3 – ConspiraZ Theory: A “Pristine Source”

As a prominent member of the Zodiackiller.com message board, Howard Davis often repeated his cover-up story and alluded to the alleged source of his information. “I got my tip from a pristine source some time later-’74. It’s a long story, but it’s the first time I decided to bring it out. More on this in the future.” In March 2003, a board member named Tom Stout challenged Davis and wrote: “If Vincent Bugliosi could have proved Bruce Davis was the Zodiac, he would have written a best selling book on the subject in a New York second!” Howard Davis chastised Stout and offered this rebuke:

Tom-there you go again,mr. Z newbe, flying off the handle(no -you don’t even get a handle!)!You don’t know the first thing about Bugliosi or his research, yet, you make such brash statements-amazing. At first VB did not believe Davis was or could be the Zodiac,but this was BEFORE he was slowly given evidence over a long period of time(he is very busy and you have to speak to him by ‘appointment’)and he began looking at him with a different perspective.He didn’t know,for example, Davis lived in Riverside in ’66!He admitted he knew very little about Davis (or Zodiac!) and his background ,as his ‘main focus was Manson and the trial.’Gentry wrote the book and did not develope Davis any further than news articles,etc.! … Stop look and listen Tom,only after you put a few years of careful study on the case. (Note to reader: All errors appeared in the original text and are included here.)

Challenged by Stout again, Davis replied:

I wasn’t saying Vincent Bugliosi and I are ‘best buddies’-you said that.I mentioned he signed his book wishing me luck on my efforts to link BD/CM to Zodiac.The reason I said that,is because he fomerly was opposed to any ‘links’ to Zodiac and Manson/Davis.Over time,as he was informed on what I uncovered,piece at a time,including new info,not yet published,he changed his mind and could see how this scenario was possible.His many questions were answered to his satisfaction,knowning that it is a work in progress,just like on every other Zodiac suspect.

According to his version of events, Davis had repeatedly shared new and compelling evidence with Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, and, although initially “opposed” to the idea of a Zodiac/Manson connection, Bugliosi had “changed his mind” and now believed the connection was “possible.” Many observers were skeptical of the conspiracy claim, and Davis often invoked Bugliosi and others to dismiss such doubts. “Humans lie! And … professionals as well as Officers have proven to be liars, too! Lawyers lie as well! … My ex-brother-in-law DA has lots of stories about how honest the authorities are …”

Eventually, another member of the Zodiackiller.com message board questioned Davis about his cover-up claims. Davis offered the following account which only raised more disturbing questions about his claims and his credibility.

In 1974 we had a very small family get together … My sharp as a tack brother in law was there. He was Assistant DA for the LA DA’s Office and helped prosecute Manson and others … I clearly remember every detail of our conversation in 1974. He and I were at my dining table chatting and since I was from the N. Bay Area I asked him ‘why he thought Zodiac stopped killing and writing letters, etc. or so it seemed to me as I knew very little about the case. He leaned slightly over towards me and in his usual still and very serious manner told me casually “because he is in prison!'” I said, “how can you know that as the authorities are all looking for him.” He then told me that if I wouldn’t “tell anyone”(while he was with the DA) he would tell me how he knew this ‘secret’ information. I assented. He said that as they ‘were going through the personal effects’ of a “male member of the Manson Family “they found the Zodiac hood, knife and other evidence. He would not go into the other evidence. In short, they had a meeting in which a legal expert on county law and in other legal matters (he was very experienced) told them in a report he had prepared that he estimated it cost “about two million” to send the suspect to N. CA to be tried as “Zodiac.” They had spent just under one million which was a world record for a trial on CM and his group. The funds were not there. the Expert told them they could possibly lose him on the two 187’s they already, but barely got him on, in ’71/2 and he could possibly get off in such a liberal climate … as was found in the Bay Area. He mentioned jurisdictional disputes and many other reasons concerning the Z evidence at that time. After this and other discussions they decided to suppress what they had found and knew. They took the Expert’s advice into conservation too. DA Younger knew of these matters. Bugliosi, Stovitz and others knew nothing of this, but in conversation B has come to believe that a CM/BD connection to Z is possible. He has written wishing me luck in uncovering the Z case. My brother in law then told me that “We have it set so that he can never get out.” He also indicated that girlfriends and wives were very tired of the CM case in that their men were all working very long hours and they were all burned out and to think of going through an experience such as was given would be even more difficult. This was the last consideration. They felt they had this guy in for good now and that any penalty would be the same or life in prison so they did what they did. I did not and do not agree, but it was them not me that did it. I had the impression that they didn’t really care for the N CA authorities either. That was MY impression based on the way he spoke of them. I am cutting out a lot to make this terse as possible, but this is the essence of the discussion we had. We were always able to get along … I have always been very willing to take a lie detector test as to what I have recounted. It is the truth. At my request my ex wife asked him just before he left the DOJ about Zodiac and our talk in ’74. He denied he even knew who Z was or anything about the case. Of course, she knew that he was familiar with the Z case. As she was walking away he said in a fairly firm voice,’ Kris, “I know” all the other suspects- except the one he gave me- are not Zodiac or “fake.”

