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Is Deer Lodge, MT Really Significant?

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Is Deer Lodge, MT Really Significant?

Postby Menecrates » Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:52 am

Everyone knows about Zodiac's reference to being an escaped con from his remarks to the victims before the Berryessa attack. Of natural concern, to me anyway, is whether there's really any significance to this, and whether it's of any real value in the investigation. Or is it just another piece of bluster of which Zodiac showed he was capable (does anybody really believe that Rube Goldberg bomb was there?).

This has been discussed on another thread that's been locked down, one of the Ted threads, and I want to stress that I'm not trying to throw gas on the fire and turn this into another Ted fiasco. If you think it's Ted, fine. I don't, but that's immaterial. I'd like to concentrate on the clew, such as it is.

For one thing, Bryan's quoted initially by Ranger Sgt. White as saying the guy said he was from Colorado (clumsy sentence construction on my part, but it is hearsay). This gets changed during John Robertson's extended interview into the Deer Lodge we all know and love. One need only read the exchange to see that Robertson's gently leading Bryan into the change of locale, or at least name, with which Hartnell agrees:

http://www.zodiackiller.com/HartnellInterview2.html

It's not always bad, but it's not an ideal thing to do when you're talking to a victim or witness. I'm not criticizing Robertson, and I say this with 25 years of police work behind me. I'd have more confidence in it had Bryan said Deer Lodge or even Montana from the get go, but there you are.

Secondly, much has been made of the relative obscurity of the Old Montana State Prison at Deer Lodge. Maybe. Maybe also Deer Lodge Prison wasn't all that obscure back in 1969. On Monday, July 15, 1968, twelve prisoners escaped from the prison farm dormitory at Deer Lodge State Prison. A while back I found an AP Newswire story in the Billings Gazette on Wed. July 17, that discusses the recapture of six of them (I've posted this on another board, so there's no plagiarism going on here).

Having an AP byline, it would have been available to thousands of newspapers across the country. It was certainly big news in Montana and surrounding states, and may have been prominent enough to be carried in many California newspapers. The FBI was called in to assist on two prisoners. Maybe because Montana authorities couldn't find them and presumed they crossed state lines, or they could have been federal prisoners to begin with serving their time in a state lockup.

There are other stories on the escape and piecemeal recapture of the convicts, also from the AP. Deer Lodge may not have been so obscure at this time, even on the West Coast.

Furthermore, a decade earlier there was a major prison riot resulting in the death of a Deputy Warden and a murder-suicide pact between two of the ringleaders that got national headlines in 1959. Some reports actually reference the Montana National Guard using bazookas on certain wall areas. The riot got a write up in Time Magazine. Sounds like national coverage to me.

Ten years before Zodiac. If he was in the age range described, he was perfectly capable of reading Time magazine and other news stories of what occurred in 1959. Ditto for the AP Newswire stories in 1968.

Deer Lodge may not have been as obscure as we presume 40 years on. I see nothing that makes it mandatory that Z was indeed an escaped con, had ever been in Montana State Prison, had ever been in Deer Lodge or even the State of Montana to begin with. All he had to do was read media stories. And engage in a line of BS.

You may fire when ready, Gridley.
Last edited by Menecrates on Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is Deer Lodge, MT Really Significant?

Postby morf13 » Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:35 am

Heres an article about it. Read the article....it mentions " a concert played at warm springs" hmm.....Zodiac connection to water??? :grin:
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Re: Is Deer Lodge, MT Really Significant?

Postby Zsearcher » Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:44 am

Harold Bates? :shock:

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Re: Is Deer Lodge, MT Really Significant?

Postby Bently » Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:55 am

Good topic Menecrates. I suppose the biggest point in favor of there being anything to it, as has been mentioned, is Z not expecting his victims to survive so why not tell the truth? This assumes however, that there was some truth to tell.

I'm skeptical because according to Hartnell http://www.zodiackiller.com/KCRA1.html the original motive was money and transportation (to Mexico). In the end Z took neither Hartnell's wallet or car keys and he obviously had the victims in position to take both. Clearly wasn't Z's intention and not the truth.

Z's prison reference then comes in response to Hartnell offer to help Z in the future. That surely didn't sound good to Z, who as we know had neither money, transportation or any continued relationship with Hartnell in mind. I think it may have just been Z's quickly fabricated response declining Hartnell's offer, he was on the run and didn't have time to wait, with a bit of scare tactic thrown in.

Does a Deer Lodge reference point to any suspect who may have lived, passed through or otherwise known about it? Tough to say since as you note it started out as Fern Lock Colorado or some such.

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Re: Is Deer Lodge, MT Really Significant?

Postby Zsearcher » Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:08 pm

You know, I just thought that, out of the two people in the interview, the police officer would have been the one to know many more details about the DLP incidents, since officers in nearby cities and states are informed of prison breaks and riots, in order to look out for escaped convicts. So it is entirely possible that it wasn't on Hartnell's mind or the Zodiac's mind but Mr Robertson's alone, as we have postulated. Zs

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Re: Is Deer Lodge, MT Really Significant?

Postby akwilks » Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:18 pm

FBI agent John Douglas thought it was a significant clue, as Z mentioned it to people he thought were going to be dead. Douglas went to college in Montana, studying criminal justice, and he says he had never heard of Deer Lodge.

It seems most likely that Z had some background or connection to the town, even if it was just passing through, for it to be on his mind. But who knows? I think it is a significant clue, others may not.

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Re: Is Deer Lodge, MT Really Significant?

Postby Menecrates » Sun Dec 13, 2009 3:46 pm

Good for Douglas. I think otherwise. Your thoughts on probable connections are valued, but they're only opinion.

metaltomato

Re: Is Deer Lodge, MT Really Significant?

Postby metaltomato » Sun Dec 13, 2009 4:37 pm

Im not entirely sure on this, but I think LE concluded that the Deer Lodge info was irrelevant as the interviewing officer had prompted BH instead of letting him finish the description by himself. Because the interviewing officer helped him finish his description, that description is no longer a valid fact. At least this is my understanding.

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Re: Is Deer Lodge, MT Really Significant?

Postby Menecrates » Sun Dec 13, 2009 4:42 pm

Wouldn't go so far to say it wasn't a "valid fact", but it was sort of my hint way back in the first post. In any event, they expended the time and resources to check the Deer Lodge angle out. They'd have been negligent if they didn't:

http://www.zodiackiller.com/DOJ22.html

BTW, there are a few FBI memos concerning some work the Butte, MT, office did on the general investigation, but they're either redacted so much or so general I can't tell if they're related to the prison story.

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Re: Is Deer Lodge, MT Really Significant?

Postby Zsearcher » Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:59 am

If we go back to Bryan's original statements some of which Bently pointed out:

Bryan said "..an ex-con out of Colorado." and "Montana" and "Fern or Feathers" and "...Fern Lock.."

There is a Red Feather Lakes (town name), Red Feather Lake (lake name), and Fern Lake (lake name) all in Roosevelt National Forest in Colorado.

There is also a Feather Lake (lake name) in Shasta County, California, also in a national forest.

Nothing came up in Montana, and none of the above appear to be near a prison. The only thing even remotely close to this is an old ranger patrol cabin on the edge of Fern Lake, in Colorado.

FWIW

Zs

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