Zodiac's Real Name to be Revealed? [UPDATED]
A 1969 news broadcast about the Zodiac.
Last update on this post - just wanted to clarify - Deborah Perez contacted a friend of mine a year ago with the claims she's making now. She did not contact me directly. He got in touch with me to help him assess her story, because though I am not a "Zodiacologist" like some folks at ZodiacKiller.com, I probably have a deeper knowledge of the case than most journalists and excellent knowledge of all the available resources relevant to the Zodiac. My friend forwarded a document and emails she sent to give me something to go on. As far as I know, Perez knew that we were checking out her story. After my friend asked some probing, detailed questions prompted by what I told him, she lost interest. Fabulists hate to have their stories questioned. I'd go so far as to say that's a hallmark of a fabulist - they react very badly to skepticism.
That said, I feel sorry for Deborah Perez. I believe she may have emotional problems and those who are now supporting her story are exploiting her. Read on to see the debunking I've already done. I actually hope I don't have to write about this again, but I will if I see "journalists" continually reporting this woman's story without a trace of cynicism or skepticism.
Finally (for now) - I don't believe any current claim as to the Zodiac's real identity. Hell, I even came up with my own theory in the past, but it was never more than a theory. As far as I'm concerned he remains a faceless phantom.
I'm trying to save myself from another blog post by this update - but I probably will have to put something up later. Anyway - in an email forwarded to me a year ago, when Deborah Perez was shopping her story to a true crime author, a particular claim stood out. Ms. Perez claimed partial authorship of a joke card the Zodiac Killer sent to authorities. This is a link to that card. The following is the passage from the email in question it's only been edited for brevity:
My intrinsic knowledge of the "dripping pen card" is as follows: We purchased that card [...] at either two locations that we always went to, my dad and I, that would be on Trask in Santa Ana or south Bristol in Santa Ana. The way I know that "dripping pen card" is the same one my father and I purchased and then subsequently sent is because it originally did not have the words "and I can't do a thing with it." That is its uniqueness. I assure you This is not public knowledge; Nothing in any public evidence shows that the writing was written with a special ink--my dad had me use what I knew as "Indian ink from an ink well; it was not from a ballpoint. Also, that statement was mine--I gave that to my dad. When my dad showed me the card, it was blank. When he read the statement, I immediately said, "Hey, dad, that's like the commercial, I just washed my hair and I can't do a thing with it. He chuckled and said it was perfect. He had me practice writing using the ink well and a caligraphy pen which at that age was a task--I tried many times and could not really master it so my dad took and held my hand and guided it writing in cursive--that is the only cursive writing Zodiac submitted;even though the public does not know this, I am sure the police can confirm this.
Emphasis was added by me. Look at the card. It's obvious Ms. Perez isn't being truthful about the "can't do a thing with it" passage.
A poster on the message board associated with Tom Voigt's Zodiac website pointed out another hole in Deborah Perez's story. She has presented a pair of glasses that she states were taken from Zodiac victim Paul Stine by the killer. One problem - as you can see, Stine is wearing glasses in a photo ID made not too long before his death that don't actually match the glasses Ms. Perez claims are his at all.
|Top: Perez's "Stine" glasses Bottom: Paul Stine's actual specs|
In her effort to push her story into the lap of a true crime author, Perez sent a word doc detailing the day she claims her father killed the first two victims attributed to the Zodiac. If anything, a narrative from Deborah Perez's own word processor is the best evidence that I can give you that her story is ridiculous. Metadata indicates Ms. Perez composed this document in May, 2008. Put your hipwaders on and give it a read. [Check out the location of the first Zodiac murders on the True Crime Report map while you're at it.]
I have long, overly-detailed narratives Ms. Perez wrote to support her claim that her father was the Zodiac. In one, she claimed to have written, at her father's urging, part of a card the killer sent to police. Problem was, she claimed she wrote the clearly pre-printed portion of the card.
Also, Social Security records show that Guy Ward Hendrickson was born in North Dakota on March 3, 1915. That means that he was 53 years old in December, 1968, when Zodiac began killing couples in Northern California. No eyewitness testimony, no psychological profile has ever estimated Zodiac to be any older than 40.
