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Born in the state of Texas in 1928, Richard Marshall developed a fascination with electronics and old films, and he eventually worked as a projectionist at a movie theater. He also worked as an engineer for the Bay Area radio station KTM.
A ham radio enthusiast, Marshall talked with other radio buffs and once invited some listeners to visit his home. Upon their arrival, the guests found the host peculiar and soon suspected that Marshall was the infamous ”Zodiac killer.”
* Marshall reportedly lived in Los Angeles at the time that three women had been killed in the area. He also was said to be in the Napa area at the time of the stabbing at Lake Berryessa.
* Marshall allegedly told witness that he had found something “much more exciting that sex,” and had a collection of pornographic literature.
* Marshall’s enjoyed watching old silent movies. One of his favorite films was titled “El Spectre Rojo,” or “The Red Phantom.” This name had been used in one of the 1974 letters attributed to the Zodiac.
* Marshall owned a teletype machine, similar to one believed to be used by the Zodiac, and liked to use “odd sized paper.”
* In 1969, Marshall reportedly lived in a basement apartment on Scott Street in San Francisco, several miles from the scene of the Zodiac’s last known murder. In one letter, the Zodiac mentioned his “basement.”
* Marshall was ambidextrous and, according to the informants, “this suspect always uses, as did Zodiac … a black felt tip pen.” The Zodiac used a BLUE felt tip pen to write most of his letters. The suspect also reportedly owned a Royal typewriter similar to the one used to type the “Confession” letter in the Riverside case.
In spite of the list of damning links to the Zodiac, Marshall proved to be a disappointment. Much of the information contained in the report submitted by the suspicious informants was based on erroneous information about the crimes, and a fingerprint comparison did not match any of the prints believed to belong to the killer. Retired Zodiac investigator Ken Narlow said of the man often referred to as his “favorite” suspect, “Marshall makes good reading but not a very good suspect in my estimation.”
Richard Marshall shared his thoughts during a 1989 television interview. “Obviously, if they had been more forthcoming, I would have understood why they were investigating me,” the suspect explained. He acknowledged that he and the Zodiac seemed to share similar characteristics and interests. “My innocence notwithstanding, the details do fit.”
Robert Graysmith’s 1986 book Zodiac featured a ”character” based on Marshall named “Donald Jeff Andrews.” Graysmith’s chapter on ”Andrews” contained both fact and fiction, and effectively rendered a reluctant Marshall a permanent suspect in the unsolved murders. In the 2007 film adaptation of Graysmith’s book the Marshall-based character was named ”Rick Martin.” Like the book, director David Fincher’s version of the Zodiac story also departed from fact and once again cast the suspect into the spotlight. The man who loved movies and longed to be a character on the big screen was immortalized for film history as one of only two suspects mentioned in a movie about one of the most notorious unsolved serial murder cases in American history.
According to reports, Richard Marshall died in a nursing home in September 2008.