Welcome to AnotherDamnZodiacKillerTheory
Home of Zodiac Mountain Theory (ZMT)
By G. Gluckman, CWTMDT*
NOTE: ZODIAC MOUNTAIN THEORY IS IN ABEYANCE DUE TO A PROBLEM WITH THE DATES THAT MT DIABLO AND ZODIAC MOUNTAIN WERE (APPARENTLY) NAMED. I HAVE NOT ABANDONED THE THEORY, BUT WOULD NEED TO FIND A SOLUTION TO THESE PROBLEMS BEFORE CONSIDERING IT AN ACTIVE THEORY.
MEANWHILE, IT IS WITH GREAT PLEASURE THAT I INVITE YOU TO CHECK OUT A COUPLE OF OTHER THEORIES POSTED ON SEPARATE PAGES ON THIS WEBSITE. THEY ARE CALLED “PAGE SEVEN THEORY” AND “66 + 132 THEORY”. (THE LATTER IS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS, BUT THE MAIN IDEA IS ALREADY COMPLETE.) PLEASE CHECK OUT THOSE THEORIES.
Welcome to AnotherDamnZodiacKillerTheory, the home of Zodiac Mountain Theory (ZMT), where I introduce a theory that suggests the Zodiac Killer may have left clues indicating that he had roots in British Columbia, Canada.
You are invited to peruse and test this theory. I apologize that it is rather long. This is probably more a function of my mediocre writing skills than the actual complexity of the subject. I make no pretense that the theory is perfect. There are weaknesses that I am aware of, but I hope it will prove overall interesting, and perhaps even worthy of your consideration.
It's a newish theory, so please feel free to do what should be done to new theories: put the boots to it. I am interested in the truth, and the best way to get there is to find ways to challenge the theory. Please kick and kick till we see what falls over and what remains upright, if anything.
The theory is laid out one blog post at a time. This presentation is aimed at Z-researchers who are already familiar with the Zodiac Killer saga, so I have not provided any special resources, such as images, etc., that can be found on the better quality Zodiac Killer research websites. I do provide links to other sites that have information that would not normally be found on such sites. Bottom line: I assume you know as much as I do–hopefully more–about the Zodiac Killer case.
Before you start, I need to help get you reoriented. You are currently at the caboose of the train. Because of the way I wrote each blog post, you will want to go to the bottom post and work your way back to the top, reading one post at a time. The easiest thing to do is use the entries in the “Recent Posts” widget as your menu. Start with post 1 and follow the numbers. When you find yourself back here, you are done.
*Clown With Too Many Damn Theories
“This is the Zodiac speaking.”
The end is (more or less) near!!
[Note: Added 2 Aug 2012 I just added a new observation to this post regarding the LA Times letter. The addition can be found just below the Titwillo entry further up. Since adding that, I would upgrade the Titwillow observation to very strong. This is a very important new observation, IMO.]
[Note: this post was updated 15 May 2012 to add sections about the Pineview (“Peek through the pines”) area and about Excluding Hope (“YOU ARE DOOMED!”). I also added a My Assesment section.]
A Visitor’s Guide to the ‘BOO!
In the post entitled Supporting Observations: PEEK-A-BOO, I began to discuss the importance of the word Cariboo, and argued that the PEEK-A-BOO message on the Halloween card was put there by Z to help us make a mental jump from Mount Zodiac to the Cariboo Mountains. Through an easy bit of wordplay, we were able to hop from PEEK-A-BOO to CARIBOO as in Cariboo Mountains. (Please review the earlier post, to understand the steps.)
IMO, the reason Z leads us to this link is to focus our attention on the word Cariboo. The presence of the BOO! message in big letters near the center of the Halloween card reinforces the sense that the “BOO” connection–the CariBOO connection in this interpretation–is highly important.
But how useful or important can the name of a mountain chain be? What can it tell us?
The answer is not much–except as a stepping stone to more useful information.
To help us find our way to the more useful information, Z left us the BOO! message. It echoes the PEAK-A-BOO message, and is there to help us make another hop. Presumably, the BOO! message is there to help us realize there is another context for the word Cariboo.
You see, Cariboo is not just the name of a mountain chain. The word Cariboo also refers to the region of British Columbia called the Cariboo.
This secondary context is the important one. In fact, it is critical, which it is why Z wrote BOO in bigger letters, in the center of the card, and ended it with an exclamation mark.
The word Cariboo, meaning a region of BC, is important, in my opinion, because it tells us about a place that the Zodiac considers home.
Perhaps I am going a bit too fast. If it seems too big a leap to derive the word Cariboo from the word BOO, consider this: within the Cariboo region it is common to refer to “the Cariboo” as simply “the ‘Boo”. This would have been a natural association for Z, if he is from the area.
[In fact, as an outsider myself, I simply guessed that locals might shorten “the Cariboo” to “the ‘Boo”. It seemed a likely thing. Then I went online and confirmed my hypothesis. There are plenty of examples out there. It is apparently not 100% universal, though, as I ran across one post where an inhabitant of the Cariboo area mentioned that they had never heard the area referred to as the ‘Boo. But there are always a few squares who don’t learn the hip way of talking.
I am curious if it is more prevalent in some sections of the ‘Boo than others. Probably the majority of the examples I encountered were around the 100 Mile House area. That could have been a consequence of my search methods, but it’s raises an interesting thought. If it were more prevalent in certain areas, mightn’t that suggest a way to further narrow the search for the Z of ZMT?]
In the post entitled Reference: The ‘BOO in a Nutshell, I presented a rather dry overview of the Cariboo Mountains and region, both modern and historic. The information is mostly about geography, communities and roads and such. Boring as it is, it is not very long and should help to provide the basic background needed to interpret Z’s hints that seem to relate to the Cariboo. If you haven’t done so already, please take the time to review the references.
Next I will simply go through some observations that may point to the Cariboo area. These observations may be coincidental, but I need to include them as there are enough that the piling on of coincidences needs to be examined in more detail.
None of the following observations are critical to the overall ZMT theory. They are included for their possible value in further research.
The Dragon card
The so-called Dragon card, from April 28, 1970, has a image of what I believe to be prospectors. One is on a donkey. Not to make too fine a point of it, since it is a cartoon, but apparently a male donkey, as the text refers to an ass. (I just wanted to point out that an equivalent term for an ass is a jackass. Presumably, these two terms are interchangeable.)
What I find interesting about these references, is that they appear to correspond to mountains found at each end of the historical Cariboo gold boom area. One is found on the southern end near the start of the old Cariboo Wagon Road. The other is found near the main golds fields in the days of the boom.
As you can see from the Wikipedia link, Jackass Mountain was on the path prospectors would take on their way to the Cariboo gold fields. The mountain got its name from the animals that fell over the bluff and perished. Incidents like this were a motivating factor in the creation of the now historic Cariboo Road. According to the Wikipedia link for the Cariboo Road, the Cariboo Road went through Jackass Mountain. It is worth noting that it is located near the beginning of the Cariboo Road.
