Mark Hewitt believes Unabomber Ted Kaczynski is also the Zodiac killer
And Mark Hewitt is convinced if and when the mystery is solved, it will confirm a sensational theory of his own about who was behind the grisly series of murders and attacks, which happened in California between 1968 and 1974, and which were characterised by bizarre encrypted messages sent to media outlets including the San Francisco Chronicle, only one of which has been definitively solved. Only five murders have ever been conclusively attributed to the Zodiac, although Mr Hewitt believes he may be responsible for several others. The writer, whose trilogy of books, Hunted: The Zodiac Murders, Profiled: The Zodiac Examined and Exposed: The Zodiac Revealed, takes an exhaustive look at the evidence in the case, was speaking after police finally caught Joseph James DeAngelo, the so-called Golden State Killer, last year.
There is great reason for excitement
DeAngelo, who was snared because police were able to use genealogical databases to examine unidentified DNA, was responsible for the murders of at least 13 people, as well as more than 50 rapes, between 1974 and 1986, also in California.
Mr Hewitt told Express.co.uk: “There is great reason for excitement. When the GSK was arrested early last year, it was revealed that the Vallejo police department had recently submitted some Zodiac material for testing, at least one envelope and one letter.
“Because results could have been returned as early as June, the anticipation reached a fever pitch over the summer of 2018. There were unsubstantiated rumours that a march had been made, and that law enforcement had been tracking someone. When no news emerged, some concluded that no DNA material had been harvested. Others felt that no news was good news.”
So far there have been no announcements, but Mr Hewitt said the case could break as suddenly as the Golden State Killer one did.
Robert Downey Jr and Jake Gyllenhaal starred in the 2007 movie Zodiac
He added: “In 1970, DNA use by law enforcement was not even in the realm of science fiction. Had Zodiac committed the same crimes in the 21st century, he would have been apprehended quickly through DNA, trace and fibre analysis, and the ubiquitous security camera.
“One of the big mysteries of the case is how the killer eluded justice, since he left so much evidence behind.”
The 2007 film focuses on the hunt for the killer, and proposes a petty criminal named Arthur Leigh Allen, who died in 1992, as a prime suspect – but Mr Hewitt does not consider him the culprit.
He explained: “Arthur Leigh Allen was a good suspect in the 1970s because there were a handful of pieces of circumstantial evidence against him, and because law enforcement had no better leads to follow.
Chicago Police Lt John Lewison with one of the cyphers
“Most of the evidence against Arthur Leigh Allen falls apart under closer scrutiny. Much of it was fed to the police by a taunting Allen who appeared to enjoy needling the police almost as much as the Zodiac did.
“Serious researchers do not consider Allen a viable suspect. Handwriting, DNA, fingerprints, and personality seem to exclude him, though there remain questions about the reliability of the partial DNA profile and fingerprints attributed to the Zodiac.”
Instead, Mr Hewitt has a sensational theory – he believes the Zodiac is none other than 76-year-old Ted Kaczynski, the so-called Unabomber, who killed three people and injured 23 others with a US-wide bombing campaign targeting people involved with modern technology.
He said: “Six or seven clusters of evidence point exclusively to Kaczynski, including a mathematical background, threats with bombs (particularly passive detonation devices with dual circuits), the influence of the Joseph Conrad novel, Secret Agent, and the similarities between the Unabomber Manifesto and the Zodiac letters.
“Kaczynski underwent an emotional breakdown in 1966 that led to his identity as a serial killer, yet placed no bombs until 1978. FBI profiles of the Unabomber suggested he would be about 12 years younger than Kaczynski.
“The Zodiac was last heard from in 1974; the Unabomber emerged in 1978. The bulk of the Zodiac’s attacks and letters occurred 1969 to 1971, during a “missing” two years in Kaczynski’s life.
“When Ted moved to Montana, the last Z letter (or possibly a couple) did not use the term Zodiac or include a crosshair symbol).”
Mr Hewitt believes police still have a chance to catch the Zodiac, or at least finally prove who his identity.
Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo
He said: “I have spoken to some law enforcement agents. Material is sent out for DNA testing as money and new technologies become available. No other work is being done. Really, the several police departments remain overwhelmed by public interest in the case. They are contacted weekly. Sometimes daily. By researchers who have tips or suspicions.
“Most are useless, as this case has attracted its share of crackpots. Worldwide, it is second only in public interest to the Ripper, which has drawn all sorts of nuts with all manner of crazy theories.
“The police are now only interested in DNA evidence. One agent told me that if the Zodiac walked into a police station to confess, he’d have a difficult time proving his involvement
“I disagree vehemently on this point as I believe the perpetrator identified himself very clearly in his letters.
“The last big technological development was revealed on 2018 with the capture of the GSK, the application of genealogical databases to unidentified DNA. About a dozen other cold cases have been solved this past year in the same way.
“It has also been reported that labs have new processes that enable the separation of DNA material from glue, so that envelopes and stamps may be more useful in revealing the identities of criminals.
“Who can predict the next big advance? But it gives us all the hope that news will break on this case on any given day.”