On December 20th, 1964 in Vallejo, California, David Arthur Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen had their first date and their last.
They parked their station wagon at lover’s lane and a man with a pistol approached them. He shot David in the head and Betty Lou 5 times in the back as she ran away. These murders were the start of the biggest crime mysteries in modern history. The same murderer has taken credit for 37 victims in total. He has also had 5 killings attributed to him by the police and manipulated the authorities with taunting phone calls letters and cryptic puzzles.
To this day, the killer has never been officially identified, let alone caught. On July 4th, 1969, the Vallejo Police Department received a phone call and the man claimed responsibility for the death of Darlene Ferrin and the Attempted murder of Michael Majeau. During the same phone call, the murderer also took credit for the murder of David Faraday and Betty Lou.
A month later, the letters started and 3 newspapers received a third of the killer’s cryptic message. The mystery criminal claimed that if they cracked the puzzle, he would reveal the identity. And threatened that if his messages weren’t published, he’d cruise around the city and kill people at night. Initially, only the San Francisco Chronicle published the messages and the murderer responded. For the first time, he referred to himself as the Zodiac Killer.
One week later, the code was cracked by Donald and Betty Harden. The code the murderer declared that every kill he made gave him an extra slave in paradise where he would go after he died.
But cracking this code wasn’t enough for this psychopath. Two more victims were claimed a month later. Students Cecilia Shepard and Bryan Hartnell were picnicking where they were tied up and stabbed multiple times. Only Bryan survived the attack.
Another gruesome murder took place two weeks later when Cab driver Paul Stine was stabbed in the back of the head. Police were called and spoke to the culprit at the scene, but let him go as the radio description was for a black suspect.
Further, haunting letters were received, threatening to blow up schools and school buses.
In 1974, the letters suddenly stopped and the police were left frustrated despite having a partial print, accounts, police encounter and a list of 2,500 suspects.
What could motivate a man to commit such acts and evade the police?
Vallejo Police Captain, Wade Bird, thought the killer may be a genius who had been pushed to madness.
Dr. Lawrence Freedman from the University of Chicago believed that the Zodiac Killer committed crimes because he was overwhelmed with anxiety and attacked couples because he craved intimacy. A psychologist, William Baker, blamed mother issues and problems from childhood.
Others have suggested that he suffered from multiple personality disorders.
While we may never know the inner working of a serial killer, it seems his identity remains just as much as a mystery.
A dedicated website run by Zodiac case expert Tom Voigt collects and displays all of the police reports photos witness encounters and theories.
His website has narrowed it down to 7 possible suspects.
Arthur Leigh Allen
Michael O Hare
In Feb 2016, Detective Kimberly Mcgrath released her in-depth theory that the Zodiac Killer is Dennis Rader aka the BTK killer. He was an American serial killer who murdered 10 people in Kansas. The similarities were that both murderers sent letters during their killing sprees and exhibited similar behavior with victims and when the Zodiac letters stopped in 1974, the BTK killer began his own massacre.
Although this is a strong theory, it remains just that and the mysterious case of the Zodiac Killer remains open. This means the Zodiac Killer could still be at large.