This mountain is not so famous as Jackass Mountain, but is significant for being at the other end of the trail: it lies very near the communities of Wells and Barkerville, which were at the source of the primary goals fields of the Cariboo Gold Rush.
This supports the hypothesis that Z is identifying himself with the Cariboo region in British Columbia, Canada. The fact that these 2 mountains take us from the beginning of the trail to the end (i.e.: the intended destination of most prospectors–the main gold fields), is too strong a coincidence to overlook.
I should mention that, based on this interpretation, the Dragon card amounts to a classic example of Z’s talent for using “found materials” for his clues. Another example, according to ZMT, is the location of the Stine murder (see earlier post). Others follow. The consistency and cleverness of Z’s (putative) use of found objects in this way also supports the theory, IMO.
[Assessment: reinforces Cariboo Gold Boom hypothesis, significant, but not critical to theory]
On the “Exorcist” letter of 29 Jan, 1974, Z included a brief excerpt from a poem from the Mikado that is of interest. The poem was called “The Suicide’s Grave”, by W. S. Gilbert.
If you examine the excerpt and compare it to the original, you will notice some seemingly minor differences. However, at least one difference is, in my opinion, very significant.
Z wrote the word titwillo 3 times.
But Gilbert did not write “Titwillow” 3 times.
What he wrote was:”Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!”
To me, the substitution of willow for titwillo appears to be very significant.
[Unless of course, Z just happened to be a huge Picasso fan. ;D ]
And, I should add that that the given location in the poem is:”On a tree by a river…”
I interpret that more or less as follows: Willow by river => Willow River
In other words, Z was making a reference to Willow River. As in Willow River, BC.
Willow River–the actual river–has its headwaters in the main gold fields that were the driving force of the Cariboo Gold Rush, near Wells and Barkerville. It would not be too far geographically from Dragon Mountain, mentioned above. This area played a big role in creating the need for the Cariboo Road.
There is also a community called Willow River a bit to the north, near the northwest corner of the Cariboo Mountains.
[Assessment: reinforces Cariboo Gold Boom hypothesis, significant, but not critical to theory]
[NOTE: THE FOLLOWING OBSERVATION WAS ADDED: 2 Aug 2012]
The LA Times letter of 13 March 1971: LAT 17+
The LA Times letter from March 1971 is an odd duck. It is an anomaly in the sense that most of the previous confirmed cards and letters were to the SF Chronicle. Seemingly out of the blue, Z sends a message to the LA Times, then with his next communique, he simply goes back to sending messages to the Chronicle.
As with many researchers, when I encounter a glaring anomaly in the Z missives, I am tempted to wonder if it might conceal a message. I have looked this letter over a number of times, wondering why he made the sudden switch, but with no special insight, apart from a vague thought that it might have to do with the initials of the newspaper.
This morning I took another look and it suddenly dawned on me that there may be a very obvious meaning–obvious once you see it, that is.
The initials of the LA Times are L.A.T. (as if you couldn’t guess). LAT is the standard abbreviation for “Latitude”. Everybody knows that.
At the bottom of the card is a traditional sign off: SFPD – 0 (circle-cross symbol) – 17 +
It looks to me as if this might be a message indicating that we should take the location of the San Francisco Police Department (not sure if this would refer to one main headquarter location, or if pretty much and San Francisco location would do), find its latitude and longitude, then add 17 to the latitude.
Interesting operation. That would put it pretty far north.Somehere in British Columbia, by my reckoning.
Since I don’t know where a likely spot would be for the SFPD, I chose to assume that any point in San Francisco would be good enough for our purposes. Z probably would not have meant to be too precise, since we are only given a non-decimal value with which to adjust our latitude.
So, I chose a location that he once claimed he visited in San Francisco–the corner of Washington and Maple. Using my map software, I got a latitude and longitude reading of 37.7889 N 122.4557 W.
(I don’t fully trust this software, but even if I am off by several miles, that is probably not an issue.)
I then added 17 to the latitude, which gives 54.7889 N 122.4557 W.
Since, I don’t consider the adjustment to be accurate, I threw away the decimal portion of the latitude, rendering A value of 54.0000 N 122.4557 W.
I used my map software a second time to locate the new point. Interestingly, that put me about 5 miles south of Willow River, BC. And a dozen or so miles east of highway 97, which has also been discussed here.
For fun, I used my map software to get a read on Willow River, BC. I got 54.0756 N 122.4740 W.
Based on these readings, it looks like switch to the LA Times letter had one purpose: to suggest looking due north by about 17 degrees of latitude, where we would find a community called Willow River, BC.
Interestingly, nobody seemed to pick up on that clue, so a few years (and only 2 missives later, Z sent the Exorcist letter, with another clue, to help us along.
Possible Cariboo references: Fountain; All Hallows; the Badlands; 100 Mile House; Pineview; Hope (or the lack thereof)
The following are a few more possible references from the Zodiac Killer’s cards and letters that correspond to places in Cariboo country in British Columbia:
Z’s letter of 8 November 1969 included a picture of a dripping fountain pen.
It occurred to me to check if there was a significant location in BC named Fountain, or anything similar. It turns out there is a community called Fountain in BC. And, as you might expect it’s within Cariboo country. Specifically, it’s in the Fraser Canyon area, near Lillouet, which was the original zero point of the original Old Cariboo (Wagon) Road.
The reference to All Hallows may seem questionable, but Halloween gets its name from All Hallows Eve, so it seems the Halloween card itself might reference the area around Yale, BC, where there was once a girls school called “All Hallows”. There is a location just south of Yale in the Fraser Canyon called All Hallows Creek.
Z apparently sent a letter on May 8, 1974, complaining about a movie called “Badlands”. It turns out Cariboo country has its own badlands area along the Fraser River in the plateau area. As an example there is badland territory if you go west from 100 Mile House to the Fraser River.
I am not especially convinced that the Badlands letter was actually from Z, and even it it is, there are other provinces and states that have their own badland areas, so this may not be significant.
100 – 108 Mile House?
This one I discovered soon after learning about the existence of Zodiac Mountain. When looking at the Halloween card, I was thinking that all the eyes–the eyeball images–seemed to be screaming out a message. Something like: “Look at the eyes! Pay attention to the eyes!” So, I started trying to find clues related to the eyes.
Then it dawned on me that such a message, if extended to accomodate (my perception of) Z’s penchant for punnery, might also mean “Look at the i’s! Pay attention to the i’s”–meaning pay attention to the letter i, wherever you might find it.
Then it dawned on me that the exclamation mark is a letter i upside-down. This seemed to match (my perception of) Z’s sense of humor, so I focused my attention on the exclamation mark on the end of the BOO! message.
From there, I turned the card around so that the upside down ! would look like the letter i.
That’s when I saw that the BOO! upside down resembled the following (you will have to use your imagination):
When I looked at it, I could picture the number 100 followed by a backwards B. I discussed the matter with some friends who saw the B being similar to an 8. They were thinking 1008 or, conceptually, 100-8.
If this is the correct interpretation, it may suggest 100 Mile House, which is near 108 Mile Ranch. (Only 8 miles away, oddly enough.) This makes sense as 100 Mile House is one of the commercial centers of the Cariboo.
If this is correct, it is interesting. As I noted elsewhere, the “BOO!” has helped render “Cariboo” and “BC” together in one place. It conforms to my sense of the Zodiac’s particular brand of artistry that he would arrange for 3 messages like this to emanate from one simple word “BOO!”
If it were not for this, I probably would disregard it entirely and say it’s just BOO! upside down.
[Assessment for the last several locations: individually weak, collectively rather interesting, reinforces BC and Cariboo hypotheses, significant, but not critical to theory]
Peek through the pines: Pineview?
The phrase “Peek through the pines” from the Lake Tahoe card has always vexed me. The truth is that I think it may have had more than one significance.
But there is one possible meaning that stands out for me: that is Pineview.
(i.e.: When you “peek through the pines” you enjoy a “pine view”.)
[To me it seems as if Z had created a clue that resembles a Cryptic Crossword clue–a special kind of puzzle that is popular in newspapers throughout the British Commonwealth.
if this is a correct interpretation, then it is interesting that he chose to reference the word Pineview, because it, too, references a key area of the Cariboo region, as defined by the modern equivalent of the Old Cariboo Road. In fact, it exactly represents a slice of the Cariboo Highway near Prince George, BC, that later got bypassed and is now called the Old Cariboo Road.
If you re-read Reference C of the post entitled Reference: The ‘BOO in a Nutshell, you may get a better understanding of what I mean. In essence, Z seems to have been once again pointing to the area near the top of the Cariboo Highway, not so far from Willow River and Dragon Mountain.
When Hope is excluded: YOU ARE DOOMED!
As mentioned in Reference C from the post entitled Reference: The ‘BOO in a Nutshell, this clue also makes a reference to the Cariboo Highway. A section of highway 97 from Ashcroft, just below Cache Creek, heading southward was redesignated to be part of Highway 1, aka: The Transcanada Highway. The section of Highway 1 is the part that runs from Hope through Yale, then up to Ashcroft. But only the portion that runs from Yale to Ashcroft was actually part of the (south end of the) Cariboo Road. Hope does not belong.
And when Hope is excluded, YOU ARE DOOMED!
Strangely, I think this may have been the Zodiac Killer’s little joke.
If this is correct, it seems once again to reflect a clewsmith who builds clews that resemble Cryptic Crossswords in flavor.
[Note: Added 2 Aug 2012 I just added a new observation to this post regarding the LA Times letter. The addition can be found just below the Titwillo entry further up. Since adding that, I would upgrade the Titwillow observation to very high. This is a very important new observation, IMO.]
The above assortment of observations are an odd bunch, to say the least, but what makes them work is how they curiously work together to point out the key boundaries of the Cariboo region of BC, and they collectively build an outline of the region from the point of view of the Cariboo Highway and its historic predecessor, the old Cariboo Wagon Road. We see apparent references to the southern boundaries: Jackass Mountain, Hope (or the lack thereof), Fountain and perhaps All Hallows.
In the center, we possibly have a reference to 100 Mile House, or even 100 Mile House and 108 Mile Ranch. (Though I am harder put to defend these two.)
In the west we have a possible reference to the Badlands. (And, of course, in the east, we have Zodiac Mountain and the Cariboo Mountain chain.)
In the north, near the upper reaches of the traditional Cariboo Road and gold fields, we have Dragon Mountain and Willow River, and near the northern end of the modern Cariboo Highway we have a possible reference to the Pineview area, which is also called the Old Cariboo Road.
In short, the clues seem to be specifically encompassing the Cariboo area–at its cardinal points.
It often happens that Z-researchers see clues and hidden meanings everywhere, but they usually don’t coincidentally define the boundaries of a particular area. Yet that is exactly what seems to be happening with many of the Zodiac Killer’s most cryptic references. They seem to be drawing a picture of an area known by many as the ‘BOO.
And that is why I think that these clews may have been offered by the Zodiac Killer as a way of saying that he was (or is) from the area of British Columbia, Canada, called the Cariboo–or, if you prefer, the ‘BOO.
I think the above observations are individually weak, but collectively strong.
We have come to the end of the main observations that I feel support ZMT. In some cases, I feel the supports are strong. In other cases, they are weaker. I have tried to be as candid with my evaluations as possible. As much as I think this theory has some great strengths, I recognize that there are definite weak points. Overall I think it deserves attention from the Z-research community.
If ZMT is as good as I feel it is, it may open new lines of research for those who are interested. If not, well, let it die an honorable death.
I ask the community–well anybody who has had the patience to read this–to forgive my writing style. I am a rambler. Probably whatever I said could be reduced to 500 words by a better writer, but I am not a better writer, so I took longer.
I may eventually do a few more posts on the subject. Random thoughts and stuff. But at this point, I have spit out most of the observations that I think are of particular interest.
Future writings might include:
- arguments I didn’t think to make
- stupid things I was convinced of that prove that I am an idiot
- comments about other things I got excited about that didn’t pan out for me
- ideas for a theory of theories specifically for the Z-universe
- a final summary
If you have actually had the patience to read this far, I thank you.
If you are interested enough to comment, criticize, advise, etc., please do. You can email me directly at email@example.com.
If you think there is some parts of ZMT, but are leary about other parts, and would like to take the parts you like and leave others, feel free. But please try to use good logic and be fair in your attribution.
If I stole ideas from you and didn’t attribute, I am sorry. Please let me know and I will own up.
Other than that, it’s a theory…please kick it so we can see whether it holds up or falls over.
“This is the Zodiac speaking.”
Although I did a recap in the PEEK-A-BOO post just a couple of posts back, I have decided to present another summary of the theory up to this point. This one is very condensed and in a slightly different order from my original presentation:
1) Z introduces the term Zodiac, a seemingly extraneous category, into his game
- Despite speculation, convincing explanations for the source of the name are few.
2) Z repeats his greeting “This is the Zodiac speaking” frequently, then stops abruptly.
- His use of the name Zodiac seems to be uniquely bound to this phrase
3) Z introduces mountains, another seemingly extraneous category, into his game.
- The prime example is the puzzle involving Mt. Diablo, California
4) Z appears to also have used wordplay–puns–that reference mountains.
- e.g.: peek=>peak, as in ‘peek-a-boo’ and ‘peek through the pines’
5) G accidentally notices existence of another Mt Diablo in British Columbia
- Wonders if this might be object of Z’s Mt Diablo puzzle.
