Rumors about efforts to obtain DNA from suspected “Zodiac” communications generated speculation about the possible outcome which could lead to the identity of the elusive “Zodiac killer.” Some people believe that the DNA will match a known suspect while others, including myself, believe a more likely scenario that the Zodiac will be identified as someone who has never been identified as a suspect, although I would welcome being proved wrong. Those who have accused known suspects may have a vested interested in a preferred outcome, but those of us who have no pet theories or suspects would be happy to see the case solved in any scenario.
I was recently asked, “What are you gonna do if the DNA matches [known suspect] Arthur Leigh Allen?” The question was clearly inspired by my many criticisms of the claims naming Allen as the Zodiac and the alleged evidence said to implicate him in the Zodiac crimes. For some reason, the debates about these issues are falsely framed as two opposing points of view: 1) the accusations that Allen was the Zodiac, and, 2) the claim that Allen was innocent. Over the years, I have been identified as perhaps one of the loudest critics of the Allen-as-Zodiac theories and claims, and, apparently, I am therefore branded as someone who claims Allen was not the Zodiac. This label is not accurate, as I do not argue about Allen’s guilt or innocence, largely because that is an issue which we cannot litigate or resolve, especially in online discussions. We cannot determine whether Allen was guilty or innocent based on the available evidence and those who make claims from either end of the spectrum cannot possibly offer any substantiated resolution. If the questions about Allen’s guilt or innocence cannot be resolved then we must change the nature of the debate.
Arguments that Allen was the Zodiac must be substantiated by credible evidence. To date, the evidence cited by Allen’s accusers has been questionable, exaggerated, distorted, and sometimes even invented. The issue of Allen’s guilt or innocence cannot be resolved and that means the point becomes how we talk about this issue. In a fact-based, reality-based discussion, we must question the evidence and the veracity of the claims. I do not argue that Allen was innocent; instead, I address the flaws and shortcomings of the claims about his guilt. Arthur Leigh Allen may have been the Zodiac, but that is not what the evidence indicates, and we need to be honest about that fact. Things would obviously change if someone were to present credible evidence implicating Allen in the Zodiac crimes.
Some people seem to misinterpret my criticisms of the claims about Allen as sympathy for the suspect. If Allen was guilty, then everything that happened to him was just the consequence of his crimes. If Allen was innocent, then the police investigation, the ongoing accusations, the publicity, and more, must have been a horrifying experience for him, even if one accepts the argument that he had earned all of his problems because he molested children. Arthur Leigh Allen was a deviant sexual predator who harmed many child victims, and his short sentence at Atascadero State Hospital for molesting one boy could not possibly constitute justice for all of his crimes, both known and unknown. Regardless of his criminal history, Allen was still entitled to due process under the law. Even as an unsympathetic pedophile, Allen was protected by constitutional rights. The ability to understand or even empathize with Allen’s predicament should not be mistaken for sympathy or an attempt to minimize the seriousness of his crimes against children.
As I have stated many times in writing and in public interviews, I do not have a pet theory or suspect and do not favor any outcome in the search for the Zodiac’s identity. I do not care who the Zodiac turns out to be as long as he is identified and hopefully incarcerated. I would be very happy to see the case solved, even if Arthur Leigh Allen was identified as the Zodiac. So, the answer to the question is very clear when someone asks, “What are you gonna do if the DNA matches Arthur Leigh Allen?” I replied, “Have a party. What are you gonna do?”