“Stirring up people, getting things accomplished, making a difference. Isn’t that what books should be about?” — Robert Graysmith
Watch Graysmith UNMASKED: The Movie
– or –
Watch The trailer for Graysmith UNMASKED
With the release of his 2002 sequel Zodiac: Unmasked, Graysmith once again claimed that he had identified one of America’s most elusive serial killers, and once again, he was determined that the truth should not stand in his way. The book was filled with more factual errors, distortions, selective omissions, and even outright fabrications designed solely to implicate Graysmith’s pet suspect. Unlike Zodiac, Graysmith’s sequel went to extreme lengths to distort the facts and the author’s fabrictations were undeniable, even shocking to some. Graysmith’s two books about the still-unsolved case had been widely discredited by critics, researchers, investigators, witnesses and others, yet his largely fictional accounts served as the basis for a major motion picture directed by David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club). The film repeated many of Graysmith’s factual distortions and presented a largely fictional version of the story designed to mislead audiences and convict Arthur Leigh Allen in the court of public opinion. Thanks to the film and the subsequent publicity, Graysmith’s books and claims gained new followers and the truth about the Zodiac case was overshadowed by the author’s revisionist account of the story.
I first learned about the Zodiac case as a teenager in the early 1980s and I tried to learn as much as I could via newspaper archives and other material. Like many others who were interested in the case, I welcomed the 1986 publication of Robert Graysmith’s book Zodiac, and I read the book believing that the author was a trustworthy source who actually cared about the story. After several readings, I began to notice certain problems with the book and contradictions which cast doubt on its accuracy and raised suspiciouns regarding its purpose. Repeated readings revealed that Graysmith had distorted the facts, from the very first pages, in order to lay the foundation for his later attempts to paint his suspect as the Zodiac killer. At that time, I did not have access to the original police reports and I had not interviewed anyone involved in the case, so I had no idea that these problems were simply the tip of a massive iceberg. In the late 1990s, I finally obtained the police reports and other material, and I began to talk with those who were actually involved in the case. Immediately, I learned that Graysmith had actually invented his own “facts,” and I was immediately told by many involved in the case that the author’s version of the story was pure fiction. Some individuals complained that Graysmith had invented quotes which he attributed to them but they denied that they had ever made such statements to Graysmith or anyone else. Graysmith had repeatedly invented or spread stories which were designed solely to make Allen look guilty when the facts were not as useful, including the false claim that Allen had received a speeding ticket near the scene of the stabbing at Lake Berryessa. Graysmith also relied on dubious sources with little-to-no credibility, basing much of his presenation on information which had already been debunked by investigators and others. By the turn of the century, the evidence of Graysmith’s distortions and falsehoods was overwhelming and undeniable.
When I first appeared on Internet message boards and raised questions about Graysmith’s credibility and honesty, I was attacked and dismissed by those who believed that Graysmith’s books were factually accurate and thoroughly researched. Those who criticized me had not conducted the research necessary to even have an informed opinion on the matter, yet they had accepted Graysmith as an honest investigator simply because his books had been published and the media referred to him as “the expert” on the unsolved case. Graysmith’s defenders ignored the obvious facts which proved that he had distorted the Zodiac story in order to suit his own purposes, and they often attempted to dismiss me as “jealous” or in competition with Graysmith. No one who knew the truth about Graysmith could be jealous of him nor would I want to emulate his behavior in any way. I was not in competition with Graysmith on any level other than the simple fact that he was distorting the truth and I was trying to find out what had really happened. I was trying to separate fact from fiction, and Robert Graysmith became an obstacle simply because he was the primary source of the fiction which plagued the Zodiac case. Some who had read Graysmith’s books and trusted the author were unable or unwilling to admit that they had been duped by an expert con-man, and they chose to attack the messenger instead of accepting the message. This pattern continued when I posted my article GRAYSMITH UNMASKED in 2003, and I was ridiculed by those who claimed that I was defaming Graysmith with “lies” or “personal attacks.” Most observers eventually conceded that the facts proved that Graysmith’s version of the Zodiac story was largely fiction and fabrication. Yet some were still unwilling to accept the simple fact that the author had deliberately misled his readers and tried to railroad his suspect using pure fantasy. These reluctant defenders soon provided what would later become the mantra for those who worked to excuse Graysmith’s inexcusable actions, saying, “Well, at least he got people interested in the case,” as if keeping people interested in the case somehow excused exploiting that case and selling fiction as fact.
