Comprehensive Profile of the Zodiac Killer

Objective of This Document

This document (a comprehensive profile of The Zodiac killer) has one and only one objective to provide law enforcement agencies of California with information and insight that will result in rapid identification, apprehension and conviction of a serial killer known as The Zodiac.

It is believed that without an accurate profile, it will not be possible to identify, apprehend and successfully prosecute (convict) this killer (due to insufficient evidence available in this case).
Structure of the Document

This document consists of two parts the synopsis (a very concise profile of the individual I believe law enforcement must be looking for) and a comprehensive profile. The latter will be structured according to the methodology offered by John E. Douglas a world-famous criminal profiler and the former unit chief of the FBI Investigative Support Group (currently Behavioral Analysis Unit) a criminal profiling unit within the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Following this methodology, this profile will cover three key areas: (1) motive why The Zodiac did what he did; (2) evolution and development of the criminal how a gifted San Francisco boy became one of the worlds most famous serial killers; and (3) long-term post-offense behavior of The Zodiac what he did after his last murder on October 11, 1969 (and why), what he is most likely doing now (and why) and what he is expected to do (and why) in the future (including his reaction to certain developments in his case).
Sources of Information for this Profile

This profile is based on primary and secondary information publicly available online. Primary information include actual documents from case files made available online according to the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and similar laws at the state level.

Secondary information includes documentary (true crime) books, academic and other professional research papers, articles in offline publications and online sources, etc.

The primary objective of processing these information sources was to build a comprehensive body (database) of evidence in this case and then develop a profile that will fit all individual components of this body of evidence. With the possible exception of immaterial loose ends that according to John Douglas exist in every major case, no matter how airtight and successfully prosecuted.

This database includes only those murders, attacks, letters, evidence, etc. that could be attributed to The Zodiac beyond the reasonable doubt. That gives five murders those of David Faraday, Betty Lou Jensen, Darlene Ferrin, Cecelia Shepard and Paul Stine; three attacks - Lake Herman Road, Blue Rock Springs and Lake Berryessa and letters and cards send between August 1, 1969 and October 27, 1970. 
Synopsis Whom to Look For

The police must be looking for a white male, 58 to 6 in height; weight around 200-250 pounds; wears size 10 ; boots; heavy set, beefy build but not fat; originally with reddish brown hair; born sometime between July 23rd and August 22nd of 1938 in Presidio neighborhood of San Francisco, being the only child in a Roman Catholic family of a U.S. Army military physician and a homemaker; college dropout after maximum two years; joined the U.S. Navy in 1956 as a field corpsman and got a medical discharge sometime in 1958; had a low-level job in one of the PR firms in San Francisco from September 1968 to the end of June 1969 and volunteered in the U.S. presidential, Senate and Congressional election campaigns of 1968, working for the Republican party.

Currently the UNSUB lives alone in one of the middle-income neighborhoods of San Francisco in a relatively small but very comfortable and meticulously clean and efficient house; is a semi-retired and quite successful and wealthy self-employed real estate agent/salesman; had this occupation continuously from 1970; never left San Francisco; never traveled abroad; does not have a foreign travel passport; was never married; has no children, significant other or friends; has no criminal record; was never fingerprinted; owns one or more pets (a cat and/or a dog) and a .38 revolver; has a locked basement completely devoted to The Zodiac and true crime; keeps up with all developments in his case as well as in forensics and homicide investigation techniques in general; is in an excellent physical shape for his age of 76; is very health conscious; exercises on a daily basis; consumes only healthy food and drink; keeps to himself, minimizing interaction with the outside world to the absolute minimum; does not belong to any church or any organization (online or offline) whatsoever; wears inexpensive but nice and comfortable conservative clothing and drives a Toyota Prius.

Oh, and his name is definitely listed in some document in The Zodiac case file.

When The Zodiac sees his accurate profile (and he will see one, of that I am sure) on one of the Web sites devoted to the Zodiac killer and realizes that he is going to be identified very soon, he will not go on the run. At least not right away. Most likely, he will contact the police directly or via some media source and will offer to turn himself in and plead guilty to all five murders. In exchange for life without parole in a medium security prison; liberal Internet access and PR opportunities (interviews, books, movies, etc.). All income from which he will gladly turn over to the government or relatives of the victims (if there are any).

The following comprehensive profile explains these conclusions in detail. 
Comprehensive Profile

One of the key reasons (possibly, even the key reason) why the Zodiac killer (The Zodiac) has not been identified, apprehended and convicted yet is that he was (and is) significantly different from any other known serial killer. Different in terms of motivation.

The Zodiac was driven by a single and overwhelming desire to become a global celebrity, eclipsing his benchmark Jack the Ripper. He wanted to (a) remain unidentified; and (b) enjoy the global fame expressed in media articles, true crime and fiction books, documentaries and fictional movies (for big and small screen), research reports, theater plays, music and the like.

And he was successful in this endeavor (The Zodiac Project), becoming quite possibly the smartest, boldest and the most creative serial killer of all times (or at least of modern times).

Robert Graysmith author of the two most well-known books on The Zodiac (Zodiac and Zodiac Unmasked) stated - reflecting the public and media sentiment - that after Jack the Ripper there is only one name his equal in terror: the deadly, elusive, and mysterious Zodiac, most elusive killer in history, a cerebral, modern-day Jack the Ripper who was irresistible to the human imagination.  Sounds like mission accomplished.

Consequently, The Zodiac can be rightfully classified as a single-minded, fame-seeking killer. Unfortunately, there is no such category in the FBI classification of serial killers (which might be one of the key reasons why no one has yet come up with the accurate profile for The Zodiac).

However, it may be more appropriate to view The Zodiac not as a serial killer (although technically he definitely is one), but rather as an evil PR genius, a malevolent public manipulation mastermind, a very skillful imagemaker, who used multiple murders (among other tools) to make himself a global celebrity and who unlike most other serial killers did not enjoy the act of murder at all. And, therefore, stopped killing as soon as he has accomplished his PR objective.
His Drive

The key component of his drive was so-called Herostratus syndrome. Herostratus was an Greek arsonist who in 356 BC burned the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) in order to immortalize his name. In the latter, he definitely succeeded. His name has become a metonym for someone who commits a criminal act in order to become famous.

