William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Thursday, 14, May, 2009

Forensic Guest Blogging #3

Filed under: Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 22:49

Andrew is in the middle of comps, but his presentation was on the Zodiac killer.The Zodiac Killer is one of the first serial killers that came to light in the XX century.  He stalked the Bay Area of California in the late 1960’s and sent letters to various newspapers bragging of his exploits.  There were seven confirmed victims of the Zodiac killer, of whom two survived. However, there are several more suspected victims.

After his first two crimes, in which he shot couples in secluded areas, he sent letters which included cryptograms to newspapers, which were solved by ordinary citizens.  His next crime was the murder of a grad student/cab driver.  After killing him, he took his glasses and part of his shirt – which he then mailed to newspapers to prove he was the killer.  Several more letters followed, including more cryptograms, bomb threats, requests that people wear buttons of his symbol, and an ever increasing (yet unconfirmed) body count.

Communications with the media provide most of the forensic evidence.  Surviving victims offered law enforcement a description of a suspect, and evidence from crime scenes yielded other forensic data, yet no one was charged with the Zodiac’s crimes.  All the toolmark, fingerprint, and shoeprint evidence is wonderful to have, but if there is nothing to match it to, it sits and waits.

Theories on the identity of the Zodiac abound.  There are many “Zodiacophiles” who take interest in the case and pose ideas and allegations on the identity of the Zodiac.  As the killer was interested in self promotion, so are the case groupies.   One man runs a website claiming his stepfather was the Zodiac.  Recently, a woman came forward, alleging that her father was the Zodiac, and SHE wrote the letters for him as a child.  The lack of hard evidence for the killers identity makes the case interesting, and encourages the morbid seekers of notoriety.


  1. This one is extremely well written, and seems to be of more an introductory bent, than a biographical bent. As I finished reading the last line, I could almost here the words “OK, here’s what we have so far…” and here the click/chunk of the slide projector putting stills up on the screen.

    It seems to be very cohesive, and well thought out, with each line and paragraph drawing me into the next in anticipation. To be honest, it really makes me want to see the rest of the research paper to find out not only where he’s going, but what his theories are after analysis. The author, has engaged me, the reader, with just a few lines, and has me hooked.

    The only thing I don’t care for, and this is so small and niggling that I hesitate to mention it, is the use of the word ‘allegations’ in the last paragraph. I know that it is technically correct for the usage, but it seems to smack more of courtroom drama, and less of forensic analysis. It seems it’s even hard to articulate what I don’t like about it.

    In any event, overall a good job, that leaves me waiting eagerly for the meat of the paper.


    Comment by Casey — Friday, 15, May, 2009 @ 12:58 | Reply

  2. I agree with Casey. This is the most cohesive one you have put up for us to read. It draws the reader in, and makes me wish/look forward to reading the full paper.

    Comment by Purlewe — Friday, 15, May, 2009 @ 13:38 | Reply

  3. I normally just lurk in the background, but this was very good. I would give anything if my students could write this well.

    Comment by Gerald — Saturday, 16, May, 2009 @ 08:38 | Reply

  4. Very concise… perhaps even a bit too much so… but well-written. As per my usual, I would have liked to have seen more on the actual forensics, but this is definitely a good start.

    Comment by misbeHaven — Monday, 18, May, 2009 @ 13:07 | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: