On this day in 1968, teenagers David Arthur Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen were murdered by the Zodiac Killer. They were his first of five confirmed murders. There were two others who he shot or stabbed but who survived. There are four other victims who may have been killed by him: three before this and one after.
Growing up in the Bay Area, the Zodiac Killer was a big deal. He was everything you could ask for in a serial killer. First, he wasn’t into necrophilia; Second, he didn’t torture; he just killed people. I know these might seem like small things to appreciate, but they matter — especially the second one.
More important is that the man had style. He wrote letters to the newspapers. And he created ciphers — only one of which has been decoded. In it, he explains that all the people that he killed would be his slaves in the afterlife. Given his penchant for killing couples, you have to wonder about his repressed sexual desires. Then again, the man was probably just a psychopath.
His various correspondences included exactly the kind of games that we know from the movies. These included his tally of the game he was supposedly playing with the San Francisco Police Department with things like, “Zodiac = 13, SFPD = 0” but there was his symbol rather than the word “Zodiac.” He also took credit for murders that apparently weren’t his. And he made numerous threats that he never carried out, like bombing a school bus.
All his confirmed killings are confined to a ten month period. Then maybe something a year later. There have been numerous suspects, but everything has fallen through. It’s curious. I tend to think he was someone like Neal Falls: the serial killer who seems to have moved around the country. I don’t know that I care. Even if we determined who he was, it wouldn’t explain anything. We’d be left with the same conclusion: mentally ill murderer.