A BLAINE BY ANY OTHER NAME

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Film maker and journalist Richard Gaikowski has been named as a suspect in the Zodiac murders by Tom Voigt of the website Zodiackiller.com, his associate David Morris, and an informant known as “Goldcatcher.”

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Voigt’s site currently states, “NOTE: We learned of Richard Gaikowski because of the informant known as Goldcatcher… who met Richard Joseph Gaikowski (aka Dick Gyke) back in 1969 and eventually grew to suspect him of being the Zodiac killer. This has been an ongoing investigation at Zodiackiller.com since Goldcatcher made contact with us in early 2008.”

Goldcatcher had also used several other aliases, including Blaine Blaine. Using the pseudonym Zakatarious, Blaine authored the book The Secret of the Golden Calf – Towards the Foundation of a Polytheistic Psychology and the Reawakening of the Polytheistic Faith, published in 1974 in Berkeley, California.

Recently, Blaine claimed that this book served as a key element in a series of murders he called “The Golden Calf Killings.” Blaine claimed that his former friend and associate Richard Gaikowski had committed several murders and then left the image of a golden calf at the crime scenes as a message to Blaine. According to Blaine’s account, Gaikowski also confessed that he was the Zodiac killer and invited Blaine to join him in ongoing acts of shocking violence. Blaine claimed that Gaikowski used an umbrella to stab a young boy and also stabbed another victim inside a crowded supermarket. Blaine also claimed that he had seen Gaikowski kill a cabdriver named Leonard Carl Smith.

In the late 1980s, Blaine was contacting various law enforcement agencies and claiming that he had solved the Zodiac codes and identified the killer, however he never mentioned that he had witnessed any murders. Blaine’s writings demonstrate that he was unable to establish any connection between Gaikowski and Smith. Today, Blaine says that he was in the same room with both men, and that Gaikowski had even announced his intention to kill Smith, going so far as to invite Blaine to participate in the crime. Blaine also claimed that Gaikowski asked him to go to police and report that Gaikowski was the Zodiac. In the late 1980s, Blaine claimed that he had stumbled upon Gaikowski’s identity as the Zodiac, that he conducted his own “investigation,” and that Gaikowski threatened him and even killed other people in order to stop Blaine.

Blaine’s past reveals a repeated pattern of bizarre behavior, self-promotion, and sensational stories. Like the Zelig of true crime history, Blaine claims he has been moving in the shadows of many moments in history. In 2009, Blaine recorded an “Audio Confession” in which he told another version of his story. Blaine claimed that Gaikowski was somehow forcing him to participate in a criminal conspiracy to commit murder.

Well, what I am trying to say is here that Gaikowski was, uh, saying “Look, Blaine, you’ve been in these murders from the beginning.” …And then he was saying uh, “You know what, I could kill this, this guy, I don’t like this guy anyway, Leonard Smith, the guy you had sex with him, right?” And that, uh, “I’ll kill this guy and I’d go over there and um, I’m gonna k-k-kill him, and in his cab and take a ride pulling up and he will meet me someplace in his cab, right?”

According to Blaine, Gaikowski said that he would commit murder and then spray paint a “Golden calf” on the sidewalk nearby as a signature of sorts. Blaine claims that he refused to join Gaikowski in murder and called his friend “nuts.” Blaine also claimed that Gaikowski openly confessed that he had killed cabdriver Leonard Smith and that Blaine was even present at the scene during the killing, saying, “You know, I killed the guy,” and that Blaine had actually heard the shot. Blaine also claimed that Gaikowski directed Blaine to contact police and report Gaikowski as the Zodiac killer. Blaine also claimed that Gaikowski was responsible for bombings in the Bay Area, including the bombing of the Park Police station which resulted in the death of a police officer.

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Blaine claimed that he “disappeared” to Europe for a “long period of time,” and, upon his return, he visited “Ho Chi Minh park in Berkeley” where he once again encountered Richard Gaikowski. Blaine claimed that Gaikowski again referenced the Zodiac killings and again solicited Blaine’s help in a new string of murders to be known as the “Golden Calf killings,” named for Blaine’s obsessions with the Golden Calf and his own manuscript on the subject. According to Blaine, Gaikowski said, “Look you can’t escape the spirit of murder, let’s bow down to the Golden Calf. But, you’re, you’re linked in with me in this forever.” Blaine said, “…from there on, from ’83 on, then he, he dealed me back into that murderous web.” None of Blaine’s tales made any sense and all defied common sense, but his stories also contradicted his earlier accounts, proving beyond any doubt that one or both versions were untrue.

Blaine also claimed that Richard Gaikowski was somehow linked to other notorious crimes and had connections to the now-infamous Badher Meinhoff gang. Blaine claimed that he was present when Gaikowski and members of the political terror group were discussing a possible assassination attempt on then-President Ronald Reagan. Blaine claimed that he warned Gaikowski against further violence overseas, stating, “you can’t do anything like, uh, that you are doing over there California, and and and Germany and uh, get away with what, uh, was going on back then. You know, the Zodiac killings, that stuff…”

Blaine had created a long and documented history of bizarre behavior, and he made a lasting impression on all who met him. David Haldane worked as a writer for The Los Angeles Times and met Blaine during a trip to the Bay Area in 1973. Haldane’s article described his strange encounter with the man then known as “Zakatarious.”

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In 2002, Haldane wrote a follow-up article titled The Berkeley I Left Behind– Once Upon a Time, In a Land of Infinite Possibilities, Change Seemed Inevitable. And It Was.

I returned to Berkeley looking for a man with a golden calf. His name was Zakatarious, and I’d met him on the steps of Sproul Plaza in 1973. I was a reporter for the Berkeley Barb then, the venerable underground newspaper that was an icon of the country’s counterculture as it morphed from the ’60s rebellion into the human potential movement of the ’70s and ’80s. Zakatarious was a part of the story that I itched to tell.

The world was checkmated, he explained, because each of its inhabitants was trapped in a separate reality. With each believing their reality to be the one true reality, they were doomed to eternal conflict over whose single vision should prevail. His solution: become a pagan, worship the golden calf (albeit papier-mache) and usher in a new era of world peace by accepting all gods, be they religious, political or ideological.

Zakatarious was so convinced of this that he planned to mount his makeshift idol on a trailer, organize a caravan and embark on a pilgrimage across America ending on the White House lawn, where a converted President Richard M. Nixon himself would fall to his knees in awe.

Zakatarious was so convinced of this that he planned to mount his makeshift idol on a trailer, organize a caravan and embark on a pilgrimage across America ending on the White House lawn, where a converted President Richard M. Nixon himself would fall to his knees in awe.

Zakatarious was so convinced of this that he planned to mount his makeshift idol on a trailer, organize a caravan and embark on a pilgrimage across America ending on the White House lawn, where a converted President Richard M. Nixon himself would fall to his knees in awe.

The article I wrote for the Barb was decidedly sympathetic to that goal.

I later left Berkeley. Decades passed. I settled down, got married, had kids, built a career, acquired a mortgage, even voted Republican. But I never forgot Zakatarious, never entirely abandoned the memory of infinite possibilities he once had inspired. Three decades later, moved by the energizing e-mail of a wandering daughter the same age now as I was then, I’d come back to see if it could be rekindled. “I went on a three-day trek through bamboo forests and yellow rice fields,” 19-year-old Adina had written from a village in Thailand. And so I’d decided to brave the jungles of Berkeley.

Haldane also authored the book Berkeley Days: The Uncensored Memoirs of an Underground Journalist. Several excerpts from Haldane’s book focused on the man known as “Zakatatarious,” aka Blaine Blaine aka Goldcatcher.

