A new book is out from a man who claims he discovered after 12 years of research that his father was the Zodiac Killer. As often is the case, what has come out so far is less than impressive evidence. But it’s been kept under wraps due to a non-disclosure agreement.
For months, dozens of HarperCollins staff — sales, marketing, publicity, and legal — have managed to keep a potentially explosive new book almost entirely quiet. The Most Dangerous Animal of All, by Gary L. Stewart, is being published tomorrow but still has no cover art on the publisher’s website. It hasn’t gotten any press. As of 1:30 p.m. today, its Amazon sales rank was #140,113.
Not mentioned in the summary: Stewart, a vice-president at a cleaning company in Baton Rouge, alleges that his father was the Zodiac Killer, who is believed to have killed at least five people in Northern California, and famously sent letters and cryptograms to Bay Area newspapers. The murders were never solved.
Stewart reached the conclusion that his father was the serial killer after twelve years of research, Tina Andreadis, a publicist at HarperCollins, told me today.
Andreadis didn’t share many details of The Most Dangerous Animal of All, but did say that Stewart’s father had a criminal record in San Francisco (“forgeries, bad checks”), and there was a strong resemblance between his father’s mug shot and the police sketch. “If you look at Gary’s photo next to the sketch of the Zodiac next to his father’s mug shot, you can see that there is very clearly more than just a passing resemblance,” she said. “They look alike.”
Having a more than passing resemblance to a police sketch means exactly nothing in terms evidence in criminal cases. Some people just look alike. The fact that the father had a criminal history doesn’t mean much either. If that’s the only evidence the guy can really come up with, I think we can safely say that the Zodiac killer’s identity is still unknown. And this book will be another flash in the pan and forgotten after publicity dies down.
But, experts will have a look at Stewart’s claims and decide if they have any merit. The California Department of Justice has maintained an open case file on the Zodiac murders since 1969.
Want to read more about how the use of composite sketches are pretty much useless, there’s a paper about it here. (PDF)