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Basic case information

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Basic case information Empty Basic case information

Post by ophion1031 July 12th 2015, 11:54 pm

The Lake Berryessa attack differed from the previous two occurrences at Lake Herman Road and Blue Rock Springs, in that the killer used a gun, but then switched to a knife in the attack on Bryan Calvin Hartnell (20) and Cecelia Ann Shepard (22).

The couple were taking a pleasant picnic at Lake Berryessa, linked to Twin Oak Ridge on September 27th 1969, almost three months after the Blue Rock Springs Attack. Cecelia Shepard had become aware of a man close by, acting strangely.

The man then took refuge behind a tree, before adorning himself with a black executioners hood and a waistline bib, decorated with the now familiar trademark Zodiac crossed circle, along with a pair of clip-on sunglasses. He then approached the couple pointing a gun, at which time Cecelia alerted Bryan with the words, "Oh my God, he's got a gun."

The man claimed to be an escaped convict from Deer Lodge, Montana, having just killed a prison guard and stolen a car. He requested Bryan Hartnell's car and money, to which Hartnell duly obliged. He then spoke to the man for several minutes to try and gain some rapport, in an attempt to protect themselves from any harm, but the man took some clothesline from his belt and ordered Cecelia Shepard to tie up Hartnell.

It was at this point Hartnell said to Shepard he felt he could get the gun, but Shepard told him not to try anything, fearing it may make the situation worse, but alas, at that moment, the assailant had stepped back two or three feet, just out of reach, and the chance was lost forever. The hooded figure then bound up Cecelia Shepard.

While the couple were hogtied on the ground, Bryan Hartnell asked the man if the gun was really loaded, to which the man pulled out the gun, took out the clip and showed Bryan Hartnell, that indeed it was. He then stabbed the victims numerous times- Hartnell six times and Shepard ten times, with Cecelia frantically rolling around, clearly terrified by the ordeal.
Bryan, obviously fearing they were about to die, stopped breathing, in an attempt to feign death, realizing if he thrashed around, the killer would return to finish him off. Fortunately for Bryan, his tactic worked and the cold-blooded executioner walked off into the distance.

After the attack, Bryan Hartnell signaled to a fisherman, Ronald Fong, and his nine year old son, who were circling the lake about 100 yards away. The fisherman used binoculars to investigate, before he went to a nearby boathouse to alert park rangers to the unfolding drama. Bryan Hartnell then struggled his way back up the incline to the nearby road, where he was eventually aided by ranger Dennis Land, while both waited for the ambulance to arrive. Officers Kenneth Narlow and Richard Lonergan were both informed of the attack at Lake Berryessa at 8.20 pm and proceeded to the Queen of the Valley Hospital for investigative purposes, where the stricken couple were being taken. The two victims arrived at the hospital at 8.50 pm.

Although the couple survived the initial attack, Cecelia Shepard succumbed to her injuries two days later at the Queen of the Valley Hospital. The following day, during an interview with Sergeant John Robertson at the Queen of the Valley Hospital, Hartnell stated that during his conversation with the killer, the man had said, " I just escaped from a prison in Montana." With Hartnell trying to recollect the name of the prison, and said "its some double name, like Fern Lock or something" and when aided by Sgt. John Robertson saying, " It's Lodge", Hartnell replied, "Oh yeah, yeah at least we know we're together on that", to which the police sergeant said "Mountain Lodge Prison, or something of that nature" and Hartnell replied "Yeah. You know he broke out and had to kill a guard getting out."

It has been speculated that the prison mentioned by the killer, was Deer Lodge Prison in Montana, however this may have been arrived at by leading questions being thrown at Bryan Hartnell from the investigator while he was still recovering under heavy sedation and cannot therefore be wholly relied upon as fact.

Bryan Hartnell described his attacker as having brown hair, 225-250 lbs in weight and 5'8'' - 5'10'' in height, but admitted he was a bad judge of height because he was so tall. Nevertheless, his recollection appeared similar to the description given by Michael Mageau after the Blue Rock Springs attack on July 4th, 1969. Bryan also stated that the assailant had a unique way of talking, describing it as a drawl before correcting himself saying 'Well, not a drawl, an accent'.

Bryan Calvin Hartnell was a student at Pacific Union College in Angwin. Cecelia Ann Shepard was a student at the University of California in Riverside. Both had been enjoying a day out by the shores of Lake Berryessa, just off the Knoxville Road, when the calm was shattered by a ruthless killer. Both victims were stabbed numerous times. The victims initially survived the attack and were taken by Piner's Ambulance to the Queen of the Valley Hospital, arriving at 8.50 pm. Bryan Hartnell survived to recount his story, but unfortunately Cecelia Shepard died two days later.

The assailant left visible footprints to and from the crime scene, later believed to be a 10 and one half style military boot called Wing Walkers. But in what became a familiar trait throughout the Zodiac investigation the killer left a message, this time on the couple's car door, written with a black marker pen. It said; "Vallejo 12-20-68, 7-4-69, Sept 27-69 -6:30 by knife."

After the attack, the killer drove to the 1231 Main Street phone booth, 27 miles away in downtown Napa and placed a call at 7:40 pm to the Napa Police Department, claiming responsibility and knowledge of the latest attacks.

Officer Dave Slaight took the call and heard the killer utter the words: "I want to report a murder, no, a double murder. They are two miles north of Park Headquarters. They were in a white Volkswagen Karmann Ghia" and after a brief pause uttered the words "I'm the one that did it."

At 8:35 pm, Officer Kenneth Narlow was informed by Station One that the possible suspect in the double stabbing had placed the payphone call to Dave Slaight from the intersection of Main Street and Clinton Street in Napa, outside a car wash. Kenneth Narlow duly contacted Deputy Harold Snook and immediately dispatched him to the payphone to process for evidence, where a palm print was retrieved, but it was unable to supply any matches.

This information was taken from, a great website with a ton of great information.

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