California Woman Claims Father Was Infamous Zodiac Killer

San Francisco police were looking into a woman's claim Wednesday that her late father was the infamous Zodiac killer who terrorized the Bay Area in the 1960s and 1970s.

Homicide investigators were checking information provided by 47-year-old Deborah Perez, who said that as a young girl she helped her father write and mail some of the letters that earned him the sensational nickname, SFPD Sgt. Lyn Tomioka said.

Perez of Corona, in Southern California, told reporters that she was seven years old and tagged along with her father, Guy Ward Hendrickson, when he killed two of the known victims nearly 40 years ago — Darlene Ferrin in Vallejo and Paul Stine in San Francisco.

Hendrickson, a carpenter and father of six kids, died in 1983 from cancer, and Perez said she could not keep her father's secrets any longer.

During a frenzied news conference outside the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday, Perez said she had given police what she believed were the eyeglasses Stine wore and letters she wrote on her father's behalf about the crimes.

She said her father took the glasses off of Stine's face and she kept them all these years and only recently realized they belonged to a murder victim and not her father.

"He told me he was sick and all I wanted to do was help my dad," said Perez, who came to her conclusion that her father was the Zodiac killer about two years ago. "He kept telling me he was sick and he killed many, many people. I had no idea."

Perez said she saw a composite sketch of the Zodiac killer in August 2007 and recognized the man as her father, who died in 1983. She said she had never heard of the Zodiac killer prior to seeing the composite sketch.

The self-described Zodiac killer is blamed for at least five murders in 1968 and 1969, and possibly as many as 36. He sent letters to local newspapers including The Chronicle and The San Francisco Examiner that were splashed across the front pages, taunting reporters, police and the public with codes and clues to find his identity.

Nevertheless, he was never caught and his true identity has never been confirmed by police — although many believe he was Arthur Leigh Allen, a convicted child molester who died in 1992.

In September 1969, the killer struck in Napa County, stabbing Cecilia Shephard and Bryan Hartnell, two college students picnicking at Lake Berryessa. The couple was accosted, hog-tied and repeatedly stabbed by a man dressed all in black and wearing an executioner-style hood.

Shephard died and Hartnell survived.

Three killings took place in Vallejo. David Farraday and Betty Lou Jensen, teenagers on their first date, were shot to death in December, 1968. Darlene Ferrin, 22, was shot and killed seven months later at the Blue Rock Springs Golf Club, while her companion, Michael Mageau, 19, survived.

Perez said her father knew Ferrin as "Dee," and they got into an argument on July 4, 1969 at the Blue Rock Springs Golf Club in Vallejo.

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

They didn't find it, Perez said.

Perez said Wednesday she was also with her father later when he killed Stine, a cab driver, at a San Francisco intersection in October 1969.

Kevin McLean, also in attendance at the Perez news conference, said he worked with attorney Melvin Belli - who the Zodiac killer had contacted pleading for help. McLean said handwriting tests show Perez did write some of the letters, and they hoped DNA testing can be done on the glasses believed to belong to Stine.

Sgt. Tomioka said while SFPD detectives continued to follow leads and treat all claims equally, she emphasized that there was only one known murder that took place in San Francisco linked to the Zodiac.

"We get a significant number of calls a year. We will look into whatever evidence that is presented to us," Tomioka said about the case that also became a hit movie in 2007.

McLean said Perez decided to reveal her father's identity in response to a Sacramento man who had claimed in recent months that a relative of his was the Zodiac killer.
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