The zodiac killer: The man behind Ted cruise  

Now I’m sure you’ve heard of the classic rhyme that quite possibly lead to the suspect in one of the biggest murder cases in the world being found? The one that goes a little like this:

Roses are red, Michael Jackson sang thriller… Ted cruise is the zodiac killer?

No? Well it turns out that this is actually a real theory, in-fact this theory is so real it lead to 38% of Florida Voters voting against having Ted Cruz run for the republican candidate in the most recent election.

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President Donald Trump eating pizza from the crust down

Because you know who wants a menacing serial killers as their president? Not Florida, you go Florida. 

In all honesty though is having a man that eats pizza like this really any better? (Example A to the left)

Now i’m not saying that the 38% of Florida voters are wrong but… the likelyhood is that Ted Cruz is just not the zodiac killer, (mainly because the zodiac killer first killed in 1968 and Ted Cruz wasn’t born till 1970, but that’s a whole other theory) and so before you continue to read this blog post on who exactly the zodiac killer might be I politely ask you to completely remove the name Ted Cruz and all his involvement with the zodiac killer out of your head (I see you wondering, stop that)

Now let’s get into the real theory of just who the zodiac killer is, but before one start I have one last thing..

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Side by side of Ted Cruz and the zodiac killer

Just what is a zodiac killer?

During the late 60’s and early 70’s a killer who would later be self-named ‘the zodiac killer’ created an extreme state of fear and endangerment in North California, killing a minimum of 5 people and claiming to have killed up to 37 other people.

The first known movements of the Zodiac Killer

On 20th December 1968 at a empty car-park in Vallejo, California, David Faraday, aged 17 and Betty Jensen, aged 16, were shot at whilst sitting in their car, (this very event inspired the classic horror movie scenes of teens alone in a car-park for many years to come).

Police arrived at the scene of the crime to find that Betty was lying dead on the floor around 30 feet away from the car (suggesting she attempted to escape the killer) but David was found to have survived the attack, however he would later die on the way to the hospital. Due to the fact that this was the first murder in the chain no-body knew that the shooting of David and Betty was the work of a serial killer, let alone the work of the Zodiac. And so the Zodiac killer had moved his first chess piece in the game of life and death.

The series begins

On 4th July (The day we very kindly let America rule themselves, and look how that turned out) 1969, in blue rock springs park, the zodiac killer shot at Darlene Ferrin, aged 22 and Michael Mageau, aged 19, making them his second known targets.

At around 12am Darlene and Michael were sat in a parked car just a few minutes away from the scene of the first murder, again they were alone in an empty car park when the zodiac approached them with a flashlight, a few seconds later he opened fire on the couple. The zodiac killer then walked away but for some unknown reason turned back around and shot at them both again. Both Darlene and Michael were found alive but Darlene would later die from her injuries.

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Young victims Darlene Ferran and Michael mageau

When later interviewed by police Michael gave a discription of what he saw the killer to look like:

  • 26-30 year old Male
  • White
  • 5’8
  • Stocky
  • 200 LBS +
  • Light curly brown hair
  • Rounded face

Now keep this description in mind for later on in the post 

The unknown phone call

Within an hour after finding Darlene and Michael a phone call was put through to the police from a man claiming to by the shooter  of the couple and the previous couple the year before, the man didn’t go by the name ‘The zodiac killer’ yet.

The Letters by a killer

I don't know what it is about serial killers and letters to the press but according to my last two blog posts apparently its a thing. Like maybe they have to pass a certain number of anonymous letters on to get their brownie badge in serial murder? Do US news-outlets have a special address just for these letters? I don't know but it seems a pretty unrealistic action for someone wanting to remain unfound, but it obviously works otherwise their story wouldn't be getting featured on an 'Unsolved mysteries' blog.

On 1st August 1969, nearly one month after the zodiacs second shooting, the San Francisco chronicle, The San Francisco examiner and the Vallejo times (the local town newspaper) all received hand written letters from someone claiming to be the the killer behind the recent teen murders.

Within the letters very specific details about the crimes were given along side the quote:

“I shall state some facts that only I + the police know”

This was to show that it was deferentially the killer who was the author of these letters and not someone looking for a get rich quick scam.

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‘Zodiac mark’

The letters were signed with a mark rather than a name, a circle with a cross that would later become known as the sign of the zodiac killer.

Zodiac codes

Also included in the letters were three different codes that the killer requested be published in all three newsletters or else he would kill again. The killer claimed that if the codes were somehow cracked they would revel his identity.

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Copy of one of the Zodiac codes

On the 4th August another letter was sent to all three news letters. The letter started with the opening:

“This is the zodiac speaking”

This was in fact the first time the killer had referred to himself as ‘the zodiac’.

On 8th August 1969 the code was cracked by a couple, who interpreted the code as followed:

“I like killing because it is so much fun, it is more fun than killing wild game in the forest because man is the most dangerous animal of all to kill. Something gives me the most thrilling experience, it is even better than getting your rocks off with a girl. The best part of it is that when I die I will be reborn in paradise and those who I have killed will become my slaves”

I will not give you my name because you will try to slow down or stop my collecting of slaves for the afterlife”

“Killing is better than getting my rocks off” comes in close second of “things worst than having a serial killer as your president”. 

The Lake Berryessa murders

on 27th September 1969 in Napa, California, a young couple named Cecelia Shepard, aged 22 years, and Bryan Hartnell, aged 20 years were attacked and stabbed by the zodiac killer whilst out at Lake Berryessa.

The couple were enjoying a picnic by the lakes edge when Cecelia noticed a man hiding

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Zodiac Killer police sketch

behind a tree and watching the couple. After several minutes the man came out from the tree and started walking towards them. The man was described as wearing an executioner style mask, along with a zodiac killer symbol on his chest (But like this might just be me but at that point I would have gotten the hell out of there). The zodiac then preceded to tie both Cecelia and Bryan up and stab them several times.

Cecelia would later die from her injuries but Bryan, despite being stabbed 6 times in the back, lived. Bryan once recovered was able to describe the man who attacked both him and Cecelia as:

  • Big boned
  • 225-250 LBS
  • 5’8-6
  • Dark brown hair (that he had seen through the eye holes in the mask

The message upon the car

When the police came to inspect the scene of the crime, they found a handwritten message on the side of Bryan’s car. The note contained the dates of all three of the previous murders and was signed with the zodiac symbol once again. The words “by knife” were in bold below the attack on Cecelia and Bryan. 

The killer taxi

On 11th October 1969 at 10pm in San Francisco a taxi driver named Paul Stine was shot in the back of the head by someone sitting in the passenger seat of his taxi.

Once the gun shot was fired a young girl, along with several other witnesses heard the nose and went to inspect what had happened. The girl claims to have looked out of her window and saw a man whiping down the taxi and walking away. The young girl phoned the police and descibed the man as:

  • White male
  • 25-30 years old
  • 5’8-5’9
  • Big built
  • Brown hair
  • Glasses

As you can see this very clearly matches the previous discriptions of the zodiac killer. 

The wrong man

A little after the attack on the taxi driver a nearby police car received a call explaining what he happened and set off to the scene of the crime. However on the way to the crime scene the police pulled over and incorrectly arreasted an African-American male on susption of being the zodiac killer.

Now I've said it once, and ill say it again, the police force in the US isn't exactly the most on point police force but this just tips the ice berk. How and why would you arrest an African-American man when serveral different wittnesses had repeatly stated that the man believed to be the zodiac killer was white? 

Not only did officers Donald Fouke and Eric Zelms wrongly identity the African-American male, but they would come across the suspected zodiac killer and allow him to walk free.  

Whilst driving Fouke and Zelms came across a man who they described as:

  • White
  • 175 LBS
  • 5’10
  • 35-40 years old
  • Reddish hair
  • Glasses

This as you will notice is very similar to the other deciptions given by wittnesses. However because Fouk and Zelms were told to be aware of an African-American man they simply didnt flag up the possible zodiac killer that was right infront of them. Later the Zodiac killer would mention the two officers in his open letter, making it very very likely that the white man that Fouk and Zelms saw was infact the zodiac killer.

The bloody fingerprint

When conducting their search of the taxi belonging to Paul Stine police found a bloody fingerprint that was thought to be a match to the zodiac killer. However in one of his handwritten letters the zodiac states that he left behind fake clues to throw the police off. To me this is starting to sound like some sort of game to the zodiac killer, like he knows he can never actually be found, I mean he literally murdered someone in broad day light?

The letter for a taxi driver

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Piece of Stines blood stained shirt

Two days after the murder of taxi driver Paul Stine the San Francisco Chronicle recieved yet another letter from the zodiac killer, only this time he claimed responsibility for the killing of ‘the cab driver’.

Attached to the letter was a piece of Stine’s blood stained shirt. To further add to this the letter included the words:

“School children make nice targets. I think I shall wipe out a school bus some morning. Just shoot out the front tire and pick off all the kiddies as they come bouning out”

Further down in the same letter the zodiac placed digrams of bombs he had designed that could be used on buses.

My name is ‘blank’

On 20th April 1970, two years after the zodiac’s first known killing, the San Francisco chroncile recieved a letter which started off with a the words “My name is blank” and a cipher (Cipher=code) attached. The zodiac carried on sending letters for a further year but would for some reason stop in 1971. Then 3 years later in 1974 the zodiac sent his very last letter.

In the final letter the zodiac claims to have killed up to 37 more people in the past 3 years. Then as-if this guy/gal couldnt get anymore weird, they oddly include a review on the movie ‘The exorcist” quoting:

“I think the exorcist was the best saterical comdy I have ever seen”

18 years on

In 2002, 18 years after the zodiac’s last letter, the LA police were able to gain a genetic profile from a stamp left on one of the zodiacs letters. The profile was found to me unable to identity one single person but did help in ruling out certain genetic groups.

The suspects

So now with over 49 years worth of investigating lets take a look at the portial suspects the LA police department have found over the years:

Suspect 1:

Arthur Leigh Allen

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The theory that Allen could be the zodiac killer was put forward first by Robert Graysmith and this very theory was in fact the one that inspired the 2007 film Zodiac (which i’m sure die hard Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo fans will have seen). After 10 years of personal research Graysmith wrote two books on the possible zodiac killer, which will be included down below.

On the day of the third zodiac killing at Lake Berrynessa in 1969 Allen told his family he was going scuba diving that day at the very same Lake Berrynessa. Later that day he returned home covered in blood and a bloody knife left behind in his car (remember the young couple were tired and stabbed repeatedly).

In 1971, two years after the Lake Berrynessa attack, a friend of Allens named Don Cheney stated that Allen refereed to himself as ‘the zodiac’ before the killer had even mentioned it. Cheney swears that Allen mentioned to him a number of occasions that he was planning to hunt people with a gun and a flashlight (Don seriously? End the friendship, call the police??) 

