Shortly after the release of his book, Amerithrax, Robert Graysmith appeared on the radio program, “A CLOSER LOOK,” broadcast on the Paranet Continuum Network. Known for content devoted almost exclusively to UFO and conspiracy theories, the network features interviews with guests who tell sensational and often unbelievable tales. Many of Graysmith’s statements about the Zodiac investigation and his suspect, Arthur Leigh Allen, proved less than accurate upon a closer look.
“…And, when you start to look at this fellah, and you go to Vallejo, California, a little city, a little town to the North of San Francisco, and you see the layout, and, you see that this guy lived, literally, you could take a rock and hit, a minor part of a block, hit the restaurant where the third Zodiac victim worked. And, this guy is like, you know, even though he’s potentially gay, he’s a child molester, for the first time in his life, he met a woman he was interested in, and, so this woman moves, and, the Zodiac crimes, and, she knows the first two victims, and, he shows up at a party, and, the odd things about this was it was a painting party. Apparently, this waitress had come into some money from somewhere and she bought a new house. This mysterious guy that looks like Zodiac shows up, dressed in a business suit, doesn’t join in with the painting, and the rest of the party, and she’s absolutely terrified. All she would say was his name was Lee and she once saw him murder someone. Well, this guy later admitted, that’s why his family turned him into police, he was showing up at parties wearing a suit and just a lot of really odd, he apparently knew all the victims. So, I’m ok, that’s a very interesting suspect, I like that, but the fact is, for the third victim, a, there’s a pair of kids up at this lake. This is a very remote lake, well, finally, I got up to this lake on exactly the same day the murders had happened, September 26, 1969. I went up around the same time of year, and, I just kept going through these records, and, it turns out there were only ten people at this remote lake, this is way up (unintelligible), and one of them is Arthur Leigh Allen. He admits it in letters from prison, he’s identified by the three young coeds that he was shadowing, and they noticed him, uh, he, his voice was identified by the young man who able to survive the stabbing, and, even though he was, the killer was wearing a hood. And, eventually, you just say the odds of him knowing the first, second and the third victim, but in all, and to be turned in twice before as the Zodiac. Uh, the odds of him being up at this lake, and, being there, and knowing about this crime ahead of time, and being within sight, within a hundred yards wearing the same kind of unique shoes sold only on military bases, they’re for walking on planes, that’s what they made these Wing Walkers for. And, I’m just saying, that pretty unbelievable. When you start looking at the facts of that he’d gotten the watch with the Zodiac symbol and it was called Zodiac watch, he’d gotten this on the 18th of December and the murders started on December 20. So, after you get about a thousand of these things, and you take a look at the guy, and, I’ve met him many, many times, and I’ve talked to his parole officer, watched him at work. I mean, you pretty much come away with the sense that this is the guy, but they’ve never been able to link him to the letters. His handwriting’s close, but the experts say it’s not his. So, that’s the glitch, that’s why this man was never arrested. Of course, Zodiac had said, I’ve got a basement full of bombs and guns and stuff and then this guy, they go into his basement, what’d they get? Guns and bombs and the Zodiac bomb formula, and all these, he was a chemist, he had, uh, just everything you’d expect to have, he was the right height, the right weight, and the age. And, you did point out that he was different. Leigh Allen is different in one respect, a lot of killer, uh, especially serial killers, we know, start about, they burn out at age thirty. Zodiac, as far as we could tell, began when he was between thirty-five and forty-five – that was the description from the officers who saw him and the witnesses…”
- He met a woman he was interested in. More than thirty years of investigation by investigators, researchers and amateur sleuths have failed to produce any credible evidence to indicate that Arthur Leigh Allen had ever met or known victim Darlene Ferrin.
- She knows the first two victims. No credible evidence exists to indicate that Darlene Ferrin had known any of the Zodiac victims, and Graysmith does not provide any information to substantiate this claim.
- He shows up at a party. Allen could not have attended any party held by Darlene Ferrin if he had never met or known her, and no one has produced any credible evidence to indicate that Allen had ever been to Darlene’s home.
