The Zodiac Killer was a serial killer who operated in Northern California for ten months in the late 1960s. His identity remains unknown.
The name was coined in a series of taunting letters sent to the press until 1974. Despite his astrology-related penname the killer hadn't shown any clear interest in astrology, and it's possible he drew inspiration from previous killers such as Author: Jack the Ripper. Theses letters included four cryptograms or ciphers, three of which have yet to be solved.
Note: These letters are reproduced with the spelling used in the letters, and these transcriptions should not be amended to correct the spelling.
Titled "The Confession", the byline was reported followed by 12 or 19 underscores. Printed on a Royal Typewriter, a fingerprint was lifted from the envelope. It is still disputed whether it is the work of the killer.
Possibly a reproduction of the letter
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 MINUTS. THE BATTERY MUST HAVE BEEN ABOUT DEAD BY THEN.
I THEN OFFERED TO HELP. SHE WAS THEN VERY WILLING TO TALK TO ME. I TOLD HER
THAT MY CAR WAS DOWN THE STREET AND THAT I WOULD GIVE HER A LIFT 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 GRABBED 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 BREAST 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 TWICHED. 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.
CC. CHIEF OF POLICE
Found carved into a desk at the Riverside City College Library, not known to be the work of the killer, though it is largely assumed to be.
Sick of living/unwilling to die
if red /
all over her new
it was red
life draining into an
she won't (smudge)
someone ll find her.
just wait till
April 30th 1967
July 31st 1969
Sent to the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner and Vallejo Times, the cipher was eventually cracked by a highschool teacher who read it in the papers. Although his next letter said this cipher contained his name, it actually included the phrase "I will not give you my name".
The main letter
Written on the obverse, proving his identity
San Francisco Chronicle letter
This is the murderer of the
2 teenagers last Christmass
at Lake Herman + the girl
on the 4th of July near
the golf course in Vallejo
To prove I killed them I
shall state some facts which
only I + the police know.
1 Brand name of ammo
2 10 shots were fired
3 the boy was on his back
with his feet to the car
4 the girl was on her right
side feet to the west
1 girl was wearing paterned
2 The boy was also shot in
3 Brand name of ammo was
Here is part of a cipher the
other 2 parts of this cipher are
being mailed to the editors of
the Vallejo Times + SF Exam
I want you to print this cipher
on the front page of your
paper. In this cipher is my
If you do not print this cipher
by the afternoon of Fry.1st of
Aug 69, I will go on a kill ram-
Page Fry. night. I will cruse
around all weekend killing lone
people in the night then move
on to kill again, untill I end
up with a dozen people over
Vallejo Times-Herald letter
I am the killer of the 2 teen-
agers last Christmass at Lake Herman and the Girl last 4th of July. To Prove this I shall state some facts which only I + the police know
1 Brand name of ammo Super X
2 10 Shots fired
3 Boy was on back feet to car
4 Girl was lyeing on right side
feet to west
4th of July
1 Girl was wearing patterned
2 Boy was also shot in knee
3 Brand name of ammo was Western
Here is a cyipher or that is
part of one. the other 2 parts
have been mailed to the S.F.
Examiner + the S.F. Chronicle I want you to print this cipher on your frunt page by Fry Afternoon Aug 1-69, If you
do not do this I will go on a
kill ram page Fry night that
will last the whole week end.
I will cruse around and pick
of all stray people or coupples that are alone then move on to kill some more untill I have killed over a dozen people.
San Francisco Examiner letter
I am the killer of the 2 teenagers last Christmass at Lake Herman + the girl last 4th of July. To prove this I shall state some facts which only I + the police know.
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
feet to west
1 girl was wearing patterned pants
2 boy was also shot in knee
3 ammo was made by Western
Here is a cipher or that is part of one. The other 2 parts are being mailed to the Vallejo Times + S.F. Chronicle I want you to print this cipher on the frunt 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 un till I kill a dozen people.
