The street view of google maps is just plain cool. I have to admit, I’m a bit surprised that little old Lake Herman Road is in the database. But, then again, I suppose it’s not surprising given its close proximity to Silicon Valley.
Have a virtual look around the December 1968 crime scene. These images were taken on a beautiful day in May of 2011. As fate would have it, a Vallejo fire truck just happened to be parked in the turn out. There is also some Zodiac-inspired graffiti clearly evident in the background (what a legacy…). Be sure to use your mouse to look around and go into full-screen mode (upper right button) for the best experience.
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That’s right out there in the open, isn’t it? I just always had the impression it was further back, more hidden. Of course the attack happened at night, so it was dark. But still, it shows you how brazen he was.
Edit: “farther back” 🙂
I agree. I had the same reaction the first time I visited the scene. The phrase “Lovers’ Lane,” which is often used to describe the location, conjures up these images of an area that’s set back from the road and secluded. Of course, this is not true. The only characteristics that made it a “Lovers’ Lane” were that it was dark and the road was lightly traveled; although, based on some of the investigation, it doesn’t even appear that it was that “lightly traveled” on the evening in question. So, mainly, it was dark…
I’ve often wondered if the Zodiac was pushing himself to see what he could get away with in an exposed location.
First at Lake Herman he chose a road that was probably lightly traversed during the day but fairly quiet at night. On that occasion the Zodiac had the advantage of concealment due to the darkness, but he still could have been seen if another car had happened to come along.
At Lake Berryessa it was broad daylight, but on this occasion he wore a costume to conceal his identity. Although the place was secluded and he had some tree cover fr concealment, there were obviously other people in the area who could have seen him.
I often wonder if had intended to be seen at that location wearing the costume. The thing is, if he had killed both of the victims outright well nobody would have ever known anything about the costume! It was the costume which instantly became the killer’s signature persona. It is impossible to speculate too much, but I wonder if he had deliberately inflicted the injuries in specific places on the victims because he had wanted them to live long enough to provide witnesses and police with a description.
When it came to the taxi driver, this was in a big city environment and although it was dark the chances of being seen were obviously much higher. He did in fact manage to get seen by several witnesses.
He was clearly becoming more bold and testing the limits of his own criminality by increasing the risk factor. But this is what makes no sense, because after that it seems the Zodiac went quiet, or became more secretive about his crimes. This to me is both unusual for a serial killer and seemingly out of character. One logical conclusion is that the Zodiac killed himself, died due to some illness or injury that he was suffering from, or ended up in a mental institution. If he had decided to “go straight” that would not fit with the concept of a textbook serial killer.
My personal belief is that the killer wanted to be seen in the aftermath of the Stine murder. In fact, he may have told Stine to drive one block further to increase the likelihood that somebody would witness him. Of course, I don’t think he was planning on directly encountering SFPD as he did. Nevertheless, given the way things worked out, he was probably very satisfied with the results.
The murders along Lake Herman Road also occurred during the cold season, so there would have been very little foliage, making an exposed location even more exposed.
I am here for the 50th anniversary. Super weird. Parked up, just like the couple. Seems like a great make out spot if it wasnt for the paralyzing fear. Before the murders, I see the “lovers lane” aspect. And knowing the area a little bit, you don’t really take Lake Herman road unless you “have to” so no worries of your parents rolling by and seeing your car on accident. Its also along a curve so as your driving by, it you cant really take a good look at the car sitting in the turn around unless you want to end up in a ditch. Seems like a good opportunity if someone was looking for one. Holiday time, emotions are high, secluded enough to do the deed and be on your way with no witnesses.
I visited the Lake Herman and Blue Rock Springs Park sites last Friday (November 6, 2020) It was very interesting to see the Lake Herman location first hand. The road was rough and hardly traveled, and I could imagine 50 years ago it was even more isolated. The road was closed due to construction, so I parked and walked up the road about a quarter mile. The turnoff is small, only enough space for a couple cars. I can definitely see how the remoteness of this site could be the perfect place for a murder. A lot of the road signs in the area are shot with bullets, leading to believe this is still a fairly secluded area. I actually found a silver 9mm Luger casing next to my car where I parked. There are no residential properties within site , just open space on both sides of the road. There were quite a few zodiac graffiti writings on things, as well as a plastic skull in a tree with a capsule in the eyeball, housing a paper sheet that people had written their names in a the dates they had visited. All in all, very cool!
The Blue Rock Springs Park was much more exposed and frequented, I imagine even 50 years ago. The parking lot is right off a busy road, and there were at least 20 cars and many families out on the grass and picnic tables. I believe the landscaping and parking lot have changed since the time of the murder, but it was still interesting and well worth the visit. I tried to find a diagram of where in the parking lot the murders occurred with no luck.
Next visit will be the Washington and Cherry intersection in SF, and eventually I will go to lake Berryessa. We are very lucky to be bay area locals and to be able to rather quickly drive to all four locations. Signing off…