Cold Case #3- The Terrorizing Attacks Of The Zodiac Killer

Cold Case #3- The Terrorizing Attacks Of The Zodiac Killer

This is the Zodiac speaking, and I only have one question for you—do you think you have what it takes to solve one of the most compelling serial killings of all time?

WARNING: The descriptions in the following article may be disturbing to some. If sensitive, please read with caution. The following events, unfortunately, did take place in California in the late 20th century.


"I like killing, because it is so much fun. It is more fun than killing wild game in the forest, because man is the most dangerous animal of them all" (The Most Dangerous Game—The Zodiac Killer)

The Zodiac Killer (a self-proclaimed name nonetheless) was a serial killer who terrorized northern California in the late 1960's and early 1970's. In fact, some people even proclaim that the police sketch of the Zodiac Killer is eerily similar to Ted Cruz, but I can assure you that unless Ted Cruz can travel by time machine—he was just a child during these murders. But I can see where these theories come from. Below you can see the comparison of both men.

Enough of the fun, let's get down to business, because these serial killings are indeed horrific. The story of the Zodiac Killer is a long one, with so many suspects, evidence, and mishaps done by the police, but let's see if you can catch something that the police at the time couldn't. The Zodiac claimed he killed 37 people, but LAPD only confirmed seven from which two survived.

Attack #1 - Lake Herman Road, Vallejo, California - December 20th, 1968

The first attacks were the shootings of high school students, 16-year old Betty Lou Jensen and 17-year old David Faraday, on Lake Herman Road. They pair were a couple out on their first date, they had just visited a friend before parking on what was then known as "lover's lane. Only to realize they were not alone, and they were shot by the Zodiac. It was around 11:00 when their bodies were found. At the time, no one knew that this was the work of a serial killer. Gathering what evidence they could, investigators set out a possible timeline of what exactly went down. Prior to 11:00, a second car, the car of the killer, must have parked next to the lover's Rambler. LAPD were unsure at the time, but there is a possibility that the killer must have ordered the couple out of the car. This may have explained where the bodies were found. Betty possibly exited the car first, and Daniel was halfway out when he was shot in the head. Frightened, Betty began to run only to be shot five times in the back. She only made it twenty-eight feet from the car. The killer then drove off.

Attack #2 - Blue Rock Springs Park, Vallejo, California (4 mi away from the Lake Herman Murder Site) - July 4th, 1969

The second attack's victims were another unfortunate couple by the names of Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau. They were parked at Blue Rock Springs Park when almost immediately another car parked behind them. The car, though, later left, only to return once more—10 minutes later. The driver exited the car carrying a flashlight and a 9 mm Luger (gun). He approached the passenger side of the car where Darlene sat, shined the flashlight in their eyes and immediately shot both of them. Bullets passed through both victims. A total of five bullets were used at first, but when the killer walked away Michael moaned out in pain—the killer returned and shot both victims twice. Shockingly, Michael would still survive despite his wounds, but poor Darlene would die in the hospital. Michael would be able to give the first description of the man that tried to kill him. He described the killer as a young white male that looked about 26-30 years old, stocky, at least 200 lb. with a height of approximately of 5'8 with a large face and light curly brown hair.

It was late midnight when the Vallejo police received a call from a man at a gas station located less then a mile from Darlene's home. This would be the first of many indirect conversations between the killer, the police, and the newspapers. The man had called to take horrific responsibility for the killings of the high school students.


On August of 1969, the Vallejo Times Herald, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the San Francisco Examiner received almost identical letters from the Zodiac. In fact, this was the first time the killer identified himself as the Zodiac. Each letter contained a cryptogram in which the Zodiac claimed whoever could crack the code would know who the killer was; the killer demanded that the code be printed in front paper or he would strike again and take more lives. He boasted that he would "cruse around all weekend killing lone people in the night until [he] end[ed] up with over a dozen people over the weekend". The letters were signed off with the now-notorious and most infamous evil signature known in the history of serial killings. (below)

It was on August 8th, 1969 when a couple, Donald and Bettye Harden, cracked the code that was sent to the newspapers. The code was read and reread again and again, and there was nothing that said his name, but there was a reason behind his killings. He said that he was killing people to collect them as slaves for the afterlife. Yes apparently once you kill a person, they become your slave in the afterlife. He also mentioned that he would not tell the police his name otherwise they would only try and slow him down. Obviously. The message that was cracked is written below.


A part of this cracked code was actually quoting the infamous book by Richard Connell, "The Most Dangerous Game" or as it was also published as "The Hounds of Zaroff". The book is about a man who becomes a prisoner of a hunter's game. The hunter hunts humans because according to him— "man is the most dangerous animal of all".

Attack #3 - Lake Berryessa - September 27th, 1969

A couple by the names of Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard, students at Pacific Union College, were on a picnic when a man wearing a executioner-type hood approached them with a gun. The hood had small holes for the person to see through, and they were covered by clip-on glasses. In the center of his chest was a white cross circle symbol, just as the one below.

The Zodiac (which was unbeknowest to the unfortunate couple) claimed to be an escaped convict from a prison by the name of Deer Lodge Montana. He ordered Cecelia to tie up Bryan with rope, before tying Cecelia up himself. This was indeed an odd robbery. Only seconds later did they realize, this was not a robbery as the killer stabbed them multiple times. The Zodiac would then travel back to Bryan's car and engrave the Zodiac symbol on his car with a code written under it. Later, he would call Napa County's Sheriff's Office to report the assault.

Vallejo/12-20-68/7-4-69/Sept 27–69–6:30/by knife.

Only Bryan would live to tell his tale despite being stabbed six times, because Cecelia would die in the hospital. Now Hartnell described the man as 5'8-6 ft, heavy set with approximately a 225-250 lb weight, and dark brown hair seen through the holes of the mask. Now the code above states the dates of all three killings along with the phrase "by knife" written under the September 27th date.

Attack #4 - Presidio Heights Attack - October 11th, 1969

It was just before 10 PM in San Francisco, CA on the intersection between Washington and Cherry ST, a cab driver by the name of Paul Stine was shot in the head by his head passenger. (Wonder who that could be?) Now originally Paul had picked up his passenger on the intersection of Mason and Geary St and was asked to driver to Presidio Heights which fell on the intersection of Washington and Maple St. For unknown reasons, Paul drove an extra block letting his murder happen on the intersection of Cherry and Washington. A teenager and 2 other witnesses heard the gun shot and got a good look of the man as he wiped down the car and walked away.

The witnesses described the man as a white male, 25-30 years old, stocky with a 5'8-5'9 build, reddish-brown crew haircut and heavy rimmed glasses. Now wait for it—the chaos of the situation was SO bad, that the police accidentally got the description of a African American male. This would cause disastrous consequences.

Later on, a police car that was driven by Don Fouke and Eric Zelms would happen upon a white male walking on the sidewalk that fit the description of the witnesses. The policemen described him as a white male, 5'10 with a 170 lb build, 40 years old, glasses, and red-brown crew cut hair. But since the police were in the search of a AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE, they would ignore the most notorious criminal in American history. (*sigh...) Now how do we know this was the Zodiac? Well, in his next letter to the police, he would write and I quote, " PS 2 cops pulled a goof about 3 min after I left the cab".

Later on, a composite sketch would be drawn based on the two description told by the teenager and police. It became one of the most famous WANTED posters of all time (below).

Another piece of evidence that was left at the crime scene would be a bloody fingerprint, only to have the Zodiac mention that he left it there on purpose to throw off the police. The Zodiac also sent a piece of Paul Stine's bloodied shirt to prove he was his killer. To make it even worse, the Zodiac quoted that "school children make nice targets. I think I shall wipe out a school bus some morning. Just shoot out the front tire and then pick off the kiddies as they come bouncing out". Later he included bomb diagrams that could be used on buses. As you can imagine, waves of terror swept the city.

Code #2

On April 20th of 1970, another letter was sent in to the San Francisco Chronicle.

This cipher has yet to be solved. Now the letters to the media and police would continue until 1971, then stop abruptly. Once more in 1974, the Zodiac would send another letter claiming to kill 37 people.

But the mystery does not stop here. No, we still have to cover all the potential suspects as well more potential attacks done by the Zodiac...

Theory #1 from Gary Steward

Gary Steward believed that his father, Earl Van Best Jr. was the Zodiac. His first piece of evidence that proved this was the uncanny resemblance between his father and the composite sketch.

His name also matches the number of letters in the uncracked cipher from above. Also, Steward says that a handwriting expert is "virtually certain" that Best's handwriting from the marriage certificate matches the Zodiac's handwriting.

But, according to a admin from the Church where Best's certificate was approved, the handwriting is not of Best's, but of the priest. (PLOT TWIST) As well as the composite sketch, Best does not match the "heavy set" from the descriptions.

Theory #2 from Robert Graysmith

This theory came from the 2002 movie "The Zodiac", in which actor Jake Gyllenhaal plays the young cartoonist Robert Graysmith, who actually was a political cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle during the Zodiac killings. Who did Robert Graysmith think was the Zodiac? A man named Arthur Leigh Allen. The day of the Lake Berryessa attacks, Allen told his family he was going scuba diving—at Lake Berryessa. When he came home that evening, it is reported that he was covered in blood and had a bloody knife in his car. Later on, one of his close friends, Don Cheney, reported that before the Zodiac was even publicly known as the Zodiac, Allen referred to himself as the Zodiac. Cheney also mentioned that Allen was planning on hunting PEOPLE with a gun and flashlight.

This would result in several police interviews. In the second interview, Allen would say that his favorite book was "The Most Dangerous Game". The exact book from where the "man is the most dangerous game of all" quote appeared from. During this interview, Allen was also wearing a Zodiac brand watch which contained the infamous Zodiac symbol used by the killer. Next the police scavenged Allen's trailer where they found diagrams and formulas for bombs, bloody knives, and other sexual devices. Which leads us to the next piece of evidence about Allen. Allen was put into jail for three years due to conviction of child molestation in 1974. During this time, the media and police DID NOT receive any letters from the Zodiac.

In fact in 1987, Allen's inmate, Ralph Spinelli, told the police that Allen admitted the fact he had killed Paul Stine. And to add to that, a detective interviewed the Zodiac's 2nd victim in 1991, Mageau. He showed Mageau a lineup of photographs of possible suspects of the Zodiac, Allen being one of them. Mageau picked Arthur Leigh Allen. But when the police interviewed Allen again, he denied these allegations.

A year later, Allen is found dead from a suspected heart attack. Now some reasons why Allen may not be the Zodiac— they took his DNA and tried to match it to some DNA extracted from the saliva from the back of the stamps he used on his post letters. They did not match. Along with the bloody fingerprint found on Stine's car, again it was not a match. He undergoed handwriting analysis, and once more it does not match the Zodiac's letters. He also looks nothing like the infamous WANTED poster sketch.

Theory #3

Another theory is that a man named Lawrence "Kane" Kaye was the Zodiac. The reasons are a bit of a stretch, but they can also not be a coincidence. You'll see what I mean. For one thing, Kane's name fit the 'My Name is ______' cipher. In the cipher, there are 3 "8" circles (circles that have the number 8 in them). 8 times 3 in 24, and coincidentally, Kane was born in 1924. Additionally, the Zodiac's 2nd victims, Darlene Ferrin, had a sister who told police that Kane was actually stalking Darlene weeks leading up to the murders. Adding to that, Don Fouke, one of the officers who actually came by the Zodiac only to dismiss him due to his skin color, said that in the hundreds of photos of suspects he had seen of the Zodiac—Kane's was the closest he could remember to the killer.

Kane also lived exactly six minutes away from where Paul Stine was picked up. Not to mention in 1970, he moved to Lake Tahoe. Now that year in that place, there was a possible Zodiac killing. I say possible, because detectives are still unsure if this was exactly a Zodiac murder or not. The person's name was Donna Lass. She disappeared that same year, and suspiciously she was working at the same South Lake Tahoe hotel as Kane was.

There is also one more piece of evidence, another possible interaction between the Zodiac and his victim. It was on the night of March 22, 1970 on HW 132 when Kathleen Johns and her baby were tricked into riding the Zodiac's car. After entering the car, the Zodiac sped off and told her that she was going to kill Kathleen and throw her baby after her. When the Zodiac was about to make a turn, Johns jumped out of the car with her child and ran into a nearby field. A letter from the Zodiac confirmed this incident quoting " So I now have a little list, starting with the woeman [Note: spelling mistakes are done on purpose] plus her baby that I gave a rather interesting ride." Johns was extremely important, because she had quite extended facetime with the Zodiac. So when shown a lineup of photos, she chose the picture of Kane.

Evidently, once more, there was some evidence against Kane. The DNA extracts did not match up with his nor with the fingerprints. Along with the handwriting analysis, they did not match as well as his face did not match up with the WANTED sketch.

And these were only some of the theories as the Zodiac to this day still remains as a unsolved story. He claims to have taken thirty-seven lives into the afterlife. Perhaps they were copycat killings, several people doing the same job. Who knows, maybe the PD left something out? This man (or men) is one of the most compelling serial killers of all time. The only question left is—Do you think you have solved the mystery of the Zodiac Killer?

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When You Give A Girl A Dad

You give her everything

They say that any male can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad. That dads are just the people that created the child, so to speak, but rather, dads raise their children to be the best they can be. Further, when you give a little girl a dad, you give her much more than a father; you give her the world in one man.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a rock.

