The Never Ending Mystery Behind The Zodiac Killer

The Zodiac Killer, or simply Zodiac or The Zodiac, is the pseudonym of a serial killer who operated in Northern California in the late 1960s — Wikipedia.

The Popularity Of An Unknown Killer

Every few years, theories surrounding unsolved mysteries revolving around faceless serial killers gain in popularity. For that reason, I have decided to spotlight the infamous Zodiac Killer

Many know of The Zodiac, who became a famous serial killer in pop culture with movies etc. 

Police sketch of the man suspected of being the "Zodiak Killer," 1969.
Police sketch of the man suspected of being the “Zodiak Killer,” 1969.

In recent years, a group of private investigators claims that they have finally solved the identity behind the infamous Zodiac Killer. They believe him to be Gary Francis Poste. The man, sadly, passed away in 2018. That means that we may never know if he was the face behind The Zodiac. 

Please To Meet You Hope You Guess My Name!

The Zodiac Killer was a favorite of mine growing up. If you don’t know much about The Zodiac, what set him apart was what I enjoyed! So, bring in the ciphers and puzzles and coded messages!

The Zodiac used encrypted messages to communicate with the police. It was his MO, and it set him apart efficiently.

San Francisco Chronicle Dripping Pen Card November 8 1969 340 Cipher
San Francisco Chronicle Dripping Pen Card November 8 1969 340 Cipher

For this killer, we are going to travel back to the decade of 1960s in Northern California. Between 1968–1969, the Zodiac Killer murdered five people, and two were attempted that we know of. 

Even though as the years went by, it was said he killed up to approx. 37 people throughout Northern and Southern California, but this has not been proven yet links to cold cases have been made.

The Infamous Zodiac Killer Name

The killer gave himself the nickname when he messaged the local newspapers and news stations. He sent several messages and ciphers, with the taunt that he would keep on killing if they weren’t published. 

Zodiac Bomb
Zodiac Bomb

Despite the Zodiac Killer ceasing all communication in 1974, of the four ciphers he sent, only one was solved. Tow of them remain unsolved, and one took fifty-one years to crack. 

To top it all off has was never caught. The police had no viable suspects. For that reason, the case remains a cold one. Say what you will, The Zodiac was a clever bastard. 

The Killing Spree Begins

The Zodiac Killer’s first stop on his killing spree journey was Lake Herman Road on December 20th, 1968. he shot two high school students on a date–David Arthur Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen. Ironically, it was a widely known spot also nicknamed Lover’s Lane.

The report says that as the killer came up to the car, the students tried to flee. David was halfway out when he was shot in the head. As for Betty, she managed to try running but was still shot five times in the back.

Lake Herman Road 1968
Lake Herman Road 1968

Another couple four miles away from Lake Herman Road was out on a date. They were in Blue Rock Springs Park in Vallejo. It was on July 4th/ 5th, 1969, when the pair were shot just before midnight.

Darlene Ferrin was pronounced dead at the hospital. In contrast, The Zodiac had his first attempted murder. Surprisingly enough, despite being shot in the face, neck, and torso, Michael Mageau survived. However, the man could not accurately identify his attacker. 

Let The Puzzle Begin!

The first set of ciphers and letters arrived between 1–7th August 1969. That is when The Zodiac claimed credit for the two groups of shootings. 

On August 8th, 1969, a couple known as Donald and Bettye Harden from Salinas, California, solved his first cipher. It was a 408—symbol cryptogram. 

Zodiac Killer Symbol
Zodiac Killer Symbol

The solved cipher contained a misspelled message. It referred to The Most Dangerous Game. It is also known as The Hounds of Zaroff, written by Richard Connell in 1924. 

The Cryptogram Of A Psychopath

Again the next set of murders had one dead and one survivor. On September 27th, 1969, the Zodiac Killer decided to switch it up with weapons and chose a knife. He stabbed Bryan Calvin Hartnell and Cecelia Ann Shepard. 

Cecelia died due to her injuries on September 29th, 1969. Whereas her date, Bryan Hartwell, survived eight stab wounds to the back. 

Door of Bryan Hartnell's Car
Door of Bryan Hartnell’s Car

The police connected the murder to the Zodiac Killer. They deduce that much due to yet another cipher that was written in black marker. It had been left on the car’s door for them to find.

Vallejo
12-20-68
7-4-69
September 27th-69-6:30
By knife

Another Murder On The Rise

The last known murder connected to the Zodiac Killer was committed two weeks later. It was October 11th, 1969, when a white male entered a taxi driven by Paul Stine. Paul Stine was shot once in the head with a 9mm gun. 

“I like killing people because it is so much fun it is more fun than killing wild game in the forrest because man is the most dangeroue anamal of all to kill something gives me the most thrilling experence it is even better than getting your rocks off with a girl the best part of it is thae when I die I will be reborn in paradice and all the I have killed will become my slaves I will not give you my name because you will try to sloi down or atop my collectiog of slaves for my afterlife ebeorietemethhpiti”

—The solution to Zodiac’s 408-symbol cipher, solved in August 1969, including faithful transliterations of spelling and grammar errors in the original. The meaning, if any, of the final eighteen letters has not been determined.

Police initially believed that Paul Stine’s murder was a robbery. It was logical since the man’s wallet, and other belongings were gone. However, on October 13th, 1969, the newspaper received another cipher. This time it came with a piece of Paul Stine’s bloodied shirt torn off during the shooting. 

The Zodiac Killer Remain Faceless

As I said at the beginning of the article, there have been several suspects long after the killings. They all range from a handful of nobodies to some infamous serial killers and murderers. That list includes Charles Manson.  

Gary Francis Poste
Gary Francis Poste

The most recent hypothesis was Gary Francis Poste. Unfortunately, as he died in 2018, we may never know whether this is wishful thinking or the real face behind the Zodiac. 

One thing we all know is that the Zodiac Killer will always remain one of the world’s most famous unsolved killers. 

Paula Phillips


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