In addition to Jack the Ripper and Herostratus, The Zodiac exhibited some similarities with two other famous criminals Lee Harvey Oswald and Charles Whitman. He was, however, much smarter and much more gifted than either of them (or Herostratus, for that matter) hence the very different outcome of his criminal activities.

Like Charles Whitman, The Zodiac was under a constant pressure from his parent to be successful. Unlike the former (pressured by his domineering father), The Zodiac was pressured by his single mother and not just to succeed, but to become a celebrity.

Because it was obvious that he was very gifted (although the celebrity expectations were, most likely, quite unrealistic). And, unlike Whitman, who hated the guts of his father, The Zodiac deeply and sincerely loved his mother.
His Childhood and Youth

His childhood interests and talents were quite diverse and covered both hard and soft sciences. He was quite gifted in creative writing, drama (acting and writing) and math. He was fond of literature, movies, math, cryptography, detective stories (fiction and true crime), unsolved mysteries, spy novels, astrology and all things military. All these gifts and interests will come very handy in his Zodiac Project.

Like Whitman, The Zodiac was fairly good at many things, but excelled in nothing. Actually, Charles Whitman was much more successful than The Zodiac in the secondary school, becoming the youngest Eagle Scout in the nation. He started to fail later in his adulthood.

Like both Lee Harvey and Charles, The Zodiac lacked patience, focus, determination, commitment, and discipline the absolutely necessary traits of a successful individual. And, like them, was an utter failure in all his endeavors prior to his highly successful Zodiac Project.
The Sailor in the Marines

Like these other two killers, The Zodiac served in the U.S. Marines, where he got his military training, including skills in handling the handgun, the knife and the bayonet (among others) that he found very useful in his Zodiac Project. However, The Zodiac chose the role of field corpsman (most likely, because his father was a military doctor), and not a rifleman like Oswald or Whitman.

Which means that technically (de jure) The Zodiac served in the U.S. Navy - as the Marines used Navy corpsmen for their missions - although for all practical purposes (de facto) he was a Marine. And, therefore, went through a rigorous boot camp training in Field Medical Service School, Marine Barracks; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina (which was reopened in 1950, after the outbreak of Korean War). This is where he got a thorough knowledge of human anatomy which will become very handy in his project especially in his Lake Berryessa show.

After that bloody show, the police found bootprints that were identified as being made by a rare brand of military boots the Wing Walker boots, size 10 ;. These boots were designed and manufactured by The Weinbrenner Shoe Company of Merrill, Wisconsin per a 1966 government contract and intended specifically for aircraft maintenance crewmen walking the wings of jets.

Thus, these boots were highly dependable, durable and valuable but could only be purchased by active-duty personnel or former active-duty personnel of either Navy or Air Force (actually, the U.S. Navy was the primary recipient of these boots).

Charles Whitman wanted to escape from his domineering father; The Zodiac from his domineering mother. Both wanted to pursue a career in the military get college scholarship, get a degree, go through the Officers Candidate School, become a commissioned officer and shoot for the stars.

For The Zodiac, exactly for four stars he wanted to ultimately become the full general and get the top spot in the military hierarchy the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs. By U.S. law, the highest-ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces and is the principal military advisor to the President of the United States, the National Security Council and the Secretary of Defense. And a global celebrity all right. Making a genuine and positive difference in this world and earning recognition, praise, fame and admiration.

Unfortunately, like Charles Whitman, The Zodiac had to leave the US Navy. Which put an end to his dreams of a successful career in the military. However, unlike the former, he got a medical discharge (after about two years of active duty) due to a leg injury (most likely, a serious laceration) which gave him a slight limp noticed by SFPD Patrol Officer Don Fouke after the shooting of cab driver Paul Stine.

This was the second powerful blow (the first one was the death of his father killed in action in Europe in 1944) that further impaired his ability to achieve success in life and in chosen occupation.
Futile Attempts at Success

The Zodiac spent the next decade (1958 - 1968) desperately trying to achieve at least some success somewhere (but succeeding only in developing a powerful inferiority complex). He tried many trades (which left enough trail to be useful in his identification) acting on the stage and in the movies; journalism; writing a book; starting a business; cracking ciphers (Voynich manuscript, Beale Papers, D'Agapeyeff Cipher, etc.), solving famous cold cases (The Boy in The Box, The Axeman of New Orleans, Black Dahlia, etc.).

Witnesses noticed a well-sewn executioner costume at Lake Berryessa, which may indicate that The Zodiac have been involved with an amateur theater for quite some time and had an extensive experience in making clothing for his parts in various plays. According to the same witnesses (victims, actually), this costume looked very similar to the Navy uniform, providing further indication that The Zodiac did, in fact, serve in the U.S. Navy. As was the fact that all places where he committed his crimes, were somehow water-related.

He enrolled in college but never graduated (mostly because he could never decide on a major). He changed jobs frequently and one of these jobs required extensive travel all over Northern California, giving him a detailed knowledge of Lake Berryessa, Vallejo and Benicia among other places.
The Snap and the Revelation

All these attempts, alas, went nowhere. He failed again and again and again. He failed himself, his loving and beloved mother, his heroic father everyone. He terminated completely the relationship with his mother because he believed that he was a loser and, therefore, did not deserve her love.

For the same reason, he had no meaningful relationships with the opposite sex, limiting himself to one-night stands with women that he picked up in bars or with outright prostitutes. He had no friends; no permanent employment in other words, no future. He was probably raised Roman Catholic but left the Church completely as he was thinking that he failed God as well.

He felt increasingly isolated and withdrew completely into his own world of loneliness, pain and depression. Very probably, the more he failed, the more grandiose his ambitions became (sort of a compensation mechanism) and the more detached from the world he got.

After his 30th birthday (sometime in late July or early to mid-August of 1968) he developed a very powerful almost irresistible pre-suicidal syndrome, succumbing to the popular misconception that if you have not achieved at least some success before you turn 30, you will never achieve any success ever. This age fits age estimate range (28 - 45) provided by various witnesses.

