The Zodiac’s next known attack occurred at Lake Berryessa, north of Napa, California. The man-made lake attracted visitors who enjoyed boating, fishing, picnicking and other activities, and the recreation area was also home to the famous “Berryessa Bowl,” a music venue which featured many of the most popular bands and performers of the time.
On the afternoon of September 27, 1969, college students and friends Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard had settled along the shore of Lake Berryessa for a relaxing afternoon visit. According to Bryan, he and Cecelia were lying on the ground along the shoreline when she noticed a man lingering in the shade of some trees nearby. Suddenly he appeared wearing a bizarre, hooded costume that had a white crossed-circle stitched onto the front. The assailant held the frightened coeds at gunpoint as he explained that he intended to rob them and make his escape. Bryan and Cecilia were bound with clothesline, and, just as they had hoped that the ordeal was about to end in mere inconvenience, the hooded stranger set upon them with a foot-long knife. When the savage attack was over, the stranger simply walked away and left his victims in agony. After a valiant battle for her life, Cecelia died several days later. Bryan survived to describe the terrifying experience.
To prove he was responsible for the stabbing, the Zodiac used a black marker to draw a large crossed-circle on the door of Bryan’s car. Below his symbol, the killer listed the dates of the two shootings and added the notation, “Sept 27 69 6:30 by knife.”
At 7:40 pm, the Napa County Police Department received a call that had been placed from a telephone booth located a few blocks away. Officer David Slaight listened as the caller said in a low, monotone voice, “I want to report a murder – no, a double murder. They are two miles north of park headquarters. They were in a white Volkswagen Karman Ghia.” Slaight asked the man to provide his location, but the voice only grew more distant as the caller replied, “I’m the one who did it.”
Authorities produced sketches of the killer in costume as well as drawings of a man seen in the area on the day of the stabbing.
LAKE BERRYESSA LINKS
THE SCENE OF THE CRIME
The Zodiac’s Message: The Car Door
The Phone Booth
THE SUSPECT and PERSONS OF INTEREST
Read the reports produced by the Napa County Sheriff’s Department and other agencies, including: