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12 • Rabbit Holes

New theories bring new suspects. But for many independent investigators, those theories are truth.

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So Ted Kaczynski killed because he enjoyed killing. The Zodiac in his faraway cipher said I like killing people because it’s so much fun.

– Mark Hewitt, author of three Zodiac books

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September 27th, when the Zodiac stabbed Cecelia Shepherd and Bryan Hartnell. Within a day or two, this is before it hit the newspaper. Within a day or two, the costume was put in my car, the killing costume.

– Sandy Betts, Zodiologist who claims run-ins with the Zodiac

Zodiologists have their own theories; they gather every year to spend time together and visit Zodiac sites.

Transcript

Host: The views and opinions expressed in this podcast, are solely those of the podcast author, or individuals participating in the podcast, and do not necessarily represent those of iHeartMedia, Stuff Media, or its employees.

Mark Hewitt: Some Zodiac researchers don’t like people saying that they’re obsessed with the case. I don’t either, but for a different reason. Because I blew past obsession about five years ago. It’s far more than an obsession to me. My name is Mark Hewitt, I’m a true crime author. I’ve been researching the Zodiac case for about 11 years now. At various times I’ve looked at online websites and talked with other people about the case.

Mark Hewitt: Back in 2007, around the time that David Fincher’s movie, Zodiac came out, that was the beginning of my fascination with the case that became an obsession eventually. There were a couple of times in my life back between 2003 and 2007 when I looked into the case, I spent a little bit of time on the 340 ciphers, and I thought about visiting different crime scenes. It came to a point where I said, you know what, either I’m gonna have to throw myself into it wholeheartedly, or I’m gonna need to back away from it. It’s gotta be one of the two. I can’t just dabble in it and feel like I’m doing anything seriously. So around about sometime in 2007, I made the decision that I was gonna throw myself in it wholeheartedly and read everything I could read and talk to everybody I could talk to, and figure out everything I could about the case.

Mark Hewitt: Threw myself into the case knowing that it was a high profile case. It was 11 years of my life. A couple of years ago my wife left me, I’m not divorced. In part because of the case. Not fully, not 100%, but I threw myself into the case and neglected friendships, neglected my family, neglected my career. It’s something that I had to do because of my make up as a person. This case has actually been my life for 11 years, and I’m going through the process now that the book has come out in September of what am I gonna do now with my life. I can’t live off The Zodiac forever. In fact, I’ve even thought to myself at times, well you know, maybe I need to just walk away from it and form new social communities, social circles and leave it completely. And yet, I can’t do that because I have great friendships here, and the case is still being looked at by the police. People are still reading my book, reporters keep calling me and asking for comments, asking for quotes. I suspect I’ll be involved with the Zodiac the rest of my life.

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Speaker 1: A man in a mask robbed, tied and stabbed them, leaving them for dead.

Speaker 2: Subjects stated, I want to report a murder, no a double murder. I did it.

Speaker 3: A man who wore a mid-evil style executioners hood carried a knife and gun and intended to use them.

Speaker 4: They haven’t arrest me because they can’t prove a thing. I’m not the damn Zodiac.

Speaker 5: Who is the Zodiac, and where is he?

Host: From I Heart Radio, How Stuff Works, and Tenderfoot TV, this is Monster, The Zodiac killer. From the very beginning of this podcast, we’ve been asking the big question, who is The Zodiac? The theories seem endless. A few searches on the internet and you can be lost in a sea of conjecture. No other murder in history has drawn so many names and speculation as to the killer’s true identity. With all this information out there, how can we possibly find the true story? How long have we looked in the wrong places? Is it possible that there’s more than one man behind the mask?

Host: The case details are so vague, so disconnected, they easy limit themselves to wild interpretation. And the unfortunate truth is, this might be part of the reason why The Zodiac has gotten away with these atrocities for over 50 years.

Michael B.: So there are a lot of myths out there about The Zodiac, and they often are attached to various theories about the case. So if someone has a suspect, they sort of tailor the story of The Zodiac to fit that suspect. So depending on who you’re talking about, the story will change.

Host: This is Zodiac expert, Michael Butterfield. He says he’s heard a lot of unlikely theories about The Zodiac. While many are based in truth, others are pure conjecture. Butterfield now listens to every new story with a skeptical ear.

