My name is... cipher

Preliminary Report on

The 4th of July

Vallejo, California


Project MK-ZODIAC thanks Zamantha and Tom Voigt for contributing to this report.

Zamantha is a moderator at the internet forum

Tom Voigt is the administrator at the website and the internet forum

This section of the Preliminary Report on Project MK-ZODIAC examines clues related to the events in Vallejo, California on July 4, 1969.

Perhaps someone reading this report will have more information which may lead to apprehending the killer.

If you have any information about the events in Vallejo, California on July 4, 1969, and/or the Zodiac, please email

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Miss Firecracker

It is possible that the Zodiac went to the 4th of July parade in Vallejo in 1969.

The Vallejo Chamber of Commerce produced a button for the annual 4th of July parade.

1969 button

The Zodiac researcher who is known as Zamantha was able to obtain this image of the 4th of July button for this report.

Note: Project MK-ZODIAC has not been able to find any other image of this button on the internet. If anyone is aware that any image of this button has been posted on the internet prior to this report, please provide a link.

This is the button which was sold to the sponsors of the 4th of July parade at Vallejo, California in 1969.

Each year in Vallejo young women competed in a popularity contest in which the winner was determined by whoever sold the most buttons to the sponsors.

The winner was crowned with a tiara as Miss Firecracker and had the honor of being the official hostess of the 4th of July events.

The winner and the runner-ups received prizes donated by local businesses.

Miss Firecracker and the runner-ups were honored to ride in the 4th of July parade and then the lighted boat parade in the evening.

On Tuesday, July 1, 1969, the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce announced that Miss Firecracker of 1969 was Karen [last name redacted], a 20-year-old graduate of Vallejo Senior High School who worked at a local beauty salon.

The first runner-up was Mary [last name redacted], a 16-year-old student at St. Vincent’s High School, and the second runner-up was Christina [last name redacted], a 15-year-old student at Hogan Senior High School.

Christina was the sister of Darlene Ferrin.

The Zodiac may or may not have bought one of the 4th of July buttons from the sister of Darlene Ferrin.

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Tom Voigt (who is the administrator at the website has provided a copy of a letter dated July 14, 1969, which was sent to Christina from the Chairman of the Miss Firecracker Contest at the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce.

letter 07-14-69

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The 4th of July Parade

The 4th of July events in Vallejo were publicized throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and attracted thousands of people.

John E. Kloske, the inspector for the Vallejo Fire Prevention Bureau, was the announcer for many of the events in Vallejo on Friday, July 4, 1969.

Throughout the day, beginning with the 4th of July parade, the Volunteer Light Artillery Unit fired volleys in honor of the holiday.

The 4th of July parade started at about 10:00 a.m. at the intersection of Amador Street and Tennessee Street.

The parade route went west on Tennessee Street, south on Sonoma Boulevard, and then west on Georgia Street.

The reviewing stand was at Sacramento Street.

The parade ended at the Town Square at Santa Clara Street.

View Larger Map

There were 183 entries in the parade.

Police Captain James Booras was in the first car in the parade (as the representative for Police Chief Jack Stiltz).

In the second car was Karna Small, the grand marshall of the parade.

Karna Small is now known as Karna Small Bodman.

Karna Small was a San Francisco television weather reporter at that time.

Karna Small and Jim Dunbar were the news anchors on KGO-TV circa 1969.

Jim Dunbar was also the host of the A.M. San Francisco television show in 1969.

On October 22, 1969, Jim Dunbar became involved with the Zodiac case when someone who claimed to be the Zodiac killer called the A.M. San Francisco television show to speak with Melvin Belli, the well-known San Francisco lawyer.

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The Lighted Boat Parade

On the evening of Friday, July 4, 1969, Christina, the sister of Darlene Ferrin, rode in the lighted boat parade by Mare Island at Vallejo.

Darlene Ferrin was with Christina at the lighted boat parade.

Darlene Ferrin was wearing a jumpsuit with red, white, and blue stars for the holiday.

The Zodiac may or may not have seen Darlene Ferrin at the lighted boat parade.

Twelve entries would participate in the lighted boat parade in Mare Island Channel which began at about 9:00 p.m. (at sunset).

The lighted boat parade started by Steffens Sports and Marine Shop near the intersection of Mare Island Way and Maryland Street (which is now Curtola Parkway).

The lighted boat parade went through Mare Island Channel to the Vallejo Yacht Club near the intersection of Mare Island Way and Florida Street.

View Larger Map

Vallejo Yacht Club

After the lighted boat parade, there was a fireworks show which began at about 9:45 p.m. over Mare Island Channel near the Mare Island Ferry Company building.

After the fireworks show, Darlene Ferrin and Christina went to Caesar’s Italian Restaurant on Tennessee Street where Dean, the husband of Darlene Ferrin, worked.

Sometime after 10:30 p.m., Darlene Ferrin drove Christina to the family's home on Jordan Street.

Then, Darlene Ferrin drove to her home on Virginia Street where she changed her clothes.

According to the police report, Darlene Ferrin was wearing a slack dress with blue and white flowers.

slack dress

The Zodiac’s communication to the San Francisco Chronicle on July 31, 1969, in reference to Darlene Ferrin, stated that the “girl was wearing paterned slacks”.

4th July 1 girl was wearing paterned slacks

Soon after 11:30 p.m., Darlene Ferrin left her home and drove to pick up Michael Mageau at his home on Beechwood Avenue.

According to Michael Mageau, they drove to Mr. Ed's restaurant on Springs Road and then they drove to Blue Rock Springs Park on Columbus Parkway.

View Larger Map

Subsequently, Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau were shot in the parking lot at Blue Rock Springs Park sometime around midnight.

