The net is all abuzz with Zodiac-Killer activity due to a recently published book: The Zodiac Killer Cover-Up: The Silenced Badge. The author of the book, one Lyndon E. Lafferty, is a former California Highway Patrol officer who claims to know the identity of America’s most elusive serial killer. According to Lafferty, the Zodiac is a 92 year-old man living (or recently deceased, according to reports) in Northern California. Lafferty does not name the man, but instead refers to him using an alias: George Russell Tucker.
Here’s a small sampling of the coverage:
When I first became truly interested in the case of the Zodiac Killer, I resolved to read anything and everything I could find on the subject. And to a large extent, I did just that. No source was too obscure; no treatment was undeserving. However, I soon hit a stumbling block in the pursuit of my goal. I obtained a (quite expensive) copy of Gareth Penn’s Times 17 (a self-published book that’s reasonably well known to people who are knowledgeable about the Zodiac Killer). About 50% of my way through the book I was forced to conclude that my plan was not necessarily an effective use of my time.
The simple truth of the matter is that there is a lot of low-quality material dedicated to the subject of the Zodiac Killer. In fact, more so than just about any other case in the history of American criminal justice, the story of the Zodiac Killer seems to invite and foment unconstrained speculation, oftentimes completely devoid of even a hint of objectivity. Some people, quite honestly, are just not deserving of your or my attention.
To be sure, certain types of sources are inherently valuable: police reports, documentation from law-enforcement agencies such as the FBI, newspaper articles, etc. But when it comes to books, especially those written by individuals who are advocating for the guilt of a particular person whom law-enforcement refuses to pursue, one should be extremely skeptical.
Of course, I must concede that I have not read Lafferty’s book. However, I have been aware of its existence for quite some time and I have consciously chosen not to read it based on the preponderance of the feedback from people who are legitimately knowledgeable about the case. If you’re inclined to know more, you can find much discussion about Lafferty and his book on the following message boards:
The frustrating fact of the matter is that most people are not knowledgeable about the case of the Zodiac Killer and therefore do not know how to evaluate claims related to the case. Consequently, when someone comes along and asserts “I know who the Zodiac Killer is,” or “I solved the Zodiac Killer’s cipher,” the most common reaction is to treat the claim as plausible simply for a lack of proof to the contrary. As a consequence, we end up with these unwarranted reactions, such as the one we are experiencing now.
One thing’s for certain, at $48.95 (current price on amazon), Lafferty’s book is not priced to sell. I would advise you to spend your hard-earned money elsewhere…
Very nicely said, Mike. This is the perfect advise for those who have not followed the case for a long time and who are unfamiliar with all the politics that surround the saga. I also agree that the book is priced very unreasonably, even considering it is self-published.
If people are interested in reading a good book about the Zodiac Killer, they should check out this one (which I suspect you may recognize :)): This Is The Zodiac Speaking: Into The Mind of a Serial Killer.
I guess I expected more ..although I knew of most of the details and hey that is fine if ya got some Theory but ….Ret. LEO and has had years to get the facts straight ! .
Just seems like a smack in the face to the victim`s & I do not think that as some have stated “well RG made some mistakes in yellow book ” well sure he did but it was a different time and was kinda breaking ground so to speak he did not have the info we have now , I am not saying his works are the end all regarding Zodiac but am saying that there is no excuse imo for this person not to fact check he has had 40+yrs to do so so no excuses . and I agree with both Mike`s SPEND YER MONEY ELSEWHERE !
Thanks for the comments, SPF. I’m glad to have your input.
I completely agree that the information is easier to get “right” nowadays versus a couple decades ago. It used to be, almost without exception, that every treatment of the Zodiac Killer would have some number of mistakes, often quite a few. The first book I ever owned that mentioned the Zodiac Killer was a book about handwriting analysis circa the mid eighties. I remember looking back at it and realizing it was full of mistakes.
Today, correct and accurate information is so readily available, there are very few excuses for not getting the facts right; and many people do get the facts right. I didn’t really like the recent Criminal Minds episode. But, one thing they did reasonably well was get the facts of the case right.