Michael B.: So he’s either a brilliant Harvard lecturer, or he’s part of The Manson Family or all these things, and so each portrait of The Zodiac changes with each theory, but none of them correspond with reality.

Host: The list of possible suspects is long and bizarre. There are dozens of names, including the improbably, Charles Manson, Dennis Rader, and even Texas US Senator, Ted Cruz. But there are also a number of more plausible suspects, and many investigators have explored these extensively, often spending years finding the clues and connections. And for these investigators, their suspect is everything.

Rachel R.: This is what they believe, it’s their truth, and I’m reporting what they believe. If there’s another side to it, I report that too. I’m Rachel Raskins-Zrihen, and I’m a journalist with the Times Herald Vallejo. When I got with the Times Herald, it just came with the package because the Times Herald was involved from the start. I think the first time I got a phone call from someone who knew who The Zodiac was, I talked with someone about it, they said oh yeah, we get those all the time. You get letters, you get phone calls, they know for sure, and they want to tell you. Most of the time there’s nothing really you can do to disprove it. It happened a long time ago, and it happened to them. They developed their theory in their head. There’s no way really to disprove it, so, I don’t normally try unless something comes up in the story that presents itself an opportunity to talk to somebody else to see if there’s another story out there that would contradict it or confirm it. Then I do that.

Rachel R.: Well clearly some have gotten so into it that it’s cost them other important elements in their life. I’ve known people who have lost marriages and families over it because they can’t let it go.

Host: One of these people is Mark Hewitt who you heard at the beginning of the episode. After more than a decade of research, Mark recently published a trilogy of books on his Zodiac suspect.

Mark Hewitt: I had to look at myself in the mirror a number of times over this past year, and do a very serious gut check because I was going to go live, and I was going to publish a book that identified Ted Kaczynski as The Zodiac serial killer. I put my credibility on the line, my research ability on the line. A lot of people have criticized it and ripped it apart online and called me an idiot, and a fool. One person said that they wouldn’t have been more surprised if I’d named the Easter Bunny as being responsible for The Zodiac murders.

Host: We met up with Mark at the Lake Herman Road 50th anniversary gathering. It quickly became clear to me, Mark had been through a lot. Regardless of the criticism, he’s received, Mark has done his homework. So we’re gonna hear Mark out and dig into his theory.

Mark Hewitt: What I came up with was six or seven clusters of evidence. One, for instance, is the whole use of mathematics. As you get to know The Zodiac letters, you realize there are an awful lot of numbers in his writings. There are equations, there are umpteen symbols.

Host: This is important because Ted Kaczynski studied mathematics religiously, and according to Mark, there’s one particular symbol that had special meaning to Kaczynski. A circle with a cross through it.

Mark Hewitt: The crosshair symbol is a mathematical picture, an illustration of the equation x squared plus y squared equals one, which is so basic to mathematics that it has its own term. It’s called a unit circle. Ted Kaczynski in a number of his papers, uses the phrase, a unit circle, and unit circle is used widely in his expertise, boundary functions, Wicken mathematics.
Host: For another clue, Mark says you can look to author Joseph Conrad’s book, The Secret Agent.

Mark Hewitt: If you read The Secret Agent you realize, oh my goodness, there are an awful lot of numbers. There are an awful lot of phrases, there are a large number of vocabulary words that come straight from The Secret Agent into The Zodiac letters.

Host: One example of this comes from The Zodiac letter received on November 11, 1969. This was Zodiac’s threat to bomb a school bus.

Speaker 6: It won’t do to reroute and reschedule the buses because the bomb can be adapted to new conditions.

Host: In Conrad’s, The Secret Agent, the main character says he wants to, “Invent a detonator that would adjust itself to all conditions of action, and even to unexpected changes of condition.”

Mark Hewitt: Why that’s significant is that’s one of Ted Kaczynski’s favorite books. He claims to have read it a dozen times. One time when he was trying to explain himself to his parents and his brother, he said you know you have to read this book to understand me.
Host: Another tie between Zodiac and Kaczynski is the use of written declarations sent to the media. Mark says there are a lot of similarities between the Unabomber Manifesto and The Zodiac letters.

Mark Hewitt: A lot of the wording and a lot of the explanation of the Unibomber manifest is merely justification. So Ted Kaczynski killed because he enjoyed killing. The Zodiac in his faraway cipher said I like killing people because it’s so much fun.

