It was late October 1969 and we kids were all getting ready for Halloween which was to be on a Friday that year. However, none of us were certain that we’d get to go out because of a letter our local newspaper, the Del Norte Triplicate, had received a week or so before.
In the letter, someone claiming to be the infamous ‘Zodiac Killer,’ had promised to murder area kids who went out for the night. Such a threat left parents from Klamath to Smith River and Hiouchi scared for their children.
“This is the Zodiac speaking. I am in Crescent City,” the letter read in part. “Halloween is a time very many children will come out. I will pick them off. If they do not come out, I will come in for them.”
The Zodiac Killer was a serial killer who operated in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The murderer killed people in Benicia, Vallejo, Lake Berryessa, and San Francisco between December 1968 and October 1969, targeting our men and three women between the ages of 16 and 29.
The killer originated the name “Zodiac” in an August 7, 1969 letter to local Bay Area media, which was jus’ one in a series of taunting letters. So it wasn’t a far stretch to think the killer could be in the far Northern California area.
“Halloween is the witches’ rabbit,” the writer continued. “I will have a good time I am assured. Your attempts to capture me are futile.”
However, after a week of investigation, Del Norte County Sheriff Tom Lawry announced that a 14-year-old boy had written the letter.
“After comparison with hundreds of handwritings, with cooperation from the staff at Del Norte County High School,” Lawry told the Eureka Times-Standard, “the suspects were narrowed to two. The first interviewed was cleared by us, but the second, after receiving the Miranda warning, confessed the act.”
“He said that he did it for the want of something to do,” Lawry added.