In 2007, Blaine and his accusations resurfaced on the Internet, thanks to Tom Voigt, owner of the website Zodiackiller.com. Along with David Morris, a member of the site’s message board, Voigt resurrected the Gaikowski-as-Zodiac theory and promoted Blaine Blaine as a credible source. Voigt and Morris pointed to Gaikowski’s work as a newsman as well as several other strained and speculative “connections” in their efforts to convict the suspect in the court of public opinion. Voigt’s site released a constant stream of seemingly-damning information portraying Gaikowski as a logical and viable suspect, citing interviews with and “evidence” provided by Blaine, using the code-name “Goldcatcher.” Hiding behind this anonymity, Blaine was able to accuse a dead man while effectively obstructing any efforts to investigate his true identity and background.
Blaine Blaine had more disturbing claims and sensational stories to tell in his so-called “Audio Confession.” This long recorded telephone monologue raises serious doubts regarding Blaine’s credibility, his theory, his claims, and his sanity.
Blaine’s August 1986 letter to Captain Ken Narlow of the NCSO and Inspector Napoleon Hendrix of the SFPD offered several pages of strained speculation in an attempt to link Gaikowski with murdered cab driver Leonard Smith; despite its length, Blaine’s collection of “connections” did little to establish any connection between the suspect and the victim. Blaine wrote, “Did [Gaikowski] call up Smith, a casual acquaintance from cabby days, arranging to meet him that Thursday?…” In his September 1986 manuscript, Blaine had written, “…I maintain that Gaikowski knew both Smith [cab driver days] and Seligman…” Blaine’s words clearly indicate that, as of September 1986, he had been unable to establish any connection between Gaikowski and Smith.
In his recent “Audio Confession,” Blaine told a different story. He claimed that he was in Gaikowski’s house with both Gaikowski and Leonard Smith at the same time, and, that Gaikowski had openly stated his desire and intention to kill Leonard Smith. He also wrote that he was present at the scene of the murder, heard the shot, and saw Gaikowski.
According to Blaine, Gaikowski said that he would commit murder and then spray paint a “Golden calf” on the sidewalk nearby as a signature of sorts. Blaine claims that he refused to join Gaikowski in murder and called his friend “nuts.” Blaine also claimed that Gaikowski openly confessed that he had killed cabdriver Leonard Smith and that Blaine was even present at the scene during the killing, saying, “You know, I killed the guy,” and that Blaine had actually heard the shot. Blaine also claimed that Gaikowski directed Blaine to contact police and report Gaikowski as the Zodiac killer. Blaine also claimed that Gaikowski was responsible for bombings in the Bay Area, including the bombing of the Park Police station which resulted in the death of a police officer.
In 1986, Blaine claimed that he had stumbled upon the conclusion that Gaikowski was the Zodiac and that the suspect had threatened Blaine’s life and even murdered other human beings in an attempt to silence Blaine. Decades later, Blaine now claimed that he was approached by Gaikowski and asked to report the suspect to police because Gaikowski knew no one would ever listen to a kook like Blaine. Even more baffling was Blaine’s new claim that he had always known that Gaikowski was the Zodiac killer and had even accompanied the suspect during another string of bizarre murders known as the “Golden Calf Killings.” At one point in the audio confession, Blaine is uncertain as to whether or not he actually participated in the killings. Blaine later mentions a meeting with German extremists who were plotting to assassinate then-President Ronald Reagan.
More than 20 years after he first “solved” the case, Blaine still believes that Richard Gaikowski is the Zodiac. Once again, a man stands accused of murder by another man armed with alleged evidence, and, once again, the accuser lacks credibility. Those who endorse Blaine and his theory choose to ignore the accuser’s lack of credibility while pursuing the accuser’s agenda – the continued accusations against the now-deceased Richard Gaikowski. Rendered defenseless by death, the accused cannot respond to the increasingly incredulous yet serious accusations and his name remains on the list of named suspects despite the fact that no credible evidence has been presented to justify his inclusion on that list.
In a recent posting on a message board, a member noted that the public accusations against Gaikowski could accurately be described as irresponsible, and harmful to his reputation and family. The site owner, Blaine-promoter Tom Voigt, responded by saying, in essence, “Who cares,” and wrote, “He’s dead,” as if the fact that Gaikwoski had died was good reason to accuse the man without concern or responsible restraint. Such statements sum up the problems of naming and vetting suspects in public; such behavior is irresponsible, does damage to the public perception of the case, and only further clouds the case with more unnecessary nonsense. Destroying the lives of innocent men and their families is becoming a cottage industry, and “who cares” seems to be the prevailing mantra (evidenced by Voigt’s history of propping up strawmen suspects and knocking them down when the theory becomes unpopular or discredited).
