Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

A sketch of the Zodiac Killer

Real Name: Unrevealed
Case: Serial Killer
Date: December 20, 1968 to October 11, 1969
Location: San Francisco, California


Details: The Zodiac Killer committed five known murders and seriously wounded two people in 1968 and 1969. On December 20th, 1968, David Farraday and Betty Lou Jensen were both shot and killed while sitting in a parked car at a lover's lane between Vallejo and Benicia.

There were no signs of robbery or rape. The second couple to be attacked were Michael Mageau, who survived, and Darlene Ferrin. They were shot at point blank range while enjoying the fourth of July, 1969 evening, sitting in Ferrin's parked car in a park on the Columbus Parkway, the location of which was reported to the Vallejo police the same night in a cryptic phone call.
The Zodiac proceeded to taunt the police and three local newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, with letters containing a cipher in which the writer identified himself as the Zodiac; once decoded, the cipher was discovered to contain taunts that produced several leads but led to no arrests.
On September 27, 1969, the Zodiac struck again, slaying Cecilia Shepard and seriously wounding Bryan Hartnell on the shore of Lake Berryessa. They were brutally attacked by a knife wielding man wearing a homemade disguise that hid most of his face and body and which was decorated with the sign of the self professed Zodiac killer, a circle with crosshair design. Hartnell survived to describe the attacker in a hood with eye slits, adding he saw spectacles and light brown hair. Curiously, the Zodiac changed his tactics with his last known killing, that of cab driver Paul Stine on Nob Hill. The Zodiac then walked off with Stine's wallet and a fragment from his shirt, which was later mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Suspects: Arthur Leigh Allen may have been the strongest suspect circumstantially, but handwriting experts were never able to match his handwriting to the cipher and various letters, nor did fingerprints ever tie him to the scene of any of the murders. Of all the suspects to be connected to the crime, the most unusual is that of Ted Kaczynski, The Unabomber. Mike Rusconi and Doug Oswell connected the two criminals. The similarities include but not limited to:

  • Kaczynski became a professor at the University of California Berkeley in 1967. Just over a year later, the Zodiac committed his first murders in nearby Vallejo.
  • One month after the first murders, Kaczynski tendered his resignation from Berkeley without any apparent reason.
  • Kaczynski owned a light, tan-colored 1967 Chevy Malibu, which was the same car that the Zodiac drove, according to Michael Mageau.
  • During the Lake Berryessa attack, the Zodiac mentioned that he had escaped from Deer Lodge, Montana. Kaczynski's cabin was located just an hour's drive from the city.
  • Kaczynski matched the description of the Zodiac Killer; specifically, he looked almost identical to the man seeing near the Stine murder scene.
  • Kaczynski was a mathematical genius, more than apt to create the codes used by the Zodiac.
  • Kaczynski also communicated with the police through the newspaper as the Unabomber.
  • The Unabomber attacks started just one month after the last Zodiac letter was sent.
  • The Unabomber had threatened to return with a new war with technology.
  • Similarity of writing style and wording by Kaczynski and the Zodiac.
  • The name "Theodore Kaczynski" fits perfectly in an undeciphered sequence of letters in one of the Zodiac letters.

However, both the FBI and the San Francisco Police Department have since eliminated Kaczynski as a suspect using scientific fingerprint and writing comparisons. They also note that there was no evidence found at Kaczynski's cabin that would link him to the Zodiac killings. The MOs of the two criminals are also completely different.
Extra Notes: The Zip Gun Bomber also claimed to be the Zodiac Killer. The Unabomber was first featured on Unsolved Mysteries on September 15, 1987, with his possible Zodiac connection not featured until September 20, 1996. The Zodiac Killer has also been featured on America’s Most Wanted and Haunting Evidence.
Results: Unsolved. In 2004, the case was closed by the San Francisco Police Department. However, it has since been re-opened. Several suspects have been investigated in recent years. However, none have been identified as the Zodiac Killer. It is believed that he may now be deceased.