The story of the Manson/Zodiac cover-up became a true crime legend, first appearing in the books by Howard Davis and Bill Nelson, then repeated in countless interviews and Internet postings, and then parroted by various writers and others over the years. Davis once wrote:
I have, over the years,tried to find out all I can from agencies or those that were part of law enforcement in some capacity as to whether there was a cover up. So far I have not found anything except for the two detectives and the elder detective as mentioned that any files were sealed,etc.;and one reason is that you would have to speak to any of the participants in any kind of case suppression.This I have from LT. Deemer and others. My source won’t talk to me about it now.He did in a casual conversation in ’74 ,but I personally think it was one of those unguarded moments around a family member who would in his view-do nothing about such info.
Howard Davis claimed that a massive, official conspiracy had concealed the connection between the Zodiac crimes and the Manson murders, and he accused countless conspirators, including Attorney General Evelle Younger, District Attorney Joseph P. Busch, others in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, the brother-in-law of Howard Davis, an unidentified yet experienced legal “expert,” members of the Los Angeles Police department, members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office, members of the Inyo County District Attorney’s office, at least one judge, one or more evidence technicians, and Bruce Davis and others in “the family.” Howard Davis claimed that Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi endorsed his theories, yet Bugliosi not only debunked that claim but he referred to the Davis conspiracy story as “pure, unadulterated insanity.” Howard Davis claimed that his former brother-in-law told him about the alleged conspiracy. The brother-in-law referred to Davis as “a nutjob” who was “delusional.” In response to a letter from a curious skeptic, Sandi Gibbons, Public Information Officer for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Media Relations Division, reportedly provided a logical explanation for the origins of the Manson/Zodiac cover-up tale.
I have checked out your inquiry. The information in the article, as best I can determine, is not true… This office never linked the Manson murders or the defendants to the Zodiac killings. I do not [know] from whom this reporter got his information for his story, but it sounds like his “source,” if he had one, had an over-active imagination. This story is written as if it is true, but there is absolutely no substance or even a hint that this came from a reliable source of information.
Howard Davis posted a message at the Zodiackiller.com message board in which he claimed to have lunched with a source who reportedly told him some anecdotal story about an alleged cover-up of a police shooting as an example of an official conspiracy. According to the source, the official story stated that the victim was facing the officer when he fired. The source worked for an official agency and she examined the evidence (police files, autopsy reports and other material?). She quickly concluded that the victim had been shot in the back. The source then raised the issue with her superiors but was allegedly instructed to ignore the facts in favor of the official story. The source reportedly told Davis, “There’s the law, and there’s politics.” In his posted message, Howard Davis also referred to this author as a “pollyanna” who refuses to accept the cold realities about the dark side of our world.
Police cover-ups and official conspiracies have occurred throughout history. However, in most cases, these cover-ups are orchestrated for a very simple reason– the conspirators will face negative consequences if the truth was exposed. Most conspirators engage in a conspiracy to further a plausible and mutually-beneficial goal, and, in most instances, the success would mean direct and positive benefits for the conspirators. Individuals who choose to engage in a conspiracy will do so because they will benefit from that conspiracy.
In his book Deadly Force, Lawrence O’Donnell tells the story of a police shooting in Boston and the resulting cover-up. According to the official version of events, the officers approached a suspected criminal. The victim pointed a gun at the officer who then fired and killed the victim. Investigation revealed that the officers had targeted the wrong man, and that the victim was unarmed when he was shot in the back. Several officers conspired to conceal the facts and obstruct the investigation until O’Donnell’s father, a former police officer turned attorney, represented the victim’s family in court and won a judgment against the conspirators. The motives behind the cover-up were clear and easy to understand. The officers made a deadly mistake which took the life of an innocent man.
According to the bizarre logic of the Howard Davis conspiracy hoax story, a police conspiracy could be twisted into the following scenario. Police approach a known criminal and he opens fire on the officers. He is then shot but survives and is later convicted for attempted murder of the police officers. Investigation proves beyond doubt that the man was, in fact, the suspected criminal sought by the officers, that he was shot only after he opened fire on the officers, and that police had acted appropriately. A search of the man’s pockets reveals a note which claims credit for an infamous series of murders as well as evidence linking the man directly to the crimes in another jurisdiction. Evidence proves that the man was, in fact, responsible for the crimes in question, however, officials decide to conceal this fact and force the investigators in another jurisdiction to keep investigating the already-solved crimes for decades to come. The officials choose the cover-up because they fear that identifying the criminal to the authorities and a prosecution in another jurisdiction will somehow result in a financial burden for those who are not responsible for that prosecution or any costs incurred. The conspirators destroy the evidence linking the criminal to the crimes because they worry that an attempt to prosecute him in another jurisdiction will somehow undue his conviction for the attempted murder of the police officers. The conspirators also decide to conceal the crimes because their wives and girlfriends are tired of hearing about crime.
The LADA’s office had no legitimate, logical or possibly beneficial reason to conceal evidence which linked the Manson and Zodiac crimes. A desire to avoid financial hardships, legal complications, or even complaints from family are not legitimate, logical, or even plausible reasons for anyone to engage in the conspiracy described by Howard Davis. In such a conspiracy, no one would benefit and no one would avoid any negative consequences. In fact, everyone involved would immediately face possible negative consequences which would not exist without the conspiracy itself. No one would profit from the cover-up in any discernible or plausible way, and, therefore, none of the alleged conspirators would have any reason to conceive or even execute such a conspiracy in the first place. In short, Howard Davis is asking the world to believe that officials covered up the greatest story in true crime history for reasons which make no sense whatsoever. Vincent Bugliosi himself said it best: “If Manson committed more murders than the Manson murders, why would anyone want to protect him on that?… It makes no sense… what you’re talking about is a crime, obstruction of justice… a massive conspiracy of many, many people being involved, for no believable reason.”