It began, as all good stories do, with a pretty girl walking down a quiet road at night.

It was night before Halloween, and Cheri Jo Bates had finished a long night of studying psychology at the Riverside City College library where she was attending school. She left the library to drive herself home. When she didn't arrive, her worried parents called police. Before the police had even began a search for Cheri, they received word that a homicide had occurred just outside of the library.

Bates had been stabbed multiple times with a short blade in an alley just 20 yards from her car. Upon further investigation, it was found that her car's distributor had been tampered with, rendering it inoperable. A stopped Timex watch at the scene read 12:24, although the coroner placed the death at several hours earlier. There were no real leads, and no immediate suspects.

On November 29, the Riverside Police Department and the Press-Enterprise, a local newspaper, received identical copies of an anonymous letter, titled simply "The Confession." It read:

SHE WAS YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL. BUT NOW SHE IS BATTERED AND DEAD. SHE IS NOT THE FIRST AND SHE WILL NOT BE THE LAST. I LAY AWAKE NIGHTS THINKING ABOUT MY NEXT VICTIM. MAYBE SHE WILL BE THE BEAUTIFUL BLOND THAT BABYSITS NEAR THE LITTLE STORE AND WALKS DOWN THE DARK ALLEY EACH EVENING ABOUT SEVEN. OR MAYBE SHE WILL BE THE SHAPELY BLUE EYED BROWNETT THAT SAID NO WHEN I ASKED HER FOR A DATE IN HIGH SCHOOL. BUT MAYBE IT WILL NOT BE EITHER. BUT I SHALL CUT OFF HER FEMALE PARTS AND DEPOSIT THEM FOR THE WHOLE CITY TO SEE. SO DON'T MAKE IT TO EASY FOR ME. KEEP YOUR SISTERS, DAUGHTERS, AND WIVES OFF THE STREETS AND ALLEYS. MISS BATES WAS STUPID. SHE WENT TO THE SLAUGHTER LIKE A LAMB. SHE DID NOT PUT UP A STRUGGLE. BUT I DID. IT WAS A BALL. I FIRST PULLED THE MIDDLE WIRE FROM THE DISTRIBUTOR. THEN I WAITED FOR HER IN THE LIBRARY AND FOLLOWED HER OUT AFTER ABOUT TWO MINUTES. THE BATTERY MUST HAVE BEEN ABOUT DEAD BY THEN I THEN OFFERED TO HELP. SHE WAS THEN VERY WILLING TO TALK WITH ME. I TOLD HER THAT MY CAR WAS DOWN THE STREET AND THAT I WOULD GIVER HER A LIFE HOME. WHEN WE WERE AWAY FROM THE LIBRARY WALKING, I SAID IT WAS ABOUT TIME. SHE ASKED ME "ABOUT TIME FOR WHAT". I SAID IT WAS ABOUT TIME FOR HER TO DIE. I GRABBER HER AROUND THE NECK WITH MY HAND OVER HER MOUTH AND MY OTHER HAND WITH A SMALL KNIFE AT HER THROAT. SHE WENT VERY WILLINGLY, HER BREASTS FELT VERY WARM AND FIRM UNDER MY HANDS, BUT ONLY ONE THING WAS ON MY MIND. MAKING HER PAY FOR THE BRUSH OFFS THAT SHE HAD GIVEN ME DURING THE YEARS PRIOR. SHE DIED HARD. SHE SQUIRMED AND SHOOK AS I CHOAKED HER, AND HER LIPS TWITCHED. SHE LET OUT A SCREAM ONCE AND I KICKED HER HEAD TO SHUT HER UP. I PLUNGED THE KNIFE INTO HER AND IT BROKE. I THEN FINISHED THE JOB BY CUTTING HER THROAT. I AM NOT SICK. I AM INSANE. BUT THAT WILL NOT STOP THE GAME. THIS LETTER SHOULD BE PUBLISHED FOR ALL TO READ IT. IT JUST MIGHT SAVE THAT GIRL IN THE ALLEY. BUT THAT'S UP TO YOU. IT WILL BE ON YOUR CONSCIENCE, NOT MINE. YES I DID MAKE THAT CALL TO YOU ALSO. IT WAS JUST A WARNING BEWARE .... I AM STALKING YOUR GIRLS NOW. (sic, emphasis mine)

Thus began the tale of the Zodiac Killer, the deadliest American serial killer never to be caught.