This birthday was the last straw. He snapped just like Charles Whitman in 1966 and Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963. The Zodiac had an almost instantaneous revelation (most likely, as the result of subconscious self-defense mechanism) of the project that he needed to execute in order to save his life and bring it back on track to success. And he immediately experienced the inner peace and a feeling of purpose (the mission) that eluded him since his discharge from the US Navy ten years ago.

But his revelation was very different from the one experienced by Oswald or Whitman. For both of them their mission was of a very perverted military nature assassination of the U.S, President for Oswald and mass murder of the enemies for Whitman. For the latter, the mission was unquestionably suicidal (he did not expect to survive the event); for the former very probably so (which turned out to be the case).

For The Zodiac, his mission was of a decidedly civilian nature to become a Jack the Ripper type celebrity; and this mission was anything but suicidal. Just the opposite for this project to succeed, The Zodiac must develop and execute a daring plan to survive and remain unidentified. Hopefully forever.
The Zodiac Project

The fundamental objective of his plan was to create a mystery (and everyone loves a good mystery), an enigma, a riddle that will grab the attention of law enforcement, the media, Hollywood, Broadway, the academia, fiction writers, true crime buffs and the general public and keep this attention for decades (hopefully, for centuries).

The prototype for this enigma was, obviously, Jack the Ripper. Interestingly enough, The Zodiac committed the same number of murders (five) almost exactly 80 years after the last murder committed by the British serial killer. In a way, The Zodiac picked up where Jack the Ripper left off.

But this prototype (the original model) had to be very seriously reengineered to match the realities of late 1960s (which were very different from those of late 1880s). Some components had to be left unchanged; some had to be changed and some had to be developed from scratch. And The Zodiac was very, very successful in all these components. And sometimes just plain lucky.

First, The Zodiac came up with exactly the right brand name (this is a more accurate term than a sobriquet or moniker). Compact, emotionally powerful, widely known, mystical, mysterious an ideal tool in an ambitious PR campaign aimed at creating a global celebrity.

Second, he was no less successful with his very powerful symbol his crosshairs (gun sight).  The symbol for power, focus, determination, discipline, danger and murder. A perfect symbol for a serial killer using military murder weapons. One more indication of his military experience.

This symbol that conveys a very compact, powerful and frightening message: You all are in my crosshairs. While The Zodiac was not a classic (textbook) terrorist, he was a terrorist nevertheless. The Zodiac was always apolitical and did not subscribe to any ideology, but his symbol still does remind of the Nazi swastika also very powerful and mystical. And also a black cross on a white background.

His brand name and his symbol (which is a part of a more general brand) have undoubtedly been inspired by the Zodiac watch. By watch itself and by its ads that he could find in almost any department store and in any major publication. He never owned this watch or felt any particular affection for this brand he just found it to be exactly the right one for adoption.

However, his brand name and his signature symbol also reflected his personality and his experience his interest in astrology, his military background; his aspirations for stardom (astronomical and astrological Zodiac are all about stars); and quite possibly his readiness to commit twelve murders (that he mentioned in his very first letter to the media).

Third, he developed and presented a very powerful personal image (the artificial personality) in his Lake Berryessa show. The image of a powerful and ruthless executioner. Unlike the Lake Herman Road attack (botched) and Blue Rock Springs attack (not entirely successful), the Lake Berryessa part of The Zodiac project was executes almost flawlessly.

Using his medical knowledge and his bayonet handling skills, The Zodiac made sure that Cecelia Shepard lived long enough and Bryan Hartnell simply lived to describe his performance in sufficient detail to convey this powerful image which is now one of the most well-known and recognized in the world.

And, of course, there were his murders. Exactly five of them The Zodiac is completely innocent of all murders (or any other crimes) other than the murders of David Arthur Faraday, Betty Lou Jensen, Darlene Elizabeth Ferrin, Cecelia Ann Shepard and Paul Lee Stine.

He committed only those murders absolutely necessary for his celebrity creation project. Unlike Oswald and Whitman who were consumed by hatred and all other serial killers driven mostly by lust (pure or sublimated), anger or greed, The Zodiac was driven by pride (quite different deadly sin - literally), but primarily by an overwhelming desire to survive.

John Douglas believes based on his tremendous knowledge and experience in criminal profiling that all serial killers suffer from some form of mental illness. And The Zodiac was no exception.

By December 1968, The Zodiac has developed a pre-suicidal syndrome (all-consuming suicidal ideation) so powerful that he absolutely had to do this project in order to avoid killing himself. Oswald and Whitman faced probably the same choice, but were not talented enough to design and execute a similar project.

For The Zodiac, the choice was simple kill himself or someone else. And he made this choice driven not only by the obvious survival instinct, but also by his religious beliefs. Being a cradle Catholic, he was concerned with his future in the afterlife, which, according to the teachings of the Catholic Church was quite different for the murderers and those who commit suicide.

The former if he sincerely repents and receives absolution of the sin of murder can avoid Hell and get into the Kingdom of Heaven while the latter gets no such opportunity. Therefore, as committing a suicide is a mortal sin, in this case he will go directly to Hell. For Eternity. Which, obviously, was not an option for The Zodiac. A very perverted religious logic, but logic nevertheless.

All victims of The Zodiac were in military terms targets of opportunity. He had absolutely nothing against women, students, couples or taxi drivers. Or anyone in particular. All of his victims were total strangers to him (this is another reason why he has not been caught yet).

His modus operandi in all first three attacks was the same: (1) scout for potential targets in some convenient public place; (2) follow them to a secluded area (areas around his first two attack were actually uninhabited); (3) commit the attack making sure that there are no witnesses and therefore his risks of being caught are minimized and (4) use this attack in his public relations (actually, public manipulation) project in the most efficient way.

The murder of Paul Stine had fundamentally the same objective. The cab driver was another convenient target he could have been made to drive almost anywhere and no one could hear the shots inside the car from the outside (unless standing right next to the car).

The reason why The Zodiac decided to kill a cab driver in San Francisco was very simple he felt that murders in Vallejo, Benicia and at Lake Berryessa did not get enough attention in The Golden Gate City, in California and nationwide. To get more attention and garner bigger headlines, he had to strike inside The Paris of the West. And so he did in the neighborhood where he was born and raised.

