Dec. 24, 2000) As a Christmas present for all of the loyal visitors to this site, I’ve posted the first 22 pages of the Lake Berryessa police report.
Dec. 13, 2000) Paul Avery has died.
The former reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle was probably best known for his active involvement in the Zodiac case, including being highly instrumental in the success of this website.
Dec. 6, 2000) Think you know who Zodiac is? Always been suspicious of that weird guy down the street? Click here to report a suspect to Zodiackiller.com.
Nov. 23, 2000) Tuesday I spent almost 90 minutes on the phone with the Riverside Police Department’s (RPD) lead detective on the Cheri Jo Bates murder case, Steve Shumway. According to Shumway, the DNA samples taken from Bates and her suspected killer are back from the FBI’s laboratory in Quantico, Va. and are now “being retested at a lab in Berkeley, Calif.” RPD has believed for 30 years it knows who killed Bates and has been attempting to gather enough evidence to file murder charges against the suspect. Shumway attributed recent delays in the investigation to the fact that “this is California’s first case involving Mitochondrial DNA, so we are moving very carefully.”
(See the October 1999 update below for more details.)
RPD’s diligence is to be commended. Even though Bates was murdered 34 years ago, the department treats her case with great importance, as if it happened yesterday. There’s no statute of limitations on murder and RPD is proving it.
I can’t say the same thing about the Vallejo Police Department (VPD).
In 1991 and 1992, VPD executed search warrants against Zodiac suspect Arthur Leigh Allen. Even though VPD found many of the potentially incriminating items it was looking for, including a foot-long knife and Royal typewriter, it has apparently made no attempt at matching the items to Zodiac.
Lt. JoAnn West, spokesperson for VPD, recently told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Tom Zoellner, “All I can tell you is that all of the evidence we’ve recovered is being studied. I can’t get into specifics of what that evidence is. We have sent it to a lab and we are awaiting results.”
The facts, and common sense, seem to contradict Lt. West. In order to determine if the typewriter taken from Allen’s home was used to prepare the anonymous Bates-confession letters, it might make sense to involve the Riverside Police Department. After all, RPD has the original confessions. To date, even after eight years, VPD still has not contacted RPD about Allen’s typewriter. According to my sources, VPD also has not contacted the Napa County Sheriff’s Department regarding comparing the knife recovered from Allen’s home with the wounds of Zodiac’s Lake Berryessa victims.
Luckily, RPD told me it is “more than willing” to cooperate with the typewriter comparison. Will VPD finally do what should have been done years ago? I’ll be contacting the department within the next week or so for comment.
Nov. 20, 2000) The Arthur Leigh Allen File has been updated to include all of the reasons that make Allen the best suspect in the case. It’s a must-read for everybody, as I’ve included facts never published. It’s hard for me to believe that after reading the information anyone could doubt his viability as a suspect, but we shall see.
> Due to the recent media attention on her case and the e-mail I’ve received from people wanting more details about her disappearance, I have decided to add Donna Lass to my list of possible victims. (Although there isn’t much evidence supporting the theory that Zodiac was responsible for her disappearance.)
> Many of you are aware of the involvement former San Francisco Chronicle reporter Paul Avery had in the Zodiac case during the late 1960s-early 1970s. In fact, Zodiac even singled Avery out in a Halloween card sent to the Chronicle in 1970. I’ve put together a page documenting the seriousness of Zodiac’s apparent threat on Avery’s life.
Oct. 2, 2000) Saturday I spent several hours with Dr. Howard Davis, author of The Zodiac/Manson Connection. While we disagree on who was behind the Zodiac crimes, Howard’s a great guy and excellent researcher.
Sept. 18, 2000) The Learning Channel interviewed me today for its upcoming documentary, The Ultimate 10: Unsolved Crime Mysteries. No date has been set, but it might air by the end of this year. I’ll post details when I get them.
> According to Variety, 20th Century Fox will soon be making a feature film of the case called The Zodiac. David Permut (Face/Off) will produce the thriller. No other information has been released.
> The Arthur Leigh Allen File has been updated with a new picture of a young Allen on the high dive, plus a page from Allen’s 1967 teacher evaluation.
July 20, 2000) It’s taken me 13 hours, but I’ve finally finished updating The Victims pages. I’d like to urge everybody to check out the changes. From Bates to Stine, a ton of new information has been added.
> Zodiac Letters has been updated. I’ve added the cipher Zodiac included in his July 31, 1969 letter to the San Francisco Chronicle. If you view the page with 800 by 600 screen resolution, the cipher is almost exactly scale.
> If you need to Contact Zodiackiller.com, I’ve added a page detailing all of the ways you may do so. A USPS address is now available, as well as a way to anonymously send e-mail.
June 13, 2000) This afternoon I was interviewed by Claudia Cowan of Fox News, San Francisco. Mainly we discussed the dilemma I’m facing regarding the handwriting analysis (see the June 12, 2000 post below), but we also talked about the Vallejo Police Department’s apparent dubious handling of potentially crucial evidence taken from suspect Arthur Leigh Allen’s home in 1991 and 1992. VPD’s George Bawart did an excellent job in obtaining the search warrants, but it seems the department dropped the ball with the evidence.
June 12, 2000) A major setback occured just over a week ago, as APB.com essentially went out of business. The site is still up, maintained by volunteers hoping for new investors to save the day. Celebrity news editor Jim Edwards was one of 140 to lose his job. Edwards and APB.com had been responsible for a huge amount of recent exposure for the Zodiac case in general and this site in particular.
