The Channel Nine Letter



Courtesy of Los Angeles Police Department and Tom Voigt. We are grateful to Rick Morton for his discovery of this letter in the LAPD archives.


Analysis of the Channel Nine Letter


This is a letter that clearly is written in anger and in a hurry to get it in the mail. It has been some four years since Zodiac has last written so there would very well be some handwriting changes due to age. And, no doubt, some could be contrived. Some old traits would also be evident. Remember, Zodiac makes the rules on how he does anything. And then he changes the rules - because he can! It is all part of his braggadocio of being too clever to get caught.


"Dear Channel Nine;" This is classic Zodiac. ("Dear Editor", "Dear Melvin", etc.) Zodiac, in most cases, did not end his opening remark, "This is the Zodiac speaking," with a punctuation mark. An exception to this is his 10/13/69 letter where he does use a period. (It has been said that Zodiac never used a person's name. Tell that to Paul Avery, Herb Caen, Melvin Belli and Count Marco Spinelli.) In Zodiac's 07/24/70 letter to the San Francisco Chronicle he wrote, "you people [in S.F.]" Here is written, "You people in LA" and on line 7, "You people".


A Zodiac trait is that he will write some things only once, creating unique "clews." Other times he will be consistently inconsistent, even within the same letter. Zodiac has spelled the word "bus" both correctly and as "buss." In Zodiac's 04/26'70 letter he writes "butons" on line 6 but on line 8 it is "Buttons." The writer of this letter misspells "gona" twice but uses "going" once, also, and it is correctly spelled.


When Zodiac printed, sometimes the letters in a word would connect or touch each other. In the above letter in line 2 note the word "three" has letters touching. In line 4 note the words "report" and "begin" have letters that touch. The word "of" in line 12 and "after" in line 14 also touch. The "s" probably does touch the "y" in the word "plays" in line 17. The "yo" in the word "you" is very close in line 18.


In Zodiac's 07/31/69 letter the word "parT" ends with an upper case "T". Two words in this letter end with a capital "T". Zodiac has separated combined words like "him self" (01/29/74.) In line 3 above is written "some thing". Zodiac often did not hyphenate words at the end of a line. Nor would he separate the word properly. See "applause" in lines 5 and 6 above.


Another Zodiac writing trait is that most of the time he writes out numbers. In the above letter the word "three" is written out twice and "five" is written out once.


When threatening others, Zodiac refers to them as "people." On 08/01/69 he wrote, "I will kill a dozen people." On 04/20/70 he wrote, "I have killed ten people." In the above letter it says, "I plan to kill five people . . . ." Zodiac had a fondness for using numbers when explaining some things. This is evident in the above "kill list" - which he never followed up on. Zodiac never followed up on certain threats, also.


On 07/31/69 Zodiac threatened to kill an exact number of people (12) and when (weekend of the first of August.) Above, the letter writer lists an exact number of people to kill (5) and when (in the next three weeks.)


The first person listed that the letter writer said he was going to kill was "Chief piggy Darrel Gates". Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates (yet another misspelling by the letter writer) became the Chief at the end of March 1978 replacing the number two person on the list to kill, "Ex Chief piggy Ed Davis". This letter is postmarked May 2, 1978. According to several statements, Daryl Gates had been the head of the Charles Manson investigation under Chief Davis. This could clearly show a connection between the letter writer and Manson as Gates and Davis would both have naturally been considered as enemies by the Family.


Manson, Bruce Davis and the Family constantly used the term "Piggy" to not only refer to the police but also to rich people and those they considered undesirable. Many people during that era spelled the word "piggie". The Manson Family, in many of their writings, and this letter writer both spelled it "piggy".


Zodiac repeats phrases in his letters. In his 12/20/69 letter he writes, "please help me" three times and "I cannot" twice. In the 07/26/70 letter "I shall" is written seven times, "Others shall," is written twice along with "Others will" and "Others I shall" once each.  The writer of the Channel Nine letter uses the phrase "In the next three weeks" twice.


Zodiac used a "box" style of "f" in the word "fire (truck)" in his 11/09/69 letter. In the above letter the same style of "f" is used in the word "for" in both line 2 and line 18. Both the above writer and Zodiac dot their "i"s sometimes and sometimes not.


As to punctuation, in Zodiac's "Dragon card" of 04/28/70, he does not use a comma after "Well" in "Well it would cheer me up . . . ." The above author neglects to use a comma after "Also" in line 12. Exclamation marks and dashes are used by both writers. There is a word crossed-out Zodiac-like on the next to last line. (However, Zodiac did not cross out words as much as many people seem to think.)


In Zodiac's writings he displays a jocular trait such as, "I though you would nead a good laugh . . ." in his 11/08/69 missive. The above author displays this same characteristic, "Hey - - - you actors . . . ." (Some have said that using "Hey" is unlike Zodiac. But "hey" is used twice in the 11/09/69 Zodiac diatribe.) A select populace is addressed (actors) and Zodiac has addressed an entire chosen population, also.


It has been said that the capitalization of words like "Break" and "News" in this letter is not a Zodiac trait. Here is a partial list of some words Zodiac has inappropriately capitalized: String, Bombs, The Blast, Thing, Radians, Code, Sun, Night, Timer, Fry, Paradice (sic), Ask, Twisted Shoes, Police, Mirror, Bat, Person. Some words are used twice, once with a capital and once without a capital.



It has been said that there are none of the Zodiac's characteristic checkmark "r"s found in the Channel Nine letter. See the following:


Line   2 -  

are, for, treat, three

Line   3 -  


Line   4 -  


Line   8 -  


Line   9 -  


Line 10 -  


Line 11 -  

theocratic, crap

Line 12 -  

rest, world

Line 13 -  

Eldridge, Cleaver, niggers, their

Line 14 -  


Line 16 -  

hers, actors

Line 17 -  

your, Break, Remember, whoever

Line 18 -  

work, for

28 checkmark "r"s out of 143 words. Some are identical to Zodiac's.



Here are other comparisons:


Channel Nine letter:

Zodiac letters:

For the numeral 4 in line 12 the horizontal bar does not pass through the long vertical bar.  Zodiac does this also: In the 07/31/69 letters, the 10/27/70 Halloween card (twice), on the car door on 09/27/69 and even on the envelope addressed to Joseph Bates on 04/29/67.
The author says when he will kill - during "the next three weeks". Zodiac tells when he will kill in his 07/31/69 letter:  "(Next) Fry night," "all weekend," "over the weekend."
The upper case "I" in line 2 does not have crossbars at the top and bottom. All other capital "I"s do. Zodiac does this on the envelope of his 03/13/71 letter.
There is a semi-colon (;) after the salutation, "Dear Channel Nine;". On 03/13/71 Zodiac writes his salutation to the "Editor;" using a semi-colon.
The author writes to an "LA" media outlet with a change of postmark - Santa Ana.  On 03/13/71 Zodiac writes to the "LA" Times instead of the Chronicle from a new postmark - Pleasanton.
The author crosses double "t"s with a single bar - "gotta".  Zodiac does the same on 07/24/70 with,  "buttons", and on 07/26/70 with "implatt".
There is no hyphenation used for separating the word "applause" on lines 5 and 6.  Zodiac also does not use hyphenation in some of his letters.
The lineal baseline of some of the sentences is wavy. This is the same for some Zodiac letters.
The two bars of the letter "y" are sometimes not connected; Other times they are. This is the same for Zodiac.
Exclamation marks are used. (Three times.) Zodiac has done this, too.
A threat is made to kill a specific number of people - five. Zodiac threatened to kill "a dozen" people.
No apostrophe is used in the words "wont" and "shes". There are numerous times this has been done by Zodiac.
"You people" is used twice. 07/24/70 letter - third line - "you people".
"Hey - - - you actors," and calls the police "piggy" twice. 11/09/69 letter - "Hey blue pig" and "Hey pig".
Uses "a" instead of "an." ("a obscenity"). Typical trait of Zodiac.
Compound words sometimes separated and sometimes not: "some thing" and "whoever". 01/29/74 letter - "something" and "him self".
There is a word crossed out in the next to last line. Zodiac crossed out words in his 12/20/69 and 05/08/74 letters.
There is a death list with several people enumerated, 1-4, (5 implied.) Zodiac had a "little list" of intended victims. He uses enumeration in his 07/31/69 and 04/28/70 letters.
Uses a word more than once spelling it correctly and then incorrectly in the same letter. "gona" (used twice) and "going". 12/20/69 Belli letter - "control" and "controol". 04/28/70 - "butons", "buttons" and "buton".
Writes to an entire city - Los Angeles. Writes to an entire city - San Francisco.
Individuals are specifically named: Darrel Gates, Ed Davis, Pat Boone, etc. Zodiac has named individuals specifically in his letters: Melvin Belli, Marco Spinelli, Paul Avery, etc.
Words are capitalized incorrectly: "Killing", "Kill", "Any", "Chief" (twice), "The", "Break", "News"; The words "geT' and "cuT" have capital letters at the end of the word. See listings above.
Some "a"s are closed; Some "a"s are open. Same goes for Zodiac letters.
Most "u"s do not have a vertical bar. The same goes for Zodiac. 01/29/74 - "yours" and 07/08/74 "Put".
Writes "LA" with no periods. 07/31/69 - Writes "SF" with no periods.
In many cases the dot over the "i" is off center. This is the case also with Zodiac's "i"s. 
Author says he has a "plan to Kill". Zodiac said he had bus bomb plans.

