Car- Related Abductions in California 1966 - 1970




In Riverside, California this 18 year-old student had car trouble. A man came up and offered help. After failing to start her car he offered her a ride. The stranger then murdered her. It was found that the middle wire of the distributor had been pulled out. Zodiac claimed her as a victim.




In Berkeley, California a man approached two young females to help them when their VW wouldn't start. He was pushing their car when another man came up to offer help. This angered the first man and he left the scene. It was found that the middle wire of the distributor had been pulled out.




This 17 year-old had been to Los Angeles earlier that night and had just pulled up in the driveway of her home when she was abducted. Her body was found off of Mulholland Dr. near Bowmont Dr. This was very near where Family member and Bruce Davis friend Tex Watson kept an apartment. Watson would not answer any questions about Habe's death. There probably is DNA evidence in this case.


Elyria, Ohio The Chronicle-Telegram, January 2, 1969




This 18 year-old was returning south-bound on the Hollywood Freeway from a friends house in Van Nuys, California. She pulled over to the side of the road near the Highland exit because of a flat tire. She was abducted after someone had "neatly placed" flares all around her Mustang. Her body was found a short time later off of Mulholland Dr. There is DNA evidence in this case.




Nineteen year-old Doreen and her 15 year-old friend James Sharp were hitchhiking in the Rampart area of Los Angeles. They were picked up by two men. A short time later they were found dead having been stabbed numerous times. It appears that Gaul was the prime target in this abduction and Sharp just happened to be there when it happened.




This 19 year-old's car had a flat tire in the parking lot when she was going to leave her work at the Broadway store in the Buenaventura Shopping Center in Ventura, California. She was seen standing beside her car while a man was changing her flat tire. She then vanished and has never been found. It is one of the most frustrating cases for the Ventura Police Department.



Los Angeles Times, January 1970


Click here for Newspaper articles concerning Cindy Mellin.




This 23 year-old was driving on Highway 132 near Modesto, California when a man drove up and told her that her wheel was wobbling. She pulled over and he appeared to repair the wheel. When she drove forward the wheel came off. He then offered her a ride which turned into an abduction and threats of murder. She eventually jumped out of his car and escaped. Zodiac claimed her as one of his victims.




This 18 year-old had car trouble on the Hollywood Freeway near the Santa Monica exit after leaving work in Hollywood. A man (appearing to be about 25 or 26 years old with dark hair) was seen having stopped to give assistance. Eventually they drove off together in his '59 blue or gray-green primered Corvette. She has never been seen again.



Summer (?) 1970

The following account was put together after an in-person interview and several email contacts:


In 1970, Brenda Harrison was blue-eyed, blonde-haired and much younger-looking than her not quite 40 years of age. She lived in Manhattan Beach, California. She worked at the Mattel Toy Company in El Segundo and had to drive to Los Angeles because of work related matters. She also checked at consulates about visas and may have stopped for lunch and other errands in the area leaving her car unattended for various periods of time. She does not remember the date but knows the weather was hot.


When Harrison started heading back to the South Bay she got on the Harbor Freeway (California Highway 11, now Interstate 110) at the 5th or 8th Street on-ramp and proceeded south-bound for two to four miles. She wasn't far from downtown L.A. when she had to pull over to the shoulder because of engine problems. She remembers that the freeway ahead curved slightly and there was an overpass just ahead. She waited in her car hoping for a law-enforcement officer to help her and call the Auto Club.


Just then a man in a gray, '59 or '60, hardtop Corvette pulled over about four car lengths ahead and in the shade of the overpass so she could not see the license plate. Just a few moments after the Corvette pulled over a dark, ordinary, American-made sedan with possibly two men in it (and maybe a third in the back seat) slowed down and approached Harrison's car. The men were looking directly at her. Then they speeded up and left.


The man in the Corvette had gotten out and was walking over to her car at a normal pace. She felt uneasy. She describes him as a white man and thirty-ish. She noticed that he was wearing a nice conservative, green, dressy western, muted, tweed suit with cowboy boots. When he got to her window (which was rolled-down about two inches) she noted he was wearing a light green shirt that had dark green or dark colored checks on it. The stripes outlining the checks were very narrow - kind of a "window pane" look, and the panes were about 3/4" or smaller squares. He was wearing a "traditional" cowboy string tie with a circular clasp that was turquoise and/or silver in color. She noted the heels of his boots were very worn and the boots were unkempt - contradicting the appearance of the nice neat suit and tie.


He looked to be of normal build but she had to look up at him. He seemed to be about six feet tall but this may have been because of the boots he was wearing. He had a clean-cut wholesome look. His hair was short and either brown or light brown because of the sunlight. It was wavy or curly - not tight curls. His gray-green eyes had a deep penetrating and unsettling gaze. There was something memorable about his eyes. He had crinkly lines at the corners of them. She says the actor James Caan had similar hair and eyes in those days. His voice inflection was calm and authoritative.


