In Search Of The Zodiac Killer

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


The prime suspect Arthur Leigh Allen. Circa 1969

At one point, there were over 2500 suspects in this case. But only one rose to top of the list: Arthur Leigh Allen. Allen was brought to the attention of authorities by his friend Don Cheney. According to Cheney, about eleven months before the Zodiac killings began, Allen had made several incriminating statements to him about "how he would like to hunt people down like wild game and kill them." Cheney also said that "Allen's desire to kill people in this manner was fueled by his infatuation with the book "The Most Dangerous Game"in which the main character hunts down human beings like animals and kills them for fun. Allen told Cheney that the book "had made a real impression upon him and that it was his favorite book." Curiously, the only cipher that the Zodiac sent to to the press that was actually solved, contained  a reference to this book. Allen also allegedly told Cheney that"he was going to call himself "Zodiac" and begin a killing rampage using that name." So when Cheney saw the stories about the Zodiac killings in The Los Angeles Times, he decided to call the police to report Allen as a possible suspect. For reasons that have never been adequately explained, around this same time, Allen was interviewed by detective John Lynch from the Vallejo Police homicide Department concerning his whereabouts on the day of the Lake Berryessa attack.It is not clear how or why Allen had come to the attention of Lynch. According to Lynch, during the interview Allen stated that on the dates in question, September 26-27 1969, he had originally intended to go to Lake Berryessa to do some skin diving, but decided   to go to Salt Point Ranch in Sonoma over on the coast instead. He further stated that he spent the night there, and returned home to Vallejo the following day, September 27,1969 around 4:00pm and stayed there for the remainder of the day. Allen also stated that he had been seen by his neighbor Bill White. However, White was never given the chance to corroborate Allen's story because he died a week later. After the interview, Lynch added Allen's name  to the list of the many other suspects in the case. Five days later, the Zodiac murdered cabdriver Paul Stine in San Francisco. This was the Zodiac's last known murder. In 1971, Arthur Leigh Allen was interviewed by homicide detectives Dave Toschi, Bill Armstrong, and Jack Mulanax from Vallejo. They all agreed that Allen warranted further investigation.  On October first 1974, Allen was arrested on charges of child molestation. He served two and a half years in Atascadero State Mental Hospital. In 1992 Blue Rock Springs victim Mike Mageau picked Allen out of a photo lineup as the man who shot him on July fourth 1969. When asked by detective George Bawart why he had never identified Allen as the shooter before, Mageau stated that he had never been shown Allen's picture before then. Based on this, detective Bawart set up a meeting with the state attorney's office about charging Allen with the murder of Blue Rock Springs victim Darlene Ferrin. The state's attorney agreed with Bawart, and was in the process of drawing up the warrant when Allen unexpectedly died of a heart attack on August 26, 1992. Though Allen was investigated many times over a twenty three year period, investigators never uncovered any evidence directly linking him to the Zodiac murders.In the early nineties, Allen was posthumously ruled out as a suspect through DNA testing.