Thursday, April 30, 2009

Woman claims father was infamous Zodiac killer

From usatoday, One of the nation's biggest unsolved murder mysteries is the identity of the "Zodiac killer," who is blamed for at least five deaths in the San Francisco Bay area 40 years ago.

Now a woman is stepping forward to claim that her father was the killer and that he took her along as a 7-year-old for thrills, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. During the height of the killings, the Chronicle received taunting letters believed to be the Zodiac killer.

The claim by Deborah Perez stirred up much skepticism about a case in which a number of people have tried to take responsibility.

But at least Perez, 47, offers a unique twist, the newspaper says.

She tells reporters that she is going public to finger her now-deceased father, Guy Ward Hendrickson, a resident of Santa Ana in 1968 and 1969, in an attempt "to right his wrongs."

"I was a child and just thought I was helping my father," Perez says. "He told me he killed many people."

Most intriguing, perhaps, is that she says she has a pair of brown, horn-rimmed glasses that her father supposedly took from his last victim, a cabbie, the Chronicle reports.

She also says she wrote a letter to famed defense attorney Melvin Belli at the age of 7 to try to get help for Hendrickson. The letter, with erratic punctuation and misspellings, read: "Dear Melvin This is the Zodiac speaking I wish you a happy Christmass. ... please help me."

The Chronicle quotes police investigators as saying they will look into the story.

The New York Times quotes Robert Graysmith, a former Chronicle reporter who has written two books on the case, as saying he is doubtful of Perez's claims, but "I never say never."

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