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By now, almost everyone has heard of the Zodiac Killer, a serial killer who stalked teens in Northern California during the 1960s. Anyone with a passing interest in true crime – or people familiar with the 2007 David Fincher movie Horoscope – He’ll learn about the artist’s drawings of the perpetrator, the cryptic letters sent to the police, the killer’s bizarre outfit, and the iconic crosshairs associated with the case. Over the years, law enforcement, spy buffs, and countless documentaries have suggested various suspects as to the identity of the killer, who is still at large.

Legend of the Zodiac KillerAnd Debuting July 11, Peacock’s new documentary posits a new theory: the zodiac never existed. The premise is the brainchild of English professor Thomas Horan, an amateur investigator, linguistics expert, and lover of pink shirts. (He never appears in anything else in the series.) Over the course of two hours, Horan, along with director Andrew Nock, elaborates his theory on how several unrelated murders are linked in the public imagination courtesy of a prankster with penchant for cryptography.

If nothing else, the documentary gets one thing right: The Zodiac Killer has become something of an American legend. From 1968 through 1974, Zodiac killed at least five people and tortured police with a series of cryptic messages that he hinted would reveal his identity. When contacts with the killer ceased, the case turned into legend.

TV crime series such as Unsolved mysteries Even the Internet has kept interest in the murders alive for nearly 30 years, with countless websites dedicated to the case attracting would-be detectives determined to solve the mystery. Now there is this.

Red herring?


Now Horan claims that there is no mystery at all. The first episode of the show shows Horan and Nook revisiting several key locations in the Zodiac affair. Horan claims that the Zodiac’s first official murder, that of teens David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen, was committed by a gang of drug traffickers who targeted Faraday for calling drug dealers at his high school. Horan further suggests that the Zodiac’s second murder, that of Darlene Ferrin, was actually a crime of passion, committed by her ex-husband.

Some of the best scenes come in the first episode of the series when director Nock interviews Jim Crabtree, Vereen’s ex-husband, whom Horan has fingered for the murder. These moments play a role less like a Silence of the LambsMore of a showdown-with-a-killer type of farce: Crabtree has a big personality that injects some gravitas into the proceedings. Viewers may find him repulsive, funny, or both, but his scenes are never boring.

Detectives interviewed for Peacock’s docuseries confirmed that the police ruled Crabtree a murderer during the initial investigation, and what Nock presents here only seems to reinforce their judgment. The same applies to the deaths of Faraday and Jensen at the hands of alleged drug traffickers: this possibility was considered by the police before ruling it out. A subsequent phone call to police from the alleged killer, claiming responsibility for the shooting, suggests that Horan may think he is ahead of investigators, when in fact he is behind.

Related: David Fincher presents his side of the infamous Zodiac feud with Jake Gyllenhaal

Horan’s theories may not have any merits, but that doesn’t mean they are Legend of the Zodiac Killer He doesn’t have any. Nock interviews many of the friends and family members of the victims here, humanizing them in a whole new way. Watching them remember their young friends more than 50 years after that fact is poignant. The second episode also teases how the AI ​​can crack two unbreakable encrypted Zodiac codes, which also adds to some intrigue.

The real mystery

Jim Crabtree in Legend of the Zodiac Killer

However, die-hard Zodiac fans won’t find much new here. In fact, they are likely to find Zodiac legend unbelievable. Although Nock has been on screen for a fair amount of the series’ runtime, he’s never made it quite clear what he thinks of Horan, or his Zodiac-as-myth premise. This seems like a missed opportunity.

FX Documentary Series The most dangerous animal ever He dated a similar fringe theorist – theorist Gary Stewart, who became convinced his biological father was in fact the killer. While the show derided Stewart’s claim as plausible, as the inconsistencies mounted, it became clear that the real story was of a man who felt abandoned at birth. His faith stemmed from the need for verification, not facts. Nock could have used a similar approach here, making the series more about Thomas Horan’s psyche to much greater effect.

Related: The best true crime documentaries of all time, ranked

For that matter, Nok Horan could have been used as an agent for everyone Booming Zodiac Detectives is now online. What does it really say about someone obsessed with an unsolved murder, who dedicates hours upon hours to message boards, podcasts, and the like in hopes of solving it? What kind of arrogance afflicts the mind of self-described “experts” on cases of horoscopes, JonBenet Ramsey, The Black Dahlia, Jack the Ripper, Robert Won and the like that these people think they can, or in some cases, have solved a crime Without access to police evidence files? No doubt the documentary will offer provocative theories as well… perhaps even more convincing than Horan’s assumption.

Tough stuff

Thomas Horan in The Legend of the Zodiac Killer

Knock approaches Legend of the Zodiac Killer With technical refinement and sympathy, die-hard true crime fans will likely devour the show. Whether it fulfills their desires will vary from viewer to viewer. In a sense, no movie about the Zodiac Killer can truly feel good because the story has no end. Even Fincher Horoscope, despite its cult popularity and critical love, focused on a suspect who had already been exonerated through DNA evidence. It wasn’t a real puzzle, just an empty puzzle box.

Legend of the Zodiac Killer He suffers from some of the same problems just because of the nature of the issue. Neither the Fincher film nor the Knock series devote enough focus to the real problem here: the investigative errors that allowed the killer to elude capture.

Thomas Horan might think he’s solved the Zodiac Killer mystery, but audiences likely feel otherwise. The biggest puzzle here is why amateur detectives form so-called “communities” online that they think they can solve old cases without the benefit of having access to training files or actual evidence. When did the public go from enjoying the adventures of Sherlock Holmes to actually trying it? He is Holmes?

Legend of the Zodiac Killer It will be broadcast on Peacock starting July 11th. You can watch the trailer below.


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