A Brief History of People Who Claimed To Know the Zodiac Killer's Identity

A Brief History of People Who Claimed To Know the Zodiac Killer's Identity

News broke today via New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer that we're about to get a new Zodiac Killer suspect to add to an ever-growing list. In The Most Dangerous Animal of All, being released tomorrow, Gary L. Stewart claims his father was the Zodiac Killer, who killed at least five people in the late 60s but was never caught.

Of course, Stewart is hardly the first person to accuse a friend or family member of being the Zodiac Killer. According to the Los Angeles Times, "about 1,200" people have claimed to know who the Zodiac Killer is. Here are just a few others:

Deborah Perez

Supposed Zodiac Killer: Her father, Guy Ward Hendrickson.

Evidence for: In 2009, Perez claimed that she wrote some of the letters her father, who died in 1983, sent to police officers and embroidered the mask he wore during some of his murders. She gave a pair of glasses she believed belonged to one of the killer's victims to police.

RELATED: Second Case of MERS Confirmed in the U.S.

Evidence against: The police said the glasses did not belong to the murder victim. Perez's half-sister told the OC Register her father was not the Zodiac Killer and threatened to sue for defamation. Perez has also made a few other dubious claims, like that she is the daughter of JFK.

Robert Tarbox

Supposed Zodiac Killer: A merchant seaman Tarbox will not name. Tarbox was his lawyer very briefly.

Evidence for: In 2009, Tarbox claimed that, one night in the "early 70s," a man who said he was a merchant marine walked into his office, paid him $50, and confessed to being the Zodiac Killer. Then he left and Tarbox never saw him again. 

Evidence against: Tarbox's law license was suspended in 1975 for five years. He says attorney-client privilege prevents him from naming the merchant marine, so even if police did investigate his claims (and it doesn't appear that they will), they wouldn't have much to go on.

RELATED: Rise of Oceans Due to Melting Antarctic Ice Sheet Is 'Unstoppable'

Dennis Kaufman

Supposed Zodiac Killer: His stepfather, Jack Tarrance.

Evidence for: Kaufman says his stepfather's handwriting was similar to the Zodiac Killer's and that he found a bloody knife, a black hood like the one the killer wore, and film rolls with "sinister images." He sent the hood and stamps Tarrance licked to the FBI for analysis. According to Kaufman's website, his stepfather died in 2006.

Evidence against: Kaufman also thinks his stepfather might be the Black Dahlia and the Lipstick Killer (although another man confessed and was convicted of those murders). No word on the results of those items sent to the FBI.

Steve Hodel

Supposed Zodiac Killer: His father, George Hill Hodel

Evidence for: Hodel is a former LAPD homicide detective who has written several books on the crimes he believes his father, who died in 1999, committed. He says his father had the same shoe size as the Zodiac Killer, and his father was a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle in the 30s -- the same newspaper the Zodiac Killer sent taunting letters to.

RELATED: The Washington Monument Is Finally Reopening

Evidence against: Hodel's father would have been a few decades older than the Zodiac Killer was believed to be. Like Dennis Kaufman, Hodel also claims his father was the Black Dahlia murderer and the Lipstick Killer. Oh, and the Jigsaw Murderer in the Philippines. The LA Times' Daily Mirror called his book where he tried to connect his father with the Zodiac murders "a joke," noting that Hodel says his father's shoe size was 10E, like the Zodiac Killer, but one of his other purported victims was killed by someone wearing a size 6 or 7 shoe. Also, in some cases, the handwriting samples Hodel offers up as his father's to compare to the Zodiac Killer's actually came from Elizabeth Short (the Black Dahlia victim. Or maybe she's the Zodiac Killer, too).

Randy Kenney

Supposed Zodiac Killer: His friend, Louis Myers.

Evidence for: Kenney came forward earlier this year and said that, in 2001, Myers told him on his deathbed that he was the Zodiac Killer. He also "begged" Kenney to write a book about it. Myers lived near some of the murders and may have gone to high school with two of the victims and worked with another victim. Another friend of Myers' said he confessed to him in 1976 that he was the killer, but the friend thought Myers was joking. He's not so sure about that now!

Evidence against: Kenney said he told the San Francisco police about Myers, but they wanted some kind of evidence and Kenney doesn't have it. Myers does not match the description of the killer, and police don't think a teenager -- which Myers was at the time of the murders -- could have done it.

Lyndon Lafferty 

Supposed Zodiac Killer: "George Russell Tucker" (Lafferty declines to give the man's real name), who was 91 years young as of 2012, when Lafferty published his book. Lafferty, then a California Highway Patrol officer, saw Tucker at a rest stop and thought he looked scary.

Evidence for: In a 2011 San Francisco Chronicle article, Lafferty said Tucker fits the description of the killer and that his real name is spelled out in one of the letters he sent police officers. The sister of one of the killer's victims thinks Lafferty is right, and an FBI agent said it was "possible" that Lafferty's theory was correct.

Evidence against: That same FBI agent also said Lafferty's findings were not enough to solve the case. When Tucker died in 2012, the Chronicle said " law enforcement agencies do not consider him a suspect" and therefore refused to publish his name. 


This article was originally published at http://www.thewire.com/national/2014/05/a-brief-history-of-people-who-claimed-to-know-the-zodiac-killers-identity/370058/

Read more from The Wire

•   Chuck Hagel Is Open to Reviewing the Military’s Transgender Policy

•   Bundy Supporters Drove ATVs Through Native American Ruins