"Decades after serial killer's unsolved spree, Hollywood follows Zodiac's trail to Napa. Thursday, July 28, 2005
By PAT STANLEY
Register Staff Writer
Retired Napa County Sheriff's Capt. Ken Narlow is no longer obliged to track the case of the Zodiac killer, who terrorized the Bay Area with a string of killings in the 1960s and '70s who and taunted law enforcement officers with his calls and letters.
But Narlow said he still receives phone calls and e-mails about the case. "It's followed me around more than I've followed it," he said.
Now, the unsolved case is headed for the big screen. [...]
Executive producer Brad Fischer declined comment on the movie before it is released, but "Variety" and several online publications say it will focus on the investigators, including Narlow, who pursued the elusive killer in the late '60s and early '70s.
Narlow met with Fischer and other executives in January, and last week assisted Warner Brothers researcher Max Daly, who was gathering old photographs and other information to help make the production realistic.
"I do visual research," Daly said. It's his job to make authentic-seeming film props, including badges and clothing.
"It looks like they are going all out to make this as credible as possible," said Narlow.
"Zodiac" the motion picture is reportedly based on "Zodiac Unmasked," one of two books by Robert Graysmith that chronicled the mass murderer's Bay Area killings. Among them was the September 1969 stabbing at Lake Berryessa of Pacific Union College student Cecilia Shepard, 22, who died of her wounds, and her date, 20-year-old Brian Hartnell, who survived. The killer taunted law enforcement by sending cryptic letters boasting of his killings. One said he planned to kill children as they got off a school bus, prompting Napa and other California school districts to put armed guards on many busses. Others were followed by police in marked and unmarked vehicles.
No bus was attacked.
The killing spree began in Riverside on Oct. 30, 1966, when 18-year-old college student Cheri Jo Bates' throat was slashed.
Shepard's stabbing on the western shores of Lake Berryessa, about two-and-a-half miles north of Park Headquarters, was his fourth confirmed killing. His second and third occurred near Vallejo on Dec. 20, 1968 and July 4, 1969. Seventeen-year-old David Faraday and 16-year-old Betty Lou Jensen were shot to death in the December attack off Lake Herman Road, outside of Vallejo. Darlene Ferrin, 22, died of a bullet wound near Blue Rock Springs Golf Club, also outside of Vallejo. Her date, 19-year-old Michael Mageau, was also shot, but survived.
The Zodiac's last known murder occurred on Oct. 11, 1970, in San Francisco, when taxi driver Paul Stine was shot in the head.
The last of half a dozen known Zodiac attacks occurred in March 1970 near Modesto. A mother and her daughter were abducted, but managed to escape.
Narlow said he is most often contacted about the case after the release of various books, films and television programs about the killer. Such programs have included "Unsolved Mysteries," "America's Most Wanted," "Cold Cases" and "Primetime 20/20."
"I hope the movie will resurrect some memories," said Narlow. "Maybe somebody has some memories out there they hadn't decided to give to law enforcement, or don't think are important. But every piece of the puzzle has to fit."
Over the years, there's been a plethora of speculation about the Zodiac's identity. One popular theory was that the Zodiac was Arthur Leigh Allen of Vallejo. Allen died in 1992. Narlow said evidence pointing to Allen, who was never charged, was not strong.
Narlow said he thinks the Zodiac is sill among us.
"After so long, it's hard to tell," Narlow said. "But I have a personal feeling, yeah, he's probably (still) out there. He'd probably be in his mid-to-late 60s."
He said he based his guess on the suspect's age on interviews with Zodiac survivors, including Hartnell, who estimated the Zodiac was 30 to 35 at the time of the killing spree.
Narlow praised the Napa County Sheriff's Department for keeping the Zodiac files open for three decades.
Sheriff Gary Simpson said a Bay Area Zodiac task force has long since been dissolved, but the Sheriff's Department and Napa County Major Crimes Task Force are ready to track down any leads.
"Most have been ruled out," Simpson said of the occasional tips that trickle in. "At this point we don't have any active leads." Source: Zodiackiller.com Message Board