The Zodiac- It has Nothing to do with Astrology
By Johnny Apocalypse
I've been a true crime buff for a very long time. It started with a joke in Mad Magazine. It was listing a bunch of bad scenarios that could happen during surgery, and one was awaking to find Jeffrey Dahmer sprinkling paprika on your leg. I had no idea who Dahmer was, so the next time I was at the library I found a book on the case and started reading it.
This started a long period of reading about serial killers. I wasn't terribly old when this started, and I've always considered it a miracle that reading about Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy didn't warp me horribly (although my sense of humor might say otherwise). But during this time of fervent research, the cases I found the most interesting were the unsolved ones. The Cleveland Torso Killer, who was unsuccessfully pursued by former "untouchable" Elliot Ness. To a lesser extent, Jack the Ripper caught my eye, although the thousands of books and websites on the matter kept pointing to royalty, and I lost interest after a while. The lesser known Frankford Slasher in Pennsylvania, where one man was convicted but a good amount of evidence points to the existence of at least one more killer. And then there's the Zodiac.
The Zodiac killer operated in Northern California during the late 1960's. He is known to have killed a total of five people, with two survivors. He is suspected of at least four others, and in his final letter to the San Francisco Chronicle he claimed to have killed thirty seven people. He taunted police, played games with the press and media, and never spent a day in jail for his crimes. Books and movies were made, people have been poking into the case for ages, but no "conclusive" suspects have ever been named.
The prime suspect --- the one whom author Robert Graysmith targeted in his book "Zodiac*" --- was Arthur Leigh Allen. Now Graysmith's evidence is all circumstantial, but he does paint a pretty decent picture. Some of the evidence includes the fact that Allen owned the same brand of typewriter used to write one of the letters to police, had the same shoe size, and owned books on ciphers, which the Zodiac used in his letters to the media.
* This book was later used as the basis for the movie starring Jake Gyllenhall as Graysmith.
The bad news is that there is some evidence that says Allen was not the killer. Fingerprints left at one of the crime scenes did not match Allen's, and DNA taken from one of the envelopes he used didn't match. Allen also passed a polygraph examination, although everyone knows that lie detectors can be beaten.
And then there's my two cents. Please note, other people may have come up with this in the past, but I haven't seen it elsewhere. I'm no criminal psychologist, but I have myself a shiny degree in criminal justice, and in edition to reading a lot of true crime stuff, I've also read some criminology books. What stands out to me is the fact that Artie Allen was twice convicted of child molestation. From my readings, most child molesters who move on to murder stick with victims of the same age bracket. In other words, they kill children. Zodiac killed teenagers and adults, ages 16 to 29.
One website has put forth another suspect, and so far their case looks pretty interesting. They're focusing on a man named Richard Gaikowski, now deceased, who has some significant ties to the case. Again, it's all circumstantial, but they claim that someone who took a phone call from the Zodiac back in the day identified Gaikowski's voice as being one and the same. Gaikowski was briefly looked at by police, but they had insufficient evidence to continue pursuing him. For anyone interested in the suspect, I include a link to the site at the end of this article. The site claims to still be looking into the suspect, with frequent updates in its forum. Sadly, in order to read the forum you have to fork over ten bucks, and I'm just too cheap to shill that out. I'll wait for the story to break on Yahoo news.
Like many crime buffs and amateur sleuths, I've put a little time into trying to catch the Zodiac. This happened several years ago, while I was out of work and looking for a job. I realized that I didn't so much need a job as I needed a way to make money. After trying to think of a way to get money without getting a job, I bought a few lotto tickets. After that evening's Powerball drawing, it was back to the drawing board.
Suddenly I had it --- I would catch the Zodiac killer! There has to be some money to be made in doing that! But how was I going to catch him? I started my investigation in the most logical way I could think of, by eliminating suspects. I know that I'm not the Zodiac, so I'm eliminated. On to questioning some suspects!
First suspect, Acid Logic Editor Wil Forbis.
