Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Heriberto 'Eddie' Seda

This is the Zodiac

 This is the Zodiac

At 3a.m. on March 9, 1990, forty-nine-year-old Mario Orozco limped homeward through the streets of East New York, a section of Brooklyn known for drugs, violent crime and poverty. He used a heavy wooden cane as he made his way slowly but surely down the familiar streets.

Although he suffered from bad eyesight and a congenital limp, the proud Mr. Orozco worked a tough job in the kitchen of a New York restaurant instead of taking public assistance. The jobs late hours required him to ride the subway late at night and walk home on the nearly deserted streets.

Unbeknownst to Orozco, a young man in a maroon beret stalked him from the shadows of a nearby cemetery. Without warning, the man emerged from his hiding place and shot Orozco in the back with a 9mm zip gun. Orozco never even saw him.

The young man wrapped a note around his gun and laid it carefully on the sidewalk. Then, he disappeared. Mr. Orozco was a Scorpio. He survived.

This is the Zodiac

At 3a.m. on March 29, 1990, thirty-four-year-old Germaine Montenesdro wandered the streets of East New York. He was unsure whether to go home to his girlfriend in the Bronx or seek shelter at his fathers nearby apartment. The intoxicated man swayed as he walked, smelling strongly of alcohol. Montenesdro walked past a high school campus, and a young man watched him from a set of bleachers. As Montenesdro made his way slowly forward, the young man began to follow him. He fired a shot. While Montenesdro lay bleeding, the young man searched his pockets. He found a wallet, but left the money. He took Montenesdros passport and slipped away. Montenesdro was a Gemini, and he survived.

This is the Zodiac

So, begins a bizarre and cryptic letter that arrived at East New Yorks 17th Precinct on November 17, 1989, several months before the Orozco and Montenesdro shootings. The letter was addressed to Anti-Crime, the elite street crimes unit. The letter contained a large drawn circle with lines divided into sections representing the signs of the zodiac. The sign Virgo was missing, but the Taurus section was marred by the words: The first sign is dead.

The full text read:

This is the Zodiac.
The First Sign is dead.
The Zodiac will Kill the twelve signs in the
Belt when the Zodiacal light is seen?
The Zodiac will spread fear
I have seen a lot of police in Jamaica Ave and Elden Lane but you are no good and will not get the Zodiac.
Orion is the one that can stop Zodiac and the Seven Sister

The officers checked through open cases to see if the letter was connected to any of them, but after that they didnt think much about the letter. Hundreds of odd letters arrive at the NYPD each week, and the vast majority of them turn out to be nothing but sad, meaningless pleas for attention. Each is investigated, but the hard truth is that even trained experts sometimes have difficulty determining the writings of a harmless crackpot from that of a violent criminal.

If anyone at the department who read the letter noticed its resemblance the letters of an uncaught serial killer who terrorized the Bay Area in the 1960s and 1970s, he or she did not make a report of it.

The Brooklyn police did not connect the Orozco and Montenesdro shootings. Nor did they ever find the gun that the shooter left beside Orozco. In the chaotic days before New York Citys crime turnaround, random acts of violence were all too common, and the detectives had cases they had hopes of solving. They never dreamed that two random shootings might be the beginning of the most frightening crime spree the city had seen since The Son of Sam.


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