The Zodiac

By: Jake Reece


Arthur Leigh Allen was and remains the prime suspect for the horrifying Zodiac killings in California during the 60s and 70s.  Although there was never enough concrete evidence to suggest Allen was the Zodiac, there is a tremendous amount of circumstantial evidence against him, leading me to believe there is no other possible suspect.  Circumstantial evidence, to me, should be considered as seriously as if it were factual evidence, especially in a case like this where Arthur Leigh Allen has so many “coincidental” connections to the killer.  Arthur Leigh Allen, in my opinion, was the Zodiac.

On the night of July 4, 1969, Darleen Ferrin and Michael Mageau were shot in their car in Blue Rock Springs Park in Vallejo, California.  The Zodiac was carrying a flashlight and a 9mm Luger, killing Ferrin and severely wounding Mageau.  Mageau would later identify Allen as the man who shot him from a suspect lineup photo. (Voigt)

On October 11, 1969, the Zodiac shot and killed taxi cab driver Paul Stine in San Fransisco, leaving behind size 7 black-leather gloves.  Officer Don Fouke, originally responding to the call that stated the killer was a black male, saw a middle-aged, stocky white male of average height with a crew cut and glasses casually walking down the street away from the crime scene with a slight limp.  The call was later corrected to a white male after Fouke ignored the passing man.  The Zodiac later sent a letter to the press that confirmed Fouke saw him.  Allen matched this general physical description and after a surgery he underwent years prior, walked with a slight limp.  Although he did not wear glasses, the Zodiac stated in one of his letters that he wore a disguise.  (Voigt)

Another significant Zodiac case on March 22, 1970 on Highway 132 involved Kathleen Johns getting kidnapped by a man after he reportedly stopped her, told her that one of the wheels on her car was loose, and removed the bolts.  Johns jumped out of the man’s moving car and hid. (Voigt)

Don Cheney, a friend of Allen, reported chilling comments he had made to him prior to the 1969 Zodiac murders.  According to Cheney, Allen talked about killing many people at random, taunting the police with letters and ciphers, using a cross with a circle around it for a signature, calling himself the Zodiac, attaching a flashlight to his gun so he could shoot people in the dark, and loosening the bolts on a woman’s car. (Voigt)  In an interview with Cheney, he remembered Allen showing him a gun with a flashlight fixed to the top with duct tape that matched the light to the scope’s sight. (Prior 2008)

The Zodiac was known for sending letters and ciphers to The Chronicle, often containing oddly misspelled words.  People who knew Allen commented how he would purposely misspell words because he thought it was funny.  Although Allen’s handwriting did not match that of the Zodiac letters, he was ambidextrous, leading me to believe he was able to write very differently with his other hand.  One of the Zodiac’s letters contained blueprints for explosives and stated he would “shoot out the front tire and then pick off the kiddies as they come bouncing out.” (Voigt) Upon investigation of his trailer, police found a 9mm Luger and explosives.  Allen was reported to wear size 10 ½ Wing Walker military issued boot, the same size and type footprint found at a Zodiac crime scene, size 7 gloves, and he wore a Zodiac brand watch, displaying the same symbol signature used in the letters on the face. (Chasingthefrog 2014) An early decoded Zodiac cipher read: “I like killing people because it is so much fun; It is more fun than killing wild game in the forest because man is the most dangerous game of all.” (Voigt) Allen was known to have knowledge of cipher, and he loved the book The Most Dangerous Game, which was about hunting human beings.  Allen also possessed a Royal typewriter with elite type, the same typewriter and type used by the Zodiac.  Lastly, after Allen’s death in August 26, 1992, the Zodiac letters stopped.

What makes horror movie killers scary is the fact that they have this power that allows them to stay hidden.  They are smart, confident, and are mostly able to avoid capture.  We take comfort in knowing that the killers in these movies are not real and that we are safe from them.  The Zodiac, however, is essentially one of these killers that has ripped out of the movie screens and into the world we live in.  He has all of the scary attributes we would expect a movie killer to have, except he was never actually caught.  With little hope for the future, the Zodiac case is one that will most likely remain officially unsolved.