Unfortunately, the timing of APB’s demise couldn’t have been worse. The company was financially backing a handwriting comparison between suspect Arthur Leigh Allen and Zodiac, to be conducted by a well-respected expert from San Diego. Needless to say, the project has been dropped. The expert did comment that, based on her initial examination, “there are enough similarities in the samples to require a thorough exam.” Hopefully, that “thorough exam” will still happen…that is, if someone can come up with the necessary funds.
> On a more pleasant note, today is Ken Narlow’s 70th birthday. Narlow, formerly of the Napa County Sheriff’s Department, has been involved in the Zodiac case ever since the murder of Cecelia Shepard on Sept. 27, 1969.
Happy birthday, Ken. (And thanks for all your time and help.)
May 31, 2000) My trip to the San Francisco Bay Area was very successful, as I was finally able to meet with retired Vallejo Police Department detective George Bawart. Bawart is an expert on the Zodiac case, especially concerning suspect Arthur Leigh Allen.
May 25, 2000) For the next few days I’ll be in the San Francisco Bay Area on yet another fact-finding mission. As always, certain trustworthy people have my complete itinerary…just in case.
May 4, 2000) Ever since the San Francisco Chronicle published Paul Avery’s “Zodiac connection” story in November 1970, Riverside murder victim Cheri Jo Bates has been linked to the Zodiac case. However, the Riverside Police Department (RPD) has long maintained that Bates was murdered by an ex-boyfriend in a fit of rage. Until now, a key piece of evidence supporting RPD’s claim has been withheld. With permission from lead detective Steve Shumway, I am revealing a fact that directly points to the Bates murder as being a classic “crime of passion:”
Cheri Jo Bates was stabbed 42 times.
Traditionally, attacks that result in massive trauma to the head and face (or numerous stab wounds) are committed by individuals who had a relationship with their victim. While not impossible, it would certainly be a rarity for a person to exhibit such rage against a complete stranger. While it is a fact that Zodiac used a knife at Lake Berryessa in 1969, he seemed to be only interested in inflicting wounds necessary to kill his victims. Overkill was not exhibited at Berryessa, although the opportunity was certainly available. In fact, one victim survived the attack.
My suspicion is that Zodiac had ties to the Riverside area and knew of the Bates murder, but did not commit it. He typed the “confession” letter, as well as the three subsequent pencilled messages, merely to taunt the police just as he was to do later in the Bay Area.
To the dismay of RPD, it will probably be forever linked to the Zodiac case…even if it is able to solve the Bates murder. But I believe the department is definitely on the right track. I will be stunned if its suspect is ever cleared.
April 25, 2000) Recently I obtained suspect Arthur Leigh Allen’s personnel file from an elementary school where he worked during 1966-68. The file contained original handwritten and typewritten samples, all of excellent quality. Arrangements are being made to have the handwritten samples compared to Zodiac’s handwriting, although the process isn’t as easy as it sounds. I will also attempt to have Allen’s typed letters analyzed in an effort to identify the typewriter. According to a 1966 FBI report, the typewriter used to prepare the Riverside “confession” was a Royal Merit Pica 508.
The most startling discovery in Allen’s file was an absentee slip dated Nov. 1, 1966. Yes, within a day or two of the Cheri Jo Bates murder Allen missed work. While I’m assuming Allen missed Nov. 1, the possibility exists that Allen was absent Oct. 31 and that Nov. 1 was merely the date the slip was filled out. Every attempt will be made to gather more information. However you interpret the date, this is yet another piece of tantalizing circumstantial evidence pointing directly at Arthur Leigh Allen’s involvement in the Zodiac crimes.
> For the second day in a row, Zodiac Letters has been updated. Just added: Zodiac’s envelope from his Dec. 20, 1969 letter to Mel Belli, as well as the envelope used for Zodiac’s May 8, 1974 “Citizen” letter.
March 31, 2000) While I have made plenty of mistakes since I started this site about two years ago, I’ve done my best to get accurate information. That includes making every effort to speak with individuals actually involved with this case, rather than relying on second-hand info. Initially, my relationship with America’s Most Wanted opened a lot of doors that otherwise would have been locked tight. Since then, luckily, the popularity of the Internet has grown to the point that it’s now possible to identify myself as being affiliated with a “.com” without garnering too many blank stares. Unfortunately, even with great sources, miscommunication can occur. That appears to be the case with the Cheri Jo Bates/DNA saga. For the last few weeks (or has it already been months?), I had been posting what I believed to be fact. However, contrary to what has been posted, the Riverside Police Department (RPD) apparently has not received any results regarding DNA comparison between Bates and “Barnett,” her suspected killer. The FBI has all relevant materials and any undue delay is a result of the FBI’s workload and not a result of incompetence or sluggishness on the part of RPD.
UPDATE: The DNA did not match.
> Thanks to everybody who has helped make the new Message Board a huge success. It’s “about time” we all had a convenient place to argue about radians and such. Most of the bugs have been worked out, so there should be no more disappearing posts.
March 20, 2000) The History Channel’s Zodiac episode tonight was about what I expected. (Although I was hoping to look a tad more slender on camera.) You can post your comments regarding the show or any other Zodiac-related subject on the all-new Zodiackiller.com Message Board.
March 11, 2000) The date for The History Channel’s Zodiac documentary has been released. Perfect Crimes? will air March 20 at 9 p.m.
> I have updated the Zodiac Letters page to include Zodiac’s entire Aug. ?, 1969 letter. Postmarked San Francisco, the three-page letter was sent to the San Francisco Examiner and was the first time Zodiac referred to himself by that name. Although the text has been reproduced, this is the first time the entire letter has been made public. The Aug. 4, 1969 Examiner featured a story on the letter, although the date it was mailed is unknown.