The Zodiac Killer got away with it. For 40 years different theories have come up on why and how he was never caught – from police ineptitude to the multiple killer theory to him simply being…well, clever.
Here are some interesting theories I’ve heard about the Zodiac from an array of people. Some funny, some plausible and some that in a weird way, make sense.
DISCLAIMER – I’m aware of how passionate people are about the case…these are just theories I’ve heard that I found interesting…they don’t necessarily reflect my own…so enjoy them.
The Zodiac was multiple people
THEORY: One of the biggest questions about the Zodiac killings is why the main suspect – Arthur Leigh Allen – seemed to fit every piece of circumstantial evidence, but didn’t match the DNA from stamps on letters the Zodiac sent nor the handwriting that made them up. He had so much circumstantial evidence on him that it was actually a surprise to detectives when he didn’t match the DNA or handwriting.
WHY IT MAKES SENSE: The thing about Zodiac and Allen, is that he always seemed to be at the right place at the right time if he was the killer. He came home with a bloody knife the day Berryessa happened and he lived extremely close to the restaurant Darlene Ferrin worked at amongst other things. The person that wrote the letters had details about the killings, but didn’t match his handwriting. One friend kills, tells the other friend about it, and he writes it out…over and over.
PROBLEM WITH THIS: This one makes the most sense, but like any crime involving multiple people, there is usually one idiot that brags – and nobody has.
He was the father of Scientology
THEORY: Zodiac was L. Ron Hubbard
WHY IT MAKES SENSE: Because he was a fan of strawberry shortcake.
PROBLEM WITH THIS: It’s ridiculous.
Paul Stine’s killer was a copycat
THEORY: Paul Stine’s killer was a Zodiac copycat. This would make the famous Zodiac description and letter verification inaccurate.
WHY IT MAKES SENSE: Zodiac’s famous wanted poster came from the descriptions from teenagers that witnessed Paul Stine’s killer leaving the cab. It was also compared to Officer Dan Fouke’s witnessing of what is thought to be the same man walking away from the crime scene. That poster looks like this:
..but another (and less-famous sketch) of the killer looks like this: …and it was from witnesses that saw a strange man at Lake Berryessa the day of the Berryessa killings. Before passing away, Cecilia Shepard told investigators that the man who stabbed them had black curly hair that she saw before he put on the famous Zodiac executioner hood…it also fell out in front of his sunglasses before the attack. She also described the killer as “overweight”….all traits of Allen and in no way comparable to the Stine killer who was described as having glasses, a crew cut, receding hairline and was at least “100 pounds” lighter than Allen according to Officer Dan Fouke.
Seems like two different people doesn’t it? It would also explain why the bloody fingerprint in Stine’s cab didn’t match any of the Zodiac suspects.
PROBLEM WITH THIS: This makes sense in that Zodiac is thought to have taken credit for crimes he read about in the paper. What doesn’t make sense is that if someone wanted to use Zodiac’s habit of claiming guilt to get away with a crime, why would they mail Stine’s shirt to the police and risk getting caught just to give Zodiac credit?
He was a cop
THEORY: Zodiac was a police officer…pure and simple.
WHY IT MAKES SENSE: This isn’t necessarily a new theory, but one that I’ve always took a shine to. Zodiac was always one step ahead…would do outlandish things like dress up in an executioner’s mask at a public lake or shoot kids in a well-known make-out point. This would make sense if he knew where police were patrolling. He also is theorized to have left a fake finger print in Stine’s cab which would have given him forensic knowledge of the day – which was pretty much just limited to that – finger prints.
But the best evidence of him being in law enforcement was the pattern of his killing… he killed in Napa County, Solano County and San Francisco…which are all different police jurisdictions. He knew this would create confusion and “evidence hiding” between the police forces…and it did.
PROBLEM WITH THIS: Dave Toschi (Dirty Harry) was well-known and one of the premier investigators of the time – and he was on the Zodiac case. Being a cop, Zodiac would have known this and that’s like challenging a ram to a headbutting contest. So unless this cop wanted to seriously risk getting caught by getting investigated by the best detective of the day…let alone the area, chances are slim on this one.
Zodiac was a Vietnam veteran
THEORY: Zodiac was a rare serial killer because he was able to stop killing – which isn’t a trait of serial killers at all. The theory is that Zodiac must have been imprisoned, killed or relocated. Generally speaking, this theory points that Zodiac was deployed to Vietnam, killed in action and therefore stopped killing and all letters past his death are not genuine.
WHY IT MAKES SENSE: Code training, size 10 1/2 wing-walker boots issued primarily by the Navy, choice of killing was a firearm…it has been theorized that Zodiac was a member of the armed forces or a veteran of such. The U.S. involvement in Vietnam was from 1961 to the mid 1970’s – 1969 being the year when most U.S. troops were committed to the war (roughly 550,000). Zodiac’s last confirmed killing was Paul Stine (if we forego the copycat theory) on October 11, 1969. So it isn’t completely unfathomable that Zodiac got deployed after the Stine killing, got sent to Vietnam in the height of U.S. involvement and died, which would successfully stop his killing spree…or maybe he came back in 1974 after not writing for 3 years (the famous “Me – 37, SFPD – 0” letter) and was bragging about his kills in Vietnam which would explain why there weren’t 32 more bodies found by the police department. Don’t forget the Zodiac was described as having a crew cut in the Stine murder…popular in any military branch.
PROBLEM WITH THIS: There isn’t really a problem with this so much as an issue with “what in the fuck are the chances of this?” . This is an incredible amount of dedication if he was also stressed out with being in Vietnam every couple of years…not to mention staying alive himself.