Host: So both Kaczynski and The Zodiac killed for the pleasure of it, and both of them bragged about it in letters sent to local newspapers. Like many theories about Zodiac suspects, a lot of the evidence here is circumstantial. However, there are things that eerily add up, like the timelines between Zodiac and Ted Kaczynski.

Mark Hewitt: Ted was in California in 1966 interviewing for positions to become a math professor. 1967 he moved to the Bay area and was a professor at Berkeley from 67-69. 69 he abruptly resigned his position. Four days later, four days after his last day of work was the Blue Rock Springs murder. Over the next two years of his life, Ted Kaczynski was missing in action. During those two years, the bulk of the Zodiac murders, and the bulk of the Zodiac letters took place culminating with the letter to the LA Times in March of 1971, the last time the Zodiac used the word Zodiac, the last time he used the crosshair symbol. Why is that significant? Because several months later in June of 1971, Ted Kaczynski moved to Montana, built this cabin, and lived in Montana.

Host: Between 1971 and 1974, new Zodiac letters were sent to the San Francisco Chronical. However, these letters were different. They were signed with other aliases such as The Red Phantom, or simply as A Friend.

Mark Hewitt: There are one, maybe a couple of additional Zodiac letters after Ted moved to Montana, but they never used the word Zodiac, and they never used the crosshair symbol. So, the timelines of The Zodiac and Ted Kaczynski line up very well.

Host: But what about the way Zodiac killed people versus The Unibomber? Zodiac only ever used guns and knives to kill. Is it possible that he did follow through on his threat to make bombs?

Mark Hewitt: The truth is, The Zodiac killed up until the murder of Paul Stein in which he was sited. That changed The Zodiac. As far as we know, he didn’t attack after that. However, at that time, The Zodiac became more of a letter writer and began to write many many letters to the police. And in those letters, he included a bomb diagram where he threatened to kill a school bus.

Mark Hewitt: He included a bomb diagram where he threatened to kill a school bus with a bomb, so the Zodiac himself morphed from an up close and personal killer to somebody who threatened with bombs.

Host: This isn’t just some farfetched theory. In 1996, San Francisco detectives announced they were investigating Ted Kaczynski as a possible Zodiac suspect. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, local investigators found distinct similarities between the Unabomber and Zodiac crimes. Among them were, detailed Mark Hewitt had also found. Both sent letters to newspapers bragging of their crimes. Ted Kaczynski was in the Bay Area at the same time as the Zodiac murders, and Kaczynski often used a symbol similar to the Zodiac cross hair’s symbol. Ultimately, police never confirmed any viable connections between Kaczynski and the Zodiac crimes. However, his name still exists on the roster of possible suspects, and for Mark Hewitt, that possibility keeps his research alive.

Mark Hewitt: People have said to me, “Where are you going to go with his? Are you going to try to talk the police into it? Are you going to try to convince everybody?” I don’t feel that’s my job. I’m a researcher. I’m a writer. I’ve researched the case. I’ve written about it. People can respond to it any way they want to.

Host: There’s so much detail to the Kaczynski case that covering everything in this episode would be impossible. That’s true for nearly all the high profile Zodiac suspects. In fact, the sheer amount of information and circumstantial evidence on these suspects is intimidating. But, there’s one journalist whose combed through almost all of it, the main San Francisco Chronicle reporter assigned to the case.

Kevin Fagan: Oh, you can go into Zodiac arcana like many rabbits done many holes. I’m Kevin Fagan. I’m a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle. I have thousands of tips in a drawer over there. It’s a series of file folders and books dating back to 1996, I believe it is, right around then, of theories and tips and proclamations from people who believe they’ve solved the Zodiac case. It’s gonna spill over. This may be the first, yeah, this is one of the first ones. No, it’s not the first. You could spend all your days sorting this stuff.

Kevin Fagan: This one, oh, this guy’s sure it’s someone in, I think, Scotland. Maybe they’re right. Who knows? But, there are just so damn many of them. Just sorting out which one is the real one, that’s for the cops. That’s why a lot of people when they call I say, my standard response, which I truly believe is, “Thank you. I’m glad you’re sharing this.” When the cops move on it, that’s when it’s the best time to report on this because if I wrote a story on every … and in the plausible ones, if I were to start on every plausible Zodiac tip that came in it’d be a weekly call.

