Estate agent: 'My father was the Zodiac Killer'

Deborah Perez says that she was fooled into helping 1960s serial murderer who terrorised San Francisco and fascinated Hollywood

It is one of the most grisly murder mysteries of modern times, which inspired countless films and television dramas, terrorised a generation of hormonal teenagers, and has stumped detectives and amateur sleuths for more than 40 years. Now a middle-aged estate agent from California has stepped forward to claim she is the daughter of the famous "Zodiac killer".

Deborah Perez says her late father, Guy Ward Hendrickson, was responsible for at least two of the five deaths formally attributed to the notorious figure, who shot or stabbed courting couples as they canoodled in cars.

She said she was going public to "right his wrongs," and claimed to have witnessed two of the frenzied murders. She also announced that she has a pair of spectacles taken from the Zodiac killer's final victim, Paul Lee Stine.

In a further unique twist, Ms Perez even said she had helped her father scribble some of the killer's infamous confession notes, in which he taunted police, newspapers and amateur sleuths with elaborate ciphers and riddles, claiming responsibility for 37 deaths.

"I was a child and just thought I was helping my dad," claimed Ms Perez, 47, one of six children adopted by Hendrickson, who died in the 1980s. "I didn't know. He told me he was sick, and all I wanted to do was help my dad ... He kept telling me he was sick and he killed many, many people. I had no idea."

She was speaking at a surreal press conference outside the offices of the San Francisco Chronicle, one of the newspapers that received several of the letters, on Wednesday afternoon. It was attended by journalists and Zodiac enthusiasts holding photos of suspects.

Local police, who have never closed their investigation, said: "We get a significant number of calls a year," said Sergeant Lyn Tomioka. "We look into whatever evidence is presented to us."

The development will open yet another chapter in a case which has fascinated Hollywood for decades, providing the loose inspiration for the Clint Eastwood hit Dirty Harry and the hit 2007 thriller Zodiac, among others.

The "Zodiac killer" first struck in 1968, when he shot high-school students Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday in a "lovers lane" in the city of Benicia. He was blamed for a string of further attacks, and became famous for sending cryptograms to newspapers which allegedly contained his identity.

Until now, most people have believed the self-styled serial killer was Arthur Leigh Allen, a convicted child molester who died in 1992. Police were never able to find conclusive evidence.

However Ms Perez says she was with her father when he carried out the second attack in the early hours of 5 July 1969. That saw Darlene Ferrin, 22, and Michael Maggeau killed by shots into their car, parked at a golf course in Vallejo, north of San Francisco.

"My father grabs his gun, goes to the passenger side and I hear shots, I hear moans, I hear screams," Ms Perez said. "We leave and we're pulled over by police. My father takes the gun and puts it into a bag and sticks it into my pants and says, 'Don't move. The police will not understand if they find this gun.' "

Ms Perez explained her failure to previously come forward by saying that she had been oblivious to the case until 2007, when she saw a sketch of the killer on America's Most Wanted and started to think her father was involved.

But others at the press conference suggested it had more to do with a documentary about her that is in the works. Ms Perez denied it, saying: "I am just coming forward to tell the truth."

However, a local man has stepped forward to claim his stepfather was the Zodiac killer – and a documentary is set to appear about him.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness