Welcome to the true crime blog for The Most Dangerous Animal of All: Searching For My Father and Finding the Zodiac Killer. In this blog, I hope to provide you with some insight into serial killers and what creates in them the lack of empathy necessary to brutally take another human life. While I have been investigating and writing about serial killers for the past eight years, I never dreamed that I would one day write about the Zodiac Killer. That had already been done. But then I met Gary L. Stewart.
For my co-author, this book has been 12 years in the making. Gary’s search to find his biological father was long and arduous and led him to many horrific discoveries that no one would want to learn about their father. Two years ago, when I first met Gary and read his journal about his investigation into his father, I was struck by the enormity of his story—an illicit romance, an abandoned baby, an infamous serial killer, a police cover-up, and an incredible amount of heartbreak along the way. And somehow all of this would need to be proved to a cynical world weary of people claiming their father or uncle or cousin was the Zodiac Killer. I knew this would be a challenging project, and it was. I was co-writing a true crime book and a compelling memoir at the same time.
I have written two books about serial killers before—the chronicle of Louisiana serial killer Derrick Todd Lee, written with Special Prosecutor Tony Clayton and Sue Israel; and serial killer Sean Vincent Gillis, written with Sue Israel. These were current cases at the time that I researched them. I attended their trials, interviewed detectives and prosecutors involved in the cases, interviewed family members of the victims and the killers, and lived near the area where many of the murders occurred. Investigating a decades-old cold case on the other side of the country in which the killer had never been caught seemed a daunting task, especially considering there is a lot of misinformation published about the Zodiac. Fortunately, Gary had done his homework. Before I met him, he had accumulated a massive amount of research that I was able to study before I began my own investigation.
Researching serial killers might seem a strange endeavor to many people, but I find it fascinating. I always want to uncover the “why” of each case. Why did the killer choose his victims? Why did the killer begin killing? Why was the killer able to elude capture by police? What I’ve learned is that each serial killer is different with his/her own pathology, motives, methods, and signature. There is no set-in-stone criteria that creates a killer.
The Zodiac stands out among serial killers for two reasons: He taunted police publicly through letters and ciphers, and he was never caught. As you read the book, you will discover that he had many things in common with other known serial killers. His childhood was fraught with physical and emotional abuse. He experienced rejection from those he loved. He was narcissistic. He was intelligent and well-read. He claimed more victims than police could connect to him. His murders escalated over time.
But then he disappeared, never to resurface again. Many serial killers stop killing for short periods (and sometimes even years, like BTK) and then resume their murderous activities. The Zodiac, after writing his last letter in 1974, was never heard from again. After terrorizing the residents of California for many years and using newspapers to accomplish his goals so publicly, it seemed unlikely to Gary and I that the Zodiac would just go away without a very compelling reason, and we set out to discover that reason.
It is my hope that The Most Dangerous Animal of All answers all of your questions about the Zodiac Killer, from his childhood to his motivations to what happened after he stopped killing innocent people.
If you have questions, comments, or reviews of the book, please send me an e-mail through this website. Some of your questions may be answered in my blog.
Thanks for dropping by. I hope you enjoy the book! And visit susanmustafa.com to find more information about me and my other projects.