On this episode of the Sofa King Podcast, we explore the murders, the code, the letters, and the mystery of the infamous Zodiac Killer. Though his identity has never been proven, this serial killer murdered at least five people, though some experts link him to another 5 killings, and he himself claimed to have killed a total of 37. His killings were primarily done in Northern California from 1968 to 1969, and he wrote taunting, creepy, and poorly written letters to the San Francisco newspapers until 1974 when they abruptly stopped.
So what was his typical killing pattern? It varied, but it tended to involve killing people who were in cars (sitting by a lake, a cab driver, etc.). After the first few killings, Zodiac started to send his famous letters which contained codes and cyphers that would supposedly lead back to his true identity. Within days of publication, a couple deciphered his code, only to reveal a strange rambling about how killing humans was the best because they were “the most dangerous animal of all.”
Zodiac was thought to have gotten his name not by the astrological signs, but by the Zodiac watch company since he signed all of his letters with the same symbol as the watch logo. Whatever the reason for his self-applied name, he was never caught in spite of a massive (botched) manhunt involving San Francisco police and the FBI. Supposedly two police officers even had him cornered just minutes after one of his murders, but a faulty description of him being a black man allowed him to slip away.
So, exactly who was the Zodiac killer? There are a lot of pretty good theories on that. They range from people the police were already considering to people they had never questioned. (And more recently, an ironic meme even claimed it was the politician Ted Cruz…) What did Zodiac threaten to do to school children? What were in his strange letters? Why did the press continue to publish them? Why didn’t the cops ever make an arrest? Why did his letters stop cold in 1974? Listen, laugh, learn.