Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Zodiac Killer

This is the Zodiac Speaking

A little-known letter containing a key to the cryptogram was sent anonymously to the Vallejo Police on August 10, one day after the Harden solution was made public.  It was postmarked San Francisco, and the typewritten address was to a VPD sergeant.  

The key was handwritten on a sheet of white paper, and was accompanied by a short typewritten note on a 3x5 index card expressing hope that "the enclosed key will prove beneficial to you in connection with the cipher letter writer."  It was signed " concerned citizen."  The key was described in an FBI report as "generally valid" and "substantially accurate",  but this is unsurprising since the author probably read the decryption in the newspaper and simply made his own key letter by letter.  One useful palmprint was found on the envelope, but it was never matched to any individual.

By August 2, all three cipher blocks had been printed. "We're not satisfied that the letter was written by the murderer, but it could have been," said the Vallejo Chief of Police Jack E. Stiltz, requesting another letter "with more facts to prove it".  In response, a second letter was mailed to the San Francisco Examiner  on August 1 or 2, and received on August 4.  It was in this three-page letter that the killer first referred to himself as "The Zodiac."

Cryptogram sent to the San Francisco Examiner
Cryptogram sent to the San Francisco Examiner

This is the Zodiac speaking. In answer to your asking for more details about the good times I have had in Vallejo, I shall be very happy to supply even more material. By the way, are the police having a good time with the code? If not, tell them to cheer up; when they do crack it, they will have me.

On the 4th of July: I did not open the car door. The window was rolled down all ready. The boy was origionaly sitting in the frunt seat when I began fireing. When I fired the first shot at his head, he leaped backwards at the same time, thus spoiling my aim.

He ended up on the back seat then the floor in back thashing out very violently with his legs; that's how I shot him in the knee. I did not leave the cene of the killing with squealing tires + raceing engine as described in the Vallejo paper. I drove away quite slowly so as not to draw attention to my car.

The man who told police that my car was brown was a negro about 40-45 rather shabbly dressed. I was in this phone booth having some fun with the Vallejo cop when he was walking by. When I hung the phone up the damn thing began to ring & that drew his attention to me + my car.

Last Christmass In that epasode the police were wondering how I could shoot + hit my victims in the dark. They did not openly state this, but implied this by saying it was a well lit night + I could see silowets on the horizon. Bullshit that area is srounded by high hills + trees. What I did was tape a small pencel flash light to the barrel of my gun.

If you notice, in the center of the beam of light if you aim it at a wall or ceiling you will see a black or darck spot in the center of the circle of light about 3 to 6 inches across. When taped to a gun barrel, the bullet will strike in the center of the black dot in the light. All I had to do was spray them as if it was a water hose; there was no need to use the gun sights. I was not happy to see that I did not get front page coverage.

No address

Police were unsuccessful in developing latent fingerprints on the first set of letters; perhaps as a result, this latest letter was submitted directly to the FBI crime lab, which determined that the letter was written on Woolworth's "Fifth Avenue" brand paper.  The lab found useful prints on its second and third pages, but they have never been matched to a suspect.

 

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