After a few days of asking all of my friends, relatives and acquaintances if they were the Zodiac or know who he is, I realized that I was getting nowhere fast. I would run out of cash long before I asked all six billion people on this planet if they're the Zodiac.
At this point I started researching the case. I poked around on the internet, read a few books and consulted a Ouija board. Just the other day, though, I got an e-mail that caught my eye. I'll reprint it here for my readers- "Johnny,
This is the Zodiac speaking. I know you're trying to find me, and it's not going to work. You know what? I think you're the Zodiac killer! If you don't print this letter in Acid Logic, I'll start killing again."
Huh? I got a letter from someone claiming to be the Zodiac. accusing me of being the Zodiac. what the fuck?
A few hours later, I got an e-mail from Wil Forbis, the editor of Acid Logic. "Johnny,
That's pretty freaky, getting an e-mail from the Zodiac. I think you should put it in the article just to be safe. W."
I quickly sent a response back to Forbis. "Wil,
How did you know about the e-mail I got? I didn't tell you anything about that. -Johnny"
The reply I got was very cryptic and didn't make a whole lot of sense. "I SAID PRINT THE FUCKING LETTER! IF YOU DON'T, I'LL BLOW UP A SCHOOL BUS FULL OF CHILDREN! WIL- 37, SFPD- 0"
I got another e-mail a few seconds later.
Hmm. Strange. Oh well, back to the article.
So what else can be said about the Zodiac? Well I could list tons of facts, trivia and theories about the killer (one neat but improbable theory being that Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, is the Zodiac), but in the interest of brevity I'll move onto a slight tangent- Zodiac-related movies!
Think that the movie "Zodiac" with Robert Downey Jr is the only Zodiac movie out there? Not even close. That's simply the most recent, and probably the most popular one. Two films came out in 1995, one called "The Zodiac", the other "Zodiac Killer". While I have yet to see "Zodiac Killer", I've heard that it really has very little to do with the actual case. "The Zodiac", on the other hand, sticks to a fair amount of the real story but also changes up a lot of things. Victim names, locations of the murders, and other matters have been modified, but for a low-budget independent film, it does pretty well.
Also, back in the seventies someone made a movie called "The Zodiac Killer", but not only is it completely inaccurate in every way possible, it's a crappy movie to boot. (Although, to be honest, I didn't finish the movie. Once the Zodiac was revealed to be a postal worker, I turned it off.)
And then there's director David Fincher's "Zodiac". This is one bad ass movie. Sadly, it's only about thirty percent accurate, and it's based strictly on Graysmith's conclusions of the case and ignores many other theories out there. But the direction is tight and suspenseful (and considering that the movie is three hours long, I consider that quite a feat), and all of the actors (not just the main three) do some truly exceptional work.
One final movie of note- "Dirty Harry". While this film never wanted to be purely about the Zodiac killer, they did base several aspects of the villain on the killer. The Killer was named "Scorpio", which is a Zodiac symbol. He contacted the police about his crimes in a very Zodiac-like letter (some even claim that they attempted to mimic the Zodiac's handwriting in the letter shown), and the killer targets a school bus full of children, like the Zodiac threatened to do multiple times. If you haven't seen "Dirty Harry" yet, toss it on your Netflix queue immediately.
I'll close this article out with a theory of my own. I'm sure someone, somewhere has come up with this theory before, but I haven't seen it yet.
Surmising once again from my years studying criminal justice and independently reading criminology books, one thing that stands out is that most serial killers do not stop unless they've been caught, or they die. Since the Zodiac stopped so abruptly, I like to suspect an abrupt death, say, a car crash.
So we take the bulk of northern California's population, starting from December of 1968 (the first victims, and before the letters started to arrive), and ending around December of 1982 (the last letter received that was possibly from the Zodiac came in May of 1978, four years after the previous possible letter; giving a four year possible gap between letters, 1982 sounds like a good place to stop). Trim the list down to all people who died around the ending time period in 1982, weed out those who couldn't be the Zodiac due to age, gender, and etc, and we may well have the killer's identity in that list.
But that's a hell of a lot of work, and I have Acid Logic articles to write.
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