Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Sent letters to the police
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: 1990 - 1993
Date of arrest: June 18, 1996
Date of birth: July 31, 1967
Victims profile: Joseph Proce, 78 / Patricia Fonti, 39 / Joseph Diacone, 40
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: New York City, New York, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison (83 1/2 years) on June 24, 1998
As the notorious "Zodiac," Heriberto Seda, a ponytailed Bible quoting oddball, had to kill his victims because, "they were bad. They were evil people".
He terrorized New York City with two crime sprees -- a short summer ordeal in 1990 and a prolonged one spanning from 1992 to 1993 -- that left three dead and five wounded.
A consummate media whore, Heriberto picked his moniker from the elusive "Zodiac Killer" who stalked San Francisco between 1966 and 1974 and claimed to have killed more than 37 people. He also sent letters to the police boasting of a demented plot to slaughter people purposefully selected by their astrological sign, one for each of the dozen signs. At first, the police thought it was a hoax.
On March 8, 1990, he proved them wrong. Heriberto, wearing a ski mask shot Mario Orosco, a Scorpio, in the back and left him for dead. 21 days later, he attacked German Montenedro, a Gemini, who also survived. May 31, 1990, he attacked Joseph Proce, a Taurus, who died in the hospital three weeks later. A note found near him bore a pie-shaped picture with the symbols for the signs of the first three victims and a message that read: "Zodiac -- Time to die!"
The fourth victim, Larry Parham, a homeless man, was shot while sleeping on a bench in Central Park on June 21. Subsequently he told the police that a stranger had asked him about his astrological sign a few days before the shooting. Another note with Parham's astrological sign was found near the crime scene. On that note, police discovered a single fingerprint that was later used to identify Heriberto as the star crossed killer.
After a few letters to the media nothing was heard of "Zodiac" until August 10, 1992 when he stabbed Patricia Fonte, a Leo, 100 times raising his body count to two dead.
About a year later, on June 4, 1993, he shot James Weber, a Libra, in the leg while he was walking. On July 20, he crept up on John DiAcone, a homeless Virgo, and shot him to death at point-blank range. On October 2 he shot Diane Ballard, a Taurus, and left her partially paralyzed.
It was not until a letter sent to The New York Post in August of 1994 that these attacks were linked to the "Zodiac" rampage of 1990. At first authorities were dubious that the letter was from the same attacker. However police concluded that it was not a hoax but were unsure if it was written by the same person or someone who knew of the assaults. Fittingly, the saliva tused to lick the envelope flap and "Love" postage stamp on letters to The Post will be used to identify Seda as the writer.
Authorities said that Seda, a deeply religious man obsessed with weaponry and the teachings of the Bible, was angry with his 17-year-old sister, Gladys Reyes, for associating with disreputable types. Apparently Gladys wouldn't reason and he shot her in the back. According to Sgt. Joseph Herbert: "He was mad at his sister because she was hanging around with the wrong people, drug dealers, troublemakers -- and he didn't like that." Neighbors said that Seda abhorred drug dealers and used to tip off police officers assigned to the neighborhood about who was trafficking in drugs. They also said that he recently stood in the middle of the street and declared: "I'm going to start killing. I'm going to start killing because I'm not getting no sex."
During the June 18, 1996, stand-off, Seda fired numerous rounds at police barricades and before giving himself up. When he surrendered he placed 13 homemade zip-guns in a bucket lowered from the building's roof. A cache of weaponry, pipe bombs, devil worship books, crossbows, knives and bomb-making manuals was later found at his apartment elsewhere in the city. During the siege, Heriberto wore what appeared to be a helmet or saucepan on his head.
Sergeant Herbert, who had been involved in the intensive manhunt for the "Zodiac" killer, recognized the writing and symbols Seda used after the shootout while writing his confession. At once, he ran a check of his fingerprints through the police computer and matched one to the one found at the scene of the 1990 attack in Central Park, and another one to one found on a 1994 letter mailed to The New York Post. On June 24, 1998, Seda was convicted for murdering three people and wounding one other, and recieved a life sentence.