He committed his crimes in different jurisdictions (sometimes even in confused jurisdictions), counting on different (even adjoining) police departments not sharing information, competing against each other thus further complicating an already complex investigation. Having a mammoth ego himself, he counted on the egos of detective to make his project easier. Quite successfully.

Unlike those of many (if not most) serial killers, The Zodiac murders had no signature. He did nothing beyond the crime itself to satisfy his emotional needs because he did not have any. His phone calls to the police right after his crimes had no emotional value for him only the public (and police) manipulation value.

Everything that he did during his murders, had one and only one objective to generate the maximum publicity, to attract the maximum possible attention and keep it for as long as possible. Even the Lake Berryessa attack. Especially the Lake Berryessa attack. He had only one fantasy to implement and experience in real life becoming a global celebrity. Nothing else. 

The Zodiac used guns when he could get away with it (risks of shot being heard were minimal); but when at Lake Berryessa these risks became significant (especially given that he was carrying a Colt .45 a very loud gun), he used the knife (bayonet from Mauser 98k carbine) instead.

In each of the four attacks, The Zodiac used a different weapon that he promptly ditched afterwards (within hours if not minutes after the attack). Each of these weapons (Colt .45, a Mauser 98k bayonet and two 9mm handguns with the exception of J.C. Higgins Model 80 .22LR) were initially brought from North Africa or Europe (from World War II theaters, that is), were unregistered and could in no way be traced to The Zodiac. .22LR was untraceable, too.

Another important component of his project were his letters to the newspapers. Letters that had but one objective to get as much attention (from media, law enforcement, general public, psychologists, profilers, etc.) as possible and to keep it for as long as possible (for months, years and decades if not centuries). Therefore, each letter was carefully crafted to focus on this single objective.

To achieve this objective. The Zodiac started with establishing credibility and generating sufficient initial interest. It was easy he only had to (1) provide enough information about the crime for the media and the police to realize that they are communicating with a killer and not an impostor; and (2) made some very real threats to make sure that the newspapers do publish his letter and his cryptograms.

Hence, The Zodiac was dead serious when he threatened to kill up to a dozen people (the number of signs in the astronomical Zodiac circle). The newspapers got the message and immediately published his letters and his cryptograms.

After making sure that he accomplished his first two preliminary objectives, he filled his letters with enough BS to send his audience - media, law enforcement, general public, psychologists, profilers, etc. on a decades-long wild goose chase for a black cat in a dark room. The cat that was never there in the first place. To put it simply, he was bullshitting everybody. Plain and simple; cut and dry. And very successfully.

Ditto for his ciphers. Actually, his four cryptograms were an absolutely brilliant idea. Simply brilliant. From his knowledge of cryptography and its history he knew that the best way to attract and keep the attention of the word for ever is to develop an unbreakable cipher. Thus guaranteeing that both professionals and amateurs will try to break it until the end of times. And the general public will read with great interest and attention about these futile attempts.

In creating his cryptograms, The Zodiac used a very similar method to the one used in crafting his letters to the newspapers. His first cipher (Zodiac 408) was bona fide a rather simple cipher that was supposed to be quickly decoded. And it was less than a week later, yielding a message that was 100% pure bull. Decoded with the exception of several last symbols which should have given a clue to The Zodiac method, but, alas, didnt.

The truth was that these symbols were no exception. The last eighteen symbols have been decoded all right, but they were pure gibberish to start with. Other three cryptogram that followed were also decoded very quickly, because they used a very similar (if not identical) cipher to Zodiac 408.

Unfortunately, nobody realized that. Because the initial (encoded) text was just gibberish. Which guaranteed that the remaining Zodiac ciphers were unbreakable in a sense that it was not possible to obtain a coherent, meaningful text from the encoded messages. For a very simple reason there was no coherent or meaningful text in the first place. Just gibberish. 100% pure gibberish. And nothing else.

However, it is quite possible that The Zodiac inadvertently provided some important information about himself in his first cipher. He mentioned (albeit indirectly) The Most Dangerous Game a short story by Richard Connell, where the son of a military officer is hunting humans for sport. This might be some indication that The Zodiacs father was, indeed, a military officer.

To come up with the plan so complex and brilliant (and to execute it so efficiently), The Zodiac simply had to get some knowledge in public relations (in addition to his experience as a journalist freelancer for one of the small town newspapers in San Francisco).

Because he was embarking on one of the most ambitious and challenging (possibly the most ambitious and challenging) public relations projects. Actually, public manipulation projects. In which he wanted to do much, much better than his prototype and benchmark Jack the Ripper.

The Zodiac was well aware (as were the bosses of the London Metropolitan Police in 1888) that the Dear Boss letter that propelled Jack the Ripper to his global fame, was written not by the actual killer (if the latter ever did send the letter to the public, it was the From Hell letter), but by some very creative London reporter, who knew very well how the media system worked (John Douglas thinks that the London police even knew the name of the impostor, just had no solid proof).

This still unknown journalist (a truly genius macabre PR mastermind) was incredibly successful in his endeavor. No one has so quickly and so long dominated the publics fascination as Jack the Ripper. Creating essentially one of the biggest crime stories of all time and the most famous murderer in history.

More than that, this true PR genius (literally) set up ground zero for the serial killer phenomenon: the point from which virtually all history and all discussions of serial homicide begins. According to John Douglas, he created the myth, the evil archetype, of the serial killer.

And if The Zodiac wanted to repeat this success (let alone eclipse it), he had to learn very well how the very different media system worked in 1968 eighty years after the Whitechapel murders. And in a totally different country.

He did have some knowledge obtained during his futile attempts to achieve success and fame as a freelance journalist, but it was definitely not enough. He needed to get a first-hand knowledge of the public relations system. Because his The Zodiac Project was all about public relations (more accurately, public manipulation).

He got this knowledge and some experience mostly from three sources. First, self-education (he read just about any book on PR, advertising, promotion, psychology - individual and social - sociology and related areas he could lay his hands on and). Second, by working in a low-level position in a local PR firm. And third, by working as a volunteer in all three 1968 election campaigns. Given his military upbringing, he most certainly worked for Republicans.