One day, walking across the UC Berkeley campus, I saw a six-foot Golden Calf atop Sproul Steps. And prostrated at the bottom of the steps, wearing nothing less than papal robes and hats of light purple, a fat man and a thin man lay worshipping profusely. A small crowd had gathered and a curious stillness hung in the air, broken only by the almost orgasmic moans of the two men on the ground. They were perfect counterparts of one another, and under the shadow of the mute Golden Calf they lay like broken matchsticks, unevenly divided, thin butt and fat butt in the air: a true Laurel and Hardy of the Aquarian Age. For a long time the two men lay on their bellies, moaning. At precisely the same instant, they clamored to their feet in unison and faced the crowd.

“Greetings friends,” the thin man said. He was tall and angular, perhaps in his late thirties, and very nervous but extremely intelligent looking. As he spoke, he trembled and kept moving his hands around. “I am Zakatarious, a reincarnated Minoan,” the thin man said. ‘And this is my brother, Amanon the Barker.’ He had a leaflet he was passing around and he was arguing with people, gesticulating wildly with his arms, making crisp comments in quiet unstoppable torrents of verbiage.

“You know,” Zakatarious mused, “I get so tired of hearing about people who drop acid and see Jesus. Hell, I drop acid and see Greek gods and goddesses.” We were sitting in his study. I’d gotten there by climbing a spiral staircase through the ceiling of his otherwise unremarkable North Berkeley house, the kind of stairway one often associates with old libraries. The walls were covered with books, beautiful leather-bound volumes of ancient and rare history and mythology. And in the middle of it all, mounted on a stand, staring mutely over the combined knowledge of the ages, stood the Golden Calf. Zakatarious lay nearby, stretched out in his robe on a dark divan. He called this place Zwillingsbruder Sanctuary, and a sanctuary it was. There was only one rule: no women or girls.
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“The really amazing thing, though,” he said, “is the way the thing is received today” in 1973 Berkeley. Christ, I thought it would just be a lark but I’ve realized that you can’t do this just for a lark. I’ve had my life threatened twice, been investigated by a committee of rabbis and had the calf’s side kicked in a number of times.”

I couldn’t repress a smile. “Why do you think people react that way?” I asked.

“Not everyone does,” Zakatarious said. “Just the monotheists. Street people tend to worship it.”

“But how is it that a paper macheâ calf painted gold can elicit such intense reactions from people?” I pressed.

He smiled ironically. “Ah, the big question,” he said. “That’s what makes it so fascinating. You see, the Golden Calf is a portal through which you pass to the other gods. It gives people a chance to play out these old tabooed mythological religious dramas.”

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It was dinnertime. Zakatarious loved young men and his favorite was a handsome 20-something lad named Ritchie. For six years they had lived together, and every evening at this time Ritchie cooked a meal. So Zak and I moved downstairs to the kitchen and sat at a big oak table while Ritchie served roast beef and peas and corn and potatoes and salad and about a zillion other things. The meal was scrumptious. The talked turned to plans for the future. “We’d like to buy a big van,” Ritchie explained between mouthfuls. “We’d like to take the Golden Calf on the road– take it from campus to campus all over the country to just let people react.”
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I first met Al Verdad at a meeting in Zakatarious’ study. The plan was to build a 12-foot Golden Calf, mount it on a trailer, get a caravan together and embark on a pilgrimage across America that would end on the White House lawn; like pied pipers of liberation we’d be greeted by tears of joy, with Richard Nixon himself falling to his knees in acknowledgement of his sins as the sly smile of the Golden Calf and staid benevolence of paper macheâ eyes reigned over a new age of peace, hail the Golden Calf!

I arrived at the meeting early. The day had been a frustrating one filled with blank stareful hours before the typewriter with whom I shared life. I arrived at the house around 9 p.m., gained admittance, glided past the ancient printing press on the ground floor and up the spiraling antique staircase to the sanctuary. Besides myself, there were four males present. One was Amanon the Barker, hanging in all directions over his chair like a mound of kneaded dough or, more aptly, a drunken Roman emperor after the orgy. And young Ritchie. Hands on his hips, he leaned against the mantel surveying the scene like a prince returned from the wars. Next to him, a youth I’d never seen knelt before the fireplace pushing logs around with a poker. And stretched out on the couch lay another stranger. It was this man that most immediately commanded my attention, for he was wearing a sleek black pair of women’s panties with a hole cut in the crotch for his penis, which hung out quite unabashedly.

