In Search Of The Zodiac Killer

Continuing The Search For America's Most Elusive Serial Killer.

THE MURDERS

The Lake Herman Rd. Murders

The body of Betty Lou Jensen lies under a blanket at the Lake Herman Rd. crime scene.

The series of Zodiac killings began five days before Christmas on Friday, December 20, 1968. The first victims were high school sweethearts David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen who were out on their first date. The couple had told their parents that they planned on first having dinner at a local restaurant, then they would be attending a Christmas play at their school. They were last seen alive just before 11:00pm sitting in the Faraday's vehicle which was parked in a gravel turnout along Lake Herman Rd on the outskirts of Vallejo.The turnout was often used by couples as a lovers lane. At approximately 11:15pm, a local resident, Stella Borges, who was driving along Lake Herman Rd towards Benecia, passed by the area and saw the bodies of the couple lying on the ground, and immediately notified the police. When police arrived on the scene, they found David Faraday lying on the ground just outside the passenger door of his parents vehicle barely clinging to life. The body of Betty Lou was found approximately 28 feet to the rear of the vehicle. Both victims had been shot. David Faraday had been shot once in the head at point blank range, and Betty Lou had been shot several times in the back as she was apparently trying to  flee from the assailant. David Faraday was rushed to the hospital, but he was pronounced dead on arrival. Betty Lou Jensen was pronounced dead at the scene. Police investigators concluded that someone had pulled along the passenger side of the vehicle sitting in the turnout and began shooting at the couple from the outside. Police theorized that this was done by their assailant to force them out of the car. Once the couple exited the vehicle, they were both shot to death. Investigators interviewed several friends of David and Betty Lou to try and determine a motive for the murders, but they were unable to find any reason why anyone would want to kill them. The case was ruled an unsolved homicide.

The Lake Herman Rd.crime scene today.

Gif of David Faraday's funeral.

The Blue Rock Springs Attack

Zodiac victims Darlene Ferrin and Mike Mageau

Sometime around 11:40pm on the night of July fourth, 1969, Darlene Ferrin picked up her friend, Mike Mageau ,at his home and headed for a local diner to get something to eat. But somewhere on the way to the diner, they changed their minds and decided  to go to Blue Rock Springs public park instead. The pair arrived at the park sometime just before midnight. A few minutes later as they sat talking, a car pulled in behind them and the driver turned off the lights. A few seconds later the car drove away.  Mike and Darlene thought nothing of it and continued their conversation. Approximately five minutes later the car returned, and this time the driver pulled in behind and to the drivers side of Darlenes's car. The driver exited the car carrying a large flashlight. Assuming he was a police officer, the couple began reaching for their identification. As they were reaching for their wallets, the man walked up to the passenger side window, shined the flashlight in their eyes, and shot them both numerous times, then casually walked back to his vehicle. At this point Mageau, who had managed to leap into the backseat to avoid being shot, screamed out in pain. The man then returned and fired two more rounds into each victim. He then returned to his vehicle and slowly drove off into the night. A few minutes after the shooting, some passersby found the badly injured couple and summoned help. When police arrived on the scene, they found Mike Mageau lying on the ground next to the vehicle, bleeding profusely from the mouth; he was still conscious. Darlene was slumped over the steering wheel of the car bleeding from numerous gunshot wounds. She was unconscious but still alive. The couple were rushed to Kaiser General Hospital in Vallejo, but Sadly, Darlene was pronounced dead on arrival. However, Mike Mageau was rushed into surgery. Fortunately, he survived the attack, and  managed to give police a description of the attacker and his vehicle. At 12:40am,  which, ironically, was at the same time that  Darlene was pronounced dead, a call came in to the Vallejo police department from a man claiming responsibility for the shooting of Ferrin and Mageau, as well as the Lake Herman Rd murders. According to police dispatcher, Nancy Slover ,who took the call, the caller was a youthful sounding white male. After claiming responsibility for the two attacks, he said"goodbye" in a strange sounding voice then hung up the phone. Police later discovered that the call was placed from a phone booth just two blocks away from the Vallejo Police Department. The police were now aware that they were dealing a vicious serial killer. But when and where he would strike next was anybody's guess. 

This is the exact spot where Darlene Ferrin and Mike Mageau were shot by Zodiac on July fourth 1969

The Lake Berryessa Attack

Cecelia Shepard and Bryan Hartnell

On Saturday, September 27,1969, college students, Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard, were spending a quiet afternoon together at a secluded area of Lake Berryessa located in Napa, California, when they were suddenly approached by a man who came out from behind a nearby tree wearing an executioner's hood and carrying a gun. As the man approached the startled couple, he told them to "take it easy, he just wanted their money and the keys to their car, and if they cooperated ,they would not be hurt."This led them to believe that this was some sort of strange robbery. However, after a few minutes of conversation with them, he produced some pre-cut nylon cords, and ordered Cecelia to tie Bryan's hands behind his back. After she had complied with  the man's order, he then hog-tied both of them and viciously stabbed them several times before casually walking off and leaving them for dead. After several minutes, they were able to extricate themselves from the nylon cords, and called for help. A man and his son, who were fishing in a nearby cove, heard their pleas for help, and summoned the park rangers, who immediately responded to the scene. After determining the severity of their wounds, the decision was made to call an ambulance, which arrived approximately thirty minutes later. During the time they were waiting for the ambulance to arrive, police investigators arrived on the scene, and interviewed the couple about the attack. Despite being severely injured, they managed to provide the investigators with many important details  about the stabbing, including a partial physical description of the assailant. The ambulance which had come all the way  from Napa which was thirty five miles away finally arrived sometime just before eight  O'clock, and transported the badly injured couple to the Queen Of The Valley Hospital in Napa. Unfortunately, by the time they had arrived at the hospital, Cecelia had lapsed into a coma. She died two days later from her injuries. Thankfully, Bryan survived the attack, and was able to provide detectives with more details about the ordeal. Police investigators at the crime scene found a message the perpetrator had written on Bryan Hartnell's car door taking responsibility for the two previous attacks in Vallejo, and the one that day on Shepard and Hartnell. (see photo below).The message was signed with the crosscircle symbol Zodiac always used to sign his correspondence leaving no doubt that he was the one  who was responsible for the attack. And if that wasn't enough, while investigators were working the crime scene at Lake Berryessa, a call was placed to the Napa Police department, at 7:40pm, by a young sounding white male claiming responsibility for the attack. According to officer David Slaight, who took the call, the caller said, "I would like to report a murder, no a double murder. They are two miles north of park headquarters. They were driving a white Kharman Ghia."When officer Slaight asked the caller his location, he said, "I'm the one who did it", then dropped the phone. Once again, as with the Blue Rock Springs attack,the call was placed just a few blocks from the police station. The Zodiac had already claimed three lives, and investigators were desperate for a break in the case. But with very little to go on in terms of physical evidence, there was nothing they could do except wait for the next attack.

Message written by the Zodiac on Bryan Hartnell's car door.

Paul Stine Robbery and Murder

Yellow cab driver Paul Stine was Zodiac's final victim.

At approximately 9:40pm on the night of Saturday, October 11, 1969, San Francisco Yellow cab driver Paul Stine was flagged down by a man on the corner of Mason and Geary streets located in the downtown area. According to Stine's logbook, the man asked to be taken to Washington and Maple streets located in the upscale neighborhood of Presidio Heights. However, for some reason, Stine drove his fare one block past his intended destination to Washington and Cherry. Once there, Stines fare shot him in the back of the head, then proceeded to take his wallet and car keys, then fled the scene on foot, but not before wiping down the cab for finger prints. Some children who were playing in an upstairs bedroom in the house located directly accross the street witnessed the shooting and called police. When police arrived on the scene,  they found Paul Stine's lifeless body lying across the front seat of his blood -spattered cab. When police were dispatched to the scene, they were told that the suspect was a black male. But when the officers were interviewing the children who witnessed the shooting, they were told that the suspect was white, and they immediately relayed the  new description of the suspect to the other police units. Just before the updated description of the suspect was given out, officers Donald Fouke and Eric Zelms drove past a man on Cherry street who strongly resembled the updated description of the suspect. However, since they had not yet received the updated description of the killer they passed him by, and the man disappeared into the night. Despite an intense search of the area, police were unable to find the suspect. Investigators intially ruled the shooting a routine robbery. But two days after the shooting, the San Francisco Chronicle received a letter from the Zodiac claiming responsibility for the murder. He backed up his claims by including a bloodstained piece of Mr. Stines shirt. The Paul Stine killing was the last murder officially attributed to the Zodiac by police. Zodiac's letter writing campaign continued until April of 1974. After that, he was never heard from again. At present, despite the best efforts of thousands of  professionals and non professionals alike, his identity and whereabouts remain unknown. 

Paul Stine's lifeless body lies across the front seat of his cab.