On June 6, 1990, identical handwritten letters were mailed in New York City to the New York Post and the production office of the CBS news program 60 Minutes. The letters read:
This is the Zodiac the twelve sign
will die when the belts in the heaven
the first sign is dead on march 8 1990 1:45 AM
white man with cane shoot on the back in the street
the second sign is dead on march 29 1990 2:57 AM
white man with black coat shoot in the side in front of house
the third sign is dead on May 31 1990 2:04 AM
white old man with can shoot in front of house
no more games pigs
all shoot in Brooklyn with .380 RNL or 9mm
no grooves on bullet
In addition to the chilling message, each letter was decorated with three pie-shaped wedges, each marked with the astrological signs for Gemini, Taurus, and Scorpio. The other was a cross and circle, variously interpreted as an ancient Celtic cross or the cross hairs of a telescopic gun sight.
Police studied the letters for two weeks before going public with the announcement that their correspondent--Zodiac or Faust--was wanted in connection with three unsolved shootings from the dates in question. There were certain obvious discrepancies, including the fact that one victim had been shot in Queens and all three were still alive, but the description of events was otherwise strikingly accurate. Even the ballistics reference to caliber and RNL--for round-nosed lead projectiles--was precise. A similar note, including mention of the Zodiac and belts of heaven, had been found beside the third victim, with a positive handwriting match completing the chain of evidence.
Target number one was 49-year-old Mario Orozco, shot in the back near the intersection of Atlantic and Sheridan Avenues. Orozco told police that his assailant, wearing a brown ski mask and gloves, had crossed the street to intercept him, pressed a gun against his back, and fired one shot, then stood above his prostrate body for a moment or two, aiming the pistol at his victims face before he fled the scene.
Number two, 33-year-old Jermaine Montenesdro, was staggering home from a late party in the Bronx when he was gunned down near a subway station, six blocks from the scene of the first attack. Shot in the back and seriously wounded, Montenesdro never got a look at his attacker.
The third victim, 78-year-old Joseph Proce, was standing on 87th Road in Woodhaven, Queens, when a bearded black man approached him and asked for a dollar. Proce refused and was moving away when a shot from behind knocked him sprawling. Initially, the gunmans pattern seemed to consist of close-range attacks on elderly white males (two walking with canes, while Montenesdros boozy stagger indicated physical infirmity). The shocker came when a review of background information on the victims showed that each was born within the astrological sign noted by their attacker--Gemini, Taurus, and Scorpio, respectively. None of the wounded men had recognized his assailant, but the gunman obviously knew them well enough to pick his targets by their birth signs.
In short, the attacks were not random, but carefully planned in advance.
While the gunman signed his letters Faust--a character from German literature who sold his soul to Satan--the Zodiac reference prompted speculation on a possible link to Californias unidentified serial stalker from the 1960s. NYPDs new Zodiac task force requisitioned dusty files from San Francisco, poring over 20-year-old leads in hopes of finding something, anything, to help them crack the case. Newsmen were quick to jump on the Zodiac bandwagon, noting similarities between the New York letters and some of the earlier California correspondence. Aside from the opening lines--This is the Zodiac--reporters noted duplication of the original Zodiacs cross-hairs symbol, similar handwriting patterns, detailed ballistic descriptions, and reference to the police as pigs. On the down side, the original Zodiacs letters had been widely published since 1969, and the California killer was known to be a white man. Barring some unknown personal relationship, New Yorks case seemed to be the work of a demented copycat.
Detectives noted that the gunmans three attacks had taken place at 21- and 63-day intervals, suggesting variations on a compulsive three-week cycle. Man hunters were ready on June 21, first day of the astrological month for Cancer, but the gunman outsmarted them, shifting his target zone miles away to Central Park. This time the victim was a homeless black man sleeping in the park. He would survive his wound, and police were mystified that his birth sign--Cancer--matched the note that his assailant left behind to mark the crime scene.
On June 22, angered by public debate over his link to the original Zodiac killer, New Yorks gunman sent another letter to the Post. Marked with the satanic number 666, it read in part:
This is the Zodiac I have seen the Post and you say the note sent to the Post not similar to any of the San Francisco Zodiac letters you are wrong the hand writing look different it is one of the same Zodiac one Zodiac.
