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
  • Get to the point
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: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower