Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Z is for Zodiac Killer

It's still the 30th somewhere, right?

Z is for Zodiac Killer.

Most people have probably heard of the Zodiac Killer. He struck fear into the hearts of northern Californians in the 60's and 70's, toying with police and residents by sending letters to the papers. He claimed to have killed 37 people, but only seven victims have been confirmed, and only five of those died. There are also five victims believed to possibly be victims of his, but they are never considered definite victims.

Sketch of the Zodiac Killer, as described by a victim
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
For the most part, he shot his victims...multiple times. However, two of his confirmed victims were viciously stabbed, as was one of the possible victims, who was nearly decapitated due to knife wounds to her throat. One of the possible victims went missing, her body still undiscovered. And one of the other possible victims was driven around with her infant for 1 1/2 hours, but she escaped into a field, hiding from the man who'd lured her into his car. He took off and destroyed her car, burning it.

Another sketch, this time described by a victim who saw his face
By En tecknare i USA baserat på vittnesmål [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

If he doesn't sound familiar yet, one of his common M.O.'s was to shoot couples, either in their car or on a picnic. One set of confirmed victims were parked in their car at night when a man approached them, shined a flashlight into their eyes, then shot them multiple times. He started to leave, but the man made sounds, so he came back and shot them a couple more times. Believe it or not, the male lived and was able to describe the shooter.

Throughout his active period, the killer sent letters to the papers, police, and even the father of one of the possible victims. He included cryptograms in four of them, but only one has been solved at this time. He claimed that solving the cryptograms would give the police his identity, but the solved one did no such thing. He was also the one to name himself the Zodiac Killer, which is not how it usually works. Often, reporters assign the monikers to the criminals they're reporting on. Not the Zodiac--he was on top of things.

Letter from the Zodiac
By Sherurcij at en.wikisource [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

He obviously hungered for attention, demanding the press print his letters on the front page, even threatening various murders if they didn't do so. He spoke about his crimes in a detached way, not too excited, not bothered or sympathetic toward his victims. After being challenged to provide proof, he did so, first with facts, then eventually by sending a bloody bit of shirt he'd torn from one of his victims (a cab driver he shot).

The police investigated hundreds of suspects, but never found one they could pin down. In 2007, a retired policeman claimed to have discovered the identity of the killer, saying he was forced to withhold the information and to stop the investigation.

There is a ton of information on the Zodiac Killer out there, but one website in particular offers copies of the Zodiac's letters, bios of each of the victims, and much more.

Have you heard of the Zodiac Killer? What do you think happened to him? Why did he stop? Killed? Imprisoned?

Happy last day of the A-to-Z!

May you find your Muse.


  1. Creepy dude!

    Why did that retired policeman not reveal the identity later on once the pressure was off?? Unless it still wasn't?

    I always wish that such mysteries could be solved!

  2. Hi, Shannon. Yes, I've heard of this. I even had a book about the killer once, but don't know what's happened to it. *curses Gremlins for stealing* Are you going to rest now that this A to Z thing is over? You guys are so impressive with stuff like this. Very dedicated. I can barely turn my computer on 30 days in a row! *laughs*


  3. There was a book and that film made about him. I don't know if I remember him from back then, but I hope he died. Imagine someone like that living in our midst.

  4. The film scared the day lights out of me...yikes~

    Thanks for all you did during the challenge~ :D
    It was amazing

  5. I've heard of him, but never knew they didn't catch him.

    Very creepy!

    Congrats on finishing up the Challenge...I enjoyed your theme :)

  6. One of the most fascinating cases ever. A serial killer who just stopped. In psychology, there's a theory that anti-social personalities and psychopaths actually stop or lessen their activities after 40. Makes me wonder if that's what happened, since DNA testing never linked anyone in prison. Great post. You had a fabulous month of posts, very interesting stuff. Thank you for it.

  7. I have chills! Thank you Shannon.... :)

  8. There's no way he stopped willingly. He was either killed or put in prison for something else. It was probably an accidental death that nobody really thought anything of.

  9. Yup, heard of him. Didn't know much of the story. I know I've missed many this month, but what I did get the chance to read educated and fascinated. A very good series, Shannon.
    Tina @ Life is Good

  10. Yes, I have always been intrigued about this serial killer. He has been featured in movies and paralleled in some crime shows on TV. Amazing they never caught him seeing as how he was such a narcissist.

  11. I have a long standing fascination and curiosity when it comes to serial killers, unsolved murders, and the unexplained. Hence having really enjoyed your A to Z theme (My favorite being your "I" post)

    That newly released book would be an interesting read. I would have thought, with how attention seeking the Zodiac Killer was, he would have continued all the way to his capture.

    But, perhaps those encrypted messages do reveal himself, and left it to the police to figure it out. That would make some sense, as well. At least to me.

    Congrats with the A to Z! I know you were busy doing multiple endeavors during it, but you knocked it out like it was nothing! Your theme was awesome :)

    Jak at The Cryton Chronicles & Dreams in the Shade of Ink

  12. Er... "D" entry was my favorite. I was thinking "Incident" at Dyatlov Pass, for some reason.

    (not that there is anything wrong with pillars...)

    It just feels likes there should be multiple books/movies based (or inspired) by the events that took place. It was an intriguing incident.

  13. I have heard of him. There was actually a TV show that talked about it, but I can't remember which one.

    Congrats on finishing the challenge!

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: