Reporter remembers covering Zodiac killings 

Before nicknames, coded messages and public fear, the murders that would later find infamy in books, movies and amateur sleuthing started as a small front-page article on Dec. 21, 1968, hidden below "It’s ‘Go’ for the Moon," and the Apollo 8 launch.

That same day, San Francisco Examiner reporter George McEvoy was sent to Vallejo to interview people who knew David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen.

"We didn’t know anything about the Zodiac at the time," Mc-Evoy said. "These are just kids necking. Who didn’t do that?"

Now living in Boynton Beach, Fla., McEvoy, 80, still writes a column for the Palm Beach Post and remembers the days leading up to the "Year of the Zodiac," and murders that would later inspire slasher-movie clichés.

"When I covered it, it was just another shooting, some crackpot out killing kids," he said.

Although he was tempted to play into the public’s fear after the brutal shootings, McEvoy said he instead focused on what stood out to him about the case, the marksmanship of the shooter and the unique shoes — Wing Walkers — he wore.

"I always felt that he was in a branch of the service. He wore a type of shoe that was sold in PXs, and he was a crack shot."

Faraday’s mother sent McEvoy a letter after the story ran on Dec. 22, thanking him for not sensationalizing the issue. He said he still has that letter today and treasures it.

McEvoy was soon drawn away from the case to cover a sailor mutiny, but he said that everywhere he went there was discussion of the Zodiac murders. At one point, he remembers armed firefighters riding school buses after the killer threatened to blow up a bus.

"I’d come back to the paper on weekends to pick up my pay, and it was very tense," he remembered. "We were getting calls all the time by people claiming to be the Zodiac."

Even with so much attention focused on San Francisco newspapers by the killer, McEvoy said he was never afraid for his own safety.

jgoldman@examiner.com

The Zodiac Killer coined his name in a 1969 letter to the Examiner. Our special section reviews the new "Zodiac" movie and looks back at his still-unsolved killing spree.

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