- Finds interesting coincidences, but many problems and no proof
6) G wonders about mountains, puns, greeting, conceives and tests main conjecture
- Conjecture: Could Z’s greeting have concealed a pun suggesting the existence of a mountain named Zodiac?
- e.g.: “This is the Zodiac sPEAKing.” => “This is the Zodiac’s PEAK king.”
- Test question: Does a mountain named Zodiac exist?
7) Test results confirm the existence of mountain named Zodiac Mountain.
- The results brought additional surprises:
- Zodiac turns out to be an uncommon name for a mountain.
- Zodiac Mountain is, coincidentally, in British Columbia.
- Zodiac Mountain belongs to Cariboo chain.
- Cariboo also suggests a nearby region.
- PEEK-A-BOO and BOO! messages on Halloween card resonate strongly with Cariboo connection: The region of Cariboo is often referred to as “The ‘Boo”.
8) The BOO! is given prominence, near the center of the Halloween card
- Seems to magnify the relative importance of “the ‘Boo”, i.e.: the Cariboo region
9) The letters “BC” can also be perceived on the Halloween card, linked to the “BOO!”.
- The “B” is from the word “BOO!”, the “C” is from the image of one of the eyeball
- The fact that BOO, as in Cariboo, and BC are together, further strengthens the likelihood of the ZMT’s central conjecture, ands suggests a deliberate reference to Cariboo, BC.
10) Other Halloween card clues suggest Z identified Zodiac Mountain with home:
- Mountain-like symbol with “Z” underneath on return address of envelope supports supposition that a mountain named Zodiac exists and represents home
- Symbols on card suggest existence of mountain named Zodiac north of Mt Diablo.
11) Other clues support the overall hypothesis that Z had links to British Columbia
- Z’s apparent misstatement that the Stine murder occurred by Washington and Maple rather than Washington and Cherry further supports the hypothesis of a link to British Columbia.
- The phrase “around in the snow” from the Lake Tahoe card was found in a novel by Robert W. Service., supporting a Canadian and even British Columbian connection
- The validity of the find appears to be confirmed by two more unexplained elements from the Halloween card: the strange formatting of the number 4-teen, and the strange X-shaped formatting of the message “sorry no cipher” on the envelope.
This is the summary of the theory so far, but there is still more to come. As I continue, I will have to tread on progressively thinner ice. I think the effort will be worthwhile.
FROM PEEK-A-BOO to CARIBOO: A reference to the 3 Cariboo’s
In the previous post we recapped the logic that suggests that the Zodiac Killer made oblique reference to Zodiac Mountain in British Columbia. Then we discussed the “PEEK-A-BOO” and “BOO!” references and considered how they may have amounted to wordplay that Z used to draw attention to the word “CARIBOO”, which is the name of the mountain range that Zodiac Mountain belongs to.
If this inference is correct–if Z was trying to draw attention to the word Cariboo–then it seems it must have been an important detail, because he used 2 hints (peek-a-boo and boo!) to call attention to it, and one is large, near the center of the Halloween card, and ends with an exclamation mark.
So, proceeding on the assumption that Cariboo does have special significance, we need to acquire more background information in order to grasp what Cariboo means to British Columbia, and how it might have been significant enough for the Zodiac Killer to leave clues about it in his cards and letters. This post will be rather dry [as compared to my earlier, scintillating posts] as it is a reference to the Cariboo.
To start with, Cariboo has 3 levels of significance:
- Cariboo is the name of the mountain range that Zodiac Mountain belongs to.
- Cariboo is the name of a whole region in the interior of British Columbia.
- Cariboo is the name of a historical gold rush that roughly encompassed and helped shape the modem Cariboo area.
It should be noted that, in many ways, the modern Cariboo is defined by the historical Cariboo of the gold boom days, so the inclusion of the latter is not arbitrary or quaint.
[22 April 2012: Upon re-reading this post (while awake), I realized I had left out a key point, so I am adding it now.]
It is my view that the PEEK-A-BOO message wasintended to help us make the connection between Zodiac Mountain and the Cariboo Mountain chain. This was intended by Z (in my opinion) as a stepping stone to making the connection to the BC region of Cariboo, because that is the area he is calling home.
That is why he put the big BOO! in the center of the Halloween card. Effectively, it is the central message.
If this seems like a stretch, consider this: the denizens of the Cariboo area of BC sometimes refer to the Cariboo as “the ‘Boo”.
To an outside observer, this should make no sense, but if you allow that the original conjecture of ZMT is correct, then the chain of inferences from there to here should be enough to convince you that the Zodiac Killer was leaving hints not only that he was from British Columbia, but more specifically that he was from the Cariboo region of BC.
It is my perception that Z may have dropped some more hints pointing to the Cariboo region of BC. The hints seem to me to call on a knowledge of present day Cariboo country coupled with an understanding of how the historical Cariboo gold rush period helped determine the roads and communities that form the modern Cariboo area.
The rest of the supporting observations presented in upcoming posts will focus on the clues that may relate to the Cariboo region.
Assuming this portion of ZMT is correct, and Z was getting more specific about the areas of BC he has links to, we will need to lay a base of knowledge by providing a brief reference to the Cariboo area. The reference that follows is in 3 parts, corresponding to the 3 levels of significance itemized above. A map is essential for following the discussion. I mostly used Google maps.
If I make mistakes, it is largely owing to the fact that I am not from British Columbia and have used online facilities to learn about the area and draw my inferences (for better or worse).
REFERENCE A: CariBOOM: The Cariboo Mountains in a Nutshell
Zodiac Mountain is part of the Cariboo Mountain chain set in Wells Gray Provincial Park, which is one of three Provincial Parks forming a larger contiguous park area. Wells Gray is the southernmost park; northernmost is Bowron Lake Provincial Park; in the middle is Cariboo Mountains Provincial Park.
Even though Zodiac Mountain is in Wells Gray Provincial Park, it comprises a good share of the Cariboo Mountains.
The Cariboo Mountains are the northern segment of the Columbia Mountains which also includes the Monashee, Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges. They run from northeast to southeast down as far as Spokane, Washington. Mt Diablo, BC, is part of the Selkirk Mountains.
A check of Wikipedia shows the Cariboo Mountain range is roughly bounded:on the south by the Shuswap Highlands near the Thompson River area, on the east by the Rocky Mountain Trench and the Upper Fraser River, in the northwest by the Willow River area of the Nechako Plateau, not far from Prince George, and on the west by the Quesnel Highlands and the Cariboo Plateau (which is a subset of the Fraser Plateau)
REFERENCE B: CariBOO: Cariboo Country in a Nutshell
The name Cariboo is important, being used for various geographical features, such as the aforementioned mountain range and plateau, the Cariboo River, and so on. It also is the name of a general area called Cariboo whose boundaries seem to vary depending on the context: historical, political, environmental, governmental, geographic, etc.