Kevin Fagan: This is just everyone that came in. It just goes on. I wrote about this because, 2009, “ My dad did it.” Did dad do it? Who knows? Then I started getting a ton of stuff from people who thought their dad is the Zodiac, their moms may be the Zodiac, the guy upstairs is the Zodiac. No, it’s a bunch of cops. No, it’s a guy in Scotland. Wait, no, it’s a crazy guy who lives downstairs, and I’m writing this letter as he’s down there right now.

Kevin Fagan: If you read the ciphers … I get letters, oh heck, many every year, and packets and handmade books from people have gone through the ciphers, and oh my God, they’ve solved it. It says, fills in the blanks. People have gone through the handwriting and say, oh my God, it’s my grandpa’s handwriting, or it’s the guy down the road’s handwriting, or it’s the serial killer in prison. It’s his handwriting. They’re dead sure. They get experts who confirm their theories. It goes back. “My dad did it,” 2009. No, my dad did it.

Host: Fagan is talking about a phenomenon we also noticed in our investigation. In recent years, several individuals have come forward to claim they have direct family ties to Zodiac. One of those individuals is Gary Stewart. In 2014, Stewart went public to suggest his biological father, a man named Earl Van Best Jr. was the Zodiac. His primary evidence was found in one of the Zodiac’s unsolved cryptograms. Stewart claims his father’s name could be found in the so-called 340 Cipher. Remember, this was a later cryptogram sent to the San Francisco Chronicle on November 9, 1969. Zodiac sent a follow-up 13 symbol cipher on April 20, 1970. Unlike the first ciphers, these were never officially decrypted.

Gary Stewart: My father’s name is in that cipher. He said, “My name is,” and then he put 13 symbols. Those 13 letters are E-A-R-L-V-A-N-B-E-S-T-J-R.

Host: That was Gary Stewart speaking on a talk show in 2014. He punished a book on these findings and more. But, not everyone was convinced.

David A.: Unsolved cryptograms, it’s like the equivalent of a treasure map trying to figure out well, where is the treasure buried. Sometimes I’ll go through a period where I’ll spend a lot of hours on it, and other times I don’t because I get burned out on trying it.

Host: This is programmer and amateur cryptographer, David. We talked with him early in the season about the first ciphers. He’s tried to solve the 340 Cipher, but like everyone else has had no success.

David A.: People have written endless books about their suspects and their claims about solving the solution. And in some cases, they’re rewarded for it financially. Their books are wildly popular even though they haven’t really solved the codes. If they can convince enough people that they have then they’re able to make a decent buck from it, so that’s the other strange aspect of this whole thing.

David A.: In the case of Gary Stewart who claimed his biological father I guess was the Zodiac, he’s got very flimsy evidence on that. I looked at his code work in his book. He got a publication deal from Harper’s. I mean it’s a big publishing house. It was the best-selling book for a while. It hit The New York Times Best Seller List. He was going around to all these news shows. They would bring him on and say the Zodiac case is solved. Here’s the guy who solved it.

David A.: A lot of people go into it, and they don’t bother to learn cryptography. They just have an intuitive feel for what needs to be done. And that I think is what gets people stuck in these traps if they got a name to pop out, or they got a phrase to pop out, but they can’t prove that it was intentional. There is a sort of intoxicating effect when you plug in what you think Zodiac might have said, and it happens to fit, so you come up with this long phrase. But, invariably the message turns into gibberish for the rest of the message.

David A.: It’s easy to get caught up in that first feeling of wow, it’s working, it’s fitting, this message is coming out. But, that’s just because the ciphertext gives you enough room to make an early mistake. It looks right at the beginning, but then, later on, it turns into nonsense. I often compare it to seeing faces in clouds. A lot of times you’ll see something that seems to be there, but it’s not really there. It’s just making your brain think that there’s a pattern there, but it’s actually happening because of just random chance.

David A.: That’s a frequent mistake that people make when they look at the ciphers. That’s the kind of trap they’re in. They’re stuck in this place where they can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the message is real. Somebody will go through a procedure that generates a name, and so that’ll be their solution. But, if you repeat the process, you can make the same process generate other names, but they ignore that. Some of them they’re just so fixated on their suspect that they get locked into a particular way of solving it. What its resulted in is a lot of people are so severely misinformed on the case. They think that it’s already been solved.

