- this week on buzzfeedunsolved we're covering the zodiac killer. right now we are at the sceneof his first crime which, at the time, seemed like a good idea, but now that we're here,it's fucking pitch black. this is a horrible idea solet's just get this over with. - sounds good, let's do it. - [voiceover] so, in thelate 60s and early 70s, the zodiac killer terrorizednorthern california.
killing at least five peopleand claiming to have killed 37 people in total. - [voiceover] 37? - [voiceover] he claimsto have killed 37 people. - [voiceover] like, he wrote a note? - yeah, he was a, he was a douche bag. on december 20, 1968 around11 pm near vallejo, california 17 year old david faraday and16 year old betty lou jensen were shot and killed whilesitting in a parked car
in a gravel parking areaoff of lake herman road. in the exact spot weare sitting right now. - the exact spot, like right here? - like right here. - its' just the wind. - yes, right here. (yells)- it's the wind! - you're not freakedout a little right now? - what the fuck, dude?
- it's the wind. you don't want me, wecan close the windows. - yeah, let's close thewindows, fuck this shit. - if anything, though, itwould make it somewhat easier to hear footsteps that sneak up on us. - fuck, you're right,let's open the windows. (laughing) by the time police arrived,betty was found dead on the ground 30 feet away from the car,
but david was still alive. however, david would dieon the way to the hospital. at this time, nobody knewthat this was the work of a serial killer. - [voiceover] oh, 'causeit was the first murder? - 'cause it was the first time. can we leave now? - should i grab the camera? - what is wrong with you?
are you really not scared right now? - why? why on earth? - [voiceover] 'cause lookwhere the fuck we are, dude. look where the fuck we are. there's nothing around! - have you never been in themiddle of nowhere before? - [voiceover] no, i am freaking out! look at this shit, wherethe fuck are we right now? there's two of us out hereand who knows what the fuck
is out in that darkness. not down to find out. call me a wiener, whatever, i don't care. the zodiac's next crimewould occur on july 4, 1969 at around midnight nearblue rock springs park, only a few minutes awayfrom the previous crime. the zodiac approached aparked car with a flashlight, shooting 22 year old darleneferrin and 19 year old michael mageau beforewalking away and coming back
to shoot them both again. both were still alive when found, but only mageau would survive. mageau was able to make out theface of the man who shot him and described him as a youngwhite man, approximately 26 to 30 years old, stocky,200 pounds or larger, about five foot eight withlight brown curly hair, and a large face. within an hour, the policereceived a phone call from
somebody claiming to be the shooter. he also claimed to be theshooter in the lake herman road murders. happened right around here. the parking lot was probablyempty just like this. i don't like the way this feels either. - i mean, it's eerie'cause it's night time, but if i was here during the day, it wouldn't feel weird at all.
right behind you is afreaking kiosk that says, "parking fees are free today." like, that's not a scary sight. - i guess. on august 1, 1969 thesan francisco chronicle, the san francisco examinerand the vallejo times harold all received identical handwritten letters from someone claiming to be the killer. the letters revealed specificdetails about the murders
to prove that the writerwas in fact the killer. the letters were signedwith a distinct mark, a circle with a cross throughit, the mark that would eventually become known asthe mark of the zodiac killer. also included in the letterswere three different codes that the zodiac demandedbe printed in newspapers or else he would kill again. - [voiceover] why did they print them? - [voiceover] because he saidif they didn't print them,
he would kill more. - [voiceover] that just createsfear and gives the killer what they want. - [voiceover] but at the sametime, i wouldn't want death on my hands either. - [voiceover] it's not yourhand, you're not killing anybody that guy is killing someone. - [voiceover] true. - [voiceover] you not printingsomething has nothing to do
with whether or not someoneis going to kill someone. - [voiceover] the zodiacclaimed that the cracked codes would reveal his identity. on august 4, another letterwas received that started with the phrase, "this is the zodiac speaking." marking the first time thekiller referred to himself as the zodiac. on august 8, 1969 the codewas cracked by a couple in salinas, ca.