At first the man seemed asleep, but suddenly he leapt up from the couch and bounded towards me with an outstretched hand, his penis waving like a flag. I hesitated a moment, not sure which to grab, finally deciding on the hand. “I’m Al Verdad,” he said. “I’m running for mayor.”

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One member of Zodiackillerfacts.com contacted David Haldane (this member wishes to remain anonymous). Mr. Haldane had no prior knowledge of Blaine’s connection to the Zodiac case and did not know Gaikowski. Haldane listened to a portion of Blaine’s so-called “Audio Confession” and offered these thoughts and memories via email.

Haven’t listened to the whole thing yet, but that’s definitely Zakatarious. I recognize certain patterns of speech and the timing is right; he says he went back to Berkeley to do the Golden Calf thing in 1974 which, I believe, is the year I ran into him. Also, the story about taking the Calf up to campus — that’s actually where I first met him, doing his schtick up there, and I remember him telling me about the guy who attacked the Calf. He was then — and apparently still is now — able to spin a great yarn. First, remembering how crazy he was back then, he doesn’t have a lot of credibility with me (and apparently not with the cops either). More importantly, though, it’s striking how perfectly this whole story fits into his own Blaine-created Golden Calf mythology, which always puts him at the center of great drama of historic (Biblical, actually) proportions that always involves the Golden Calf. Why a Golden Calf? Obviously, because it’s such a powerful symbol to him.

This really does blow my mind. Mainly because it’s so incredible that he’s still talking about the Golden Calf almost in the same way now as he was then, though obviously with somewhat more distance. I suspect it’s all part of a life-long psychosis featuring some hallucinations of self grandeur that are stunningly persistent. I seem to remember he was calling himself Blaine Blaine back then. And there was another big guy –Amanon the Barkerâ– who hung out with him (I think I wrote about him in the book). Also remember one of his pals telling me, in secret, about all the ugly and threatening things Blaine was saying about me outside my earshot– sort of hateful, antisemitic things. Never had any direct evidence of that, just hearsay, but it was quite different from the character he presented to me in my role as a journalist.

David

Blaine’s history of bizarre behavior and wild claims continued as he contacted the mother of deceased author John Kennedy Toole. The story of Toole’s death played a key part in yet another elaborate fantasy created by the attention-seeking Blaine.

John Kennedy Toole (December 17, 1937 – March 26, 1969) was an American novelist from New Orleans, Louisiana, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces. Toole’s novels remained unpublished during his lifetime. Some years after his suicide, his mother, Thelma Toole, brought the manuscript of Dunces to the attention of novelist Walker Percy, who ushered the book into print. In 1981, Toole was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction… Toole disappeared on January 20, 1969, after a dispute with his mother. Receipts found in his car show that he drove to the West Coast and then to Milledgeville, Georgia. Here he visited the home of deceased writer Flannery O’Connor. It was during what is assumed to be a trip back to New Orleans that Toole stopped outside Biloxi, Mississippi, on March 26, 1969, and committed suicide by running a garden hose from the exhaust pipe in through the window of his car. An envelope was left on the dashboard of the car and was marked “to my parents”. However, the suicide note inside the envelope was destroyed by his mother. He was buried at Greenwood Cemetery in New Orleans. ( Source: Wikipedia )

The Zfacts member who contacted writer David Haldane also provided the following information:

In 1981, Blaine wrote series of letters to the mother of John Kennedy Toole, concerning literary agents Gotlieb and Meredith who rejected him. I sent away for copies, there 4 letters, 7 pages, all complaining and threatening G and M for not going forth with the fiction novel Blaine was writing “In Dark Despair.” He compares himself to Toole (also apparently rejected), and goes so far as to accuse G and M of the murder of Toole (his committing suicide over the rejection) and vows to fight G and M “to the death.” [The letters are available as part of the Toole collection.]

