There are a variety of methods and situations where people who are unbalanced terrorize society by committing large scale murders that we term serial killers. From the enraged employee who shoots up his place of work and then kills himself to the methodical maniac who stalks victims carefully, each of these cases create terror in a community and commit unspeakable acts that simultaneously horrify and fascinate us.
There are a variety of methods and situations where people who are unbalanced terrorize society by committing large scale murders that we term serial killers. From the enraged employee who shoots up his place of work and then kills himself to the methodical maniac who stalks victims carefully, each of these cases create terror in a community and commit unspeakable acts that simultaneously horrify and fascinate us. But there is no question that there is a certain kind of serial killer that would qualify as the worst possible type of terrible criminal. That is the serial killer who is never caught.
From December 1968, for almost ten years, the San Francisco area was terrorized by the worst kind of serial killer who eventually came to be known as the Zodiac Killer. While Zodiac was clearly homicidal and possibly deranged, he was far from impulsive or unintelligent. He continued his long killing spree year after year not only evading capture but taunting police blatantly while both courting and demanding media attention for his crimes.
The brutal murder of two teenagers as they parked for romance began Zodiac’s terrible crime spree. As Betty Lou Jensen and David Arthur Faraday parked on a secluded road Vallejo, California, they were brutally shot to death. Betty Lou was shot five times in the back. She was only 16 years old. David was shot point blank in the head. He was 17. There was no motive for the crime and no clues left behind to tell police who might have committed this terrible crime.
On July 4th of the next year, Zodiac struck again repeating the method of assaulting people he did not know as they were parked. This time the victims were parked at a golf course about four miles from the first killings. Around midnight a car blocked them in so the victims could not get away. Shining a bright light in their eyes, Zodiac opened fire on 22 year old Darlene Elizabeth Ferrin, and 19 year old Michael Renault Mageau. Mageau survived his wounds but his description of the killer was only that he was a stocky middle-aged white man.
Starting with these murders, the Zodiac killer was the most frustrating form of serial killer who struck seldom, varied his use of weapons, who he killed and his methods. The only scant motive that anyone would speculate on why Zodiac killed so brutally and so many over so many years was his sociopathic love of media attention and playing a cat and mouse game with the authorities. Within weeks of the second killing, the police began getting cryptic and taunting messages from this brutal serial killer confessing the crimes with details only the killer would know.
These messages continued for the entire 10 year span that the Zodiac killer terrorized the San Francisco area. Many times they included a coded score card such as “Me=10, SFPD=0” to taunt the police. He threaten larger scale crimes such as to blow up a school bus full of children. On several occasions, he demanded that his writings be published in the press and he threatened worse violence if he was ignored and did not get the publicity he wanted. A particularly telling message begged the authorities to stop him because he felt that he could not hold back more intense violence very much longer.
Sadly, the police did not stop the Zodiac killer and the case remains unsolved to this day. The deaths go unpunished and the families of the victims unsatisfied. In that this brutal string of serial murders seemed destined to never be resolved, that makes the Zodiac killer the worst kind of vicious killing machine. He is the kind that is still at large and who might yet strike again.