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2 • Lover's Lane

For the second time in a matter of months, a couple was just sitting in a car talking in a quiet spot when the Zodiac targeted them. He killed Darlene Ferrin and critically wounded Michael Mageau.

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He didn’t say anything to us, and we didn’t say anything to him. I started to reach for my wallet as I felt it was a policeman who wanted to see my ID. As I did, I heard a muffled sound and felt a pain in my back and my neck.

– Michael Mageau, survivor of the Zodiac

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I want to report a murder. If you’ll go one mile east on Columbus Parkway, you’ll find kids in a brown car. They were shot with a nine millimeter Luger. I also killed those kids last year. Goodbye.

– The Zodiac, from a payphone near the crime scene

He announced his crime and claimed credit for the killings from the past December.

Transcript

Payne Lindsey: Lover’s Lane. A secretive destination for hopeful young people. A lookout or secluded area where couples anticipate privacy. Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday were just kids, ages 16 and 17. Privacy and intimacy was probably what they expected from their night. What they got instead, they never could have predicted.

Payne Lindsey: Their murder at Lake Herman Road was horrifying and brutal. Why would someone do that to two kids? There couldn’t be anything more terrible. It couldn’t get any worse, but it did. The killer struck again, at yet, another Lover’s Lane.

 Payne Lindsey: From iHeartRadio, HowStuffWorks, and Tenderfoot TV, this is Monster: The Zodiac Killer.

Matt Frederick: It’s been six and a half months since the murders since the murders at Lake Herman Road. Like before, it’s another couple in a car and another attack.

Clarence: My name is Clarence Edward Rust. R-U-S-T. I’m a retired Vallejo Police Department Lieutenant. On the night of July 4, 1969, I was working the late shift with my partner, John Lynch when the Zodiac Killer had occurred in Vallejo. We were in an unmarked police unit, and we were in the downtown area of Vallejo when the radio call came over about firecrackers at Blue Rock Springs Park.

Clarence: Then, they got a call that this was gunshots. We pulled into the parking area and observed a vehicle in the parking lot. A police car right next to it. We got out of the car, observed the right passenger door was open and a body was laying in the ground with the legs still partially in the car. It was a male victim that had obviously had injuries. Appeared to be bullet wounds. I walked around to the drivers’ door and saw a young, white female behind the steering wheel, which was later identified as Darlene Ferrin.

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Clarence: I talked to her. Asked her, “Can you tell me what happened?” Her eyes were closed, but I could see she was still breathing and she murmured a couple times, but never opened her eyes. Didn’t say anything to me. I knew an ambulance was on the way, so I walked around the side where John Lynch was trying to talk to the young male.

Matt Frederick: That male was Michael Mageau.

Clarence: He was laying on the ground and had an injury to his head or neck, and he had difficulty talking. The ambulance arrived shortly after that and loaded both the victims into the ambulance. I told Dick Hoffman to go in the ambulance with them in case either one of them were able to say anything. Darlene Farrin was dead on arrival at the hospital, but the male victim was alive and put in emergency care.

Matt Frederick: Zodiac left a witness behind. The male victim in the emergency room, Michael Mageau, survived. We went to Michael Butterfield. The Zodiac expert you heard in the first episode.

Michael Butterfield: He was just very fortunate in the sense that none of those bullets hit him in a vital area and that’s just pure luck. That bullet might have gone right through his head. So, he’s very lucky to be alive. Like most people who survive those kinds of traumatic events, there’s probably a certain amount of guilt attached to that. Wondering why did I survive? Why did she die? Also, there’s the horrifying realization of how close you came to dying. There’s no way that you can forget about that. Every day you feel a pain of that bullet. You see the scars. You know how close you came to dying. Especially watching someone die right next to you, that’s got to be chilling.

Michael Butterfield Michael Mageau has struggled a great deal with this over the years. Not everyone walks away from a tragedy intact.

Matt Frederick: Ed Rust, the cop you heard earlier, not only arrived on the Zodiacs second gruesome scene, he also interviewed Michael Mageau in the hospital the morning after the attack.

Clarence: He was really injured and was under sedation, but was able to speak with me. I interviewed him at length. He was able to tell me that Darlene had picked him up at his house. They had some kind of association, I’m not sure just what. She drove them out to Blue Rock Springs Park, and they pulled into the parking lot. It was empty at the time. This was pretty late at night. He said they were sitting in the car talking about things and a carload of young people pulled up next to them and yelled and hollered a bit, then drove off. Shortly after that, a car pulled up behind them, the driver got out, walked up to his side of the car carrying a handheld flashlight.