San Francisco Police Inspector Mike Maloney reportedly described Blaine as one of his “top three kooks.” Detective Ken Narlow of the Napa Country Sheriff’s Office and Department of Justice Agent Fred Shirasago also dismissed Blaine’s ongoing efforts to implicate Gaikowski. FBI experts rejected Blaine’s proposed solutions to the Zodiac codes, and every law enforcement agency he contacted refused to investigate his claims. Now assisted by Tom Voigt, the owner of the website Zodiackiller.com, Blaine has been able to resurrect his credibility and reinvent himself for the modern age of the Internet media. Voigt has endorsed Blaine as a credible informant while promoting Richard Gaikowski as a prime suspect in the Zodiac murders. Voigt relies on Blaine’s statements and a dubious selection of seemingly damning information used to create the image of Gaikowski as a deranged killer hiding behind the mask of a radical counter-culture journalist.

Blaine Blaine aka Goldcatcher and Tom Voigt
Those who knew Richard Gaikowski do not believe that he was the Zodiac, nor do they believe that he was the kind of person who would destroy innocent lives. Those who knew Blaine do not believe his stories and they do not believe that he is a credible person. Blaine has offered conflicting and differing accounts of the same events and has repeatedly changed key parts of his stories over time. At one time, Blaine claimed that Gaikowski had been arrested after an altercation with Zodiac victim Darlene Ferrin and then lost his job as a reporter. In truth, Gaikowski had been working on a story about jailhouse conditions and orchestrated his arrest and jail-time in order to write about the experience; he was not fired, and the story was published. The details regarding Darlene Ferrin have since faded from Blaine’s version of events. Both Tom Voigt and David Morris continue to promote Blaine as a credible informant.

Last year, I posted my article regarding the history of Blaine’s claims titled DEFAMING THE DEAD. Using Blaine’s own writings and words, I demonstrated that Blaine has been telling at least two different versions of the same story, that he has been changing major elements of his stories and adding new details, and that he cannot be considered a credible, reliable, or honest informant. In response to my article, Blaine wrote a lengthy message which was posted on the main page of Zodiackiller.com. Blaine complained:

… Butterfield compares the 1987 manuscript to a 2009 tape cassette called GOLDCATCHER’S CONFESSION in order to “prove” contradictions, thus is immoral and intellectually dishonest… Oh, and regardless of what Butterfield believes, I DID WITNESS GAIKOWSKI MURDER LEONARD SMITH on 7/31/1986… Butterfield does not understand the true story of Goldcatcher and the Zodiac, and it is because it is my story to tell and not his. And when he tries to tell it he only ends up grinding his axe.

In Blaine’s universe, I am simply yet another in a long line of critics who has refused to recognize his “true genius.”

Now, as for the question of my sanity, or if I am a crackpot or kook etc., anyone who has a depth of knowledge of the the rise and fall of empires, kings, and scholars, would know that there always comes a time in the work of true genius, a period of severe rejectance, bitter testing and great opposition… The reason that poison-mushroom people like Butterfield and those of his ilk rise up and oppose genius is always because they represent the antipodes of mind.

The man known as Blaine Blaine, Goldcatcher, and Zakatarious had been accusing Richard Gaikowski for more than two decades yet he was unable to find anyone who would endorse him as a credible informant until he met Tom Voigt and David Morris. If I am to represent the antipodes of Blaine’s mind, I am proud to join the ranks of SFPD Inspector Mike Maloney, NCSO Det. Ken Narlow, DOJ Agent Fred Shirasago, SFPD Inspector Napoleon Hendrix, the FBI, every law enforcement agency Blaine ever contacted, David Haldane, and virtually anyone with character and common sense.

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