Mike Butterfield and Zodiackillerfacts.com — THE REST OF THE STORY
What you don’t know about Mike Butterfield can hurt you
Published on July 10, 2020
By Tom Voigt
Owner of Zodiackiller.com
NOTE: I’ve allowed this issue to be one-sided for far too long. Initially, my approach was to ignore the personal attacks directed at me by Mike Butterfield. However, he has now spent almost a dozen years dishonestly smearing both my name and my website. God knows how many people have been duped by this jealous and spiteful wanna-be author. But now, ironically, one virus (Corona) has given me the necessary time to deal with another virus (Butterfield).
Thanks to David Fincher’s film, titled ZODIAC, a new generation of Zodiac buffs was created back in 2007. Many of those individuals found their way to a website called Zodiackillerfacts.com, where they might have eventually noticed a strong, anti-Tom Voigt sentiment: “Voigt’s a liar, Voigt’s a fraud, Voigt’s a hypocrite, Voigt’s an opportunist!” At Zodiackillerfacts.com, owned by Mike Butterfield, that sentiment exists to this day. But that website wasn’t always that way. At the beginning of 2007, you might be surprised to know that I helped Butterfield get his website online. I already had my own website, Zodiackiller.com, that I had launched in 1998. However, Butterfield and I were on good terms, he thought a website would benefit him, and I was glad to help.
It was late 2006. For almost a dozen years, Mike Butterfield had been preparing a book about the Zodiac killer, and it was finally finished. Butterfield knew that I was formally trained as both a writer and editor. My father, James, was a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist, and he had taught me well. Butterfield asked if I would edit his book, and I said yes. The book was in the form of a PDF file, and Butterfield put the file on a CD-ROM and mailed it to me. “The PDF file is too big to e-mail,” Butterfield said. That was because, as I soon found out, the number of pages in Butterfield’s book had to be seen to be believed. Now, I already knew that Butterfield was a very wordy writer — the equivalent of ask him what time it is, and he’ll tell you how to build a watch. It’s a good writer who can properly communicate a thought, while using the fewest words possible. Butterfield isn’t a good writer. I believe he has since shortened it, but back at that time, even the title of his book was wordy. I said “Mike, if that many words are going to fit on the book cover, the font will have to be so small that nobody will be able to see it.” I wasn’t entirely kidding. As it turned out, Butterfield didn’t really want me to edit anything. Instead, he wanted me to read his book and tell him how perfect it was. I finished chapter one and sent him my edits. That was when Butterfield made it abundantly clear he would not be making even the most simple of corrections.
My relationship with Mike Butterfield began on the Internet back in 1997. I immediately found him to be extremely egotistical, constantly bragging about his own prowess as a writer, while simultaneously criticizing an array of successful, published authors. These days, if you’ve authored a book, there’s an option called self-publishing; literally anyone can do it, and it’s quite popular. But self-publishing is not ideal, as every writer would prefer their work be published by a traditional publishing house such as Penguin Putnam, or Simon & Schuster. It’s the difference between putting some videos on TikTok for your 50 friends to watch, compared to starring in a successful documentary on NetFlix. Joe Blow compared to Joe Exotic. And unlike with self-publishing, having your work published by a publishing house can guarantee regular paydays, a book tour, an interview on Good Morning America, celebrity status, and your own book well-stocked in book stores at the mall. To this day, for the most part, only the best of the best writers earn the great rewards of having a publishing house behind them. It was what Butterfield wanted, and for some reason, what Butterfield thought he deserved. On the Internet, as early as 1997, Butterfield talked as though his massive success was already a done deal. Butterfield imagined himself as Joe Exotic. But as a writer, he Joe Blowed. Not only wasn’t his Zodiac book finished yet, Butterfield had never gotten anything published…ever. But he still acted like he somehow had more credibility than others, both as a writer and a person. As I would soon find, the truth told a much different story.
In early 1998, when I worked for CBS Radio, Mike Butterfield and I agreed to exchange Zodiac materials. The mailing address he gave me was for the ZODIAC INFORMATION CENTER, and it included a suite number. “Wow,” I thought, “does this guy actually operate a Zodiac killer business of some sort?” Nope. Turned out the “suite” was his basement bedroom in his mother’s Phoenix home. The reason I know that is because within 48 hours of our agreement to share materials, I had already packaged and shipped to him everything I had promised. A week later, at the CBS studio where I worked, the materials were returned to me with NO SUCH ADDRESS stamped on the package. I immediately contacted Butterfield and explained what had happened. He responded with “That stupid postman! I told him my bedroom is the suite!” Now, an individual can pretend their basement bedroom is a suite if they wish…but the postal service doesn’t play pretend. As a result, Butterfield had to tell me the truth about his living conditions. I remailed everything to the correct address, and he received the shipment within 72 hours. And the items Butterfield had promised to send me in exchange? Butterfield didn’t bother to send them to me until six-months later. That’s right, he made me wait six freakin’ months. I should have dropped him like a bad habit right then and there, but fellow Zodiac buffs were in short supply back then.