it reads, "i like killingbecause it is so much fun, "it is more fun than killingwild game in the forest "because man is the mostdangerous animal of all to kill. "something gives me themost thrilling experience, "it is even better than gettingyour rocks off with a girl. "the best part of it is that when i die, "i will be reborn in paradiseand those i have killed will "become my slaves. "i will not give you myname because you will try to
"slow down or stop my collectingoff slaves for afterlife." - [voiceover] since whendo you get to keep slaves in the afterlife when you kill someone? - [voiceover] well, apparentlythat's common knowledge in crazy town. also, this dude must've skippedclass the day they taught run on sentences becausethat shit was ridiculous. - [voiceover] also this guysounds like, just the biggest bro douche ever, right?
killing is better than gettingmy nuts off with a girl? like, shut up. - [voiceover] on september27, 1969 in napa, california 22 year old cecelia shepardand 20 year old bryan hartnell were picnicking on the shoreof lake berryessa when cecelia saw a man hiding behind anearby tree and staring at her. after some time, the mancame out from behind the tree wearing an executionerstyle hood over his head with the zodiac killersymbol on his chest.
he had a gun and a longknife and used pre-cut rope to tie up cecelia and bryanbefore stabbing them repeatedly. cecelia died at the hospital,but bryan hartnell would survive, despite beingstabbed six times in the back. bryan hartnell described theman as being five foot eight to six feet tall, heavy set,weighing about 225 to 250 pounds with dark brown hairthat he saw through the eye holes in the mask. a message was found onthe side of bryan's car
with the zodiac sign, thedates of all three killings, and the words, "by knife"written below the september 27th date. - [voiceover] what did heuse to write on the car? - [voiceover] just a littleblack paint, you know? maybe he went to joan'scrafts and supplies. - [voiceover] right, michaels. - [voiceover] michaels,he went to michaels. on october 11, 1969 justbefore 10 pm in san francisco,
california at the intersectionof washington and cherry a cab driver paul stinewas shot in the head by his passenger. a teenage girl from herhome across the street heard the shot along with twoother witnesses in her home and got a good look at theman as he wiped down the car and walked away. they called the police anddescribed the man as a white male between 25 to 30 years old.
five foot eight to five foot nine tall, stocky, with a reddish-browncrew cut and heavy rimmed glasses. a police car that was nearbycame quickly to the scene, but the chaos of the situationwould strangely result in the police dispatcherincorrectly identifying the suspect as an african american male. (laughter) - [voiceover] classic!
way to go, fucking san francisco police. - [voiceover] yeah. - [voiceover] are you kidding me? - [voiceover] yeah, wheni saw that i was like, "god damn it." - [voiceover] oh my lord. - [voiceover] that incorrectidentification would prove to have disastrous consequences. the police car drivenby officer don fouke and
eric zelms would come upona white male walking on the sidewalk described by officerfouke as five foot 10, 170 pounds, about 40 yearsold, wearing glasses with reddish hair and a crew cut. very similar to the descriptionoffered by the teenage girl. however, because they werelooking for an african-american male, fouke and zelms left the man alone. watching him disappearinto (mumbles) park. brutal right?
right now we're coming upto where the two officers allegedly saw the zodiac. they turned left onto jackson right here. and they saw a whiteguy walking right here. so the officers think hewalked down to the park, entered through here, andthat's where they lost him. the zodiac would latercomment on this interaction in a later letter in detail. making it very likely thatfouke and zelms came into
contact with that nation'smost notorious serial killer at the time without even knowing it. a composite sketch wouldbe drawn based on the two descriptions that wouldlater become part of a famous wanted poster. - [voiceover] is this theted cruz wanted poster? - [voiceover] yeah, it is. - [voiceover] it is the onethat everyone looks like ted cruz.
- [voiceover] regardless, thetheory is ridiculous because ted cruz wasn't even alivewhen the zodiac was killing people. case closed, it wasn't tedcruz unless he's a fucking time traveler. - [voiceover] unless he changedhis birth certificate, man. remember how obsessed aboutobama's birth certificate they were? i want to see ted cruz'sreal birth certificate
is all i'm saying. - [voiceover] another crucialpiece of evidence was a bloody finger print discovered in the cab. however, the zodiac alsoclaims in a letter that it was planted by him to throwthe cops off his trail. two days later the sanfrancisco chronicle gets another letter that claims responsibilityfor the cab driver, paul stine's murder, andincludes a piece of stine's blood stained shirt.
even more horrifying, theletter also included quote, "school children make nice targets, "i think i shall wipe outa school bus some morning. "just shoot out the front tireand then pick off the kiddies "as they come bouncing out." end quote. he also later includeddiagrams of bombs that could be used on buses. - [voiceover] where is hedropping these letters off?
how does he get theseletters to the press? - [voiceover] i don't know. also, like the image of thezodiac sitting down in his little desk getting his, like, pen ready-- - [voiceover] i mean hedoes seem like he'd be into calligraphy. - [voiceover] maybe. - [voiceover] this guyseems crazy enough that he's got a fucking quill pen.