Part 1 sent to VT
I LIKE KILLING PEOPLE BECAUSE IT IS SO MUCH FUN IT IS MORE FUN THAN KILLING WILD GAME IN THE FORREST BECAUSE MAN IS THE MOST DANGEROUE ANAMAL OF ALL TO KILL SOMETHING GIVES ME THE MOST THRILLING EXPERENCE IT IS EVEN BETTER THAN GETTING YOUR ROCKS OFF WITH A GIRL THE BEST PART OF IT IS THAE WHEN I DIE I WILL BE REBORN IN PARADICE AND ALL THEI HAVE KILLED WILL BECOME MY SLAVES I WILL NOT GIVE YOU MY NAME BECAUSE YOU WILL TRY TO SLOI DOWN OR ATOP MY COLLECTIOG OF SLAVES FOR MY AFTERLIFE. EBEORIETEMETHHPITI
August 4th 1969
Sent to the San Francisco Examiner, the FBI later determined these were written on Woolworth's "Fifth Avenue" brand paper, and contained fingerprints on the latter two pages
This is the Zodiac speaking.
In answer to your asking for more details about the good times I have had in Vallejo, I shall be very happy to supply even more material. By the way, are the police haveing a good time with the code? If not, tell them to cheer up; when they do crack it they will have me.
On the 4th of July:
I did not open the car door, The window was rolled down all ready. The boy was origionaly sitting in the front seat when I began fireing. When I fired the first shot at his head, he leaped backwards at the same time thus spoiling my aim. He ended up on the back seat then the floor in back thashing out very violently with his legs; thats how I shot him in the knee. I did not leave the cene of the killing with squealling tires + raceing engine as described in the Vallejo paper,. I drove away quite slowly so as not to draw attention to my car. The man who told the police that my car was brown was a negro about 40-45 rather shabbly dressed. I was at this phone booth haveing some fun with the Vallejo cops when he was walking by. When I hung the phone up the dam X@ thing began to ring & that drew his attention to me + my car.
In that epasode the police were wondering as to how I could shoot + hit my victoms in the dark. They did not openly state this, but implied this by saying it was a well lit night + I could see the silowets on the horizon. Bullshit that area is srounded by high hills + trees. What I did was tape a small pencel flash light to the barrel of my gun. If you notice, in the center of the beam of light if you aim it at a wall or celling you will see a black or darck spot in the center of the circle of light about 3 to 6 inches across. When taped to a gun barrel, the bullet will strike exactly in the center of the black dot in the light. All I had to do was spray them as if it was a water hose; there was no need to use the gun sights. I was not happy to see that I did not get front page coverage.
September 27th 1969
Written on a car door at the Lake Berryessa crime scene
Sent to the San Francisco Chronicle following the killing of cabdriver Paul Stine, the letter included a piece of Stine's bloodstained shirt
This is the Zodiac speaking.
I am the murderer of the taxi driver over by Washington St + 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 car drivers should have just parked their cars and sat there quietly waiting for me to come out of cover.
School children make nice targets, I think I shall wipe out a school bus some morning. Just shoot out the front tire + then pick off the kiddies as they come bouncing out.
This is the Zodiac speaking up to the end of Oct I have killed 7 people. I have
grown rather angry with the police for their telling lies about me. So I shall
change the way the collecting of slaves. I shall no longer announce to anyone.
When I committ my murders, they shall look like routine robberies, killings of
anger, + a few fake accidents, etc.
The police shall never catch me, because I have been too clever for them.
1 I look like the description passed out only when I do my thing, the rest of
the time I look entirle different. I shall not tell you what my descise
consists of when I kill
2 As of yet I have left no fingerprints behind me contrary to what the police
say in my killings I wear transparent fingertip guards. All it is is 2 coats of
airplane cement coated on my fingertips -- quite unnoticible + very efective
3 my killing tools have been boughten through the mail order outfits before the
ban went into efect. Except one & it was bought out of the state. So as you can
see the police don't have much to work on. If you wonder why I was wipeing the
cab down I was leaving fake clews for the police to run all over town with, as
one might say, I gave the cops som bussy work to do to keep them happy. I enjoy
needling the blue pigs. Hey blue pig I was in the park -- you were useing fire
trucks to mask the sound of your cruzeing prowl cars. The dogs never came with
in 2 blocks of me + they were to the west + there was only 2 groups of parking
about 10 min apart then the motor cicles went by about 150 ft away going from
south to north west
p.s. 2 cops pulled a goof abot 3 min after I left the cab. I was walking down
the hill to the park when this cop car pulled up + one of them called me over +
asked if I saw anyone acting suspicious or strange in the last 5 to 10 min + I
said yes there was this man who was runnig by waveing a gun & the cops peeled
rubber + went around the corner as I directed them + I disappeared into the
park a block + a half away never to be seen again. "must print in paper."
