Z = Zodiac Killer, A to Z Blog Challenge

For my last day of this A-Z blog challenge, I have (unwisely) decided to tackle one of the most famous unsolved serial killer mysteries of all time, second to Jack the Ripper. Of course, this is a badge I have pinned on it, and is definitely arguable.

Anyway, these entries are best kept smaller, and there is just too much information out there to make any significant dent or insight into this decades old killer. However, when you get to the bottom of this entry, you will see that my other word choices were sadly lacking. Not only that, but the mystery intrigues me.

So, here’s a terrible summary of sorts and lots of conjecture — probably amateurish and infantile, but still possible. Enjoy!

The Zodiac killer was a serial killer active in the late 60s and early 70s in northern California. Four women and three men met their deaths by the Zodiac Killer. His killings were so random and the scenes atypical, no sign of a struggle, usually a walk up and kill job, no chance for the killer’s DNA to get around (to be examined decades later…hey, I watched Cold Case Files, people.) That being said, they did have a sketch of him. Sometimes he was hooded and usually killed everyone there, but some victims survived and this sketch was made.

The Zodiac Killer wanted poster and composite sketch.

The Zodiac Killer wanted poster and composite sketch.

Unfortunately, he looked very plain and nondescript. Unless…

Frank Grimes was the Zodiac Killer?! He wasn't just Homer's enemy, apparently.

Frank Grimes was the Zodiac Killer?! He wasn’t just Homer’s enemy, apparently.

Levity aside, in a case not unheard of, but rather rare, this killer named himself through a series of cryptograms he sent to various newspapers. Whenever I think about this, I think about the book Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. Francis Dolarhyde, the killer in that book, thought of himself as the Red Dragon, but because he bit people when he killed them, the media dubbed him the Tooth Fairy. Can you imagine this huge, psychotic, strong killer calling himself the Tooth Fairy? No. He threw a tantrum and killed someone to get the negative press erased. It would seem that the Zodiac Killer was aware of this proclivity of the media to name serial killers (well before Red Dragon was published) and so decided to name himself.

However, out of the four cryptograms the Zodiac Killer sent, only one of them has been conclusively solved. They looked like the picture below.

pg-2-zodiac-code-apOne has to wonder if they were all real cryptograms or if the killer, who said that they would lead the cops to him if they could be figured out, was full of shit. Think about it from the poetic angle, however lame and pretentious. The killer said that they would give away his identity and lead to his own capture if they were deciphered, but only one out of four has been cracked. What if the Zodiac Killer just put in random symbols and letters that would never make sense, as if he was really saying, “You’ll never catch me.”? What if the deciphered note was to give the semblance of order only so he could send three others that were essentially telling the cops that he would never be caught? I suppose that’s as plausible as saying that this man created a code that hasn’t been cracked in 40 years. It wouldn’t be too far out to think that he would put something with the semblance of syntax and order to fool people.

But serial killers don’t usually work that way, do they? The serial killer ego is a force to be reckoned with. Think about Dennis Rader, the BTK killer, who wrote letters taunting police rather like the Zodiac Killer. In fact he went dormant and was lured out by his ego when a newspaper ran articles calling him out and insulting him. Through a dialogue carried out in publication (think of how Dolarhyde communicated with Lecter in Red Dragon if you’ve read or seen it), the police convinced Rader that they couldn’t catch him if he sent them a diskette with his writings on it. Of course they actually could and caught his ass that way.

And here are his killer stats. (Clicking on it should make it readable)

And here are the Zodiac Killer’s stats. (Clicking on it should make it readable)

So, I’ve been all over the place with this entry, from Jack the Ripper to the Zodiac Killer (ignoring his two copycats) to BTK to the fictional Francis Dolarhyde. But serial killers have that psychosis that links them, an ego, a desire to be recognized for their “work”, usually to transform themselves through their sickness and to be feared, to have power, and sometimes to get caught. How else will people know what geniuses they were (so they think)? Was the Zodiac Killer of this sort? Or was he just a sadistic killer, the 60s version of a troll, teasing police with the promise of a message that was really, “Fat chance, bozos.”? In any case, we may never know. There are suspects, plenty of them, but a frustrating inability to test them, as some of the suspects have died and the others are possible but the resulting evidence isn’t conclusive.

Essentially, we may never know.

— So, that concludes my A-Z blog challenge. Wooooo hooooo! Since I usually post on Mondays and Thursdays, this entry will serve as the end of one and my typical Monday entry. See you on Thursday!

Alternate letter considerations: Zealot, zesty nachos

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~ by Darren Endymion on August 31, 2015.

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