I can't seem to face up to the facts
I'm tense and nervous and I
Can't relax
I can't sleep 'cause my bed's on fire
Don't touch me I'm a real live wire
Talking Heads, "Psycho Killer"

Immediately the police began investigating Bates's death. On December 11, 1966, they found a poem etched into a desk in the back of the Riverside library. It was titled "Sick of living/Unwilling to die." It read:

	cut.
	clean.
	if red I
	clean.
	blood spurting,
		dripping,
		 spilling;
	all over her new
	dress.
	oh well,
	it was red
	anyway.
	life draining into an
	uncertain death.
	she won't
	die
	this time
	someone ll find her
	just wait till
	next time.
			rh

In April of 1967, 3 letters were sent to Cheri Jo's parents, the Riverside Police Department, and the Tiger Times, Riverside City College's student newspaper. These letters again claimed responsibility for the crime, but offered no definitive proof. Police investigations later focused on an ex-boyfriend of Cheri's - witnesses had seen them fighting days before her murder, and two separate informants revealed that he had bragged about the killing in the years that followed. A DNA test on hairs found at the crime scene were a conclusive non-match with this suspect. Although the case has never definitively been linked to the Zodiac Killer, it is believed that he wrote the confession, the poem, and the 3 April letters.

Don't go walkin' down Lover's Lane
with anyone else but me
anyone else but me
anyone else but me
Glenn Miller, "Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree"

At 11 o'clock on a Friday night, December 20, 1968, high school sweethearts David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen were parking on Lake Herman Road, 3 miles outside of Vallejo. It was a known makeout spot, with a beautiful view of the lake's shore. 30 years later it is remembered for something far more terrifying.

Sometime between 11 and 11:30, a car pulled up alongside Faraday's station wagon. A man emerged and pulled out a .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol. He ordered Faraday and Jensen out of the car. When they refused, he fired 6 shots through the passenger window and rear window, shattering them. Faraday jumped out of the driver's side and was immediately shot in the back of the head, killing him instantly. Jensen pushed her door open, too, and began running; she was shot 5 times in the back less than 10 feet away from the car.

Although there was initial speculation that Faraday was involved in local drug trafficking, there were no credible leads.

I go out walkin' after midnight
Out in the moonlight just like we used to do
I'm always walkin' after midnight
Searchin' for you
Patsy Cline, "Walking After Midnight"

On Independence Day, 1969, Darlene Ferrin and Mike Mageau were also parked in a secluded area of Blue Rock Springs Park near Vallejo. It was just before midnight. A light brown car pulled up next to the couple, and a man emerged with a flashlight. Thinking it was a policeman, the duo pulled out identification. Without warning, the man fired 4 shots into the car. When Mageau screamed out in pain, the man leaned into the car and fired 2 shots at point-blank range into both lovers. Amazingly, Mageau survived the incident. He described the assailant as 5'8" or 5'9", stocky, in his late 20s, and having brown hair.

45 minutes after the shooting, the police received a phone call. In a breathy whisper, the disembodied voice on the other line told them that he had shot Ferrin and Mageau. Then it said, "I also killed those teenagers up at Lake Herman last Christmas." Still, there were no leads.

No leads, that is, until the letters arrived.

