The Zodiac Killer

The case has been described as the most famous unsolved murder case in America history. The Zodiac Killer is the pseudonym of an unidentified serial killer who operated in Northern California in the late 1960s.

Most people are usually quiet about their crimes, but “Zodiac”, as he dubbed himself, was anything but. From 1968 -1969, he terrorized San Francisco with his murder spree, taunting the police with his coded letters to the local paper. He had at least five killings, often couples in secluded areas. Most of his murders involved him shooting the victim and then running away. Although he claimed in communication he had killed as many as 37 people.

His first shooting was of high school pupils 16 and 17 on December 20, 1968 on Lake Herman Road in Benicia. The two were on their first date, stopped their car in a lay-by after going out for dinner. Their bodies were found shortly after 11 pm.

The second killing occurred at Blue Rock Springs Park in Vallejo on July 4, 1969, four miles from Lake Herman Road. Another couple parked at a park when the killer pulled up beside them, got out of the car and shot them both multiple times. The male survived the attack despite being shot in the face, neck and chest.

Another killing occurred at Lake Berryessa in Napa Country where a young couple were sharing a picnic. The killer appeared in a black hood and claimed he was an escaped convict and needed a car to escape. He made the girl tie up her male companion before stabbing them multiple times. Before leaving he drew the cross-circle symbol on the car door with a black felt-tip pen. The male survived the attack but the female died while being transported to the hospital.

The final confirmed murder happened on October 11, 1969. The Zodiac took a taxi and shot him in the head and took his wallet, car keys, and a piece of his blood-stained shirt. The San Francisco Chronicle later received a letter along with a piece of the bloodied shirt from the Zodiac claiming credit for the killing.

The media has been captivated by him because of the coded messages he sent to various newspapers after his first murder. He signed this letters with a circle with a plus sign over it, his symbol. In one decoded message, the killer claimed to have been killing in order to collect slaves for his afterlife. There were four coded messages in total.

Arthur Leigh Allen, a schoolteacher in Vallejo, California is the only suspect to be publicly named by authorities in the case of the Zodiac killer. Allen was institutionalized for sexually abusing children in 1975. He was never officially identified as the Zodiac killer.

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