The charge became murder on June 24, when Joseph Proce finally died from his wound. Police continued their alerts at three-week intervals through August, but there were no more shootings, no more notes from the elusive gunman. In mid-July, members of the Zodiac task force announced that they were correlating passages from the killers last letter with Aleister Crowleys Book of the Law, including a statement that Natures way is to weed out the weak. It was a tantalizing lead, but ultimately it proved fruitless, and the task force was disbanded in October 1990.
Almost four years later, in August 1994, NYPD announced a new investigation of the case, in response to a letter the Post received, claiming responsibility for five more shootings since the summer of 1992. Four of those attacks were fatal, and the letter once again suggested special knowledge of the shootings by providing details of cases that had not received wide publicity. At the same time, there were obvious discrepancies--including a reference to the shooting of one victim who was actually stabbed--which led investigators to question the new writers link to their previous crimes.
On June 18, 1996, the Zodiac task force got the break they were looking for. After arguing with his sister, Chachi, Heriberto Seda shot her in the back. The girl made it to their neighbors apartment in time to save her life, and call the police. After a day long shoot-out, Heriberto turned himself in. On his confession to the crime he drew a cross, and three number 7's at the top ends. Luckily, the detective was familiar with the Zodiac case, and recognized the drawing as something that the Zodiac Killer may have drawn previously. After showing the drawing to detectives, and getting a unanimous decision, that this was the Zodiac, Seda was questioned about the shootings, and eventually confessed. Tried in 1998, Heriberto "Eddie" Seda was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to life in prison.
Heriberto "Eddie" Seda is a serial killer who struck New York City from 1990 to 1994.
Before being caught on June 18, 1996, Seda killed three people and critically wounded four. Seda is believed to have admired San Francisco’s Zodiac Killer of the 1960's for avoiding ever being caught. In 1998, Seda was convicted and sentenced to 236 years in prison.
Seda was a very religious man and attended church regularly. He lived with his mother and half sister in East New York where he didn't work and often kept to himself. Growing up, Seda didn't have many friends and at the age of sixteen dropped out of high school when he was caught carrying a weapon.
On November 17, 1989, East New York’s 17th Precinct began receiving letters with the heading: "This is the zodiac". The first letter contained a warning of 12 murders, one for each sign in the Zodiac.
The letter also claimed that one murder had already taken place, but with no evidence the police dismissed the letter as a hoax, which the police are used to receiving. The letter contained a drawing of circle with lines running through it dividing the circle into 12 sections, each part representing a sign in the zodiac.
March 8, 1990
Shot in the back. The bullet stayed lodged next to his spine.
March 29, 1990
Shot in the left side of his lower body. The bullet went through his liver.
March 31, 1990
Shot in his lower back, hitting his kidney. He survives attack, but dies in hospital on June 24, 1990
June 19, 1990
Shot in the chest. The bullet misses his aorta and exits his body through his right armpit.
August 10, 1992
Shot twice but doesn't fall and then is stabbed over 100 times.
June 4, 1993
Shot in the buttocks.
July 20, 1993
Shot in the neck at close range.
October 2, 1993
Shot in the neck. The bullet missed vital arteries but stayed lodged against her spine.
Seda was physically abusive to his half-sister, Reyes, and during a confrontation with her and her boyfriend, Seda pulled out a weapon and began threatening the couple. While Reyes's boyfriend hid in the bedroom, Reyes tried to escape through the front door but Seda shot her in the back.
Wounded but not incapacitated, she made her way to her neighbor’s apartment where she called the police. After a stand-off with the police, Seda was arrested.
When asked to write a report on what had happened, Seda wrote in a fashion which one of the detectives, Joseph Herbert, found strikingly similar to that of the Zodiac killer, especially due to the signature symbol that he wrote at the end of all of his letters, which he claimed signified God. He was later convicted and pleaded guilty to several counts of murder and attempted murder.
Copy Cat: The New York Zodiac Killer
by Melissa Nurczynski
This is the Zodiac
At 3a.m. on March 9, 1990, forty-nine-year-old Mario Orozco limped homeward through the streets of East New York, a section of Brooklyn known for drugs, violent crime and poverty. He used a heavy wooden cane as he made his way slowly but surely down the familiar streets.
Although he suffered from bad eyesight and a congenital limp, the proud Mr. Orozco worked a tough job in the kitchen of a New York restaurant instead of taking public assistance. The job's late hours required him to ride the subway late at night and walk home on the nearly deserted streets.
