Confirmed Zodiac Victims:
Attack#1 Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday
When: Between 11:14PM and 11:20 PM on 12/20/68
Where: A turnout on Lake Herman Rd on the outskirts of Vallejo
Seventeen year-old David Faraday, and his date, sixteen year-old Betty Lou Jensen, were attacked and murdered on lonely Lake Herman Rd on the outskirts of Vallejo on December 20, 1968 as they sat in Faraday’s Rambler SW. The killer likely pulled up next to the couple at around 11:14 and sat in his car. The headlights from an oncoming car, driven by a man named James Owen, who was heading from Vallejo to Benicia for an overnight shift at Humble Oil. illuminated the two cars, but he did not see any people around the cars. As soon as Owen’s car passed the seen, the killer likely exited his vehicle walking around to the driver’s side of Faraday’s car in an attempt to get the couple out. It’s possible that they did not comply, and perhaps David attempted to start the car up in an effort to back out, and flee. The killer fired a warning shot into the roof of the Rambler, and presumably, the frightened young couple slid out the passenger side of the car in an effort to escape their assailant. By the time they got out, the killer had made his way around the car, and Faraday barely made it out of the car before he was shot once behind the left ear execution style from close range. Betty Lou, likely terrified, raced away from the shooter heading toward the darkness and the blacktop of Lake Herman Rd. She never made it to the road as five bullets fired from the killer’s gun found their mark in Betty Lou’s back. She dropped just short of the blacktop, twenty seven feet from where she started running. The killer got back into his car, backed out, and drove away. Within a minute or two, another witness named Stella Borges was driving from her home on Lake Herman Rd when her headlights shined in on the area where the shootings had just taken place. She saw the two teenagers lying motionless, and knew that something awful had happened. She raced off to Benicia and flagged down a Benicia police officer, Dennis Pitta. Borges told the officer about the horrible scene just up Lake Herman Rd, and he followed her back to the scene. Since the crime scene fell under the jurisdiction of Solano County Sheriff’s office, they were called out, along with EMT’s and an ambulance. Betty Lou was dead at the scene, and David barely was clinging to life. He was raced to the hospital but was pronounced dead on the scene. Investigators determined that the killer had started his attack, and made a clean escape, all within a six minute window.
Initially, police were dumbfounded by the senseless murder and investigated it as a possible case of jealously. It wasn’t long before some people began to claim that Faraday was a narc, and that someone he had crossed had murdered him to silence him, and that Betty Lou was collateral damage. At the end of the day, police couldn’t prove any theory. All they knew was that the cold blooded killer of two teenagers had slipped away. The evidence at the scene, along with ballistics, told the police that the killer had used a .22 caliber handgun; the make and model was either a J.C. Model 80 or High Standard Model 101. The ammunition used was Winchester Western Super X, long rifle.
For just over six months, the investigation didn’t go anywhere. Then, in the early morning hours of July 5th, 1969, a phone call following another violent attack would give the investigators a new perspective.
