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Zodiac Killer Knife

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Chaucer1, Jul 17, 2019.

  1. Chaucer1


    Jul 16, 2019
    Hello, folks,

    I'm an investigator on the Zodiac Killer case from the late 1960's and early 1970's in the San Francisco area. I'm hoping you all might be able to shed some light on an aspect of the case.

    The Zodiac Killer is responsible for 5 murders along with several letters and codes sent to newspapers. One of those murders took place on September 27th, 1969 on the shores of Lake Berryessa in the Napa Valley region of northern California. At approximately, 6:30pm that day, two college students were surprised by a man in a mask as they lay on the banks of the lake, tied up, and subsequently stabbed each 6 times. The male student survived his wounds and later offered good eyewitness testimony. The female victim died.

    The question I have is in regards to the knife used. Below is the description of the knife as taken word for word from the police report. If possible, could you read the description and see if you can possibly provide some identification of the knife:

    "...also stated that he was wearing a knife in a case (on belt) on his right side, near front of trousers. Knife description: Appeared to be a long bread knife, 12" long blade, 3/4" wide, hardwood handle, two brass rivets holding handing in place, cotton surgical tape wrapped approximately 1" around handle of knife. Knife case possibly made of wood."

    A couple of notes: first, the knife has been described as both a bread knife, a bayonet, and homemade knife. It also did not have a crossguard. According to the coroner's report, it appeared as if the blade was sharpened on both sides. My uninformed opinion is that a bread knife would be ineffective as a stabbing weapon.

    So, while I know there isn't much to go on, any input or information on your part in regards to this detail in this case would be greatly appreciated. I look forward to seeing your thoughts into what knife this might actually be.
  2. r8shell

    r8shell Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Jan 16, 2010
    What do I win?

  3. b00n

    b00n Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 15, 2016

    I could imagine something of that nature. And eyewitness testimony is incredibly unreliable according to a lot of sources. Especially in a life or death situation. It has enough features that it seems to work. Wood Handle, Two Rivets, small cross guard, designed for stabbing, simple shape, sturdy (aka wooden like) sheath. 10 inches although everything seems closer when adrenaline is pumping.
  4. dano


    Oct 3, 1998
    ...Not sure the relevance on the actual knife, considering the time frame, etc, unless one runs with the prior military service as on facet of a potential suspect, and believe it was a surplus knife?
  5. Chaucer1


    Jul 16, 2019
    Wow! Love all the feedback. Could you provide names and/or brands for these knives?

    In answer to the question about relevance - yes, you nailed it. There has been suggestions that Zodiac was military. He left footprints that were later identified as Wingwalker military chukka boots and the area the crimes were committed have both Travis AFB and Mare Island Naval Shipyard nearby. So, yes, anything that might provide a clue - including the type of knife used - is helpful.

    Again, thanks for the awesome responses thus far.
  6. Ajack60

    Ajack60 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Apr 21, 2013
    Welcome @Chaucer1 to BF !!!
    Are you saying you’re one of the original investigators ? There’s a wonderful TV program called “Cold Case Files”, they might be more helpful than a knife forum. They probably have better resources to help in your quest.
  7. Chaucer1


    Jul 16, 2019
    Well, my question related specifically to the knife used in this attack. I no nothing about knives other than how to use one to cut my steak and butter my break. lol

    I figured I would go to a place where knife experts gathered. Glad I did.
    willc likes this.
  8. b00n

    b00n Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 15, 2016
    The one I posted is a German WW2 K98 Bayonet. I would imagine a lot of military knives, both fighting style and bayonets, would be pretty ubiquitous in surplus stores. And there is a wide variety of sizes, styles and types, and a fair amount of the older ones had riveted wood scales/handles.
  9. Chaucer1


    Jul 16, 2019
    Yes, I looked into the possibility of it being a fighting knife - like the M3 for example. However, most (if not all) of those knives had crossguards which would make sense as it would prevent the hand (potentially slippery with blood or sweat) from slipping off the handle and on to the blade during hand to hand combat.

    The sticking knife is intriguing as there has been a good deal of evidence to suggest that Zodiac was a hunter and/or and outdoorsman. In one of his letters he talked about "hunting wild game in the forest".
  10. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999

    This one may have been put together from an industrial saw blade.

  11. BilboBaggins

    BilboBaggins Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 14, 2016
    How will knowing what knife it was help anything?
    FortyTwoBlades likes this.
  12. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    The description could fit a wide variety of knives. It might even be an Asian bring back such as a Keris.


    Lapedog likes this.
  13. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    With the two riveted wood handle I'm thinking of some kind of industrial, agricultural , or tradesman knife.
    Maybe a duct board knife perhaps.
  14. BladeScout

    BladeScout Basic Member Basic Member

    May 16, 2010
    Please elaborate?
  15. Chaucer1


    Jul 16, 2019
    Would these duct board knife have any use in electrical work?

    I am a college professor who investigates the Zodiac Killer case. I am not a member of law enforcement.
  16. 91bravo

    91bravo Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 2008
    I thought the Zodiac killer used a 6.5 Carcano? :D
    benchwarmer380 likes this.
  17. jbmonkey

    jbmonkey Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Jun 9, 2011
    no Sir. ductboard knife is used in HVAC to cut ductboard. which is fiberglass board and resin or binder and a matt covering the air side and foil paper backing vapor barrier on the exterior side. i cant see any use in electrical. I dont know any electricians who use it in constr work, least where I am in the deep south.
  18. DocJD


    Jan 29, 2016
    I don't see this perp as being any great experienced military expert in knife combat .

    "Tied up and stabbed six times and lived " , indicates to me a rank amateur , not an experienced military knife expert . Not if the intent was to kill .
    FortyTwoBlades and JJHollowman like this.
  19. James Y

    James Y

    Feb 18, 1999
    It very well could have been some sort of homemade knife. I seriously doubt he'd have been carrying/using a bread knife. As someone already mentioned, I would be wary of eyewitness testimony.

    If you haven't already heard about it, there is a book about the Zodiac called 'Most Evil' by Steve Hodel that might be of interest to you.

    User27 likes this.
  20. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    Well maybe not if it was carried in some sort of homemade sheath or scabbard, But the most common type of knife used in stabbings will be a kitchen knife.
    It's not a crazy notion but I'd expect it simply hidden up a sleeve with some kind of makeshift blade cover, and a bread knife isn't the most stabby.

    I think a Flint Waverly edge like this made by ECKO could be a good fit.
    It's got a hardwood handle with 2 rivets, it's could serrated edge could have it confused with a bread knife, they're about 3/4" wide,and the one I used to have from my grandmother did have a swedge on the spine which could make it look like it's got a double edge.

    To my knowledge the longest this pattern came in is about a 10" blade but that could be mistaken for 12".
    FortyTwoBlades and User27 like this.

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