In the world of serial killers, one might consider the Zodiac Killer to be a step above the rest. A serial murderer active in Northern California in the 1960s and 1970s, he was notable not only for his killing spree and mysterious ciphers sent to news outlets and police, but also for the fact that he got away with the crimes, as his identity was never discovered. The police's prime suspect was Arthur Leigh Allen, but his DNA, fingerprints, and handwriting did not match that left behind by the killer.
The Zodiac Killer's activity began with the shooting deaths of David Farraday and Betty Lou Jensen in 1968, but police suspect his killing spree may have begun five years earlier, with the 1963 murders of Robert Domingos and Linda Edwards. This has not been confirmed, however. The next attack produced one survivor, Michael Mageau, who is only one of a handful of people who have seen the killer's face. He and Darlene Ferrin were parked at a well known lover's lane when the killer blocked them in, blinded them with a flashlight, then shot and killed Ferrin. Mageau had been seriously injured but lived.
After several of his murders, the killer sent ciphers — encoded messages — to newspapers and police, saying that the messages would reveal his identity. Usually, however, they revealed nothing but cryptic rants and threats against further victims.
While the Zodiac Killer claimed responsibility for 37 victims, only seven have been confirmed. All were young couples, except for cab driver Paul Stine, who was shot in the back of the head after driving the killer to the corner of Washington and Maple Streets in San Francisco. One other victim survived: Bryan Hartnell, who was stabbed several times by a man wearing a black hood with the Zodiac's symbol on his chest. Cecilia Shepard was killed in the attack.
The prime suspect, Arthur Leigh Allen, was linked by an abundance of circumstantial evidence to the Zodiac killings, though police could not find conclusive evidence; his fingerprints and handwriting did not match that of the killer, and he was therefore never charged. He died in 1992 of a heart attack. The most recent Zodiac Killer suspect is Jack Tarrance, whose stepson found a black hood resembling that of the killer, as well as undeveloped rolls of film that Tarrance's stepson says contain gruesome photos of the murders. None of the evidence has been substantiated, though the case is still open and active.