The Zodiac Killer: A look into the mystery

The Zodiac Killer: A look into the mystery

Giuliana Carmosino

What the killer was thought to look like


A serial killer that goes by the name of The Zodiac Killer took credit for several murders in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s. The killer was never caught and to this day remains a mystery, and can be named as one of the biggest unsolved mysteries to this date. He taunted police and made threats through letters sent to newspapers from 1969 to 1974. No one was ever arrested for the 5 crimes that were directly linked to him, and the case remains open. There is rumored to be many more murders that he committed, although only 5 have been documented. This mystery around The Zodiac Killer has been the subject of many movies and books, such as the movie “Zodiac.”

The Letters

On August 1, 1969, the San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Chronicle, and Vallejo Times-Herald each received copies of the same handwritten letter in an envelope without a return address. The letter opened with “Dear Editor: I am the killer of the 2 teenagers last Christmas at Lake Herman.” The letters contained details from the Zodiac Killer’s murders that only the killer could have known. The killer went on to threaten further attacks if the letters weren’t printed on the front page of the papers. Each of the letters closed with a symbol consisting of a circle with a cross through it, which later became the Zodiac Killer’s symbol. Bay Area police departments, with the support of the FBI, worked hard to try and reveal the killer. However before they could find this killer, another letter soon arrived at the San Francisco Examiner. Beginning, “Dear Editor: This is the Zodiac speaking,” it also described the murders in detail, as well as taunting police for not having been able to crack his code or catch him. Three days after the fourth known Zodiac killing, the murder of taxi driver Paul Stine was committed. Then shortly after The San Francisco Chronicle received a letter claiming the crime. This letter was Written in the same print as the Zodiac’s previous letters, and it gave the details of Stine’s murder there was even a bloody scrap of Stine’s shirt. At the end of the letter, the killer threatened and said that he would next shoot out the tire of a school bus and harm the children when they walked out of the bus. The Zodiac Killer continued owning up to murder as well as mocking the police for not being able to find him. In 1974 the letters from The Zodiac Killer stopped, however, the investigation remained open. 


As Documented, four separate attacks have been 100% linked to the Zodiac Killer. The first incident that confirmed as the Zodiac Killer took place on December 20, 1968, when 17-year-old David Faraday and his 16-year-old girlfriend, Betty Lou Jensen, were shot to death near their car at a hidden spot on Lake Herman Road. Police were struck as confused, as they were unable to determine the motive for the crime or a suspect. On July 5, 1969, Darlene Ferrin, age 22, and her boyfriend, Mike Mageau, age 19, were sitting in a parked car in a remote location that was similar to the first location, when they were approached by a man with a flashlight. The man fired multiple shots at them, killing Ferrin and seriously wounding Mageau. Shortly after this crime had been committed the Police Department received a call explaining the location of  the crime and claiming that he was the one who committed it.

The San Francisco police department marked the case inactive in April 2004, but then later reopened it at some point prior to March 2007. The case also remains open in the city of Vallejo, as well as in Napa County and Solano County. The California Department of Justice has maintained an open case file on the Zodiac murders since 1969. To this day the Zodiac Killer remains one of the biggest unknown serial killers in the United States and his identity remains a huge mystery.