Unbeknownst to Orozco, a young man in a maroon beret stalked him from the shadows of a nearby cemetery. Without warning, the man emerged from his hiding place and shot Orozco in the back with a 9mm zip gun. Orozco never even saw him.
The young man wrapped a note around his gun and laid it carefully on the sidewalk. Then, he disappeared. Mr. Orozco was a Scorpio. He survived.
"This is the Zodiac"
At 3a.m. on March 29, 1990, thirty-four-year-old Germaine Montenesdro wandered the streets of East New York. He was unsure whether to go home to his girlfriend in the Bronx or seek shelter at his father's nearby apartment. The intoxicated man swayed as he walked, smelling strongly of alcohol. Montenesdro walked past a high school campus, and a young man watched him from a set of bleachers. As Montenesdro made his way slowly forward, the young man began to follow him. He fired a shot. While Montenesdro lay bleeding, the young man searched his pockets. He found a wallet, but left the money. He took Montenesdro's passport and slipped away. Montenesdro was a Gemini, and he survived.
"This is the Zodiac"
So, begins a bizarre and cryptic letter that arrived at East New York's 17th Precinct on November 17, 1989, several months before the Orozco and Montenesdro shootings. The letter was addressed to "Anti-Crime," the elite street crimes unit. The letter contained a large drawn circle with lines divided into sections representing the signs of the zodiac. The sign "Virgo" was missing, but the Taurus section was marred by the words: "The first sign is dead."
The full text read:
This is the Zodiac.
The First Sign is dead.
The Zodiac will Kill the twelve signs in the
Belt when the Zodiacal light is seen?
The Zodiac will spread fear
I have seen a lot of police in Jamaica Ave and Elden Lane but you are no good and will not get the Zodiac.
Orion is the one that can stop Zodiac and the Seven Sister
The officers checked through open cases to see if the letter was connected to any of them, but after that they didn't think much about the letter. Hundreds of odd letters arrive at the NYPD each week, and the vast majority of them turn out to be nothing but sad, meaningless pleas for attention. Each is investigated, but the hard truth is that even trained experts sometimes have difficulty determining the writings of a harmless crackpot from that of a violent criminal.
If anyone at the department who read the letter noticed its resemblance the letters of an uncaught serial killer who terrorized the Bay Area in the 1960s and 1970s, he or she did not make a report of it.
The Brooklyn police did not connect the Orozco and Montenesdro shootings. Nor did they ever find the gun that the shooter left beside Orozco. In the chaotic days before New York City's crime turnaround, random acts of violence were all too common, and the detectives had cases they had hopes of solving. They never dreamed that two "random shootings" might be the beginning of the most frightening crime spree the city had seen since "The Son of Sam."
No Ordinary Robbery
Joseph Proce liked to walk the streets of East New York and Woodhaven, Queens late at night. Proce was seventy-eight years old and used a cane. As a young man he had survived combat in World War II, but now each step was laborious. He was a lonely, elderly man who lived off public assistance and his short-term memory often failed him. To his shame, he sometimes rummaged through the trash for discarded food.
Woodhaven, where Proce lived, borders East New York and suffers from a similar level of violent crime, drugs and poverty. Despite warnings by concerned friends, Proce continued his late night walks because he didn't want to give up one of his few daily pleasures, and he disliked rummaging through trash when neighbors could see him.
On May 31, 1990, as Proce made his way home at around 1:30 a.m., a young man approached him and asked for a glass of water. Wary of the stranger, Proce refused and continued on his way, but he moved slowly. The angered young man followed. After a short exchange about the water, the young man pulled out a zip gun and fired a shot into Proce. He placed an eerie handwritten note beside Proce's body and disappeared.
Proce was a Taurus, and he died of his wounds on June 24th.
Before his death, Queens detectives interviewed him about the attack. Because Proce was expected to survive, the case was treated as a robbery rather than a homicide. Nevertheless, two detectives, Mike Ciravolo and Bill Clark, were concerned and frightened by the shooter's strange, occultist note. Clark had served on the task force that had caught the "Son of Sam," and both men suspected this was no ordinary robbery. It was Ciravolo's case, and he quickly compiled a file that was unusually thick for an attempted robbery. The file included faint fingerprints gleaned from the Zodiac's letter.
