Unsolved Crimes: The Zodiac Killer
The Zodiac killer is an unidentified American serial killer who is believed to have murdered at least five people in northern California between 1968 and 1969. An earlier murder, the stabbing death of an 18-year-old college student in Riverside, California in 1966, is also sometimes attributed to the Zodiac killer. The case inspired the influential 1971 action film Dirty Harry, which starred Clint Eastwood, and it was the subject of the critically acclaimed David Fincher dramatic film Zodiac (2007).
The media has been captivated by the Zodiac Killer because of his relationship with the media. Zodiac began sending coded messages taunting police to various newspapers very soon after his first murder. He signed these letters with a circle with a plus sign over it, his symbol. He infamously sent a cipher that said, “This is the Zodiac speaking. By the way have you cracked the last cipher I sent you? My name is…” This was followed by a series of 13 symbols that were supposed to be his name, encoded.
While it’s true that a number of high-profile cold case murderers have been brought to justice in recent years, they all have one thing in common: DNA.
The Golden State Killer, for example, left dozens of samples at dozens of crime scenes. Even decades-old evidence can be re-examined with modern technology for blood or semen. But detectives aren’t as lucky with Zodiac. Most of his murders involved him shooting the victim and running away. The only crime scene where he had extended contact with his victims was at Lake Berryessa. There, he stabbed Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard repeatedly before returning to his vehicle and driving away. Today, there’s a possibility forensic techniques could yield genetic material from the killer, but in 1969 that technology was decades away
Without all the modern crime-solving strategies we’re used to — CCTV, touch DNA, cellphone data, etc. — investigators are left with almost nothing to work with. On that note …
Melbourne mathematician Sam Blake and two fellow cryptologists have been officially recognised by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation for solving a 50-year-old cryptic message written by an as yet unnamed serial killer, known only as the Zodiac.
The official cracking of the 340-character cipher provides insight into the killer’s thoughts and actions but does not reveal a name as promised in separate letters sent to newspapers.
It is the symbol most associated with the Zodiac Killer – the cross hairs. Drawn on letters, the side of one of the victim’s cars and on the outfit the killer wore at the Lake Berryessa attacks.
But Randy Kenney says those aren’t cross hairs. He says his friend Louie Myers confessed to him that he was the infamous murderer and told Kenney what the symbol really means.
“The Zodiac sign is a Celtic Cross. That’s not the cross with the sights,” according to Kenney.
Kenney tells the I-Team his best friend, Louie Myers, confessed in April 2001 after doctors told him he was dying from cirrhosis of the liver. Kenney says Myers asked him to wait until after he died to tell authorities and that he wanted Kenney to write a book with the proceeds going to the victims’ families.
Myers died in May 2002 and Kenney has spent years trying to get police to listen.
The first connection, Kenney says, was that he went to school with the kids. Myers went to both Vallejo and Hogan high schools. He could have known first Zodiac victims David Farraday at Vallejo High and Betty Lou Jensen at Hogan.
The second connection Kenney points out is that he worked in the restaurant with the waitress. Kenney says Myers worked as a bus boy at Terry’s restaurant in Vallejo and so did Zodiac victim Darlene Ferrin.
The third connection Kenney mentioned is that a military-style boot print was found at the Lake Berryessa crime scene. Myers’ father worked on Mare Island and would have access to this type of boot. We’re told Myers briefly worked at Victory Military Surplus in Vallejo.