August 8, 2018
CRIMINOLOGY True Crime Podcast Presents: THE CASE OF THE ZODIAC KILLER: The Complete Transcript With Additional Commentary, Photographs and Documents
WildBlue Press, 2018.
Mike Morford (known as Morf) and Mike Ferguson are not new to the true crime community. For over a decade, the two criminologists have been researching, writing, and producing podcasts about true crime. In August of 2017, the duo’s first season of Criminology launched. Over twelve episodes, the podcast delved into the case of the Zodiac killer.
Giving a full account of the Zodiac case is a huge undertaking. When you consider that Robert Graysmith’s books Zodiac and Zodiac Unmasked come in at 400 and 528 pages respectively, it’s clear an exhaustive study is an immense project. Criminology’s goal of providing one of the fullest historical accounts of the Zodiac does not disappoint. Morf and Ferguson successfully present a clear and concise case. Without pretense or bluster, the most relevant information comes forward. Considering the intense emotions surrounding the still unsolved case, this is no small feat. In addition to their sensitive presentation of the basic facts and victims stories though, the book provides several additional and worthy highlights. One is the in depth look at the Zodiac ciphers and cryptograms when the duo interview Dave Oranchak, one of the authorities on the topic. Yet another highlight is the attention given to the larger suspect pool. While Arthur Leigh Allen is known to get a tremendous amount of coverage during like investigations, over two chapters (two podcast episodes) the book presents a bevy of other suspects and the evidence for and against each. Suspects such as Fred Manalli, the man known as “Zode,” Larry Kane, George Saxberg, Darwin Jenkins, Aubrey Bailey, Griffin Raymond Franklin, Ross Sullivan, Richard Gaikowski, and Earl Van Best, Jr., most of whom get overlooked in other Zodiac case studies. Much credit should also be given to Morf and Ferguson for interviewing fellow amateur criminologist Tom Voigt. For Unsubs Central readers, you might recognize Voigt for his profile in the documentary film, “Hunting the Zodiac” (see my July 23, 2018 review). Voigt is recognized as one of the leading Zodiac authorities and for the past twenty years, his website ZodiacKiller.com has been a top sight for all things Zodiac. Voigt offers supplementary worthwhile observations about the case. Maybe most important for true crime aficionados though, is that the book manages to present new insights and information only rarely seen.
When you consider that for Criminology listeners the extras within the audible recording (such as the voice actor playing the Zodiac) added an increased dimension to the podcast and that a benefit of a podcast is to allow the host’s personalities to come through, a book containing episode transcripts was risky. It could have suffered from a flat and uncharismatic affect. This isn’t the case and the book unfolds without being slow or tedious. And, much to my surprise, the transcriptions of historical broadcasts and sound clips also translate well.
As Mike Morford put it, the Zodiac killings are “one of America’s greatest true crime mysteries.” In The Case of the Zodiac Killer, the Criminology podcasters successfully manage to present valuable facts and vetted information that while focuses on the killer also presents an account that makes human the victims and their stories.
Additional Mike Ferguson Podcasts:
True Crime All The Time: http://www.truecrimeallthetime.com and https://www.facebook.com/truecrimeallthetime/
True Crime All The Time Unsolved: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/true-crime-all-the-time-unsolved and https://www.facebook.com/TCATTUnsolved/
Dave Oranchak’s Zodiac cipher website: Zodiacciphers.com
Katherine Ramsland. Forensic Psychologist. Professional blog: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shadow-boxing
**************************REMINDER: EBOOK GIVEAWAY****************************
There is still one more day to be entered to win Criminology Podcast’s book THE CASE OF THE ZODIAC KILLER!!!
Enter your email at the bottom of the page to subscribe to Unsubs Central and become eligible for the drawing. Contest ends at 11:59pm on Thursday, August 9th. The winner will be announced on Friday, August 10th.