There are a number of entries in Wikipedia explaining this or that about the boundaries of the Cariboo region, but the key things to know are that it generally includes an area a bit below the community of Prince George, in the north, and the Cariboo plateau area east of the Fraser River, as it heads south from Prince George. As alluded to above, the Cariboo Plateau runs toward the Cariboo Mountains. Sometimes the Chilkotin Plateau to the west of the Fraser may be included as part of the Cariboo. The Cariboo is typically considered to extend south to around the Bonaparte River and Kamloops area, and also includes the communities Lillooet and Cache Creek in the south.
The Cariboo area can extend down as far as Yale, if you consider it’s historical role as a starting point for the Cariboo (Wagon) Road, which is discussed in Reference C.
Today, there are often references to South, Central and North Cariboo areas. Quesnel is considered the commercial center of North Cariboo, Williams Lake holds the title for Central Cariboo, and 100 Mile House for South Cariboo.
Other geographic points of interest
In terms of the geography, besides mountains and plateaus, it is probably worth mentioning the badlands areas along the Fraser River.
One section of highway that is significant to the Cariboo area includes the portion of Highway 97 running from Prince George in the north down to around Cache Creek in the south. This is also called the Cariboo Highway. It is interesting in that it corresponds to a large extent with a historic section of road known as the “Cariboo (Wagon) Road”. More on this in Reference C.
[Another interesting observation is that this stretch of highway, along with a section of Highway 16 to the north and a section of Highway 5 to the south have been designated “The Highway of Tears” because of the number of women who have been murdered or have gone missing since as far back as the late 60’s or early 70’s. For many years, these disappearances were given little attention–many of them involving women from marginalized areas of society–more or less the kind of folk who “never would be missed”, so to speak. In recent years, police have been investigating a number of murders. There is some consensus that one or more serial killers have been at work, but the investigation continues. This is mentioned insofar as it is consistent with the kind of death toll that one might expect to find in an area linked to the Zodiac Killer, but it remains outside ZMT proper since it cannot rightfully be asserted that these deaths and disappearances have anything to do with him.
REFERENCE C: CariBOOM: The Cariboo Gold Boom in a Nutshell
The Gold Rush
The Cariboo region came to fame through its part in the gold boom periods of the 1800’s. There was more than one gold boom: the Fraser River Gold Rush of 1858, followed by the Cariboo Gold Rush of 1862. There were others, but the Cariboo Gold Rush is the one that interests us.
The initial discoveries of the Cariboo Gold Rush actually occurred before 1862, but the rush only got started in earnest around the time of a major find in area called Williams Creek, at the headwaters of the Willow River. You can find the area on a map between Barkerville and Wells, BC.
The Cariboo (Wagon) Road
The gold rush led to the construction of the Cariboo Wagon Road (also called simply the Cariboo Road), built partly on trail from the previous gold boom. A number of communities grew up along the trail.
The community of Lillooet was originally designated mile zero of a long and arduous trek up to the gold fields near Barkersville. Interspersed with more ordinary sounding names for towns, like Clinton, Williams Lake and Quesnel, were communities named for their distance from Lillooet, like 70 Mile House, 100 Mile House, 108 Mile Ranch and 150 Mile House. As mentioned in Reference B, 100 Mile House today is the commercial center of South Cariboo.
Eventually, the southern leg of the trek was modified to start in Yale, passing up through the Fraser Canyon by way of Jackass Mountain heading up toward Cache Creek, the road leading thence up through places like 70 Mile House, 100 Mile House, etc, up to Quesnel and from there to the east to the gold fields at the headwaters of Willow River, near Wells and Barkerville.
The modern equivalents of the Cariboo Wagon Road: The Cariboo Highway and (a slice of) Highway 1[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Columbia_Highway_97]
In the mid 1920’s, the Cariboo Road was largely reconstructed as part of Highway 97. It went slightly beyond the original Cariboo Road in the north by extending up to Prince George, and in the south by stretching down past Yale to the community of Hope, BC. This section of road was designated the “Cariboo Highway”.
[Note: Other sections of Highway 97 have other designations, namely, the Okanagan Highway further south, and the John Hart Highway and the Alaskan Highway which are both further north. These sections are outside the scope of our interest.]
With time, alterations were made to the Cariboo Highway. An old section of road running through the area of Prince George called Pineview was bypassed, with the bypassed section being referred to as the “Old Cariboo Road”.
As well, the section from Ashcroft (just below Cache Creek) southward to Yale and Hope (which was not part of the original Cariboo Wagon Road) was redesignated to be part of Highway 1, the Transcanada Highway.
“This is the Zodiac speaking”
A quick recap
Zodiac Mountain Theory starts with the proposition that the killer was dropping an important hint each time he repeated his catchphrase, “This is the Zodiac speaking.”
It seems the killer may have played with words that sound alike–like peek and peak–words that seemed to make unexplained references to mountains.
ZMT is based on the conjecture that the killer was playing on the similarity between the words “speak” and “peak” to obliquely suggest the existence of a mountain called Zodiac that would provide clues to his identity.
We cannot know what he was thinking, but perhaps in his mind it sounded something like, “This is the Zodiac’s PEAK king”, which would be rather like saying “This is the king of Zodiac Mountain.”
As strange as this may sound, please bear in mind that it was the Zodiac Killer himself who introduced mountains into his game as a seemingly random element.
This led us to ask ourselves if there happens to be a mountain somewhere named Zodiac.
And there was. It seems there is just one. And it’s in British Columbia, Canada.
And, because the name Zodiac seems to be rather unique, it seems to logically follow that IF you accept the proposition that Z’s greeting held a hidden clue about a mountain named Zodiac, THEN he must have also been referring to British Columbia.
For this reason, ZMT holds that Z had links not only to California, but also to British Columbia, Canada. And we found some “evidence” to support our findings:
- After we found that there was a Zodiac Mountain in British Columbia, we noticed that there seems to be the letters “BC” on the Halloween card.
- We discussed how the strange symbol in the return address seems to confirm Zodiac Mountain as a kind of home address.
- We discussed how similar symbols on the Halloween card itself seem to confirm that Zodiac Mountain lies to the north of Mt Diablo.
- We discussed how the location of the Stine Murder, and an apparent misstatement by the Zodiac Killer, appeared to have been used as a hint to point to British Columbia.
- We even found that a possible source of the phrase “around in the snow”, from the Lake Tahoe card, seems to point to a Canadian connection through an author who was a Canadian literary icon. And furthermore, this connection may be corroborated by two previously unexplained elements of the Halloween card: the strangely formatted number “4-teen” on the card itself, and the phrase “sorry no cipher”, written twice, to form an X, on the envelope.
The above observations seem to support the hypothesis that Z had a connection to BC, Canada.
It can and should be argued that a would-be theorist can see anything he or she wants to when trying to interpret Z’s bizarre messages. But it should equally be noted how the supporting observations are stacking up.
So, believing that there is at least a plausible case for a Zodiac/BC connection, I have often wondered if I should be content to stop at this point. Having made, I hope, a reasonable case, perhaps I should walk away and let others be the judge.
But I couldn’t walk away just yet, because it seems to me there is more.
Although I think the above is sufficient for a theory–at least a plausible conjecture–on its own, I will risk taking it a bit further in the hopes of revealing a bit more of the Zodiac story. And if anybody has had the patience to have read this far, let them be the judge.
For reasons that hopefully will soon become apparent, this theory goes further to suggest that he had links not just to British Columbia, but to a particular region of British Columbia–the area called the Cariboo
If you look on the Halloween card, around the knot-hole on the tree trunk, you will find the words “PEEK-A-BOO”.
I wouldn’t be the first to suggest that the expression “PEEK-A-BOO” appears to be an instance of wordplay on the mountain theme, where “PEEK” is a soundalike for “PEAK”, or mountain.
If that is true, it is hard to know what Z was getting at. Saying “PEEK-A-BOO” would be the same as saying “PEAK-A-BOO”, which would be the same as saying “MOUNTAIN-A-BOO”.
Such a strange thing to say.
But the Zodiac Killer said it.
What could MOUNTAIN-A-BOO possibly mean?
Well, it seems important, because Z emphasized the point by writing “BOO!” in big letters around the center area of the card.
The BOO is clearly important.
But, again, what could it all mean?
When I first came across Zodiac Mountain, it was on Google Maps. I zoomed out from my narrow focus on Zodiac Mountain too see that it is situated in Wells Gray Provincial Park. And I zoomed out further to see that Wells Gray is at the southern end of a larger contiguous area that includes two other parks. At the northern end I saw Bowron Lake Provincial Park. And in the middle was Cariboo Mountains Provincial Park.
When I was first learning about the area–entirely through Google Maps and the Internet–my mind kept focusing on Cariboo Mountains Provincial Park. The name Cariboo was catching my attention. At first I had no idea why.
I later learned that the Cariboo Mountains are part of the Columbian Mountain Chain that extends down into the United States. But the Cariboo Mountains are entirely within Canada, in BC. In fact, the Cariboo Mountains are not just within Cariboo Mountains Provincial Park, but also extend into Wells Gray Provincial Park.
As a matter of fact Zodiac Mountain is one of the Cariboo Mountains.
When I learned that, I saw the connection with the PEEK-A-BOO message.
PEEK-A-BOO means MOUNTAIN-A-BOO which means CAR-I-BOO MOUNTAIN.
And Zodiac Mountain is a Cariboo Mountain.
I have more to say about the Cariboo, but for now, I end this discussion at this point.
“This is the Zodiac speaking”
In the last post, I said I would next discuss a clue that is weak, but interesting. This is it. At one point, I thought it was a major find and was quite excited about it. Since then, sobriety has set in and I am not as impressed with myself as I was at first. It strikes me as too convoluted to have been a reliable clue. Still, I do think the idea is interesting, and is consistent with ZMT in many respects. It seems interesting enough to mention. Possibly future investigators may see value in it.
[Added the morning after the post – It occurs to me that there is another reason for including this observation, even though I can not endorse it with any vigor. It has to do with elucidating the process of making this theory, and theories in general. In previous posts I said something to the effect that profiles and theories are interdependent. Whether or not we realize it, we cannot really separate the two activities. That may seem obvious, but I often get my best insights from realizing the obvious. (A lot of humor comes from simply realizing the obvious before the guy next to us.) I have been thinking about the relationship between profiles and theorybuilding recently and see that the profile doesn’t have much of an existence outside the context of a theory. Perhaps more importantly, there is a kind of chicken-and-the-egg relationship between the two: it is not always clear whether the theory is being driven by the profile, or the profile is emerging out of the theory. This is important because in the first case, the profile originates in the mind of the theorist–possibly from previous facts, possibly from some unconscious predisposition; in the second case, presumably, the observations that help build the theory lead to the emergence of the profile. A mix of mechanisms might also be in play. It is not necessarily clear which. It seems to me that in the case of the hunt for Z, a researcher may be prone to have a predisposition and not realize it. I have heard it said that better journalists declare their prejudices rather than pretend objectivity. That sounds reasonable to me. In a similar way, I suppose Z-researchers might benefit from shining a light on their own predispositions, and one area where that might be most important is their internalized view of Z. This notion–the Lake Tahoe BC minitheory–came about because of my predisposition to see Z as a certain kind of cluesmith, a man with a certain bent for creating and presenting clues, with a certain brand of cleverness. This view of him may be completely correct, but it could also be the undoing of the theory. The fact that I am reluctant to fully let go of this idea, even though I cannot make it work, tells me that it may be a predisposition that should be examined. Did I say that profiles cannot be wholely separated from the theories that provide the context? I should have said the profiles and theories and the mind of the theorist are completely intertwined. Profiles and theories of the unknown subject are in some way profiles of the theorists themselves.]
How BC ended up in Nevada
While thinking about the Lake Tahoe card, I got wondering if there were place names, mountains, etc, similar to “Tahoe” in British Columbia.
A quick check on Google returned several results on the query “Tahoe, BC”. Several were ads for Chevrolet Tahoe dealers in British Columbia, and some other stuff. There was an odd YouTube reference mentioning Lake Tahoe BC in Google’s reference title.
That puzzled me, but since I didn’t see anything that actually indicated any real locations in British Columbia named Tahoe, I dropped the thought and went on to other activities.
The YouTube reference must have nagged at me, because after a period of time I started thinking about it again. If there is no place in BC called Tahoe, why did Google return something labelled Lake Tahoe, BC?
A bit of research later, I realized what Lake Tahoe BC means: it refers to Lake Tahoe Backcountry–people call it Lake Tahoe BC, for short.
For those of you that find this unclear, you might get a better idea if you try Googling the following, keeping the quotes just as they are:
Ski “Tahoe BC”
You should find sites that talk about backcountry skiing and snowboarding, etc. I even saw an entry in Google where “BC” was used as a verb. It seems BC is a very commonly used term in the Lake Tahoe area. The term is probably used more widely than that, but I won’t stretch the point since it’s a relatively new term to me. (As you may have surmised, I am not from any of the areas under discussion–Nevada, California or BC–and I have never tried skiing or snowboarding.)
It lead me to wonder if Z was aware that this term, and that “Backcountry” or “BC” is a fairly widely known expression. Presumably, it is a common term among people who frequent backcountry areas, such as around Lake Tahoe. He may have sensed that many people would consciously or unconsciously make the leap from “Lake Tahoe” to “Lake Tahoe BC”.
