The Zodiac Killer's Eventual Apprehension

Newspaper articles are interesting in that they often communicate opinions and attitudes related to their subject matter. In reading hundreds of Zodiac Killer newspaper articles, I am sometimes struck by threads of commonality that, while not necessarily noteworthy at the time of their publication, have become strangely poignant as the saga drags on decade after decade. One such thread is the often-communicated notion that the killer will be apprehended, albeit perhaps eventually. Here are a number of such quotes.

He obviously is an intelligent individual. He knows that eventually he will be taken into custody. So it would be best that he give himself up before tragedy is written in blood.

California Attorney General Thomas C. Lynch quoted from: School Bus Alert On Mad Killer, San Francisco Examiner, October 17, 1969, pg. 14.

You are as much a victim of your crimes as those whose lives you snuffed out. You cannot walk the streets a free man. There is no safety for you, anywhere.

And you will be caught, there is no doubt.

You face life as a hunted, tormented, animal - unless you help yourself.

We ask that you give yourself up to The Examiner.

Message to the Zodiac Killer, San Francisco Examiner, October 19, 1969, pg 1.

Without exception, all the investigators assigned to the case feel Zodiac will eventually be caught.

"We'll get him," said one. "We may not know his name at the moment - but we know a lot about him and what we know will finally lead us to him.

Avery, Paul. Cops No Closer on Zodiac Identity, San Francisco Chronicle, October 25, 1969, pg 2.

Catching Zodiac, Lee said, is only a matter of time.

"Our knowledge of this man is increasing ... I am confident we will get him," Lee said.

San Francisco Chief of Inspectors Martin Lee quoted from: Avery, Paul. Zodiac 'Legally Sane,' San Francisco Chronicle, November 13, 1969, pg 2.

He knows eventually he will be apprehended and that unless he gets proper legal representation he will most probably be sentenced to die in the gas chamber.

Melvin Belli quoted from: Avery, Paul. Urgent Appeal by Belli to Zodiac, San Francisco Chronicle, December 29, 1969, pg. 1, 18.

One investigator conceded that thus far all leads checked out have been dead ends.

"We'll get [him], though," the detective said. "Sooner or later we'll get him."

Avery, Paul. Belli Sure Zodiac Will Talk to Him, San Francisco Chronicle, December 30, 1969, pg. 3.

"I'm still confident," Armstrong says, "I've got a few years until I retire, and Dave [San Francisco Homicide Inspector Dave Toschi] has more than that. We'll turn him up if he's still alive."

San Francisco Homicide Inspector Bill Armstrong quoted from: Muller, Baron. Where Has Zodiac Gone?, San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle, March 26, 1972, pg. A3.

Michael Cole

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Bayarea60s
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Bayarea60s
4 years 10 months ago

I remember those days well and because LE was so confident, we all became confident, and everytime the name Zodiac would be mentioned in the news you expected to hear they’ve ID’ who Z was.

G Gluckman
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G Gluckman
4 years 10 months ago

“We ask that you give yourself up to The Examiner.”

Ha ha. I laughed until the milk came out my nose. Did they offer a free subscription?


The questions on my mind lately are about the possible endgames: what conditions might lead to the discovery of Z’s identity?

Solving ciphers? A death-bed confession? A close aquaintance providing new information? A serious gaff on Z’s part?

In chess it helps to study the possible endgames in detail. Doing so lends insight into the options for achieving a win. It can also help us recognize when a win is unlikely, or even impossible.

I think the same must be true about the Zodiac case: the better we understand the possible ways the Zodiac mystery can be solved, the better chance we have of actually solving it.

Is it a sure thing? I don’t think so.

G Gluckman
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G Gluckman
4 years 10 months ago

Your Belli speculation…that’s a great insight if it’s correct. I will certainly think about it some more.

I have often wondered whether Z’s clews seemed so obvious to him that he expected somebody to figure them out long ago. If he did think they were obvious, he may have felt the need to plan for appropriate contingencies.

I have tried to imagine what contingency plans he may have considered. (Not to mention how he may have structured his clews to accomodate contingency planning–that is, assuming he was a particularly clever clewsmith.)

It hadn’t occured to me to think that he may have factored legal representation into his contingency plans, but it would make perfect sense that he would. (At least, if he was a certain kind of planner.)

Good thought, Mike.

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