Clarence: Michael Mageau, he assumed it was a police officer and was trying to get his wallet out. This person walked up and was standing right next to his open window. Didn’t say anything at all to them, and suddenly, pulled a gun up and started shooting.

Clarence: Michael Mageau, he was hit/struck several times, and he literally climbed over the seat into the back seat of the little Corvair. The shots just kept going, and he said this person actually reached in and shot him at least once or twice more while he was in the back seat. After several shots and nothing said whatsoever, he heard a car door slam, the lights disappeared, and the vehicle drove off, he believes toward Vallejo. He then was able to reach and open the passenger side door that he had been sitting in and was able to climb out, and he fell down on the ground, and that’s where he was when the first police officer, Dick Hoffman arrived. He said he tried to talk to Darlene, but she never did answer. Michael Mageau lived a life of terror after this. Heavily involved in drugs and he just got completely out of it.

Clarence: I’d like to see this case solved and I think it can be solved, but it just hasn’t, and I’m just kind of burned out, bummed out by the whole situation and everything. I was there that night, and obviously, I saw what the guy did to those two young kids. I want to see the person that did it held responsible.

Matt Frederick: Witnessing and surviving an attempted murder is obviously traumatizing. It can linger with someone for the rest of their life. Not only did this impact Michael Mageau, it also left its mark on Darlene’s parents. Her daughter, and her husband, Dean Ferrin.

Dean Ferrin: That fourth of July, I was working, and she came by the restaurant and said, “Okay, let’s go out and get some fireworks, and we’ll meet at the house, and have a beer and wine.” At that time, you could buy safe and sane fireworks. We had a concrete pad in the back yard. That was the plan. Closed the restaurant up, went by the house and were kind of surprised that the baby sitter was still there. She hadn’t come back yet. There was no cell phones or anything. That was a long time ago. Had no way to get in contact. Just sit around waiting. The police showed up to the door. Wanted me to come down to the police station and didn’t really say why. They just said, “Oh, there’s been an accident, and you need to come down to the police station.”

Dean Ferrin: They took us into one of the little rooms, kind of like this. A little, small interview room and said, “Well, you know, we’re just wondering where you’ve been tonight.” I told them, “Well, I had been working up til 45 minutes ago or so.” They checked with the boss and said, “Yeah, he’s been there all night.” They said, “Well, we want to tell you, it’s the worst. She’s deceased.”

Dean Ferrin: They asked where her parents lived, and I said, “Well, I think I should probably be the one to tell them.” So, I rode then, out to their house with the police officers and told her parents that we don’t really know what happened, but your daughter’s been killed. Then I went back home, and I don’t remember if my brother took daughter to my parents’ house or if we did that the next morning. I don’t remember exactly what went on after that. I was going to … I don’t know where I was really, and in the days …

Matt Frederick: That sense of shock Dean felt persisted. The trauma of dealing with Darlene’s murder left him struggling to raise their daughter.

Dean Ferrin: My daughter stayed with my parents for a little bit of a while, and we had … I had a close friend that … well, they volunteered to babysit. Basically, she was raised for about five years by this other couple that was more of a foster sort of a situation, which until this day, she still calls them Mother and Dad. That was a miracle for us, or for me and her both. It gave her some kind of a structure and a family situation, which at that time, I didn’t know where I was going.

Dean Ferrin: At this point, it’s so long ago, and my life has really been pretty good. I’m happy and got nice family, and some people say, oh, well it will bring closure. Well, I don’t … I talked to the TV news thing after the guy up on Sacramento, they found him. California rapist or killer or whatever. They called me, and they came by the house and stood out in the front yard for ten or fifteen minutes. Will this bring closure? I said, “I don’t know what the hell closure is.” That was the end of it. I don’t know what closure is. How does? The only thing it’ll end is maybe I won’t … people won’t talk about it as much, but I don’t see that happening anymore.

Dean Farrin: It’s less painful every time. It’s like picking a scab off a little cut, you know? Okay, the first time it bleeds like hell and the next time, eh, not so much. This is going to lead somewhere. Well, nothing’s happened, so.

Michael Butterfield: The police investigated the idea that Darlene Farrin had been killed by someone she knew. That’s a traditional, standard, investigative avenue. Darlene Farrin was a very popular person. As a waitress in a local diner there, she had many fans and of course, many male admirers. I think that, like many people her age, she liked having fun. I don’t know if that meant drinking or doing other things, but she definitely like having a good time, and that included having fun with her friends. Michael Mageau was one of the people she counted among her friends. Michael and his twin brother had met Darlene at the diner where she worked. Like many other male customers there, they developed a friendship with her that sometimes extended beyond her work hours. There are a lot of stories about Darlene dating other men and doing other things like that. So, it’s easy to believe that she was dating a lot of different men and one of them could have been the Zodiac.

Matt Frederick: The police investigated multiple leads, and early on, there were two men who stood out as a possible suspect. George and Gordon. According to the Vallejo Police Department’s reports, Darlene had some problems with a guy named George. The report details how George met Darlene at the restaurant where she worked and would sometimes give her rides home. But, friends of Darlene said she was, “Deathly afraid of him, but was friendly towards him in an effort to keep him at a distance. On one occasion, he’d walked into her apartment and told her that he was either going to rape her or get into bed with her in one way or another.” Officers spoke with the George, and he denies ever threatening Darlene but does state that many times, he did tease her and make her angry. George was quickly ruled out as a suspect.

Matt Frederick: Gordon Arthur was another suspect police spoke with. Gordon met Darlene while he was waiting for the Navy to transfer him. He told officers he and Darlene went on a few dates. According to the police files, Gordon said a day or two before he moved, Darlene told him that she wanted to leave her husband and move with him, but Gordon said no because Darlene had a baby he couldn’t provide for.

Matt Frederick: After he moved, Gordon said Darlene wrote to him, telling him she might be pregnant, but then he didn’t hear from her for a while. In the case report, it reads, “He received one more letter from her, and it said she had been in the hospital for a short time but did not state the reason.” Gordon thought that possibly, she had been pregnant and went and got an abortion somewhere. Gordon stated at this time that he decided not to have anything to do with Darlene and not to see her again. Gordon was also ruled out.

Matt Frederick: After reading the police reports and first-hand accounts of people close to Darlene. It seemed as if she had been living a secret life when away from her family. I wanted to know if Dean knew how Darlene spent her time when she wasn’t at home or at work.

Dean Ferrin: She was a waitress at the pancake house. I was a cook there. Got to be friends and then it escalated from there, I guess. At the time, she was married to somebody else, and he was being rather abusive, and I helped her find a place to live with a friend of mine. From there, we got to be better friends. Ended up getting married a little bit sooner than we may have thought, but back in those days, it was a little bit than now. Good girls don’t get pregnant when they’re single. We had planned on getting married anyway. It was kind of pushed up a little bit. She had just turned 21, so she liked to go out and dance. She and some of the other waitresses would go out. She would go out occasionally with them.

Dean Ferrin: She still had friends from when she had lived in San Francisco that she would go down and see. Exactly what they did, there’s all kinds of rumors down there. That was her drug connection, and that was her boyfriends or whatever, you know. Some of the police I talked to, they were asking me, “Okay, rumors are that she was having a lot of affairs.” Well, I would like to believe she wasn’t, but I know that she liked to go out.

Matt Frederick: But, where did Mageau stand with Darlene?

Dean Farrin: As far as Michael Jeau or Mageau, I don’t know how to pronounce his name. It’s one of those things I try and put out of my head. I would like to believe that’s not true, but I don’t have any way to confirm or deny.

Michael Butterfield: Michael Mageau, today, talks about their relationship in terms of that he wanted to marry her and all kinds of things. But, at the time, it appears that they were just friends. Maybe he had a very strong crush on her. There’s no evidence that she ever responded or reciprocated in that way. Although there are a lot of stories about Darlene dating other men and doing other things like that. There’s no solid evidence behind any of that. I think a lot of that is rumor. A lot of that comes up years later.

Michael Butterfield: Darlene Ferrin is like the Laura Palmer of the Zodiac case. Laura Palmer was the victim in the famous TV series Twin Peaks, and of course, in that series, it was a very complicated murder story. Her background had a lot to do with what was going on. But, I think that’s what people wanted to believe with Darlene Ferrin. They wanted to believe that she had this rich, mysterious, private life where there’s all these sinister secrets and shadows and things like that. So, it’s easy to believe that she was dating a lot of different men and one of them could have been the Zodiac or all these things, but there’s no evidence to support that.

Matt Frederick: For a moment, investigators even looked into Michael Mageau. Many people today, still theorize that he knew that the Zodiac was going to attack that night.

