The Unsolved Murders of the Zodiac

5 mins read
the zodiac
Eric Risberg—AP/Shutterstock.com

On the evening of December 28, 1968, David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen were having their first date. The boy borrowed his mother’s car and shortly after 11 pm the two were in it when he was shot in the head out of the blue. The girl tried to run away but was shot five times. Their bodies were later found by a passing driver. The victims were neither robbed nor sexually abused, and there was no obvious crime motive.

A year later the case was repeated in the same area (San Francisco). A boy and a girl were shot while in a car parked in a public parking lot. Fortunately, the girl survived. Shortly afterward, two local newspapers received letters in the same handwriting where someone claimed responsibility for both cases.

They were written in great detail, with information that should have been kept a secret. But both letters contained a coded part that was saying: “I like killing people because it’s so much more fun than killing wild game in the woods. Because man is the most dangerous of all animals. ”A week later, a new letter arrived at the San Francisco Examiner. This time the killer introduced himself: “Dear editor, this is the Zodiac speaking.”

In 1969, there was another murder of a taxi driver. Along with it, the newspaper’s editorial office received another shocking letter. “School children make nice targets, I think I shall wipe out a school bus some morning. Just shoot out the front tire & then pick off the kiddies as they come bouncing out.”

The message was released in the media and caused panic among the residents. The victims of the Zodiac were randomly selected and his next strike could never be predicted. Dozens of investigators were working on the case, more than 2,500 people have been interrogated, but no progress had been made. No one could catch the Zodiac.

However, Tom Hanson had an idea. The Los Angeles-based manager of fast-food restaurants was often confronted with robberies. In the late 60’s he gradually entered the movie business and made low-budget crime movies. But the purpose of one of them went further than entertainment. The movie The Zodiac Killer (1971) was made to capture the Zodiac.

The production was low-budget and its goal was far from reaching the Oscars. It had to lure the murderer. The creator also had a bait. People who were coming to the cinema rented for the screenings received a note at the entrance, where they had to fill in the sentence: “I think the Zodiac kills because …”, and then put it in a specially made box. What the audience did not know was that there was a person in the box (from the film crew) who compared each newly released note with the handwriting from the letters of the Zodiac.

In case he found identical handwriting, he would come out and everyone else on the team (who were around) would surround the person. This was a naive plan that the group believed in it. However, the letters contained expressions and references to films from the past, as well as other evidence that the Zodiac was a movie buff.

The film was projected for a week in the cinema. Hanson was obsessed with the idea of ​​catching the murderer. But this never happened. There were several suspicious people, but after interrogations, no evidence that any of them was the Zodiac was found.

After those situations with the movie, Hanson became discouraged and returned to the restaurant business. Meanwhile, in letters to the newspaper, the murderer claimed that he had 37 victims. However, the police had evidence of only 7, two of whom survived.

But what happened to the Zodiac? In one of his letters, he announced that he was going anonymous. “I will no longer report any committed murders. My actions will look like ordinary crimes. The police will never catch me because I’m smarter than them. “