Tom Voight: I stopped playing that game a long time ago. They make it sound like if you can show them that piece of information, it’ll be really compelling, and then you go to the trouble to upload it, and they say, “Oh, big deal. It doesn’t show anything.” I didn’t say it did. That’s why I have the delete feature, and I can ban people, but I’ve mellowed out a lot.

Host: This is Tom Voight of ZodiacKiller.com. As you heard the last episode, he started the Zodiac Anniversary Meet-Ups. In many ways, he’s a key figure in this community. Tom has explored the 340 Cipher extensively. He echoed David Arancheck sentiment that the unsolved cipher theories are bogus.

Tom Voight: People are so influenced by the fact that three of those codes didn’t get solved. Well, they’re just rubbish. There’s no solution to be had. It’s just to manipulate people, and get them to keep focusing on that instead of on … The government does that. You throw out something, a press release about a controversial topic to get people not to talk about what they should be talking about. It’s fake news. The Zodiac invented it. The Zodiac invented fake news with, “The code has my name in it,” and all this other stuff. Every letter was fake news, and it was to get, manipulate the people, or the police into following the wrong path.

Host: Even still, Tom Voight developed his own suspect through the ciphers. Many years ago, he received a tip from an informant named Gold Catcher. This informant also spoke with the police, but at the time they didn’t consider him a reliable source. Tom, however, was so convinced by this new info, he began his own investigation. Eventually, Tom found the name of this new suspect in the initial three-part cipher. These were the three letters sent to separate newspapers in July of 1969. The name Tom found was Richard.

Tom Voight: At the time that the Zodiac sent his three-part cipher, Richard was working for a counterculture newspaper, and he would publish articles. He would call himself Dick so he would shorten his last name to the first syllable. And he spelled it different ways. Now, I have found evidence and actual proof that where he spelled it G-A-I-K, G-I-K-E, and G-E-Y-K. There’s only one other spelling to get that Gike sound, and that’s G-Y-K-E, and that was found in the cipher. Before it’s translated, you can see it with your eyes, G-Y-K-E.

Tom Voight: Zodiac chose the G-Y-K-E, and it was going to go right there. And he chose that it would represent when solved, the last four letters of the word because. “I will not give you my name because,” and so in the word, because the last four-letter A-U-S-E are what Guy translates to when the key is learned, and you translate the cipher, so Gyke Ause key.

Host: The key syllable can be found if you consider the word key, as in the decryption key, as part of the solution. According to Tom, Zodiac changed his encoding method throughout the three-part cipher to throw off cryptographers.

Tom Voight: Zodiac intentionally changed the coding method, and that allowed Gyke to translate to Ause. If he hadn’t changed the coding method, then Gyke would have become something else. It wouldn’t have been A-U-S-E. You have all three syllables in his last name, which is really interesting. He went on to become one of the first computer coders in the Bay Area. He started his own online newsgroup in his 50’s when most people are long done learning something new, so he obviously had an aptitude for that.

Host: For many online sleuths, Richard Guykowsky is another major suspect in the Zodiac case. But aside from the cipher connection, which Tom just mentioned, what other evidence is out there?

Host: Guykowsky was part of a counterculture commune in San Francisco called Good Times. There, he edited an anti-police pro-violence newspaper. By January of 1969, the Good Times newspaper was publishing violent works of fiction. Many were extremely similar to the Zodiac’s future crimes. There’s some circumstantial evidence linking Richard Guykowsky to the Paul Stein murder. Richard’s cousin lived on Washington Street, which you may remember is where Paul Stein was murdered. And that cousin’s birthday was October 11. The same day Paul Stein was killed. For this reason, it’s possible he was in the area that day. Also-

Host: … reason. It’s possible he was in the area that day.

Host: Also, the Good Times Communication Center was located just a few houses down from Paul Stein’s residence in San Francisco, and according to Paul Stein’s sister, Gaikowski attended Paul’s funeral.

Host: The most significant evidence came from the informant Goldcatcher. He was a former coworker of Gaikowski’s. According to Goldcatcher, Gaikowski would invite him to engage in violent acts similar to the Zodiac crimes. This was convincing enough that Napa detective Ken Narlow decided to interview and investigate Gaikowski. Goldcatcher also obtained an audio clip of Gaikowski talking. We received a copy of this audio courtesy of Tom Voigt from zodiackiller.com.