The plan worked splendidly. And, being a little into mysticism (just a little) or simply still being somewhat of a Roman Catholic at heart, The Zodiac was good at reading he writing on the wall. Or, to put it simply, the signs. When he was almost caught after the murder of Paul Stein (he avoided capture due only to a stroke of dumb luck) he made a wise decision to stop. And stopped. For good.

After the fifth murder, he did not need to kill any more. His project was completed; his mission accomplished. He was a celebrity and will be forever. Till the end of time. His life was no longer in jeopardy the inner pressure and the suicidal urge were gone for good. He was finally at peace with himself. Also for good.

Unlike most (if not all) other serial killers, The Zodiac never wanted to kill (he hesitated even during the second attack). He had no taste for the kill; he only killed when he absolutely had to (and until he had to) to save his life. At Lake Berryessa, during his third attack, he was still nervous (his hands were visibly shaking) a clear indication that he did not enjoy killing.

It has been widely believed that once serial killers start killing, they cannot stop until they are caught (or turn themselves in), dead, committed to a mental institution or incarcerated for an unrelated crime. This is a myth. Contrary to this popular misconception, serial killers sometimes do stop all by themselves.

For example, the famous BTK killer, Dennis Rader, after murdering ten victims from 1974 to 1991, did not kill any more victims prior to being captured in 2005. During interviews conducted by law enforcement after his apprehension, Rader admitted to engaging in auto-erotic activities as an efficient emotional and sexual substitute for his killings.

John Douglas admits that on rare occasions, a serial killer will stop killing immediately after he has accomplished what he set out to do. The Zodiac was one of these rate occasions. He accomplished what he set out to do became a celebrity. And stopped immediately.

But not only for the abovementioned internal reason. There was another powerful incentive to stop the external one. When The Zodiac was walking away from his murder scene on October 11, 1969 just two blocks away from the cab where he just murdered Paul Stein, he was passed and noticed by SFPD Officer Don Fouke, who was responding to the dispatch 187call (California police code for homicide). 

He saw The Zodiac walking along the sidewalk and stepping onto a stairway leading up to the front yard of one of the homes on the north side of the street. This encounter lasted for no more than ten seconds; but had the radio dispatcher alerted police patrols to be on the lookout for a white suspect and not the black one, The Zodiac would surely have been stopped, questioned, apprehended and undoubtedly convicted. And, most likely, executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin State Prison.

Instead, the police officers drove past him without stopping; the reason for this colossal blunder has never been explained. In other words, The Zodiac got incredibly, unbelievably lucky. Being still somewhat religious, he recognized this very close call as the sure sign that next time he will not be so lucky. And so he stopped. He did send a few more letters to the media, but there were no more killings. His crime spree was finally over for good.

This last murder, however, gave a very strong indication that The Zodiac served in the military and was trained as a medic. Medics in the U.S. Army, Navy and in the Marines were trained to tear the clothing of a bleeding victim to use as bandages if they did not have access to the proper equipment.

Undershirt first, then shirt, then pants if necessary. That is the order of cleanliness, with the shirttail being preferred if tucked in. Zodiac tore off a portion of a Paul Stines shirttail. And his bootprints at Lake Berryessa matched the boots of the US Navy issue.

According to SFPD officers Donald Fouke and Eric Zelms, who chanced upon The Zodiac in the shadows as he lumbered north, the killer vanished near the Letterman Army Hospital. Which is a strong indication that The Zodiac knew this area well enough to choose it for his vanishing act. Which makes it very possible that his father was a military physician working in this hospital and that The Zodiac was born and raised in this very neighborhood.
The Aftermath
His Occupation

With the pressure and the suicidal urge gone for good and with peace of mind inside, The Zodiac was now free to get his life back on track. He did not have to become a celebrity any more he already was one; therefore, he had a much easier goal to achieve to build a comfortable life for himself.

For starters, he needed to come up with the right occupation that had to meet several very important criteria. First, he absolutely had to be self-employed and with absolutely minimal contact with his clients. He was way too unique to fit into any corporate environment and way too proud (he was now a celebrity, for Gods sake) to work for anyone.

Besides, the more he communicates with people around him, the higher will the risk of him accidentally exposing himself as The Zodiac. And such risk must absolutely be reduced to the absolute minimum.

Second, this occupation had to bring him some good money. Not great money (making a lot of money was never his objective), but sufficient for a financially comfortable and reasonably affluent lifestyle. Upper middle class, that is.

Third, this occupation must not have required a college degree. He was way too unique to fit into any campus and the college environment presented even higher risks of accidental self-exposure as The Zodiac. Which was simply unacceptable.

And, finally, this occupation must somehow have allowed him to use his public manipulation, imagemaking, promotion and, yes, bullshitting skills. Not directly he absolutely wanted not to be directly associated with any of these occupations but indirectly.

Fortunately for him, there was an occupation that matched these requirements to a tee. A real estate agent/salesman. He took the required classes, passed the required tests, got his license and was all set for life. And as selling residential property was radically easier than planning and executing The Zodiac Project, he very quickly became quite successful in his professional occupation. And, therefore, fairly wealthy.
His Happiness

Interestingly enough, The Zodiac is almost perfectly happy. Almost. He does, indeed, have quite a few sources of almost genuine happiness. He saved his life (more precisely, won an epic battle for his life); pulled off a very challenging PR project; created a powerful artificial personality The Zodiac and turned it into a global celebrity (no small feat); set up quite a few mysteries that still after almost half a century remain unsolved (despite all efforts of some truly formidable minds); enjoys the global fame and recognition and first and foremost still has not yet been identified (let alone apprehended).

In a way, there is an ongoing and global war going on, with each attempt to solve his mysteries (letters, ciphers, etc.) or identify and ultimately capture him being a battle between The Zodiac and his next challenger. And for 45 years and ticking The Zodiac has won every such battle. All of them. And, of course, enjoyed it immensely. And continues to enjoy victory after victory. Every single day.

