Zodiac killer at Tahoe? | SierraSun.com

Zodiac killer at Tahoe?

William FerchlandSun News Service
Sun News ServiceSouth Lake Tahoe police officer Chuck Owens digs into earth where a Zodiac researcher believes Donna Lass was buried by the serial killer in 1970. The early July dig in Tahoma did not reveal any human remains.
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After believing he cracked the case involving the 1970 disappearance of Donna Lass, a possible victim of the Zodiac killer, by using satellite imagery from the Internet, Clifton Calvez visited the site last week where he believes she’s buried.And his theory, he says, grew stronger.A retired Air Force colonel in his 60s, Calvez has taken up the case of Lass, a 25-year-old casino nurse who vanished after her shift ended at Stateline.Due to a postcard detailing a Sierra Nevada scene sent to the San Francisco Chronicle and a Christmas card delivered to Lass’ sister, Mary Pilker, many believe Lass was the victim of the Zodiac.By now people should have an understanding of the Zodiac, a serial killer who teased the media and humbled authorities from 1969 on. He would send cryptic messages and writings to the San Francisco Police Department and San Francisco Chronicle.The Zodiac took credit for five murders, two attempted murders and a kidnapping in California in 1969 and 1970.There was even a movie this year titled “Zodiac” that delved into the mystery.Calvez wouldn’t mind reaping the rewards of solving the Lass case and is eager to find resolution to the riddle he believed he solved after three months earlier this year. So he’s been hounding authorities and media representatives with details of his investigation.Last week, on Tuesday, he arrived in South Lake Tahoe. Due to the Angora fire, authorities were not able to meet and accompany Calvez to the site in Tahoma. Calvez became frustrated. He took off on his own.”I said screw it. I was fed up,” he said.He drove toward the site using Highway 89, but there was a blockade at Emerald Bay due to the fire. So the Morgan Hill resident swung around, going the longer stretch around the lake.”God Almighty, that’s a long way,” he said.When he got to the area, Calvez ticked off his evidence. He carried only two disposal cameras he purchased from Longs Drugs and a printout of the satellite map from Google Earth he used in his investigation. When he was on Antelope Way, a crucial street in his theory, Calvez got a chill.In the postcard sent to the Chronicle, one line read “Peek (sic) through the pines.”What made Calvez get the chill, he said, was standing in the middle of the road and seeing Rubicon Peak through the trees.”If you draw a line down Antelope Way right to the summit of Rubicon Peak, it passes right through the trees, it cuts it in half. I said gee-whiz that is beautiful,” Calvez said.As he ventured into the woods, Calvez said he saw a baboon and satyr etched into the bark of two trees. The baboon is the guardian referenced in the message to Lass’ sister in the Christmas card that read: “Best Wishes, St. Donna & Guardian of the Pines,” Calvez said.Calvez even took a photograph of where he believes Lass’ body is buried.To celebrate his findings, Calvez went to McDonald’s and purchased a Big Mac, fries and two apple pies.”I was very satisfied of course with the trip. … I’ve got too much data and it’s all substantiated,” he said.As for law enforcement, Lt. Marty Hale with the South Lake Tahoe Police Department said authorities remain interested in what Calvez has to say.”We’re planning on seeing what leads we have there,” Hale said.

Using shovels and directions from an amateur Zodiac sleuth, authorities searched 4 feet into the earth for the body of Donna Lass, a nurse who disappeared 37 years ago.They found nothing.After months of investigating the disappearance of Lass, a 25-year-old Stateline nurse who some believe was a victim of the infamous Zodiac serial killer, Clifton Calvez believes he knows where Lass is buried.Calvez, a retired Air Force colonel who lives in Morgan Hill, hounded authorities and media types with e-mails laying out his theory. He arrived at Tahoe during the Angora fire and walked the site. On Tuesday, Calvez and a handful of law enforcement officials broke out the shovels.The Zodiac killer was never caught or identified by authorities during his rampage in 1969 and 1970. A movie released this year tackled the events surrounding the Zodiac, and a subculture of sleuths sought a challenge, combing through the details of the serial killings, hoping to solve the mystery.A large tree off Timber Wolf Drive was the focal point of the dig, and Calvez pointed to the exact spot where he believed the nurse was buried. Calvez used a postcard depicting a Sierra condominium complex at Incline Village that was sent to the San Francisco Chronicle and a Christmas card sent to Lass’ sister, Mary Pilker.The crew got to the site but had to wait for roughly an hour while determining who owned the land in order to get permission to dig.Then, after getting the green light from the California Tahoe Conservancy, they dug. When the hole revealed nothing more than dirt, Calvez pointed authorities to another location. After the second hole unearthed nothing but earth, the search was called off.Even though nothing was found, Calvez is not discouraged. Despite the fact that the house he used as a focal point for angles determining the location was not built until 1976, six years after Lass’ murder, Calvez still believes Lass is buried in the area.”I was disappointed, but even at this point I think that’s the place,” he said. “Somewhere around that tree, no doubt about it.”South Lake Tahoe police Sgt. Jeff Reagan said authorities wanted to dig soon after Calvez announced where he believed Lass’ body might be buried after his visit. Authorities envisioned people going to the site and doing their own research, Reagan said.The hole was refilled to the satisfaction of a Conservancy representative.Calvez said he also wouldn’t allow the obstacle to hinder his goal of solving the Zodiac riddle.”I don’t consider it to be a fatal blow,” he said. “My overall plan is to identify the Zodiac’s victims and what his grand plan is and why he decided to do it and where they are located and so on.”