Life is tough, and life is constantly changing directions and route. In a world that's never not moving, a girl needs something stable. She needs something that won't let her be alone; someone that's going to be there when life is going great, and someone who is going to be there for her when life is everything but ideal. Dads don't give up on this daughters, they never will.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a role model.

If we never had someone to look up to, we would never have someone to strive to be. When you give a little girl someone to look up to, you give her someone to be. We copy their mannerisms, we copy their habits, and we copy their work ethic. Little girls need someone to show them the world, so that they can create their own.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her the first boy she will ever love.

And I'm not really sure someone will ever be better than him either. He's the first guy to take your heart, and every person you love after him is just a comparison to his endless, unmatchable love. He shows you your worth, and he shows you what your should be treated like: a princess.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her someone to make proud.

After every softball game, soccer tournament, cheerleading competition, etc., you can find every little girl looking up to their dads for their approval. Later in life, they look to their dad with their grades, internships, and little accomplishments. Dads are the reason we try so hard to be the best we can be. Dads raised us to be the very best at whatever we chose to do, and they were there to support you through everything. They are the hardest critics, but they are always your biggest fans.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a credit card.

It's completely true. Dads are the reason we have the things we have, thank the Lord. He's the best to shop with too, since he usually remains outside the store the entire time till he is summoned in to forge the bill. All seriousness, they always give their little girls more than they give themselves, and that's something we love so much about you.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a shoulder to cry on.

When you fell down and cut yourself, your mom looked at you and told you to suck it up. But your dad, on the other hand, got down on the ground with you, and he let you cry. Then later on, when you made a mistake, or broke up with a boy, or just got sad, he was there to dry your tears and tell you everything was going to be okay, especially when you thought the world was crashing down. He will always be there to tell you everything is going to be okay, even when they don't know if everything is going to be okay. That's his job.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a lifelong best friend.

My dad was my first best friend, and he will be my last. He's stood by me when times got tough, he carried me when I just couldn't do it anymore, and he yelled at me when I deserved it; but the one thing he has never done was give up on me. He will always be the first person I tell good news to, and the last person I ever want to disappoint. He's everything I could ever want in a best friend and more.

Dads are something out of a fairytale. They are your prince charming, your knight in shinny amour, and your fairy godfather. Dads are the reasons we are the people we are today; something that a million "thank you"' will never be enough for.

Cover Image Credit: tristen duhon

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15 Thing Only Early 2000's Kids Will Understand

"Get connected for free, with education connection"


This is it early 2000's babies, a compilation finally made for you. This list is loaded with things that will make you swoon with nostalgia.

1. Not being accepted by the late 90's kids.


Contrary to what one may think, late 90's and early 00's kids had the same childhood, but whenever a 00's kid says they remember something on an "only 90's kids will understand" post they are ridiculed.

2. Fortune tellers.


Every day in elementary school you would whip one of these bad boys out of your desk, and proceed to tell all of your classmates what lifestyle they were going to live and who they were going to marry.


You could never read this book past 8 o'clock at night out of fear that your beloved pet rabbit would come after you.

4. Silly bands.

You vividly remember begging your parents to buy you $10 worth of cheap rubber bands that vaguely resembles the shape of an everyday object.

5. Parachutes.

The joy and excitement that washed over you whenever you saw the gym teacher pull out the huge rainbow parachute. The adrenaline that pumped through your veins whenever your gym teacher tells you the pull the chute under you and sit to make a huge "fort".

6. Putty Erasers

You always bought one whenever there was a school store.

7. iPod shuffle.

The smallest, least technological iPpd apple has made, made you the coolest kid at the bus stop.

8. "Education Connection"

You knew EVERY wood to the "Education Connection" commercials. Every. Single.Word.

9. " The Naked Brothers Band"

The "Naked Brothers Band" had a short run on Nickelodeon and wrote some absolute bangers including, "Crazy Car' and "I Don't Wanna Go To School"

10. Dance Dance Revolution

This one video game caused so many sibling, friend, and parent rivalries. This is also where you learned all of your super sick dance moves.

11. Tamagotchi

Going to school with fear of your Tamagotchi dying while you were away was your biggest worry.

12. Gym Scooters

You, or somebody you know most likely broke or jammed their finger on one of these bad boys, but it was worth it.

13. Scholastic book fairs

Begging your parents for money to buy a new book, and then actually spending it on pens, pencils, erasers, and posters.


Who knew that putting yogurt in a plastic tube made it taste so much better?

15. Slap Bracelets

Your school probably banned these for being "too dangerous".

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