Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Zodiac Killer

More Threats

The abduction attempt near Modesto was the last time anyone knowingly saw the Zodiac in person.  His letter-writing campaign, however, was to continue for some time.  The next mailing was sent to the Chronicle on April 20th, and included a short code and the plans for a modified bus bomb.

This is the Zodiac Speaking By the way have you cracked the last cipher I sent you?  My name is -- 

I am mildly cerous as to how much money you have on my head now.  I hope you do not think that I was the one who wiped out that blue meannie with a bomb at the cop station.  Even though I talked about killing school children with one.  It just wouldn't doo to move in on someone else's teritory.  But there is more glory in killing a cop than a cid because a cop can shoot back.  I have killed ten people to date.  It would have been a lot more except that my bus bomb was a dud.  I was swamped out by the rain we had a while back.

The new bomb is set up like this

PS I hope you have fun trying to figgure out who I killed 

[crossed-circle] – 10     SFPD - 0 

Although the word "cerous" in this letter is routinely corrected as a misspelling of "curious," it is in fact an English word defined by Webster as "Of, relating to, or containing cerium." Cerium is the most abundant of the rare-earth elements, number 58 on the periodic table. The phrase "blue meanie" is almost certainly a reference to the uniformed ogres in The Beatles' animated film, The Yellow Submarine, which was released in 1968; it soon gained popularity as a counter-culture euphemism for police.

The latest bus threat went unreported until later that month, when a note arrived at the Chronicle demanding its publication. Postmarked 28 April 1970, the note was written on a "Jolly Roger" brand greeting card featuring a cartoon prospector riding a dragon and the pun "Sorry to hear your ass is a dragon."

The dragon postcard
The dragon postcard

I hope you enjoy your selves when I have my Blast

P.S. on back

If you don't want me to have this blast you must do two things.  1 Tell everyone about the bus bomb with all the details.  2 I would like to see some nice Zodiac butons wandering about town.  Every one else has these buttons like, [peace symbol], black power, Melvin eats bluber, etc.  Well it would cheer me up considerably if I saw a lot of people wearing my buton.  Please no nasty ones like Melvin's

Thank you 

An unspecified number of latent fingerprints were developed on this card and its envelope by San Francisco Police evidence technicians shortly after its receipt.  One SFPD Inspector noted that, while the envelope prints could have been left by a mail carrier, the prints on the card itself were probably those of the Zodiac 1

The slogan "Melvin eats bluber" may have its roots in an old novelty button favored by at least one college English professor that read "Melville Eats Blubber."  The bomb threat was finally revealed to the public on April 29, 1970, but the schematics (described as "dubious" 2) were not published until 1986, when they were reproduced in Graysmith's ZODIAC.

The next letter was sent to the Chronicle on June 26.  It contained another code and a Phillips 66 road map of the Bay Area, which was annotated with a stylized clock face drawn on the summit of Mount Diablo.  The design was basically the Zodiac's crossed-circle with a zero at the top, a numeral three on the right side, a six at the bottom, and a nine on the left.  According to the annotation, the zero " is to be set to Mag. N."

This is the Zodiac Speaking

I have become very angry with the people of the San Fran Bay Area.  They have not complied with my wishes for them to wear some nice [crossed-circle]  buttons.  I promiced to punish them if they did not comply, by anilating a full School Buss.  But now school is out for the summer, so I punished them in another way.  I shot a man sitting in a parked car with a .38.

The Map coupled with this code will tell you where the bomb is set.  You have untill next Fall to dig it up. 

The only Bay Area shooting in recent memory that had been committed with a .38-caliber weapon was that of SFPD Officer Richard Radetich, who was shot to death in his car while writing out a traffic ticket six days before this letter was postmarked.  A witness to the murder identified ex-convict Joseph Wesley Johnson, a black man who bore no resemblance to any description of the Zodiac, as the shooter, and SFPD officials were adamant that the letter's claim was false.  Most investigators agree that the Zodiac was capitalizing on Radetich's murder and wrote the letter without the knowledge that police had already identified a suspect.


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