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Zodiac Killer's Identity And Weapon Uncovered?


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Zodiac Killer's Identity And Weapon Uncovered?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) ― The Zodiac Killer attacked at least eight people, terrorizing the Bay Area and taunting police in the 60's and 70's. The FBI confirmed to CBS13 on Thursday that they are now running laboratory tests on some items that may link a suspect to the killer.

The evidence was given to the FBI by a Pollock Pines man who also claims he recently found the disguise worn by the Zodiac Killer during one of his attacks.

"The identity of the Zodiac Killer is Jack Tarrance. He's my stepfather," said Dennis Kaufman.

Eight years of Dennis Kaufman's life has been consumed with attempting to prove the only father he's known since he was five-years-old is none other than the Zodiac Killer.

"This a handwriting comparison I did," Kaufman said, showing handwriting samples he claims to be his father's and the Zodiac Killer's, which are strikingly similar. Kaufman said it's no coincidence.

"The composite is a dead ringer," Kaufman said, showing composite sketch of the killer next to his stepfather's -- a resemblance that is undeniable between pictures of Jack Tarrance and descriptions of the zodiac.

Kaufman also claims his stepfather, in a taped phone conversation, indirectly admitted being the zodiac killer.

"If I wrote a book and said I think my stepfather is the Zodiac Killer they wouldn't believe me," Kaufman said.

Jack Tarrance died in 2006. Kaufman said that while going through Tarrance's belongings, he made some disturbing finds, including a knife still covered with what could possibly be dried blood.

"It could be a knife he barbecued with or a knife he murdered someone with," Kaufman said.

Jack also left behind rolls of undeveloped film. Kaufman plans to hand over the film to the FBI. There were numerous gruesome images on a roll he did develop.

"[it] appeared to be people who were murdered," he explained.

Just recently, Kaufman remembered his stepfather asking him several times about an old PA system, which led him to take it apart.

"When I first opened it up that did affect me. My heart skipped a couple of beats when I saw it," he said.

The material folded and tucked inside, Kaufman believes, may unmask the zodiac killer.

"It was a black hood with a zodiac on it," Kaufman said.

It's similar to the hood worn during the vicious 1968 Lake Berryessa attack, which could be key evidence connecting his stepfather to the killings. He also believes there are dozens more victims which were never linked to the Zodiac, including Kaufman's own mother, who he claims was suffocated.

"She sat there and told me Jack was trying to kill her and I didn't listen. I can only imagine how she felt. Imagine how scary that would be. That is what kept me going this whole time," he said.

The FBI confirmed they are running DNA tests on items that Kaufman gave them.

Kaufman said there are postage stamps sent to him by his stepfather, and authorities are trying to get DNA profile of Jack Tarrance to compare to the Zodiac Killer. The FBI told CBS13 they could get those results back any day.

news report


update 8/31/08


FBI: 'Open Investigation' Into Zodiac Suspect

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) ― The FBI collected more evidence this weekend in an attempt to establish a DNA link between Jack Tarrance and the Zodiac Killer.

Dennis Kaufman, Tarrance's stepson, turned over the black hood he claims to have recently discovered in equipment his father once owned. He believes it is the same hood the Zodiac Killer wore when he stabbed Bryan Hartnell and murdered Cecelia Shepard, a couple picnicking at Lake Berryessa.

Most of Kaufman's adult life has been dedicated to one thing: proving his stepfather, Tarrance, is the Zodiac Killer. CBS13 brought you his story last week, and the FBI confirms that they are working on an "open investigation" to find a connection to the infamous Bay Area murders.

"Jack wanted me to know who he was, that's why he gave me all these hints," Kaufman said, "but he didn't want me to know until after he was dead."

The FBI is facing a major challenge in their investigation: Jack Tarrance died in 2006 and was cremated. Investigators are attempting to build a DNA profile using old letters sent to Kaufman.

"On the envelopes and letters, especially on the envelopes, you would be looking for saliva," said Bob Jarzen, the man who runs the Sacramento County Crime Lab and has 33 years in forensic science experience.

Jarzen said there are three possible results from a DNA comparison to the Zodiac Killer. It could eliminate Jack Tarrance as a suspect, come back inconclusive if there is not enough DNA or a problem with the DNA on the envelopes, or the results could point to Jack Tarrance as a possible suspect.

"It would not conclude 100 percent if he is the Zodiac Killer," Jarzen said.

There is no complete DNA profile of the Zodiac Killer for comparison; San Francisco authorities developed only a partial DNA profile taken from postage stamps.

Scientific tests may be able to determine if the black hood is authentic, but Jarzen warns that it will not be easy.

"The dark color and the color of the blood blends in so well," he said. Jarzen demonstrated on a black article of clothing how difficult it is to find DNA on dark material.

But he said that it may be possible to locate usable DNA, even 40 years later.

"You are going to have to go over inside and outside," Jarzen said. "Presumably, if he's wearing it over his head, you may have saliva transferred, and if he's stabbing there's blood being spattered. There is potential for blood on the outside."

The Zodiac Killer's true identity has never been proven. Jack Tarrance knew his stepson believed he was the Zodiac Killer long before he died, and now it will be up to science to prove or disprove whether he was a sadistic man who enjoyed the comparison, or if he is the true monster behind the mask.

"I know the DNA will match because I know who Jack is," Kaufman said. "I'm not worried."

The FBI expects to have the results of the DNA test any day, but since the case is an active investigation, they may not release the results immediately.

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