- [voiceover] he hasa letter-writing desk. - [voiceover] what's thename they call letter-writing desks? - [voiceover] oh fuck, i don't-- - [voiceover] there's a specific name. - [voiceover] after this,a zodiac task force was created so that multipledepartments could share info. on april 20, 1970 a letter tothe san francisco chronicle included a cipher with thesentence "my name is" blank.
which would later becomea point of contention in potential suspects. the zodiac would continueto send letters before stopping in 1971. only to send his last letterin 1974 where he claims to have killed 37 people andbizarrely reviews his viewing of the exorcist, which he called, quote, the best satirical comedy thati have ever seen, end quote. - [voiceover] what? this guy.
- [voiceover] i can't imaginewhy he felt the need to write a rotten tomatoes reviewin his last letter, but-- - [voiceover] because he had no friends, the only people he couldtalk to were the press and the police. - [voiceover] do you think hewould be a frequency yelper today if he were still alive? - [voiceover] oh, he'ddefinitely be a fucking one star yelper.
- [voiceover] skipping forward,in 2002 the san francisco police department was ableto extract a partial genetic profile from a zodiac letterfrom the saliva on the stamp. the profile was not enoughto conclusively identify a single person, but enoughto eliminate potential suspects. and with that, let's takea look at the suspects with the most circumstantialevidence against them. the first theory is from garysteward who believes that
his father, earl van bestjr. was the zodiac killer. gary steward published a bookcalled the most dangerous animal of all that presents this theory. earl van best jr baresand uncanny resemblance to the composite sketchfrom the paul stine killing. his name also matches thenumber of characters in the my name is cipher. finally, stewart says ahandwriting expert is virtually certain that best's handwritingon his marriage license
matches the writing of the zodiac killer. now, here are reasons whybest may not be the zodiac. according to an administratorat the church where best's marriage certificate camefrom, the handwriting is that of the priest and not besthimself, making the match that was virtually certainimplicate the priest rather than best. - [voiceover] where do youeven go to get handwriting, like, certification skills?
probably from the fuckinguniversity of phoenix. - [voiceover] oh shit! what did the universityof phoenix do to you? - [voiceover] they'relike a for-profit college. - [voiceover] are they? furthermore, best onlymatches the description of the zodiac at the paul stinekilling, but not the heavy set large-faced description ofthe zodiac in the previous three killings.
gary steward also tried totest his father's dna against the recovered 2002 zodiacdna, but investigators never complied with their reasonbeing not enough evidence to make a case. gary stewart has maintainedthis is a police cover up. - [voiceover] number, why didthey say there was not enough evidence to comply? - [voiceover] yeah, why notjust test against the dna though?
- [voiceover] yeah, doesit like cost money or like, what's the reason not-- - [voiceover] maybe that dnalab is super popping, like, they just had no timefor theoretical tests. the second and most famoustheory is from robert graysmith who believes that arthur leighallen is the zodiac killer. this theory is the basis forthe 2007 film, the zodiac, starring jake gyllenhaalas robert graysmith. - [voiceover] who is that?
internet sleuth? like us? - [voiceover] he's definitelymore credentialed than us. - [voiceover] okay. he has a card. - [voiceover] actually, robertgraysmith was a political cartoonist at the sanfrancisco chronicle that became obsessed with finding the zodiac. after a decade of personalresearch, graysmith wrote two books entitled zodiac andzodiac unmasked that heavily
implicate arthur leighallen as the zodiac. here's graysmith's casefor arthur leigh allen. the day of the third zodiacattack at lake berryessa in 1969, allen told his familyhe was going scuba diving at lake berryessa. later that evening, he wouldcome home covered in blood with a bloody knife in his car. and if you'll recall, thezodiac murdered cecilia shepard that day with a knife.
two years later in 1971one of allen's friends, don cheney said that allencalled himself the zodiac before the killer publiclyreferred to himself - [voiceover] wait, wait, wait, wait. so, he literally calledhimself "the zodiac"? - [voiceover] i guess, that's true. - [voiceover] hey ryan, callme the zodiac from now on, that's my nickname. - [voiceover] how do you evenwork that into a conversation?
