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92-year-old alleged in book to be Zodiac Killer died in February

May 17, 2012 |  2:20 pm

SFPD wanted posterThe man alleged to be the Zodiac Killer in a new book written by a former California Highway Patrol officer has died.

The book, "The Zodiac Killer Cover-Up" by Lyndon Lafferty, suggested that the infamous serial killer was now 91 years old and living in Northern California. But a report in the San Francisco Chronicle says that man died of a heart attack in February. He was 92.

"I can't say my suspect is absolutely the Zodiac, but I am 98% sure we have the right man, and he's been our suspect for 40 years," Lafferty told the Chronicle. "His having died really doesn't change anything in my book."

The Zodiac Killer is blamed for at least five slayings in 1968 and 1969. There was never an arrest in the case.

Three killings occurred in Vallejo. Teenagers David Farraday and Betty Lou Jensen were shot to death in December 1968. Darlene Ferrin, 22, was shot and killed seven months later at Blue Rock Springs Golf Club. Her companion, Michael Mageau, 19, survived.

In "The Zodiac Killer Cover-Up" Lafferty claims the killer was living in Solano County. The book uses aliases and does not identify the alleged killer by name. Lafferty claims he and other lawmen investigated the suspect in the early 1970s but were stymied by "power brokers" in Solano County.

Although the man Lafferty named is in the Napa County sheriff's database of people of interest in the case, authorities told the Chronicle he was not a suspect.

One neighbor who lived near the man for 40 years said there is no way he could have been the Zodiac Killer.

"It's utterly ridiculous," Nora Del Ross said.

The San Francisco police formally closed the case in 2004.

The Zodiac Killer got his name from his taunts of newspapers and police in letters and puzzles.

"The police shall never catch me, because I have been too clever for them," he wrote in a letter to the Chronicle.

"I enjoy needling the blue pigs," he wrote.

Detectives thought they might have had a break two years ago, when a partial DNA profile was taken from envelopes containing the letters.

The genetic evidence seemed to clear the only suspect ever named by police -- Arthur Leigh Allen of Vallejo. Allen, who was never charged, died of a heart attack in 1992.


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Image: SFPD wanted poster for Zodiac killer. Credit: Associated Press