If he did think of it as a potential hint, it certainly would not have been an obvious clue: there is no reason anybody would have picked up on it normally, but it may have seemed to Z like the kind of thing people might have an “AHA” about once they started talking about a British Columbia link–a conversation that he may have expected to happen a lot sooner than it has.
If Z was intentionally dangling an elliptical reference to BC, then it may explain the meaning of the phrase “pass LAKE TAHOE areas” on the Lake Tahoe card. It might be an indication to ignore the LAKE TAHOE aspect and focus on the BC aspect, so that BC (Backcountry) becomes BC (British Columbia).
[On the matter what Z may have thought were obvious clues:
Assuming ZMT is correct, it seems to me that Z may have thought the whole British Columbia thing would have been a lot more obvious (consider the many clues we have already seen).
Somebody once told me about an interview with M. Night Shyamalan about his masterpiece movie “Sixth Sense”. In my mind this movie had one of the most brilliant surprise endings of all times. In the movie, the color red was absent from most scenes, but was used whenever a scene touched on death. Shyamalan apparently very worried that this use of red as a clue would be so obvious that that they would spoil the surprise for the audiences. As it happens, most viewers didn’t notice a thing, and were completely taken by surprise with the twist ending.
I wonder if Z might have experienced something similar: did he leave clues about BC that seemed so incredibly obvious to him that he expected researchers to have made more progress than they did? If so, then he might very well have thought this “BC” reference was fair play.]
When I first came across this idea, I was quite enchanted with it. It seemed to fit the overall theory and matched my perception that Z had a penchant for using elliptical clues. It had a clever touch that was suited to the image of Z the master of the subtle clue, and Z the cowardly serial killer who took subtleness to such extremes that he barely in any danger of getting caught.
Since then, I have changed my mind somewhat. I still see it as potentially consistent with the rest of ZMT, and I do still think he could have used it, but I don’t feel it has enough support to be convinced of it. It could be right, but risks taking conjecture too far. As such, I have to rate it as a weak observation and convoluted, yet worth including with a caveat.
I think it is worth including simply because it seems consistent with the theory and with my perception of how Z constructs clues, and in case Z-researchers take an interest in it and see the idea in a new light. Sometimes a weak idea becomes important later. Still, I won’t hold my breath. Caveat Zemptor.
[Assessment: convoluted, weak but with possibility, not critical to theory but of interest]
Coming up next
“This is the Zodiac speaking”
[Edit: Added note in the ‘My Assessment’ section. 22 July 2012]
A few words to start
In this post, I would like to discuss a possible discovery that came about because of Zodiac Mountain Theory. The discovery itself may seem trivial at first glance–the source of a seemingly random phrase, “around in the snow”. But if the discovery is correct and my associated perceptions are accurate, it will almost certainly open the door to new clues. (Of course, that’s a chicken that might only hatch if researchers agree and are inclined to do some extensive egg sitting.) It may also have implications for our understanding of the Zodiac Killer’s mind and methods. For one thing, it would show a lot about how he constructed his hints. For another, it would give us a glimpse of his forward planning skills, and help us to appreciate his apparent knack for anticipating the minds of those who hunt him. And, of course, if this find is correct it confirms ZMT theory, which would greatly boost the likelihood of finding the Z-perp.
All this is amounts to a pretty big “if”. Naturally, the assistance of other researchers is needed to confirm or refute the findings. If it proves to be wrong, I can at least console myself with the realization that it is worth searching for the source of some of these maddening phrases. For one thing, their significance may not be separable from their sources; for another, the advent of the electronic highway may have started to turn the tables in the researchers favor: a lot of the world’s written material is now available online, or can be located via online research, and it’s possible to search whole texts quickly. This type of research might be improved with tools that automate online searching. They could be improved still further in the future with systems that can automate evaluation of results. (Do you suppose we could borrow IBM’s Watson for awhile?)
The “discovery” is a simple enough matter–a small thing that could be explained in a few sentences. But, as I am pathologically incapable of short explanations, I will approach the topic in a roundabout way, starting with a general discussion of a few textual clues and phrases that seem worth examining. I will then segue into a discussion about Robert W. Service, the author of the book where the phrase was found. After that, I will tell where I found it and discuss why I think it may be the real deal.
Textual clues and enigmatic phrases
In earlier posts, we discussed the possible meanings of a couple visual images–the eyeballs and the mountain-rune symbols–on the Halloween card and accompanying envelope.
Along with the visual images, there are enigmatic textual references that deserve attention. Here are a couple that interest me and that we will come back to later:
- The number 14 on the Halloween card.
- Possibly it represents a victim count.
- There are numbers on several of Z’s other missives that many have supposed to be victim counts.
- But what is especially puzzling about this number is how it is formatted: rather than write “14“, Z wrote “4-teen“.
- The “sorry no cipher” message on the envelope of the Halloween card.
- It is not clear what this phrase meant in the context of the Halloween card.
- What is especially odd is again a formatting issue: Z wrote “sorry no cipher” twice, in a fashion that resembled the letter X.
On some of the other cards there are phrases and sentences that seem to be quite randomly chosen. There are bizarre phrases on other cards that appear to have been taken from existing literature, to be used as “found” hints by Z. The messages from the Pace and Halloween cards come immediately to mind.
For example, on the Pace card dated Mon., Oct 5, 1970, are several strange strings of words:
- “You’ll hate me, but I’ve got to tell you”
- “THE PACE ISN’T ANY SLOWER. IN FACT IT’S JUST ONE BIG thirteenth.”
- “Some of Them Fought. It Was Horrible.”
These phrases seem to be complete non-sequiturs. They seem at once devoid of any logical meaning and dripping with bloody significance. Are they just random sentences? Are they codes, anagrams, secret writing of some sort? How do we make sense of them? How do we know when we are doing better than guessing?
Likewise on the Lake Tahoe card we find the following:
- “around in the snow”
- “Sought victim 12”
- “Peek through the pines,”
- “pass LAKE TAHOE areas”
Strange messages, indeed.
My current interest in these enigmatic phrases and sentences lies in the supposition that some of them were apparently taken from books, newspapers, magazines and other written material: it seems to me the sources of these phrases may be essential to the message; they may even be the messages themselves. To me, they should be considered relevant in ways we can only understand once we seek and find.
[If you look at the phrase “Peek through the pines,” from the Lake Tahoe card, you will see it ends with a comma: evidently, Z clipped this phrase from somewhere. Could he have deliberately left the comma in place to underscore the fact that it was taken from an existing written source?]
Thinking that the source writings might provide more context for these cards, or reveal other clues, I took a stab at finding a few of them. It didn’t take long before I found one. (If it had, my patience would have run out as sloth quickly overpowers my curiosity.) As alluded to above, I found what may be the source of the phrase “around in the snow”.