Attack#2 Darlene Ferrin and Mike Mageau
When: Just after Midnight on 7/5/69
Where: Blue Rock Springs Park in Vallejo
On July 4, 1969, 22 year-old Darlene Ferrin picked up her friend, 19 year-old Mike Mageau at his home in Vallejo, and then drove to a popular drive-in restaurant, Mr. Ed’s. They didn’t stay long, and made their way to Blue Rock Springs Park golf course on the outskirts of Vallejo. Darlene pulled in and parked. The two talked and listened to the radio. Before long, their privacy was interrupted by a car full of noisy youths that parked close by and set off fire crackers before leaving just a few minutes later. Just a moment later, around Midnight a light colored car, possibly Tan or Brown, a Corvair or Mustang pulled in a few feet away and flipped its headlights off. Darlene and Mike looked at the car wondering what the driver was doing, and after a moment or two, the car drove away, and Darlene and Mike went back to talking. Several minutes later (5 or more), a car once again pulled into the parking lot, and parked behind them. Although Mike was not positive, he thought it might be the same car that had left minutes before. The driver of the mystery car got out and turned on a bright light of some kind shining it into the rear of Darlene’s car. Mike assumed it was a police officer and warned Darlene to get her license ready. Light in hand, the driver walked around to Mike’s side of the car-the passenger side, and walked up to his window which was rolled down. Without warning, the driver began shooting into Darlene’s car striking both Mike, and Darlene. After several shots, the driver began walking back toward his car. Mike, in agony of being shot, started to thrash around and in the process drew the attention of the shooter, who then turned around and went back to Mike’s side of the car unleashing more bullets into the vehicle, further striking both Mike and Darlene. Finally, the assailant headed back to his car, and drove away, leaving both Mike and Darlene severely injured. 800 Feet away, the golf course caretaker’s son was lying in bed trying to fall asleep when he heard the shots- it was just after Midnight on July 5. He then heard a car pull out on the blacktop fast enough that the tires squealed. Moments later, a handful of young friends entered the park and saw Mike, who by this point had crawled from the car and was lying on the ground. He begged the friends to go get help, and told them that he had been shot. Within minutes, police were on scene. Mike Mageau was in no condition to talk having been shot four times, including a shot in the mouth. Inside the car, Darlene Ferrin, who had been shot a total of five times, didn’t move and was barely clinging to life. Ambulances and EMT’s were summoned to the scene, and quickly transported the two gunshot victims to the hospital, and the police began investigating the shooting.
At 12:38AM, Darlene Ferrin was pronounced dead on arrival at Kaiser Hospital, and Mike Mageau was in critical condition. Right around the time that Darlene was pronounced dead about 40 minutes after she was shot, a phone call came into Vallejo police dispatcher Nancy Slover at 12:40AM. A male voice on the other end of the phone said “I want to report a double murder. If you will go one mile East on Columbus Parkway to the Public park, you will find the kids in a Brown car. They were shot with a .9mm Luger. I also killed those kids last year. Goodbye”. The caller then hung up, leaving Slover was shocked, the caller wasn’t a good Samaritan reporting the shooting, he was claiming responsibility it seemed, and on top of that, was taking responsibility for other murders- those of David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen the previous December just a few miles away on Lake Herman Rd,. The phone call was quickly traced to a payphone outside of Joe’s Union gas station at the intersection of Springs & Tuolumne in Vallejo, located about three and a half miles South West of the crime scene. As part of the tracing process, the phone may have rung back in the phonebooth. A police officer was dispatched to the location of the phonebooth in front of the gas station, but by the time he arrived, there was no sign of the caller. The officer was ordered to guard the phonebooth until a fingerprint technician could arrive.
Police had to wait to question the only person who might have some kind of answers, Mike Mageau. Doctors working on him wanted to stabilize the young man before they would allow him to talk. The next day, on July 6, Detectives finally got their chance to talk to Mageau. Mike detailed how the shooter had possibly parked his Brown or Tan colored car for a minute or two before driving off and returning minutes later. He told them about the bright light the man carried blinding him, and that the shooter had started firing without saying a word. Mike stated that the shots were not that loud, and that he got the feeling that the gun may have had a silencer on it.(Of course the caretaker’s son heard the shots from 800 feet away). Perhaps, most importantly, Mageau was able to give a description of the shooter based on what he saw of him when the light wasn’t in his eyes. Mageau stated that the gunman was “short, possibly 5ft8. Was real heavy set, beefy build. Mike added that the suspect was not blubbery fat, but real beefy possibly 195-200 pounds and had short curly hair, light Brown almost Blonde. He stated that the shooter was not wearing glasses, and he had seen mostly a profile or side view of the gunman. Mageau added that there was nothing unusual about the shooter other than he had a very large face.
