Two weeks after the attack on Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard, A man entered a cab going to Presidio Heights of San Francisco. It was October 11, 1969, the cab driver drove one block too far, the killer shot him in the back of the head with a 9mm. Three teens across the street in a building heard the shots and saw the killer exit Paul Stine’s cab and reported it to the police about 10pm. Paul Stine was just 29 years old. The teens described the killer as a stocky, white male about 25, with a crew cut.
An intensive manhunt was immediately launched, but somehow there was a mistake made as to the killer’s race and the police were searching for a black male. How this mistake was made was never reported and no one was ever apprehended for the crime. Later the police remembered driving by a large white male fitting the original description just blocks from the shooting, but because of his race, the police did not consider him a suspect. (1)
It seems as the killer exited the car he took a piece of Paul Stine’s blood stained shirt. Officers Donald Fouke and Eric Zelms minutes after the murder, observed a white man walking east on Jackson Street, he was never stopped and questioned. The officers did get a good look at him, however. When the correct description of the suspect was finally broadcast, the officers realized they might have encountered him. The police said there was no conversation that had occurred between them and the man, though the killer said he actually talked to the officers. 3 days later October 14th the S.F. Chronicle received another letter with the piece of Paul Stine’s shirt. The person who called himself the Zodiac took credit for the murder. (2) His next threat was the shoot the tires off school buses and pick off the children with a gun as they attempted to escape……
The last victims were definite victims of this killer, there were several more that were possible. In 1963:
- June 4th, 1963, Robert Domingo 18, and fiancée Linda Edwards 17, were on a senior “ditch day” from Lompoc High School. They were at the beach So. of Santa Barbara in an isolated area. The killer came upon them while they were sunbathing. They were tied with precut rope, and shot with a gun using the same ammo as Lake Hermann victims. They were put in a shack, to which the killer tried (unsuccessfully) to set on fire. The tied-up hands, same ammo had earmarks of the Zodiac Killer. (3)
- October 30, 1966, Cheri Jo Bates, 18 years old, was attending Riverside Community College in Riverside, Ca. It was about 9 pm and she had left the library where she had been studying. She was beaten and stabbed multiple times with a short blade knife. It was found later that her car had been disabled. Near her body was a Timex watch stopped at 12:24, though it is thought she died quickly, and there was a print of shoe thought to be a military 8-10 in size. The Zodiac took credit for this one, though it was never proven. (4)
- March 22, 1970, Kathleen Johns and her infant child had been on the way to visit a sick relative in Petaluma, CA. A man signaled to her wheel was wobbly so she pulled over to the side of the road. Another different man, stocky about 30 years old came and offered her a ride. He drove her around Tracy, CA. for about two hours saying he was going to kill her. She managed to escape, and went to the police department. When she was there, she saw a picture of the Zodiac killer on the wall (a composite) and identified him as the man who had tried to kill her and her baby in a photo line-up. He turned out to be Lawrence Kane. (5)
- September 6, 1970, Donna Lass was finishing up her shift at Sahara Tahoe. She was a nurse there. The log book signed her out about 1:50am. Though her car was parked in her apartment lot, she was never seen again. A man called her in to work the next day, saying she had a sick relative. That was a hoax. So why the Zodiac? Paul Stine lived blocks from her. Also within a few days a card came from the Zodiac taking credit for her disappearance. Later a retired detective said he forged the card. It had no earmarks of the Zodiac’s letters. Hers is the weakest tie to Zodiac. (6)
Now it is time to look at the suspects. These are the best from the strongest to the weakest.
1. Arthur Allen Leigh-He was the most investigated suspect, and the only one to served with search warrants. Don Cheney was a friend of his from 1962-1969 then Cheney moved to L.A. area. While living in L.A. Cheney called police because something on the news sparked a memory of things Leigh said him. The quote was of the Zodiac killer’s threat to shoot out the tires of a school bus and kill the children inside. Just months earlier, Cheney realized, Allen had talked of doing the same thing. (7) It was not the only thing he had said about being Zodiac, just the one that got him to finally call the police. As science improved Leigh’s prints and DNA ruled him out as a suspect.