- [voiceover] i know, right? - [voiceover] the only timei can think of is when you go bowling and you write yourname on like the frames. write your name as the zodiac. - [voiceover] right. - [voiceover] and thenyour friends will be like, "who the fuck wrote theirname as the zodiac?" could you imagine if he's likesuper douchey about it too? like, he won't respondunless you call him zodiac.
they're like, "arthur you wanna go out?" he'd be like, "that's not my name." (heavy sigh) - [voiceover] ugh! - [voiceover] "okay, zodiacdo you want to go out?" okay. cheney also said allen toldhim he was planning to hunt people with a gun and aflashlight tied to it. - [voiceover] what?
you tell your friend that. - [voiceover] i know. - [voiceover] he justlaughs, says, "oh, zodiac, "you're such a funny guy." - [voiceover] you're such a trickster! as a result of this information,the police would interview allen a second time whereallen would say his favorite book is the most dangerous game. a book about a man who hunted humans.
and a book referenced by thezodiac in his first letter to the press. to add insult to injury, allenwas also wearing a zodiac brand watch whichcontained the same symbol the killer used. the police searched allen'strailer home where they found small dissected animals ina freezer, bloody knives, and sexual devices, but nodirect evidence of the murders. - [voiceover] that's a weirdthing to keep in your freezer.
cut up animals and sexual devices? - [voiceover] oh no, thesexual devices weren't in the freezer, that would be weird. no one wants a frostydildo inserted into them. in 1974 allen was convictedof child molestation, a crime for which hespent three years in jail. coincidentally, duringthis time no zodiac letters were received. in 1987 a san jose jailinmate named ralph spinelli
told police that allen admittedto him that he murdered paul stine. in august 1991, vallejodetective george bawart interviews mike mageau,the man who survived the second zodiac attack andsaw the zodiac without his mask on. when shown a lineup ofphotographs mageau picked out the man who shot him, itwas arthur leigh allen. - [voiceover] with this info,the police search allen's
home again and this timethey find formulas for bombs, constructed bombs, and tapesabout the zodiac killer. they interview allen againand he says he knows nothing. - [voiceover] wait, wait,wait, they found bombs and/or plans for bombs in hishouse and they don't, they're not able to detain him? - [voiceover] the zodiacput diagrams of bombs in his fucking letters. - [voiceover] right, and hetalked about putting bombs on
children's school bus andthis guy molested a kid. - [voiceover] and there wasfucking tapes about the zodiac killer, this guy's relivinghis greatest hits at home via audio book? what the fuck? - [voiceover] he just asaid what? "plead the fifth" at this point? - [voiceover] one yearlater in august 1992, allen is found at home deadfrom a suspected heart attack. and with that, let's transitioninto reasons why allen may
not be the zodiac killer. allen's dna was comparedagainst the 2002 dna extracted from stamp saliva on a zodiac letter, it was not a match. however, it's also believedthat allen had a habit for letting others lick hisstamps instead of him, which would explain why theprofile didn't match him. - [voiceover] but i don'teven like thinking that this guy was smart enough to think that.
- [voiceover] in my opinion,that's an olympic level stretch. additionally, in 1971the police took allen's finger prints, but the printsdid not match the bloody prints recovered from thepaul stine crime scene. they also had allen undergohandwriting analysis, but the handwriting did notmatch the zodiac either. allen also does not looklike the sketch from the paul stine killing in theslightest, but it's worth
mentioning that arthurleigh allen was considered the prime suspect for thezodiac for most involved police departments andis widely believed to be the zodiac. the third theory is fromretired escalon, california police officer, harvey hineswho believes lawrence kaye, more commonly known bythe surname kane was the zodiac killer. kane was involved in a caraccident in 1962 which resulted
in brain damage influencing his behavior. one psychologist claimed kane was quote, "losing the ability tocontrol self-gratification," end quote. additionally, kane canbe see in the zodiac's "my name is" cipher. and in that cipher thereare three eights with circles around them,three times eight is 24 and kane was born in 1924.