As time passed and the facts were made available to the public, people began to realize that Robert Graysmith was just a Zodiac scavenger, a man who had exploited the Zodiac case in order to obtain fame and fortune yet had no regard for the truth, the victims, their families, the investigators, or the public who purchased his books believing them to be factual accurate and thoroughly researched. However, a small group of apologists would routinely post messages on various Internet forums in which they defended Graysmith while attacking or dismissing his critics. A posting from the Casebook Forums served as a classic example of the bogus complaints made by Graysmith’s defenders, and one member of the message board accurately wrote in response, “The problem with Graysmith’s book is not just that he is overly focused on one suspect, or that some of his information is inaccurate. It’s that he completely FABRICATED some evidence in order to implicate his favorite suspect Allen. If you have the time watch these YouTube clips produced by Michael Butterfield which lays out much of the false information that was put out by Graysmith.” In response, a member using the name “Dr. John Watson” wrote:
Butterfield is as obsessed with Zodiac as Graysmith is and undoubtedly considers Graysmith a rival for expert status. Both men are equally equipped and qualified as experts on the case, and Butterfield’s website is a goldmine of Zodiac material. However, his charge that Graysmith deliberately attempts to mislead by manufacturing evidence is not supported by the facts. Some theories put forward by Graysmith may be weak and their validity questionable, but I think it’s more a case of him keeping an open mind and considering all possibilities than deliberately falsifying facts. Without getting into an argument on this, I suggest reading all the available evidence on the case with an open mind and drawing your own conclusions.“
“Dr. Watson” was offering up the same old and tired excuses for Graysmith, and his efforts to minimize Graysmith’s deception were transparent and troubling. The problems with Graysmith’s book were not confined to his “theories,” and no one could possibly excuse his deception by claiming that he was simply trying to keep an “open mind” while “considering all possibilities” instead of “deliberately falsifying facts.” Dr. Watson admonished another board member to read “all the available evidence on the case with an open mind,” thereby implying that he had done so himself. Yet, Dr. Watson’s opinions and statments were not supported by the known facts, a strong indication that he had failed to practice what he preached.
Remarks like those by Dr. Watson occasionally appear on various message boards and websites, and I am amused but also disappointed to see people who claim to know so much about this case yet are willing to ignore the undeniable fact that Robert Graysmith is a fraud. Instead, they make excuses for his behavior or try to change the subject and talk about me. For some, dismissing the messenger is easier than the work required to reassess one’s opinions and accept the facts. I am also aware that most people who are on the Internet searching for information about this case are not going to spend much time studying the material available. Most people are not going to read a 10,000 word article, even if that article is filled with factual and important information regarding the very subject which interests them. Instead, some people simply skim through the presentations until they find something that catches their interest, they read enough to formulate a quick opinion and then move on to other websites where they use their limited knowledge and comprehension of that material to dismiss or ridicule what they had just skimmed. And, most importantly, some people come to this material having already made up their minds, clinging to opinions and beliefs they have held for a long time. For these people, Robert Graysmith is a honest man, a dedicated amateur sleuth who devoted his life and sacrificed in order to “keep the case alive.” They actually believe this, the greatest of all GraysMYTHS, the notion that a man who has done more damage to the public perception of this case than any other single human being is somehow deserving of our praise and thanks.
In my years of researching this case, I have heard others attempt to defend Graysmith by saying that he is a nice person. When I served as a consultant for the film adaptation of Graysmith’s books, one prominent member of the production team listened as I provided a long list of Graysmith’s fact-fudging, distortions and outright fabrications. When I finished, this person immediately responded by saying, “Have you ever met Robert? He’s a nice guy.” I have no doubt that Robert Graysmith is friendly and polite in casual conversation or that he is kind to children and little puppies. However, Graysmith’s friendly personality is irrelevant when discussing the issues at hand– the veracity of his claims, the accuracy of his books, and his actions as they are related to the Zodiac case. The evidence demonstrates– beyond any doubt– that Graysmith had distorted the facts and even invented his own, and anyone who could or would do so in order to exploit a murder case and accuse someone of murder can hardly be described as a “nice guy.” A far more accurate and informed assessment would describe Graysmith as a shameless opportunist. This is the assessment of Graysmith by the overwhelming majority of the families of the victims, the family of Arthur Leigh Allen, the investigators who worked on the case, and those who purchased the author’s books believing him to be a reliable source. Those who so easily excuse Graysmith’s inexcusable behavior would undoubtedly adopt the opposite stand on this issue if they suddenly became the target of similar slander and libel by someone who was using distortions and falsehoods to accuse them of murder. For those who are forever trapped inside the very real story of the Zodiac, Robert Graysmith is not a hero deserving of praise but a conman who exploited a public tragedy in order to obtain fame and fortune.
Those who are eager to dismiss the legitimate criticisms of Graysmith by claiming that such criticism is just my opinion have also ignored the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Robert Graysmith is a fraud, and that fact would still be true even if I had never existed. Furthermore, the same criticisms of Graysmith also come from those directly involved in the Zodiac case. SFPD Inspector Bill Armstrong conducted the investigation of Arthur Leigh Allen, and he described Graysmith’s chapter about Allen as “hogwash.” Agent Fred Shirasago of the California Department of Justice was assigned to the Zodiac case, and he described Graysmith’s book as “bullshit.” Most readers will note that the word “hogwash” is just a euphemism for “bullshit,” and that the word “bullshit” is generally accepted to mean, “not true.” Armstrong and Shirasago– both members of law enforcement who had participated in the actual investigation of the Zodiac case– stated that information presented in Graysmith’s books was not true. Dean Ferrin, husband of victim Darlene Ferrin and other members of her family, stated that Graysmith’s book was filled with factual errors and distortions, and members of Arthur Leigh Allen’s family voiced similar complaints. SFPD Officer Don Fouke, who responded to the scene of the Zodiac’s last known murder, described Graysmith’s book as “fiction,” and SFPD Officer Armand Pelissetti, who also responded to the scene that night, described Graysmith’s book as “total bullshit.” Ken Narlow of the Napa County Sheriff’s Department was assigned to the Zodiac case and he rated the factual accuracy of Graysmith’s book as a “7” on a scale from 1 to 10, noting that he did not believe the book had been written to be a factual account but was intended to be entertainment. Former Vallejo Police Department dispatcher Nancy Slover stated that Graysmith’s books were not factually accurate and said in exasperation, “I don’t know where he gets his information.” Other members of law enforcement refuted Graysmith’s claims and criticized his methods, as did many others involved in the case. I was not the only person with such complaints about Graysmith, and those who believed that I was “defaming” and “attacking” the author were either ignorant of the facts or ignoring those facts.
This section of ZodiacKillerFacts.com provides a thoroughly researched and factually accurate examination of Graysmith’s history, his books, his theories and his claims. The information presented in these articles was obtained from a variety of sources, including newspaper articles, television documentaries, police reports, other official documents, interviews with those involved in the case, and much more. The information presented in these articles can be easily verified and has been thoroughly checked. While I know that some obsessive types will always defend and praise Robert Graysmith, I believe that anyone who takes the time to actually read all of the material presented on this site will never do so.
Graysmith’s factual errors, distortions, exaggerations, and fabrications are found in two places– his books and the media. Graysmith’s acts fall into several categories, listed here for the purposes of clarity in this introduction.
