The Zodiac Killer Letters: A Detailed Look at the Infamous Zodiac’s Correspondence

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The Zodiac Killer Letters: A Detailed Look at the Infamous Zodiac’s Correspondence

The Zodiac Killer remains one of the most enigmatic and notorious murderers in American history. Responsible for a series of murders that occurred in California’s San Francisco Bay Area during the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Zodiac left a lasting legacy of fear and fascination. One of the key aspects of this puzzling case is the collection of cryptic letters sent by the killer himself. In this blog post, we will delve into the Zodiac Killer letters in chronological order, examining the contents, theories, and impact of this chilling correspondence.

1. The “Bates” Letter

The first known communication from the Zodiac Killer dates back to November 29, 1966. This letter, often referred to as the “Bates” letter, was sent to the Riverside Police Department. It claimed responsibility for the murder of Cheri Jo Bates, a young woman who was killed in Riverside, California, on October 30, 1966. The letter contained a total of 408 characters and featured a signature resembling the Zodiac’s now-infamous symbol: a crossed circle.

Note: The Zodiac’s signature will be represented by the symbol “+”.

In the “Bates” letter, the Zodiac Killer taunted law enforcement with phrases like:

“Bates had to die. There will be more.”

The “Bates” letter was just the beginning of the Zodiac’s sinister correspondence, and it marked the start of a reign of terror that would grip the Bay Area for years to come.

2. The “Vallejo Times-Herald” Letter

On July 31, 1969, the Zodiac Killer sent his second letter, this time to the Vallejo Times-Herald newspaper. The contents of this letter included a chilling account of the Zodiac’s first attack. Alongside the letter, the Zodiac sent a coded message which he claimed contained his identity. To prove his point, he included details about the murder that had not been released to the public.

The letter also presented the Zodiac’s infamous symbol, now accompanied by the declaration:

“This is the Zodiac speaking.”

After receiving this letter, the Vallejo Times-Herald alerted the police, and the Zodiac Killer became a household name.

3. The “Cipher” Letter

On August 4, 1969, the San Francisco Chronicle received a letter known as the “Cipher” letter. This communication contained a cryptogram that the Zodiac claimed contained his identity. The cipher, which consisted of 408 characters, further fueled speculation and led to extensive code-breaking efforts by both amateur and professional cryptographers.

The Zodiac threatened that unless the cipher was published on the front page of the newspaper, he would go on a killing spree, targeting schoolchildren. This terrifying threat sparked widespread panic.

4. The “Little List” Letter

On September 27, 1969, the Zodiac wrote to the San Francisco Chronicle once again. This time, the letter included an excerpt from a song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. The letter also featured a long list of potential victims labeled “The Little List.” The Zodiac claimed that those on the list would be his slaves in the afterlife.

The inclusion of these chilling details only heightened the sense of terror surrounding the Zodiac’s crimes.

5. The “Bus Bomb” Letter

Sent on November 8, 1969, this letter was addressed to the Oakland Police Department, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Riverside Police Department. In it, the Zodiac provided details of an upcoming bus bomb attack that would occur if his demands weren’t met.

To avoid the bombing, the Zodiac demanded that people start wearing buttons with his symbol and that they be worn by as many people as possible. This prompted a wave of “Zodiac buttons” worn by concerned citizens.

6. The “Los Angeles Times” Letter

On March 13, 1971, the Zodiac wrote to the Los Angeles Times, referencing the recent San Francisco Chronicle “letter of the water.” In this letter, the Zodiac once again used his cryptogram skills, sending a code that played with law enforcement agencies and amateur code-breakers alike.

The letter also boasted about the Zodiac’s power and his ability to evade capture, further frustrating those attempting to bring him to justice.

7. The “Exorcist Letter”

In January 1974, the Zodiac wrote his final letter, known as the “Exorcist letter.” This correspondence was sent to attorney Melvin Belli, who had appeared on San Francisco television offering to represent the Zodiac. The letter criticized the portrayal of the Zodiac in the film The Exorcist, referring to the events depicted as “not accurate.”

The “Exorcist letter” was the last confirmed communication from the Zodiac, leaving law enforcement puzzled and the public captivated by the mysteries that remain unsolved to this day.


The Zodiac Killer’s letters continue to captivate criminologists, amateur sleuths, and those fascinated by true crime. These cryptic correspondences have lent an air of mystery and intrigue to an already chilling case. While the Zodiac’s identity remains unknown, his letters serve as a chilling reminder of the terror he inflicted on the San Francisco Bay Area during those tumultuous years. As we continue to examine and decode the Zodiac’s letters, it is our hope that one day, we may finally discover the truth behind this haunting mystery.

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The Zodiac Killer Letters: A Detailed Look at the Infamous Zodiac’s Correspondence