Due to new evidence coming forward the police interviewed Allen a second time. In this second interview Allen would state that:

“His favourite book is the most dangerous game”

The dangerous game is actually a book about a man who hunted humans and a book that was mentioned in the zodiac’s first letter.

During the interview Allen was seen to be wearing a watch with the exact symbol the zodiac killer had previously used.

The police then went on to search Allen’s home and found some really doddy stuff:

  • Bloody Knifes
  • Dead animals kept in the freezer
  • sexual devices 

However no evidence linking Allen directly to the zodiac murders was found.

In 1974 Allen was arrested for Child abuse and spent 3 years in prison. Could this possibly explain why no more zodiac letters were written after 1974? 

In 1987 an inmate who had spent time with Allen during his prison years states that Allen admitted to him that he was the one who had killed the taxi driver Paul Stines.

In 1991 local detective George Bawart interviewed Michael Mageau, the man who had lived from the second zodiac attack. Most importantly Mageau saw the zodiac without his mask on. When Bawart showed Mageau a line up of photos of possible zodiac kilelr Mageau picked out the man who shot him, it was Allen. 

After this police decide to search Allen’s home again to try and find some link between him and the zodiac. This time they did find:

  • Plans for bombs
  • finished bombs
  • Tapes about the zodiac killer 

They take him in for yet another interview and Allen says he knows nothing. What is odd here is that the zodiac often talked about bombs and sent in plans for bombs that matched Allens.

In 1992 Allen passed away from a heart attack. 

Suspect 2

Earl Van Best Jr

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The theory that Earl Van Best Jr was the real zodiac killer was put forward by his own son Gary Stewart in which he discusses his theory in his book ‘The most dangerous animal of all’

Stewart’s first warning sign was the likeness between Van Best and the police sketch released of the zodiac killer.

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Image of Van Best next to Police artist sketch

Stewart noted that the name Earl Van Best Jr contained the same number of letters as the zodiac had written in the ‘My name is blank’ letter.

Furthermore Stewart hired a handwriting expert to look over the zodiacs letters and compare them with his farthers handwriting. The expert came to the result that he was ‘99.9% certain that the handwriting on both letters came from the same person’.

However it is important to note that the handwriting that the expert compared came from Van Best’s marriage licence, which is typically signed by the priest present and so may not have been Van Best’s actual handwriting.

Suspect 3

Lawrence Kane Kaye l-cane

The theory that Lawrence Kane Kaye was the man behind the zodiac killings came from retired police officer Harvey Hines.

In 1962 Kaye was in a car crash that resulted in a brain injury that effected his behaviour and doctors working with Kaye quoted that he was:

“Losing the ablity to control self-gratification”

Furthermore to this the name ‘Kane’ can be seen in the My name is letter.

The second victim, Darlene, had a sister who stated that Kaye had stalked and harrashed Darlene in the weeks leading up to her death.

Kaye lived just a 5 minute walk away from the location in which the taxi driver Paul Stine had picked up his killer. Police officers working on the case also state that Kaye has been placed at several of the locations in which the killings took place.

In 1970 Kaye moved to south lake tahoe were another zodiac killer was believed to be attacked. A woman named Donna Lass, who worked at the same hotel as Kaye, disappeared and was never found. This again places Kaye at the scene of a zodiac attack.

This however was not the only involvement Kaye had with a zodiac victim.

In March 1970 on highway 132 a woman named Kathleen Johns and her baby were tricked into riding in a car with the zodiac killer himself. Once she entered the car the zodiac told Johns he was going to kill her and her child. Johns jumped out of the car and ran away from the zodiac killer with her baby. This is a confirmed zodiac case due to the zodiac quoting in one of his letters:

“Now I have a little list, starting with the woman with the baby that I gave a rather interesting ride too”

When shown a line up of possible attackers, Johns went straight to Kaye, after having face time with the actual zodiac killer.

The man never found

So it has now been 49 years since the first known zodiac killing of Betty Jensen and in that time many theory’s have been put forward. Could Arthur Leigh Allen be the man behind these brutal attacks? or was he just a crazed zodiac fan? What about Lawrence Kane Kaye, was he the 1970’s joker or was he just a man in the wrong place at the wrong time? 

Whoever the killer may be we can hopefully believe that he has either ‘finished his collecting of slaves’ or his collecting was ended by nature. It is important to remember that this man/woman did kill many people, who could have been someones family member or friend, and created a state of fear throughout the US. No one man should ever have that power but sadly the likelihood is that this will forever stay an unsolved mystery. 

Interesting sources: 

If you enjoyed this post about the zodiac killer then you might enjoy some of the following resources I came across during my research or mentioned throughout the post:

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The oddly perfect disappearance of D.B. Cooper

Supernatural or Super agents?

So I’m guessing that if you’re recently just opened up a link to this page then you’re here for one of two reasons:

  • You’re either a very sleep deprived person who’s awake at 3am scrolling through ‘that part of the internet’
  • or
  • You’re here to learn about one of the famous unsolved cases taken on by the FBI, that involved both the hijacking of a plane, robbery of government money and a person who by all accounts vanished from existence, the case of D.B Cooper.

whatever your reason for being here is, you’re here now so you might as-well stay a while, and maybe even read on..