Thus, his major source of happiness (and a very powerful one at that) is his The Zodiac Universe that he has been building since the summer of 1969 (and where he spends most of his time). And continues to expand, grabbing every opportunity to do it. The universe that occupies his whole very spacious basement (the only unique feature of his decidedly ordinary house).

He owns every book (both fiction and true crime) ever published on The Zodiac (in English, as The Zodiac does not know any other language and everything worth publishing is very quickly published in English anyway); subscribes to all Zodiac-related newsletters, e-mail lists, Web site updates, etc.; maintains a complete directory of all Zodiac-related Internet resources; obtains all research (and possibly even student) papers and other documents on The Zodiac; has a complete collection of movies (documentaries and fictional; for big and small screen); TV show episodes; TV programs, music; video games; Web series and the like. All acquired without drawing any attention to himself and keeping a very low profile to minimize accidental exposure risks.

To further minimize accidental exposure risks (and to monitor the competition), The Zodiac collects and maintains similar extensive libraries (also residing in his basement) on some other famous killers (Jack the Ripper, Lee Harvey Oswald, Charles Whitman, Ted Bundy and possibly Dennis Rader) and famous unsolved murders and other crimes (JonBenet Ramsey, D.B. Cooper, The Boy in the Box, Jimmy Hoffa, The Amsterdam Diamond Heist, and possibly others).

Interestingly enough, he does not collect any information on his two copycat killers in New York City (Heriberto Seda) and in Kobe, Japan (Seito Sakakibara). For a very simple reason - he finds copycats disgusting and even insulting; there is and can ever be only one Zodiac killer.

The Zodiac can be almost perfectly happy because unlike all other known serial killers he is no longer a sociopath. Actually, he never was one in the true and complete meaning of this word. At most, he was a limited time sociopath (if there is such thing at all) from December 20, 1968 (the date of his first murder) to October 11, 1969 (the date of his last murder).

During those ten months he simply had to take the lives of others to save his own (the end justified the means) and as soon as the imminent threat to his life was gone, he stopped killing immediately. And never committed any crime since. His criminal record is squeaky clean.
His Relationships

The Zodiac somewhat restored his relationships with his mother (at least, they resumed more or less regular communication), but these relationships remained distant and somewhat cold. His mother was glad he finally achieved something in his life, but she simply could not forgive him that he let her down by not becoming a celebrity. Obviously, he could not tell her that he did and which kind of celebrity. Finally, she got remarried and moved on with her life.

Long-term and/or close relationships with the opposite sex (The Zodiac was strictly heterosexual) let alone marriage and kids were out of the question. There was no way in the world he could explain his Zodiac shrine in the basement to anyone.

Actually, he did not want or need such a relationship. From his celebrity status and his quite formidable accomplishment he received enough emotional support (sufficient energies) to be able to do without permanent female companionship and the children.

However, being somewhat sentimental (especially with getting older), he got himself a permanent feline and canine companionship. As for the ladies, he settled for short-term romantic relationships, preferably on her territory (the fewer people knew about his locked basement, the better). With his financial wealth, respectable occupation and excellent manipulation skills he never had any problem getting the woman he wanted. Ever.

For the same reason, he never communicated to his clients outside and after the real estate transaction; never joined any organization, stayed away from the church (any church); kept communication with his neighbors to a minimum and generally kept to himself.

For these obvious reasons, he does not have accounts on Facebook or any other social networks under his real name.  He might have read only accounts under a total different identity (with different age, sex, occupation, etc.) to monitor Zodiac related groups and pages. However, in this case he uses a separate computer and only in public places as well as various anonymizers (anonymous proxies) in order to avoid being tracked via an IP.
His Risks of Being Captured

Thoroughly identifying and carefully analyzing his risks of being captured, The Zodiac concluded (quite correctly, as it turned out), that he had absolutely nothing to worry about. SFPD, police departments of Vallejo and Benicia cities and Napa County Sheriff's office basically had nothing on him. Absolutely nothing. Zilch.

Therefore, there was no need for him to do anything drastic run, hide, emigrate, change his name, etc. And he didnt. He stayed right where he was in San Francisco. And still stays there.

His Weapons

Bullets and casings found at his crime scenes are only useful if the police has the guns to compare them to. Ditto for knife wounds on his Lake Berryessa victims. Unfortunately for the law enforcement, The Zodiac used a different weapon in each attack (ballistic tests performed by FBI lab confirmed that he used different 9mm handguns at Blue Rock Springs and Presidio Heights) and promptly ditched it right after. Most likely, throwing the weapon in question into some rather deep water.

For his first attack (on Lake Herman Road), he chose a .22LR J. C. Higgins Model 80 semiautomatic with a 10-round magazine (and used all of these rounds). This handgun was a Sears branded low-cost High Standard Duramatic M-101 pistol, designed for informal range shooting at nonstandard targets such as tin cans, glass bottles, balloons filled with water, etc.

Sold in any Sears store, this handgun was untraceable (at that time, no gun registration or buyer identification was required). Another reason why The Zodiac bought this particular gun was that it was much quieter than 9mm, .38 and even .32 (let alone .45). Which was very important because he intended to attack his victims outdoors in remote, uninhabited and deserted, but still public places.

However, after the first attack, he found out that in that environment there was no significant difference between a .22LR and a 9mm. And in his next attack at Blue Rock Springs he used his fathers nine.

All other weapons that he used for other murders were originally his fathers. Brought home from Europe during WWII, unregistered and thus completely untraceable to The Zodiac. The knife used at Lake Berryessa was an old Mauser 98k bayonet that had been used extensively for a quarter of a century and, therefore, had to undergo some home repairs.

And he definitely got rid of his ammunition as well. Leaving the police with precisely nothing.
His Handwriting

He has diligently practiced altering his handwriting (most likely, mimicking someone elses) for months, and was reasonably sure that even for a seasoned expert it would be very, very difficult to match The Zodiac letters to his normal handwriting.

And even if this expert would be successful, to make it admissible in court and persuasive enough to the jury to result in the guilty verdict. Even these days, forensic handwriting analysis is not always accepted in the American judicial system. Individual judges have the authority to decide whether the conclusions of a handwriting examination are admissible as expert opinion testimony and whether the legal team's chosen examiner is a credible expert witness.

