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11/8/69 Dripping Pen Card & 340 Cipher

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Posts: 82
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The "Fifth Avenue" watermark is, in fact, viewable in the 340 hi-res image. Some years ago, I made this animation that shows where it can be found:

https://media.giphy.com/media/l0HU0rl4V … /giphy.gif

That watermark can absolutely be seen in the 340 hi-res image, if you adjust the saturation, balance and contrast just right.


Image link is broken so here are some that work:

In my latest episode of "Let’s Crack Zodiac" I also show the FBI file excerpt that mentions the watermark, and include an animation of how it can be easily seen in one of the letters:


Skip to 29:40

Thank you, I’ve watched the episodes (several times)*. It’s from Saks Fifth Avenue. You could actually buy typing paper there. In fact, it’s funny, I came across a recent LA Times crossword that uses onionskin paper as a clue for one of its answers, the answer being "Saks Fifth Avenue"

https://laxcrossword.com/tag/copies-mad … sword-clue

I haven’t put everything together yet, but I’ve come across some things in 340 that seem…odd. However it’s going to take, I think, quite a bit of work to put it all together and build a narrative that I’m satisfied will support the conclusion I seem to be converging upon in the course of my research.

It would be very useful to me if I knew a few things about the actual physical cipher, namely whether it has been conclusively proven that they are the result of penmanship or if the ink got onto the page in some other way. If there was something like, you know, a handwriting analysis on the actual cipher that somebody did or chemical tests for sourcing the ink, page indentations, micrographs or analyses of micrographs that say with a reasonable degree of certainty whether they were written with a pen or not. I’ll go digging for it, but if anyone knew of such a thing I just thought I’d ask to maybe cut down on some of the drudge work.

Anything someone knows I’d really appreciate.

*@doranchak I really appreciate the work you’ve done on this topic. I don’t think I would have gotten into the ciphers if not for the ACA and NSA presentations you uploaded (and Let’s Crack Zodiac) and probably would have run out of steam were it not for the tools you’ve made available on your website. So, thank you.

Posted : October 23, 2020 10:21 pm
Posts: 3
New Member

six exclamation marks, six underlines plus the number 7 under the months = 19 Was that a well hidden clue for the 340? Hindsight is 19/19 :)

Posted : December 14, 2020 1:50 am
Posts: 82
Estimable Member

Leaving this here for general OSINT since it seems relevant and I didn’t see anything about it after a search query.  Saks Fifth Avenue ad for San Francisco and Palo Alto in Polk & Co white pages, 1969-1970.  SF address was 125 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108 until 1981. 


This post was modified 2 years ago by Teg>Ean
Posted : October 1, 2022 6:30 am
Posts: 2598
Famed Member

What a brilliant find! Not only is this less than 0.3 miles from where Paul Stine picked up Z at the night of his murder but was also the “Frank’s” coffee shop of Darlene Ferrin’s uncle at 10 Geary – which is just around the corner!



Posted : October 5, 2022 7:56 am
Russ Thompson
Posts: 268
Reputable Member

Pardon my ignorance on this point, but what does the “Fifth Avenue” watermark tell us? Is that a brand, a location? Does it point to locations where the stationary could have been purchased?

Or is it too common to be of much use?

Many thanks!

That was too much!

Posted : October 8, 2022 5:27 pm
Posts: 82
Estimable Member
Posted by: @russ-thompson

Is that a brand, a location? Does it point to locations where the stationary could have been purchased?

Or is it too common to be of much use?

I’m not sure how common it was since it was before the era of the big box retailer.  Saks is/was a department store where you could get all kinds of designer brand merchandise like handbags, office supplies, perfume; all kinds of good stuff.  From the ad I saw in the 1969/1970 San Francisco phone book, I’m sort of left with the impression that there were only two outlets in California at that time, although I’m not certain.  Some quick browsing of their history seems to suggest they started a major expansion in 1972 and opened up many new outlets nationwide.


From their website

Between 1972 and 1989, 20 new stores opened throughout the country, many in Texas and the Midwest, and eight stores were replaced by newer ones in the same markets. A renovation of the New York flagship began in 1978, with the installation of an escalator service in 1979 and the construction of a 36-floor office and retail complex directly behind the store, which was completed in spring 1990. Saks’ portion of this tower resulted in nearly 30% more selling space for the New York City store and was built in partnership with the Swiss Bank Corporation.

In 1973, Saks & Company was acquired by BATUS, a subsidiary of B.A.T. Industries PLC through its acquisition of Gimbel Bros., Inc. In July 1990, affiliates of Investcorp S.A. (“Investcorp”) and a group of international investors acquired Saks & Company from B.A.T., beginning a new chapter in the life of Saks Fifth Avenue. Philip B. Miller joined Saks Fifth Avenue in 1990 as Vice Chairman of Saks Fifth Avenue and as Director of Saks Holdings, Inc. He was appointed to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Saks Fifth Avenue in 1993 and at Saks Holdings, Inc., in 1995.

Not to get into the weeds on this, but it sounds like they were looking to sell, and I don’t see any value in delving any deeper into this other than to say that it appears to have been a confined to a much smaller orbit of outlets at the time when Zodiac was writing letters. 

Department stores were sort of the place to go back in the day.  About a month ago I was reading some testimonies from the complete volumes of the Warren Commission when I came across a lady who both saw Lee Harvey Oswald get on a bus minutes after JFK was shot, and who also happened to have rented a room to him for about a week, a few months before the assassination.  This completely broke my brain when I first heard about it until I realized that

A) They both had residence in the same part of town, Oak Cliff

B) Everybody went downtown to view the presidential motorcade and, once it passed, there was no reason for them to stay downtown so they would get on a bus and go home,

C) the bus to Oak Cliff was following the same path as the motorcade so anyone who was going to take the bus and who also lived in Oak Cliff would be more likely than not to end up on the same bus, and most importantly,

D) The bus service used to offer round trip ticket deals to people who wanted to go to the department store tied in to the transportation infrastructure of the city.

The thing that broke my brain was ‘D.’  In a general sense, I hadn’t really considered how commerce and city planning were so harmonic back in the 1960s because today, that’s all been broken up into isolated pockets and you generally don’t have to travel very far to find what you’re looking for (gas station, grocery store, office supply store, shoe store, etc.)  Back then, it wasn’t such an oddity that people would travel all the way downtown (for fun) to shop for knickknacks and the only way to really get screwed would be to drive your own car.  So naturally you get the best deal by taking the bus, but the bus is also slow because it has to keep stopping and it may not stop where you want it to stop, so that’s the niche that the taxi service fills.  It cost more than the bus but overall is more convenient than driving and parking your own car and it takes you directly to the exact place that you want to be.

Zodiac (*seem to have had) his own car (maybe? probably?) and he seems to have enjoyed “going for a drive” but he ended up hailing a cab in downtown San Francisco, in the theater district before murdering Paul Stine.  As for how he got there, well, Dallas has a historic theater district too downtown and it’s right along the bus route (incidentally right before the spot that Oswald reportedly got on) so it seems to me the San Francisco theater district is the sort of place someone who took a bus would end up.  It also seems to me that a department store like Saks Fifth Avenue is the sort of place a person would end up at after hopping on a bus from wherever, maybe Vallejo, or maybe even up near the Presidio if he had his car nearby for an escape route.  I don’t know what’s plausible and I don’t know what bus routes in and out of San Francisco looked like in the late 60s.

Now I don’t have specific “thing” in mind here, but I think the Saks watermark is worth sort of thinking about in the context of geographic profiling because that store might be the only place outside of Palo Alto that you could get that paper, and it might be that there is a use of public transportation associated with his known locations in SF that night.  It might even be that he went to Saks the same day he killed Stine, but maybe not.  Maybe it means someone who takes the bus into San Francisco. 

It could mean all kinds of things.  Like I said, it’s just sharing Open Source Intelligence for someone with more brains than me to turn into useful information.

*By the way, I’m just using the JFK thing as an illustrator about the downtown bussing thing.  It has nothing to do with Z, and I hope you’ll understand that I just feel the need to clarify that.

This post was modified 2 years ago by Teg>Ean
Posted : October 9, 2022 7:58 pm
Russ Thompson
Posts: 268
Reputable Member

@tegean Thank you for your thoughts on this!

That was too much!

Posted : October 10, 2022 5:06 pm
Russ Thompson
Posts: 268
Reputable Member


Zodiac driving to SF, parkingⁱ near the theaters and then commuting/walking the remaining distances seems like a familiar behavior to him – not one he invented solely for the Stine crime. Plausible that Z thought the Presidio crime out while patronizing theater shows in downtown SF.

ⁱ Recall that downtown SF has a very tight auto parking situation.

That was too much!

Posted : October 16, 2022 5:00 pm
Teg>Ean reacted
Posts: 82
Estimable Member


Plausible that Z thought the Presidio crime out while patronizing theater shows in downtown SF.

That’s an interesting thought.  The American Conservatory Theater is right at Mason and Geary, where Zodiac was picked up by Stine.  Can’t find much about 1969 other than they opened up the conservatory and started offering summer classes.  Interesting though, they had a few productions on their schedule for 1968 and it looks like, at the end of December, they put on a play by Jules Feiffer called Little Murders.


I haven’t seen it myself, but it sounds like sort of dark comedy about inner city crime, specifically a love story between a cynical nihilist (Alfred) and an optimist (Patsy) who are surrounded by random murders and urban decay in New York in the late 1960s, with the resolving conceit being that neither of these attitudes are productive in mitigating the chaos of the modern world and the only sensible thing to do is participate (i.e. go commit random murders I guess).  At least that’s what I get from this IMDB review I read.  It was adapted into a film in 1971.  I may check it out.  


The only production listed for 1969, though, is Glory! Hallelujah! by Anne Maria Barlow, debuted in April and was apparently recorded by PBS but I don’t know if it’s hanging around online anywhere.

Posted : December 17, 2022 1:22 am
Posts: 82
Estimable Member

This is in centimeters, right?  Anyone have an idea?

[EDIT] Nevermind, I figured it out
and on that note, It seems to me that the closest fit for graph paper on the z340 is squares of 7.5mm, maybe slightly less, which is sort of weird but maybe that’s why the police have a metric ruler next to it in the hi-res photo.  
This post was modified 1 year ago 4 times by Teg>Ean
Posted : December 24, 2022 9:02 pm
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