The assassin of the Zodiac: the story that inspired the movie!

It is one of the cases that have shaken the American society, and although names are currently used to give identity to this murderer, there is still nothing written!


He called himself the “Zodiac Killer,” and was linked to at least five murders north of the state of California (United States) in the late 1960s, but it is believed that he could have been responsible for many more. The Zodiac Killer set about playing with the police, and even set out to send threatening letters to local newspapers years later, however, everything stopped suddenly one day.

An exhaustive investigation determined that there were several suspects, but the culprit has never been found. The zodiac murderer is still an unknown person, and his cases are still open. The mystery surrounding this bizarre character has inspired numerous literary works and films, inspiring the psychopath of Clint Eastwood’s “Harry the Dirty” or David Fincher’s brilliant “Zodiac,” with Robert Downey Jr. and Jake Gyllenhaal.

There are only four confirmed cases

To date, only four murders perpetrated by the Zodiac Killer have been confirmed. The first happened in December 1968, when David Faraday, 17; and his girlfriend Betty Lou Jensen, 16, were shot dead in their car. The event occurred in an open field near the city of Vallejo. The police found no evidence, nor a suspect; there was no reason, no messages.

Six months later, Darlene Ferrin, 22, and her boyfriend Mike Mageau, 19, were victims of another cold-blooded murder. According to the investigation, a man armed with a flashlight approached them and began firing at point-blank range, killing Darlene and seriously injuring Mike. An hour had not passed when a man called the police department in the area, giving them all kinds of details about the crime scene and proclaiming himself the author of the murders of Faraday and Jensen. Mike Mageau, in addition, was able to give a description of the attacker. Even so, the police could not make too much progress in the case.

The “Zodiac Killer”

Not long after, three identical letters were sent to three local newspapers: the San Francisco Examiner, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Vallejo Times-Herald. Without a return address, the letters told a chilling story: they had all the details that only the murderer could know, how the deaths of the teenagers had been perpetrated. In addition, the alleged murderer threatened more attacks unless that letter was published on the front page of all newspapers.

The letter was signed with a very particular symbol: a circle with a cross crossed and that was accompanied by a part of a three-part hieroglyph, which supposedly contained its identity.

The police worked tirelessly, this time with the help of the FBI, but there was no way to find him. It was days later, and with another letter addressed to the director of the San Francisco Examiner, when “the Zodiac Killer” was born. The letter began: “Dear publisher, the Zodiac speaks to you …”, and he described the murders again in every detail, mocking the police for not being able to find him. It was a primary teacher and his wife who one day deciphered the hieroglyph, which only contained a disturbing phrase.


More murders

The investigation continued, but without many results. In September 1969, he made another attack on another young couple. Cecelia Shepard and Bryan Hartnell were resting on the shores of Lake Berryessa when the Zodiac Killer attacked them. On this occasion, he even wore a sweatshirt and a shirt with the symbol of the Zodiac, and did things differently: he tied them to a tree and then stabbed them repeatedly. He left a message in the window of the couple’s car, for the police, and left. Then he called the police station to claim his authorship. The police found the young people still alive, but Cecelia died shortly afterwards of the injuries.

Soon after, the Zodiac ended another life, shooting the taxi driver Paul Stine. The police hesitated a bit, since it did not follow the pattern of previous attacks (couples in remote and lonely places), but another letter sent to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper got them out of doubt: it had been the Zodiac. This letter, even, had a piece of Paul’s bloody shirt tucked into the envelope. At the end of the disturbing letter, the Zodiac threatened the police and told them of their intention to kill a school bus full of children.

Perhaps it was a careless or totally premeditated by this bloody murderer, but in this last attack there were many witnesses, and the police were able to generate a robot portrait. Despite the testimonies and evidence, and even the killer himself giving clues without stopping, he was still on the loose and the police have never been able to find him. The curious thing is that he continued committing murders and giving clues to the country’s newspapers, but only until 1974, when everything stopped suddenly. The letters stopped, the attacks ceased. The investigations continued, although a guilty person has never been arrested and all cases, including those attributed but not confirmed, are still open.



Besides the official investigation, there are many theories that are shuffled about the identity and the motives of this unknown murderer. Some say it could be the incarcerated Charles Manson, others who stopped writing because he left the country to start committing crimes in the United Kingdom. Much is the literature that has been written about the assassin of the Zodiac, but no one has been able to prove who he is.

Are we facing the perfect crime?

Credit: Wikipedia, Biography, Criminal Minds

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