To read more about the Zodiac and Allen, click here or watch the video below.


Voigt, Tom. “The Arthur Leigh Allen File.” Zodiac Killer.

Voigt, Tom. “The Victims.” Zodiac Killer. Web.

Voigt, Tom. “The Letters/Ciphers.” Zodiac Killer. Web.

“Movie vs. Zodiac Killer True Story.” Chasing the Frog., CTF Media. Web. 1 Jan. 2014. <;.

“His Name Was Arthur Leigh Allen.” David Prior, 2008; <>


7 thoughts on “The Zodiac

  1. I was familiar with the story of the Zodiac prior to reading this post. The film portrays a very similar, and elaborated narrative, to the one told briefly here. It certainly takes away from the simple entertainment value of a thriller or horror film when the characters or plot is based upon true events. It is difficult to ignore reality in these cases, or to prohibit your mind from considering the real victims. However, the truth is that almost all horror and suspense finds some basis in reality. The world is a terrifying place, with many unsolved crimes in its past and undiscovered ones in its present. When this is acknowledged, nearly any viewing experience can be as chilling as the Zodiac.

  2. I find something like this extremely bone chilling. For there to be that much evidence surrounding a man but nothing being done about it is especially bothersome because it leads me to wonder how many more cases like this one are out there. Based on what you listed, I too believe circumstantial evidence should be considered as seriously as if it were factual evidence, especially in a case like this regarding Arthur Leigh Allen, because it is far too serious to be overlooked.

  3. I’ve always found cases such as this, where the “killer” is so intelligent, and complete about the killings. While it is horror in the fact that it involves the killing of people, I also find it much more intriguing on a psychological level. The fact that someone could be that complete and have all of their bases covered in order to not be caught is fascinating. Random killings, while horrible are simply gore, from a person who has other issues. But a person who gets away with multiple killings, for specific reasons, that’s a whole new level of freaky.

  4. The first time I heard about the zodiac killer was actually a few months ago when I was talking to a few friends about creepy unsolved murders. After my friend told me about the zodiac killer, I was immediately intrigued and searched us as much information as I could about him. I think the most interesting aspect about this murderer is the fact that his notes are written in code and to decipher his messages takes many weeks. Even nowadays, several segments of his notes have been left undeciphered. And as time goes on, there are less chances of finding the actual killer, whether it was Allen or someone else. Evidence will be lost over time, witnesses and survivors will lose their ability to recall events accurately and, like it has been the past few decades, the case will remain stagnant. I believe that this case may never actually be solved.

  5. I had also heard of this killer before, and I think it is truly horrifying that a person like that committed those crimes. I completely agree with your comment about how in movies the killer isn’t real, and so the fear isn’t necessarily real, but with this killer the fear is all too real. I think it adds to the role of figures like him in horror movies. The writers base a character off someone real in the hopes that the movie is more terrifying, and for me it usually works. Anything in a scary movie that could be possibly real gets me every time because I never know if it won’t be real.

  6. This is terrifying. For a long time I couldn’t bring myself to like horror movies for this reason. I found demented minds fascinating, but many of the murderers in horror movies can be real, and could even be someone you meet. Knowing that he never got caught is even worse. We hope, naively, I suppose, that good conquers over evil, but that isn’t how life goes, and often people who do bad things are never punished at all. I don’t know how I feel about movies being made about real life killers though. Inspired by? Ok. But when it’s actually on the killer and the victims? I worry about it being insensitive to the real death and horror caused.

  7. The Zodiac is one of my favorite movies. I find horror like this to be the most interesting. I took a forensics class in high school and we had to do a presentation on a famous case. I chose the serial killer Alex Pichushkin. He killed over 60 people before eventually kind of turning himself in because he wanted the fame of being the murderer. Just as the Zodiac wrote, Alex kept a chessboard where he would mark off each of his victims, therefore he has coined the name “The Chessboard Killer.”

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