The stranger opened his unbuttoned jacket and took out a badge attached to a rectangular, black, possibly leather, protector (such as engineers place in their pockets) saying he was an off-duty or undercover officer and that he could help her. He said he could take her to a phone or a service station. She declined. He indicated that it may be a long time before other help may arrive and he would do whatever was needed to take her to get help. She said "No," after each attempt to convince her to leave with him. Harrison was unusually uneasy and wary and those feelings persisted even though the man did not seem intimidating or that unusual.


She then thanked him and rolled up her window. The man purposefully and quickly (he was on a freeway) walked back to his car and drove off. She then rolled her window back down as it was a very warm day. Eventually a patrol-car stopped and called a tow-truck and her car was taken to a repair shop. She doesn't remember the details of the repairs.


Some years later Ms. Harrison read an article in an L.A. newspaper about the Robin Graham incident. She wrote to the Graham family and told them about her experience. There was no return address on the envelope but she was eventually located and she gave a personal interview which was taped. She identified Bruce Davis' photos as looking very much like the man who offered assistance to her in 1970. (Davis - second in command of the Manson Family - was 28 at that time.) She has also reaffirmed this identification and given her account by email.


See the Victims page for more information on many of the above incidents.




All of these victims (except for Gaul and Habe) had car trouble with a man pulling up to offer help. Mellin and Tashman had a flat tire.


All of these victims were pretty and (with the exception of Harrison who looked young for her age) in their late teens/early twenties.


Bates, Mellin, Johns and Harrison were blondes or had blondish hair and blue eyes. Tashman, Gaul, Graham and Habe had long dark hair and a similar appearance.


Tashman, Mellin and Graham had ties to the Valley.


Habe and Tashman were found off of Mulholland Dr.


Mellin and Graham have never been located.




Bruce Davis lived, at times, at Spahn Ranch in the San Fernando Valley. At the Ranch there were rodeo performers that had and wore dress cowboy suits and boots. The Family would sometimes use their clothes and cars. After cowboy actor Shorty Shea was killed by Bruce Davis and the Family, Davis was seen wearing Shea's cowboy boots. One teenaged girl was seen wearing his cowboy shirt. Shea was poor and worked at the ranch so his boots were probably very worn. Davis had a friend with a Corvette and Davis was, on occasion, seen driving it. It is unknown if it was the same year and model that Harrison saw or was seen by the CHP at the Graham scene. The man seen helping Robin Graham was about 25 to 26 with dark brown hair. Davis was 28 with dark brown hair. Harrison did not pay that much attention to the hair of the man who approached her but hair can be easily lightened or darkened. At least one former member of the Manson Family thought that freeway or stalled-car abductions was something that Davis was "into." Everyone in the Family feared Davis the most and he has been called a "cold-blooded murderer."


William Mulholland became chief engineer of the Los Angeles Water Company in the 1920s. He was responsible for many water projects in the Los Angeles area. The Mulholland name became synonymous with water. A road that wound through the Santa Monica Mountains was named Mulholland Drive in his honor. Unfortunately, he had a dam built that later collapsed. Some 500 people perished. It is interesting to note that some of these abductions (and maybe more) have a link to Mulholland Drive. Is this further evidence of the Zodiac's and/or the Family's connection to water?




Brenda Harrison and the late Kathleen Johns may be the only ones who spoke to the possible suspect of all of the above incidents and survived to tell about it. He could have had an accomplice or even more than one. Harrison mentioned a sedan with a couple of men in it that slowed down to stare at her as her "rescuer" was walking over to her car.


Another car - besides the Corvette - had been seen the night Robin Graham was taken.


There were at least two men involved in the Marina Habe abduction. The black car that was seen by her mother was the same make, model and color of a car that was at Spahn Ranch - Manson's hangout in the San Fernando Valley. That car was owned by the late cowboy performer Randy Starr.


On the night of, and in the same general area of, the Kathleen Johns incident a car passed up two male drivers. A short time later they saw the same car with a man standing beside it waving for them to stop. They felt it was very suspicious and did not stop. They reported this to the police after they had read about the Johns kidnapping.


It is believed that the killer of Cheri Jo Bates in Riverside, at that early date (10/30/66), was acting alone.




Bruce Davis was living in Riverside when Bates was killed there on 10/30/66.


Bruce Davis was in L.A. at the time of Habe's abduction.


Bruce Davis returned to L.A. in April 1969. Tashman was abducted and slain 5/18/69.


Bruce Davis was visiting and hanging-out in Ventura in early 1970.


Bruce Davis was arrested on 1/21/70 - one day after Mellin was abducted. This is a pattern in other unsolved murders that Davis is a suspect of and are not mentioned in this report.


Bruce Davis was released from custody in mid-March 1970. Johns was abducted on 3/22/70.


Bruce Davis visited a house in 1970 that was rented by Family members. That house was five doors away from Graham's home.


Bruce Davis surrendered to police in L.A. on 12/2/70 - seventeen days after the Graham abduction on 11/15/70. He fully expected to be released as before.


Bruce Davis was not in jail or out of the country at the time of any of the above mentioned incidents.



The Zodiac killer, in his letter to the L.A. Times on 3/13/71, claimed there were "a hell of a lot more down there (victims in Southern California)" and that the police were "only finding the easy ones." Are the above victims some of to whom he was referring?


More Bruce Davis Information


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