1. Presenting a factually inaccurate account of the case. This occurs for two reasons: 1) Graysmith relied on sources which he did not know were unreliable, or, 2) Graysmith relied on sources and he knew these sources were unreliable. In an example of # 1, Graysmith wrote that Zodiac victim Cecelia Shepard had been stabbed 24 times; in fact, she had been stabbed 10 times. Graysmith appears to have obtained this erroneous information from a newspaper article written by reporter Paul Avery which erroneously stated that Shepard had been stabbed 24 times. Such errors are common in Graysmith’s books, as he often relied upon erroneous news accounts as his primary sources of information. In an example of # 2, Graysmith’s books claimed that victims Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau had been chased to the crime scene and that the killer had known Darlene; the evidence indicated the exact opposite, that Darlene and Michael had not been chased and that Darlene had not known her killer. The actual police reports and other official documents, as well as the witnesses and investigators involved, all indicated that Graysmith’s account was not true, but he chose to rely on his chosen source rather than the authorities, the documents, the witnesses and the evidence. Graysmith’s favored source was Pam, the sister of Darlene Ferrin, who had a long history of telling tall tales and was dismissed as a kook and an attention seeker by investigators and virtually everyone who had ever dealt with her in the past. Despite these facts and Pam’s troubling lack of credibility, Graysmith presented her distorted and false accounts in his books as if they were uncontested facts.
2. Exaggerating or distorting existing information in order to influence readers and minimize facts which do not support his theories and claims. This occurs for a variety of reasons, including, 1) The facts do not implicate Graysmith’s suspect or support his theories/claims, so he “enhances” the story to suit his purposes, 2) The truth exonerates his suspect or casts doubt on his possible guilt, so Graysmith reverses and/or changes the situation to suit his needs, or, 3) Graysmith alters the text of official documents and/or statements. In an example of # 1, on page 41 of Zodiac, Graysmith wrote: “A man and his son next phoned [Det.] Lynch and told him that they had witnessed an argument between a man and a woman at Terry’s parking lot around 10:30 pm on July Fourth.” The actual police report regarding the witness statement read: “States that on the fourth of July, this the morning of between 10:30am-11:30am he and his two year old son went for a ride in his MG with the top off. States that the was on Magazine St. and had stopped at a stop sign close to Terry’s parking lot… States he observed a white girl standing by a 1963 Brn. Corvair 2dr. sport kind.” The report further stated that the “girl” was wearing a “white uniform” and talking to a “white man.” The report stated, “Corvair had the motor hood up and it appeared that the girl was looking at the motor or showing the man the motor.” According to the report, the man and the woman were not arguing but were instead talking. The event did not occur in the evening, as Graysmith stated, but in the morning. Graysmith later implied and then stated, as fact, that Darlene had argued with a man in the Terry’s parking lot on the night she was killed. By placing the real witness event at night and inventing an argument, Graysmith was able to support his theories and claims that victim Darlene Ferrin was arguing with a man just before she was killed when the facts proved otherwise. In an example of # 2, investigators escorted surviving Zodiac victim Bryan Hartnell to Allen’s place of work to observe the suspect, watch his movements, and listen to his voice. Hartnell told authorities that there was nothing about Allen’s demeanor, voice or overall appearance that would rule him in or out as a suspect. I spoke with Bryan Hartnell in 2000, and he told me that he did not identify Allen’s voice, and, official documents support Hartnell’s version of events. During a radio interview, Graysmith distorted and invented facts in order to make his pet suspect appear guilty and said of Allen, “His voice was identified by the young man who able to survive the stabbing.” In an example of # 3, a report written by Vallejo Police Detective George Bawart stated that witness claimed that Allen made incriminating statements in January 1968. In his second book, Graysmith quoted the exact text of this report but changed the date to January 1969 in order to cover for the fact that the witness had changed his story over time.
3. Omitting important information. In an example of this tactic, Graysmith wrote in Zodiac: “Starr [Allen] had been fired from a job at a gas station the week before Darlene’s death. A friend of Starr’s could have used the car to commit the murder, returned it, and made the call to VPD. Starr and the owner of the ’58 Ford often talked of death and murder. In August, Starr’s friend also died from natural causes.” In truth, Allen’s friend was still alive at the time Graysmith wrote this passage in his book. Police did investigate the possibility that Allen had used the car at the gas station, but Graysmith neglected to tell his readers that police had determined that he had most likely not used this vehicle at any time, including the night of Darlene’s death. Graysmith repeatedly referred to the suspected Zodiac forgery letter of April 1978 as an authentic Zodiac communication, often citing the gap from the last authenticated letter in 1974 and the 1978 letter as evidence which implicated Allen, who was in prison from 1975 to 1977. Graysmith neglects to mention that a majority of handwriting experts had determined that the letter was the work of a forger. Graysmith also neglected to mention that he repeatedly contradicted his own stated opinion and also referred to the 1978 letter as a forgery whenever doing so suited his needs. When DNA from the envelope which contained that letter did not match Allen, Graysmith dismissed the 1978 letter as a forgery, only to later contradict that stated opinion, over and over again, until he began alternating his opinion regarding the 1978 from one interview to the next. These are just a few examples of Graysmith’s tactic of selective omission and distortion.