Actually, the situation was worse for the law enforcement, because killers letters were not in handwriting, but in handprinting which was substantially easier to alter and imitate and substantially more difficult to identify.

In addition, The Zodiac was left-handed, but wrote (hand-printed, actually) his letters with his right hand using a felt-tip pen and printing firmly and unnaturally. All these tricks made it even more difficult to match this handprinting to any suspect.

According to Terry Pascoe, Department of Justice documents examiner (quoted by Robert Graysmith in Zodiac Unmasked), a person of high intelligence could study the methods used to examine handwriting [and handprinting] and fool a document examiner. 
His Fingerprints

SFPD, police departments of Vallejo and Benicia cities and Napa County Sheriff's office (and the FBI) believe that they have several latent fingerprints of The Zodiac and only need a suspect to match them to and make a positive ID. They are wrong.

It is very difficult to believe that the individual who has so thoroughly developed and so successfully executed such an ambitious endeavor as The Zodiac Project, was stupid and/or sloppy enough to leave behind usable latent prints.

SFPD did lift several fingerprints from the letters to the Vallejo Times-Herald and the San Francisco Examiner. Additionally, two "fingerprint[s] of value" were developed on the second and third pages of the killer's next letter - to the Examiner.

But they arent his fingerprints. In 1968, all office communications (internal and external) were paper-based. It was not difficult at all for The Zodiac to obtain several blank sheets of paper handled by the same individual in the PR firm where he worked for several months prior to sending letters to the media and then to use them to write these letters. Protected by gloves, of course (which provide an additional benefit of further altering his handwriting). Ditto for the greeting cards.

Latent prints lifted from the car of Paul Stine, do not belong to The Zodiac either. The three youths who witnessed the immediate aftermath of Paul Stine's murder watched as the killer proceeded to wipe down certain areas of Stine's cab, successfully obliterating any prints he may have left.

And traces of blood on fingerprints found inside the car, may very well mean that blood splatter got on the fingerprints that were already there before The Zodiac got in. Even the detectives themselves admit that any police officer, fireman or lab technician could have left those prints. And no elimination prints have been taken.

The only genuine and usable print was obtained following the attack at Lake Berryessa. It was a clear palm-print found on the receiver which was still off the hook. The print was still wet, indicating that it had been left by the last person to use the phone, most definitely the killer.

Unfortunately for the police, fortunately for The Zodiac, and to evidence technician Harold Snook's great shame, this print was not given enough time to dry, and it was ruined in the lifting process. Leaving SFPD with precisely nothing.
His Physical Description and Sketch

Physical description and sketch of The Zodiac are also not particularly useful to law enforcement. A composite description - derived from all sources sounds something like this:

White male, 58 to 6 tall; 180 to 225 pounds; real heavy set, beefy build; short reddish-brown hair cut in the military style; 28 to 40 years old; with a large, round face; rounded eyes, thin lips, a medium nose, straight eyebrows; small ears; walks with a slight limp;

There are way too many individuals in the Bay Area that fit this description for the latter to be of any practical use to the police. Even if eyewitnesses descriptions are 100% reliable (and they never are). The only useful part is a slight limp but even that will most likely not impress the judge. Or the jury. Especially after the shameful Arthur Leigh Allen fiasco.

For this profile, however, there are two useful elements in this description his military-style haircut (another indication that The Zodiac served in the U.S. Armed Forces) and his slight limp.

The latter was one of the key reasons why SFPD was for such a long time so obsessed with Arthur Leigh Allen as the primary Zodiac suspect. Allen had a very similar limp caused by a severe laceration of his right leg. Therefore, it would be reasonable to surmise that The Zodiac suffered a very similar injury quite possible during his US Navy service which resulted in his medical discharge.

In 2002, SFPD developed a partial DNA profile from the saliva on stamps and envelopes of Zodiac's letters. Which did not alarm The Zodiac in the slightest. Because he knew that the police did not have nowhere near the probable cause sufficient enough to issue a warrant for his DNA sample. Even for the most sympathetic judge. So he still had absolutely nothing to worry about.
Criminal Profiling

Criminal profiling, however, was a totally different story. If SFPD (or FBI) or a private investigator develops his profile which (1) will make it possible to identify The Zodiac by name and (2) a sympathetic judge finds convincing enough to issue a warrant for a DNA sample, he could find himself in a very big trouble.

However, he was not very concerned about that either, having quite correctly assumed that SFPD pretty much gave up on him and police departments of Vallejo and Benicia cities and Napa County Sheriff's office simply did not have enough resources to pay much attention to such old cold case (no matter how high profile it might be). And the FBI simply had no jurisdiction over his crimes.

He was (and still is) absolutely sure that the police (or the FBI, for that matter) will not bother to develop a profile radically different enough to be accurate; and if someone by accident comes up with one, the authorities will simply routinely ignore it.
His Only Encounter with the Police

Hence, The Zodiac had nothing to worry about and no need to run or hide from the authorities. The police simply had no evidence that could have connected him to the murders. No evidence at all. His boldness did get him on SFPD radar once his name is somewhere in the case files but as they had absolutely nothing solid on him, they did not consider him a viable suspect and let him alone.

But, still, during all these 45 years he has been keeping a close watch over activities of these police departments and keeping up with all developments in this case as well as in forensics and homicide investigation techniques in general. Just in case.
His Lifestyle

The Zodiac still maintains a well-structured (regimented would probably be a better word), self-sufficient, healthy and very efficient lifestyle based on his childhood and youth experiences in a military family and on his USMC training.

He spends most of his time in his Zodiac Universe (where he is very comfortable and happy), but devotes a couple of hours of his time every day to his occupation as a real estate sales agent.

Not for the money he has accumulated sufficient wealth and has it safely and conservatively invested to generate a comfortable income but for human communication that he needs (fundamentally, he is not a loner and needs a human company now and then). He also like the company of his pets (his cats and his dog) and spends some time every day to play with them.

