On the night of July 4, 1969, Darlene Ferrin and her friend Michael Mageau were both shot while sitting in a parked car at Blue Rock Springs Park in Vallejo, California. Michael Mageau told police that the gunman had simply driven into the parking lot, exited his vehicle and then began firing a gun at Michael and Darlene. Both victims were transported to the hospital but Darlene died on arrival at 12:38 AM. Two minutes later, the Vallejo Police Department received a phone call which was answered by police dispatcher Nancy Slover. The caller said, “I want to report a murder. If you will go one-mile east on Columbus Parkway, you will find kids in a brown car. They were shot with a nine-millimeter Luger. I also killed those kids last year. Goodbye.“
During the hours, weeks and months after the shooting, Vallejo police worked with investigators assigned to the double murder on Lake Herman Road. They found no evidence that any of the victims had known each other and no evidence that any of the victims had known the killer. Vallejo police assigned to the Ferrin murder investigation interviewed many of the people who had known Darlene, including her family, friends, co-workers, employers, acquaintences and others. As part of standard investigative procedure, police asked if there was anyone who had bothered Darlene or had reason to harm her. None of the individuals who were interviewed provided any information which would indicate that Darlene had known her killer or that anyone had been bothering or stalking her before the murder. Darlene’s sisters, Pam and Linda, were both interviewed and neither provided any information to indicate that Darlene was afraid of anyone, that she had been stalked, that she had witnessed a murder, that she had known any of the Zodiac victims, or that she was part of a satanic cult. However, years later, Pam and Linda both told such wild tales when interviewed by reporters, psychics and television crews. No one who had known Darlene Ferrin could think of anyone who had bothered or stalked her or anyone who would want to kill her. The only individual who was described as a possible suspect was George Waters, who had apparently bothered Darlene while she worked as a waitress. Police interviewed George, who denied any involvement in Darlene’s murder. Police investigated and determined that George was not a viable suspect, yet the stories about George would later be transformed by others in order to create the myths about Darlene’s mysterious and murderous stalker.
The evidence indicated that Darlene did not know her killer and that she was the victim of a random attack, yet Darlene’s sisters and others were eager to become part of the story which had captivated the Bay Area. Joseph Delouise, a well-known psychic, contacted Darlene’s mother. Convinced that police had failed to pursue the leads provided by Delouise and Darlene’s family, Delouise’s West Coast Representative Christopher Harris persuaded Vallejo Mayor Florence Douglas to attend a press conference in Los Angeles at the Statler Hilton Hotel. Douglas was a candidate struggling to win the Democratic nomination in the Governor’s race against incumbent Ronald Reagan. To her critics, the event seemed to be nothing more than the kind of grandstanding typical in an election year. “I believe some clues were overlooked in the murder of Darlene Ferrin,” Douglas told reporters. The campaigning mayor did not believe that Ferrin was the victim of a random act of violence but the deliberate target of a killer she may have known. Douglas denounced the Vallejo police investigation and called for a new examination of the case.
Christopher Harris addressed the crowd and criticized the Vallejo police. “I observed while in Vallejo that the police disregarded the ridiculous,” he said. “I am now a firm believer that in the ridiculous, especially in the case of Darlene Ferrin, lies a storehouse of clues. The police should have done a complete character sketch of Darlene Ferrin. There are too many questions into her death that have not been properly tied down.” Harris was apparently unaware of the fact that police had thoroughly investigated any and all leads, including information provided by Darlene’s family.
Harris also stunned reporters with a baffling revelation. During her visit with psychic Joseph Delouise, Darlene’s mother claimed that her daughter had exhibited her own ability to accurately predict the future. Mrs. Suennen told Delouise that Darlene had made a cryptic remark just hours before she died, “You might read about me in the papers tomorrow.” Darlene’s mother had not mentioned this potentially important information during any of her conversations with police, yet, according to Harris, she only shared this secret with a psychic months after the murder. The episode created a minor controversy, but the allegations regarding apathetic police and the mysterious secrets of Darlene Ferrin had a lasting impact.
[ Read the Christopher Harris letters and other material at the ZodiacKillerFacts Document Gallery. ]