The Vallejo Police Department received the first call from a passerby reporting the shooting 10 minutes after midnight on Saturday, July 5, 1969.

Darlene Ferrin was shot five times and was pronounced dead when her body arrived at Kaiser Hospital.

Michael Mageau was shot four times and survived.

On July 31, 1969, the Zodiac would mail communications to claim responsibility for killing David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen on Lake Herman Road on December 20, 1968, and killing Darlene Ferrin at Blue Rock Springs Park on July 4, 1969.

Dear Editor This is the murderer of the 2 teenagers last Christmass at Lake Herman & the girl on the 4th of July near the golf course in Vallejo

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The Possible Significance of the Button

Months after the 4th of July parade, the Zodiac would make several references to buttons in communications that were sent to the San Francisco Chronicle in 1970.

Zamantha wondered what was the reason that the Zodiac was thinking about buttons.

Zamantha thought that it was possible that the Zodiac might have been thinking about the 4th of July button which was associated with the sister of Darlene Ferrin.

1969 button

April 28, 1970

“I would like to see some nice Zodiac butons wandering about town. Every one else has those buttons like, [peace symbol], black power, melvin eats bluber, etc. Well it would cheer me up considerbly if I saw a lot of people wearing my buton. Please no nasty ones like melvin’s”

communication 04-28-70

June 26, 1970

“I have become very upset with the people of San Fran Bay Area. They have not complied with my wishes for them to wear some nice [Zodiac] buttons.”

communication 06-26-70

July 24, 1970

“I am rather unhappy because you people will not wear some nice [Zodiac] buttons.”


communication 07-24-70

July 26, 1970

“Being that you will not wear some nice [Zodiac] buttons, how about wearing some nasty [Zodiac] buttons. Or any type of [Zodiac] buttons that you can think up. If you do not wear any type of [Zodiac] buttons I shall (on top of every thing else) torture all 13 of my slaves that I have wateing for me in Paradice.”

communication 07-26-70

Could the Zodiac have been inspired to think about buttons because of a lingering memory of the 4th of July button associated with the sister of Darlene Ferrin?

1969 button

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"Dangerous Animal" and "Feroceus Lion"

There were other possible clues which were in plain sight during the 4th of July parade in Vallejo, California in 1969.

There was no reason to notice these possible clues at the time because on July 4, 1969, the public was not yet aware that the serial killer known as the Zodiac existed.

It was not until July 31, 1969, that the killer mailed three communications to the Vallejo Times-Herald, the San Francisco Examiner, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Each message included a section of a three-part 408-symbol cipher.

On August 8, 1969, news reporters interviewed Donald Harden who explained that he and Bettye Harden had solved the 408-symbol cipher.

In the 408-symbol cipher, the message from the Zodiac began as follows:

"I like killing people because it is so much fun.
It is more fun than killing wild game in the forest
because man is the most dangerous animal of all."

first 7 lines of 408-symbol cipher

The words “dangerous animal” were included in this cipher.


It happened that the words “dangerous animal” which were used in this cipher had also appeared in the 4th of July parade.

In the 4th of July parade there were contingents from many of the local schools in Vallejo.

One of the contingents was from Castlewood Nursery School which was on Georgia Street in Vallejo.

The marchers from Castlewood Nursery School called themselves the Castlewood Clowns.

The Castlewood Clowns were in a contingent with a circus theme.

It is known that the Castlewood Clowns carried two signs in their contingent.

On one sign was written the words “dangerous animal” and on another sign was written the words “feroceus lion”.  


The words “dangerous animal” would be used by the Zodiac less than a month later.

On July 4, 1969, no one could have known that the same words would be used by the Zodiac who composed the cipher which was mailed on July 31, 1969.

Not only are the words “dangerous animal” a possible clue, but also are the words “feroceus lion”.

The word “ferocious” was misspelled as “feroceus”.

The word “feroceus” is a portmanteau.

The word “feroceus” is a combination of the word “feroce” and the word “ceus”.

The word “feroce” is an Italian word meaning “cruel”, “fierce”, “grim”, “murderous”, “savage”, “viscious”, or “wild”.

The word “ceus” is a Gaelic word meaning “crucify” or “torture”.

As explained in the previous report by Project MK-ZODIAC, the Zodiac had a hidden word game based upon linguistics.

The Zodiac would form portmanteaus by combining words in different languages, generally words meaning “kill”.

This portmanteau is very similar to the other portmanteaus which are used in the Zodiac’s word game.

Could the Zodiac have been the person who made the signs with the words “dangerous animal” and "feroceus lion”?

Tom Voigt (who is the administrator at the website researched the records of Arthur Leigh Allen, the prime suspect in the Zodiac case.

Arthur Leigh Allen had been a teacher at a few elementary schools in California.

However, there is no evidence that Arthur Leigh Allen was ever employed by Castlewood Nursery School.

Project MK-ZODIAC challenges each reader of this report to think carefully about these possible clues.

Is it merely a coincidence that the exact same words “dangerous animal” were prominently displayed by someone in the 4th of July parade and then used soon after by the Zodiac?


Furthermore, is it merely a coincidence that, next to the “dangerous animal” sign, there was a sign with the words “feroceus lion” in which the word “feroceus” happens to be a portmanteau consistent with the words meaning “kill” in the Zodiac’s word game?

Are these clues which have been ignored for over 40 years?

1969 button

Project MK-ZODIAC hopes that this report will jog old memories which may be related to the Zodiac case.
If you have any information about the events in Vallejo, California on July 4, 1969, and/or the Zodiac, please email

The information in this report has been obtained from various sources.
In the event that for any reason there is any discrepancy, please advise.

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To return to the message to the Zodiac, click here.

The Zodiac's Game


An Investigation of the Zodiac Killer

by Ricardo Eugirtni Gomez

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