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The hijacking of the D.B. Cooper air-plane

On 24th November 1971 a man booked onto a flight on northwest orient airlines under the name ‘Dan Cooper’ to Seattle, Washington. Once on board the flight fellow passages described as Cooper as being around middle age, wearing a smart business suite, a black overcoat and a black tie (so typical 1950’s gangster really, nothing unusual there?) Cooper was also noted to be carrying a brief case and a large paper bag. Cooper took the seat of 18C.

The first warning note

At 3:00pm just after the plane had taken off, Cooper handed a handwritten note to the air-hostess (now correct me if i’m wrong in the comments below but the correct term is air-hostess right? or flight assistant?) Obviously trying to get on with her job the air-hostess simply put the note in her pocket, but Cooper then quoted to her:

“Miss you better look at that note, I have a bomb”

Cooper told the air-hostess to sit next to him and opened his brief case to show her what would appear to be a bomb. Cooper then asked the air-hostess to write down the following requests and take them to the caption:

“I want $200000 by 5pm, in cash and all made up of $20 notes. I want the cash put in a backpack with two back parachutes and two front parachutes. When we land a want a fuel truck ready to refuel the plane. No funny stuff or I’ll do the job”

Now what strikes me as odd right away is the request to have the money all in $20 bills? Surely that would just be inconvenient for Cooper?

The flight landed at its destination of Seattle and Cooper allowed the passengers off the plane in exchange for the parachutes and money he had requested.

The hijacking of the D.B Cooper flight Part 2

Cooper requested that he could keep some of the crew members on bored and had the plane begin a flight to Mexico city, adding the request that the plane stayed below 10000 feet, this information will later become interesting.

About half way through the flight Cooper put on a dark pair of blackout glasses. These particular glasses would become a famous trademark of D.B Cooper as they were later drawn by a police artist in an attempt to find the hijacker and so forever a sign of a mysterious agent. Along side this Cooper removed a clip on tie he was wearing, which would later lead to some form of DNA evidence being found.

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Police artist’s sketch of what is believed to be ‘Dan Cooper’

At 8pm when the plane was nearing Reno, Nevada, just over half way through its journey, Cooper jumped out of very back door with the money and two of the parachutes.

One thing worth noting here is that although Cooper had set the plane on course for Mexico city, the pilot of the flight told the FBI that he had personally chosen the route in which the flight would take. This meant that because Cooper jumped out half way through the flight he quite possibly had no clue where he was going to land.

Despite this Dan Cooper was never to be seen again, even after 46 years. 

The endless search for ‘Dan Cooper’: The Norjak effect

After successfully hijacking a private airlines plane and stealing $200000 from the government Dan Cooper had realistically gotten away with the perfect crime, but for every perfect crime there is, there is some form, be it strong or not, of FBI investigation under way.

Fun Fact:
The investigate for the man who claimed to be Dan Cooper was named 
Norjak which stood for northwest hijacking

The first step the FBI took was for once the most logical one as they searched the hijacked plane. On bored the plane the FBI found that Cooper had removed his clip on tie. Now this to me is the first disappointing thing about the now almost perfect crime for the following two reasons:

  1. Firstly, why would someone who up until this point appeared to have every detail under control leave something behind that could clearly have DNA evidence all over it?
  2. Why would someone dressed as cool and hipster as Dan Cooper appeared to be have a clip on tie, can a grown man not tie his own tie? Did he not attend a public high school?

The interest in $20 bills

The second move the FBI took was to realise the serial numbers of the $20 bills handed over to Cooper, this meant that the FBI could trace the bills whenever they were flagged up. One small problem with this however was that as we all know, money goes fast, (especially on tequila Thursday’s) travelling between tens of people in possibly one day and lets be real who actually checks the serial numbers on these things?

Unbelievably however in 1980, 9 years after Cooper had escaped, a young boy came across rotting package just like the one Cooper was discibed as having during the hijacking. Within the package were $20 bills adding upto $5,800 that marched the serial numbers realised by the FBI.

The bag was found by the boy on a beach in Tina Bar. One theory put forward by the conspiracy theory community is that when Cooper jumped from the plane the bag fell into the Washougal River and travelled down  to the Tina Bar.

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The Washougal river, where the stolen money stayed for nine years

To me it seems odd that only $5,800 would be left behind in the bag if it had fallen into the river. It seems odd to be that there would be a random $5,800 left in the bag anyway really? and $5,800 seems like a perfect number? 

The finding of the money would eventually lead to nothing however as the FBI conducted a full search of the surrounding beaches and find no more of the original $20 bills (should have kept the money kid) 

The press letters

In 1972, one year after D.B Cooper had hijacked the plane, letters were sent to serval newspaper outlets across the US, including the likes of the new York times and Washington post. Along side the newspapers copies of the letters were sent directly to the FBI. The letters were sent every few weeks and would always be related to one of the following subjects:

  1. The author would claim to be ‘Dan Cooper’ and confess to the hijacking and the theft of government money
  2. A eulogy written for a recently deceased Dan Cooper 
  3. The author would claim to be the brother of Dan Cooper 

Eventually in November of the same year two men named Donald Murphy and William Lewis were arrested over claims that they were the authors of the D.B Cooper letters.  They would later be charged with extortion for impersonating Dan Cooper and trying to sell ‘their’ story for quick cash (So if there’s any desperiate students reading this I’m not encouraging you to pretend to be Jack the ripper, but…)

Fun Fact:
The initials D.B have no relation to the original case. The FBI isn't sure 
where they came from and how they became attached to the case.

