According to reports on countless websites, the Zodiac killer has been identified. However, many of the individuals making these claims also alleged that official conspiracies and cover-ups have allowed the Zodiac to escape justice. Those who read these stories may be convinced that America’s most elusive serial killer had been identified, but the facts told a very different story.
The “ex-cop” Lyndon Lafferty released his book The Zodiac Killer Cover-Up which claimed that the man known as “Andrew Todd Walker” was the Zodiac. The sensational headlines read, “Ex-cop: I know the Zodiac Killer’s name,” “Zodiac killer identified, but is already dead,” and “Author claims huge coverup in Zodiac Killer investigation.” Lafferty and his associates had been accusing Walker since the 1970s and the suspect was then featured in the best-selling book Zodiac. Over the decades, Lafferty failed to produce any credible evidence to support his claims. Zodiac investigators repeatedly dismissed and ignored Lafferty and his theories. Lafferty blamed a “cover-up” and also claimed that a judge had somehow obstructed the investigation, thereby allowing Walker to escape justice until his death in February 2012. The sensational cover-up story told in Lafferty’s book reads like a popular crime novel in which an embattled detective fights corruption and conspiracy to bring a killer to justice. This familiar plot was entertaining in fiction but truly rare in real life, yet Lafferty was just one of many Zodiac theorists who cried cover-up when authorities dismissed their claims.
Steve Hodel claimed that his father was responsible for the Black Dahlia murder, the Chicago “Lipstick” murders, and many other killings, including the Zodiac crimes. Hodel also claimed that his father bribed unnamed individuals in order to escape a morals charge for allegedly molesting his daughter. However, Hodel claimed that authorities had orchestrated a massive conspiracy– which Hodel called “Dahliagate”– to protect his father from prosecution in the Dahlia case. According to Hodel, his father’s arrest would result in the revelations which could destroy the careers and reputations of many high officials in Los Angeles and his involvement in the Dahlia and other murders was concealed and basically ignored because these people feared exposure. “They had identified George Hodel as the suspect… They had him dead bang,” Hodel said in a television interview. “They knew if they arrested George Hodel and charged him with the crimes, that it would expose internal corruption in the LAPD, not on some low level, not some corrupt cop stealing an apple, but on the highest levels.” Apparently, the conspirators were not concerned that Hodel would expose their secrets if he was prosecuted and imprisoned for child molestation. The book Most Evil presented Hodel’s Zodiac theories as compelling evidence yet his claims were easily debunked by minimal scrutiny and the basic facts.
In the late 1980s, amateur sleuth Blaine Blaine, aka Goldcatcher aka Zakatarious, contacted many law enforcement agencies with his claims that his friend Richard Gaikowski was the Zodiac. Blaine sent various documents containing various claims and theories but every agency dismissed Blaine as a crackpot. Two decades later, Blaine was still peddling his claims to anyone who would listen. SFPD Inspector Mike Maloney named Blaine as “one of the top three Zodiac kooks.” Like most Zodiac theorists, Blaine refused to accept that the authorities were not impressed by his alleged “evidence.” Instead, he claimed that a cover-up had derailed his investigation. According to Blaine, Gaikowski knew “that he could kill anyone he wanted to” and escape justice because the SFPD was “just completely out of their depth” with a “genius serial killer” like Gaikowski. Blaine also claimed that Gaikowski used his knowledge of computers to break into City Hall and Hall of Justice systems. In his version of events, Blaine was “facing a major coverup” by California Department of Justice Agent Fred Shirasago and Napa County Sheriff’s Detective Ken Narlow, who hoped Blaine would be “discredited” and “the whole bloody truth of the story could be swept under their police rugs.” In a long rambling letter sent to authorities in 1987, Blaine complained about “prejudicial behavior, designed to keep me from telling the information I have,” and the injustice he endured at the hands of Shirasago and Narlow. Blaine claimed that both men had used “fear” to “control” him by inventing “an atmosphere of oppression.” Today, Blaine Blaine claims that his critics refuse to accept his evidence because they “oppose genius” and “represent the antipodes of mind.”
At the turn of the century, Dennis Kaufman surfaced with claims that his step-father Jack Tarrance was the Zodiac. Kaufman launched a website and produced a hooded costume, a knife and a roll of film which were eventually examined by authorities. Most law enforcement agencies consistently rejected Kaufman and his claims, but the media embraced and exploited the story in many news reports and the cable television documentary show True Crime with Aphrodite Jones. Kaufman repeatedly blamed official apathy and obstruction, offering an excuse which had become a standard line among rejected Zodiac theorists. “The reason that Jack was never arrested for the Zodiac murders was because of departmental jealousy amongst law enforcement– mostly the San Francisco Police Department.” According to Kaufman, the SFPD lost evidence and bungled the investigation. Like many Zodiac theorists, Kaufman blamed others for his failure to present credible and compelling evidence to implicate his suspect in the Zodiac crimes.
Of all the claimed Zodiac cover-ups, one story stood above all others as the most elaborate and enduring.