The Sundowner Casino and Hotel, Reno NV, museumofgaminghistory.org photo
There is no murder in paradise’ is a common maxim from the Stalinist Soviet era. With the move to Reno in 1974 it meant that ‘paradise’ was the goal, and murder was off the menu, at least for K & M. Any murders suspected of being committed by Zodiac are not his as the motive was no longer there. The possible exception is a slip up, another violent eruption from Larry Kane, with Donna Lass being his unfortunate victim, in 1970, while Joe K, L Kane and R Maloff had all just started working together in South Lake Tahoe, transitioning from The Bay Area. If K & M were otherwise able to keep a watchful eye on Kane it’s doubtful he would have been able to commit any of the suspected Z murders father afield in the period from ’70 to ’74. Zodiac’s claim of 37 victims- likely another red herring.
By 1974 they must have been given the go ahead (and perhaps financing) by Mob interests to begin construction on the Sundowner Casino in Reno. I believe Joe K came up with the name. ‘Anatolia’ means ‘sunrise’ or ‘east’ in Greek and here at the other end of the world, in the wild west, it would be his Sundowner, recalling his own roots while at the same time accepting all the meanings the name might evoke for the general public (appropriate for a gambling establishment in paradise). And maybe there’s even a hint of Zodiac here, a private joke, as the sun has now set on our anti-hero. Meanwhile- the final confirmed letter from Zodiac was received that same year. Joe K’s parents passed in ’73 and ’74- making it easier for him perhaps to sever his ties with the East Bay area.
In creating the Zodiac persona, combining aspects of the Arkansas Moonlight Murders, The Black Dahlia Murders and Jack the Ripper’s Butcherfest, Joe K had created the successful serial killer ‘cover’ for Larry Kane that he had promised. By the mid 70’s Kane had been returned to more direct Mob ties in Las Vegas, and was a suspect in another murder there, but managed to get away scot-free. The casino ran until the mid-00’s…the Reno version of ‘paradise’ by that time having become somewhat ragged and tarnished. And we are left with a mything like no other.