Bustle publishes quite a few articles that reference the Zodiac Killer in some way, shape, or form. There was this one from a few months back that I was surprised to learn included one of my tweets. This is all well and good. Generally, the more references to the Zodiac Killer, the better. Of course, there are counterexamples to that statement; a few that immediately come to mind include: the idiotic Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer meme that, for some reason, people find hilarious on twitter and a certain someone who indefatigably claims the Zodiac Killer never existed. But, overall, the more the better.
Meanwhile, the Netflix miniseries Making a Murderer has been making a splash recently by garnering significant media attention — some good, some bad, but undeniably, it’s getting attention. Personally, I am unable to offer an opinion about the miniseries since I haven’t seen it. I hope to get around to watching it at some point; but, for the moment, it’s just not very high on my list of priorities.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, these two observable truths about our world collided in the form of a bustle.com article that uses Making a Murderer as a basis to suggest that other murder cases are also deserving of documentaries. Yes, you guessed it, the case of the Zodiac is one of the mentioned murder mysteries.
Truth be told, there have been quite a few documentaries about the Zodiac Killer, especially if you include the documentary television shows. Of course, I say there’s always room for one more, especially if it’s done well.
Another mystery on the list is that of JonBenet Ramsey, which interestingly means the author covered entries three and four from the documentary series America’s 60 Greatest Unsolved Mysteries and Crimes.
The Zodiac Killer mystery is like the fish you caught in 1968, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger, year after year. and in essence much of the truth gets clouded in the mind. The thing that captivates people in any murder case is the unknown and the intrigue, that often diminishes dramatically once the crime has been solved. This by its very nature is a strange dichotomy. On one hand we express our deepest sympathies and support for the victims and their families online, and this is human generosity at its best, the ability to express compassion, despite being totally unrelated to the family or friends of the victims. On the flip side, if this case were solved tomorrow, the Zodiac community would not take long to evaporate and dwindle away to a bare minimum, the forum conversations would dry up and the Zodiac websites would be rendered white elephants, which I personally believe would be a great thing. However along with the mystery and intrigue disappearing from the case, so would the online messages and support for the families, and that is the saddest part of all. Little would have changed for the families, closure is an overrated word and their memories will continue long after any resolution, but for the amateur sleuth their memories will be far more short term. A resolution to the case would be fantastic, but the disappearance of an online community and a hands on community may make the families of the victims feel lonelier than ever, at a time when they will likely need the greatest support. I sometimes question the motives of the online community, the websites, the documentaries, the books and in all that I include myself. Are we all really searching for an answer to this mystery or is it all simply a bit of self promotion. It is a question I often wrangle with. Because the search for a resolution would ultimately take us closer to our own downfall. Seeking our own destruction, for once, would be a good thing.
Thanks Richard. Yeah, these are good questions to stop and reflect on every once in a while.
You are undoubtedly right: if the mystery was solved tomorrow, much of the interest in the case, online and otherwise, would disappear rather quickly. Human nature likes a story, but it loves a mystery.
The thing is, we’re now approaching fifty years after the fact (if you consider the Gaviota murders a Zodiac-related crime, we’re past fifty years). I’m guessing the people who are still around that were directly impacted by the crimes care relatively little about the online communities, beyond a general but small level of appreciation for keeping the subject alive.
In my view, there certainly are people who are shameless self promoters; again a certain someone comes to mind. But I give a pass to most people — you and me included. We are all paying much in the way of opportunity costs; oh the things I could have done with the time I’ve invested into thinking about this case… Given all of the destructive behaviors that people engage in, there are worse things than being obsessed with trying to solve a decades-old serial-killer mystery 🙂
As I get older and possibly wiser, I tend to shy away from the forums, just dropping in every now and then to see what is new and adding my ten cents worth here and there. Most times my posts are simply ignored. Generally whatever I have to say is quickly lost in the maelstrom of discussions involving confused and sometimes distorted facts, or suppositions based loosely on the facts. There are generally a few members at any given time who are pursuing tangents based on their own misinterpretations of the facts. They frequently believe they are “on to something” because they have found new information hidden between the lines that others may have missed. Then there are the new and more extravagant theories that are frequently supposition based, and also the crackpot conspiracy theories that I read if I need a laugh.
I got banned from one particular forum simply because I had raised concerns about the methodology of a certain theory being promoted there. I posted some legitimate questions in the interests of constructive discussion. It turns out the theory I was commenting on was the “pet” theory of the forum owner himself, so was obviously considered off limits and taboo to mere mortals like myself. Apparently I should have known better. The forum owner evidently got so tetchy with me for daring to oppose him on a few salient points that he chose to ban me rather than discuss the issue rationally. I was evidently nothing more than an annoying insect who could be squatted out of existence if I got in the way. I had been a member for many years but as I had mainly just read and not posted I was still considered a
“Newbie”. I returned to the forum finding I could no longer log in. There was a message saying I had been banned permanently. I looked on the forum to find all of my questions had been deleted. The voice of reason is so often considered unwanted and unworthy, probably because it is not sufficiently exciting and mysterious enough. So be it, that is life on social media in the modern world it seems.
I now find myself in the rather cynical position of shaking my head at the half-baked and crackpot theories that keep coming along and wondering whether the Zodiac will ever be identified. One thing I am sure of, if the case is ever solved, it will most likely be by competent law enforcement officials who have all of the proper evidence and tools at their disposal, rather than by some amateur sleuth with a high social media presence and/or a new book cooking away in the oven.
Forums are a bit of a double-edged sword. There is no doubt that the primary Zodiac Killer forums have produced some valuable insight into the case over the years. The ability of a forum to crowdsource questions is sometimes nothing short of amazing. Yet, at times, they’ve also been the breeding ground for unproductive divisiveness. Part of the problem is the unyielding nature of the case; another part is human nature. The combination of the two can be ugly.
“…rather than by some amateur sleuth with a high social media presence and/or a new book cooking away in the oven.”
I suppose that’s a dig at me. Fair enough. The thing is, I don’t think you’re right on the more general point. Law enforcement will always have more motivation to spend their limited time and effort on current cases that matter to current citizens rather than try to solve some mystery that nobody has been able to solve for the last fifty years. Undoubtedly, there will be activity, but it will be minimal. If the case is going to be solved, the catalyst to the solution is probably going to come from outside of law enforcement.
Mystery has been solved.