How Old Was The Zodiac?

General Discussion of the case history and details.

How Old Was The Zodiac?

Postby AK Wilks » Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:30 pm

This interesting discussion started in the James Owen topic, but it was getting off that topic, but I think it is important enough so I just started a seperate topic. In general the debate usually revolves around a younger Zodiac - 25 to 30 range - or an older Zodiac - 35 to 45 range. Some suspects, like Kane, Tarrance, Mr. X, Hodell and others, would fall into the older range. Lawrence Kane was 45 years old in 1969. I think Mr. X, Tarrance and Hodell were even older than Kane. Ted Kaczynski was 27 in 1969. Arthur "Lee" Allen was 36 years old in 1969. Richard Gaikowski was 33 in 1969. The suspect of onewhoknows named Peter Plante was 20 years old in 1969.

Thanks to Quagmire, Welsh Chappie and others for contributing to this debate.

What other evidence do we have as to the age of Zodiac?

QUAGMIRE: The girls at LB said the guy they saw was about 28-30. Pretty much exactly the same as Mageau, the kids at Presdio Heights and Kathleen Johns (if indeed it was Z she encountered). Fouke's the only one that said 35-45.

WELSH CHAPPIE: Berryessa Police Report:

"Dean _____ advised that three young ladies, students at the college, might possibly have information as to a suspect in the Lake B. attack. The young ladies were Miss Joanne ____, Miss Linda ___ and Miss Linda ____. Dean ____ advised that the girls had been in the Lake B. area from about 3:00 to 4:30pm the previous Saturday. They had observed a lone male subject in a late model, silver blue Chevrolet. Dean ____ advised that the girls told him that they were observed out of the car by the suspect while they were sunbathing on the beach. They described the subject as approx. 40 years old, 6 ft tall, and dressed in dark clothing."

That's the collective statement, and if memory serves me, in their individual statements they subsequently gave, one girl estimated his age to be approx. 28, another estimated it to be 40, and I can't remember the third.

QUAGMIRE: I can't remember what each of the ages given were but definitely remember that they didn't decide on the suspect being in his 40s. I seemed to remember the girls saying 28,30 and 40 & that police agreed that probably about 28-30 was the higher probability but my memory might be letting me down here!

QUAGMIRE: After a bit more digging, here's the second witness who put the suspect as about 30:

http://www.zodiackiller.com/LBReport10.html

WELSH CHAPPIE: "I can't remember what each of the ages given were but definitely remember that they didn't decide on the suspect being in his 40s."

Well they definitely did say he was in his 40's because it is recorded in the official police report.

"I seemed to remember the girls saying 28,30 and 40 & that police agreed that probably about 28-30 was the higher probability."

Where does It say that the police agreed with the late 20's age range? I have never seen that.

Anyway, his age is, like his identity, a matter of opinion. But the basis for my being of the opinion that Zodiac was in his late 30's/early to mid 40's is, above all else, Don Fouke's witness description. As I have previously stated, the man Don saw on Jackson St was almost certainly the Zodiac because he was wearing pleated trousers, a navy blue derby type jacket with flap down collar and wearing engineering type boots, which is an identical clothing description given by Bryan Hartnell of Zodiac's attire at Berryessa. Don Fouke is a trained observer, it's essential as part of the job he does and he stated that the White Male he saw that night on Jackson St was between the ages of 35 and 45. Don even made a point of telling Dave Toschi that the sketch released of the offender is similar to the man he saw, but that the man was older and heavier than he appears in the sketch.


AK WILKS: The LB girls did NOT collectively say he was in his 40's. The man "Dean ____ " told police that is what the girls told him, but it is not what the girls actually said. It was second hand hearsay information. Either Dean heard them wrong, and/or the policeman heard Dean wrong. We know what the girls actually said because it is in the other report. Always rely on first hand descriptions when you can, not second person hearsay. There is a reason hearsay is generally not admissable in court. Witness descriptions in general are often wrong, and can vary depending on light, angle, distance and other factors. Police reports are full of mistakes. But when you get into hearsay you introduce another factor to lead to mistakes, misinterpretations and variances.