Got a letter from a mystery man
but in between the lines - he don't understand
Outfield, "Mystery Man"

On July 31, 1969, a letter arrived at the Vallejo Times-Herald, postmarked from San Francisco. It read:

Dear Editor:
I am the killer of the 2 teenagers last Christmas at Lake Herman + the girl last 4oth of July. To prove this I shall state some facts which only I + the police know.
Christmas
1 brand name of ammo - Super X
2 10 shots fired
3 Boy was on his back with feet to car
4 Girl was lyeing on right side feed to west
4th of July
1 girl was wearing patterned pants
2 boy was also shot in knee 3 ammo was made by Western
Here is a cipher on that is part of one. The other 2 parts are being mailed to the S.F. Examiner + Chronicle
I want you to print this cipher on the front page by Fry afternoon Aug 1-69.
If you do not print this cipher, I will go on a kill rampage Fry night.
This will last the whole weekend, I will cruse around killing people who are alone at night untill Sun Night or untill I kill a dozen people.

Ø

A few phone calls confirmed that both of the other papers had received virtually identical letters. The "ciphers" he sent were 18x8 blocks, filled with letters in various degrees of rotation and symbols such as triangles and half-filled circles. The police assigned handwriting analysts and cryptographers to the messages. The newspapers printed the papers as requested, and then asked that they be sent more information, "to verify the truth of these statements." Another letter came to the Examiner, explaining how he had managed to evade capture after committing the crimes. Much of its details are now forgotten, but its ominous opening line is forever etched into the sands of time:

This is the Zodiac speaking.

I ain't afraid to die
Ain't afraid to die
And here we go
ain't afraid to
I'm out on a beach
Richard Ashcroft, "On A Beach"

Cecelia Shepard and Bryan Hartnell sat on the beach of Lake Berryessa in a secluded section. They noticed a person approaching in the distance, but paid little attention to them. When they looked again, they saw the person dressed in a disturbing costume (which can be seen at http://www.zodiackiller.com/SFPDNapa.html) and holding a gun and 10-inch knife. The man claimed to be an escaped prisoner from Colorado who needed money and a car to reach the Mexican border. After several minutes of negotiation, during which he refused Hartnell's wallet and keys, the man tied up the two lovers. He then stabbed Shepard 10 times and Hartnell 6 and left them to die. Their frantic screaming attracted park rangers, who called for an ambulance. It took nearly an hour for the medical help and police to arrive.

When the police converged on the crime scene, they discovered tire tracks, size 10 footprints, and written onto the side door of Shepard's car they found:

Ø

Vallejo
12-20-68
7-4-69
Sep 27-69-6:30
by knife

As they were making they discovery, the Napa County Sheriff's Department received a phone call. The man on the line claimed to have committed the Shepard and Harnett stabbings. The call was traced to a phone booth, where detectives later pulled several fingerprints possibly belonging to the Zodiac Killer. Cecelia Shepard succumbed to her injuries on September 29, 1969. Bryan Hartnell survived.

Taxi, taxi give me a ride
I'm going to take you to the other side
Cher, "Taxi Taxi"

On a late night drive through San Francisco on October 11, 1969, taxi driver Paul Stine picked up a fare on Geary Street, with the destination of Washington and Maple Streets. He never made his destination, instead killed by a single bullet to the back of the head. 3 witnesses watched his murderer wipe the car down with a cloth after killing him. They described him as 25 to 30, 5'8" or 5'9", stocky, with brown hair, glasses, and dark clothing. When they called police to report this, the dispatcher mistakenly reported the assailant as a black male. Two patrol officers near the scene later said they spotted a man with a description matching the real details, but since their focus was elsewhere, didn't stop him for questioning.

One interesting part of the murder was that a part of Stine's shirt had been carefully torn off and removed. On October 13, the San Francisco Chronicle received a letter from the Zodiac killer. In it was the piece of shirt that had been removed. The letter read:

This is the Zodiac speaking.
I am the murderer of the Taxi driver over by Washington + Maple St last night, to prove this here is a blood stained piece of his shirt. I am the same man who did in the people in the north bay area.
The S.F. Police could have caught me last night if they had searched the park properly instead of holding road races with their motorcicles seeing who could make the most noise. The cab drivers should have just parked their cars + stat there quietly waiting for me to come out of cover.
School children make nice toys - ok, I think I shall wipe out a shcool bus some morning. Just shoot out the front tire + then pick off the kiddies as they come bouncing out.