The endless investigation

Within the first five years of the original FBI investigation over 796 suspects from all across the US were looked into, with only 24 ever being investigated further. The investigation moved forward and the FBI were running out of suspects, and time.

It is important to note that although the FBI didn’t have mountains of evidence against D.B Cooper the evidence they did infact have was very strong. The forscintic artists portat of Cooper is supposely very accurate, as it was taken from the accounts of two flight attendants who spent two whole hours with him and were later interviewed seperatly. In the account the flight assesstants decibed Cooper as being:

DBCooper
Artists portrait of the suspected D.B Cooper
  •  5’10-6 foot 
  •  170-180 LSB
  •  Early to mid 40s 
  •  Brown eyes 

People whom saw Cooper when on the ground gave nearly the very same description.

Running out of time

Originally the charge put against D.B Cooper was air piracy, which had a limit of 5 years, meaning that as time went on the FBI would no longer be able to charge Cooper on any accounts. It was later decided that if Cooper should ever be found (and at this point it was looking like a big if) charges of breaking the HOBS act would be brought against him. The HOBS act was a charge relating to violent theft and had no stature of limitations, meaning that if by some chance Cooper was still alive (spoiler alert) he would be charged with the crime, even though the FBI has closed the Norjack Case.

So who exactly was D.B Cooper, or who exactly is D.B Cooper?

Suspect 1:

Richard McCoy

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Richard McCoys involement in the D.B Cooper case first became popular through the book “D.B Cooper: The real McCoy” (available here)  written by former FBI agents Russell Calame and Bernie Rhodes.

In April 1972, five months after the D.B Cooper hijacking, Richard McCoy was arrested for hijacking a plane. When examining the heist conducted by McCoy, Calame and Rhodes noticed some oddly similar aspects to the heist conducted by Cooper. The former FBI agents noted that:

  1. In both cases Cooper and McCoy both hijacked a Boeing 727, the same make of plane.
  2. Both Cooper and McCoy parachuted from the rear end of the plane.
  3. Both Cooper and McCoy requested four parachutes.
  4. Both men handed notes to the air-hostess claiming to have a bomb, with both the notes using the line “No funny stuff” 
  5. Both remained unusually claim during the hijacking

Another fact from both crimes that Calame and Rhodes found linked the two together, and to McCoy, was the fact that both crimes took place during the term breaks of Brigham Young University, where McCoy was a student. 

Calame and and Rhodes stated that members of McCoy’s family identified an object that was found on bored the D.B Cooper flight after the Hijacking. What is odd about this is that that particular object was never publicly announced, so there was no way for the McCoy family to have known it was on bored both flights.

Yet despite Calame and Rhodes attempts to charge McCoy with the D.B Cooper hijacking the FBI ruled McCoy out completely, mainly due to the fact he did not match the forsenic artists portrait of Cooper (see image above). Nevertheless McCoy was charged with the hijacking of a plane and sentenced to 45 years in prison, he would later die from gun shot wounds fired at him during his escape attempt.

Suspect 2:

Duane Weber

duane-weber-1977-pink-w-sunglasses

On his death bed a man named Duane Weber claimed to be the famous D.B Cooper. Upon his death bed his wife Jo quoted him as saying:

“I have a secret to tell you, I am Dan Cooper”

Later his wife Jo became keen to uncover the truth about who Dan Cooper was. She recalled that during their marriage Weber would often have nightmares of leaving finger prints behind on a plane, and that he had previously told her that his bad knee was due to an injury he had when jumping out of a plane (Sorry Jo but did you not find that slightly odd?). 

Panorama
Side by Side image of ‘D.B Cooper’ and a young Duane Weber

Alongside this Jo discovered that her husband Duane Weber had had another identity of ‘John Collins’. During the FBI’s original investigation one of their main suspects was a man named John Collins, whom had checked into a hotel near the airport where the hijacked plane took off from the night before the hijacking. 

The final piece of evidence Jo put forward as to why she believes her husband, Duane Weber, really was Dan Cooper was the fact that he kept an old northwest orient airlines ticket on him, and never told anyone why (Maybe he just kept it around for scarp booking days?)

Suspect 3:

Kenneth Christiansen

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Kenneth Christiansen was first put forward as a suspect in the D.B Cooper search by his brother Lyne Christiansen after seeing an episode of ‘unsolved mysteries’ based on the D.B Cooper hijacking [Watch here] and became convenced that his brother was in fact the real Dan Cooper.

Kenneth was a flight purser for northwest orient airlines, the same airlines that owned the plane D.B Cooper hijacked, which supports one conspicy theory that suggests the hijacking was an inside job. This also meant he would have known the security and workings of the airlines and use this against them. 

Shortly after the crime took place Lyne states that Kenneth recently came into a lot of money somehow and bought a new house.

Another supporter of the idea of Kenneth Christiansen being the real D.B Cooper is the author of the book “SKYJACK: The hunt for D.B Cooper” [available here] Geoffrey Grey. Grey collected several forms of evidence against Kenneth Christiansen but one particualr that stands out is that when he showed a photo of Kenneth to the flight assistant who spent 2 hours on bored the plane with ‘Dan Cooper’ she agreed that out of all the suspects she had been shown Kenneth was the closest to Dan Cooper.

Yet oddly once again the FBI completely ruled out Kenneth Christiansen on the basicis that he didn’t match the descpition given by the flight assistant, the very air assistant who had just stated that Kenneth was the closest match yet? To me that seems like a bit of mix up? or cover up?

