A new 5-part limited series is determined to finally crack the code and solve the mystery of the Zodiac Killer, but until then here’s what you need to know about one of America’s most terrifying unsolved cases.
1.) The Zodiac Killer remains at large. The serial killer claimed to have murdered 37 people from the late ’60’s to the early ’70’s, though police have only confirmed seven victims, two of whom survived their attacks. The seven attacks, including five murders, took place across Northern California in Benicia, Vallejo, Lake Berryessa and San Francisco. The victims ages ranged from 16 to 29 and included four men and three women. Despite the fact that the Zodiac Killer terrorized California for years, he/she was never identified or convicted for their crimes. As of November 2017 the serial killer’s true identity remains unknown.
2.) The killer’s name originated from the taunting letters sent to press during the murder spree. The first three letters from Zodiac came on August 1, 1969 and were sent to three different news outlets: the Vallejo Times Herald, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The San Francisco Examiner. The letters took credit for his first two known shootings, which killed three and left one victim with gunshot wounds to the face, neck and chest. Zodiac also sent each newspaper 1/3 pieces of a cryptogram that he/she claimed contained their true identity. In his/her letters, Zodiac demanded that the cryptograms be published in each paper — or he would go on a massive killing spree until he had racked up a dozen more victims.
3.) Only one cryptogram has ever been solved. On August 8, 1969, Donald and Betty Harden finally cracked one of the Zodiac’s messages. The message, filled with spelling errors, read: “I like killing people because it is so much fun it is more fun than killing wild game in the forrest because man is the most dangeroue anamal of all to kill something gives me the most thrilling experence it is even better than getting your rocks off with a girl the best part of it is thae when I die I will be reborn in paradice and thei have killed will become my slaves I will not give you my name because you will try to sloi down or atop my collectiog of slaves for my afterlife ebeorietemethhpiti.” The final batch of letters were never cracked.
4.) The theories about who the Zodiac Killer is/was are endless. One suspect, Arthur Leigh Allen, was investigated by authorities in the Zodiac murders for over twenty years. Investigators issued multiple search warrants against Arthur over the twenty year timespan, including a final one just two days after he died in 1992. Any and all evidence against Arthur was ruled purely circumstantial, and authorities were never able to make a full case against him. In 2007, a man named Dennis Kaufman claimed that his stepfather, Jack Tarrance, was the long sought after murderer. Dennis even turned in a number of items to the FBI to be investigated and checked for forensic evidence, but unfortunately as 2010 the results were inconclusive. Other theories include that a man named Louis Joseph Myers had confessed to being the Zodiac Killer in 2001, as well as a 91-year-old man named George Russell Tucker.
5.) ‘The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer’ hopes to break the code. Nearly five decades after the Zodiac’s reign of terror on Northern California, code breakers are desperately hoping to finally crack the remaining cryptograms using modern day technology. In History Channel’s new special, The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer, a team of top investigators and code breakers work together for five one-hour-long episodes in hopes of making a breakthrough in the decades old murder case. The special airs every Tuesday on the History Channel starting November 14 at 10pm ET.
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