Michael Butterfield: Michael Mageau, at the time of the shooting was apparently wearing several layers of clothing. The layers of clothing have been troubling for some people because Michael Mageau did have some minor criminal entries on his record. Some people have read a lot into that. They think it’s evidence that there is something sinister going on or that he knew something. That he was a criminal, like a burglar, that he was wearing one set of clothes so that if he escaped, he could take those off and not be identified. There’s other people who have actually come up with the theory that he knew they were going to be shot that night and he was wearing extra layers of clothing in case he had to take it off. If there was blood on him or something like that.

Michael Butterfield: I think it makes a lot more sense to believe that Michael Mageau was a young kid, rather skinny, and he was out at night. A lot of kids wear extra layers of clothing. I never did that myself. I wear a lot of jackets when I was in high school, but I did know people who did that. Sometimes, it was because they weren’t comfortable with the way they looked in their clothes. They would try to pad their bodies, and that may have played a part in it. I don’t see any reason to believe that he knew about the shooting that night.

Michael Butterfield: Most people would not volunteer to be sitting next to someone who is going to be shot to death in a car. I think, in reality, it’s just a kid in his insecurities.

Matt Frederick: The following is a re-enactment of a portion of Michael Mageau’s statement to the police after the incident at Blue Rock Springs. The recording comprises reading by an actor of Mr. Mageau’s statement in first person voice.

Actor Michael M: This vehicle pulled up approximately ten feet behind us to the right of Darlene’s’ car. He had a high-powered flashlight. The kind you carry with a handle. He walked up to the car, and both of us believed it was a policeman. He stepped up to my side of the car, shining a flashlight on us. He didn’t say anything to us, and we didn’t say anything to him. I started to reach for my wallet as I felt it was a policeman who wanted to see my ID. As I did, I heard a muffled sound and felt a pain in my back and my neck. I heard some more muffled sounds. It sounded like a gun with a silencer on it. I tried to climb over the back seat to get away from the shooting, and he kept shooting again and again. Finally, he quit shooting and turned the gun on Darlene and started shooting her again and again.

Actor Michael M: He then turned around and started to walk back to his vehicle, which still had the headlights on. I couldn’t tell if I meant to yell at him or if I had just yelled from the pain, but I let out some type of yell. He apparently heard me and came back to the car and shot me two more times. Once in the back and once in the leg. He turned the gun on Darlene and shot her twice more. All the shots I heard were muffled. Like there was a silencer on it. It wasn’t loud.

Actor Michael M: He then turned around and casually walked back to his vehicle and got in. I reached outside the car door to open it because the handle inside was broken. I reached outside and opened the car door and fell on the ground. As I fell on the ground, the vehicle he was in backed up in a turning movement and then took off towards Springs Road and Vallejo at a very high rate of speed.

Actor Michael M: As the vehicle drove off, I only saw the rear portion of it. This rear part appeared to be a vehicle similar to or the same type as Darlene’s car. A Corvair. Also, a very similar color. Possibly, a little bit lighter brown. It had a California license plate, but I couldn’t tell what the numbers were.

Actor Michael M: As best as I can recall, the man appeared to be short. Possibly, five eight. He was real heavy set. Beefy build. Possibly 195 to 200, maybe even larger. He had short, curly hair. Light brown, almost blonde. He was wearing a short sleeve shirt, blue in color. I saw his face form the profile, a side view. I don’t remember seeing the front. There was nothing unusual about his face, other than it appeared to be large. He had a large face. It was dark. It was just too hard to see him.

Michael Butterfield: As strange as many of the circumstances were, Michael Mageau has been cleared of any and all suspicion.

Matt Frederick: The unanswered questions surrounding the murder of Darlene Ferrin and attempted murder of Michael Mageau have left many people guessing and theorizing. It’s made for an odd and complicated case, but it’s not the questions or the attack itself that cast this case in the limelight. It’s what happened minutes after that marked the beginning of the Zodiacs notoriety.

Michael Butterfield: While Michael and Darlene were struggling to survive in Blue Rock Springs Park, the killer apparently, was driving around Vallejo until he found a payphone and he called the Vallejo Police Department.

Michael Butterfield: The call was answered by the dispatcher, Nancy Sloater.

Zodiac: I want to report a murder.

Zodiac: If you’ll go one mile east on Columbus Parkway, you’ll find kids in a brown car. They were shot with a nine-millimeter Luger. I also killed those kids last year. Goodbye.

Episodes

3 · The Most Dangerous Game

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4 · The Lake

Who is this man in a medieval mask?

5 · Taxi Driver

Zodiac moves to the City by the Bay.