Hey pig doesnt it rile you up to have your noze rubed in your booboos?
If you cops think I'm going to take on a bus the way I stated I was, you
deserve to have holes in your heads. Take one bag of ammonium nitrate
fertilizer + 1 gal of stove oil & dump a few bags of gravel on top + then set
the shit off + will positivily ventalate any thing that should be in the way of
The death machine is all ready made. I would have sent you pictures but you
would be nasty enough to trace them back to developer + then to me, so I shall
describe my masterpiece to you. The nice part of it is all the parts can be
bought on the open market with no questions asked.
1 bat. Pow clock -- will run for aprox 1 year
1 photoelectric switch
2 copper leaf springs
2 6V car bat
1 flash light bulb + reflector
2 18" cardboard tubes black with shoe polish inside + oute
Bombs (1 bag each)
bus goes bang car
pass es by ok.
the system checks out from one end to the other in my tests. What you do not
know is whether the death machine is at the sight or whether it is being stored
in my basement for future use. I think you do not have the manpower to stop
this one by continually searching the road sides looking for this thing. + it
wont do to re roat + re schedule the busses because the bomb can be adapted to
Have fun!! By the way it could be rather messy if you try to bluff me.
PS. Be shure to print the part I marked out on page 3 or I shall do my thing.
To prove that I am the Zodiac, Ask the Vallejo cop about my electric gun sight
which I used to start my collecting of slaves.
December 20th 1969
(claims 8 victims) Sent to celebrity attorney Melvin Belli, the card included a bloody piece of a murdered cabdriver's shirt as evidence it was not a hoax
The inside of the Christmas card
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 won't let me. I am finding it extreamly dificult 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.
April 20th 1970
(claims 10 victims) Sent to the San Francisco Chronicle, it claimed to contain a cipher containing the murderer's name, though it was never solved. (The 'blue meannies' (sic) mentioned in the letter is a reference to the blue meanies, the antagonists from the Beatles' animated theatrical film Yellow Submarine, which was released the year before.)
Diagram of the bomb
This is the Zodiac speaking
By the way have you cracked the last cipher I sent you?
My name is --
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 killing school children with one. It just wouldn't doo to move in on someone else's 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.
The new bomb is set up like this
(Text on the diagram)
Sun light in early morning
String of Bombs
A + B are photoelectric
swiches when sun beam
is broken A closes circut
" " B opens "
which makes B the
cloudy day discon-
-ect so the bomb
won't go off by accid.
PS I hope you have fun trying
to figgure out who I killed
April 28th 1970
Sent to the San Francisco Chronicle, the greeting card was printed by "Jolly Roger Cards", and was a pun on the inability to catch him
I hope you enjoy your selves when I have my Blast.
P.S. on back
If you don't want me to have this blast you must do two things. 1 Tell everyone about the bus bomb with all the details. 2 I would like to see some nice Zodiac butons wandering about town. Every one else has these buttons like, , black power, Melvin eats bluber, etc. Well it would cheer me up considerably if I saw a lot of people wearing my buton. Please no nasty ones like Melvin's
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 buttons. I promiced 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.
The map coupled with this code will tell you where the bomb is set. You have untill next Fall to dig it up.
0 is to be set to Mag. N.
July 24th 1970
Sent to the San Francisco Chronicle.
This is the Zodiac speaking.
I am rather unhappy because you people will not wear some nice buttons. So I now have a little list, starting with the woeman + her baby that I gave a rather intersting ride for a couple howers one evening a few months back that ended in my burning her car where I found them.
July 26th 1970
(claims 13 victims) Sent to the San Francisco Chronicle.
This is the Zodiac speaking
Being that you will not wear some nice buttons, how about wearing some nasty buttons. Or any type of buttons that you can think up. If you do not wear any type of buttons, I shall (on top of everything else) torture all 13 of my slaves that I have wateing for me in Paradice. Some I shall tie over ant hills and watch them scream + twich and squirm. Others shall have pine splinters driven under their nails + then burned. Others shall be placed in cages + fed salt beef untill 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 billiard players I shall have them play in a darkened dungen cell with crooked cues + Twisted Shoes. Yes I shall have great fun inflicting the most delicious of pain to my slaves
As some day it may hapen that a 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 who 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 a banjo seranader 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 inthusastic 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 abnormily the girl who never kissed. I don't think she would be missed Im shure she wouldn't be missed. And that nice impriest that is rather rife the 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 wachmacallit, thingmebob, and like wise, well - - nevermind, and tut tut tut tut, and whashisname, and you know who, but the task of filling up the blanks I rather leave up to you. But it really doesn't matter whom you 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
October 5th 1970
(13 holepunches thought to represent victims) Initially dismissed as a hoax, was decided to be real after the "Fk" was discovered in earlier ciphers, and "crackproof" reappeared in a later letter.