- [voiceover] okay, thatmeans nothing to me. - [voiceover] yeah, i didn'tthink you would like that one. - [voiceover] well, i mean,it's just like reaching at straws at that point. - [voiceover] additionally,the zodiac's second victim, darlene ferrin had a sisterwho said kane was the man who followed and harasseddarlene in the weeks leading up to darlene's murder. in the 1969 paul stine murder,the man suspected to be
the zodiac seen by officerdon fouke was described as 35 to 45 years old. kane was 45 in 1969. officer don fouke said in1987 that of the hundreds of pictures over the past 20years he had been shown, kane was quote, "the closestof them as he remembered "the killer." end quote. kane also lived a six minuteswalk away from mason and geary, the location where cabdriver, paul stine was thought
to have picked up his killer. in fact, an excerpt fromvallejo pd states, quote, "investigation has placedkaye in the locales where "several of the zodiac'svictims either lived or were "killed," end quote. to piggy back on thatsentiment, in 1970 kane moved to south lake tahoe and thatyear a possible zodiac victim that i didn't discussearlier named donna lass disappears in south lake tahoe.
donna lass also coincidentallyworked at the same south lake tahoe hotel as kane. - [voiceover] that's crazy. - [voiceover] but the lastand arguably most damning evidence kane is aboutanother zodiac interaction i haven't discussed yet. on the night of march22, 1970 on highway 132 near patterson, california,kathleen johns and her baby were tricked intoriding in the zodiac's car.
after entering the car, thezodiac told johns that he was going to kill her andthrow her baby out after her. as the zodiac was about to makea turn, johns jumped out of the car and ran into a nearbyfield with her baby and escaped. despite some believing thisis an unconfirmed zodiac encounter, others believe aletter confirms this incident. quote, "so i now have alittle list, starting with the "woman plus her baby that igave a rather interesting ride."
the reason i bring thisencounter up is because kathleen johns, unlike mostsurviving zodiac victims, had extended face time with the zodiac. this is important becausewhen shown a line up of photographs, kathleenjohns was reportedly able to pick out the man who tried to kill her. it was lawrence kane. - [voiceover] i mean, that'ssome pretty strong evidence. - [voiceover] but now let'slook at some evidence that
proves kane isn't the zodiac. i couldn't find an instanceof a dna test against the recovered 2002 sample, norcould i find a record of kane's fingerprint beingtested against the fingerprint found at the paul stine crime scene. furthermore, kane'shandwriting was not a match to the zodiac's, but alsocould not be ruled out. additionally, kane, muchlike earl van best jr., matches the description ofthe killer at the paul stine
murder scene, but does notmatch the large heavyset description of the zodiac inthe first three crime scenes. now that you've heard all the stories, who do you think did it? - i think those two at theend are the most plausible. but i think the real answerwould have to be there was one person and then a copycat, as well. - it's possible, in my mind,arthur leigh allen was the killer for the first three, stopped,
and then lawrence kanetook over as a copycat. - oh, well then yeah. - it seems like to mehe wanted to get caught, he was like asking to get caught almost. - he was playing that line. he was tired with like,"oh, i've killed someone and "gotten away with it," he'slike, "how far can i push it, "that line?" - that's true, yeah.
regardless, the case remains unsolved. and probably will stayunsolved, unfortunately. - trying to find this crime scene. no idea where the hellwe're going right now. do you keep getting hit byspiky things in your socks? - no. - calling all people right to us. - seriously, dude, let'sfucking just clap a little bit louder.
this week on buzzfeedunsolved, did you see that fucking shadow? - no, there's no shadow. - that, for sure you heard that. fuck you, you heard that for sure, right? you fucking for sureheard that shit, right? - there's nothing, ryan! - is the back door open? - our headlights are on.
- we're on the side of agravel road in the middle of the fucking night. - i heard crickets chirping and frogs. - let's just fucking skedaddle on home. - statistically speaking,though, we're probably super safe right now. did the killer live around here? we're right in the middle of this farm. is this like his farm?
is he like no trespassers. - we're not doing thisright now, we're going home. we'll be safe, i'm not died. - alright, buzzfeed unsolved, i'm cutting. (mysterious music)