Police originally investigated the Blue Rock Springs Park attack as one that was motivated by jealousy or revenge. In the ensuing investigation, it became clear that Darlene Ferrin, known as Dee to her friends, was known to see other men, despite being married to Dean Ferrin. It seemed clear to police that Darlene may have been at the center of the gunman’s rage. Due to her possible infidelity, her husband Dean became a suspect, but he had an alibi the night of the murder as he was working. Darlene’s ex-husband Jim Crabtree was also looked at as a suspect. It was no secret that their relationship did not end well. Police also looked at a man named George Waters who seemed to be infatuated with Darlene, but both he, and Crabtree were eventually ruled out as being Darlene’s killer. Before long, a host of potential suspects were turned into police by well meaning Vallejo residents; any friends, neighbors, or co-workers who were seen as acting or doing anything deemed suspicious were turned in, but none of them proved to be the Blue Rock Springs shooter, and the case cooled off. But on July 31, 1969, 3 separate letters, each including one part of a cipher, were mailed to the Vallejo Times Herald, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the San Francisco Examiner, and it would re-ignite the Blue Rock Springs investigation, and further connect it to the Lake Herman Rd murders.
Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard
When: Just after 6pm on 9/27/69
Where: Lake Berryessa in Napa County
22 year-old Cecelia Shepard and 20 year-old Bryan Hartnell had previously dated, but in September, 1969, they were just fellow Pacific Union College students that had remained friends. Cecelia had been attending college in Riverside in Southern California and was in the process of transferring to school in Napa County. The pair wanted to catch up and spend time together, and on Saturday September 27, they decided to take a ride to sprawling Lake Berryessa in Napa County. Their plans were hastily made on the spur of the moment and included throwing down a blanket at the water’s edge tp picnic. It was a scenic and peaceful place the couple had visited before.
At around 6:15pm, Cecelia and Bryan were enjoying themselves from their view on a peninsula on the lake. Bryan was lying on his back looking towards the water, and Cecelia was lying with her head on Bryan’s shoulder facing away from the water. Before long, she noticed a man walking down from the area where they had parked towards them. She told Bryan about the approaching man, but he seemed to be too tranquil to care. Then the man stopped behind a tree for a moment and when he emerged, he had donned a dark hood over his head, and had started walking towards the couple briskly. As he got closer, Cecelia could make out a gun in his hand and she yelled out to Bryan to warn him. The pair jumped to their feet as the man got very close to them, with a few yards. Bryan and Cecelia were frightened and alarmed at the sight of the man wearing what appeared to be an executioner’s style hood with clip on sunglasses attached to the eye area of the mask. A crossed-circle stitched in White was embroidered across the chest area. The image in itself would have been unnerving, but the fact the man was holding a semi automatic handgun in his outstretched hand, possibly a .45 caliber, added to the tension.
The hooded stranger warned Bryan and Cecelia not to move. He told them that he was going to rob them and steal their car. He added that he was an escaped prisoner and wanted to get to Mexico. During the encounter, he told the college students where he had escaped from, but later on Bryan would struggle to recount where the prison was located, although he would come to land on something like Deer Lodge, or Fern Lodge. Bryan tried to engage the man and reason with him, but the hooded figure told him to stop talking and he pulled some pre-cut lengths of hollowed clothesline from his belt and handed it to Cecelia, ordering her to tie Bryan up. Bryan tried continued to engage with the attacker as Cecelia tied him up. When Bryan was all the way tied up, the man ordered Cecelia to the ground, and then he tied Cecelia, and then tightened the bindings on Bryan as well. Bryan noticed that the man appeared nervous, his hands seemed to be shaking. Bryan had grown angry that he and Cecelia were going to be lying there for sometime while the hooded man took off with the few dollars in Bryan’s pocket as well as his car, a White Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. He had cooperated with the attacker, and fully expected that the man would soon be leaving. Bryan asked the assailant if the gun he had been brandishing was even loaded. The man responded by crouching down in front of Bryan, and releasing the magazine from the gun and showing it to him; it was loaded with bullets. It was then that Bryan realized just how serious the situation was, and it was about to get worse. Without warning, the man pulled a large bayonet-style knife from the sheath on his belt and plunged it into Bryan’s back as he lie helplessly hog tied face down on the ground. The knife rose and fell over and over again until Bryan had been stabbed six times. The attacker then turned his attention to Cecelia who was now hysterical after seeing what had just happened to Bryan. While Bryan had been a still, prone target with all of the wounds going to his back, Cecelia had been moving and thrashing wildly while she was being stabbed. She received a total of ten stab wounds, five to her chest area, and five in her back. Bryan immediately made the decision to play dead. He felt that if he moved and the attacker saw him move, that the assailant would finish him off. It was a decision that likely saved Bryan’s life. After a moment of quiet, Bryan heard the man walk off in the direction he had come from. After a moment of two Bryan started to struggle to free his bindings, but due to his injuries and loss of blood, he was weak. But Cecelia had regained consciousness after passing out and helped him to free himself. As they struggled to get free, the two badly wounded college students saw a boat in the distance on the Lake. They called out and screamed pleading for help. The boat started its motor and left, and Bryan and Cecelia assumed that the boater had ignored their pleas. In reality, he went to get help. Bryan staggered up towards the road, a slow agonizing journey of several hundred feet. Meanwhile, the boater, Mr. Ronald Fong, had reached Rancho Monticello resort by boat and summoned Archie White and White’s wife, Elizabeth who ran the resort to come with him to help the injured couple. They accompanied Fong to the crime scene using White’s speedboat. They called out for help on the radio, and the call was heard by Napa County sheriff’s deputy William White and park ranger, Dennis Land who both converged on the scene.
Archie and Elizabeth White arrived on scene via boat, and jumped out to assist Cecelia who was badly injured and bloody. Bryan had made it back to an access road where he was met by Dennis Land, and then Deputy White showed up and radioed for ambulance and medical personnel at about 7:10PM. The Whites along with Fong and the two officers tried to make Bryan and Cecelia comfortable until the ambulance could get there. Due to the remote location and tricky driving conditions, it would be sometime before the ambulance could get there. Bryan and Cecelia were in and out of consciousness and talking to the first responders. Cecelia told Mrs White how she watched the man walk down, and step behind the tree before emerging with the sinister hood on. She explained to Elizabeth White that the man appeared to have dark hair and had been wearing glasses before throwing the hood on. Finally, the ambulance arrived just before 8PM, over 90 minutes after the attack on Bryan and Cecelia. They were rushed to Queen of the Valley Hospital arriving there at just before 9PM, almost three hours after they were stabbed. Both were in critical condition.
Back at the crime scene first responders awaited Napa County investigators to get there to investigate. Thinking they were helping, the people waiting there gathered all of Bryan and Cecelia’s things into their blanket and scooped them up. In reality, they had unknowingly disturbed and tainted a crime scene. Some of the investigators including Ken Narlow and Hal Snook arrived and began processing the scene. They quickly found a set of tracks leading down to the peninsula from the road, and then back up where they stopped at Bryan’s car. The tracks would be determined to be from a size 10.5 Wing Walker boot, a boot designed for military personnel to walk on the wings of planes. These boots were an important clue and pointed to a possible military connection for the attacker, although they were also sold in military surplus stores to civilians.
The boot impressions into the Earth were rather deep, and indicated to investigators that the attacker was likely 200 pounds or more, something Bryan Hartnell would later corroborate. While examining where the boot tracks led near Hartnell’s Volkswagen, police found tire tracks behind Hartnell’s car from where another car had been parked, possibly driven by the attacker. They found that the tire impressions were left by mismatched and badly worn tires, indicating to them that perhaps, the assailant did not have much money. But what was found on Bryan Hartnell’s door was most enlightening, a handwritten message in marker
The attacker had marked dates on the door corresponding with Zodiac attacks in the Vallejo area, and included the Zodiac’s cross hair symbol. Now the date and time of the Lake Berryessa attack was included with the others. Was Bryan and Cecelia’s attacker hinting that they were the Zodiac? It appeared so, and soon, as with the case with the last Zodiac attack, a phone call would come to light that would seemingly erase all doubts.
