In the second “Zodiac” letter sent in August 1969, the writer stated that he had used a gun with a light attached to the barrel for shooting at night. This letter offered details regarding the shooting on Lake Herman Road on December 20, 1968, and addressed questions about the killer’s ability to see the victims in the dark.
“In that epasode the police were wondering as to how I could shoot + hit my victoms in the dark. They did not openly state this, but implied this by saying it was a well lit night + I could see the silowets on the horizon. Bullshit that area is srounded by high hills + trees. What I did was tape a small pencel flash light to the barrel of my gun. If you notice, in the center of the beam of light if you aim it at a wall or celling you will see a black or darck spot in the center of the circle of light about 3 to 6 inches across. When taped to a gun barrel, the bullet will strike exactly in the center of the black dot in the light. All I had to do was spray them as if it was a water hose; there was no need to use the gun sights.”
The Zodiac was not the first to conceive of a light attached to the barrel of a gun. Articles about a gun light had appeared in the magazine Popular Mechanics as far back as 1922 and 1933. A 1961 episode of the television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents titled “Museum Piece” featured a character named Ben using a rifle with a light attached to the barrel. Ben (played by actor Bert Convy) is shown with the gun as his father narrates the story of the hunt for a devious fox.
“I called her Circe because she led him to his doom. Worked her whiles on him, brazenly let him track her, almost as if she knew what lay in wait for him. He never hunted for sport, but once in a while, he collected an animal. In this case, he had his heart set on Circe. She’d been raiding hen houses in the neighborhood. Sooner or later, some farmer would trap her or shoot her anyway, so Ben decided to take her for his collection… He’d invented a fool proof gadget for night shooting. A spotlight mounted on his 22 in such a way that his shot would strike the exact center of light.”
Ben then tracks Circe to a barn. Using his gun-mounted spotlight, Ben shoots the fox but frightens a young couple necking inside the barn. Ben is attacked by the angry, interrupted lover and fires his gun by accident, killing the man instantly. Ben is then tried and convicted. Ben’s father later pleads with the district attorney for help but is refused. The DA is then murdered. The father recalls the failed search for the killer and says, “I remember the excitement of the manhunt. The most dangerous game.”
The description of the gun light in the Hitchcock episode is similar to the wording of the Zodiac’s letter in August 1969*. The mention of the phrase “the most dangerous game” could also be interpreted by some as another possible connection to the Zodiac’s deciphered message which referred to man as the most dangerous animal of all.
[ * This possible connection was first posted by ZodiacKillerFacts forum member Ratel, April 2010 ]
The episode “Museum Piece” was originally broadcast on April 4, 1961, during the sixth season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
SUMMARY (with SPOILERS): Clay Hollister is a museum curator and collector of Indian relics. One day, during a tour, Clay notices a man named Newton Clovis who is fascinated by a skeleton in Clay’s collection. Newton wants to analyze the bones. He does so and reveals that the bones are those of a long-missing district attorney. Newton is really a detective and demands the skeleton for further investigation. Clay refuses and kills him. Later, he adds the bones of yet another man to his collection.
* Tom Begley – cast: Prison Guard
* Paul Bradley – cast: Court Reporter
* Bert Convy – cast: Ben Hollister
* Larry Gates – cast: Mr. Hollister
* Tom Gilleran – cast: Tim McCaffrey
* Myron McCormick – cast: Newton B. Clovis
* Charles Meredith – cast: Judge
* Edward Platt – cast: Mr. Henshaw
* Darlene Tompkins – cast: Tim’s Girlfriend
SUMMARY: Mr. Hollister now runs a small museum that is actually something of a shrine to his late son, Ben. He tells a visitor that the human skeleton in the museum is actually that of his son. In a flashback he recounts that his son was hunting a fox for his collection of stuffed animals when he comes across Tim McCaffrey, the son of a wealthy and influential rancher. A fight breaks out and Tim is accidentally shot. Despite his protestations that it was all an accident, he is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Once there, he loses all interest in life. But just who is this stranger Mr. Hollister is telling this story to and is he being completely honest? [Written by garykmcd]
Published articles that describe attaching a flashlight to a gun barrel:
Popular Mechanics – August 1922 issue (viewable on Google Books – page 244)
An article titled “Automatic Pistol Combined With Hand Flashlight” reads: “As a device to discourage burglars, a newly invented flashlight pistol should prove quite effective. The pistol barrel is placed along a tubular flashlight, and six shots of .22 caliber can…”
Popular Mechanics – October 1933 issue (viewable on Google Books – page 513)
An article titled “Focusing Flashlight For Gun Helps Hunter At Night” reads: “Hunting game at night is facilitated by using a focusing a flashlight which attaches to the weapon with automobile steering-post clamps, the same kind used by motorists for holding a flashlight on the steering wheel.”