When one message board poster wrote that he “felt bad” for Gaikowski’s family and loved ones, Voigt responded, “Feel bad for him? Come on. If Gyke had any issue whatever with being suspected of being the Zodiac he wouldn’t have spent 100s of hours on the phone messing Goldcatcher.” In one of his rambling letters to law enforcement, Blaine claimed that Gaikowski was killing people because he was upset about the accusations; in another passage, Blaine claims that he was wired to record a conversation with Gaikowski but that the suspect began “screaming,” an indication that the ongoing accusations may have bothered Gaikowski. Undoubtedly, Gaikowski would have been upset if he knew that, after his death, he would be accused of being one of the most notorious murderers in history, let alone that the accusations would be based on the delusional ravings of Blaine Blaine and the flimsiest of “evidence.”
Former Vallejo police dispatcher Nancy Slover answered the call from the Zodiac shortly after the shooting at Blue Rock Springs Park. Tom Voigt of Zodiackiller.com provided an audio recording of Gaikowski’s voice for Nancy Slover and she concluded that the suspect’s voice was the same voice she had heard almost four decades earlier. For those who believed that Gaikowski was a good suspect, Slover’s “identification” was strong evidence; others had great difficulty believing that anyone could accurately identify a voice they had heard for only a matter of seconds almost forty years ago.
Nancy Slover appeared on the History Channel program MYSTERYQUEST broadcast, and was asked to listen to tapes of Gaikowski’s voice again. The program gave viewers the impression that Nancy Slover listened to the tape of Gaikowski’s voice for the first time during her filmed segment with accusers Tom Voigt and Davis Morris; in fact, Slover had heard the tape some time ago and had already stated that Gaikowski’s voice was similar to that of the Zodiac (she allegedly “identified” Gaikwoski as the man she spoke with more than forty years ago). “That came very close to his ‘Good-bye,’ to me,” Nancy said of one portion of the tape. “It’s the same guy.” When asked if she was certain, she replied, “I – well – I am. Nobody I have listened to before even came close to him.” Slover added, “In my opinion, that is the man that called VPD in the early morning hours of July 5, 1969. I just know what my gut feeling is, and my reaction is.” [Read more about Nancy Slover’s Voice Identification.]
The producers of MYSTERYQUEST did their best to gain access to the original case evidence as well as the partial genetic profile created by the SFPD crime lab, but the San Francisco Police Department declined to participate in the program and refused to provide access to the DNA evidence. Some people viewed the lack of cooperation as proof that the SFPD was engaged in some sinister attempt to thwart the investigation of Richard Gaikowski or conceal the fact that their evidence was not as sound as they had led us to believe. To these armchair critics, the behavior of the SFPD was baffling, and the refusal to participate in the production was characterized as “arrogant” and even “irresponsible.” To others, the actions of the SFPD made perfect sense.
Richard Gaikowski first became a “suspect” back in 1986, thanks to the claims of “Blaine Blaine” (aka Goldcatcher). Despite the fact that members of law enforcement (including Ken Narlow) did not believe that he was a credible source, Blaine found new support for his incredulous claims decades later in the likes of Tom Voigt and David Morris of the website Zodiackiller.com. Ignoring Blaine’s credibility issues and his habit of telling mutually exclusive versions of the same story, Voigt and Morris resurrected Blaine’s bogus claims and introduced him to a world ignorant of his history. Armed with audio recordings of telephone conversations between Blaine and the suspect, as well as a long list of seemingly damning evidence, Voigt and Morris launched their campaign to promote Gaikowski as a new and compelling suspect. The message board at Zodiackiller.com became a 24-hour source for propaganda designed to convince the world that Voigt and Morris were hot on the trail of the killer’s true identity. Not unlike college pranksters leading gullible freshmen on a snipe hunt, Voigt and Morris led their newly-converted believers down a path carefully constructed to create the conclusion that Gaikowski was a viable suspect in need of serious investigation.
More than 20 years ago, Ken Narlow looked into Blaine’s accusations; he concluded that Blaine had no credibility and that his suspect was unworthy of further examination. Blaine’s letters and his statements today demonstrate that Narlow’s assessment of Blaine was correct. During his many written communications to investigators, Blaine desperately tried to establish a link between Gaikowski and slain cab driver Leonard Smith, and he provided a long list of circumstances and coincidences to create a rather strained connection. Decades ago, Blaine claimed that he had stumbled upon Gaikowski’s identity as the Zodiac; today, he claims that he was asked by Gaikowski to report the suspect to police. Decades ago, Blaine had been unable to establish a connection between Gaikowski and Smith; today, he claims he was in the same room with the two men. Decades ago, Blaine had nothing more than speculation to connect Gaikowski to Smith’s murder; today, he claims that Gaikowski not only told of him of his intention to kill Smith, but that he was at the scene when the murder occurred. Decades ago, Blaine claimed that Gaikowski was killing people in order to stop his investigation; today, he claims that Gaikowski invited him to participate in the murder spree.
Richard Gaikowski was arrested in the 1960s; the version of the story offered today has Gaikowski writing a story about conditions in the local jail and he attempted to get arrested in order to investigate from within. However, Blaine offered a different story when he spoke with David Morris.
In an email dated March 9, 2008, Morris wrote: “I spoke with Blaine today and asked why Richard was arrested in 1965. He’d told me the story before, but it didn’t make a ton of sense. He retold it exactly as before. Richard got into a fight with Darlene, and, this is what’s fuzzy, for some reason held out a beer bottle from the driver side window of his car as a police cruiser went by. The cops saw it, stopped him, and arrested him for it. He lost his job over the incident.” Of course, the story has now changed to remove the outlandish claims regarding Zodiac victim Darlene Ferrin.
Voigt and Morris have chosen to ignore these serious credibility problems, just as Voigt ignored the same problems when it came to his associations with and promotion of Robert Graysmith, Allen-accuser Don Cheney, Manson conspiracy theorist Howard Davis, and others over the years. In a recent post on his own message board, Voigt wrote, “I can’t count how many times a sensational claim about Gaikowski from Goldcatcher turned out to be true. He’s more than earned the benefit of the doubt.” Apparently Voigt does not count the times when Blaine’s story proved to be false.
The MYSTERYQUEST investigation failed to uncover any new information to implicate Gaikowski. In fact, the program did much to support the conclusion that Gaikowski was not in the state of California during the time of the Zodiac events which began in late 1968 and continued until March 1971. Gaikowski’s friend Bob Loomis provided producers with letters and envelopes which the suspect had sent to Loomis; one of these letters was dated May 1969 and postmarked in New York. Gaikowski himself claimed that he was not even in the country at the time of the murders on Lake Herman Road in December 1968.
The producers of MYSTERYQUEST did their best to have Gaikowski’s DNA compared to the partial profile created by the San Francisco Police Department crime lab. Despite the fact that no credible evidence exists to implicate Gaikowski, the producers acted responsibly in requesting such a comparison as he had already been accused in public for more than a year. However, the SFPD refused to cooperate with the production; a sample believed to belong to Gaikowski was forwarded to the SFPD, yet the department has not released any information or confirmed that any comparison was conducted. Supporters of the Gaikowski theory characterized this refusal as evidence that the SFPD was not interested in pursuing legitimate suspects or solving this case. David Morris offered his own thoughts on the reasons behind the refusal to cooperate, and wrote on Voigt’s message board, “Concern over looking stupid for letting a bunch of net geeks solve the most famous case in SF history? Ding ding ding.”
While this may have seemed like a perfectly reasonable explanation to David Morris, residents of planet earth viewed the actions of the SFPD in a very different light. Initially, some members of the SFPD believed that DNA testing might be an effective tool when it came to discrediting crackpots, however, as Graysmith, Rodelli and others have made clear, theorists simply march on, undeterred by such evidence.
The SFPD most likely has more than a passing familiarity with the career and claims of Tom Voigt; years ago, Voigt leaked a worksheet from the San Francisco Police Department concerning previous attempts to obtain DNA from the Zodiac’s envelopes. Members of the department may also remember that Tom Voigt is the same individual who promoted the already-discredited Robert Graysmith, assisted Graysmith in accusing Allen and spreading nonsense about that suspect, and generated the hype surrounding the non-suspect known as “Sam.” Voigt also sold Arthur Leigh Allen underwear, a beer mug featuring the face of victim Paul Stine, tee-shirts and more. In short, Voigt’s reputation among those in law enforcement and most especially the SFPD is less than stellar. If the SFPD knew that Tom Voigt was behind the accusations against Richard Gaikowski they may have seen no value in pursuing DNA testing when they knew Voigt’s history of propping up strawmen suspects only to knock them down after they lost their value as a marketable commodity.
There are many legitimate reasons to explain the SFPD’s refusal to participate in a DNA comparison concerning Gaikowski. Recent events surrounding the ridiculous claims made by Dennis Kaufman and Deborah Perez have created unnecessary work for law enforcement. The men and women who are constantly forced to investigate the tall tales told by individuals in search of fame and profit may be tired of devoting valuable time, resources, manpower and money to such nonsense. Blaine Blaine is the only reason that Gaikowski ever became a Zodiac suspect in the first place, and the SFPD may be well aware of the fact that he has no credibility, that he had already taken his information to every law enforcement agency, including the FBI, only to be dismissed as a kook, and that Blaine has been coddled and promoted by Tom Voigt. Rather than encourage others to engage in the same shameless opportunism, the SFPD may have decided that the best way to deter future crackpots was to simply ignore claims made by those who clearly have no credibility. The SFPD may have believed that they would be wasting time and effort on a new investigation of a suspect already examined and abandoned by investigators such as Ken Narlow and others more than twenty years earlier. In short, the SFPD’s refusal could be a statement saying, in effect, “We are not the crackpot clearinghouse, and we don’t come running every time some nutcase claims he has solved the Zodiac case.”
Regardless of the reasons behind the SFPD’s decision not to participate in the MYSTERYQUEST testing, the department is under no obligation to share any information with the public, curious crime buffs, or men who are accusing suspects based on the flimsiest of evidence. The fact that SFPD does not do what some people want the department to do does not mean that the department is somehow irresponsible or apathetic, or that members of law enforcement are somehow afraid of or embarrassed by the so-called “net geeks” like Tom Voigt and David Morris. If one can read anything from the behavior of the SFPD, one might conclude that they have been paying attention and offered the most appropriate response to the Gaikowski/Blaine/Voigt/Morris machine.