Profiling on the Zodiac Killer

Profiling on the Zodiac Killer


For more than five decades, the police, investigators and the public have sought to find out the true identity of the zodiac. However, despite the attempts, no one has come close to arresting the perpetrator.  The serial killer was reported to have killed five confirmed victims and taunted many of the police officers and the area residents in the Bay Area throughout the 1960s and the 1970s. The murderer vanished without any trace despite the many suspects being brought up many people. The mystery that the zodiac killer left is still gripping the public imagination. It is a concept that is used in television shows, movies, and trail theories.  Numerous suspects have been raised through the time, some claiming that they are the real person even at the point of death of the others. Still, there is no conclusive evidence that the suspect was real/. The main aim of this paper is to give an investigation through profiling the zodiac killer and analyze the cases of the murdered to get the best and the most likely suspect.

Keywords: zodiac killer, criminal investigation,  Tv shows, Bay Area,






















The zodiac killer refers to the pseudonyms that were used for the unidentified serial killer who murdered people within northern California in the 1960s and the 1970s. The identity of this killer has remained unknown up to date. Some of the victims of the killer included people from Lake Berryessa, Benicia, San Francisco from December of 1968 to October 1969. There were targets of four men and three women who were between the ages of sixteen and twenty-nine at that time.  The name “zodiac” in many taunting letters and forms that were given to the press in the Bay Area.  The included letters involved cryptograms. However, out of the four cryptograms that had been sent, only one of them had been identified and solved by the authorities.  Numerous suspects have been named by the law investigators and various enforcement bodies. However, there has been no evidence that has conclusively surfaced. The suspect from the police department of Francisco has remarked the case as inactive by the year 2004.  However, in 2007, it was reopened and have remained open in counties such as Solano, Napa, and Vallejo.  The California department have also actively remained open for this case.  Through creating a profile on the zodiac killer through the evidence of the crime scene killings, media, and police evidence,  this paper will give the Profiling on the Zodiac Killer and discuss the strength and weaknesses of the used suspects.


The Zodiac Killer Profile


Obsessed and driven by the need to become a celebrity and get more attention from the people, the Zodiac terrorized the areas of San Francisco Bay where he actively tortured the public, the police forces d the press through the use of many letter and codes. The victims that had suffered from him made numerous police calls. His main idea was to become feared and adored by the people. Apart from this, he said anything that could make his name to appear in the newspapers and the press.

Existing profile

Date of Birth: Unknown

Died: Unknown

M.O.: he shot his victims in most of the areas that were secluded.

Signatures: he sent names to the police and the press about the people he had murdered.  Most of the killings that he had done were motivated by rage and a need for family attention and love.

Victims Count: he claimed that he had claimed to have killed 37 people; however, only five were verified, and two others were verified injured.

He is best known for: he is best known for the crosshairs signature that symbolized is an obsession and the need for the media and the public attention despite the identity being kept a secret.

His most famous messages include:

“..I like killing people because it is so much fun. It is more fun than killing the wild game in the forest because man is the most dangerous animal of all. To kill something gives me the most thrilling experience. It is even better than getting your rocks off with a girl…”

“…School children make nice targets. I think I shall wipe out a school bus some morning. Just shoot out the front tire and then pick off the kiddies as they come bouncing out…”


The zodiac killer always manipulated both the police and the media by sending major newspapers by sending numerous letters that were verified and other cipher messages. In one of the ciphers, he talked about torturing the victims that he had before killing them.  He called the victims slaves upon killing them and that hey would be reborn in paradise. Some of the letters that were sent by zodiac were riddled and spelled through syntax errors in a deliberate attempt to confuse the media. Apart from this, he used sloppy handwriting that could not b traced. The terrifying character that he created in the press earned him a free space in the newspaper and people continuously talked about him.

Zodiac had a combination of psychopathic characters and charismatic representation. His was also a sullen loner with a tonne from varied arrogance and brash to whiny and was also way crying when he did not get the attention that he wanted from the public.  This means that despite the portrayed narcissist, there was deep link insecurity that is said to have come from the neglect of childhood.