On September 27, at about 7:30PM an hour or so after the attack, Napa City Police officer Dave Slaight took a phone call as he manned the phones at the station. A soft spoken but nervous sounding man who sounded to the officer like he might be in his 20’s, told Slaight, “I want to report a murder, no a double murder, they are two miles North of Park Headquarters. I’m the one that did it”. Officer Slaight, shocked by what he just heard tried to respond to the caller but it was too late, the caller had dropped the phone leaving it dangling. The sound of voices in the background could be heard by the helpless officer. The phone call was traced to a phonebooth at a car wash in Napa at the corner of Main and Clinton Streets. Police quickly sent a tech over to get prints off the phone, and the tech found prints that were so fresh, he had to artificially dry them, but it’s not known if the prints were from the killer, or any number of people who might have used the phone.
It’s important to point out here, that during the attackers conversation with Bryan and Cecelia, he never mentioned he was the Zodiac, although he was wearing the Zodiac’s cross hair logo on his chest and had written it on Bryan’s door. The same was true of the call to Officer Slaight, he did not mention he was Zodiac. Eventually, the writing on Hartnell’s door was tied to the mailed Zodiac letters; together with the attacker’s M.O., police knew that the Zodiac Killer had come to Napa County.
Police were highly interested in speaking to Bryan and Cecelia who were struggling to survive their wounds in the hospital, and on September 29, two days after she was attacked, Cecelia passed away from her injuries. The attack at Lake Berryessa had now officially resulted in a murder. Meanwhile, Bryan Hartnell slowly recovered from his wounds. He was able to give police bits and pieces about the attacker. Although Bryan had not seen his face like Cecelia, he did see little bits and pieces of sweaty Brown hairs dangling down through the eye holes of the killer’s hood. He added that the killer was 5ft8 to 5ft10m maybe 6ft. Bryan admitted he was a terrible judge of height due to his own extreme tallness of 6ft5. But Bryan did relay that Zodiac was stocky or heavy, bulky- that his belly appeared to hang over his belt. The man was shabbily dressed in dark baggy clothes. Bryan also added that the killer might be in his 20’s and that he sounded “like a student”. Hartnell said the man spoke with a draw, not a Southern draw, and felt the voice was familiar. Hartnell assured police he would recognize the voice if he heard it again.
Police tracked down three witnesses who had an interesting encounter at Lake Berryessa the day of the attack. Earlier in the day at a different part of the lake, not too far from the attack spot, three sunbathing girls noticed a strange man watching them. He seemed to be pretending he was doing something inside the Blue car he was parked in. After a while, he got out and walked past the girls. They described him as being in his upper 20’s, 6ft-6ft2, and weighing around 200 pounds. One girl described him as being attractive. The man did not say anything to the girls as he passed by several feet away, and they did not see him again. They described him as wearing dark baggy clothes, clothes that closely matched Bryan Hartnell’s description of his attacker’s clothing. Other witnesses around the lake that day had seen a similarly dressed man from a distance.
Police set out to identify and question this man, and circulated his image in local papers, however, he never came forward and was not identified. In the end, there is no way to know if he was connected to the attack or nor.
The attack at Lake Berryessa was big, and shocking news, yet Zodiac did not capitalize on it. While he was quick to brag about it in his call to Officer Slaight an hour after the attack, and took time to write about it on Hartnell’s door at the scene, he wasn’t interested in bringing more attention to it later. Could it be because he had slipped up, or left some clue that could lead to him? Was it because he was the man in the sketch witnessed by the sunbathing girls? Or was it simply that once again for the second time in a row, he had attacked a couple and failed to kill the male. Before long, the fact that Zodiac attacked couples, and failed to kill the man, became very obvious to police and the press. There was a pattern to Zodiac’s actions. His next attack would break that pattern
When: Just before 10PM on 10/11/69
Where: The corner of Washington and Cherry Streets in the upscale Presidio Heights neighborhood of San Francisco
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Unconfirmed Zodiac Victims
Robert Domingos and Linda Edwards
When: Murdered June 4,1963
Where: On Gaviota Beach in Santa Barbara County, CA.