Because the first two incidents happened across the Queens/Brooklyn border, Ciravolo did not know about the similar shootings or the earlier letter that had been sent to the anti-crime unit.
Proce himself, who proved to be an awful witness, further hampered the investigation. He changed his story several times - including his description of the assailant. First, Proce claimed the man was African-American. Then, he claimed it was "possible" that he was white or "maybe even" Hispanic. The night of the attack was dark; Proce verged on senility and sometimes didn't recognize detectives who had questioned him.
The detectives had another witness, a young woman who watched the shooter flee the scene as she trysted with her boyfriend. Unfortunately, she and the married boyfriend refused to cooperate with police for fear of exposing their illicit affair. Then, Proce died.
Meanwhile, Ciravolo and Clark's fear that the shooting might be the work of a serial killer started to materialize. Letters similar to the one found at the scene of the Proce shooting arrived at The New York Post and "60 Minutes." The Zodiac wrote in the same bizarre style as his earlier notes, listing the time, place and date of each shooting along with the victim's astrological sign. The letters said "all shot in Brooklyn."
A reporter at the Post brought the note to the Brooklyn police with the hope that it was genuine. Correspondence from a serial killer can make a career. She was disappointed to discover there had been no murders that fit the note's descriptions. The detectives agreed to continue to investigate but believed the note to be a fraud.
On an unrelated visit to the 17th Precinct, Clark accidentally discovered the investigation into the note. He immediately recognized the connection to the note left nearby his victim and crosschecked the dates and astrological signs to recent murder victims. No results. However, when he crosschecked the dates and astrological signs for shooting victims that hadn't died, he found Orozco and Montenesdro. Obviously, the Zodiac didn't realize he had crossed into Queens when he shot Proce.
The notes were genuine. Ciravolo called the reporter with the good news. She agreed to let them investigate other possible victims for a few days, but on June 19th she broke the story. The front-page headline read: Riddle of the Zodiac Shooter.
The Post article put pressure on the police. New Yorkers remembered how the "Son of Sam" used the press to taunt police and frighten citizens. Nobody wanted to avoid a repeat of the "Son of Sam" debacle more than Chief of Detectives Joseph Borrelli. He had served on the "Son of Sam" task force and he had been personally mentioned in one of the "Son of Sam's" letters.
He took swift action. He called the detectives from the separate Queens and Brooklyn precincts together for information exchange. When he saw how little the Brooklyn detectives had on the first two shootings, he was livid. Many believed the subsequent dressing down was a bit unfair, given that no notes or reliable witnesses had been found in the Brooklyn cases, but Borrelli was in no mood to make concessions.
The work of Ciravolo and his detectives impressed Borrelli, and he assigned them the case. Borrelli named the effort to catch the Zodiac "Operation Watchdog" and pledged as much support as necessary. Ciravolo felt confident they would catch the Zodiac quickly.
At this time, someone in the 17th Precinct remembered the strange letter that had arrived the previous November. It was added to Ciravolo's case file.
Over the next few weeks, the press caught hold of the case and wouldn't let go. New Yorkers began to wonder if the infamous Bay Area Zodiac had returned. Astrologers appeared on television with predictions and explanations. People no longer felt comfortable when asked the question, what's your sign? Vigilante groups like the Guardian Angels began patrolling East New York.
"Operation Watchdog" detectives determined a pattern in the Zodiac's actions. They predicted he would strike again on early Thursday morning, June 21st. That night, scores of officers patrolled East New York both on foot and by car.
Unfortunately, they were patrolling in the wrong place.
Across the East River in Manhattan, a homeless man named Larry Parham made up his bed on a bench in Central Park. Before he settled down for the night, he hid his wallet in one of his sneakers.
As a clean-cut, well-dressed young man with $4,000 in the bank, Parham defied stereotypes. He despised being homeless, but a streak of troubles left him on the street, and he felt he needed to save more money to obtain a solid start. He also felt the park was safer than a shelter. Unbeknownst to Parham, a young man watched him from a nearby bench.
As Parham slept, the young man crept over to his bench and carefully removed his wallet. He examined the contents of the wallet but left the forty-nine dollars in cash untouched. He returned the wallet, stood up and fired a shot.
