Thursday, April 28, 2005

Solving the Zodiac

Steve Huff is the fellow who came up with the brilliant idea that the man who called himself Joseph Newton Chandler III was possibly the Zodiac Killer. He now carefully considers the suggestion from some crazed anonymous blogger that there may be a connection between the arrival of Chandler in northern Ohio and a series of murders of couples in northern Ohio that started about the same time. I still very much like the suggestion that Chandler could be the Zodiac, but we still need a bit more help to try to reach a conclusion (while I find Joseph Cannon's suggestion that L. Ron Hubbard could be the Zodiac very entertaining, I'm afraid L. Ron, nuts as he may have been, was about twenty years too old to have been the Zodiac - much the same problem faced by those who advocate that Jeff Gannon is Johnny Gosch - and the mysterious guest at the 'painting party' referred to the link provided by Joseph Cannon, which is itself a paraphrase of parts of Robert Graysmith's first book on the Zodiac, may very well be another product of Graysmith's vivid imagination). There are two possible avenues of exploration with respect to Chandler:

  1. Fingerprints. Although the authorities claim that Chandler's apartment contains no usable fingerprints, I find it odd that an apartment he lived in for years would not have a fingerprint lying around, no matter how long it's been since he lived there and no matter how thoroughly it has been cleaned. It would be very helpful if some super-expert from the FBI were to give the place a complete going over. Did Chandler make any big structural changes where he might have touched the back of a wall? Did he work on a light switch? The plumbing? Did he move an appliance where he might have left a print on the bottom? Did he take out the drawers and touch the underside of them? The FBI would know where to look and would have the technology to lift the prints. What about the paper forms that he used to obtain his Social Security card, or any other forms associated with his life in Ohio? Since authorities have prints from the Stine murder which they think may be Zodiac's, just one match would solve the one of the most famous cold cases in the United States and make a hero out of some FBI fingerprint expert.

  2. The composite. Look at the two pictures at the top of Huff's article. The shape of the chin and the shape of the jaw are an amazing match. I have trouble with a lot of forensic evidence - the 'science' behind such things as fingerprints, ballistics, fiber identification and the supposed reliability of eye-witness reports have all been challenged in recent years, and the whole concept of 'profiling' has been put into question by the BTK Strangler - but composite photos are often amazingly accurate (although they can also dangerously restrict the scope of a police investigation). This composite is particularly likely to be accurate as it was drawn with the help of the policemen who actually encountered Zodiac near the Stine crime scene, but let him pass as they were looking for a black suspect due to a mistake made by the dispatcher. With the DOE Network and other sites on the internet it is now possible, as never before, to allow such a composite to be seen by people all over the world. Someone must remember this guy. He was probably in the Navy - American, Canadian, or British - in the 1960's. He would have been weird, but not so weird that he couldn't have fitted in to social situations without being particularly noticeable. He would have had some electrical engineering expertise, and drafting expertise. He would have been well read, and likely dropped references to his learning into his conversation. If Chandler is the Zodiac, the composite will be very close to what the Zodiac looked like in 1969, and thus what he looked like while in the Navy.


It should still be possible to use fingerprints to tie 'Chandler' to the Zodiac, and then use the composite to discover the real identity of 'Chandler'. As Sherlock Holmes would say, "The game is afoot".

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