I was quite surprised by the find. If it turns out to be correct, it will confirm ZMT for 2 reasons:
- It was found precisely because of ZMT: I was specifically looking for writings that would strongly suggest a Canadian heritage, and
- The location of the phrase within the book seems to be confirmed by other clues provided by Z himself. More on this below.
Robert W Service – Canadian literary icon
Let’s backtrack a bit to explain how I found it. It was because of my theory that Z was dishing out a hints about his links to BC, Canada. I had been thinking about possible sources that Z might draw these phrases from–sources which, if discovered, might convey a message about his Canadian origins. I first tried to find a link to some of these phrases through literature from the Sierra Club (including the Vancouver chapter), with no particular luck. Then it occurred to me to check the writings of Robert W Service.
I thought of Robert W Service because he fills the bill in many ways. Most important is that his name is highly suggestive of Canada. While he was not born a Canadian, he became a major Canadian literary icon, famous for his association with the Klondike Gold Rush in the Canadian Yukon territory. He was particularly famous for his poetry. At one time, every English speaking Canadian schoolchild would have heard the poems “The Cremation of Sam McGee” and “The Shooting of Dan McGrew”.
Before heading to the Yukon, where he became famous, Service spent an important few years in British Columbia, including time in Vancouver and Kamloops. He wrote several of his poems during his stay in BC. Before that BC, he had spent time drifting through Mexico and California. He spent many of his later years in Europe, but he is best remembered for the poetry he wrote in Canada.
In short, Robert W Service represents the brutish life of the gold rush and the frozen north, Canada, the Yukon, and BC.
His poems were fairly famous world wide at one time, so it is reasonable to suppose that in the early 70’s many Americans would at least have been familiar with his works, though probably not to the same extent as Canadians.
Once it occurred to me to check the writings of RWS, it didn’t take long to find. The writings that interested me were mostly from the turn of the 20th century. Some of them are available in the public domain.
The source of the phrase “around in the snow”
The phrase “around in the snow” turned up in his first novel, “The Trail of 98”, which I was able to find online.
You should be able to obtain an online copy for yourself. The following link might help:
The phrase shows up in Book IV, Chapter X. The scene is in the frozen northern wilderness, where Jack Locasto–the villain of the story–has returned to consciousness after being beaten in his sleep, bound, and left without food, to perish in the cold. He has to fight off a vicious attack by the hungry sled dogs that he treated so cruelly. In the sentence where the phrase “around in the snow” appears, he is searching desperately (and without luck) for the slightest scrap of food in the snow. He finds nothing because his adversary left him nothing, so he finds strength in his hatred and sets off to track down the man who left him, bent on vengeance.
A couple reasons why it I think it may be the actual source of the phrase
The weaker reason is the story itself.
Whether or not the story was of interest to the Zodiac Killer is anybody’s guess, but the fact that the villain had the focus in this chapter seemed to fit our subject. I also imagined that some of the language might stir fantasies in a man who murders for pleasure. Here are a couple excerpts that caught my eye:
“He still held the Mackenzie River bitch. Getting his knee on her body, he bent her her almost into a circle, bent her till her back broke with a snap.”
“…I’ll torture him; I’ll strip him and leave him naked in the snow.”
Of course, that proves nothing. It could still be pure chance that I found this phrase. It would be hard to prove with certainty that it came from this book. As a sanity check (I often do poorly on sanity checks), I searched the rest of his works–or what I could find of them–but did not see the phrase repeated. I also checked a couple books by Jack London, whose writings involve sled dogs in the frozen north. He didn’t happen to use the same phrase, even in scenes involving dog packs. Perhaps it is a sufficiently uncommon phrase that this find should be given consideration.
The stronger reason is the location in the book where the phrase was found.
I stopped thinking this was a chance occurrence when I remembered where the phrase was found: Book IV, Chapter X (i.e.: book 4, chapter 10, for anybody who hates Roman numerals). That was when I realized Z may have left a couple clues to confirm the book and chapter: book 4, chapter 10, corresponds to–and seems to explain–the strangely formatted number on the Halloween card: “4-teen”.
To me, it appears Z may have left the “4-teen” there for just this occasion: he used the unusual format to confirm our findings. If this is true, then it also seems likely that he left another message as well: the words “sorry no cipher”, written in the form of an “X”–that is “X” as in Chapter X.
It was as if he read my mind. I had been wondering if the book might conceal a code (although I admit to knowing very little about ciphers and book codes). If my interpretation is correct, he anticipated the thought and left a message saying “sorry no cipher”.
Or did he?
When I looked again at the writing on the envelope, I realized that he appears to have made a double negation. If you look closely yourself, you will see 2 “no’s” along one arm of the X. Perhaps he was teasing us: perhaps there is a code in the book after all. I hope so, but it will take a a more dedicated Z-researcher than me to answer that question.
Is proof possible?
As I was putting together this post, it dawned on me that it may be possible to prove whether Robert W Service’s novel was actually the source of the phrase “around in the snow” (although it may not be as easy to prove that it wasn’t).
My eyes aren’t great, but from the images I have seen, it appears to me that the phrase was clipped from some literary source and pasted on the card. If that is correct, then it might be possible to compare the text on the Lake Tahoe card to the text in the book. Of course, that might mean tracking down a sample from every printing of the book for comparison. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about the science of document analysis, so this possibility should be reviewed by others with more expertise in that area.
[Edit: 22July 2012: The validity of this claim has been questioned by at least two other researchers. Please see the comments section for Mike Cole’s notes. He, rightfully called out what he sees as the likelihood that the phrase around in the snow comes from one of the 3 newspapers that Z famously wrote to. If he is correct, then I would rescind this claim. That remains to be proven. I feel an obligation to do that research when I have the time. As yet, I have not done so. Mike has meanwhile acknowledged that the source of the phrase is not actually known. As long as that situation remains, I will leave this post in place. If anybody else happens to have done the research already, I would greatly appreciate knowing about your findings.]
It is my opinion that this is a significant find, but needs to be validated by other researchers. If it is validated, then I believe it is a major indicator that ZMT as a whole is valid.
The contrary is not necessarily true. If this find is incorrect, then it would not condemn ZMT, but it would mean ZMT no longer could claim a possible find.
The fact that the discovery seems to be supported by other clues should elevate it to a strong theory, in my mind, but the supporting observations are themselves interpretive, so that weakens the claim somewhat.
Some advantages of this theory are the fact that it may be possible to prove, seems to hold great promise for leading to new information (if correct), would probably lead to a better insight into Z’s mind (if correct and accurate), and suggests an avenue for investigation, even if incorrect.
[Assessment: tentatively strong, very significant with strong potential to reveal more clues, but not essential to theory]
Coming up next
Tahoe, BC. A weaker theory, but possibly an interesting one.
After that, “BOO!” and “BOOM”.