June 4,1963 was Senior ditch day at Lompoc High School, so sweethearts, Robert Domingos, 18, and 17 year-old Linda Edwards took advantage of it and decided to go to the beach. They arrived at a secluded area near Gaviota Beach in Santa Barbara County and spent the day together sunbathing on the isolated beach. The steep walk down to the beach from highway 101 above provided the couple with privacy, but little did they know, they were not alone. Someone stalked them and made their way down to the beach, apparently surprising the couple. The sound of the waves, and perhaps a passing train above on the railroad tracks may have helped their assailant approach without being noticed. The pair was surprised by a man holding them at gunpoint, the weapon likely a .22 caliber rifle. From evidence at the scene, it appears that Linda was forced to tie Robert up using pre cut lengths of rope that their assailant had brought with him. It also seems that Robert made a sudden move towards the attacker in order to fight him off, and was shot a total of 11 times, before the killer turned the gun on Linda shooting her 9 times, killing the young couple. Winchester Western .22 long rifle ammo was used in the attack. After the couple was dead, their killer dragged each of the victims to a make shift shack 30 feet away and stacked them on top of each other. Although Linda was not sexually assaulted, her killer using a knife, slit her bathing suit top exposing her breasts. He then attempted to set the hut on fire using wooden matches, but it didn’t catch. It seems as if the murderer was trying to hide potential evidence with the fire, but gave up and fled the scene. By the next day, June 4, after they hadn’t returned home the day before, Robert and Linda’s families were worried, and Robert’s father George organized friends and family to go out looking for the couple in areas where they were known to visit. It’s Robert’s father who discovered his son’s car parked in a parking spot on highway 101 overlooking Gaviota Beach. He frantically made his way down to the beach, and found Robert and Linda dead. News of the brutal murders shocked quiet and peaceful Santa Barbara County. Police struggled to find a motive. During their investigation, they tried to round up transients and hobos that spent time near the beach, and traveling along the rail line, but they had a hard time connecting anyone to the crime. Their investigation also revealed that in the weeks leading up to the murders, area beach goers had reported a sniper taking pot shots at people on the beach, but no one was arrested for those incidents. Finally, investigators considered whether the murders of the young couple might be connected to another murder that happened in the area a couple nights before, on June 2. Vern C. Smith, 63 years old, was robbed and murdered- stabbed to death. Police tracked down his killers, 16 year old James L. Coleman and 17 year-old JC Reed Jr, and arrested them. They admitted to their role in Smith’s slaying but added that the person who actually stabbed Vern Smith to death was another young man that they had met known only as ‘Sandy’. They claimed that Sandy was in his teens and had made his way down to Southern CA from SF. Coleman and Reed claimed that they parted ways with Sandy the day after Smith’s murder on June 3, and early on June 4 before Domingos and Edwards were killed, the two young men had hitched their way up to Santa Cruz. It seemed likely that Coleman and Reed couldn’t have killed Robert and Linda, but the mysterious Sandy was still out there in the area, and if what Coleman and Reed said was true, he was very dangerous. A sketch of Sandy was circulated, but he was never identified, and it remains unknown if he is connected at all to the murders of Domingos and Edwards, but interestingly, Sandy had allegedly told Coleman and Reed that he planned on buying a .22 caliber rifle, the same caliber used to kill Domingos and Edwards. This case would eventually be connected to Zodiac via M.O. The way in which their killer approached Robert and Linda, and forced Linda to tie up Robert, is very similar to Zodiac’s tactics at Lake Berryessa in September, 1969. Additionally, the ammo used in their murder was the same brand of ammo used at Lake Herman Rd by Zodiac in December, 1968. Some clues led the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s dept to investigate if the ammo was bought at nearby Vandenburg AFB. Some with in law enforcement, including retired SB Sheriff’s investigator, Bill Baker, are convinced that Zodiac murdered Robert Domingos and Linda Edwards, although that department has stayed silent about much of the investigation into the murders of the young couple. One rumor that has been floating around is that a Wingwalker boot track was found at the Gaviota Beach crime scene, much like the one known to be found at the Lake Berryessa crime scene, but again, it’s just a rumor; officially, the murder of Robert Domingos and Linda Edwards remain unsolved, and they are not classified as confirmed Zodiac victims
Cheri Jo Bates
When: Murdered October 30, 1966
Where: Outside of the Riverside City College in Riverside, CA
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When: Missing since September 6, 1970
Where: From South Lake Tahoe, CA
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