These are the final confirmed written words of the Zodiac (outside of the Post Script below asking for press acknowledgement). They are from the January 29th, 1974 Exorcist letter (coincidentally one day after Xenophon Anthony’s birthday). He goes back to the ‘grove’ as he (mis)quotes again from the light opera ‘The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan.
I must have looked at this particular letter a hundred times…something always seemed ‘off’ about it. Then recently I was thinking again about the Bates/Shepard connection. I started looking at places on maps and it struck me…(thanks also to Zodiackiller.com Discussion Forum: Bates/Shepard Riverside).
I know the original lyric is ‘grave‘. But look at the letter again. His ‘a’s always have tails. He’s misquoted before. He mispells also. He’s riffed on the Mikado lyrics, modifying them to suite his needs in the Little List letter. A guy who makes an uncrackable code (’til now) doesn’t make mistakes on paper. He may lie through his teeth or make errors in recall but that’s a different matter. It’s the last thing the Zodiac ever writes, remember. To me he’s modifying the sound to rhyme with ‘echo‘, ‘arose‘, and ‘tit willo‘. He’s also trying to correct the meaning, taking poetic license: how can an echo arise from a grave after all- grove makes more sense. At the same time he’s giving us one final parting clue. Keep an open mind as we go.
Is he referring us to a place halfway between his two targeted victims? Highgrove just outside of Riverside fits the bill. But other groves in the vicinity of Riverside may also have significance for him. If he was from Highgrove or High Grove as it was sometimes called we might possibly still be able to uncover The Zodiac’s identity, as it is a small place to search. It was built around a railroad stop for freight and passengers. The passenger service by Santa Fe RR ended May 1st, 1971 at around the time Zodiac paused his letter mailings
A railroad modeler, James Lancaster, has reconstructed the crossing at the main East/West thoroughfare, Center Street below….Note the Santa Fe engine about to pass through. Is this where the Zodiac symbol came from? It could also have come from Center Street, as it is a center mark symbol as well.
Could this have been the center of his world? Perhaps a spot where some event occurred that forever left a mark on him?
The map below left shows part of the extensive streetcar system that existed in the area until 1951. The map right shows the passenger train stops and distances between. Both were popular modes of mass transit in their heydays as not so many folks were able to afford autos. Did the Zodiac possibly even work for the Santa Fe RR?Cheri Jo Bates and Cecelia Shepard were at colleges in ’66 about ten miles apart. It was not necessary for the girls to have known each other. Only for Zodiac to have known both. He likely had been given the brush off by both.
‘By knife or by gun’ becomes important here. His more personal murders were by knife. And it provides a reason for the costume at Lake Berryessa. Cecelia Shepard might have recognized him if she’d seen him, from the ’66 Riverside and Linda Loma days. Was she the blonde from the confession letter? Bryon Hartnell saw his hand shaking as he stabbed Cecelia, as if he didn’t want to do it.
If not Xenophon or Kane how did he know of them? If he knew both Cheri Jo and Cecelia Shepard what was the connection?
Was he a musician or music student? You’d almost have to be to become obsessed with Mikado, never meant to be the most profound piece of music. The desktop poem was found at Riverside College in a Music Dept storage room if I remember correctly. And he goes out singing…’the sucides grove’
Top photo below was taken at the Riverside Station. Middle photo: the Riverside Santa Fe Terminal Building, still extant. Bottom: a detail from the Riverside Terminal. Photos in this article are not mine