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Myth of the Zodiac Killer Director on What Motivated Him to Tackle "Iconic" Case
The new Peacock original series looks at a professor's controversial claims that the Zodiac Killer is merely "a literary invention."
The case of the Zodiac Killer remains one of the most confounding serial killer mysteries in the United States, which is what precisely appealed to Andrew Nock, executive producer and director of Peacock’s Myth of the Zodiac Killer.
The two-part original series tackles a new and controversial theory surrounding the still-unidentified serial killer who murdered no less than five confirmed victims — and possibly dozens more — in the San Francisco Bay area during the late 1960s. The confirmed victims included David Faraday, 17, Betty Lou Jensen, 16, Darlene Ferrin, 22, Cecelia Shepard, 22, and Paul Stine, 29.
Most of the victims, including survivors Michael Mageau, 19, and Bryan Hartnell, 20, were fatally shot or stabbed while in secluded, Lover’s Lane-type areas in Solano, Napa, and San Francisco counties.
Someone purporting to be the killer taunted investigators with letters and ciphers to the media, going so far as to send the San Francisco Chronicle a bloody patch of clothing from one of his victims. However, the identity of the Zodiac Killer remains a mystery.
Andrew Nock on Taking on the Zodiac Killer
Oxygen.com’s Stephanie Gomulka recently caught up with Myth of the Zodiac Killer’s Andrew Nock about why he chose to cover the notorious killer.
“It’s kind of the biggest true-crime story out there, I think,” according to Nock. “It’s still the most iconic, the most mysterious, unsolved American set of murders of the 20th century. I think it’s the big daddy of all cases, really.”
Myth of the Zodiac Killer looks into the theory of Thomas Henry Horan, a professor who believes the Zodiac Killer is but a mere “literary invention.” Horan cites a lack of evidence — pointing to how the purported killer’s letters were the only thing allegedly connecting the murders — as the reason why the Zodiac Killer is a “hoax.”
“The more I studied these letters and compared them to the actual facts in each case, I made a very surprising discovery,” Horan said in the series. “It wasn’t just that the story we are all familiar with about the Zodiac Killer was wrong; it’s [that] the truth about the Zodiac Killer case is more bizarre and interesting than anybody ever suspected.”
How much did Nock know about the Zodiac Killer beforehand?
Nock said that, like much of the public, he was familiar with Robert Graysmith’s 1986 book, Zodiac, which was later developed into the 2007 film of the same name by David Fincher, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo.
Nock said there was “a very, very particular narrative” based on Graysmith’s experiences as a cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle at the height of the murders.
“Like most people, I thought there was one killer,” said Nock. “And the more I looked into it, the more I realized there were many, many different theories out there.”
Nock on the High Interest Surrounding the Zodiac Case
Nock discovered there were thousands invested in seeing the case solved, “more than any other true crime mystery,” he told Oxygen.com. He became keen on developing a documentary because of “the armchair detective forum” that exists online today.
“None of them agree on this case, which was so interesting,” said Nock. “They all have their own suspects, and they all think everyone else is wrong, and I thought that was just fascinating.”
Nock touched on how the Zodiac case had “thousands” of documents published online, which isn’t always the case with unsolved murder investigations. Many online sleuths, according to Nock, cherry-pick information to “fit their particular suspect.”
Many theories have developed over the years, including late schoolteacher Arthur Leigh Allen, Air Force Veteran Gary Francis Poste, and newspaper reporter Richard Gaikowski, to name just a few. But could the true crime community have it all wrong?
Watch episodes of Myth of the Zodiac Killer exclusively on Peacock.