Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Zodiac Killer

Ferrin and Mageau

Six months later, shortly after 12:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 5, 1969, Darlene Elizabeth Ferrin, 22, and Michael Renault Mageau, 19, were shot as they sat in Ferrin's car in the parking lot of the Blue Rock Springs Golf Course.  According to Mageau's statements to police in the days that followed, Ferrin had picked him up at his house about half an hour earlier, and they were going to get a bite to eat when Darlene said that she wanted to talk to him about something.  At Mageau's suggestion, she turned around on Springs Road and headed east to Blue Rock Springs Park in Benicia, a spot popular with local teenagers cruising after dark.

Ferrin turned off the car's headlights and motor but left the radio playing.  After just a few minutes, three cars occupied by some young revelers entered the parking lot briefly, laughing, yelling, and throwing firecrackers.  They drove off shortly thereafter, and Ferrin and Mageau were left alone again until about midnight, when another car, alone this time, pulled into the lot from the direction of Vallejo.  Its lone occupant turned off the car's headlights and pulled up next to Ferrin's car, six to eight feet away on her left.  

The car, a brown Ford Mustang or Chevy Corvair, idled there for a moment, and Mageau asked Ferrin if she knew the driver, to which she responded, "Oh, never mind."  Mageau later said that he wasn't sure whether this meant that she did or didn't know the driver, but before he could inquire further the car pulled out and drove off at high speed back toward Vallejo.

After about five minutes, the brown car returned to the parking lot and pulled up behind and to the right of Ferrin and Mageau, about 10 feet back.  Leaving his headlights on this time, the driver exited his vehicle with a bright lamp or flashlight.  Obscuring his face by holding the light at arm's length and shining it directly at them, he walked silently up to the passenger's side door.  

From his manner, Mageau thought he might be a policeman, and was reaching for his ID when the man raised a handgun and fired five 9mm rounds through the window.  He shot first at Mageau, hitting him in the face and body: at such close range, several of the slugs tore through his flesh and entered Darlene.  

Fueled by pain and adrenaline, Michael kicked himself into the back seat, catching another bullet in his left knee.  The attacker then fired at Ferrin, hitting her in each arm and in the back as she turned away.  Mageau thought that the shots sounded quiet, perhaps fired through a silencer, but nearby resident George Bryant heard both the earlier firecrackers and the shots, and described the shots as much louder.

The killer was walking back to his car after this volley of shots when he heard Mageau begin to yell, either in pain or in rage.  He returned to Ferrin's car, fired two additional shots at each of the victims, then turned around casually and got back in his own car.  

Mageau was able to catch a look at the man's face in profile, and described him as short, about 5'8" tall, but extremely heavyset.  Though "not blubbery fat"  the man was at least 195 pounds and had a large face.  In terrible pain but still conscious, Mageau managed to turn the car's blinkers on in an attempt to summon aid, then opened the passenger's side door and tumbled to the pavement.  

From there, he watched the attacker peel out, turn his car around, and drive back in the direction of Vallejo.  Though the Zodiac would later claim that he remained under the speed limit after the attack, both Mageau and George Bryant reported that he left the scene at a high rate of speed.

Several police cars and an ambulance soon arrived, summoned by more late-night teenaged drivers who had discovered the car and victims, but the aid they could offer was too little and too late for Darlene, who died in the ambulance with Mageau and Officer Richard Hoffman of the Vallejo PD.  Mageau went straight into surgery, but Darlene was not so lucky: she was pronounced Dead on Arrival at Kaiser Foundation Hospital at 12:38 a.m.


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