In most cases, vulnerable couples formed easier targets in the areas that were secluded. After the first attack, there was a witness who claimed that he was calmer in cleaning up the mess he had done and did not panic in any way.  In the occasion, he even boasted about the police officers that walked past him in the crime scene. Nonetheless, not all that he said could be believed to be true as most of them were to attain the attention that he craved for. He was a compulsive liar and a well-known narcissist. Zodiac had the habit of inflating the count of the people that he had killed d sop that he could exaggerate the number and of appearing more dangerous than he was. He always tried to elevate himself in the eyes of the public and the media so that he would get more respect and become worship.

One of the demands that he made in the city of Francisco was that everyone in the city must put on the buttons that were written with the crossbar od zodiac symbol. This was the only solution that he proposed that the people could use to gain back the city.  However, the era did not work. In the year 1974, the zodiac news in the media tremendously faded. He was either incapacitated, or he was apprehended for the related offenses.


Case history

First attacks and letters for the crime scene

The first confirmed murder that was done by zodiac took place on the 20t December of the year 1968.  The crime scene was on lake Herman along the road in California.  The victims that were killed in the scene were David Faraday who was seventeen years of age and   Jensen who was sixteen years at the time. Both of these people were shot as zodiac used the a.22 gun. After the first murder, he remained inactive for half a year before the next attempt on July 4.  On this day, the shorts another couple who were Michael Pageau, who was nineteen years of age and Darlene Ferrin who was twenty-two years of age. The couple was seated on the parking lot in blue rock springs in Vallejo. However, this time one of the victims survived, Michael Magnan and he was able to describe the situation. On August, the Vallejo chronicles times, a Francisco examiner together with the San Fransisco chronicles all gave letters that were almost identical that they had received fro zodiac where he took credit and stated that he had murdered the victims. He proved his guilt through giving a vivid description of the crime scene including an accurate description of what the victims wore, their bossy positions as well as the brand ammunitions that was used.  However, the only sign that was used as the zodiac symbol. The letters had one part of the three cipher parts that had been designed by the Zodiac himself. The zodiac this time ordered al the media houses to publish this symbol on all the newspapers. Failure to do do, then he would go on to kill many people in what he described as the killing spree. The cipher was published in the newspapers for more than one week before the cipher was cracked by the two teachers; donated and betty.  In the decoded message, the zodiac claimed that he had bee-killing people as he was collecting more bodies that he would use in the afterlife. The next letter came the day before cracking the first cipher. In the second letter, he named himself the first time an gave more descriptions about the murders that he had committed.


Evidence used


Zodiac was known for sending numerous images that were cryptographic. The ciphers taunted puzzles and were a huge concern to the authorities, the lawyers and the other members of the press.  One of the most famous lawyers was Melvin Belli, who struggled with the messages that were in the encoded form.  The letters showed the intentions that he had. His sta=te of mind were also expressed in these letters. Some of the letters included dd drawings and photographs as well as astrological charts.  Some of the first letters that he sent were to hie his identities. Eventually, he revealed his motives as one of the disturbing peace that he came up with. The following are the letters that he sent to the press;


Figure 1: the first letter that was sent to the press by zodiac and the possible translation.


In the second letter, zodiac made his intentions known, and he stated that the first letter was supposed to reveal his identity. Below is the letter;

Figure 2: letter to San Fransisco chronicles

In the letter above, the killer identifies himself as the murdered and the person responsible for the havoc that had rocked the city. Here, he states that he is the killer of the two teenagers who were the first of his victims. He even states the names of the two girls and the place where he had killed them. He even proved some of the records that the police had. He stated the identification of the used brand as well as the positions that the victims had. The letter was also accompanied by an explanation fo the other cipher that had been sent already.

