Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Zodiac Killer

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The wealth of factors pointing to Allen's innocence has led many armchair investigators to approach the record looking for loopholes in the truth. When Allen's fingerprints didn't match the crime scene prints, doubt was cast on their legitimacy despite law enforcement's confidence in them. When his handwriting didn't match the Zodiac's, a photo-enlarger setup was proposed. When Allen passed a grueling 10-hour polygraph test, he was labeled a sociopath who could beat the machine. One wonders what it would take to get around an exclusion based on DNA evidence, should such evidence arise.

In proposing incriminating circumstantial evidence, Allen's accusers add their own loopholes. Allen can be "placed" in Riverside in 1966 - but can just as easily be "placed" in Santa Rosa. Cheney's account is often cited - but not his egregious timing or the numerous changes in his story. Spinelli's story is also given credence - but his acrimonious relationship with Allen, imminent prison time, and 20-year silence are played down. Allen is said to have had access to a car like one seen by a victim - but the truth is that Allen had lost access to that car when he was fired from a job three months before the attack. 1 Allen had mysterious coded letters in a strongbox - but they were sent to him by a patient at Atascadero.  The Zodiac letters are said to have stopped while Allen was at Atascadero - but the letters stopped eight months before Allen was incarcerated, and the one received upon his release was a phony. A convicted child molester, Allen was, like the Zodiac, interested in "little kiddies" - but pedophiles that kill outside of their target group are incredibly rare. In the aggregate, the coincidences are compelling, but when each is scrutinized, the case against Allen becomes a ball of string: pull on it, and it falls apart.

In the final analysis, only one article exists that could serve to tie Allen to the Zodiac case, and this is the Sea Wolf wristwatch given to him by his mother. She died January 10, 1989. Hardly a conclusive link to the murders, or evidence of anything except a mother's generosity, it was seized by Vallejo police during their 1991 raid on Allen's apartment. Despite his repeated requests, it was never returned. Legally blind, stricken with diabetes and kidney failure, the target of a campaign of innuendo that dogged him to the last, Arthur Leigh Allen died without it 18 months later.


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