As an author, wordiness wasn’t the only issue with Mike Butterfield. As I studied his book closely in late 2006, I saw entire chapters devoted to “exposing” individuals such as Howard Davis, whose only crime was to have a theory about the Zodiac’s identity. I knew the ridiculing or “exposing” of random people is not what readers want to experience in a Zodiac book. People want to read about the Zodiac case; they don’t want to read about some guy whom the author has a petty beef with. Around that time, the world had learned that David Fincher’s Zodiac movie would be released in theaters on March 2rd, 2007. I naturally assumed Butterfield would quickly send his book to publishers to get the process started. We knew Fincher’s Zodiac movie had a huge advertising budget, and we also knew that every penny spent advertising that Zodiac movie, would also indirectly help advertise Zodiac books, Zodiac websites…all things Zodiac. For a publisher, investing in Butterfield’s book would have been a no-brainer — the coincidental timing with the movie’s release turned out perfectly. Of course, Butterfield would definitely need to swallow his ego and allow his book to be properly edited. But surely, Michael Butterfield would come to realize that he was not Michael Crichton. Right? Indeed, it seemed the stars had aligned perfectly to allow a bad writer to get a good book deal. Or so I thought.
As we were planning his website, near the end of 2006, Mike Butterfield revealed to me that he hadn’t even begun sending his book to publishers. “I want to wait until I see the Fincher movie, so I can put my review of the film in my book,” he said. Once I realized Butterfield wasn’t kidding, I actually had to struggle to stay composed. “Mike,” I said, “what if the movie is a dud at the box office? If that happens, NO PUBLISHER will want anything to do with a book about the Zodiac killer!” Butterfield still wanted to wait. I said “Mike, simply tell readers of your book about your new website, and let the readers know your movie review will be right there, online!” No, he still wanted to wait. I told Butterfield point blank: “As your friend, I am telling you that you are making the mistake of a lifetime. EVEN IF the Fincher movie is a huge success, why would anyone want to buy a book about a movie they had just recently watched in the theaters?” My advice was not taken. Butterfield did it his way….and he blew it.
By late February 2007, Mike Butterfield’s website was finally online. I had recently uncovered the never-before-seen Eureka card, thought to be from Zodiac. It was a big deal. However, rather than adding images of the Eureka card to my own website, Zodiackiller.com, I decided to help Butterfield jumpstart his new website by e-mailing scans of the Eureka card to Butterfield, for him to share at Zodiackillerfacts.com.
— TIMELINE OF THE ENSUING MELTDOWN / GET POPCORN READY —
*All of the info below can be verified at this address:
Feb. 26, 2007 — The first Internet snapshot of Butterfield’s website:
I’m listed as a source, and a link is given to my website:
Soon after his website was launched, Butterfield began plugging his “upcoming book”:
At some point, Butterfield began using his website to ridicule those who had promoted a popular theory. That theory involved the Zodiac killer intentionally choosing crime scenes in order to form a radian angle:
Butterfield ridiculed them even though Mike Butterfield himself had been a huge proponent of that exact radian theory, to the point of singing its praises in 1999 on a nationally televised documentary called Case Reopened —
“Penn’s radian theory became a prominent part of the Zodiac legend and was promoted by many believers, including Zodiac researcher Jake Wark and myself. During my 1999 appearance on the Learning Channel documentary Case Reopened, I explained the radian theory. My endorsement of Penn’s radian theory was later cited by Grant and others in support of that theory. However, my presentation of the radian theory was largely influenced by and based on Gareth Penn’s previous presentations. As a result, I had no idea that my presentation was actually severely flawed and inaccurate. In later years, my own desire to find the truth about the radian theory compelled me to re-examine the facts and to reassess my own beliefs. I had long-believed that the radian theory was valid, but my renewed research forced me to conclude that I had always been wrong.”