The other letter that was sent was as follows;

Figure 3: a schematic representation of a bomb that was never found by the police


Some of the letters that were sent by the zodiac were exaggerations. The representations of the bomb were never found an even made the investigations difficult instead of simplifying them.

The other letter is as follows.

Fig4:  a letter detailing the need for attention

Despite being the character that he was, zodiac needed attention, something that he must have suffered from the younger age. This is well represented in the letter above where he states of being upset by the people of San Francisco who had refused to abide by the rules that he had set. He wanted the people to put on the shirts that had is symbols. However, the people did not heed to his calls. It was in this letter that he promised to set a bomb together with the map. However, the bombs were never got.







Strengths and weakness of each suspect

The mystery of the case of the zodiac has been a fascination ot the public and the search for the identity of this killer have been an on an off trail.  The possible crackpots include the convictions of the murderers such as Charles Marson while others claimed that he moved to Scotland to continue with his murders.

Arthur Leigh Allen

A man named Arthur Leigh Allen was the most likely suspect according to some scholars such as the San Fransisco editor Robert Graysmith. However, Allen died in the year 1992, and there were no cases that were directly connecting him with the suspects.

Strengths of the cases against the suspect

This man remained the prime suspect of being a zodiac murderer because of some facts. One is that he was discharged from the united states navy dishonorably. Hence, he could look for revenge on these accounts. Apart from this, he was an elementary school teacher and a janitor. He could, therefore, access the schools that the killer had threatened to attack. At the same time, zodiac claimed that he saw children every day and decided that they would be perfect targets. As a genitor, this all leads to him interacting with the children daily.  The other strength of the case against him is that he was a lifeguard. He also had high I.Q. this high IQ was used in the cording of the messages and knowing the right time to conduct the attacks.  The other strength of the case against the suspect is that he was at the crime scene when the attack took place.  It was alleged that he was at the riverside when Cheli Bates was killed in the same scene.  He was also thought of like Lee Linda; he was referred to be the best friend of Darlene. He also admitted to having been having bloody knives in his car when zodiac stabbed someone at the Lake Berryessa.

Weaknesses of the case against Allen

Despite having the knife during the stabbing, he said that the blood came from the chicken that he had killed for his dinner. This was proven o be true by the official investigators.  The other idea that makes him less of a suspect is that he was in jail by the time the killings were taking place.  He was in jail for crimes of child molestation and therefore could not get out of jail by the time the Zodiac was in the hiatus between the year 1971 and 1974. His guns, the figure prints, and all the other handwritings were compared with the case, and he was cleared because they did not match. His dna was compared to the one that zodiac had put on, and it came negative. However, he stated that he never licked his thump.

In the year 1991, one of the survivors, Michael Meagan pointed him to be the one when he was presented with photographs from the suspects. However, they were still inconsistent when the authorities gave more pictures.

From the above descriptions, it is clear that he is the prime suspect because two strong arguments are pointing towards him. First is that he was at the crime scene and he was holding a knife the same day that stabbing took place. Also, the fact that he was pointed by the main survivor also raises the question. Even if the authorities show the different consistencies with the pictures that the survivor was given, it was still possible that the first attempt was against him. Also, killing a chicken and using the knife for having it on the car does not appear consistent. Whey would a man carry a kitchen knife to the car. This was a base that t was used by many investigators. In essence, most of these ideas are pointing towards him.

The problem comes where the suspect had been in jail by the time the crime was peaking. This means that there must have been other copycats who also wanted to get the attention that the criminal was getting. These people must have seen the crime level in San Fransisco reducing, and they needed to get more attention. Despite the main criminal being in jail, the other copycats can still proceed with the responsibilities.











The profile process

When it comes to the identities of Zodiac from the survivors of the attacks, it can be seen that he dressed in various typed of black clothes. The type of clothes that he put on also depends on the type of month. There was one occasion that he wore the dark hood that had the decoration of the zodiac symbol.  There are variations on his clothing methods based on the people he intended to murder.

His killing methods were also varying. He preferred to dispatch the victims with automatic pistol riffles of different kinds. He also used the bladed weapons that were known to resemble a military knife. In relation to the letters that he sent,  during one Christmas killings, he used a flashlight that was the size of a pencil that he used to flashlight the tapes of his guns so that he could shoot in the dark.

Most of his casualties were teenage couples.most of the time he attacked them in the secluded areas.  He liked looking for couples on the love lanes and cars before shooting them or stabbing them to death with knives. However, the way he approached the targets were also varied.  On the attack that he conducted on Magnum and Ferrin, he walked to the car and started to attack and shoot them without saying anything. When he attacked Hartnell-Shepherd, he pretended that he was a robber and that he was stealing from them. From this, he orders Shepherd to tie up Hartnell with a robe before he tied the other victim. In his later killings, he pretended to the couple in a car that he was a convict and therefore needed their car so that he could escape to Mexico. This was before he shot them. However, for the case of Paul Stine, he quickly got into the car before shooting him on the head with a nine-millimeter rifle before taking his car keys, wallet and his shirt that had a lot of blood. He used this shirt to send to the chronicles. He also intentionally conducted the ats in the locations that are jurisdiction overlapped to slow down the incoming authorities. In one of his letters, he stated that he had killed the victims by fire and by the ropes. The cases that involved triangulation was not easy to link to him as well, even if he claimed to be responsible for them. After conducting the attacks on Ferrin-Mageau and Hartnell-Shepard, he called onto the nearby police station through a pay phone and claimed that he was responsible for the killings.


Investigative Profile

From the investigations, the zodiac killer was a narcissist and a paranoid person who was suffering from social misfits and loneliness. He was drive by the need for attention, power and wanted the people to know that he was credible.  He wanted to prove his level of intellect and superiority over the other people. This would help him to feel adequate and superior.

He felt that society wronged him and felt underestimated and not appreciated enough the way he thought he should be. In his early times, it is evident that he did not have a good relationship with his mother and he did not have any success with the women. He also had a certain type of relationship with the Riverside college where he killed one of his suspects, Douglas and Deer Lodge, Montana, the prison that he allegedly named through the attack of the Ferrin-Mageau and Hartnell-Shepard.  The validity of these claims is also not guaranteed to be true as the prison was named after the survivor. The investigation also show that he may have been part of a military for some time, either in the air force or in the US Navy. In the military, he was likely trained in codes that were difficult for people to understand. If this was the case, then he must have been released on reasons such as medical because he could not manage to stay in the well-disciplined and cultured environment. He ked and interacted with several weapons and therefore must have ben a hunter. He also demonstrated the number of kills through the use of many codes for the weapons.  He must also have had a private room somewhere where he conducted his plans, most of which are plans for the press coverages.  He must have had a confide=ant with some kind of money somewhere.  In some of his letters, he demonstrated a double nature in himself. One was an intellectual person and the other that was illiterate judging by the handwriting and the language syntax.  However, in some cases, he showed immaturity as he left survivors,  fingerprints among other things. He was also seen by some of the witnesses including the two police officers who saw him in the crime scene.

Nonetheless, the combinations of the details about his profile show that here is the mixed representation. From the communications that he gave, it was evident that he was [prone to emotions such a the mood swings. There were times that he was and at times he felt misled. He was, therefore, using virulent words to compensate for the inferiority complex.

From the past investigators, zodiac must have complicated his life oo much that he felt that he might run out of luck. As a result, he decided to quite the act especially after he was interrogated by two patrolmen after he had murdered Paul Stine.  It can also be theorized that he may have committed suicide after he had completed the murderers.





Jack Tarrance

Jack Torrance was born in the year 1924 and died in the years 2006. He was the second key aspect to the zodiac killer the case against hem also had several strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths and weaknesses of the cases against jack Terrance

JackTorrance was also discharged from both the united states airforce and the nay. He was discharged dishonorably. This was one of the issues that led o him being a suspect as the zodiac killer was a person who was complex in operations an understood some of the most unusual military codes. The other strength was that Ham was a radio operator and a steelworker at some point in his life. This is a strong case against him as the zodiac killer was one who was well aware of how to operate the tools and weapons.  He was also a former foreman in the general electricity company. The other job that he had performed in included the laundry attendant. To get into the case, he was reported by his brother to be the key suspect for the investigation against zodiac some of the peace of evidence that was presented t the authority. This was done  by his brother Denis Kaufman include a hood that he possessed that was similar to the one that was described by one of the  victims from the crime scene. The handwriting samples were also quite similar to those that are represented in the case of the zodiac. He also possessed an undeveloped photo film and those that contained grueling images of people that had been killed. He was also in possession of the knife that was covered with blood. One of the telephone conversations of a tapped photo of the suspect showed that he was behaving just like the zodiac.

There were weaknesses to this case as well. One of the issues against the case was that he provided DNA samples that were provided by the brother did not match the DNA samples that had been given by the FBI. Additionally, one of the actions of zodiac took place while he was under question by the authority. This means that he’s not capable of being in two places at the same time.


Strengths and weaknesses of the case against Lawrence “Larry” Kane (1924-2010)

Lawrence “Larry” Kane was born in the year 1924 and died in the year 2010. He was also a US Navy sailor and therefore was approval of the extensive knowledge of codes and weapons.  He was also working at a white-collar job and therefore could interact intelligently with the press.  He was also known as the con artist and was s thief who could excellently plan an attack. However, the main issue that makes him impossible to be a key suspect is that he was close to his mother and therefore very few similarities linked him to the murder. After suffering an accident in the year 1962, he could not think properly as his brain was partially damaged. He lived approximately close to the place where zodiac had been caught by the cameras after he had killed  Paul stine on the night of the shooting. This is the reason he was arrested s the key suspect. Also, there was a time that he lived and worked within the southern lake from where one of the victims of the zodiac, Donna Las was murdered or deemed to have disappeared.  He was also working at the vicinity where the co-worker of Lass said that he had seen him. As a victim of the zodiac, Lass knew Kane, and they were once friends. After he was identified Darlene’s sister, Linda,  he was said to be the man that had at one time harassed  Darlene before she was murdered.  The case against these people is that they also identified the others before they could settle to Kane. This means that they were inconsistent and were unsure about the accusations that they were presenting. The evidence is, therefore, creating a massive doubt by the authorities. After one of the policemen had talked to zodiac after the murder of Paul stine,  the police officer was certain about him and therefore identified him. Kathleen is one of the people that had one time been victims of zodiac maintains that he wa the man who had kidnapped them against their will at one time.

Bruce Davis (born 1942-Present)

Bruce Davies is one of the suspects that is still alive as a key suspect to zodiac killer.  He is a former mansion and a successful family man that cared about his family. The case against him are few, but some of them are strong even when compared to the others. However, there are too inconsistencies to the expectations and the descriptions that the police had for the zodiac killer.  After numerous instances of investigations, he was cleared along with the other family members from the police after he was suspected of being behind the murders committed by zodiac. He was also not any part of the forces and therefore did not meet the profile of having the ability to communicate with the codes and to conduct the intelligent media briefings.

Richard “Rick” Marshall


Richard Marschall, also known as rick was born in the year 1928 and died in the year 2008. According to the information that was provided by several acquaintances, he was by the time of the attack living in Riverside, especially by the time that Cheri Jobates was murdered. He was also a member of the united states navy seals. At one time, he was a member of the united states navy seals. He had also had an extensive period of code training making him an expert in communicating with the codes. He was also a projectionist silent movie theater.  Apart from this,  Richard was an enthusiastic member of the radio ham. The other quality was that he had quite a bad temper especially when it came to women.  After several cases were presented, most of the ideas and the items against him were inconsistent. For instance,  his DNA did not match those of the  FBI that was presented.

Louie Myers


Louie Myers was born in the year  1951 and died in the year 2002. One of the stronger cases against him is that he admitted that he was the Zodiac killer at his deathbed minutes before he died.  Also, he went to a similar school that the male and the female victims of the first cases that involved zodiac also went to.  He also worked o the same building that the second female victim was working.  In addition to this, he had access to the military boots that zodiac was known to have worn. This was because his father worked wearing the boots.  He had also served in the united states army.  During his time after the army, he worked alongside the other truck drivers.  Apart from this, he had numerous criminal track records. However, some of the records that he had in Vallejo were different from the crimes of the zodiac. The records showed drinking and disorderly swell as theft.  However, apart from his claims and the two cases where he was in the same building as the victims, he has no other relating crime that connected him to the crimes of the zodiac.  Also, by the time of the alleged hiatus by zodiac, he was serving at the military base in Germany. The other weakness of this criminal was that all the other descriptions given by the victims and the witnesses did not fit him in any way.

Earl Van Best junior,

Earl Van Best, Junior was born in the year 1936 and died in the year 1984. For him, he did not directly get linked to the murders. However, he was turned in by his son, who referred to im as the most dangerous animal in his book in 2014.  He was also aware books dealer that was convicted atone time of numerous crimes such as allegedly raping the minors. He spent several years at the maximum security facility for those insane criminals.  The main case against him was that he fitted the physical descriptions that were given by the witnesses about the zodiac. Other than that, the case against him is quite weak as he does not have any connection to any of the people that had been killed. Also, he did not testify anything that was related to the crimes of zodiac.even at the time of his death. He was also cleared when the fingerprints were presented by the FBI.

Richard Gaikowski

Richard Gaikowski was born I the year 1936, and he died in the year 2004.  In approximation, he matched some of the descriptions that were given for zodiac. He also served in the United States army and therefore could be a key suspect for the use of codes and expertise in weaponry.  For some time, he served for the contra costa newspaper as an investigative journalist.  He was also working for the rival newspaper that Darlene Ferrini’s husband was working for.  At the time, they lived together and were friends.  According to the police, he was a film buff and an extensive drug user. He also hated the police and was an anti-police activist. His habit of shortening his name and making it into three parts was a massive part of the zodiac’s the part cipher that was mailed to the newspaper in the year 1969. In the Connecticut newspaper, he was an established member even though he was admitted for having a mental illness. The main ideas against him are that by the time the zodiac cases were rising, he was operating in the front theatre in San Francisco. Hi, the voice was however identified to be the same as that of the zodiac. The other strong case against him was that his handwritings were similar o those of zodiac. However, after the police had ordered the paintings of the same person, there were contradictions and inconsistencies. Some people think that he is the prime suspect due to his role in the media where he consistently advocated for the publishing of the ideas of the zodiac.

Other key suspects


Theodore Kaczynski was also considered a key suspect at the time. He was a  Serial bomber and was briefly considered by many of the forces of being a suspect to Zodiac Killer. However, the argument against the theory that linked him was that he was living in Illinois for most of the time that the crimes were being committed including the last killing incident. David Carpenter, who was also a serial killer and claimed that he was a feared man. However, by the time of these crimes, he was already in prison for his first confirmed killing, and he was cleared because his handwriting and fingerprint were matching those in the descriptions. Edward Edwards, who was also a serious serial killer was also said to have matched all the physical descriptions of the zodiac. By the time of the attacks, he was living in, and the allegations have been massively disputed.




In tic ae, there are also copycats that claim responsibility and the fame that zodiac had. Some of them include Heriberto Seda. There have been two infamous killers who have emulated the actions and operations of the zodiac. Heriberto Seda, who is also known as “Eddie”  or “The New York Zodiac” is one of the copycats and was born in the year 1967. “Eddie” was inspired by the operations of the zodiac killer and he shot ten people, three who died instantly. Most of his victims had a variation of zodiac signs. He also used zip guns. After shooting his half-sister in the back, he was arrested by the police