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Who was the Zodiac Killer?

In 1980 conspiracy researcher Mae Brussell identified Robert Linkletter, son of the famous Hollywood entertainer and celebrity Art Linkletter as the Zodiac Killer. Brussell’s source of information was a letter from a woman who lived in Woodland Hills who knew Robert personally and also knew him as the Zodiac.

Zodiac, a serial killer in the San Francisco Bay area, wrote a series of letters to local newspapers boasting of his murders and appending sophisticated cryptograms that defied the best efforts of amateur and professional codebreakers. Using many deliberately misspelled words, he made mocking jabs at the police, laughed at their futile efforts to catch him, and described in detail how he would dispatch future victims. In a letter sent to the San Francisco Chronicle on October 13, 1969, he wrote, “School children make nice targets, I think I shall wipe out a school bus some morning.” A letter sent to the same newspaper on June 26, 1970 threatened that if people did not start wearing Zodiac buttons, he would punish them “by anilating a full School Buss.” The disappearance of a school bus full of children in 1976 prompted many to believe that this was the work of the Zodiac. It also prompted Mae Brussell to reveal on her weekly program Dialogue: Conspiracy the existence of a letter that identified the Zodiac by his real name. [1]

The afternoon of July 15, the last day of summer school at Dairyland Elementary in the farming community of Chowchilla, a school bus departed with thirty-one children, ages ranging from five to fourteen. Traveling on ruler-straight roads past cotton fields and almond groves, the driver, Frank Ray, dropped off five youngsters at three separate stops.

Proceeding west on Avenue 21 toward the intersection at Road 15, he noticed a white van straddling the road with its door open. As he came around to pass, he saw jumping out of the van a man wearing a nylon stocking mask and brandishing a shotgun and revolver. He signaled Ray to stop the bus and in a deep voice demanded that he open the door. He was a big man, 6 foot 2, medium to heavy build, tan short-sleeve shirt, white gloves, light tan corduroy pants, light brown belt with horsehead buckle, cowboy boots, and an eagle tattoo on his right arm. Grayish white hair and moustache were discernible through the nylon. He appeared to be about 50 years old.

Two more men wearing stocking masks came out of the van. One of them was armed with a pump shotgun, about 23 to 27 years old, very thin, 5 foot 7, collar length brown hair, light complexion, moustache, and a hairy mole on the right side of his chin. He wore a white T-shirt, white gloves, blue corduroy pants, cowboy boots, and silver watch. He had a blue-green tattoo on his right wrist. He spoke with a foreign accent, possibly French. He came into the bus and ordered Ray to go to the back seat.

The third man was unarmed, stocky, 5 foot 6, white hat, white gloves, blue-checkered shirt, brown pants, and blue tennis shoes. Over his mask, he wore black, thick-framed glasses. His age might have been anywhere from 28 to 45. He had sideburns, a one-inch scar on his right cheek, and a chipped front tooth. His stocky appearance was deceptive, for up close one boy observed that he had “a pillow stuffed in his shirt to make him look fat.” He settled into the driver’s seat and took control of the wheel.

Continuing west about a mile, the bus and van turned left into a clearing off the road and drove into a dry creek bed. After hiding the bus in a heavy thicket of bamboo, the three men herded their captives into the white van and into a green van parked nearby. As Ray climbed in through the back doors of the green van, he glanced at the license plate number of the white van.

Chowchilla bamboo grove

Aerial view of the bamboo grove where kidnappers abandoned the school bus.

Neither Ray nor the children could see where they were going – plywood and a coat of paint blocked the windows. They sped along highways for many hours, never stopping at a gas station. Those who needed to urinate had to do so in their pants. Several times along the way, the abductors stopped to put more fuel in the gas tanks from gas cans stowed onboard. After eleven hours on the road, they finally stopped at their destination. They told Ray and the children to get out and directed them to descend a ladder through a three-foot opening in the ground into an underground chamber. As they went in, one by one, a man asked for their names, ages, parent’s names, and took from each a shoe or an article of clothing.

Using a flashlight given to him to guide the children in, Ray could see that they were inside the trailer of a truck about eight feet wide and sixteen feet long, buried underground. He saw some mattresses and box springs, two wooden boxes with holes on top that served as improvised toilets, ten five-gallon containers of water, some dry breakfast food, bags of potato chips, two loaves of bread, and six 4×4 vertical posts that extended eight feet from floor to ceiling. Mounted in two holes, one cut through the front and the other through the right side, were battery-operated fans that circulated air through flexible hoses, four inches in diameter. (One hose was thirty-five-feet long, hidden from view in the branches of a tree.)

After pulling up the ladder, the captors put a heavy metal plate on top of the hole and weighed it down with a pair of hundred-pound truck batteries and a wooden box full of dirt. Using wire-cutters, they cut cables holding back a wire-mesh fence. An avalanche of dirt and gravel poured down upon the roof of the trailer, covering the plate, batteries and box to a depth of six to seven feet above the roof of the trailer. Inside, the captives watched fearfully as the ceiling buckled from the weight of earthen material, but the standing posts kept the roof from collapsing.

Trapped in the darkness of their dungeon with only the flashlight and a candle for illumination, children cried from terror and despair. As the hours dragged on, the heat inside rose to an oppressive level. The makeshift ventilation system was inadequate for proper airflow. One of the air vents stopped working, and the children gathered together trying to breathe around the one air vent remaining. Many were coughing from the lack of fresh air, or vomiting amid the odors of urine and filth.

As the driver and children viewed with increasing alarm the horror of their situation, in the world outside they became the number one news story, pushing aside Jimmy Carter’s speech accepting the nomination for president at the Democratic Convention in New York City. One major news development was the discovery of the missing bus just before dark by an airplane doing an aerial search. Reporters found people who blamed the kidnapping on black radicals or anti-capitalist leftists. An anonymous person called the San Francisco Chronicle and said “Chowchilla, Weatherman,” obviously referring to a radical leftist group. A spokeswoman for New World Liberation Front, when questioned by reporters, denied that the group had anything to do with the kidnapping. The following day, a group of birdwatchers found children’s notebooks, shoes, clothing, and Frank Ray’s wallet and pants, on an embankment near Saratoga in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The discovery indicated that hippies dwelling in communes nearby might be responsible for the kidnapping.

Meanwhile, the people of Chowchilla prayed for their children. God heard their prayers, and a miracle occurred.

After some hours passed, the sound of shoes above the captives ceased. The kidnappers had apparently left the site. After waiting for what seemed an eternity, the oldest boy, Mike Marshall, age fourteen years, decided he was going to dig his way to freedom. The bus driver, who had already given up in hopeless despair, discouraged him from trying and told him that their time had come “to kick the bucket.” Mike refused to give up.

He kicked one of the box springs apart and found a suitable stick of wood, eighteen inches long. Piling up mattresses to reach the plate covering the hole in the ceiling, he dug and clawed around the plate. At last Ray and another boy came to help. Using all their strength, they pushed up on the plate and managed to open a gap sufficient to jam a stick underneath it. The gap was enough to enable continued digging. As they dug upward, increasing amounts of earth trickled down. Periodically the diggers doused themselves with water to keep from passing out in the suffocating heat.

Their efforts were finally rewarded when they saw a streak of sunlight and felt the fresh cool air. Continuing to tunnel upward, they moved the plate and opened a space large enough for a boy to squeeze through. It was 7 pm, and the sun was still up. He saw around him the heavy machinery of a rock quarry. It had been sixteen hours since they descended into their underground tomb. After climbing out, Ray and the children wandered around until they found a welder on a nearby elevator, who notified the police.

The quarry belonged to the California Rock and Gravel Company, near the city of Livermore in Alameda County, 95 miles north of Chowchilla. Since travel time from Chowchilla to Livermore was normally an hour and a half, the eleven hours on the road indicated the abductors used a roundabout way to get to the quarry.

Chowchilla trailer

Interior view of trailer.

Once they returned everyone home, law enforcement officials began collecting information. The bus driver remembered the last three digits of the license plate for the white van, 414. This corresponded with the license number 1C91414, obtained from an insurance secretary in Los Banos, Mrs. Mary Phillips. She had observed a suspicious white van parked in front of her Chowchilla office the evening of July 14. It was still in the same spot when she came back the following morning. At about 1:30 in the afternoon a second van identical in every way except in color parked next to the white van. A passenger got out and conferred with the driver of the white van for a few minutes. There appeared to be an exchange of money. Then the passenger climbed behind the wheel of the white van, and the two vehicles left the area and headed east on Highway 152. Before the vans drove off, Mrs. Phillips jotted on a piece of paper the license number of the white van. She gave this information to sheriff’s officers later that same day after hearing about the disappearance of the children and bus driver. 

The solid lead of the plate number enabled investigators to trace the two vans to a San Jose warehouse. An unidentified individual purchased them at an auction of military vehicles in Alameda on November 24, 1975. The trailer used to entomb the captives came from a moving and storage company in Palo Alto, purchased four days before the two vans. The man who bought it used the alias “Mark Hall,” and gave a non-existent address.

Thanks to information garnered from the driver and children, apprehension of the culprits was almost within reach. They were not, as initially believed, scruffy hippies or hotheaded radicals. Frederick Newhall Woods III, a member of one of California’s wealthiest and most prominent families, rented the San Jose warehouse where the two vans were found. He was also the owner of the rock quarry. His home was sixty miles from the quarry in Portola Valley, a lavish estate in San Mateo County – 100 acres of oak-studded rolling hills near Stanford University. Woods was a major stockholder in the Newhall Land and Farming Co., which had enormous investments in agriculture, cattle, oil, gas, and real estate. Its best-known asset was Magic Mountain, a popular and immensely profitable amusement park near Los Angeles. In May 1976, just two months earlier, it opened a spectacular rollercoaster ride called the Great American Revolution.

Newhall estate

Vehicles and buildings on the Portola Valley estate of Frederick Newhall Woods III.

