Associated Press
In this photo from March 29, 1974, San Francisco homicide inspectors David Toschi, left,
and William Armstrong go through a murder victim's clothes at the morgue in the Hall of
Justice in San Francisco.

Zodiac Killer Case Reopens After New Suspect Emerges

April 30, 2009 04:00 PM
by Anita Gutierrez-Folch
California resident Deborah Perez proposes yet another possible identity for the legendary Zodiac killer, accused of having murdered at least five people in the 1960s: her father.

Zodiac Killer in the Headlines Again

The identity of the infamous Zodiac killer, allegedly responsible for five murders in the Bay Area during the late 1960s, has given way to a number of theories, rumors and suspicions. On Wednesday, Deborah Perez, a 47-year-old real estate agent, added to the mix: She announced that Guy Ward Hendrickson, her adoptive father who died in 1983, is the Zodiac killer.

Perez also claims that she was present at one of the killings and helped Hendrickson write some of the notes that were sent to the press and the police. “I was a child and just thought I was helping my dad,” Perez said. “I didn’t know.”
During a press conference outside the San Francisco Chronicle building, Kevin McLean, Perez’s defense attorney, declared that “[Hendrickson] was a Jekyll and Hyde. He was nuts. He set out to kill people. Some of these killings were not random.”

The last murder connected to the Zodiac killer was that of Paul Lee Stine, a San Francisco taxi driver slain in 1969; to support her claims, Perez told the press she had given police what she believes are Stine’s eyeglasses, together with letters she had written on behalf of her father explaining the multiple crimes.

McLean said that Perez came forward on Wednesday because another investigator was planning to come out with a different theory on the case. He also claims that Perez has successfully passed psychological exams, and that her handwriting has been confirmed by Bart Baggett, a document examiner and executive producer for an upcoming documentary on the Zodiac case.

Given that claims about the identity of the Zodiac killer occur regularly in the Bay Area, many are skeptical about the legitimacy of Perez’s declarations. Although the Zodiac killer was never caught, KTVU-TV (San Francisco) reports that “many believe he was Arthur Leigh Allen, a convicted child molester from Vallejo who died in 1992.”

Former San Francisco Chronicle staff member Robert Graysmith, who has thoroughly examined the Zodiac case and written a book about it, entitled “Zodiac,” expressed his doubts about Hendrickson, who comes to the scene as an “entirely new suspect.”

Background: The Zodiac mystery

The case of the Zodiac killer is considered one of the greatest murder mysteries in history, and remains unsolved to this day. Throughout the decades, police have examined thousands of potential suspects but haven’t been able to close the case conclusively.

The killer was active in Northern California during the late 1960s, and was known by the cryptic letters, phone calls and messages he sent to the press and the police. Even though the killer claimed responsibility for murdering between 30 and 40 people, police were only able to confirm that he attacked seven people, five of whom died.

The Zodiac killer case continues to fascinate the public. In 2007, the case was the inspiration for the hit movie “Zodiac,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr. Several documentaries have also been made about the murders.

Related Topic: FBI reopens Tylenol poisoning case

In early February, the FBI reopened the investigation into the 1982 Tylenol death case in which seven people died from ingesting Tylenol laced with cyanide. Although no one was ever charged with the murders, James William Lewis, now 62 years old, was a prime suspect. Recently, the police reexamined Lewis’ home in Cambridge, Mass. The FBI’s office in Chicago explained that they had reopened the case because of “advances in forensic technology.”

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