However this was not the only reason the FBI discredited Kenneth as a suspect. Kenneth was a qualified paratrooper just after WWII, and the FBI strongly believed that Dan Cooper was not an experienced jumper. This will later be discussed in the theory section of this post.

Suspect 4 

Lynne Cooper

Lynn Cooper is the latest suspect for the impersonator of D.B Cooper and was brought forward by his niece, Marla Cooper in 2009.

When she was eight years old in 1971, Marla claims that early Thanksgiving morning (the day after the hijacking) her uncles Lynn Doyle and Dewey Doyle arrived at her Nan’s house in Oregan, with Lynn being seen to be hurt and bloody and unable to get out of the car.

She quotes that once in the house her two uncles talked about hijacking an air-plane and that “their money troubles were over”

A Settle Bureau’s public information officer also told a journalist that the idea of Lynn Cooper actually being D.B Cooper is the most promising yet. 

 

Did Dan Cooper ever become D.B Cooper?

Now one thing we know for certain in the case of D.B Cooper, is that Dan Cooper was never seen again after jumping from his hijacked plane. With all the strong evidence and witnesses the FBI had it seems wrong that they would never find this man again, even after 46 years. Could it be possible that there was never any Dan Cooper for the FBI to find? That the man who had jumped from the plane that night had not infact surviced the fall? One theory put forward by special Agent Larry Carr suggests so.

Carr is quoted as saying the following when taking over the case in 2007:
“We originally thought Cooper was an experienced Jumper, Perhaps even a paratrooper. We conculuded after a few years that this was simply not true”
To support his theory that Dan Cooper was not an experienced jumper Carr pointed out certain details that didn’t make sense from the case:

 

Cooper jumped carrying two parachutes, however, only one of them was a functioning chute. The other was a training chute that was sewn shut.

Furthermore, the shoot that was functional was a military chute that was not deemed steerable.

They had given him basically unusable para-shoots. 

After reviewing these details Carr also noted serval other aspects that seemed ‘off’ and quoted the following:

“No experienced parachutist would have jumped in the pitch black night, in the rain, with a 200 mile an hour wind in his face, wearing loafers and a trench coat,” 

This doesn’t seem to suggest that Dan Cooper died in the fall, only that he was not an experienced jumper however there are certain reasons put forward by Carr as to why a non-experienced Jumper would not survive the fall:
Cooper had jumped into a wooded area at night, and due to a cloud cover at 5,000 feet there would have been no visibility of the ground. Meaning Cooper would have no clue if he was about to hit a tree or rocks.
However this theory is not fully supported as no body or even blood on the tree, was ever found of Dan Cooper, and so can’t be proven in anyway.

The open closed case

Now there are many, many, many more theories as to just who the real D.B Cooper might actually have been, with theories ranging from the above to others suggesting that Cooper may have even been a woman. Yet still after 46 years the case remains unsolved and Dan Cooper for all we know may be sitting next to you on the bus right now…

The case was officially closed by the FBI in 2016 after 45 years of investigating, but the FBI are still in fact open to hearing leads that may help solve just who D.B Cooper is. 

So maybe the lesson here is that if you really did commit the perfect crime, you’d never actually be able to take credit for it, and is that worth $20,0000? Dan Cooper appears to think so (apparently social media likes don’t mean anything to this man)

and if you’re reading this D.B Cooper I have one question: Have you never heard of ‘How to tie a tie’ YouTube tutorials? 

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Further reads:

If this case interested you at all and you want to know a little more here are some useful sources I came across in my research:

Unsolved Mysteries with Dennis Farina: The episode of Unsolved Mysteries based on D.B Cooper, and the very one Lyne Christiansen happened upon!

SKYJACK: The hunt for D. B. Cooper: A book by Geoffrey Grey are who the real D.B Cooper could be

Suspects in the DB Cooper Skyjacking: A blog post by Bruce A Smith on a list of suspects put forward in Nijack

Elizabeth Short: The real American Horror story

It’s no secret that the thriller television series American Horror story has left many of us gasping at our screens during, what I lightly call, the brutal and gory murder scenes. However what many of you who are just now reading this may not know is that certain events that take place during the shows 6 seasons are in fact based upon actual real life crimes. Whilst Murphy uses the classic “based on true events” gig to draw viewers in, the story lines are often short lived and left behind, one particular example of this is the character of Elizabeth Short, otherwise known as ‘The Black Dahlia’.

The Black Dahlia was a deceased woman who’s body was found with a smile permanently cut upon her face and her body perfectly split in half, in fact it was too perfectly. Taken in by the old Hollywood glamour appeal of the case I decided to do further research and find out just exactly who the Black Dahlia was, and why after over 70 years no one person has ever been officially charged with the murder of Elizabeth Short. In this post I will discuss the question: Just how is it that the infamous case of the ‘Black Dahlia’ remains to this day the longest unsolved case in Los Angeles criminal history? 

You can watch American Horror story seasons 1-5 here

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The Real unsolved case of the Black Dahlia

The finding of the body

On 15th January 1947 the body of a 22 year old women named Elizabeth Shorts was discovered in the suburbs of south Los Angeles by a local woman named Betty Bersinger.

Whilst on walking along the sidewalk of the 3800 Norton Block in the early hours of the morning Bersinger noticed a pale figure laying in a patch of weeds, originally believing it to be an abandoned store mannequin Bersinger felt the urge to take a closer look. Upon approaching the figure Bersinger stated that she was hit with an horridus smell, she then believed something to be wrong and approached for closer inspiration. It was here that she discovered that the figure was not in fact a mannequin that her eyes had first lead her to believe, but the unclothed body of a deceased young woman.

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Elizabeth Short had moved to Hollywood, Los Angeles, to achieve her dream of becoming an actress.

Officers Frank Perkins and Will Fitzgerald from the LAPD were the first to be called to the scene of the crime and upon approaching the scene Perkins is known to have said that the body of young woman, later to be known as Elizabeth Short A.K.A the Black Dahlia, was one of the most brutal and dis-formed he had seen in criminal history.

There are several unusual aspects of the way the body was left that draw strong media attention to the case, leading it to be one of the most talked about criminal cases in not only the 1940’s media, but discussions between conspiracy theorists way into the late 00s. It was not the actual finding of the body that was out of the ordinary but rather the way in which it was placed:

  • The body was cut perfectly in half, being separated by the waist

  • The body was almost completely drained of blood 

  • Elizabeth’s face had been cut towards her mouth from her ears, which many of you may know, left an ever present smile. 

  • There was no blood on the ground, showing that the body had been moved there after Elizabeth had been killed 

  • The body was left completely unclothed 

The body being almost completely drained of blood explains why the Black Dahlia was first mistaken for a mannequin as it would have left Elizabeth with an extremely pale complex. One other interesting fact about the case is that officers Perkins and Fitzgerald, along with several other LAPD investigators, agreed that the Black Dahlia’s body had been cut using surgical precision as no trauma to Elizabeth’s internal organs or bones was ever found.

The open letter

On 24th January 1947, 9 days after Shorts body was discovered, a letter was received by LA news paper the Los Angeles examiner. The letter was written in a haunting fashion using cut outs from old magazines and newspaper (kind of like what you see in 80s crime movies). The content of the letter read as followed:

"Los Angeles examiner and other Los Angeles papers, 
here is Dahlia's belongings, letter to follow" 

As stated in the letter attached were Elizabeth’s personal belongings, including a social security card, birth certificate, personal photographs and an address book with several pages missing. Perhaps these missing pages contained details about Elizabeth’s Killer, hence them not seeing the light of day?black-dahlia-elizabeth-short-letters

What was interesting about the letter was the authors choice to use the name ‘Dahlia’ when it was clear he/she knew Elizabeth’s true name. Perhaps this shows that the killer did not view Elizabeth as a real person but rather their way of gaining fame, as the name ‘Black Dahlia’ was created by the press. The letter and Elizabeth’s belongings also had gasoline rubbed on them to remove the fingerprints. This suggests that the author was no stranger to the world of forensic science with clear knowledge of how the game worked. It had previously been suggested that the killer was a man/woman of science due to the surgical manner the body was dismembered.

After the first letter was received many more were sent to the Los Angeles examiner, but this time they were hand written. The final letter to be received read:

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“Turning in Wednesday, had my fun with the police”- Black Dahlia avenger

The last movements of Elizabeth Short

Just before moving to LA to achieve her dreams of being an actress Elizabeth spent time in San Diego with a man named Robert Manley. As a favour to Elizabeth, Manley drove her down to LA and helped her check into the Biltmore Hotel. Most reports come to the conclusion that this was the last place Short was to be seen alive.

In today’s pop culture age the Biltmore Hotel is known to be one of the most haunted sites in downtown LA. Many guests staying at the hotel travel there just to see the supposed ghost of the Black Dahlia. The Black Dahlia can reportedly be seen walking along the first floor in a long black dress (category is:) she has also been spotted walking along the teeth and eleventh floor, for those of you wishing to catch a sight of her.

Other reports suggest that once Elizabeth had settled in she headed down to crown grill bar and that this was actually the last place she was seen alive.

Interesting suspects

There are many suggestions as to who it might be who murdered Elizabeth Short and created one of the most talked about cases in our crime obsessed culture, however I came across some suggestions in my research that appeared to stand out. I wont claim that these men and women are guilty but instead ill show you the evidence and let you decide that for yourself.

Suspect one:

George Hodel 

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George Hodel was a doctor who ran a venereal disease clinic in LA. It was George’s son Steve Hodel, who after 17 years as a detective in the LAPD, accused his farther of being the Black Dahlia killer. Steve Hodel stated that there was always something a little ‘off’ about his father, now that may seem a form of nit picking but as we know from previous cases sometimes a gut instinct is the strongest form of evidence. Steve claims that his father even had a secret room in their house that no-one, including himself, was allowed to enter. The theory put forward by George’s son Steve goes as followed:

George Hodel was a professional medially trained surgeon which would suggest that Hodel would be capable of disembowelling Elizabeth in the surgical manner in which she was.

George also had 11 different children to 5 different women. It was reported by the press at the time that Elizabeth Short had had sexual relations with various different men in order to climb her way up the career ladder. Some theories suggested that his George had gotten Elizabeth pregnant but no longer had the time or energy to deal with anymore children and so forced Elizabeth to allow him to preform an abortion on her, which eventually went wrong and ended up killing both mother and child (For fans of the show American Horror Story this one might sound familiar). 

Steve Hodel also found pictures of a woman who appeared to be Elizabeth Short in his fathers house. Upon discovering the images Steve took asked a forensic artist to indentify if the woman in the images was in fact Elizabeth Short.

