, the killer suddenly approached and opened fire from outside the car. In another case, he tied up the two members of the couple and had a fairly long discussion with them before stabbing them; the girl died while her friend survived and he recounted the scene.
The Zodiac is also suspected of murdering a taxi driver in the middle of town (he would most likely have been checked by two police officers a few moments later, but the police radio having mistakenly announced a black suspect, he did not was not apprehended) and the kidnapping of a woman who managed to escape, her baby in her arms, by jumping out of her captor’s moving car.
The modus operandi being the same in most cases, witnesses, survivors and letters from the Zodiac killer seem to indicate that the perpetrator of these crimes would be one and the same person.
Murders and assaults attributed to the Zodiac
David Faraday, 17, and Betty Lou Jensen, 16, shot dead on December 20, 1968 in Benicia.
Michael Renault Mageau, 19, and Darlene Elizabeth Ferrin, 22, assaulted with a pistol on July 4, 1969 in Vallejo. Darlene Ferrin was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital, while Michael Mageau survived her injuries.
Bryan Calvin Hartnell, 20, and Cecelia Ann Shepard, 22, stabbed on September 27, 1969 at Lake Berryessa. Cecelia Shepard died of her injuries two days later, while Bryan Hartnell survived.
Paul Lee Stine, 29, shot dead on October 11, 1969, in San Francisco.
Suspected murders and assaults
The Zodiac is suspected of being the author of many other attacks.
Robert Domingos, 18, and Linda Edwards, 17, shot dead on July 4, 1963 in Lompoc.
Cheri Jo Bates, 18, stabbed to death on October 30, 1966 in Riverside.
Kathleen Johns, 22, kidnapped on the road with her daughter on March 22, 1970 and managed to escape.
Photo credit: San Francisco Police Department / Wikimedia Commons
Main photo description: Sketch of the Zodiac Killer.