ALLEN: Crimes and Punishment
Not long after the SFPD seemed to lose interest in Allen as Zodiac suspect, he became the subject of another, unrelated criminal investigation.
Allen’s problem with children had apparently led him to molest a young boy, and officers of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office arrested him on October 1, 1974. Subsequently convicted, Allen served out his sentence at the Atascadero State Hospital. The convicted child molester joined the hospital population on March 14, 1975.
While at Atascadero, agents of the California Department of Justice investigated Allen as a possible suspect in the Zodiac case. At the same time, officers of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office considered the possibility that Allen may have been responsible for the murders of over forty young women in and around Santa Rosa.
Sonoma investigators found that Allen’s Santa Rosa trailer was in the center of the area where the killer had left the bodies of the victims, and that he tied some of these victims with clothesline similar to that used by the Zodiac in his attack at Lake Berryessa. However, these crimes were very different from those of the Zodiac in that the killer transported, stripped and dumped bodies of the victims in remote areas. The Zodiac never transported his victims, and always left them clothed at the scene of the crimes. Despite the apparent differences, the Sonoma investigators checked Allen’s whereabouts during these crimes, and after extensive investigation, they were unable to find any evidence to link Allen to the Santa Rosa killings.
The agents of the Department of Justice were facing a lack of evidence as well. Their investigation failed to uncover any evidence that linked Allen to the Zodiac’s crimes. Agent Jim Silver was determined to take advantage of all the available options, and he asked Allen to submit to a polygraph examination, or a lie detector test.
According to one source, the test indicated that Allen was telling the truth when he denied any involvement in either the Zodiac or Santa Rosa killings. Allen “passed” the test with “flying colors.” Allen would later claim that the test had last “10 hours,” and that results of the test proved that he as not the Zodiac.
The Department of Justice inquiry had produced no evidence against Allen, and although some agents believed that Allen may have been a killer, others came to believe that he was little more than a pedophile, and the department was wasting its time and resources on an investigation that, by all appearances, was no longer warranted. This was the beginning of the spilt between D.O.J. agents regarding Allen’s viability as a Zodiac suspect. The conflict resurfaced years later in another investigation of Allen.
Allen completed his sentence and left Atascadero on August 31, 1977. He returned to Vallejo, and the basement room of his mother’s home. The conviction had made Allen’s “problem” with children a matter of public record, and it is doubtful that his life was ever the same after his return from the state hospital.
Allen’s criminal record made it difficult for him to find employment, and, most likely, earn the trust of those around him. The knowledge that police had suspected that Allen was the Zodiac must have made his neighbors, friends and family nervous when around him, and it is doubtful that these rumors did not circulate throughout the Vallejo community.
Despite his obvious obstacles, Allen was able to find employment as a fleet mechanic at the Benicia Import Auto Service in January of 1978. He would work his way through a series of such jobs, until landing a position as a sales clerk at the Ace Hardware store in Vallejo. Allen would continue to work at the store for the next decade.
As Allen attempted to settle back into his life in Vallejo, there were forces at work against him.
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