Ø

This is the last known murder committed by the Zodiac killer. The letters, however, continued to pour in.

Sorry I haven't written,
but I just washed my pen ...
and I can't do a thing with it!

On November 8, 1969, the San Francisco Chronicle received a gag greeting card with the aforementioned joke on it. It also contained a new cipher. The letter read:

This is the Zodiac speaking
I though you would need a good laugh before you hear the bad news
you won't get the news for a while yet.
PS could you print this new cipher on your front page?
I get awfully lonely when I am ignored, so lonely I could do my THING!!!!!

The next day, a 6 page letter arrived at the Chronicle. In it, the Zodiac Killer stated he was changing his modus operandi - he would not longer broadcast or admit to his crimes, instead making them look like ordinary robberies or "fake accidents." He chided the police for their poor composite sketches - "I look entirle different" - and told them he poured rubber cement on his fingers to avoid leaving prints. He also asked the paper to print the story of how after the Stine murder he had been approached by two cops, who asked him if he had seen anyone suspicious. "I said yes there was this man who was running by waveing a gun." He then wrote that instead of shooting out a bus's tires, he planned on blowing one up. As proof, he offered up a hand-drawn schematic of the bomb he had built: "The death machine is all ready made."

I got a letter this morning
how do you reckon it read?
hurry the gal you love is dead
The White Stripes, "Dead Letter"

The letters continued to come, occasionally hinting at more deaths. Many of the letters directly suggested a psychotic mind. Others treated it as a game, and many of the letters showed a surprising dark sense of humor about the entire ordeal. The first letter was sent to lawyer Melvin Belli on December 20, 1969, one year to the date after the Faraday-Jensen murders.

Dear Melvin.
This is the Zodiac speaking.
I wish you a happy Christmass. The one thing I ask of you is this, please help me. I cannot reach out for help because of this thing in me wont let me. I am find it extreamly difficult to hold it in check I am afraid I will loose control again and take my nineth + posibly tenth victom. Please help me I am drownding. At the moment the children are safe from the bomb because it is so massive to dig in + the triger mech requires much work to get it adjusted just right. But if I hold back too long from no nine I will loose complet all controol of my self + set the bomb up. Please help me I can not remain in control for much longer.

He's the unforeseen danger
The keeper of the key to the locks.
Know when you see him,
Nothing can free him.
Neil Young, "The Loner"

The next letter contains the most direct clue yet to the Zodiac Killer's identity. Donald Harten and his wife, both teachers in Salinas, California, had cracked the first 3 ciphers where the FBI, NSA, and CIA had all failed. The cipher that came with the washed-pen card, however, has yet to be solved (it can be viewed at http://www.zodiackiller.com/340Cipher.html). With it lies the mystery to the brief cipher found in this letter, sent April 20, 1970, to the Chronicle.

This is the Zodiac speaking
By the way have you cracked the last cipher I sent you ? My name is

{cipher deleted - ed.}

I am mildly cerous as to how much money you have on my head now. I hope you do not think that I was the one who wiped out that blue meannie with a bomb at the cop station. Even though I talked about school children with one. It just wouldnt doo to move in on someone elses teritory. But there is more glory in killing a cop than a cid because a cop can shoot back. I have killed ten people to date. It would have been a lot more except that my bus bomb was a dud. I was swamped out by the rain we had a while back.

Next came the amusing card featuring the ribald pun "Sorry to hear your ass is a dragon." In it, the giddy killer makes light of the liberal buttons seen around town and asks that some of his own be made and passed around.