4. Inventing outright falsehoods in order to make his suspect look guilty. In an example of such outright lies, Graysmith claimed that he had discovered a hidden road which led from the crime scene directly to Allen’s home. An examination of current and past maps, consultations with those who lived in the area, and more, proved that no such road had ever existed. In another example, Graysmith claimed that Allen’s family feared him, suspected that he was the Zodiac, called a family meeting to discuss the situation, and then contacted police to report Allen as a possible Zodiac suspect. The actual police reports and the statements of Allen’s family provided the truth about what really happened. Police contacted Allen’s brother and sister-in-law and told them that Allen was a possible suspect in the Zodiac murders. Both Ron and Karen Allen told police that they were surprised and that they had not suspected that Allen was the Zodiac. They further stated that they did not believe that Allen was the Zodiac. Graysmith claimed that he had “changed some dates and the names of the three suspects” in his first book. Some had suggested that Graysmith made the changes in his book in order to “protect” the suspects. While Graysmith did change “some dates” in his first book, more often that not he did so in order to make his suspect appear guilty. Allen’s father Ethan died in 1971, shortly before Allen became a suspect. In Zodiac, Graysmith used the pseudonym “Starr” when referring to Allen and wrote: “Starr’s father died just before the Riverside murder (1966). He passed on to his son a love of sailing. The Zodiac killing costume consisted of old-fashioned Navy clothes, pants with pleats. Was Starr, out of hatred or even love of his father, dressing up in his father’s clothes to do the killing?” Graysmith was clearly suggesting that the death of Allen’s father in 1966 had somehow inspired Allen to commit murder, despite the fact that Allen’s father had died in 1971– almost a year and a half after the Zodiac’s last confirmed murder. Graysmith repeatedly claimed that eyewitnesses had identified Allen. While surviving victim Michael Mageau had identified Allen as the man who shot him, police reports demonstrate that his identification was highly suspect, that Mageau also stated that the Zodiac had a face similar to another man shown in the photo-lineup, and that police did not believe his identification was valid. The evidence proves that none of the other witnesses had ever identified Allen (and Graysmith has never provived any evidence to support his claims that the boy witness or one of the girl witnesses at Berryessa had ever identified Allen). In one online statement, Graysmith wrote: “David Fincher has carried the case forward by locating statements by the Washington and Stine witness and the officer who passed Zodiac who identified Allen as the man they saw.” Fincher never uncovered such statements. The witnesses at the Stine scene never identified Allen. Don Fouke, the SFPD officer who reportedly saw the Zodiac near the Stine scene, had repeatedly stated that Arthur Leigh Allen was not the man he saw that night, and, further, Allen did not match the description of Stine’s killer. Fouke never identified Allen. Graysmith once again created his own facts and evidence in order to make his suspect seem guilty.
The examples offered above are only a sampling of the factual errors, distortions, exaggerations and fabrications by Robert Graysmith. The evidence clearly proved that Graysmith was not merely the victim of unreliable sources or that he had considered all credible evidence by keeping an open mind. The facts demonstrated, beyond doubt, that Graysmith had changed the facts whenever he wanted and invented the facts whenever he needed to do so. “Dr. John Watson” had written: “Some theories put forward by Graysmith may be weak and their validity questionable, but I think it’s more a case of him keeping an open mind and considering all possibilities than deliberately falsifying facts.” The facts proved otherwise. “Watson” wrote: “However, [Butterfield’s] charge that Graysmith deliberately attempts to mislead by manufacturing evidence is not supported by the facts.” Again, the facts proved otherwise. As the facts demonstrate, Robert Graysmith invented hidden roads, witnesses who never existed, suspect identifications which never occurred, and more, all in his efforts to promote himself and convict his suspect in the court of public opinion.
In his books, media interviews and public statements, Robert Graysmith repeatedly made false statements designed to falsely implicate Arthur Leigh Allen. During interviews on CNN, MSNBC, The History Channel and other shows, Graysmith repeatedly claimed that Allen had “known and stalked all of the victims,” yet this claim was not supported by any credible evidence of any kind. In other interviews, Graysmith repeated the false claim that Allen had known all of the Zodiac victims and added the equally false charge that the suspect had been placed at all of the Zodiac crime scenes. Graysmith repeatedly stated that Allen’s family had reported him to police as a suspect despite the evidence which proved otherwise. In what is perhaps one of the most classic examples of Graysmith’s public dishonesty, he made the following statement during an interview for the History Channel program PERFECT CRIMES. “Arthur Leigh Allen, during the time that he as at Atascadero, we had a four year gap of [Zodiac] letters. And when Arthur Leigh Allen was released, from Atascadero prison, we got a letter from Zodiac for the first time in four years the next day.” Allen was released from Atascadero in August of 1977. The “Zodiac” letter in question arrived at the offices of The San Francisco Chronicle in April of 1978. Most reasonably intelligent and objective observers would conclude that Graysmith was “deliberately falsifying facts” and that he had been doing so from the very beginning.
The facts exist independent of and regardless of my own opinions and statements regarding Robert Graysmith. The information presented on this website is not an “attack” on Graysmith; it is an effort to combat the myths and fiction perpetuated and created by Robert Graysmith which have effectively contaminated the historical record and the public study of this case. This site also provides factual information regarding the theories and claims presented by Graysmith as well as the alleged “evidence” he has used to accuse and implicate Arthur Leigh Allen. Graysmith’s books, Zodiac and Zodiac: Unmasked, have received critical aclaim and are often cited as the “definitive” accounts of the Zodiac case, despite the facts which prove that Graysmith’s books are filled with factual errors, distortions and falsehoods. Therefore, the general public is often confused and/or upset when stumbling upon a website featuring criticism of Graysmith which is often harsh and largely unforgiving. Some people are offended by the use of the word “fraud” to describe Robert Graysmith yet his actions clearly meet the definition of that word, as defined by Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary and Dictionary.com:
Definition of FRAUD: 1. a : deceit, trickery; specifically : intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right b : an act of deceiving or misrepresenting : trick – 2. a : a person who is not what he or she pretends to be : impostor; also : one who defrauds : cheat b : one that is not what it seems or is represented to be AND Fraud: (noun) 1. deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.
Robert Graysmith’s book Zodiac: Unmasked contained the bogus claim that the Zodiac had called the home of attorney Melvin Belli and declared, “Today’s my birthday!” Graysmith claimed that this call occurred on December 18, 1969, Allen’s birthday. Graysmith had cited an FBI report to support this claim but the report in question did not confirm his date of the call; in fact, the FBI reports indicated that the call most likely occurred in mid-January 1970. The FBI reports also stated that police had proved that the man who had called Belli’s home was a patient in a mental hospital; this man was not the Zodiac. [Graysmith’s myth of the Zodiac’s “Birthday” Call on Allen’s birthday was featured in the film adaptation of his books by director David Fincher, who referred to this falsehood as “Graysmith’s December 18 obsession.“] After the publication of Zodiac: Unmasked, I learned the facts about the phone calls in question and then I called Graysmith in search of an explanation for the bizarre and blatant falsehoods in his book. I left messages on Graysmith’s answering machine but he never returned my calls, perhaps because he knew about the early versions of my article GRAYSMITH UNMASKED. When I made a final attempt to call Graysmith, his answering machine once again came on and I was in the process of leaving another message when the author picked up the phone. After explaining that he had been unable to get to the phone sooner because of some household task, Graysmith offered his assistance. I then asked a question regarding the so-called “Birthday call” to Melvin Belli that was described in Graysmith’s book. Upon hearing the question, Graysmith’s voice grew weary as he said, “What’s your name again?” I answered, “Michael Butterfield.” A slight, pregnant pause was followed by the obviously regretful recognition of my name. “Oh, I know who you are,” Graysmith replied. “I know all about you. I know what you’re doing. I don’t want to talk about that right now, I’ll, I’ll call you back.” The line went dead. Graysmith never called me back, and I think the reason is obvious.