Fair enough, right? But no, later in that same entry at Butterfield’s website, he concluded by attempting to rewrite history:
“The facts which debunk the radian theory are readily available to anyone who cares to look. Promoters of the radian theory use erroneous maps with the wrong locations and the wrong measurements, an irony which serves as the final proof that the radian theory is invalid – even its promoters failed to do their homework. Gareth Penn, Raymond Grant and Steve Hodel promote the radian theory, but, in order to do so, they must discard the facts in favor of falsehoods. Gareth Penn’s radian theory may have been compelling and entertaining, and, many people – including myself – may have been fascinated by its simplicity and its possible implications. At its core, the radian theory is the kind of answer so many people seek from the Zodiac mystery, some sort of explanation which would help us understand why this tragedy occurred. Like most sensational “answers” in the Zodiac case, the radian theory seems initially impressive until one examines the facts.”
SO LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT —
According to Butterfield…Gareth Penn, Raymond Grant and Steve Hodel were wrong for not doing “their homework” before endorsing the radian theory. Yet that is exactly what Butterfield did, until years after he had promoted the theory on national television. However, Butterfield has never taken responsibility for doing exactly what he criticized the others for doing. Instead, he blamed Gareth Penn —
Butterfield: “My presentation of the radian theory was largely influenced by and based on Gareth Penn’s previous presentations.”
So when others don’t do “their homework” before endorsing a theory, it’s their own fault. However, when it’s Butterfield not doing his homework before endorsing a theory, it’s someone else’s fault. Gotcha.
WATCH CASE REOPENED BELOW (the relevant portion begins at 38:19):
March 3, 2007 — I was shocked to learn that Mike Butterfield had illegally filmed David Fincher’s ZODIAC at a screening in San Francisco. I might not have believed it, except he sent me a copy of the film on DVD about a month later. In addition, within the previous year, Butterfield had also bragged about intentionally breaking the non-dosclosure agreement he had signed with David Fincher’s film company. I had also signed such an agreement, but chose to live up to my word.
March 6, 2007 — The next snapshot:
At the lower part of the main page, the Eureka card is mentioned. Click the link and it takes you to a page crediting Zodiackiller.com for providing the Eureka content:
March 8, 2008 — The very first mention of Zodiac suspect Richard Gaikowski at either my website or my discussion forum:
Butterfield would eventually use Gaikowski as his platform to repeatedly attack me at his website, fooling people into believing Butterfield had some kind of a righteous motive behind his actions. “Mike Butterfield: Noble Defender of the Accused!”
History clearly tells a different story as you shall see.
Mid-2008 — I had driven to the San Francisco Bay Area from my home in Portland, Ore. to film a television show called “Haunting Evidence.” (At my suggestion, weeks earlier, Mike Butterfield had been offered a role in the show, but he had turned it down because “it might conflict with my book tour.” What book tour?) At my hotel in Vallejo, Cal., I awoke to see two new anti-Howard Davis threads posted by Butterfield at my discussion forum. I had already asked Butterfield to please stop posting such things at my forum, so I immediately deleted both hate threads. That evening, several of my forum moderators, including Angie, Dahlia and Tracers (plus many other users) were in my Zodiac chat room when Butterfield logged-in. Butterfield immediately claimed that I had hacked into his website earlier that day, destroying it. And that the FBI had verified the hacker had used my specific i.p. address in Portland to do the dirty work. The problem with Butterfield’s lie, I told the users in chat, was that I was actually in Vallejo filming a TV show…and had been there for a couple days. Butterfield immediately left the chat room and wasn’t heard from for months. All because earlier in the day I had deleted two of his anti-Howard Davis discussion threads. I chalked up his bizarre behavior to his many personal problems, including his humiliating public book failure, his wife having left him, his being forced to move back in with his mother, etc. The next time Butterfield was heard from was in late 2008 — he was still under the delusion that he was getting a book deal. “Once my book tour starts,” he asked the chat room, “does anyone have couches I can crash on? I’ll be going all around the country.”
Butterfield was fading fast, mentally.
March 24, 2009 — More than a year after Gaikowski’s debut as a Zodiac suspect, Butterfield’s website remains the same:
I’m still listed as a source, and he still has links to my website:
Butterfield’s hate page/wall of shame (those whom he had petty grudges against) has not yet added me:
Clearly there is no Gaikowski issue for Mike Butterfield. So what happened to set him off?
There are no additional snapshots until Jan. 26, 2011:
At some point between snapshots, somewhere between March 24, 2009 and Jan. 26, 2011, I joined Butterfield’s Wall Of Shame:
During this time Butterfield also removed me as a source, removed the Eureka card credit, and removed a link to Zodiackiller.com.