Front: I hope you enjoy your selves when I have my BLAST. P.S. on back

Back: if you dont want me to have this blast you must do things. Tell every one about the bus bomb with all the details. I would like to see some nice Zodiac button wandering about town. Every one else has these buttons like, black power, peace, melvin eats bluber, erc. Well it would cheer me up considerably if I saw a lot of people wearing my buton. Please no nasty ones like melvin's.
Thank you.

Here the Killer slowly began keeping tallies of his murders, always ending his notation with "SFPD - 0". The gamelike aspect of the natures is particularly terrifying. Many people in the Bay Area refused to go out at night: the Killer had the town in his grips.

This is the Zodiac speaking.
I have become very upset with the people of San Fran Bay Area. They have not complied with my wishes for them to wear some nice Zodiac buttons. I promised to punish them if they did not comply, by anilating a full School Buss. But now school is out for the summer, so I punished them in another way. I shot a man sitting in a parked car with a .38. Ø - 12 SFPD - 0.
This is the Zodiac speaking.
Being that you will not wear some nice Zodiac buttons, how about wearing some nasty Zodiac buttons. Or any type of Zodiac buttons that you can think up. If you do not wear any type of Zodiac buttons I shall (on top of everything else) torture all 13 of my slaves that I haev wateing for me in Paradice. Some I shall tie over ant hills and watch them scream + twich and squirem. Others shall have pine splinters drive under their nails + then burned. Others shall be placed incages + fed salt beef until they are gorged then I shall listen to their pleass for water and I shall laugh at them. Others will hang by their thumbs + burn in the sun then I will rub them down with deep heat to warm them up. Others I shall skin them alive + let them run around screaming. And all billiards players I shall have them play in a darkened dungeon all with crooked cues + twisted Shoes. Yes I shall have great fun inflicting the most delicious of pain to my slaves. Ø = 13 SFPD=0

This letter, known as The Mikado letter because of its parody of the song "I've Got A Little List" from that Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, again reveals a sly sense of humor hiding amongst the evil.

This is the Zodiac speaking.
I am rather unhappy because you people will not wear some nice Zodiac buttons. So I now have a little list, starting with the woeman + her baby that I gave a rtther intersting ride for a couple howers one evening a few months back that ended in my burning her car where I found them. As some day it may hapen thata victom must be found. I've got a little list. I've got a little list, of society offenders who might well be underground who would never be missed whou would never be missed. There is the pestulentual nucences who whrite for autographs, all people who have flabby hands and irritating laughs. All children who are up in dates and implore you with im platt. All people who are shakeing hands shake hands like that. And all third persons who with unspoiling take thoes who insist. They'd none of them be missed. They'd none of them be missed. There's the banjo serenader and the others of his race and the piano orginast I got him on the list. ALl people who eat pepermint and phomphit in your face, they would never be missed. They would never be missed and the Idiout who phraises with enthusastic tone of centuries but this and every country but his own. And the lady from the provences who dress like a guy who doesn't cry and the singurly abnomily the girl who never kissed. I don't think she would be missed. Im shure she wouldn't be missed. And that nice im priest that is rather rife with judicial hummerest I've got him on the list All funny fellows, commic men and clowns of private life. They'd none of them be missed. They'd none of them be missed. And uncompromising kind such as wachamacallit, thingmebob, and like wise, well nevermind, and tut tut tut tut, and whatshisname, and you know who, but the task of filling up the blanks I rather leave up to you. But it really doesnt matter whom yuo place upon the list, for none of them be missed, none of them be missed.

PS. The Mt. Diablo Code concerns radians + inches along the radians.

The next gift was sent on October 27, 1970, to the Chronicle. It was a secret admirer card with a Halloween flavor. The irony was not lost on the policemen working the case. Again, the tally: "4-TEEN."