2. Rick Marshall– Many in law enforcement consider him still a strong suspect. He lived in Riverside when Cheri Jo was murdered. the only San Francisco crime occurred blocks from his basement apartment in 1969. He worked for a radio station as an engineer, KTIM in the early 1970s.The KTIM call letters resemble the symbols Zodiac included in his “Exorcist” letter from January 1974. Marshall was a projectionist at a San Francisco Silent Movie theater called “The Avenue”. This was when the Zodiac sent his July 1974 letter signing it the Red Phantom. It was thought he was referring a silent movie. He signed off with a veiled message that included strange oriental style symbols at the foot of the letter, they measured up to the KTIM call letters. (8)Marshall went to work for Tektronix in 1989. He also still repaired organs. There were no hard facts to tie him to the murders except he fit the physical description and the ties to the silent movies he worked with. Also, there was another silent movie tie in. A Charlie Chan movie picture called, “Charlie Chan at Treasure Island”, it had a character in it called Dr. Zodiac, who was suspected in the death of a writer. It is suggested also he could have drawn the circle with the crosshairs symbol from his work as a projectionist. Marshall owned a Royal typewriter. It was the same type that wrote the confession of the murder of Cheri Jo Bates on it. The letter was sent to the Riverside Police Dept. November 29, 1966, and described the murder.
3. Lawrence Kane- He was really linked to the disappearance of Donna Lass. He worked in the same building. Larry Kane had a bad car accident in 1962. It left him with some brain damage in which he could not contain his “urges”. He was arrested for being a ‘peeping tom’ and for ‘self-gratification’ episodes. There are other issues. The sister of Darlene Ferrin, Pat Huckaby said that Kane had been following her sister, until that night. 5 days after the attack, he traded in his car for a 1969 Ambassador. The woman Kathleen Johns identified Kane in a photo lineup as the man who abducted her. He also lived a quarter mile away in San Francisco from where Paul Stine was murdered. Then he moved to So. Tahoe and went to work with Donna Lass, so he was there in 1970.Here is another weird thing about Kane. He went to live later in 1971 in Las Vegas. The three years the Zodiac letters stopped, he was in Vegas. There was a couple there assaulted, Dana Lull and Roy Tophigh. Dana died and Roy survived, sound familiar? It did not get tapped into by law enforcement because it was later and in Nevada. It was a paper trail error. At that time you could move and change your life. He also had a little coding experience in the military in WWII….So circumstantially he looks good….
4. Michael O’Hare– One of the weakest. He has no real ties, except he is mathematically capable and he could code.
5. Ted Kaczynski-You have heard of him as the Unibomber. He is weak but many believe he was influenced by the story why?
Kaczynski lived in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s.
Kaczynski exhibited the ability to construct bombs.
Kaczynski communicated with the news media after committing murderous acts.
6. Bruce Davis– Another weak candidate, he was a Manson Family follower, and lived in the Bay area in the 1960’s. That is basically his only connection anyone has been able to prove. Actually, all the Manson family has been cleared of the Zodiac killings.
So, there you have it– the victims and the suspects it is one of the most investigated cold cases by the public. One that still has a huge following. In fact, many years there are conventions where the Zodiac buffs meeting and go over the evidence and socialize. There are Reddit forums, many websites and even today it fascinates people much like Jack the Ripper. Like I said for me is was the first and the most mysterious. Then it stopped. It has never been solved, even with DNA and finger printing….
Sources and Websites-
- Montaldo, Charles, The Zodiac Killer, https://www.thoughtco.com/the-zodiac-killer-97
- Paul Stine, http://zodiackiller.com/Stine.html
- DomingoEdwards, http://zodiackiller.com/DomingosEdwards.html
- Cheri Jo Bates, http://zodiackiller.com/Bates.html
- Kathleen Johns, http://zodiackiller.com/Johns.html
- Donna Lass, http://zodiackiller.com/Lass.html
- Arthur Allen Leigh, Ibid
- Richard Marshall, http://www.zodiacciphers.com/rick-marshall.html
- The Zodiac Killer, The Vault-FBI, https://vault.fbi.gov/The%20Zodiac%20Killer/The%20Zodiac%20Killer%20Part%2001%20of%2006%20./view