Some sixty lawmen armed with riot guns, tear gas, and automatic weapons surrounded the family home in Portola Valley to search for evidence. Welcoming them graciously was an elderly couple, Mr. and Mrs. Woods, the only persons around. As they searched, they gazed with curiosity at the dusty, rusting, second-hand vehicles lined up in rows among the buildings, including Malibus, Impalas, Thunderbirds, station wagons, jeeps, bulldozer, fire engine, red hearse, orange vans, school bus, tow truck, an Allied Van Lines moving trailer, vintage campers, police cars, police motorcycles, many in working order. These vehicles, numbering about a hundred, might have been used in other previously unknown criminal activities, according to a suggestion made by Mae Brussell on one of her programs [2]. Among the vehicles on the property was a World War Two-era truck-tractor that matched the buried trailer in the Livermore quarry. With the help of a bulldozer, it was used to pull the trailer out of the pit.

Chowchilla quarry

Truck-tractor found at the Portola Valley estate being used to haul trailer out of pit at the rock quarry

A search of the main house yielded a paper bag with the scribbled names of the twenty-six children and a ransom note demanding five million dollars. All totaled, from various locations searched, investigators piled up “an astronomical amount of physical evidence,” according to a spokesman for the Alameda County sheriff’s office. According to the Sacramento Bee and the Fresno Bee, at least seven members of a gun and drug cult, sons of wealthy San Mateo County families, were suspects in the hijacking of the school bus. Soon after this article appeared, the police took into custody three suspects:

(1) Frederick Newhall Woods IV, son of the quarry owner, 25 years old, 6 foot, 145 pounds, brown hair and blue eyes;

(2) James Schoenfeld, son of a podiatrist in Atherton, 25 years old, 6 foot, 170 pounds, red hair and blue eyes;

(3) James’ brother Richard Schoenfeld, 22 years old, 5 foot 11 inches, 150 pounds, blonde hair and blue eyes.

Whatever part these men had in the Chowchilla plot, if any, they were not the ones seen by Ray and the children. According to AP reporter Mike Dunston on July 26, “The victims’ descriptions of their abductors appeared quite different from the descriptions of the Schoenfeld brothers and Woods in an all-points bulletin issued Thursday night.… Investigators said some of the apparent discrepancies in the original descriptions can be explained, but they declined to offer an explanation.”

Chowchilla kidnappers

Left to right: Frederick Woods IV, James Schoenfeld, and Richard Schoenfeld leaving courthouse August 26, 1976.

Law enforcement officials assigned to the case got an earful from Mae Brussell, who pointed out to them that the suspects arrested lacked the specific details mentioned by the bus driver and the children – gray hair, glasses, tattoos, chipped tooth, hairy mole, foreign accent, shortness of stature. They tried to brush her off with superficially plausible explanations or evasive non-sequiturs. An assistant to the Alameda County Sheriff said the children were too young to give credible descriptions of people.

“What about the bus driver?”

“Oh, the bus driver? He has no concept of what was involved, or who was involved.” [3]

On August 2, the expiration of a gag order on evidence found at the Woods estate allowed sources within law enforcement to provide reporters of the Sacramento Bee and the Fresno Bee a few more specifics. The ransom note demanding five million dollars was signed, “We are Beelsabub,” a misspelling of Beelzebub, which is the biblical name for the devil. Several other documents contained “strange references to Satan,” and others were coded in Sanskrit. Also found were paraphernalia indicating an obsession with satanic ritual. The following day, Stan Bohrman, on the six o’clock news for a television station in San Francisco, reported on these same findings, but he went one step further by mentioning the Zodiac. He said, “The [ransom] letter found in the home of Frederick Woods resembled the writing of the Zodiac killer. The markings above and below the letter and references to the occult were on this letter.”

The importance of this information can be measured by how quickly it was suppressed. One hour after the letter was released, Judge Howard Green put a new gag order effective at that moment. Repeat broadcasts of Bohrman’s report on the letter scheduled for the seven o’clock and the eleven o’clock news were cancelled, Bohrman was fired, and the Zodiac connection made no further appearances in the news media. Except for updates on insignificant court matters from time to time, there was almost a complete news blackout on the Chowchilla case from that evening on. [4]

Since schoolchildren were a prime target of the Zodiac, the Zodiac-style markings on the ransom note is another clue to his participation in the hijacking of the Chowchilla bus. A comparison of the Zodiac on the left shows resemblance to a composite sketch made of the kidnapper wearing the hat and glasses.

Zodiac                          Zodiac Chowchilla

Heavy dark-rimmed glasses are a characteristic feature of the Zodiac. Bryan Hartnell, who survived an attack on September 27, 1969 near Vallejo, said the Zodiac was wearing a black executioner-style outfit. Over his hood, he had clip-on sunglasses and underneath the hood was another pair of glasses. The killer was about 5 foot 8 inches, light brown curly hair, possibly a wig, 26 to 30 years old, 195 to 200 lbs.

The composite sketch of the Zodiac wearing heavy, horn-rimmed glasses came from three teenagers who witnessed the murder of cab driver Paul Stine in San Francisco on October 11, 1969. They said he was about 25 to 30 years old, 5 foot 8 to 9 inches tall, heavy build, short brown hair.

Kathleen Johns saw the composite sketch of the Zodiac on a poster at a local police station in Patterson and recognized him as the man who tried to kidnap her and her baby on March 22, 1970. She said he wore black, heavy-rimmed, plastic-lensed glasses held firmly in place by a thin band of elastic around his head. He was about 30 years old, 5 foot 9 inches, 160 pounds, short dark hair, jaw “not weak”, dark windbreaker jacket, navy blue bell-bottom pants, military shoes highly polished. After surreptitiously disabling her car, he posed as someone trying to help and lured her and her baby into his own car. Alarmed by his menacing manner, she managed to get out of the car and escape with her baby at a freeway off-ramp. Four months later, the Zodiac wrote in a letter, “So I now have a little list, starting with the woeman + her baby that I gave a rather intersting ride for a couple howers one evening a few months back that ended in my burning her car where I found them.”

A man wearing black-rimmed glasses, overweight, 5 foot 8 inches, curly hair, neatly dressed, frightened Darlene Ferrin with his visits. [5] Mike Mageau, boyfriend of Darlene and survivor of the shooting on July 4, 1969, said that the shooter was about 5 feet 8 inches, “real heavy set, beefy build… possibly 195 to 200, or maybe even larger… short curly hair, light brown almost blond”, combed up in a pompadour style. Mageau further said he was not wearing glasses. Evidently, the Zodiac did not need them all the time.

Glasses of a similar type was a prominent feature in the Manson case. When Charles Manson announced to his followers at Spahn Ranch on August 8, 1969 “Now is the time for Helter Skelter,” he told Tex Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Linda Kasabian to get knives and changes of clothes. Shortly after midnight, they entered the home of actress Sharon Tate at 10500 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon and brutally murdered her and four other people. The following night the same four and two others killed Leo and Rosemary LaBianca at 3301 Waverly Drive in the Los Feliz Hills.

Originally, the police believed the slaughter at the Tate house was the work of one man. A clue to his identity was a pair of glasses found in the living room.  A lieutenant for the Los Angeles Police Department, Robert Helder, showed them to the press on October 23 and said that the killer probably lost them during the struggle with the victims. There were fingerprint smudges on it but no identifiable ridges. The owner was extremely near-sighted and could not operate a vehicle without them. An unusual feature was the plastic lenses. Unlike glass lenses, plastic resisted shattering and was the choice of very active people such as athletes. The amber-colored, horn-rimmed frames were of a specific type manufactured by the American Optical Corp. The customized bend of the temple shafts showed that the left ear was about one-fourth to one-half inch higher than the right. Police sent flyers to thousands of eye doctors, hoping that someone might provide information about the man who bought them. (The article Zodiac Killer at the Tate House has more details on the glasses.)

Glasses Tate House

Glasses found at the Tate house.

What the news media hailed as a major breakthrough in October quickly became an almost forgotten loose end in December after the arrest of Charles Manson, Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian, none of whom wore glasses.

When the case came to trial, prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi feared that defense attorneys might bring up the glasses and make the reasonable assertion that at least one killer was still at large. From that standpoint, they could argue that the wrong people were on trial. [6] Augmenting the effectiveness of this strategy would be to identify and locate the doctor who prescribed the glasses. That man, as will be shown below, was Dr. Victor Ohta, a wealthy ophthalmologist in the town of Soquel in the Santa Cruz area, 350 miles north of Los Angeles. As one of the state’s busiest eye surgeons, he specialized in the removal of cataracts. He and his family lived in a secluded mansion designed by Aaron Green, a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, on a hilltop ten-acre site overlooking Monterey Bay.

On October 19, 1970, three days before the glasses came up during the testimony of prosecution witness Roseanne Walker at the Manson family trial, [7] Mrs. Ohta was driving her green Oldsmobile station wagon home at about 5:00 pm. Calvin Penrod, a sales manager for mobile home parks, who knew Mrs. Ohta, was driving in close proximity to her car and noticed she had three passengers, young people with long hair. Behind Mrs. Ohta in the back seat was a man with a moustache; next to him was a woman with straight, long black hair; and a second man sat in the rear compartment behind the back seat. As it shortly turned out, the three passengers were highly trained, well-prepared killers. At the house they bound, blindfolded, and shot from behind Dr. and Mrs. Ohta, their two young sons, and the doctor’s secretary. Then they set fire to the house. The fierce blaze attracted the attention of two sheriff’s deputies, who called the fire department. Firemen attempting to reach the scene found both driveways blocked, one by Dr. Ohta’s Rolls Royce and the other by the secretary’s Continental, with the ignition keys snapped off in both locks. By the time they could push the cars aside, the mansion had already suffered extensive damage. While looking for a source of water, they found five bodies in the swimming pool.

Ohta map

Map showing locations of the murder site and sightings of Mrs. Ohta’s car

On the windshield of the Rolls Royce was a note, typed on Dr. Ohta’s typewriter, declaring war against those who “misuse the environment,” presumably referring to the bulldozers used to cut a driveway on the steep wooded hillside and to clear off a place for the mansion. Signing the note were Knight of Wands, Knight of Cups, Knight of Pentacles, and Knight of Swords, figures represented on tarot cards. Pentacles is a five-sided figure associated with witchcraft and Satan. It appeared to be a note written by crazed hippies enamored with the environment and the occult.