Front:
FROM your SECRET PAL

I feel it in my bones
you ache to know my name
And so I'll clue you in ...
Inside:
But then, why spoil the game!
4-TEEN. BOO!
Back:
BY      P  BY
F          G
I       A  U
R          N
E       R 

S   L   A   V   E   S

B       D       BY
Y
        I       R
K               O
N       C       P
I               E
F       E
E

The final letter directly attributed to the Zodiac, it seems particularly caustic. It was sent on March 13, 1971 to the Los Angeles Times because "they don't bury me on the back pages."

This is the Zodiac speaking.
Like I have always said I am crack proof. If the Blue Meannies are evere going to catch me, they had best get off their fat asses + do something. Because the longer they fiddle + fart around, the more slaves I will collect for my after life. I do have to give them credit for stumbling across my riverside activity, but they are only finding the easy ones, there are a hell of a lot more down there. The reason that Im writing to the Times is this, They don't bury me on the back pages like some of the others. Ø - 17+ SFPD - 0

3 other letters are commonly attributed to the Zodiac Killer:

  • the first calls The Exorcist "the best saterical comidy that I have ever seen" and has the notation "Me - 37" at the end.
  • the second, signed "A Citizen", chastises the Chronicle for running ads for the movie Badlands, which contain the tagline "In 1959, most people were killing time. Kit and Holly were killing people." In it the letter speaks of "recent events" and has similar handwriting to the prior letters.
  • the final letter is signed "The Red Phantom" and is perhaps the most puzzling letter of all. It complains about the "Count Marco" column running in the Chronicle, claiming the anonymous Marco has a "psychological disorder - always needs to feel superior."

Because the man behind the mask,
You've never ever seen him before.
Know, don't you wanna know
don't you wanna know
Know, who's that man?
Xscape, "Who's That Man?"

Hundreds of suspects were brought up over the years. Many people suspected it was Ted Bundy when he was finally caught; others thought it was an errant member of the Manson family; and people today think it might have been the Unabomber Ted Kazcynski, who lived in San Francisco at the time of the murders.

The two most prime suspects are Rick Marshall and Arthur Leigh Allen.

  • Marshall would've been in his late 30s during the period of the Zodiac Killer. He was short, stocky, with brown hair and thick glasses. He lived in Riverside during the time of Cheri Jo Bates's murder and in San Francisco during the others. He worked at a silent movie theater, and his handwriting on some of the handmade promotional posters strongly matched many of the Zodiac letters.
  • Allen also fit the description of the Zodiac killer: short, stocky, glasses, brown hair, early 30s. He had no alibi for any of the murders. His typewriter matched the confession note for Cheri Jo Baker's crime. He allegedly confided to his friend Don Cheney he would like to be known as Zodiac and randomly murder couples. Mike Mageau picked Allen out of a lineup in 1991, and Bryan Hartnell says Allen's voice matches the voice of the man who stabbed him. Allen owned many guns and knives. Still, with all of this information, there is no definitive proof to suggest he, or anyone else, is the Zodiac Killer.

The case is still open by the Vallejo Police Department. The 1971 movie Dirty Harry, starring Clint Eastwood, pitted his San Francisco policeman title character against Scorpio, a menacing killer who sent the police taunting letters - a thinly veiled sendup of the Zodiac Killer. Beginning in 1990, a copycat Zodiac Killer emerged in New York City, murdering 3 and wounding 6 others while sending similar mail to the press and police. In November of 2002, Tom Voigt, the operator of ZodiacKiller.com, received a phone call from the man claiming to be the Zodiac Killer. January of 2003 brought a letter from the "killer", inquiring about the potential movie being made about the Zodiac Killer. It is unlikely that the identity of this madman will ever be revealed.

Many thanks to http://www.zodiackiller.com, although be warned: it's got a creepy introductory page.

There is no doubt that Arthur Lee Allen was a nasty piece of work. He was a child molester, with multiple complaints against him and one conviction for sexual penetration of a minor.