“MysteryQuest: San Francisco Slaughter” (which aired on The History Channel, now called simply HISTORY) was filmed in spring 2009, right around the time of the March 24, 2009 snapshot of Butterfield’s website — the snapshot that clearly showed I was still in his good graces more than a year after Gaikowski surfaced as a Zodiac suspect. Both Butterfield and I appeared in the MysteryQuest show. We stayed in the same Benecia (Cal.) hotel, had numerous conversations, and never once did Butterfield mention any issues he had developed with me. I pretended to forget the lies he had told about me in the chat room back in mid-2008. And that was the last time I ever saw Mike Butterfield. He was still listed as a source of mine, I still linked to his website, and he was still a moderator at my discussion forum.
Reference: “MysteryQuest: San Francisco Slaughter” —
March 26, 2009 — At the time of the MysteryQuest filming, at Zodiackiller.com, I was still offering a link to Butterfield’s website:
Early April, 2009 — I learned that Butterfield had actually lied to the producers of MysteryQuest by claiming he had secured a book deal and therefore wanted to be billed in the show as an “author.” I knew Butterfield had no book deal, but his scheme worked — if you watch the episode of MysteryQuest, when Butterfield first appears on camera, on the screen it says “AUTHOR.”
The MysteryQuest show can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/380168202
— Scroll to the 3:25 mark to see the result of Butterfield’s deception. —
That show was filmed back in 2009, and almost a dozen years later, Butterfield is STILL not a published book author. But he is still a liar. Butterfield’s clear intent was to use the fake “AUTHOR” title on MysteryQuest to boost his own credibility. And it worked, at least on those who didn’t know better. By the time the show debuted later that year, the “AUTHOR” was using his fake credibility to lend believability to all of the lies he began directing at me, and at others as well.
April 26, 2009 — One month after learning of Butterfield’s lie to the producers of MysteryQuest, at Zodiackiller.com I had already removed the link to Butterfield’s website:
On top of everything else I had done for him, I had actually gotten Butterfield the MysteryQuest gig. I had previously worked with The History Channel several times and now worried Butterfield’s lie might actually get me in trouble with the television network. And I wondered what else Butterfield might have lied about during the extensive on-camera interviews we had both separately given in the conference room of our Benecia hotel.
As a result of his lying, Mike Butterfield was no longer welcome at Zodiackiller.com as of April 26, 2009. I removed references/links to both he and his website; additionally, he was no longer a moderator at my discussion forum and his forum account was deactivated.
And that was when Butterfield’s smear campaign against me began.
By late 2008, Mike Butterfield realized he’d never be a published author, therefore his dozen-year dream of being the number one Zodiac book guy, was over. But could Butterfield possibly become the number one Zodiac website guy? Butterfield did indeed have an established Zodiac website — ironically, I had personally helped see to that. However, his website was considered vastly inferior to my website, Zodiackiller.com. For one thing, my site had been established nearly a decade earlier than Butterfield’s and had a ton more content, much of it exclusive. Also, I had an active discussion forum, which Butterfield’s website did not have. So Butterfield knew the only way he could beat me was to cheat. First, Butterfield stole my copyrighted material and added it to his overseas web server, a server he knew didn’t follow our copyright laws here in the United States. Butterfield followed up by targeting my then-friend and main forum moderator, Ed Neil. Butterfield spent months getting into Ed Neil’s ear, telling lies about me and making it appear as if I was somehow bad for Ed Neil. The tactic eventually worked, and Ed Neil left Zodiackiller.com and became a moderator at the new version of Butterfield’s website, which was all of a sudden more focused on spreading hate than spreading facts. Butterfield’s forum did become successful, but it was short-lived. Ed Neil finally wised up, realized he’d been conned by Butterfield, and left the online Zodiac community in embarrassment.
Facing yet another Zodiac failure, this time his discussion forum, Butterfield intentionally broke his forum while blaming me for it just as he had a few years earlier in the chat room. Since then, Butterfield has rarely updated his website. Instead, he finally resurfaced in an attempt to cash in on the podcast fad. But that has failed, too — Butterfield’s first podcast did well, approaching 60,000 downloads. However, listeners apparently didn’t like what they heard, as the subsequent 35 or so episodes have tanked. And now, on average, a typical Butterfield podcast gets barely 900 listeners.
I’d feel sorry for him, but he doesn’t deserve it.
“Voigt’s a liar, Voigt’s a fraud, Voigt’s a hypocrite, Voigt’s an opportunist!”
Mike Butterfield was subconsciously describing himself.