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Image found in Hodel’s photo album.

 The artist stated that there was an 85% chance the images were not her. However in 2014 a different forensic artist used facial regnoision techology to come to the conclusion that the woman in the images had a 95% chance of being Elizabeth. Why would George have images of a woman who apprentality didn’t have many friends in LA?

George Hodel was also accursed by his own daughter of sexually assaulting her. When doing my research many theories seem to suggest that George had tried to assault Elizabeth as-well, but that Elizabeth tried to fight back, leading to George taking an even more violent turn and killing Elizabeth. It is however important to note that George was found not-guilty in the case against his daughter. 

During the actual investigation of the Black Dahlia in 1947 police did actually suspect George Hodel of being somehow involved in her murder and so planted listening devices in his home. When listening back to the tapes the LAPD heard George quote the following:

“Supposing I did kill the Black Dahlia. They couldn’t prove it now. They can’t talk to my secretary anymore because she’s dead.”

Now to me that doesn’t scream innocence, plus his secretary was never actually found dead, but rather only ever reported missing? (Note the question mark as a sign of my confusion)

George was also taped saying the following:

“This is the best payoff I’ve seen between the law enforcement agencies, and I’d like to get a connection made in the DA’s office”.

At the time of the investigation (and maybe even a few years later, for those believers of O.J Simpsons innocence) the LAPD was known for its corruption. Perhaps the ‘payoff’ George was referring to was the one that he himself had actually given to the LAPD, as for them to suddenly drop the case out of no where seems very off to me. Especially considering that Steve Hodel later found the Black Dahlias case file in which a female witness had stated that George and Elizabeth ‘knew each other well. Further more a sudden payoff by George to the LAPD would explain why all psychical evidence from the case went missing? (Again, a question mark is inserted at the end to suggest shadness).

Evidence appeared to mount up against George Hodel in 1947 however clearly it was never enough. This is perhaps what drove Georges son Steve to carry on investigating the death of the Black Dahlia and in 2012 Steve Hodel returned to his childhood home where he had lived with his father. Steve took with him a police dog in order to dig up any evidence that might have been hidden, and although no physical evidence was found Steve did find something more unnerving; the police dog indicated the scent of human remains. Soil samples were also taken from the garden of Georges former home and they too tested positive for human remains. Although these remains couldn’t have been the Black Dahlias because she wasn’t buried it does show that George may have experienced an involvement in murder once before.

It appears that evidence strongly points towards George Hodel as the Black Dahlia murderer, however all this evidence is merely ‘probable’ and so not conclusion was ever come to with regards to the involvement of George Hodel in Elizabeth’s life, and possibly even death.

Suspect 2:

Joseph Dumais 

Joseph Dumais was an army officer who claimed to have been completely out of it drunk with Elizabeth in San Francisco a few days before her body was found. When asked by the LAPD if he had killed Elizabeth he said ‘yes’. Some evidence suggests that he was actually on duty during the time of Elizabeth’s death and so could not have killed her.

Suspect 3:

The Cleveland torso murderer

The cleveland torso murder’s were a chain of killings that happened between 1935-1938. During the Cleveland Torso murder’s 12 people were murdered in a airy similar way to the way Elizabeth’s body was found. Although the murders happened more than 10 years before Elizabeth’s death many people believe that in someway they are connected. Is it possible that the Black Dahlia killer was inspired by the Torso Murderer and was some form of a copycat killer?  

Maybe by adding a smile to Elizabeth’s face after her death was the killers way of leaving his own mark?

Suspect 4:

The Georgettee Bauerdorf murderer 

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In 1945 a woman named Georgette Bauerdorf was found dead face down in a bathtub. Author of the book severed: the true story of the Black Dahlia, John Gilmore found several similar aspects between the murder’s of Georgette Bauredorf and Elizabeth Short and believed that Georgette’s killer was one in the same as Elizabeth’s killer.

I won’t go into too much detail on this theory as I plan to do a blog post on the conspiracy theories surrounding Georgette Bauerdorf’s murder, however you find copies of Gilmore’s book ‘Severed: the true story of the Black Dahlia’ here. 

The endless cold case

Sadly even after more than 70 years Elizabeth Shorts killer has never been brought to justice. The likelihood now is that after years of cruel games and guilt the killer has passed away, as just to be able to carry the weight of Elizabeth’s body the killer would have had to have been a fully grown adult, making them nearly 100 years old. Although many, many suspects were put forward sadly the forensic science of the 40s and the lack of police concern appeared to have failed Elizabeth, and so the chances are that the case of the Black Dahlia will forever remain Los Angeles oldest cold case.

Although the Black Dahlia has inspired many books, television shows, movies and even this blog post it is important to note that the real woman behind it all, Elizabeth Short, had a life that was ended far too soon. Elizabeth had moved to Hollywood to achieve her dreams and maybe the lesson here is a classic one, that you never know what will happen tomorrow so always make the most of what life gives you. 

For those of you interested in finding out more about the conspiracy theories surrounding the Black Dahlia here is a list of video’s, movies and books that were inspired by the case:

The Black Dahlia (2006) Movie trailer 

The Black Dahlia: Case reopened Documentary 

“I know who killed the Black Dahlia, my own father” Newspaper report on the findings of Steve Hodel 

The chilling Mystery of the Black Dahlia: A short video by Buzzfeed unsolved 

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In memory of Elizabeth Short