But ironically, he spent most of this life being persecuted for crimes for which he was almost certainly innocent.

It was often said that Allen fit the description of the Zodiac killer, but it wasn't true. Composites of eyewitness descriptions of the Zodiac suggested a man who was short, stocky, with a gaunt face, close cropped hair, wore glasses, and was in his early 30s in 1969. But in 1969, Allen was 6 feet tall, conspicuously obese, moon-faced, almost completely bald apart from a "monk's tonsure" above his ears, did not wear glasses, and whilst he was in his late 30s, with his poor health he looked much older. (Some later pictures show Allen much more gaunt; these were taken more than a decade later, when he was dying from kidney disease and had lost a lot of weight.) It is therefore not too surprising that Kathleen Johns -- the only adult witness to get a good, clear look at the Zodiac Killer over an extended period of time -- stated emphatically and unequivocally that Allen was not the man who kidnapped her.

A social misfit, Allen could rarely provide witnesses for his time away from work. However contrary to some claims, he did have a fairly good alibi for one of the attacks, the one at Lake Berryessa. Unfortunately for him, for some inexplicable reason the Vallejo police did not bother to investigate his alibi until long afterwards, when it was too late to identify his witnesses, so the alibi was considered inconclusive. But that wasn't Allen's fault; having been questioned about a murder, he presumably expected his story to be checked out immediately.

Many claims about Allen can be seen to be misreporting. His typewriter is said to have matched a Zodiac confession note; in fact, it was merely the same model (a very common model for the era), and the individual keys were not matched by police forensics tests.

There are numerous other reasons to believe Allen innocent of (these) crimes. He co-operated fully with the police from the beginning until he grew sick of the harassment after more than a decade, and submitted to several tests, without warrant, giving him no time to prepare. And yet all of these tests cleared him:

  • Fingerprints: definite non-match to those found at Zodiac crime scenes (Blue Rock Springs and Presidio Heights.)
  • Handwriting samples, provided immediately on request, from both hands. The police "shopped" over at least seven handwriting analysts, looking for one who would condemn the suspect, but they all agreed that he not only wasn't a match, the writing was so dissimilar it couldn't be faked.
  • Polygraph test: undertaken voluntarily, passed as innocent and concealing nothing (it included a confession that he was "very bad with children.") Asked to submit to a more sophisticated polygraph in the 1990s, Allen had just printed out his consent for this test when he died from his kidney disease.
  • DNA tests: DNA taken from the stamps used on the Zodiac's letters was a definite non-match for Allen.

In addition, police executed numerous search warrants against his property, over a period of many years, and also persuaded his brother to conduct an illegal search for them. Up until the 1991 search, none of these searches turned up anything suspicious, nor indeed anything to connect him to the case at all. The 1991 search found eight firearms and some explosives. As a convicted felon (paedophilia) it was illegal for him to have these, however it was determined that none of them was in any way related to the Zodiac case. This was more significant than it sounds: this search was motivated, in part, by a profiler's report that if Allen was a serial killer, he may still possess "souvenirs" of his crimes, and after so many years might become careless about hiding them. But they found nothing.

So why did the police maintain an interest in Allen for so long, when every available scrap of evidence strongly indicated they were barking up the wrong tree? It was largely due to a report by one-time neighbour Don Cheney, who represented himself as a friend of Allen's. Cheney reported to the police that prior to the Blue Rock Springs killings, Allen had discussed with him an idea for a novel which was an almost exact blueprint for the killings. However, Cheney's story changed slightly every time he told it, it contained numerous absurd and provably false elements (such as that Darlene Ferrin's father was a mob boss and the impoverished Allen was actually one of his hit-men), he couldn't account for why he had waited 2 years to come forward with his story, and he was a very long way from being Allen's friend. In fact, Cheney had earlier complained that Allen had molested his daughter, and had been very dissatisfied with the response. He still loathed Allen the pederast.

Loathed him enough to help a murderer to escape justice.

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