By Saul Roth
Though his identity remains a mystery, The Zodiac Killer has been credited with killing five people during California’s late 1960s and 1970s. He is believed to have committed as many thirty-seven murders in total.
The first confirmed Zodiac murder took place on December 20, 1968. A 17 year old male and 16 year-old girl were shot with a .22 handgun near Lake Herman Road in California.
On July 4, the Zodiac shot another couple while they were seated in a parked car. This time he hit Michael Mageau, 19, along with Darlene Ferrin, 22, who survived with severe injuries but was able to provide police an accurate description of their attacker.
The prime suspect in this case remains Arthur Leigh Allen because of what Don Cheney told police about what happened between him and an old friend
The Zodiac mailed his letters to everyone from celebrities and lawyers, all the way down to newspapers. The first letters included a code that he claimed hid his identity. It eventually revealed a disturbing piece where he clarifies the motivations behind it all, but no name is given in return for these insights.
The modus operandi of his crimes included attacking people with knives or guns, usually while they were out on legitimate business to places like schools or businesses; however he also targeted locals by throwing rocks from bushes when it suited him. His trademark attire included wearing black clothing (depending upon what month it was) as well an occasion a hooded jacket decorated accordingly which gave his presence enough attention that no one could miss seeing him coming.
He preferred different methods of dispatch, often using an automatic pistol or bladed weapon. However he also had pencil-sized flashlights glued onto his guns so that they could shoot in the dark.
He may have spent some time in the military, most likely the Air Force or Navy where he was trained in codes. If true, then it’s possible that medical reasons were given as to why they couldn’t keep him because of how structured and disciplined an environment the military is.
When the Zodiac Killer struck, he left behind a terrifying and influential legacy. His victims described him as being between 5′ 8″ to 6 feet tall with brown hair that may have been light red or dark reddish in color and worn short.
The Zodiac case inspired one of the most famous movies in history, Dirty Harry. The killer who calls himself “Scorpio” and is identified by astrology signs was based on this real-life event which produced many theories about his identity.