Bruce Davis was convicted of murder in 1972. Evelle Younger was elected Attorney General for the state of California in November of 1970, and took office in 1971. If Younger “knew” of and condoned the conspiracy in 1972 then he acted as Attorney General and not as District Attorney when he did so. The notion that Younger or anyone else in the LA DA’s office had covered up the Zodiac/Manson connection for financial reasons was not based in reality. Any trial concerning the Zodiac crimes would take place in Northern California, and, therefore, authorities and agencies in Southern California would not carry any financial burden. Someone may suggest that Evelle Younger, acting as Attorney General of the entire state of California, had somehow decided to cover-up the Zodiac crimes because he wanted to spare Southern California the financial burden of a Davis/Zodiac prosecution. However, such a decision would simply shift a much larger and lasting financial burden onto Northern California, where more than a half-dozen law enforcement agencies were still spending time, money and resources on the search for the Zodiac killer. These agencies would continue the investigation for decades to come, and the financial cost would far exceed whatever bill Younger and his associates would possibly hope to avoid with a cover-up. The notion that authorities feared that a Zodiac prosecution would somehow jeopardize previous murder convictions was not based in reality. The “two 187’s” mentioned by Howard Davis were the two crimes for which his suspect Bruce Davis and family member Steve Grogan were convicted in 1972, the murders of Shorty Shea and Gary Hinman. Common sense and the law proved that these convictions could be not be overturned by any attempt to prosecute Davis for the Zodiac crimes. Absent the discovery of exculpatory evidence or procedural error, only proof of prosecutorial misconduct– or other criminal acts such as the official conspiracy described by Howard Davis– could cause legal action that might result in the courts overturning the Bruce Davis convictions. Howard Davis claimed that a judge participated in this conspiracy, since only a judge could order a file to be sealed. Doing so would make the judge a co-conspirator and a criminal, along with the rest of the conspirators. However, unlike the others, the judge would assume full responsibility and liability for the entire conspiracy and the actions of his co-conspirators by making his participation in the conspiracy a matter of record. The notion that a judge would conceal such a sensational secret as a matter of documented record was not based in reality.

Many observers and others familiar with the law correctly noted that the entire story told by Howard Davis was implausible at the outset. Any knowledgeable and credible “legal expert” would not advise officials to conceal and destroy evidence much less encourage them to do so for reasons which made no sense whatsoever. The alleged “legal” reasons given for the cover-up were not believable or based in the law itself, and anyone who had participated in such a conspiracy would be guilty of serious crimes, including obstruction of justice and worse. A legal expert would have no reason to offer the advice described by Howard Davis and his source from the LA DA’s office would also know better than to present the ludicrous scenario as a plausible and legal explanation for the cover-up. In short, the conspiracy story was as realistic as claiming that your uncle works at NASA and he told you that alien zombie-chimps labor on the surface of Mars to produce the billions of gallons of Tang necessary to power your lawnmower.

Howard Davis repeatedly cited the alleged endorsements by Vincent Bugliosi and the insider information allegedly shared by his “pristine” source to support his claimed Zodiac/Manson connection and his conspiracy stories. In 2006, both men responded to accusations by Howard Davis and exposed the Zodiac/Manson conspiracy as a hoax.


NEXT – ConspiraZ Theory: Debunked