Mrs. Ohta’s station wagon served as the getaway car, driven wildly, nearly running other cars off the road. Witnesses saw three long-haired people in the careening car. At a campsite in the Bonny Doon area, witnesses saw three long-haired people, one of them a woman, near the station wagon. The following day the car was about a mile inside the Rincon railroad tunnel. An off-schedule Southern Pacific switch engine banged into it at 4:45 pm. Someone had driven it into the tunnel and set the seat cushions on fire (a destructive act similar to what happened to Kathleen Johns’ car). The engineer put out the flames with a fire extinguisher and then used his engine to push the car out of the tunnel. The motor was still warm from recent use. Three sets of footprints led from the spot where the car was abandoned to outside the tunnel.

Mrs Ohtas car

Mrs. Ohta’s car at the entrance to the railroad tunnel

Alerted by a tip from “three long-haired persons” who provided the address of a woman who in turn gave directions to her husband’s tiny ramshackle hut in a wooded area in the Santa Cruz Mountains, sheriff’s deputies arrested John Linley Frazier, an auto mechanic who had dropped out of society and was living the hippie life-style. As soon as they took him into custody, the search for more suspects was discontinued. When newsmen asked District Attorney Peter Chang how one man could have bound, blindfolded, and shot five people with two pistols, a .38 and a .22, he said, “It sounds ridiculous, but it’s possible that it happened.”

Originally, Frazier denied killing the Ohtas. He said that three persons went into the Ohta house while he waited outside at the driveway entrance. He changed his story later, confessing to a psychologist that he killed the Ohtas single-handedly. The original story is probably the correct one, and his role that day was to serve as lookout.

According to a letter written by a woman who lived in Woodland Hills (near Los Angeles), Dr. Ohta was the man who prescribed the glasses found at the Tate house, and the owner was none other than the Zodiac himself. In late September 1970, less than a month prior to the Ohta slayings, she saw the Zodiac with Frazier in Woodland Hills. They “looked exactly alike” except that the Zodiac wore glasses. The implication is that Frazier was a Zodiac double. If he wore glasses, the resemblance would be greater. Pictures of Frazier at the time of his capture and all during his trial show him without glasses. However, a driver’s license photo released by the sheriff’s department shortly before his capture shows him wearing glasses. Perhaps he needed them to drive a car, yet the weird Zodiac-like appearance is certainly striking.

Frazier no glasses                       Frazier glasses

The author of the letter goes on to identify the Zodiac by his real name and said that he was a member of a white supremacist organization called the International White Guard.

Somehow a copy of this letter came into the possession of Mae Brussell. On July 19, 1976, she called up Sherwood Morrill, a documents specialist for the Bureau of Criminal Identification in Sacramento and chief expert on the handwriting of the Zodiac. She read the letter to him and stated her belief that the Zodiac was involved in the Chowchilla case. He was not a deranged man working alone, as commonly believed, but rather he was part of a group of extreme rightwing fascist killers. She urged him to be on the lookout for a ransom note and check it for Zodiac handwriting characteristics. (A few days later, newspapers reported the finding of a ransom note at the Woods house. Bohrman’s revelation of the Zodiac markings would not emerge until almost two weeks later.)

After speaking with Morrill, she called David Toschi, the detective for the San Francisco Police Department in charge of the Zodiac files. After reading the letter, she asked him if he knew the name of the man identified as the Zodiac. He said he did. As she continued to ask more questions, he became increasingly angry, rude, and hostile.

Brussell                                                                            Toschi

   Mae Brussell                                                                                          David Toschi

“We had that name five years ago” [1971].

Has he been cleared?”

“No, he has not been cleared.”

“Has he ever been arrested or called before a grand jury?”

“No, he has never been arrested or called before a grand jury.

“Have you asked him any questions about it?”

“No, we’re not asking him any questions.”

“Have you seen the composite sketch of the Chowchilla suspect wearing the hat and eyeglasses, who looks like the Zodiac?”

“Where did you see that picture?”

“On the front page of the San Francisco Examiner. Did you talk to the Chowchilla police department?”

“I am not involved in the Chowchilla case.”

“If the Chowchilla authorities and the Los Angeles authorities think the Zodiac might be involved, how come you have not thought of it?”

Toschi said they would never bring him in, and he had no interest in pursuing Brussell’s proffered lead. [8] (Five days later, his partner, Bill Armstrong, suddenly quit and transferred to the Bunco division, leaving Toschi to become the only San Francisco detective working on the Zodiac case. [9] The dispute between them might, or might not, have something to do with a Zodiac connection to Chowchilla.)

While relating these conversations on her Dialogue: Conspiracy program on radio station KRLB in Carmel, Brussell never mentioned the name of the woman who wrote the letter and only said that she lived in Woodland Hills and worked as a school bus driver. She did however reveal the name of the Zodiac – after an interval of four years. At the end of her program on September 21, 1980, she said:

[Next week I want to bring up] the death of Art Linkletter’s son. He was killed in an automobile accident. I have hinted many times and suggested through a letter that I have that went to a judge at the time of the trial of John Frazier for the killing of the Ohta family in California, that Robert Linkletter was the Zodiac. Now that he’s dead, I feel it’s safe that I can mention that I did call David Toschi, the chief [investigator assigned to the Zodiac case] of police in San Francisco in 1976 and talked to him about this. He said that they would never bring him in. They had this information, that they didn’t clear it, that they had no interest in pursuing it. It’s a subject that has to do with a massive entanglement of California violences. Mr. Toschi was later removed from the police department for forging letters of the Zodiac Killer in San Francisco. Now, I am not saying this is true, or not true. It will be interesting to see if the Zodiac letters, or that person, ever surfaces again. But next week I’ll read to you a letter that was sent to the judge about a group, of the white organization. It’s like the “Hooded Ones,” the Cagoulards in France, and it has to do with an organization of killers called the International White Guard. This letter to the judge at the time of the trial did mention Robert Linkletter. He was killed this last week in an automobile accident. No charges have been filed against the [driver who caused the] head-on collision. We’ll bring that up next week, because there isn’t time for the details. It has to do with Reagan and the California violences.

On September 12, 1980, Robert Preston Linkletter, son of television interviewer and Hollywood celebrity Art Linkletter, was at his apartment, where his mother came to visit him. An hour later, he got into his car, a 1979 Saab. With him was his lawyer, Charles Crozier. Shortly after leaving his apartment, as he was driving west on Santa Monica Boulevard near Thayer Avenue, Gracie Jones travelling eastbound in a 1976 Buick crossed the center divider and rammed head on into the Saab. Robert died an hour later at the Los Angeles New Hospital from chest injuries. His passenger, Mr. Crozier, survived the accident, suffering from rib and face injuries. Jones’ explanation was that a car made a U-turn in front of her, forcing her to swerve into oncoming traffic. In January 1981, she pleaded no contest to the charge of vehicular manslaughter and was given a year probation.

Linkletter family

The Linkletter family. Behind Art in the back are Jack, his wife Lois, Robert, and Dawn. In front are Diane and Sharon.

The letter that Brussell read on her program of September 28, 1980 was the second of two letters written by the Woodland Hills woman. Excerpts of the earlier letter appeared in an article on the front page of the Redwood City Tribune, Saturday, November 20, 1971.

RWC heading 2

RWC title

Below is the complete article:

Letter-Writer Links Frazier and ‘Zodiac’

By Duane Sandul, Tribune Staff Writer [10]

The Zodiac killer also was an accomplice of John Linley Frazier in the mass murders of Soquel eye surgeon Victor Ohta and four others on Oct. 19, 1970, a woman from Woodland Hills claims in a letter to the Tribune.

The woman, Mrs. Marie Vigil, asked the Tribune to forward the letter to Frazier’s attorney.

She said that Dr. Ohta once prescribed glasses for the Zodiac killer, sought for multiple murders in San Francisco. Mrs. Vigil identified the Zodiac killer as Robert Linkletter and said she saw Linkletter with Frazier before the Ohta murders.

She said she knew Linkletter as a man who has been killing since 1966 but declined to elaborate in a telephone conversation with the Tribune from her San Fernando Valley home. She said she had not intended her letter to become public information but as “confidential” to the defense.

James Jackson, attorney for Frazier, said last night the letter writer “probably is eccentric,” but that he would have an agent “check out the letter.”

“I’ve received seemingly wild letters before which indeed did help produce witnesses,” Jackson said. He added he had received other letters linking the Zodiac killer with Ohta.

The typewritten letter claims that the Zodiac killer also is one of the killers of Sharon Tate and the LaBiancas. Charles Manson and his “family” were convicted for those murders earlier this year.

When the Tribune spoke with Mrs. Vigil, she declined to discuss specifics “over the telephone.”

Frazier’s trial, shifted to Redwood City from Santa Cruz by order of the California Supreme Court, ended Wednesday. The four-man, eight-woman jury which must decide his guilt or innocence will begin deliberations Friday.

Frazier has pleaded innocent and innocent by reason of insanity.

Mrs. Vigil, who said she is over 50 years old, told the Tribune she had reported her information to police departments linking the Zodiac killer with Frazier although she wouldn’t say which police departments.

Sgt. Frank Witt of the Woodland Police Department told the Tribune police have no record of Mrs. Vigil filing a report with them.

Asked why she thought Frazier and the Zodiac killer are accomplices, Mrs. Vigil said, “Because they were together.” She added, “I’ve seen them; they were in Woodland Hills.”

She would give no further information about her acquaintance with the “Zodiac killer.”

Excerpts from the letter:

“I do have some information about the accomplice of Frazier. He is Robert Linkletter, one of the killers of Miss Tate, La Bianca never brought to trial here, the killer who lost one pair of glasses the night of the Tate killings.

“Less than one month prior to the execution of Dr. and Mrs. Ohta and three other people, Robert was with them here one Sunday pointing me out to them because I knew those glasses did belonged (sic) to him. Dr. Ohta must have prescribed them. A few days later, I was to see Robert again with Frazier driving a light-colored van, kind of old. Robert was driving, was also wearing a blonde wig and some round oversized glasses with pink lenses …

“If the two daughters of Dr. and Mrs. Ohta know of some connection with their father and Robert Linkletter, their lives are in danger …. [11]

“… This killer has been dropping bodies since 1966, a knife killing in Riverside he has admitted. He moves constantly from San Diego to the High Sierra killing here and there. He must believe the Law and Order is willing to cover up all of his murders

Sincerely,

Mrs. Marie P. Vigil” [12]

According to the above excerpts, Robert Linkletter had a discussion with Dr. and Mrs. Ohta on a Sunday in late September. Mrs. Vigil apparently was not part of this discussion but somewhere nearby, close enough so that Robert could point her out as someone who knew about the glasses at the Tate house. A few days later she saw him with Frazier.

The last paragraph says he “has been dropping bodies since 1966, a knife killing in Riverside he has admitted.” On October 30, 1966, Cheri Jo Bates, a student of Riverside Community College, was brutally beaten and stabbed to death. One month later, nearly identical typewritten letters were mailed to the Riverside police and the Riverside Press-Enterprise, titled “The Confession,” describing how he killed her. A third letter, handwritten, was sent to Cheri Jo’s father, Joseph Bates. It said, “Bates had to die, there will be more,” and it was signed with the letter “Z.” Going on an anonymous tip, Paul Avery wrote an article for the San Francisco Chronicle on November 16, 1970, linking the Zodiac to the Bates murder. Five months later, on March 13, 1971, the Zodiac mailed a letter to the Los Angeles Times acknowledging he had indeed killed Bates.

Avery further said in his article that a janitor found a poem carved into the bottom side of a desktop in the Riverside College library. [13] Its language and handwriting resembled that of the Zodiac. Titled “Sick of living/unwilling to die,” it was signed with the initials rh. It is possible that the h was originally an l. There are three h’s in the poem. The first two were made with a continuous motion without lifting the pen, and the descending part of the arch ends at, or near, the baseline. Unlike the first two h’s, the slight overlap of the left foot of the arch on the vertical line in the third h indicates a two-step operation. Furthermore, the termination of the descending part of the arch in the first two h’s have an assurance that is lacking in the third h, with the right side of the arch trailing hesitantly below the baseline. Since Sherwood Morrill saw distortion and disguise in the formation of letters in the letter to Joseph Bates, the initials at the end of the desktop poem might been subjected to the same treatment to disguise the writer’s identity.

First h                    Second h                      initials

Vigil said that Robert travelled constantly between San Diego and the High Sierra. In the second letter that will be quoted below, he is said to have sometimes stayed with his sister at Lake Tahoe and that he was a member of the Sierra Club. His parents often spent their weekends at a skiing cabin in Alpine Meadows.

Six weeks prior to the Ohta massacre, on September 6, 1970, Donna Lass, a nurse at the Sahara Tahoe hotel and casino, disappeared. Six months later, the Zodiac sent a postcard to the San Francisco Chronicle claiming responsibility for the nurse’s disappearance. The postcard was a collage featuring a scene from an advertisement for Forest Pines condominiums in Incline Village and pasted letters and texts from magazines including one that read “Sierra Club.”

Lake Tahoe postcard

Vigil wrote her second letter on November 21, 1971 to Judge Charles Franich, the presiding judge of the Frazier trial, forwarded through the Redwood City Tribune. [14] Apparently it never appeared in print, and its contents are only known through Mae Brussell. She read excerpts on two of her programs, sometimes word for word, sometimes paraphrasing, in order to leave out information she wanted to keep confidential. Below is one excerpt:

“The Los Angeles Times of today finally had a story about the trial and murder of the Ohtas and their secretary. You asked if I was certain it was John Frazier who was with Robert Linkletter. They were here in Woodland Hills less than a month prior to those killings. He looked exactly like Frazier, when they were arrested, except for one thing. He also wears glasses. About the van, there were two people in the car and it was Robert who was driving it. I do not recall something in the newspaper about that at the time.

According to Frazier’s original story, he drove a white van to the Ohta house where he met three persons. They went into the house, while Frazier stood in the driveway. After they came out, Frazier drove Mrs. Ohta’s car. Witnesses saw three people in the car. That leaves one to drive the white van. Probably on the following day, in accordance with Vigil’s letter, two people were in the white van and the other two were in Mrs. Ohta’s car as they drove toward the railroad tunnel.

I have some reason to believe that Robert was driving north just last Thursday. So if you are observant, you will see him snickering in the courtroom to see how his murders are done and taken care of. He is the man that John Frazier is trying to find at the rear of the courtroom. Does Frazier know about the organization of killers called the International White Guard? Does he fear his wife will be killed if he were to name Robert Linkletter and his father as being heavy in this honorable organization of killers?

 On the day “Robert was driving north,” Thursday, November 18, the court had gone into recess. Frazier apparently expected to see him prior to the recess. The Los Angeles Times article mentioned in the letter, dated November 21, said, “Frazier’s appearance in court seems strangely in contrast to the magnitude of the crime he is accused of. Much of the time, the 5-foot, 6-inch defendant sits slumped in his chair, turned from the judge and jury, focusing his soft hazel eyes impassively toward the rear of the sparsely occupied courtroom.”

Linkletter might have been in the back of the courtroom on Monday to hear the closing arguments. He might have been “snickering” as the jury convicted Frazier of mass murder on November 29. Ten days later, the same jury declared him legally sane, leaving the way clear for the judge to impose the death penalty on December 30. His sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment after the California Supreme Court abolished the death penalty on February 18, 1972.

Robert was also identified as the Zodiac by his sister three days before her death. She had read his first message, that was partly coded. I never believed that she committed suicide any more than her brother-in-law, John Zweyer, did. He had been shot by Robert. These two  were witnesses the night of the Tate murders. John did turn down a bribe that was offered to him concerning the killings. These are the kind of killers that this state has been cultivating and nurturing.

Robert is 27. Sometimes he lets his beard grow. He wears a wig, and sometimes he looks almost bald. Within the past two years, I have seen him in all colors and wig lengths. I know him as Robert Linkletter and also as the Zodiac. I drive a school bus in Los Angeles, and I used to see him on Van Nuys and Ventura Boulevards. He sometimes waits for me on Ventura Boulevard, driving on my way to pick up some children from school. He follows behind and then moves to the side until he is sure I recognize him. Someone must know how smart he is.

He stays sometimes at Lake Tahoe with his older sister, who is a widow, and belongs to the Sierra Club, which is interested in the misuse of the environment.

This Robert, may I say, has the eyes and fingerprints that should be checked. Also I believe Dr. Ohta must have prescribed those glasses that were lost the night of the Tate murders.

A plea of not guilty by reason of insanity is no defense at all [referring to Frazier], because of the horror of those murders. They should convict everyone who is brought in before the courts.

 Zweyer

John and Dawn Zweyer

John Zweyer married Robert’s older sister Dawn in 1959 at the Westwood Methodist Church in Los Angeles. John was a lieutenant in the Air Force, serving as a public information officer at Stead AFB, just north of Reno, Nevada. After getting out of the Air Force, he and his wife moved to Hollywood where he became an insurance salesman. On July 15, 1969, he died of a gunshot wound to the head beside the swimming pool of their home while his wife was on the phone. The coroner ruled it as “a possible suicide.” Supposedly his failing insurance company was the cause of his depression. A more probable cause for his death was murder.

As read by Mae Brussell, the letter seems to say that Zweyer was a witness the night of the Tate murders. Probably while simultaneously reading aloud and condensing parts of the letter, she had accidentally conflated key sentences and obscured the original message. Perhaps what Vigil actually said was that Zweyer was a witness to the planning stage of the impending massacre, and his refusal to be silenced by a bribe was the reason he had to be killed.

On October 3, three months after her brother-in-law died, Diane Linkletter, a roving Hollywood reporter, left the doctor’s office in a cheerful mood. “Suicide seemed as far from her mind as the sun,” her doctor said afterwards. Later that night, at 3:00 am, her friend Ed Durston got a call from Diane asking him to come to her apartment, which was on the sixth floor of the Shoreham Towers in West Hollywood. He went there and found her to be “extremely emotional, extremely despondent, and very irrational.” Six hours later, while Durston was still there, she called Robert and told him she felt like committing suicide. He told her to calm down and said that he would be right over. Robert then spoke to Durston and asked if he could handle her until he got there. He said he could. For a few moments, Diane seemed to relax and even seemed cheerful. Then without warning, she rushed toward the kitchen window. Durston tried to grab the belt loop of her dress but could not prevent her from jumping out. Robert arrived on the scene shortly after the ambulance took her away. A private funeral service was scheduled for Tuesday, October 7, but Robert, his father, and his mother did not attend, having gone into seclusion at their cabin at Lake Tahoe.

According to Vigil, Diane Linkletter died because of what she knew about the Tate murders. She certainly had a connection to the Sharon Tate milieu. Her name was in the address book of Abigail Folger, one of the five victims killed at the Tate house. Diane’s live-in boyfriend of several months, Harvey F. Dareff, allegedly went to the Cielo house on August 8, shortly before the massacre, to buy or sell drugs. [15] A Los Angeles Police Department homicide lieutenant admitted to UPI reporter Vernon Scott, “Yes, Diane Linkletter knew Abigail Folger, and probably was an acquaintance of Sharon Tate.” Diane’s friend, Ed Durston, knew Polish filmmaker Voityck Frokowski, another victim in the Tate house. According to Vernon Scott, “Only one element ties the death of Miss Linkletter with the multiple murders in the canyon home of Miss Tate and her director husband, Roman Polanski – drugs.” The article again quotes the lieutenant regarding this Hollywood subculture, describing it as “a patchwork of peripheral celebrities such as Sebring and Miss Tate, offspring of movie stars and jet setters, hangers-on (Frokowski) and the cast-off children of the big rich. . . . The Hollywood-oriented 600 to 800 go in for bigger kicks, the eerie, weird and freaked-out. They are not militants, protestors or idealists. They groove to their own bag and stick together in the event of a bad trip.”

According to Art Linkletter, his daughter was going with a group that was experimenting with drugs and died from the effects of ingesting LSD. He blamed LSD advocate Timothy Leary and the music industry, particularly the Beatles, for fostering a tolerance for dangerous drugs. The drug-induced suicide version of his daughter’s death was later contradicted by the autopsy report. Coroner Thomas Noguchi said, “We have not been able to pick up any trace of lysergic acid, heroin, marijuana, any narcotics or alcohol in the body of Diane Linkletter at this time.”

Monti

The day after Diane’s funeral, October 8, Toni “Connie” Monti, apparently depressed by the death of Diane, took her own life with an overdose of pills, according to her husband Nick Monti. He said he and his wife were friends of Miss Linkletter. This was contradicted by Sheriff’s Lt. Richard Griffin, who said, “There was no indication she even knew the Linkletter girl.” Connie’s mother disputed the suicide version of her daughter’s death and said she never took drugs and would never consider taking her own life. Perhaps the true reason behind her death is the fact that she lived in an apartment across the street from Shoreham Towers at 1211 N. Horn Ave. From this vantage point, she might have seen Diane’s fatal plunge. An interesting coincidence is that Ed Durston also lived at 1211 N. Horn Ave. [16]

Untitled

According to Vigil, Diane identified her brother as the Zodiac three days before her death and read the “first message, that was partly coded”. Her discovery would have been several days after the slaying of a woman and the severe wounding of a man at Lake Berryessa on September 27. The weekend following Diane’s death, the Zodiac killed cab driver Paul Stine in San Francisco on October 11. The “first message, that was partly coded” had a 408-character cryptogram and was sent to three newspapers in the San Francisco Bay area on August 1. Three days later, a Vallejo newspaper dated August 4, printed the contents of a letter mailed to the San Francisco Examiner, which said, “This is the Zodiac speaking,” the first time the Zodiac name become public. Four days later Manson sent four of his followers to the home of Sharon Tate. Linkletter was also at the Tate house that fatal night and somehow lost his glasses. As mentioned earlier, the right temple stem of the glasses found at the Tate house was lower than the left. A picture of Linkletter showing both ears appears in the Minnesota Star Tribune on November 19, 1965. Since newspaper editors sometimes reverse pictures for various reasons, I have taken the liberty of changing the picture to an alternative orientation. It shows the right ear lower than the left.

RL 1965 front view

Robert Linkletter was born in San Francisco on October 15, 1944. He was a “free-spirited, curious explorer,” according to his brother Jack, very capable of designing and making things. As a teenager, he built his own electric guitar, when his father refused to buy him one. He went to Santa Monica City College, where he acted in a musical comedy. His goal was to become a theater arts major at the University of Southern California and then become an actor. Instead of going to college, he became the guitarist for a surfing music band, called the Cornells. From December 1962 to November 1963, the band released four singles and one record. In May 1963, it appeared on a television show called “I’ve Got a Secret.” Their secret was “We’re all the sons of Hollywood celebrities.”

Linkletter went into the Air Force, spending some time in Australia. During the last six months of his enlistment, he was at Sheppard Air Force base in Wichita Falls, Texas. At that time, war protest songs such as Barry Maguire’s “Eve of Destruction” and Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind” were becoming popular. Linkletter believed such songs, put out by “radical nuts,” had a depressing effect not only on military morale, but also on the nation as a whole, even to the extent of causing the Watts riot of 1965. He also hated “long-haired freaks” like the Beetles. When he left the Air Force in October 1965, he began a nationwide tour singing songs with a “positive” outlook, speaking out against war protesters, and urging people not to give in to the demoralizing influence of those dominating the pop music field.

RL 1965

From Detroit Free Press, November 26, 1965

Linkletter was a prolific inventor, with many patents to his credit. His best-known invention was the childproof safety cap for bottles containing medications. After his death, his father set up “Robert Linkletter Associates” to promote the safety cap and placed as its head Charles Crozier (the attorney who was with Robert in his fatal crash). In 1983, the company was expected to produce eight billion caps for the pharmaceutical industry.

A search of the newspapers.com website shows no pictures of Robert for the six years following November 1965. Then on December 13, 1971, his picture appeared in the Los Angeles Times – smiling like Cesar Romero playing the Joker in the TV series Batman. The accompanying article said he had joined the board of trustees for Los Amigos del Pueblo, a citizen’s group dedicated to preserving and restoring historic landmarks of the Old Plaza, the birthplace of Los Angeles.

RL 1971

The timing of this odd picture is interesting. On January 25, 1971, a jury found Manson and his female co-defendants guilty of murder. Defense attorney Paul Fitzgerald brought up the eyeglasses during the closing arguments at the trial, but no attempt was made to identify the owner. Neither was the owner identified during the trial of Tex Watson, who was convicted of murder on October 13, 1971. In 1971 detective David Toschi became aware of Linkletter but never questioned nor arrested him. In July of 1971 Donald Cheney told Manhattan police that his friend Arthur Leigh Allen used the name Zodiac and said he liked to kill people. Allen then became a prime suspect in the Zodiac case. On December 9, 1971, a jury found Frazier legally sane, which meant either the gas chamber or life imprisonment. Considering the favorable outcome of these related events, it is no wonder that he is smiling.

In September 1980, a few days before his fatal accident, Robert attended a social event at the Westwood Methodist Church in Los Angeles. Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark (cousin of Prince Philip, married to Queen Elizabeth) bestowed the Commander Cross of Merit on General Omar Bradley [17] and Michael DeBakey, a heart surgeon, and on Alice Tyler, the honor of Dame of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. She was the widow of John C. Tyler, one of the founders of Farmers Insurance Group. In 1973, she established the prestigious Tyler Ecology Award to honor individuals who had done significant work in preserving the environment (such as Russell Train, President of the World Wildlife Fund). Included with the article was a picture of Robert Linkletter congratulating Mrs. Tyler. The caption read, “This is the last photo of Robert Linkletter before his tragic accident a few days later . . . He was a favorite of Mrs. Tyler.” [18]

RL and Mrs. Tyler

Robert Linkletter mingled easily among the rich and powerful. He was also a man of many talents – singing, acting, guitar playing, inventing useful things. It is hard to believe that he could be the Zodiac. Yet the letters of Marie P. Vigil, corroborated by Mae Brussell’s interview of David Toschi, indicate that he was. The letters further show that he participated in the slaying of the Ohta family, and that he worked with the Manson family in murdering people at the Cielo and Waverly residences. As a member of the International White Guard, he would have been simpatico with Charles Manson, who believed in the superiority of the white race.

For those who believed in equality of rights regardless of skin color, the emergence in 1975 of a civil rights advocate for president offered a bright future. Governor Jimmy Carter from Georgia had received the endorsement of many black leaders. His principal rival was George Wallace, who was making his fourth run for president as a Democratic candidate. Despite health problems, Wallace’s role as spoiler looked promising until he suffered a setback at the Florida Democratic Convention in Orlando on November 16. A straw ballot poll of delegates gave Carter a whopping victory over Wallace. White supremacists must have seen the handwriting on the wall and believed they needed to do something to stop Carter’s march to the White House. Conceiving the diabolical idea of kidnapping a school bus, they began making arrangements by purchasing a trailer on the 20th of November and, four days later, two vans.

The Democratic National Convention of 1976 was notable for heartfelt demonstrations of racial inclusiveness. It opened on July 11 with a rousing speech by Barbara Jordan, the first African American woman to be the keynote speaker, and it closed on July 15 with a fiery benediction by Martin Luther King, Sr., which led delegates to join hands in an emotional finale, singing “We Shall Overcome.” The seizure of the school bus in Chowchilla was deliberately timed to coincide with the evening when Carter would make his acceptance speech. It effectively stole the news media spotlight just when he needed it most. His staff lost many opportunities for news updates, sound bites, and interviews with reporters to kick off the campaign. Another feature of this plot was putting the blame for the kidnapping and possible murder of twenty-six children and their bus driver on black radicals and radical leftists. The racial harmony that prevailed at the convention would dissolve in the aftermath into an ugly display of dissension and finger pointing. What saved Carter and the Democratic Party from a ruinous debacle was the unforeseen use of a piece of wood to prop open the plate so that the captives in the trailer could tunnel their way to freedom.

Just as in 1972 a piece of tape on a hotel door fundamentally changed the politics of the country by bringing down a president and his administration, so a short piece of wood prevented the overturning of a dynamic movement toward a more integrated society in 1976.

Sources

  1. Much of this article came from newspaper articles too numerous to cite individually. To find sources, go to newspapers.com or newspaperarchives.com and use their search engines.
  2. Dialogue: Conspiracy, July 26, 1976 at 16:20. This and other programs are accessible at the Worldwatchers Archive website.
  3. Dialogue: Conspiracy, August 2, 1976 at 34:30.
  4. Dialogue: Conspiracy, August 9, 1976 at 07.20; September 13, 1976 at 00.58; and July 11, 1977 at 34:30. On his popular late night television show in Los Angeles, Stan Bohrman interviewed Raymond Broshears, a friend of David Ferrie, who said he met a “Bert” who turned out to be Clay Shaw. Shortly after this interview, the television station fired him. In 1975 he interviewed the brother of Manuel Pena, a key figure in the police investigation of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. According to the brother, Manuel Pena was in the CIA.
  5. Graysmith, Robert, The Zodiac, Berkley Books, 1987, pp. 17-19.
  6. Bugliosi, Vincent, Helter Skelter, W.W. Norton and Co., 1974, pp. 106, 109, 380. On May 26, 1970 Paul Fitzgerald, defense attorney for Patricia Krenwinkel submitted a formal motion charging that the police and district attorney investigators were withholding from the defense photographs of the location of the glasses in the Tate house. Seven months later, on December 28, Fitzgerald mentioned the glasses during his final argument, saying that the person who owned those glasses was the true perpetrator of the crime. This argument proved unavailing, for on January 25, 1971 the jury found all four defendants, Manson, Watson, Atkins, and Krenwinkel guilty of first degree murder.
  7. According to the testimony of Roseanne Walker, she and Atkins heard a newscast about the glasses in October 1969. Susan’s comment was “Suppose they found the person. Wouldn’t it be too much if they found the person that owned the glasses? The only thing they were guilty of was dropping a pair of glasses there.”
  8. Dialogue: Conspiracy, July 19, 1976 at 27:50; July 11, 1977 at 34:30; July 14, 1978 on side one at 05:58; September 21, 1980 on side two at 23:41; and September 28, 1980 on side two at 03:18.
  9. Graysmith, Robert, The Zodiac, Berkley Books, 1987, pp. 197.
  10. One daughter, Taura Ohta, “committed suicide” by taking an overdose of pills and asphyxiating herself with carbon monoxide in her garage on May 27, 1977. Dr. Ohta’s mother, Aiko Ohta, age 78, “committed suicide” by hanging herself in the bathroom on December 5, 1979. The other daughter, Lark, is still alive but lives in seclusion, according to the website Santa Cruz Ghost Hunters.
  11. Duane Sandul was a reporter for the Redwood City Tribune and the San Mateo Times until 1985. He then became a public relations consultant for the Port of Redwood City for 30 years. When he retired in 2016, he moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I was able to contact Mr. Sandul by telephone. When asked about the article, he said he has no memory of writing it nor of any of the details mentioned in the article.
  12. A search of the internet shows a Marie P. Vigil, who at one time lived at 20412 Lander Drive, Woodland Hills, died at the age of 98 in Fort Myers, Florida on November 11, 2015.
  13. Graysmith, Robert, The Zodiac, Berkley Books, 1987, pp. 170-173.
  14. Dialogue: Conspiracy, July 14, 1978 on side one at 12:03 and September 28, 1980 on side two at 03:18.
  15. “Second Homicide Investigation Progress Report” on the website vdocuments.net.
  16. Ed Durston was implicated in another mysterious death, that of blonde actress Carol Wayne who appeared as the “Matinee Girl” on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. They were in Mexico in the resort town of Manzanillo for a vacation. She disappeared, and he returned to Los Angeles. Three days later, her bloated body was found in Santiago Bay. The official version was that she accidentally drowned while swimming, even though she was deathly afraid of swimming. Mexican police believed she was murdered but were never able to question the mysterious Durston. From John Austen, Hollywood’s Greatest Mysteries, S.P.I. Books, 1994, pp. 87-99.
  17. Omar Bradley was chairman of the board of Bulova watches from 1958 to 1973. On June 4, 1968 twenty-three Bulova salesmen were in the Ambassador Hotel the night Robert F. Kennedy was shot. Two of the salesmen might have been CIA agents. From Shane O’Sullivan, Who Killed Bobby? Sterling Publishing, 2008, pp. 471-474.
  18. Los Angeles Times, supplement section, October 19, 1980.

Author: William Weston, researcher of conspiracies for over 25 years. Among articles written are “On the Death of JFK: Spider’s Web at the Trade Mart” and “The USS Indianapolis Conspiracy.”

Zodiac Killer at the Tate House

Big Jack Zodiac

Article by William Weston and Peter Heitmann

Two curious episodes from the life of Robert Linkletter foreshadowed his emergence as the Zodiac Killer. 1) an argument with a boy next door when Robert was seven years old, 2) the recording of a song called “Big Jack.”

Robert’s father and mother, Art and Lois Linkletter, moved to San Francisco in 1937, where Art became an announcer for KYA radio. Their first son Arthur Jack was born on November 20, 1937, and their daughter Dawn was born on December 1, 1939. In 1942 Art went to Hollywood, where he met with radio producer John Gueldel to work on a pioneering concept – a show that employed audience participation, contests and gags. Leaving his family in San Francisco, Art moved to Hollywood to become the emcee of the radio show People are Funny. It was a huge success and quickly served as the prototype for more game shows both on radio and television. On January 15, 1945, Art Linkletter started a daytime variety/talk show called House Party, which became another huge success. 

Shortly after Robert was born in San Francisco on October 15, 1944, the Linkletter family moved to Los Angeles. Their home was located in Holmby Hills, part of the “Platinum Triangle” along with Beverly Hills and Bel Air. Two more children were born to the Linkletters: Sharon on August 8, 1946 and Diane on October 31, 1948.

The Linkletters lived at 219 S. Mapleton Drive, across the street from the home of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Other celebrities in the neighborhood included Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Lana Turner, and Walt Disney.

 

Art Linkletter and his wife in front of their home posing with their newly bought 1960 Imperial.

Living next door to the Linkletters was Sammy Cahn, his wife Gloria, and their two children, Laurie and Steve. Born of Jewish immigrants in the Lower East Side of New York City, Sammy was a musical prodigy as a youngster. Changing his name from Samuel Cohen to Sammy Cahn, he became famous for composing romantic lyrics for Broadway plays and Hollywood films. 

His son Steve, born April 28, 1947, also achieved fame as a musician, first by playing drums for a surf music band called the Chantays in 1961 and later by playing the guitar for bands like Steely Dan, the Breaker Brothers, and Billy Joel. He might be the “little Sammy” mentioned on page 70 in Art Linkletter’s book Kids Say the Darndest Things (published in 1957, illustrated by cartoonist Charles Schultz with a foreword by Bill Cosby). Beginning his anecdote about his son Robert, author Art Linkletter writes:

Children are most apt to be most direct with other children. No namby-pamby talk is heard when forthright opinions are indicated. My own seven year old Robert was no exception to the rule, as overheard in the opening conversation with a brand new neighbor through our connecting fence.

“I think I’ll climb over and play with your wagon,” announced little Sammy as the opening gambit.

“Oh, yeah,” replied Robert quietly. “Just come over and you’ll see what happens.”

“Oh yeah!” sneered Sammy. “So what’ll happen?”

“I’ll cut you up in little round pieces, stuff you down our toilet. And then,” in a triumphant crescendo, “I’ll flush you away!”

His father, who was on the porch, overheard what Robert said and immediately went over to his son to give him a “stern lecture.”

 “How many times have I told you?” I remonstrated. “Never, never, never, stuff anything down that toilet! Plumbers cost money!”

Adults can say the darndest things too.

Although father and son were just having a joke at the expense of the little boy next door, we see in this exchange an early propensity to speak casually of the most hideous forms of violence and murder.

From TV Radio Mirror

More about Robert was revealed in an article about the Linkletter family in TV Radio Mirror February 1956. Art said:

Robert is the only one in the family with any mechanical ability. He is always fooling around with engines and motors. He’s always taking things apart. The family has to keep an eagle eye on alarm clocks. Robert loves to act, too. More than anyone else in the family, he is the most artistic and sensitive. It’s quite a contrast with his mechanical ability. He’s going to be a great producer. He’s already put together costume plays, magic sets and living-room circuses.

Mechanical ingenuity is clearly evident in the so-called “Bus Bomb” letter, mailed November 9, 1969, in which the Zodiac provided three handwritten pages detailing an intricate hillside device he planned to use against a school bus full of children. The trigger was a photoelectric switch that detonated the bomb when the shadow of a bus, which has a taller profile than other vehicles on the road, passed over it.

Robert received his education at the Black Foxe Military Academy located in Hollywood next to the Wilshire Country Club. A lot of sons of celebrities went to this school. Robert got together with other boys who could play instruments to form a band. Eventually the band became an orchestra. A brief notice in a Ventura newspaper said that Black Foxe student Mel Lee Kirkman would be playing the piano for “Bob Linkletter’s orchestra” at the Hollywood Bowl on October 21, 1961.

One particular instrument Robert wanted to play was the electric guitar. When his father refused to buy him one, he ingeniously constructed his own. An interesting comment about the guitar comes from a terrascope.com interview of Peter Lewis, founding member of the rock band Moby Grape.

My first year at Loyola high school I met up with the son of one of the guys from the original, radio version of Amos ’n’ Andy, Charlie Correll — same name as his dad. . . . he took me over on a Saturday night to where he was playing with (television game host) Art Linkletter’s son, Bob. And it was Bob who got me into the electric guitar. Bob died later in a car accident. . . .

 I was just learning how to play the guitar, and Link (Bob) showed me some stuff. He had built his own electric guitar. He was very inventive. It had a shitty action, but he let me play it. Then we got some of their friends – guys who also went to Black Fox Military Academy. Jim O’Keefe on tenor sax and Tom Crumplar on bass, and we had a band. Somehow we learned enough stuff so we could go play, like at schools. We must have played every weekend for four years. Back then you could do that if you wanted. . . .

The band was originally called the Tornadoes, but later they changed the name to Cornells. Peter Lewis continues:

We had a manager, Steve Jahns, and he took care of that deal. He was also the one who came up with the name, the Cornells. We’d always make fun of ourselves, and we wanted a corny name. We made up those song titles on the album as we went (laughs) —”Stompin’ After Five.” Nobody paid any attention to that. When it was time to do the next song, we’d just think it up right there and do it. It was all done in three days. Nobody sang. There were lots of bands in those days where nobody sang. When the British Invasion stuff hit the next year, it was like going from silent movies to talkies.

According to a Cash Box article May 4, 1963, members of the Cornells were: guitarist Peter Lewis (son of movie actress Loretta Young); rhythm guitar Bob Linkletter (son of Art Linkletter); saxist Jim O’Keefe (son of Dennis O’Keefe, a famous football player and movie actor); singer Charles Correll (son of Charles Correll, Sr, who was Amos for the comedy team “Amos and Andy”); and bass guitarist Tom Crumplar (the only one who was not the son of a celebrity).

The Cornells. From left to right: Lewis, Linkletter, Correll, Crumplar, and O’Keefe. Unknown person at the keyboard.

On May 27, 1963, the band played “Caravan” on a game show called I’ve Got a Secret. Their secret was that they were all the sons of celebrities.

Robert Linkletter graduated from Black Foxe in May 1962. A picture of him wearing his uniform, sitting on a bench next to his mother, appeared in the May 27, 1962 edition of the Los Angeles Times.

About a month prior to his graduation, Art and Lois Linkletter, along with their three children, Robert, Sharon, and Diane, went to Washington DC along with Charles Correll, Sr., his wife, and two children, Charlie and Richard, to visit J. Edgar Hoover at FBI headquarters. Below is an excerpt from the FBI report:

In the fall of 1962, Bob Linkletter was enrolled as a student at Santa Monica City College. At the same time he was playing guitar for the Cornells, he was also taking drama classes at the college. A college newspaper, the Santa Monica Corsair, April 24, 1963, had an article about Linkletter and another student named Mike Jarvis. Both were actors in a college stage production called “a Drone on the Throne.” The play was a children’s musical comedy with actors and actresses all dressed up as various kinds of insects. Robert had a minor role playing a bee. According to the article, Linkletter was doing television commercials and had plans to become a theater arts major at University of Southern California. This interest in musical comedies would be reflected later in references to the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera Mikado in Zodiac letters.

After the spring semester ended, Linkletter continued to perform with the Cornells. They produced an album called Beach Bound, which included such songs as Beach Bound, Malibu Surf, Agua Caliente, Night Train, Stomping after Five, Surfer’s Stomp, and Lone Star Stomp. On August 31, 1963 the Cornells played at the Los Angeles Sports Arena along with the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Marvin Gaye, the Righteous Brothers, and others.  On October 19 they appeared at the Hollywood Bowl along with the Beach Boys, the Challengers, the Mixtures, and others. In December 1963 they made another record with “Do the Slauson” on one side and “Surf Fever” on the other. 

The Cornells often played at a Sunset Strip club called Gazzari’s, which Lewis described as “definitely the uncoolest club on the Strip. It was mostly people there with sharkskin suits and their hair slicked back.” Unlike other clubs such as Whiskey-a-Go-Go and the Trip, Gazzari’s had more than its fair share of “sub-mobsters” and “local enforcers,” who oftentimes would bounce anyone with long hair. 

The Cornells made an appearance on the Les Crane show which aired on January 11, 1965.

Then we did The Les Crane Show. By this time (1964) we were actually singing. I sang lead on “Sweets For My Sweet” and “Every Time You Walk In The Room.” We had just got into the English thing. I was about to go to Purdue (University) because they had a professional pilots’ program there.

So Les Crane asked me after we did our songs, “Are you gonna do this for a living?” And I said, “No, I’m gonna go to school and be a pilot.” Bob (Linkletter) got really pissed off at me for sayin’ that. We were supposed to play Bob’s dad’s show the next week, The Art Linkletter Show, but after Bob got mad at me I don’t know if they played it or not. He was really pissed off. I know that this book came out listing personnel for surf bands, and I’m not listed as one of those guys….

The year 1964 was transitional for Robert, as his taste in music diverged from his father and brother Jack. While Robert was experimenting with garage rock or acid rock, his father and brother were busy promoting new forms of the folk music genre. Jack had a show called Hootenanny which featured such pop-oriented folk singers and bands as Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, Cass Elliot, Carly Simon, the New Christy Minstrels, the Smothers Brothers, the Journeymen, and the Limeliters.

An article on January 6, 1966 said that Art Linkletter was searching for musical acts to appear on his new show Hollywood’s Talent Scouts. Regarding his second-born son, it said:

The chances of a young pro named Robert Linkletter [appearing on the show] look dark. Says Art: “My older son, Jack and I really think alike. And though I love Robert dearly, I sometimes wonder where he came from.” (This is accompanied by the famed Linkletter leer). “I most certainly do approve though of the principle of what he’s doing. With encouragement from John Conte’s wife he’s on tour protesting the protest songs. But his music? Not on my show!”

In 1964, Bob Linkletter, using the name Bob Preston (Preston being his middle name), recorded a song called “The Letter” for a  45 rpm record under Anthony J. Hilder’s Impact Records label.

Hilder was a prolific producer of records in the surf music genre. He was also a right-wing conservative who in 1964 supported Barry Goldwater’s campaign to be president. Hilder put together a record album called Stars for Barry.

Four years later, on the morning of June 5, as Senator Robert Kennedy lay dying in Good Samaritan Hospital from gunshot wounds received during the night before, Hilder and fellow conservative John Steinbacher managed, with surprising alacrity, to organize a press conference to give their point of view. As stated by William Turner and Jonn Christian in their book The Assassination of Robert Kennedy:

While Yorty was holding forth downtown on the morning of June 5, a group calling itself American United called a press conference in Westwood, near the UCLA campus. American United was the two-man show of John Steinbacher, a John Birch Society propagandist and part-time reporter for the Anaheim Bulletin in Orange County, and Anthony J. Hilder, a firebrand activist. Both were proteges of the well-known anti-Semite Myron J. Fagan, a leader of the Hollywood blacklisting clique during the McCarthy era.

In fact, Hilder and a gaggle of followers had been at the Ambassador Hotel the previous night trying to race-bait RFK by handing out buttons and pamphlets depicting him and black Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., of New York on the same ticket. After the shooting the Hilder group created considerable confusion by alleging the assailant was a Eugene McCarthy supporter.

For the June 5 press conference, Steinbacher and Hilder had prepared a press kit crammed with their prolific output of ultraright polemics. They made the claim that RFK was struck down by the “Illuminati-Communist” conspiracy, using Sirhan as a pawn.

The picture below from the Bakersfield Californian, April 29, 1969, shows Anthony J. Hilder on the left and John Steinbacher in the center speaking to the chairwoman of Mothers Organized for Responsible Education at the Bakersfield High School. Steinbacher was the speaker for a meeting of MORE on the subject of “Anaheim, Sex Education Center USA.”

In a taped interview made on May 3, 1970, Hilder told Jonn Christian:

I predicted Bobby Kennedy would be shot . . . then he was shot. I predicted [Dr. Martin Luther] King would be shot . . . and he was shot! . . . Right now they have to have another killing . . . preferably a so-called Conservative . . . maybe Nixon. . . . But it would be wonderful to have one-two-three [Kennedy] brothers. [ellipses and brackets in the original text]

Hilder in 1967 raised money for Mafioso murderer Edgar Eugene Bradley with a PO Box in Woodland Hills that was also a PO Box for American United recordings. Bradley at the time was fighting extradition to New Orleans for Jim Garrison’s trial of Clay Shaw. As it turned out he did not go to New Orleans. He came under suspicion principally because he was in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Shortly after the shooting of President Kennedy, he was seen on the front steps of the Texas School Book Depository falsely posing as a Secret Service agent.

At some point during this period Robert Linkletter joined the Air Force Reserve. According to various articles, Robert was on a six month tour of duty in Texas, particularly Sheppard Air Force Base near Wichita Falls. In the spring of 1965 Air Force Reserve units were being sent to Vietnam, where the war there was beginning in earnest, and also to the Dominican Republic, where political unrest was threatening to become a revolution. Probably Linkletter’s unit was on standby status, until such time it was determined whether or not to deploy them overseas.

Apparently Linkletter’s six month stint in Texas did not limit his freedom to travel off base from time to time to pursue recreational interests. A short item in the gossip column of the Daily News by Ed Sullivan July 2, 1965 said “Bob Linkletter dating Donna Loren.”

Donna Loren

A singer and actress, Loren first became known as the “Dr. Pepper Girl” doing commercials for the soft drink Dr. Pepper. She was an actress in beach party movies, released six singles with Challenge Records and an album with Capitol Records in 1965 called Beach Blanket Bingo, and appeared in various television shows. At the time she was dating Bob, she was a regular performer on the television show Shindig!

Upon his discharge from the Air Force in October 1965, Linkletter had his debut singing and playing his guitar on the Les Crane show. He had written a song called “The Out Crowd.” The song was on a 45 rpm disc released by Chattahoochee Records of Hollywood. On the flip side was another song he wrote called “The Final Season.” Chattahoochee Records was a label headed by Ruth Conte, wife of actor Richard Conte.

Both Richard and Ruth acted on stage, television, and screen. The best film Ruth appeared in was In Cold Blood (1967) in which she played Bonnie Clutter, the mother of the Clutter family that was murdered by two drifters in Holcomb, Kansas. After that film, she retired from acting. Ruth divorced her husband in 1962 and went to UCLA where she got a master’s degree in social welfare. After the Watts riot in 1965 she helped organize community rebuilding projects. Later she became a psychotherapist and co-founder of the Center for Human Problems in the Los Angeles area. In her private practice she worked with many people from the entertainment industry.

After his appearance on the Les Crane show, Linkletter went on tour around the country to sing his songs. In interviews he gave to newspaper reporters, he freely expressed his political views.

The Detroit Free Press, November 26, 1965

At present Bob’s a singer with an eye on an acting career. When Bob was in the Air Force, he saw the reaction of his buddies to the current crop of “down beat” records like “Eve of Destruction.” It made him mad enough to write an answer, a hopeful upbeat look at life and the future. He put it on records – “The Out Crowd” and “The Final Season” – and now he’s touring the country to talk about the songs.

Hartford Courant, December 3, 1965

“In essence,” Linkletter says, “‘The Final Season’ takes a swing at the ‘Get out of Viet Nam’ people. ‘The Out Crowd,’” he continues, “says rock ’n’ roll people have to lose their masculine identity to be ‘in’ – and I’d rather be ‘out.’” Linkletter says he got the idea for the record a few months ago, while he was on a six month tour of duty with the Air Force in Texas. “There was a possibility they’d ship us to Viet Nam, and at that time Barry McGuire’s ‘Eve of Destruction’ came out. This record really depressed some of the guys, and it kind of annoyed me.”

Linkletter came back to civilian life about six weeks ago, and wandered into a recording section and looked over the list of top records in the folk-rock field. “Here were all these records of the protest movement, and records which attacked this country’s ideals and morals.  I said, ‘Man, this has gotta stop.’”

The music of Linkletter’s record is standard “roll” beat – the difference is in the lyrics, which tell of society’s contempt of “a man who’s afraid to fight.” Continuing his attack on “negative, distressing stuff,” Linkletter says he feels the Watts riot in Los Angeles was caused, in part, by the “Radical, nut music.”

“These radical, nut groups are taking up 85 to 90 percent of our air time, and they’re getting their points across,” he says. “We’re saying 85 per cent of the people – including those in college – don’t go along with this.”

Boston Globe, December 5, 1965

“Bob Linkletter’s Goal: Accentuate the Positive”

“What I’m really pushing,” he said, with all the clarity of diction that has won his father fortune, “is positive music as opposed to negative music, healthy music as opposed to sick music, delight rather than doom-crying.”

What set him off was “The Eve of Destruction,” the Barry McGuire plaint that all is dust and ashes or will be soon.

“I was down at Shepherd Air Base in Texas,” he recounts, “when that record came out, and I tell you, it had a depressing effect on the men there that heard it.”

The lyrics of his “The Final Season,” fight back so to speak.

“We’re reaching the change of the season

When all young men will learn to be a man

But you can’t be a man unless you stand and fight

No, you can’t be a man until you know what’s right …”

“We’ve had so much anti-American rock and rot from Bob Dylan, Pete Seegar and the others, that I know there’s an audience for some positive music. Billy Carr’s doing it, and Bobby Bare.”

Bob has appeared on his father’s show, but has sworn off future appearances. This trip is on his own; and so is the record promotion. He made the record on his return from Australia, where he was running one of his father’s huge ranches.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis), November 19, 1965

“The Beatles started the whole thing,” he went on, “and then  the whole crowd of long-haired freaks came running after them. They’re weak shells of men. The whole business came from England, and I wonder why we have to pattern our society on that one.”

Star Tribune (Minneapolis), December 31, 1965

They’d Rather Be Right

Will Jones

Somehow I can’t let the year end without taking note in this space of the passing-through-town of Bob Linkletter, whom I can describe only as right-wing rock n’ roller.

Linkletter’s visit occurred weeks ago, long before the holidays started, when he was on a promotional tour for a new record of his called “The Out Crowd.” I put away the notes and the record, with the intention of using the material if and when the recording made some splash on the rock circuit. I haven’t heard of it since, but still I can’t bear to throw away the notes.

Linkletter, 21, whose older brother, Jack, and whose father, Art, have gained some notoriety as television masters of ceremonies, has been playing guitar and singing for some nine years.

Lately, he said, he has been bugged by The In Crowd to the point of doing something about it.

“The In Crowd!” he snorted. “Long hair, lace, next month dresses. It’s a sick crowd. Walk down Sunset Blvd., it’s like a zoo. The English influence? Why, any society would like to pattern theirs against degenerate English, I can’t understand.”

He put all of his pent-up feelings into a rock n’ roll song, “The Out Crowd,” and he quoted some lines from the song to show how he felt. He gave me a copy of the sheet music, and his permission to quote some sample lyrics:

I don’t look like the others all look … I won’t dress like the others all do …

Well, my hair ain’t long, yea, I keep it combed …

Among this jungle of long-haired freaks, you found a guy who stands up and speaks …

Like, a girl, I don’t dig those gutless kind …

Linkletter said he was singing to protest today’s singer of protest songs.

“Except that I’m not being negative, I’m being positive,” he said.

He was being positive, he said, in opposition to such negativists as Bob Dylan, Mary Ann Faithfull, and Sonny and Cher.

“Dylan’s presenting the world to the kids from out of the sewer,” said Linkletter. “A lot of the problems we have today, the protestors are making them like worse. They’re singing about free love and perversion and junkyism, and it’s become a thing the kids to accept dirty, filthy, perverted degenerate groups …

“This is not just a record, this is a cause that we’re promoting to defend the  principles that this country was founded on.”

Many performers have affected using the editorio-conversational “we” as a substitute for the first-person singular, but this was not the case with Linkletter. When he said “we” he included his partner, songwriting collaborator, Tony Hiller, who operates recording and song-publishing companies and a public-relations firm called American United.

Besides all the things the protesting, degenerate performers are doing overtly in their songs and recordings, said Hiller, there’s an even more insidious thing happening in the music trade.

He then went on to describe a technique which he called audible-subliminal voice tracks, which he said are the audio equivalent of the barely perceptible visual messages, designed to affect only the subconscious, which were the subject of much investigation and publicity a few years back.

“The Communists are using this in records,” said Hiller. “Our pop records are carrying subversive audio-subliminal messages to the kids.”

“Can you give me an example?” I said.

“Well, it’s like you have a recording of ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb,’ and then about 17 decibels under it there’s a voice saying, ‘The United States must be destroyed … Marx is right.’”

I pressed him for a current example from the pop recording field.

“It’s very hard to isolate, even with the equipment I have available to me in the recording business,” he said, “but I know it can be done, I know how it works, and I know it’s there.”

Hiller and Linkletter also had with them copies of a record called “Jolly Red Giant,” not sung by Linkletter but by a group called Bob n’ Robyn, and issued on one of Hiller’s labels, about the jolly Red menace who is ho-ho-hoing away in our midst.

These tunes, plus another Linkletter tune called “Down That Road,” were but the beginning of a campaign to combat Dylan and his crowd on their own ground.

“We’ve got plenty more,” said Linkletter. “Songs like this to build up the younger generation, like moralitywise.”

The Hiller in the article is a misspelling of Hilder, as in Anthony J. Hilder. 

Bob Linkletter’s tour eventually fizzled out, probably due to a lack of interest.

On March 18, 1966 the Los Angeles Evening Citizen News had the following notice:

The undersigned do certify they are conducting a business at 8816 Harratt, Los Angeles, California, under the fictitious firm name of BOSH! RECORDS and BOSHMAN ENTERPRISES and HARRATT MUSIC and that said firm is composed of the following persons, whose names in full and places of residence are as follows: Robert J Hafner, 480 Galsworthy St., Thousand Oaks, California, and Robert P. Linkletter, 865 Comstock Ave., Los Angeles, California.

The word “bosh” is an English slang word meaning nonsense or foolish talk. The word appears below in the lyrics of a song that has a character identifying himself as the serial killer Jack the Ripper.

Linkletter’s partner, Robert J. Hafner, was a record producer and song writer who along with Tony Hilder was responsible for many of the surf records that came out in the 1960s including “Vesuvius” and “Intoxica” by The Revels. One of the worst songs of the surf music genre, written by Hafner and Hilder, was “Surfin Tragedy,” about a surfer riding a wave who dies when he smashes into the pilings of a pier. Hafner also contributed to the music for the film The Exiles.

In March of 1966, a duet called “Bob and Michele” recorded a two-minute song called “Big Jack” credited to R. J. Hafner under the label Bosh! The duet was Bob Linkletter and Playboy Bunny Michele Martin Dawn. 

The lyrics of the song are given below with Bobs voice in italics:

I had a little girl with little golden curls, and I loved her tenderly

And then one night we had a fight, and this she said to me:

Big Jack, you’re all whack and I am a rich man’s dream.

If you don’t leave this house right now, I’m afraid I am going to scream. Eeek!

Well then I told my girl with her little golden curls, I said to her that night… don’t let us part, don’t let us fight – OR I might act in spite.

She said,

Big Jack, don’t come back, don’t ask me out again, for I’m in love with another man and I’m afraid this is the end!

Then she said, then she said….

Big Jack? Oh diddly-wack, you’re an overrated ego-flated cad.

Bosh!

Who’s that ratta-tatta-tat at your door?

He’s my boyfriend, he’s due at four!

“Boyfriend? BOYFRIEND??!!” So, I grabbed my little girl with her little golden curls and I held her tenderly – THEN I CUT HER THROAT FROM EAR TO EAR, I’m JACK the RIPPER you see! 

The song ends with a crazy killer laugh followed by a circus clown horn as the last note. The song can be heard at the link below:

.https://youtu.be/9I6KUG0hC8c

A publicity photo of Bob and Michele appears in the link below:

http://www.explayboybunnies.com/photoalbums/bunnymichele/bm5.html

The Big Jack record was a promo and was never released to the public for sale. It foreshadows the murder of Cheri Jo Bates, killed by the Zodiac Killer on October 31, 1966 in Riverside, California. Following the murder, the Zodiac sent the so-called “Confession” letter to the Riverside Police and the Riverside Press-Enterprise. Similarities of the song to the letter include: anger at the woman’s attempts to end the relationship (“Only one thing was on my mind, making her pay for the brush offs that she had given me during the years prior”); the tender embrace (“She went very willingly, her breast felt warm and very firm under my hands”); the cutting of the throat (“I then finished the job by cutting her throat.”). Notable is the fact that the Cheri Jo Bates, like the victim in the song, had blonde hair.

The following year Robert and Kim Carnes, a New Christy Minstrel singer, performed a duet for a song called “Mystic Winds of Nowhere,” written by Robert Hafner. Looking back to the time when the song was released to the public, Carnes said, “Needless to say, it went nowhere.” Carnes would later become famous for her 1981 hit song “Bette Davis’s Eyes.”

An article written for the Montgomery Journal (Alabama) February 12, 1969 shows that music was still one of many pursuits of Bob Linkletter,

“Is One Man Show”

by Bob Stockton

Bob Linkletter, an average-appearing young man, spoke of unaverage things Tuesday during a brief stopover in Montgomery.

The soft-spoken son of show business personality Art Linkletter said he writes his own songs, produces his own records and is thinking of appointing himself sheriff of his own county.

The wisecrack could be true. The Linkletter family owns all 900,000 acres of Lida County, Nev., complete with cattle ranch and three ghost towns.

The bit about writing songs and producing records was no boast – just shop talk. Bob sang nine years with a band, then spent the past two years producing records of other groups. Four months ago, he returned to writing and singing.

Bob said his singing peak was five or six years ago when he produced “Busting Surfboards.” He expected “better success possibility” at this stage of his career due to his two years purely business experience.

With a voice he describes as a “sort of tenor baritone,” Bob specializes in rock “or any beat in four-four time.” Instrumentation varies with the production, ranging from a five-piece group to a full orchestra. Producing one’s own records allows greater freedom than tying oneself to a record company, but it’s also more of a gamble, Bob said. His own records are costing “about a grand a side,” he said. “Producing a money-making record,” he said, is “a flip of the coin.”

Luckily, the recording business is not his only interest. “I like diversity,” he said. “I like to have my hands in lots of pots.” The Linkletter empire provides a variety.

Using Los Angeles as a base of operation, Bob travels frequently on family business. His manager, A. J. Boykin, said Bob is “gradually catching up with his father’s average half-million miles a year.”

Bob recently spent four months “chasing sheep and cattle” on the family ranch in Australia, and each Spring and Fall participates in cattle roundups on the Nevada ranch.

He is currently touring the Southeast promoting a new supermarket sweepstakes inspired by his father’s “House Party” television program.

He took time out Tuesday to tour Whitfield Pickle Co. at which his host, Frank Whitfield Jr., is executive vice president.

Montgomery and the South, he said, have an unhurried way of life which the North lacks. “The people are friendly and I like Southern girls,” he said.

As an afterthought, he said he is a bachelor, but not “up for grabs.”

Perhaps Robert’s final foray in the music business was when he teamed up with his old bandmate James O’Keefe to form Oak-Link Productions and Trans World Records, according to an article in the April 7, 1969 edition of Hollywood Citizen News. This was almost four months from the Zodiac murder of David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen on December 20, 1968 and three months prior to the murder of Darlene Ferrin on July 4. As can be seen from the Montgomery Journal, Robert Linkletter was a man of the world, wealthy, sophisticated, and popular. His close association with such creepy, racist, anti-Semitic characters as Hafner and Hilder shows that he was a right-wing extremist.

This lines up with what Marie Vigil declared in one of her letters that Robert Linkletter was part of an organization of fascist, white supremacists called the International White Guard. It might be the same cabal of right-wing Hollywood and military intelligence figures, who “did terrible things to black people,” according to Little Joe, a barber in Jay Sebring’s hair salon, speaking to Tom O’Neill, author of a recent book on the Manson murders.