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
|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.