You’ve probably heard of the killer Zodiac, by seeing the dedicated film, a documentary or by interesting yourself a little in the scabrous but fascinating stories of serial killers. While the murders of the killer probably stopped in the 1970s, the case has recently resurfaced after a new study of certain evidence and the advancement of leads abandoned some time ago. We offer you a brief overview of the points you might not know about this exciting case.
1. His primary goal was recognition and fame
While many serial killers hope never to be arrested, some need to get the recognition they think they deserve, they themselves contact the authorities or the press to confess to crimes and get their names known. The Zodiac falls into this second category since he himself contacted the press and the police after his first “verified” murder (even though he confessed to a previous crime which we are not sure is the ‘author).
To ensure that people talked about him, the Zodiac sent his letters to several editors of important newspapers and pressured them to publish them by threatening to kill children if he did not get what he wanted. We can therefore logically say that he was looking for fame. Some psychiatrists even argue that he killed more for notoriety than to satisfy real murderous impulses.
2. He was probably passionate about the Middle Ages
Most people with a passion for the Middle Ages are quite freaky: they collect guillotines, have chamber pots and travel on horseback. The Zodiac was likely one of them, as revealed by his executioner-inspired outfit of the time with a cross of Odin around his neck and a black hood. Particular clothing tastes for some, a tribute for others. But it is above all the costume that gives a particular idea of the character, the role of the executioner and a strange biblical vision of the murders: in a letter the Zodiac said that its victims would become its slaves in paradise.
3. Several of his victims survived
When the killer attacked a young couple in the town of Vallejo he killed Darlene Ferrin, the wife, but left leaving Michael Mageau for dead. The following year, by attacking the couple of Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard, the killer left one of his victims still alive for a second time, convinced again of having killed the two targets. The two survivors were able to describe the killer’s clothes, his voice, the few words they exchanged with him and helped put together an estimated sketch of who was hiding behind the mask, his build and his accessories.
4. Arthur Leigh Allen has long been the number one suspect
For a long part of the investigation the suspicions of the investigators were directed towards Arthur Leigh Allen. The lonely man had previously said he wanted to “kill couples” and how to do makeup and change his handwriting. During searches at his home, a typewriter was found which corresponded to the model used by the killer and which was quite rare, as well as a cross similar to that of the Zodiac outfit. Despite all this, this evidence was considered secondary and was never sufficient to incriminate Arthur Leigh Allen and bring him to trial.
5. He allegedly sent a letter with his coded name to a newspaper
In 1970 the Zodiac sent to the San Francisco Chronicle a letter asking if they had managed to decode his last message, which they hadn’t. But in addition to letting them struggle on this, the Zodiac would have attached in this new letter a new enigma which would be none other than its name. Of the four enigmatic letters sent by the Zodiac, two have still not been deciphered.
6. The Zodiac is believed to have been military
Several tracks suggest that the Zodiac would have been military in its youth and more precisely navy. One of the encryption methods used in some of his letters comes from a military manual distributed to soldiers in the 1950s. On the other hand, the footprints left by the killer would correspond to a type of boot given to the marines, without talk about the Zodiac’s knowledge of the town of Vallejo (where it killed several victims) which is a site of marines.
7. Recent DNA tests have removed some suspects from the list
In 2018, several exhibits (including envelopes sent by the Zodiac) were entrusted to a laboratory for DNA research. The idea was to collect traces left by the killer and compare them with the main suspects according to their genealogy. By using the genealogical data of the families available online, we were able to compare the traces and eliminate certain suspects, including the famous Arthur Leigh Allen.
8. Paul Doerr: The Suspect Who Changed Everything
In February 2022 author Jarett Kobek published a book titled “How to Find the Zodiac?” which he started working on during the pandemic. The purpose of this book was not to “claim that he had found the identity of the killer” but to focus on a new suspect to see if a plausible theory emanated from it. The suspect’s name is Paul Doerr, and according to Los Angeles Magazine and researcher and author Paul Haynes, Paul Doerr is “the best suspect to ever come forward in the Zodiac case.”
9. Paul Doerr: a suspect that matches the description
To begin Paul Doerr would have lived in Vallejo a good part of his life, explaining the knowledge of the city by the Zodiac. Physically he had a build that fits perfectly with the descriptions: tall and muscular / coated. Doerr liked to write in several “zines” (one of which he created himself) and certain turns of phrase, wordings, mistakes, writing tics, themes and characteristics are fully reflected in the letters of the Zodiac. In a letter sent in 1974 to the editor of a “zine” in which he wrote, Doerr stated that he had already killed several people (the Zodiac murders would have stopped in 1969).
Like the killer, Doerr liked puzzles, mainly number puzzles to decode, he had even created and published some of them in his famous zines. He had written in one of these amateur texts the instructions for making a homemade bomb, which the Zodiac had also done in one of these letters to a newspaper.
Last surprising hobby: Doerr liked historical reenactments, he participated in certain demonstrations in disguise, which could explain the possession of an executioner’s costume. In one photo, he is seen carrying a self-made knife on his hip that matches the Vallejo murder survivor’s description of the Zodiac’s waist knife.
10. Paul Doerr: soldier fired from the army, violent father and author of threatening texts
Doerr reportedly served a year in the military before being fired for trying to stick a fork down someone’s throat. In his private life he was violent with his family and his own daughter said that violence had always been part of his character. Doerr had written in several letters that he was against reporting gun ownership and that he himself had several unregistered guns that he had obtained out of the state of California.
But the most disturbing thing is that Doerr had written several articles on serial killers until creating a zine completely dedicated to serial killers published between 1970 and 1979. He had approached and studied several famous cases from his region and from the United States. , but never, on any occasion, did he mention the Zodiac. It’s hard to believe this was a simple oversight, given that the killer had been widely talked about across the country for the previous decade and especially in the state where Doerr lived most of his life.
11. Paul Doerr: dozens of indirect proofs and similarities with the Zodiac
In his book, Jarett Kobek notes dozens of small pieces of information which are all indirect but which, once placed on the same canvas, paint a picture which looks very much like the killer. Doerr owned a blue car, the model of which had been seen at Lake Berryessa on the day of the Zodiac murders, he made the same musical and literary references as the Zodiac in his letters, he collected commemorative stamps and the Zodiac had sent several letters stamped with stamps out of circulation, he worked in the naval base of Vallejo, the place where it is believed that Zodiac had served as a military man and where he could have obtained the boots Wingwalkera military-only model worn by the Zodiac.
12. Her own daughter admits her Paul Doerr could be the Zodiac
After reading the book and helping the author get information Gloria Doerr, Paul Doerr’s daughter, said she found the theory about her father more than plausible. She had left the family home in 1968 because of her father’s excessive violence, shortly before the first murder claimed by the Zodiac.
For the moment, nothing justifies the author’s theory, but above all it shows a more than potential suspect and proves that the case remains extremely enigmatic several decades after it took place.