The Ecphorizer

Breach of Promise
Gareth Penn

Issue #62 (January 1987)

In the May issue of The Ecphorizer, I promised that I was uttering my last word on the subject of the Zodiac murders. I am now going to go back on that promise. I have two pieces of news.

The first is that I have been informed through two independent

the FBI is now actively involved in investigating my suspect...

sources, one in New England and the other in Northern California, that the FBI is now actively involved in investigating my suspect, having had until recently no official Zodiac [quoteright]investigation at all. I am reliably informed, moreover, that Massachusetts local prosecutors are involved as well, which is of some interest, since these authorities could not possibly be concerned with crimes committed in California 17 to 20 years ago.

The second is that my book on this subject is scheduled to appear in March, 1987. This eagerly awaited (by me, if nobody else) book is going to be, no matter what else you may think of it, nothing like anything you have ever read before. Unless you are accustomed to reading the writings of graduates of the Hunter S. Thompson School of Gonzo Criminal Investigation.

First, the connection between the publication of "The Calculus of Evil" in the Mensa Bulletin in August 1985 and the involvement of the FBI. There is a causal connection. Then there's the application of the Rules of Folklore — specifically the Rumpelstiltskin Effect — to the investigation of serial murders. There is also a chapter on the infamous St Patrick's Day Massacre of 1982, which nearly prompted the headline, "Madman Attacks Six Armed Deputies With Wineglass." Remember, you read about it here first.

You are probably wondering why, if this is worth reading about at all, you didn't hear about it five years ago from the lips of Geraldo Rivera. In fact you almost did, and you will probably be amazed to find out why you didn't. I will say here that it had something to do with greed and self-delusion.

Then there's the astronomer whose specialty is communicating with extra-terrestial civilizations. It took his talent to get the message through to a certain Ivy League university administration. Why is it that certain individuals in the general counsel's office of that same university are now confiding to strangers that they wish that I would drop dead? Most intriguing of all, where wild horses couldn't drag information out of law enforcement, a domestic horse succeeded. In point of fact, it was a saddle breed named Snoopy who did the trick.

These stories — and many more — will be recounted in the pages of TIMES 17 (subtitle: "The amazing story of the Zodiac murders in California" and Massachusetts, 1966-1981"). Also included, free of charge, will be your very own Zodiac Identification Kit, consisting of the conventional evidence which you can use to form your own opinion concerning the correctness of my conclusions. And just to make the offer irresistible, you get several pages of gratuitous commentary from me on how the failure of certain values in our society made it possible for something like this to happen at all.

That was the wind-up. Now here's the pitch.

Send me a legal-sized self-addressed envelope, and I will send you a copy of the hitherto unpublished article "The Radian Ciphers," along with information about how you can order your copy of TIMES 17. You will get not only information about the Zodiac killer, but also certain insights into why things don't work the way they are supposed to. On that claim, I guarantee your money back in the event of non-satisfaction.

My address [was somewhere in] San Rafael CA 94900.

[Editor's note 2009:  We figured that the foregoing was relevant to Penn's ongoing Zodiac series, however after nearly 25 years, the "pitch" was no longer active, so we redacted the actual address.  A quick look on Amazon revealed that the book TIMES 17 is no longer in print, and in fact there are no listings of used copies.  The reviews on that Amazon page are worth a look.] 

About the title of his article ("Breach of Promise"), GARETH PENN writes that he plagiarized it from Otto Slezak, the Viennese tenor. Slezak published a book of the same title in 1926, one year after had come out with another book titled "My Complete Works."

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