In November 2012, Graysmith was publicizing his new book Black Fire: The True Story of the Original Tom Sawyer–and of the Mysterious Fires That Baptized Gold Rush-Era San Francisco. During an interview for FOX 51 TV KFXX in East Texas, Graysmith once again distorted the facts and invented his own. The segment lasted approximately 7 minutes but Graysmith managed to work in his usual lies about his pet suspect Arthur Leigh Allen. Graysmith claimed that Allen was one of only ten people at Lake Berryessa on the day of the infamous Zodiac attack. Graysmith knew that his claim was not supported by the facts, but he has repeated this falsehood on many occasions. According to Graysmith, Allen drove from Lake Berryessa to the auto parts store where he worked at the time of the Berryessa attack (according to Graysmith), and Allen told people, “I was at the lake, and they’re gonna accuse me of being Zodiac.” Graysmith’s claims were not supported by the known facts.
Graysmith’s most shocking lie concerned the day that authorities took surviving Zodiac victim Bryan Hartnell to Allen’s place of work to examine the suspect. Here’s Graysmith’s revisionist version of events: “Bryan walks into the hardware store, the auto parts store… and Allen says, ‘My God, I thought that kid was dead,’ and runs out the back door.” Graysmith previously told this story when interviewed for a 2007 article published in the Sunday Mirror titled “IS THE ZODIAC KILLER STILL OUT THERE?“.
Once again, Graysmith told a blatant lie which was specifically designed to mislead the public into believing that Allen was the Zodiac. The events described by Graysmith never occurred. I had interviewed Bryan Hartnell many years earlier and he told me about his visit to the store to view Allen. According to Hartnell, Allen did not react to him at all, Allen did not say, “I thought that kid was dead,” and Allen did not run out the back door. Of course, Arthur Leigh Allen (like everyone else) would have known that Hartnell had survived if he paid any attention to the news reports after the Berryessa attack. Graysmith’s story was pure fiction.
Some people continue to praise Robert Graysmith and his impact on the Zodiac case despite the undeniable facts which prove that he has done more damage to this unsolved mystery than any other single human being in history. The FOX 51 interview proved beyond doubt that Robert Graysmith’s true legacy is a mountain of lies which persist to this day. Graysmith is able to maintain this false image of a dedicated journalist thanks to the media which never fact-checks or challenges his lies, and, those who keep excusing his behavior. Graysmith has promoted himself at the expense of the victims, the case, and the truth. His relentless attempts to convict Arthur Leigh Allen in the court of public opinion reveal his true character. Robert Graysmith is not a diligent, honest journalist who keeps the case alive– he is a dishonest man who keeps lying in order to falsely accuse a dead man.
* * *
An expanded examination of Graysmith’s history, theories and claims is available in the selection of articles listed below. These articles provide a disturbing portrait of Robert Graysmith Unmasked, exposing the face and career of a Zodiac scavenger.
Robert Graysmith: UNMASKED – A critical examination of Graysmith’s books and public claims.
Robert Graysmith: A CLOSER LOOK – A closer look at Graysmith’s interview for a radio show in which he uttered numerous falsehoods about the Zodiac case and his suspect, Arthur Leigh Allen.
Robert Graysmith: To Tell The Truth – A fact vs. fiction examination of the author’s bizarre Question and Answer session at the Washington Post website.
Robert Graysmith’s THE DAY POLICE THOUGHT THEY NAILED ZODIAC – An examination of the author’s 1999 article for the website APBNews.com in which Graysmith claimed that initial DNA testing produced a false positive match to Arthur Leigh Allen.
Robert Graysmith’s Crooked Compass – A thorough examination of the author’s factual errors and distortions regarding California geography and its relationship to the Zodiac crimes. This section also includes the audio version of this article titled ZODIAC: A to Z, featuring writer Michael Butterfield and long-time Zodiac researcher Ed Neil.