One other objection to Zodiac being the author of the Channel Nine letter is that the "D" in "Dear" doesn't look like a Zodiac "D." The letter "D" is used 3 times in this letter (The salutation line and twice on line 10.) and they are all different! This is a Zodiac trait with upper as well as lower case letters. (Davis has changed his writing style of the same character on the same line, also. Click here to see Davis' handwriting.)



This letter purporting to be from the Zodiac killer to KHJ TV, Channel Nine, in Los Angeles was postmarked May 4, 1978 from Anaheim, California, where Bruce Davis had lived 1964-66. What was going on with Bruce Davis at this time?


Davis’ personality disorder in 1978 was diagnosed as being schizoid with dromomania (wanderlust).


He has suppressed rage and hostility along with passive / aggressive traits. He has periodic episodes of mental / emotional issues. One report says his mentality is highly malignant, with pathological processes. He can be domineering, antisocial, and over values his self-worth. He is detached, has no remorse or sorrow, is very controlled and impersonal, but correct in his behavior. He is extremely self-centered, depersonalizes his crimes, is very unfeeling, and is attracted to a white supremacist group (the Aryan Brotherhood) that advocates violence. A counselor noted that Davis kept his hair "close cropped" or short.

(Click here to see Aryan Brotherhood example.)


All of this analysis seems like the Zodiac Killer profile!


With this evaluation at hand we shall now see what was happening around Davis before the May 4, 1978 Zodiac letter was sent.


Davis' past partner-in-crime, Steve Grogan, secretly led investigators to the long sought after remains of Jerome "Shorty” Shea. Davis was probably aware of this private development. On December 15, 1977 Shea's remains were recovered. There were very deep gashes in Shea's bones where Davis and others had struck him. Bruce kept secrets. When previously asked, Davis had refused to help the police in finding Shea’s body since he was a participant in his murder. Shea's mother wanted a decent burial for her son but even her pleading with Davis to talk was met with deaf ears. This was one cold human being she was dealing with. (Grogan was released in 1985 for giving up that information to find Shea, but Davis was only “very depressed” upon learning of Grogan's release.)


In 1978 Davis began asking for permission to go to another prison. For the first time he had begun to attract media attention at his parole hearings, which he did not like. He had tried to keep a very low profile. He grew a moustache and let his hair grow longer than normal. At times, Davis became very angry concerning his situation and experienced “several serious psychiatric episodes” in 1978.


It may have been during one of these "episodes” and “bouts of anger” (and because of his failure to obtain parole in 1977) that he wrote the 1978 KHJ letter and had it smuggled out of prison as he had smuggled letters out before. (It would seem that one of the girls was told to mail it from Anaheim to get the postmark from the city where Davis first lived in Southern California. Sandra Good had tried to get a young man to mail letters from San Francisco to get a postmark from that city on the envelopes of her threat letters as an alibi because she lived in Sacramento. So it seems this was a trait for Mansonites.) These “secret messages” are called "kites" and prisoners have done this for many years. It still continues today despite modern surveillance techniques.


It is of interest that many in the Family were due for parole the same year, 1978, that the KHJ Zodiac letter was sent, after a long period of no communication from Zodiac, and also that the Manson Family was mentioned by name in the letter. It is very possible that during another “episode” and while under medication, Davis thought that by writing a “Zodiac letter” it might cause some kind of change. What that wanted change would be is hard to tell if one is mentally disturbed! This letter does call Susan Atkins a "Judas” or one who had betrayed the Family. Perhaps he was going to do a follow-up letter and ask for the Family's release or he would carry out his threat as "Zodiac." Recall that Zodiac wrote in August 1969 that if his demands were not met he would “kill 12 people.” In December 1969 Zodiac had contacted Melvin Belli, the nation's top attorney, pleading for (legal) “help.” This was at exactly the same time that the Family was going down fast. In December 1969 the Tate/LaBianca case was announced as being solved. LA Police Chief Ed Davis, one of the persons the above letter writer wrote that he planned to kill, had announced this and Daryl Gates, another person the above letter writer planned to kill, was the head of the Manson investigation at LAPD.


About two months after this 1978 Zodiac letter, Manson suddenly sent two letters to Davis (odd timing after years of non-written silence) but Bruce Davis claimed he did not read them and took them straight to the warden! Some of the Manson girls had been sending Bruce letters and had visited him. Later on, with parole on his mind, he refused to see them or read their letters.


So this is what surrounded Davis during the time that the Zodiac letter was sent to KHJ, Channel Nine. It should be added that the number nine was very important to the Family as in their minds it referred to Revolution Nine, the Beatles song. This is well known. It symbolized their war or revolution for “all classes” of society. Of interest is that in the December 1969 Belli letter in which Zodiac is requesting legal help he said, “no nine” and that could refer to that all-important nine.


Indeed, at that time it seemed there would be no revolution!


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