Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Heriberto 'Eddie' Seda

Operation Watchdog

The Post article put pressure on the police. New Yorkers remembered how the Son of Sam used the press to taunt police and frighten citizens. Nobody wanted to avoid a repeat of the Son of Sam debacle more than Chief of Detectives Joseph Borrelli. He had served on the Son of Sam task force and he had been personally mentioned in one of the Son of Sams letters.

He took swift action. He called the detectives from the separate Queens and Brooklyn precincts together for information exchange. When he saw how little the Brooklyn detectives had on the first two shootings, he was livid. Many believed the subsequent dressing down was a bit unfair, given that no notes or reliable witnesses had been found in the Brooklyn cases, but Borrelli was in no mood to make concessions.

The work of Ciravolo and his detectives impressed Borrelli, and he assigned them the case. Borrelli named the effort to catch the Zodiac Operation Watchdog and pledged as much support as necessary. Ciravolo felt confident they would catch the Zodiac quickly.

At this time, someone in the 17th Precinct remembered the strange letter that had arrived the previous November. It was added to Ciravolos case file.

Over the next few weeks, the press caught hold of the case and wouldnt let go. New Yorkers began to wonder if the infamous Bay Area Zodiac had returned. Astrologers appeared on television with predictions and explanations. People no longer felt comfortable when asked the question, whats your sign? Vigilante groups like the Guardian Angels began patrolling East New York.

Operation Watchdog detectives determined a pattern in the Zodiacs actions. They predicted he would strike again on early Thursday morning, June 21st. That night, scores of officers patrolled East New York both on foot and by car.

Unfortunately, they were patrolling in the wrong place.

Across the East River in Manhattan, a homeless man named Larry Parham made up his bed on a bench in Central Park. Before he settled down for the night, he hid his wallet in one of his sneakers.

As a clean-cut, well-dressed young man with $4,000 in the bank, Parham defied stereotypes. He despised being homeless, but a streak of troubles left him on the street, and he felt he needed to save more money to obtain a solid start. He also felt the park was safer than a shelter. Unbeknownst to Parham, a young man watched him from a nearby bench.

As Parham slept, the young man crept over to his bench and carefully removed his wallet. He examined the contents of the wallet but left the forty-nine dollars in cash untouched. He returned the wallet, stood up and fired a shot.

Parham is a Cancer, and he survived the shooting.


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