Terrifying Theories About The Zodiac Killer

Who was the Zodiac?

The mystery of the Zodiac began on August 1, 1969, when three separate California newspapers (San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, and Vallejo Times-Herald) received nearly identical letters by someone claiming responsibility for two recent strikes on couples parked in their cars, aggressions that left three dead and one survivor with gunshots to the face, neck, and chest. Along with the letters, each paper received a third of a cryptogram, which, once solved, read "I like killing people because it is so much fun."

Many slayings, letters, and cryptograms followed until the mid-'70s when the pattern ceased. The most famous of their cyphers went uncracked for over 50 years, until, in 2020, three amateurs solved it. They unlocked a message including their declaration "I AM NOT AFRAID OF THE GAS CHAMBER." But the Zodiac was never discovered or taken into custody, let alone sentenced to capital punishment. They remain one of the most infamous uncaught serial killers in history. But myriad theories abound as to their identity. 


  • Was The Zodiac Identified By His Son?

    In 2014, Gary Stewart published the book The Most Dangerous Animal of All, in which he claimed that his father, Earl Van Best Jr., was the Zodiac. Evidence included the similarity between Best's visage and the police sketches of the Zodiac and a scar on Best's right index finger that matches that in a fingerprint left at a Zodiac scene.

    Furthermore, publicist Chris Harris claims that he saw Best at a diner in 1969 near the site of one of the slayings. Harris was in the area at the time making a documentary about the Zodiac when he sat beside a man who resembled Best. According to Harris, Best turned to him and said, "You have no idea what it's like to have to kill."

  • Did The Zodiac Eliminate Couples Because He'd Been Rejected?

    Did The Zodiac Eliminate Couples Because He'd Been Rejected?
    Photo: The Zodiac / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    A man named Randy Kenney claims his friend Louis Myers admitted to being the Zodiac before he passed in May 2002 of cirrhosis of the liver. Myers claimed he was motivated to wipe out couples because he had suffered a breakup.

    Myers went to high school with two of the targets and worked at the same restaurant as a third. He also worked at a military surplus store, giving him access to the type of boots the Zodiac wore. In fact, he had been deployed to Germany for two years, during which time there was a lapse in all communications from the Zodiac.

  • Was The Zodiac A Vietnam Vet?

    Was The Zodiac A Vietnam Vet?
    Photo: San Francisco Police Department / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Some have suggested the Zodiac was deployed to Vietnam and slain there, ending his activity.

    This would also explain why the slayer wore military-issue boots of a type mostly worn by the Navy - and why witnesses at one scene described him as having a crew-cut. 

  • Were They Convicted For Harming Children?

    Were They Convicted For Harming Children?
    Photo: BlackBear51 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 4.0

    Arthur Leigh Allen was a convicted child molester who allegedly told friends that he was the Zodiac. He wore a Zodiac wristwatch, which is where some theorize the Zodiac got his name, as the brand uses the same crosshairs symbol as the logo that the slayer used when signing letters. Police found a typewriter in Allen's trailer matching the brand used to produce one of the Zodiac letters. But no hard evidence ever surfaced linking him to Zodiac, and he passed in 1992.

    Because so much circumstantial evidence linked Allen to the slayings, but his DNA and handwriting did not match any found on the Zodiac's letters, some have theorized Allen had an accomplice: he would carry out the acts, but a different man would write the letters.