Additional public record searches show that Hendrickson lived most of his life in Orange County, CA. That means he lived approximately 450 miles or so from Vallejo, where the Zodiac did most (but not all) of his dirty work. So - the Zodiac was regularly commuting more than 450 miles to kill people, and bringing his kid along to boot? Yeah. Right.
I was right. The woman who now claims publicly that her father was the Zodiac is Deborah Perez. She is the same woman who contacted a true crime author (who then got in touch with me for help figuring out whether she was full of it or not) late last year with the same claim - that her father, Guy Ward Hendrickson, was the Zodiac.
In a later post I'll demonstrate why none of her claims held water then and why they don't now. She's simply seeking attention. Tom Voigt, the owner of ZodiacKiller.com agrees. This message currently greets visitors to the site: "No, the Zodiac has not been identified. [...]The version of events described today at the press conference differs greatly from the claims Mrs. Perez made to me about a year ago via e-mail and voicemail, which I still have. Why has she changed her story?"
There is this, though - I imagine the current national news cycle will skip over poor Ms. Perez entirely. H1N1, the swine flu, is of much more immediate concern to the likes of CNN and MSNBC at the moment.
Edited to add: Frankly - I'll only print a full argument poking holes in Ms. Perez's ridiculous story if it looks like the press is taking her seriously. Contemporary reporters, especially at the local level, are often terribly misinformed and credulous when it comes to the Zodiac, but national news outlets may need a stronger standard of proof. That doesn't mean Ms. Perez's story won't get traction; it might. But I doubt it, at the moment.
Color me incredibly skeptical. Too many people have come forward over the years with too many stories that on the surface seem plausible about who they think the Zodiac really was. See what your b.s. meter tells you. Mine is pegging in the red at "full-blown bullshit" right now, but that could change.
The following is from Reuters, but note that it is actually a press release authored by "Edward Lozzi & Associates Public Relations Edward Lozzi or Pamela Moskovitz of Edward Lozzi & Associates Public Relations, +1-310-922-1200, email@example.com." That's just one reason I'm so doubtful. I'd feel much more optimistic if actual cops were involved. Quote:
Over 40 years have passed since the first ZODIAC murder. He may have killed 36 people. There has never been conclusive evidence implicating a single individual and no one has ever come forward to identify the real killer. This has remained one of the world's greatest unsolved crime sprees...until now. For the first time in four decades, there is new, never before seen or heard evidence of the identity of the Zodiac Killer. Through the efforts of many world renowned forensic experts under the direction of original partners of famed Zodiac Killer confidant/attorney Melvin Belli, a press conference will be held this Wednesday at the San Francisco Chronicle. At the press conference, a proven immediate family member of the Zodiac Killer will make a statement identifying the killer. Attending with her will be leading forensic experts, a Melvin Belli former partner, family lawyers and others who have helped solve this case that has been open for many years. Information of the forensic evidence - including cryptology, handwriting analysis, current law enforcement investigations, and most startling, the murder accomplice evidence - will be distributed. This historical revelation upsets the theories of the murder investigations in the past. Many cold case crimes have recently been solved because of 21st century forensic technology. This is one of the bigger breakthroughs.
Zodiac may have killed 36 or 37 people. He may have only killed 5. That sort of hyperbole dogs this case and using it in this press release only serves to heighten my skepticism.
My take at the moment - someone in San Francisco is simply vying with Denis Kaufman, a Sacramento man who claims his stepfather Jack Tarrance was the Zodiac, for their own 15 minutes hanging from the brass ring of public attention, and maybe book and movie deals in the bargain.
I even have a guess as to who this may be. A true crime author contacted me some time back for some advice. A woman claiming that her father was the Zodiac had gotten in touch with him and he was initially excited and then very skeptical. Together he and I ran down some solid, known facts about the Zodiac case, and the thing was this - her story was intriguing on the surface, but underneath it didn't wash at all - for instance, she was a small child at the time but she claimed she was with her father when he killed - even though I proved through public records that her family lived in Los Angeles at the time, not San Francisco. The distance factor made the story implausible, as did some odd claims she made in her attempt to sell the story to this author, who has a strong track record of sticking to the known facts of a case. She seemed to lose interest after he began to ask probing questions.
If this mysterious relative of the Zodiac is the same person, you'll hear about her earlier attempt to interest a true crime author in the story in this space.
Recommended link for Zodiac info: http://zodiackiller.com - original documents and photos, a very comprehensive overview of the case.