San Francisco Chronicle
Mon. Oct 5, 1970
You'll hate me, but I've got to tell you.
The pace isn't any slower! In fact it's just one big thirteenth
'Some of them fought it was horrible'
P.S. THERE ARE REPORTS city police pig cops are closeing in on me. Fk I'm crackproof, What is the price tag now?
October 27th 1970
(claims 14 victims)Mailed to Paul Avery of the San Francisco Chronicle, the name was misspelled Averly. The killer signed with the Zodiac, the Z he used in his first letters and a sign of Taurus that he only used one other time. While he lists four ways to kill somebody, he was never known to have used a rope or fire.
YOU ARE DOOMED!
March 13th 1971
(claims 17 victims) Sent to the Los Angeles Times, this was the first letter postmarked outside SF, in nearby Pleasanton
This is the Zodiac speaking
Like I have allways 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 I'm writing to the Times is this, They don't bury me on the back pages like some of the others.
(claims 37 victims) "Exorcist letter" sent to the San Francisco Chronicle (source)
I saw and think "The Exorcist" was the best saterical comidy that I have ever
seen. Signed, yours truley:
He plunged himself into the billowy wave and an echo arose from the suicide's
titwillo titwillo titwillo
PS. If I do not see this note in your paper, I will do something nasty, which
you know I'm capable of doing.
Me - 37
SFPD - 0
Feb 14th 1974
"SLA card" sent to the San Francisco Chronicle (source)
Dear Mr. Editor,
Did you know that the initials SLAY (Symbionese Liberation Army) spell "sla,"
an old Norse word meaning "kill."
May 8th 1974
"Badlands card" sent to the San Francisco Chronicle (source)
"Editor, SF Chronicle, 5th + Mission, San Fran".
Sirs -- I would like to expression my consternt consternation concerning your
poor taste + lack of sympathy for the public, as evidenced by your running of
the ads for the movie "Badlands," featuring the blurb: "In 1959 most people
were killing time. Kit + Holly were killing people." In light of recent events,
this kind of murder-glorification can only be deplorable at best (not that
glorification of violence was ever justifiable) why don't you show some concern
for public sensibilities + cut the ad?
July 8th 1974
"Count Marco Red Phantom letter" sent to the San Francisco Chronicle (source)
Put Marco back in the, hell-hole from whence it came -- he has a serious
psychological disorder -- always needs to feel superior. I suggest you refer
him to a shrink. Meanwhile, cancel the Count Marco column. Since the Count can
write anonymously, so can I --
The Red Phantom
(red with rage)
April 24 1978
Sent to the San Francisco Chronicle. Deemed a forgery by a majority of experts.
Dear Editor This is the Zodiac speaking I am back with you. Tell herb caen I am here, I have always been here. That city pig toschi is good ' but I am smarter and better he will get tired then leave me alone.I am waiting for a good movie about me. who will play me. I am now in control of all things.
Yours truly: -guess
Possible Zodiac letter
Dear channel nine;
This is the Zodiac Speaking. You people in LA are in for a treat.In the next three weeks you are finally gona have something good to report. I have decided to begin Killing again-Please hold the applause! Nothing is going to happen until I do.You people just won't let me have it any other way. I plan to kill five people in the next three weeks (1) Chief Piggy Darrel Gotes (2) Ex Chief piggy ed Davis (3) Pat Boone- his theocratic crap is an obscenity to the rest of the world! Also Eldrige Cleaver- the niggers gotta get their 20% quota- After all. And Susan Atkins- The Judas of the Manson Family. Shes gonna get hers now. Hey- - -you actors- This is your lucky break. Remember who ever plays me has their work cut out for him. See you in the news!
This work is assumed to be released into the public domain, since any author accused, credited or suspected of maintaining a current copyright on the work have denied such claims and disavowed themselves from any ownership of the work, claiming it is in the public domain.