- It was a painting party. None of the many witnesses interviewed after Darlene’s murder ever mentioned this party, and there is no credible evidence to indicate that such a party ever took place at Darlene’s home. Dean Ferrin, Darlene’s husband, has stated that no painting party ever occurred in the house.
- This waitress had come into some money from somewhere and she bought a new house. Darlene was able to purchase the home with the assistance of her father, and there is no evidence to indicate that she had “come into some money” or had any suspicious source of income.
- All she would say was his name was Lee and she once saw him murder someone. This statement has no basis in fact, and none of the witnesses who knew or worked with Darlene Ferrin ever reported this information to police.
- That’s why his family turned him into police. Police reports and members of Allen’s family confirm that they did not turn him into police and they did not suspect that he was the Zodiac.
- He apparently knew all the victims. No one has produced any credible evidence to indicate that Allen knew even one, much less all of the Zodiac victims.
- September 26, 1969 The stabbing at Lake Berryessa occurred on September 27, 1969.
- I just kept going through these records. No such records exist. No state, county, city or government agency initiates or maintains records of the individuals who visit Lake Berryessa, or most of the other recreation sites across the United States, and did not do so in September 1969.
- There were only ten people at this remote lake. As no such records exist, Graysmith could not have reached this conclusion using such documents. If Graysmith, in fact, is referring to reports detailing the investigation conducted by the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, these records merely reflect the number of witnesses identified by law enforcement or those who came forward with information. Many more people were at the lake on the day in question, and Graysmith cannot honestly claim to know the number, let alone the identities, of these visitors.
- One of them is Arthur Leigh Allen. He admits it in letters from prison. As no such records exist, Graysmith could not have used these documents to determine that Allen had been at the lake that day. No credible evidence exists to place Allen at this crime scene, and Graysmith has not produced the letters in which Allen allegedly admitted he had been there on the day in question.
- He’s identified by the three young coeds that he was shadowing. Graysmith has yet to substantiate this claim.
- His voice was identified by the young man who able to survive the stabbing. This witness, Bryan Hartnell, told investigators that there was nothing about Allen’s physical appearance or voice that would include or exclude him as a suspect. According to official documents and Hartnell himself, he did not identify Allen’s voice as being at all similar to that of the killer.
- Wearing the same kind of unique shoes. No evidence exists to indicate that Allen ever wore or owned a pair of Wing Walker boots. Only one person claimed to have seen Allen wearing these boots, and this witness did not come forward until after Graysmith had linked Allen to the boots in his first book. This witness is also the source for many other unsubstantiated and sensational claims about Allen.
- He’d gotten the watch with the Zodiac symbol and it was called Zodiac watch, he’d gotten this on the 18th of December and the murders started on December 20. Allen’s mother had given him and his brother, Ron, the same watches as Christmas gifts in December 1967. Ron Allen and his mother provided this timing of the gift, and the date prominently appeared in the very police reports that Graysmith claims to cite on this issue.
- That’s why this man was never arrested. Authorities had many reasons to support the decision not to arrest Allen, and, chief among them was the fact that no credible evidence existed to indicate that he was responsible for the crimes, and the available evidence, including fingerprints and handwriting, appeared to clear him as a suspect.
During the interview, Graysmith made more than 17 inaccurate, unsubstantiated, exaggerated, distorted or false statements in less than 12 minutes. One of his more curious statements is worthy of a final note.
“That’s the great thing about Zodiac Unmasked. As the letters came in, I photographed them, and a lot of the letters the police had lost, and in the first book we didn’t use them all, and I took my photographs and put them in the book.”
Section Two of Zodiac Unmasked contains a collection of photos of Zodiac writings. The exhibits are numbered from 1 through 20. The killer sent many of the letters or other materials depicted in these photos to other newspapers that did not employ Graysmith, and he did not take these photographs. Official indicia, such as San Francisco Police Department rulers and identifiers, as well as other information visible in the photographs in question, reveal that police had taken many of these photographs. A thorough examination of the 20 exhibits presented in Zodiac Unmasked reveals that Robert Graysmith could not have taken any of these photographs.
Graysmith’s interview on the radio program suggests that his books, and perhaps his character, may require a closer look.