Quag points out that one LB witness says 28 years old, another 30 years old. In the book Zodiac Unmasked, Graysmith interviews a LB witness who says "mid-thirties", though she rejected a picture of Allen in his thirties and instead picked out a photo of a young and trim Allen as looking somewhat like the man she saw. [Maybe it was this picture from 1949 when Allen was just 16: http://www.zodiackiller.com/SwimTeam.html or this one from 1950 http://www.zodiackiller.com/AllenGraduation.html ]

And the police operater said the man's voice was "young, early twenties".

Add to that Mageau stating 25 to 30 and Johns stating 30. And the SF kids saying 25 to 35.

The outlier here is Fouke saying 35 to 45. And while he is a trained observor, he states he was looking for a black male and only saw this man briefly from a moving car. WC you or anyone else can rely on Fouke and exclude everything else if you wish. You say its a matter of opinion, but the majority of eye and ear witnesses to Zodiac place him as significantly younger. I look at ALL the reports and devise a consensus - about 23 to 33 IMO generally, and more specifically I would look to 25 to 30 as being the most accurate range.
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Re: How Old Was The Zodiac?

Postby AK Wilks » Fri Feb 14, 2014 7:11 pm

WELSH CHAPPIE: "A Male voice, young sounding, possibly in his twenties..." Dave Slaight based the age range of the suspect by the sound of his voice, he never saw Zodiac on a lit street under good lighting conditions.

AK WILKS: Of course, I said he was an EAR witness. People can give it whatever weight they want. I think it is hard for a man in his 40's to sound like a man in his "early twenties" so I choose to give it some weight.

WELSH CHAPPIE: "And while he is a trained observor, he states he was looking for a black male and only saw this man briefly from a moving car."

So by that your implying that Fouke wouldn't have paid too much attention to Zodiac, nor took too much notice because Zodiac was white? Fouke said this of the Male on Jackson:

"I noticed, on the north side of the street, a white male adult dressed in a derby, or thee-quarter waist length jacket, with elastic at the waist and on the cuffs and a regular flap down collar. He had a crew cut. He was wearing rust coloured pleated trousers, unusual for the time. He had on engineering type boots, low cut show, tan in colour."

Does that sound like an eye witness description from a witness that was not paying much attention to the man on Jackson because he was white? Fouke recalled a tremendous amount of detail about the suspect's clothing that night, so I shall logically assume he did the same regarding the suspect facial features and his age.

AK WILKS: Those are good points. But Fouke is the one who qualified that he was looking for a black male, did not talk to this man and only saw him briefly from a moving car. Anyone can give whatever weight they wish to Fouke's description, but I don't think it makes sense to disregard totally ALL the other age descriptions. At least one police officer thinks Fouke did NOT see Zodiac, as Z would have been covered with blood. I think Fouke probably did see Z that night, but I balance his description against all the others to come to a consensus. If anything, even giving weight to Fouke's account but considering the qualifications, looking at all the other age descriptions, we might tend towards the lower end of his description - 35 - then the highest end - 45.
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Re: How Old Was The Zodiac?

Postby Quagmire » Fri Feb 14, 2014 7:36 pm

I'll be the first to chime in here with my thoughts. We know that via several different witnesses, the reported estimated age for Zodiac seems to range from approximately 25 - 45. Firstly, I will say that my belief is that Z is definitely between those ages. Not in his 50s and not in his teens. If he was to be outside that range I would say he might just about possibly be early 20's but look a little older as would most seriously deranged people who had a traumatic upbringing - you know, the type of kid who could get served alcohol or cigarettes a couple of years early.

The majority of witnesses do state around the 25 -30 age range and my belief is that he was somewhere around there - I'd expand that to 24-34 if we bend things to allow for Fouke's outlying estimate. This pretty much covers every witness apart from Fouke who said 35-45 but if Z was indeed about 33 or 34 then Fouke was only a year or so out with his lower estimate which wouldn't have been bad for a guy who is on record as stating that he only saw Z for a matter of seconds from a moving car in the dark.

I think it is easier to cling on to a particular witness statement if someone has a preconceived idea of who they think (or allegedly know) Z is. If you're set on Mr X, Kane or Guy Ward Hendrickson and believe Z was 45-50s then it's probably natural that most witness statements will be ignored and Fouke is the sole important witness for whatever reason. If you're set on Z being some college mate of Cecelia or a spurned boyfriend of Betty Lou's or your 19 year old ex-husband then Fouke was mistaken, it wasn't Z that he saw and Bryan Hartnell was correct for guessing that Z's voice was in his early 20's so therefore he was definitely right & the rest all got it wrong.

IMO it's no good ignoring 80% of witness statements and cherry picking just one to try and fit a suspect. Some witnesses will have no doubt got it wrong but when there is a general trend in the data gained from the vast majority of witnesses, it is usually best to concentrate on that area. We need to make the suspect fit all the evidence, not make the evidence fit our preconceived suspect. Riverside police did that and look where it got them.
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Re: How Old Was The Zodiac?

Postby snooter » Fri Feb 14, 2014 8:39 pm

at time of CJB im going with 22-25..
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Re: How Old Was The Zodiac?

Postby CaptainJ » Sat Feb 15, 2014 8:57 am

25 - 35 yrs old seems like a pretty good age range at the time of the confirmed Zodiac killings, though I lean toward the older side of that. I'm less comfortable with a much younger suspect (e.g., 19 or 20), because it would make it less likely that he would have been involved in the Cheri Jo Bates, Robert Domingos, and Linda Edwards murders, which I believe were early Z crimes.
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Re: How Old Was The Zodiac?

Postby glurk » Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:17 am

I'll add my two cents here, for what they are worth. The first thing I'd say is that this question might be better phrased as AK asked above-

"How old was Zodiac in 1969?" Giving a reference date eliminates some confusion, I think, because of POIs / unconfirmed victims / etc.

And I don't have any firm answer here, myself, but based on the call to Nancy Slover:

"I want to report a murder. If you will go one mile east on Columbus Parkway you will find kids in a brown car. They were shot with a nine millimeter Luger. I also killed those kids last year. Goodbye."

Not only did he say "kids," he said so twice. To me, and just my opinion, that puts him at the higher end of the age scale, probably 30+

I just can't see Zodiac being in the same age range as his victims and calling them "kids."

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Re: How Old Was The Zodiac?

Postby onewhoknows » Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:33 pm

How about we eliminate anyone who "thinks" they saw the Zodiac Killer.
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Re: How Old Was The Zodiac?

Postby pittsburgh_phil » Sun Feb 16, 2014 3:51 am

CaptainJ wrote:25 - 35 yrs old seems like a pretty good age range at the time of the confirmed Zodiac killings, though I lean toward the older side of that. I'm less comfortable with a much younger suspect (e.g., 19 or 20), because it would make it less likely that he would have been involved in the Cheri Jo Bates, Robert Domingos, and Linda Edwards murders, which I believe were early Z crimes.

I agree with you. I think he may have been in his early thirties to late 20's about the time of the confirmed Z murders. Some of the things he mentions in his letters smacks of someone who is older than 19 or 20. But if he is older, in his 40's like some people say he is someone who keeps up with the pop culture of the time and co-ops the speech pattern of younger adults, could have been some sort of proto-hippy.
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Re: How Old Was The Zodiac?

Postby CaptainJ » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:52 am

onewhoknows wrote:How about we eliminate anyone who "thinks" they saw the Zodiac Killer.


Which ones and how is that helfpu? That said, I'm pretty sure you're talking about Officer Fouke; it's almost certain he saw Zodiac, so not sure why we would eliminate his account.
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Re: How Old Was The Zodiac?

Postby Welsh Chappie » Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:06 pm

Quag....

"The majority of witnesses do state around the 25 -30 age range and my belief is that he was somewhere around there"

Show me one witness who saw Zodiac under street lighting conditions, from a 'face to face' view (not side on after having a light shone into his face like Megeau) and stated that the Zodiac was in his twenties?
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