Gaikowski: The whole thing about code, you’ve got to remember also, once the code telescope is broken, you might never know, never any way of knowing whether it’s a real code or whether it’s just a fake code. It just means that sometimes, you know, like the military and all of that, sometimes you’d send garbled messages that meant absolutely nothing. So, that you get them, the enemy to spend all their time trying to break the code.
Host: Nancy Slover, who spoke with the Zodiac when he called to report, the Blue Rock Springs murder, listened to this clip of Richard Gaikowski. According to Nancy, it was the voice of the Zodiac.

Host: But, aside from some initial questioning by authorities, Gaikowski was never thoroughly investigated. He died in 2004.

Host: Tom Voigt, Mark Hewitt, and other online sleuths have been meeting up for years. On occasions like these, they come together to tell stories and share theories.

Sandy Betts: I got a little group together, people that were very interested in the case. They come to my house. We have dinner and we sit and chat and watch Zodiac movies over and over and over again.

Sandy Betts: So that’s, that’s how this got going and we, we go to all the Zodiac sites for every anniversary.

Host: This is Sandy Betts. She’s been a part of the Zodiac story from the very beginning. Sandy told us that back in the ‘60s she knew some of the victims. She even claims to have had run-ins with the Zodiac himself.

Sandy Betts: It has taken up a good portion of my life. It really, really truly has. My children have grown up with it, knowing that I was being stalked by somebody who was claiming to be the Zodiac and my children were afraid.

Sandy Betts: May, had a daughter was scared to death of him ‘cause he did, he followed her as much as he did me. She finally passed away, poor thing. It sounds terrible, but when she passed away, I didn’t have to worry about her being tortured by him ‘cause I was scared to death he was gonna get her and torture her.

Host: According to Sandy, the Zodiac was obsessed with her and her daughter. She spent years confronting this man. He would supposedly show up at her home or tailgate her car late at night.

Host: Sandy saw his face many times, but never got his name.

Sandy Betts: I did a stakeout. There were several girls that were murdered in the Pittsburgh area. I decided to do a stakeout because I was told the guy was an older guy and that he looked like my guy.

Sandy Betts: So, I went, and I backed into a laundromat area of where it was across the street from Taco Bell where most of the prostitutes hung out. And as I’m handing out the pictures and I’m talking, this one girl walks up, and she screams, “Oh my God! That’s the killer!” I go, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Calm down. Calm down. What do you mean that’s the killer?” And she said he grabbed her jacket with one hand and he grabbed her hair with the other, and he pulled a big chunk of her hair out. She slipped her arms like this, and she slipped out of the jacket.

Sandy Betts: It’s not too long after that, I get an envelope in the mail. One of the pictures is returned to me. No return address. The stamp was upside down. It was a love stamp, I think. I figured he’s telling me that he got ahold of one of the girls that I gave the picture to and he wanted me to know that he killed another one.

Host: Sandy told us many stories which connect her stalker to the Zodiac. One of those stories begins just days after the attack at Lake Berryessa.

Sandy Betts: September 27, when the Zodiac stabbed Cecelia Shepherd and Bryan Hartnell. Within a day or two, this is before it hit the newspaper. Within a day or two, the costume was put in my car, the killing costume.

Sandy Betts: Now, this is four weeks before Halloween, so I thought it was a Halloween costume. But, I made a copy of what it looked like, and it was in two parts. The top part was made out of a paper sack. It was painted black. I don’t remember if there was a hole for the nose or a whole for the mouth.

Sandy Betts: But, at the very bottom, he had sliced each corner and bent it so that it sat on his shoulders. The other part, which I call the poncho part, went over that and held it down. The glasses that he had, the clip-on, actually held the hood in place so that he could turn his head like this and it would stay in place because of them, the glasses holding it together.

Tom V.: Sandy’s theory is really confusing and complex. But, we … It doesn’t matter because we get along and we treat each other well. We’re nice to each other, so.

Host: We were curious about what Tom thought of all these different Zodiac theories. Each of the Zodiologists has their own personal story, but still, they gather every year to spend time together, and the differences of opinion don’t seem to matter.

Tom V.: As long as people are nice and polite and not rude, then I don’t really care what their theory is. We’ll get along just fine.

Tom V.: I have a bad reputation of being an asshole and kicking people off my message board and stuff like that. But, really, I think, I’m pretty fair. I just … If you’re gonna be arrogant and aloof and confrontational and condescending, then I’ll probably be a dick.

