In February, the Weekend TODAY show did a segment on the Zodiac Killer. Apparently, the segment has been voted one of the best of 2011. Generally, I’m happy to see coverage that keeps the case of the Zodiac in the public eye. This segment is reasonably well done. The only parts I really take issue with areÂ the quotes from Robert Graysmith. Specifically, regarding the ciphers he says:
We broke a few. There are still a lot of them that we haven’t solved.
To be precise, the Zodiac authored four ciphers. One has been solved conclusively (the 408), another has not been solved – despite people (including Robert Graysmith) making claims to the contrary – Â (this is the 340), and two are so short that they are unlikely ever to be solved conclusively.
Have a look and see what you think.
The following is the transcript of the video, taken from the Weekend TODAY site:
>>> back at one of the stories you voted as best. back in february, lester, jenna and amy explored some of the biggest unexplained mysteries around. lester went to the bay area in search of the man known as the zodiac killer.
>> reporter: He left lots of clues to his attacks. his symbol, a circle and cross at the scene of the crimes. his taunting letters sent to the press declaring himself the zodiac. and unwittingly, he left some survivors.
>> he wanted us to lay down.
>> reporter: Brian Hartnell is one of the two victims of the zodiac killer who lived to tell their stories. He says the movie ” zodiac” accurately portrayed the event of September 27th, 1969. Hartnell and his friend, Cecelia Shepherd, were picnicking by a lake in Napa County, California, when Cecelia spotted a man watching them. He briefly disappeared behind a tree, only to reappear in an executioner avenues hood, approaching them with a gun.
>> I wasn’t concerned because I was cooperating with him and i expected he would cooperate with me.
>> reporter: And after a calm exchange of words, brutally stabbing them with a knife.
>> It was just boom, boom, boom, boom, eight times. i mean, rage.
>> reporter: The attacker then turned to cecelia.
>> I remember as soon as I kind of got my wits about me and realized what was happening with her, I looked over there. but it was just too horrific a scene. I couldn’t watch.
>> reporter: We were offered a rare look at the killer’s message found scrolled at the door of Hartnell’s car. It was the zodiac’s third attack and he wanted police to know it. In the preceding nine months, two other couples had been targeted nearby.
>> Cecelia Shepherd, who did die, is the only victim that we know of that saw the Zodiac close enough to describe him before he put his hood on.
>> reporter: Police had a face to work with. but already, they had the killer’s words, sent to the press, including the san francisco chronicle, where the cartoonist soon became obsessed with the case.
>> He has a way with language. it was a chilling effect.
>> reporter: The killer described the first attack in great details.
>> The boy was on his back with his feet to the car. The girl was on her right side, feet to the west. I want you to print this cipher on the front page of your paper. In this is my identity.
>> Codiac started out as a lover’s lane killer. Usually on a week night, a weekend with a full moon and on a holiday.
>> reporter: But on his next victim, a San Francisco cab driver broke the pattern.
>> I like killing people because it is so much fun. It is more fun than killing wild game.
>> there’s a lot of them that we haven’t solved.
>> reporter: Police linked the zodiac to 11 victims, the last confirmed case in 1969. but the taunting letters continued off and on until the mid 70s. Clint Van Zant was with the FBI at the time of the attacks.
>> Zodiac played the extreme chess game. He played mental gymnastics against the public, the media. He challenged everybody out there, catch me if you can.
>> reporter: Along the way, police became suspicious of man against Arthur Lee Allen.
>> It didn’t seem to match his voice, his cadence.
>> reporter: Now more than 40 years later, the original zodiac investigators are either long retired or dead as the trail grows colder.
>> It was one of those things that both my late partner and I thought about for the rest of our lives that we couldn’t make it. simple as that. I still think about that. we couldn’t make it.
>> reporter: The Zodiac Killer may have moved on, but so, too, has one of his few surviving victims.
>> I have not been in fear of my life that he’s going to walk in the door and finish the job. I just haven’t. maybe that’s a defense mechanism, but it works.