He feels quite happy (almost perfectly happy) and wants to prolong this feeling (and, therefore, his natural life) as much as possible. Therefore, he is very health conscious and his lifestyle definitely reflects that. He is in excellent physical shape for his age of 76.

He lives in one of the most (if not the most) environmentally healthy neighborhood in San Francisco, consumes healthy food (that he often cooks himself) and exercises on a daily basis. As many health-conscious people do in California, he drives a healthy car a Toyota Prius (the most common one he wants to keep a low profile).

He does have occasional relationships with women (he thoroughly enjoys the company of the opposite sex), but these relationships are short-lived and superficial (he still has to minimize risks of accidental exposure).

His sexual preferences are quite traditional (even conservative) so one should not expect to find a hardcore (let alone violent or kinky) porn on his computer. Probably no porn at all, although some classy erotic photos are certainly possible. His house, his clothes, his other belongings are also quite conservative and middle-of-the road nice, but not too expensive. He wants and does keep a low profile in everything. 

He is not much interested in anything outside his Zodiac Universe and his job and he keeps himself just informed enough to be able to do his job efficiently (and it does require a lot of conversations) and to have short-term relationships with women every now and then.

He never traveled outside California (let alone abroad he does not even have a passport) and possibly even outside of San Francisco Bay Area. Old habits die hard and he got too used to have handguns in the house not to own one.

However, he made sure that the handgun that he owns has nothing to do with the ones he used in his murders so he owns a domestically manufactured .38 revolver which he maintains in excellent condition and uses now and then at the closest shooting range.

Oh, and he definitely does not own and never owned - any merchandise with a Zodiac name on it. Or any Zodiac-related symbol (or image), for that matter.
His Two Fundamental Problems and Why He Might Turn Himself In

Zodiac is almost perfectly happy. Almost because he has two fundamental problems that prevent him from being perfectly happy. Without almost.

First, he still fell way short of what he (and his mother) initially planned. He wanted everyone to know his name and talk about him; books and articles written about him; movies made about him; interviews done with him. The real him, not the artificial entity, personality, identity, thoughtform that he crafted (no matter how masterfully). About the creator, not the creation.

Initially The Zodiac wanted to remain unidentified for ever just like his prototype and in some ways a role model Jack the Ripper. But now the latter was no longer nameless in his best-selling book The Cases that Haunt Us the famous profiler John Douglas made a conclusive (for all practical purposes) identification of the most famous serial killer. Jack the Ripper finally got the name.

David Cohen an immigrant Polish Jew, twenty-three years of age at the time whose incarceration at Colney Hatch psychiatric hospital fits precisely with the end of the murders. Maybe time has finally come for The Zodiac to get his real name known to the world as well.

His second problem was already mentioned before. For a Roman Catholic (and The Zodiac is no matter how lapsed still a Roman Catholic) the fate and the future of his immortal soul in the afterlife is a very serious issue.

If he suddenly dies AS IS without confessing and repenting his sins (and five murders is a very, very heavy mortal sin) - he will certainly go straight to Hell. For the eternity. No questions about that. Which is unacceptable, of course.

If he goes to any Catholic priest, he will have to as a part of his penance turn himself in to the police immediately. No questions about that either. Without turning himself in and accepting the punishment in this world there will be no forgiveness of his sins and no salvation of his soul in the afterlife. Which means Hell. Eternal torment far worse than even the worst prison on Earth (let alone quite humane American prisons).

Of course, these considerations have always been balanced by his desire to stay free and live a comfortable lifestyle and his pride. However, as his life is gradually moving towards the inevitable end (in already not-so-distant future), the surrender option (on his terms, of course) looks more and more attractive.

So far, his scales still favor staying free and being an UNSUB. But the alternative is gradually getting close. Therefore, the publication and dissemination of an accurate profile (which means that his real name will very probably be exposed very soon and he will be forced to go on the run to stay free) might very well become that proverbial straw that will tip his scales in favor of turning himself in. And he will. On his terms, of course (that will take care of his first problem) but he will.

Oh, and if he surrenders, he still wins they still did not catch him.

The Fiery Leo

This is by far the most speculative and debatable part of this profile. Natal astrology is not a science and there were a number of well-known studies (Carlsons experiment, Dean and Kelly test, etc.) that found no scientific evidence for a match between a natal chart and a psychological profile (although some scientists do challenge these studies using quite scientific arguments).

However, there is material anecdotal evidence that some individuals born under a sign of Leo (from July 23rd to August 22nd) do exhibit certain personality traits that might be relevant for this profile.

Specifically, if they do not succeed, watch out. For some serious aggression, that is. They are immensely ambitious and have huge and quite fragile egos which often get hurt even over trivial matters let alone really serious issues. They are impatient; and their impatience leads them to unnecessary anxiety and even failures and disappointments.

They have high standards and they dont like to let themselves or anyone else down. Especially those whom they love and revere. Leos pride would not allow them to live or work in a situation that they consider as beneath them. At least not for long. In a major project, they would continuously aspire to reach to the highest peak of whatever they do.

They are far more comfortable working in an exciting and, ideally, a glamorous area where they can influence the more mundane members of planet Earth. And have a tendency to over-dramatize problems. They love the best of everything and want to be the best. A lion is the king of the beasts; therefore, the Leo exhibits a powerful desire to be a king as well. Or, at least, a celebrity. With often obsessive desire for admiration and fame (being always in the center of attention) and craving for a social status and power.

Therefore, there is some material probability that The Zodiac was born sometime between July 23rd and August 22nd of 1938.


Bill Armstrong one of SFPD detectives that worked The Zodiac case once said of the detectives job: We are really just the information gatherers. We put each case together the best we can and lay it on the table for the courts to decide.

In reality, it is a bit more than that. It is not enough to gather information; it is also necessary to filter it, leaving only the accurate and relevant to the case; structure it in the optimal way (creating order from chaos); properly analyze it and draw the right conclusions. In other words, generate (mine) sufficient knowledge from imperfect and often incomplete data and information.

This is what this profile is all about. 

I am convinced beyond the reasonable doubt that this comprehensive profile of The Zodiac provides enough information about this serial killer that combined with the other evidence in this cold case will ensure his rapid identification, apprehension and conviction.