Host: Usually, Tom and the Zodiologists travel to the actual sites of the known murders, but something happened this year that changed everything.

Sandy Betts: Well, this year, Tom, Tom had a bus. What was supposed to happen was we were all gonna be on a bus and do a tour of the crime scene and probably go to where Betty Lou lived and where David lived and things like that. Everybody was very excited about doing this ‘cause it’s the 50th anniversary.

Sandy Betts: So, Tom was having a big deal, a bus, and everything. This guy, who is not mentally stable, made a threat to Tom. Tom reported it to Solano County Sheriff’s Department, and I guess they probably said it’s not a good idea for you to have this bus tour because this sounds pretty serious.

Host: Not much is known about the person who made this threat. Tom says he has a history of stalking these Zodiac gatherings. This individual apparently believes his own father is the Zodiac and that the Zodiologist community is trying to kill him.

Host: Tom’s fiancee, Angie, told us that this case has a detrimental effect on some people.

Angie: I think they just get so wrapped up in it. They start to lose a sense of reality. It’s easy to lose yourself in a movie or something, but that’s not what this is. I think a lot of those people kind of have that mindset, like things can play out the way they want them to if it’s their movie and their script. That’s not good.

Angie: Luckily I don’t see too many, too much of that. Tom probably sees more of it than I do but I kind of turn an ignorant eye to that.

Host: Angie says this individual is one of those people. After he made the threat, local law enforcement advised everyone to stay away from Lake Herman. So Tom Voigt canceled the bus tour.

Sandy Betts: My boyfriend came all the way from Kentucky to go on the bus tour. A lot of people have hotels booked and things like that. This screwed up everything, especially for poor Tom who got it all together.

Sandy Betts: Yeah, so, it’s a crying shame. But, now they think the guy was just rambling, which makes me think that possibly they talked to him and he kind of backed off a little bit and said, ‘Oh, I’m really not gonna do that. I just want to scare ‘em’.

Sandy Betts: So, we’re probably gonna end up going out there anyway.

Host: Next time on ‘Monster: The Zodiac Killer.’

Speaker 7: I know there were threats made for people who came here tonight.

Speaker 8: We’re here because of the 50th anniversary of the Zodiac killing. We’re just here for extra patrol and just kind of make sure everyone that comes here and wants to be here and stay safe.

Speaker 9: I’ve had a couple of people tell me that they are positive that they encountered this person and escaped death.

Speaker 10: And the headlights, there’s a guy standing in the road. Then, I remember I told the officer, I was saying, “I think that was Zodiac,” from all that, that I’ve read and I saw, and I’ve heard.

Speaker 11: It’s like, I don’t think he’ll ever be caught.

Speaker 12: We do need a face, and we need that face to be a monster. So, that, I think, is why we have to identify the murder with a face.

Speaker 12: In the area that was involved, basically East New York, Brooklyn, at the time. It was like the motor capital of the world. It was the most violent in New York City. In the midst of all this violence was an emerging serial killer who was calling himself the Zodiac.

Speaker 13: ‘Monster: The Zodiac Killer,’ is a 15 episode podcast produced by iHeartRadio, HowStuffWorks, and Tenderfoot TV. Donald Albright and I are Executive Producers on behalf of Tenderfoot TV, alongside producers, Meredith Stedman, Mason Lindsey, and Christina Dana.

Speaker 13: Jason Hoch is Executive Producer on behalf of HowStuffWorks, along with producers Trevor Young, Miranda Hawkins, Ben Kuebrich, and Josh. Scott Benjamin provides additional voice telling.

Speaker 13: Matt Frederick is our host. Original music is by Makeup and Vanity Set. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the first season of ‘Monster’ called ‘Atlanta Monster’ about the Atlanta child murders in the late seventies to the early eighties.

Speaker 13: Download the 10 episode season right now. Have questions or comments? Email us at monsterathowstuffworks.com, or you can call us at 1-(833)-285-6667.

Speaker 13: Thanks for listening.

 

Episodes

13 · Copycat

Fascination leads beyond obsession, as a new Zodiac emerges in New York City.

14 · Sequence

New technology brings fresh hope to the Zodiac case. But what if it’s still a dead end?

15 · Legacy

A frightening final theory.