Parham is a Cancer, and he survived the shooting.
An intriguing Zodiac letter arrived at the Post the day after the Central Park shooting. It contained the same occult symbolism, nonsensical ramblings and a listing of the victims, time of death and sun sign. This letter however, was unusual in its vehement attempt to convince the Post, and thus the police and public, that New York's Zodiac was the same person as the Bay Area's Zodiac.
Aside from a few enthusiastic exceptions, the police, press and public never really believed the two were the same. Everything from the killer's handwriting to the victim's descriptions of the assailant pointed to the fact that New York's Zodiac was a copycat.
The Zodiac's June 22 note however, vehemently denied it:
This is the Zodiac
The note Sent to the Post not to any of The San Francisco Zodiac letter you are
Wrong the handwriting look different it is
One of the same Zodiac one Zodiac
In San Francisco killed a man in the park with a
Gun and killed a women with a knife and killed
A man in the taxi cab with gun
As journalist Kieran Crowley wrote in Sleep My Little Dead, many reporters salivated at the idea that the original Zodiac had returned. After all, it would have made an explosive story. However, the June 22 note struck Crowley and his colleagues as just too desperate and angry. It was the work of a young, non-white man from Brooklyn who wanted everyone to believe that he was a white, middle-aged serial killer from San Francisco.
Nevertheless, the fact that New York's Zodiac was a copycat didn't change the fact that Joseph Proce died on June 24th. New York's Zodiac was officially a killer and the NYPD mobilized to stop him.
Parham helped the police put together a composite sketch. He described his assailant as black, around 30 years old, 5 foot 10 inches to 6 feet tall and about 185 pounds. Wags nicknamed the composite sketch "Evil Al Roker" for its resemblance to the jovial TV weatherman. The composite was released to the press, prompting hundreds of calls.
Publicity-hungry psychics offered to help the police solve the case. People reported friends, neighbors, co-workers that had to be the Zodiac. One young man was fingerprinted because he took a book on astrology out of the New York Public Library. Another man was arrested and questioned because in 1980 he had signed a friend's yearbook with a quote from a San Francisco Zodiac's letter. Police consulted astronomy professors for insights on the constellations.
Through all this, detectives began to believe the only way to catch the Zodiac was to trap him in the act. After all, they knew when he would strike next.
Twenty-two-year-old Heriberto "Eddie" Seda lived with his mother and half sister in East New York. He was clean-cut, handsome and kept his room spotless. He didn't work, had no friends and he had dropped out of high school at sixteen after being suspended for carrying a weapon.
Seda took no public assistance the way his mother did. He obtained money by shoving plastic bags up the return slots of pay phones and vending machines. After a few days, he would return and remove the bag and the lodged change.
Seda didn't date girls. He was deeply religious and devoted his life to God. He attended church regularly, which made his mother proud.
Seda and his school-age sister Gladys "Chachi" Reyes didn't get along. Reyes had a personality in direct opposition to her brother's. She was outgoing, personable and had many friends in the neighborhood. When she was a small child, Seda doted on her. However, as she grew, her brother physically and mentally abused her. She went to school with bruises and teachers sent social workers to check on her.
Around 1989, the abuse stopped. The two still didn't get along, but Seda no longer beat her regularly. He stayed in his room most of the time and pursued his hobbies.
Seda loved to read, particularly about guns and violence. He liked magazines like Soldier of Fortune and books on serial killers. He idolized Ted Bundy, who in addition to being a rapist and murderer was also a clean-cut man and a good citizen who did volunteer work.
But, the killer Seda most admired was the Bay Area's Zodiac. He was a mystery because he'd never been caught. He was smarter than the cops. Movies like Dirty Harry had been made about him. He was a servant of God and his sinner victims would serve him in the afterlife.
One of the many books on that subject which sat on Eddie Seda's shelf was a well-worn copy of Robert Graysmith's Zodiac. Considered by many to be the definitive book on the original Zodiac case, it provided the blueprint for Seda's carefully constructed identity. He was the new Zodiac.
Since the press coverage began after the Proce killing, Seda had lovingly compiled a scrapbook of the New York Zodiac Case. He proudly kept that scrapbook next to ones he had earlier compiled on Ted Bundy, The Zodiac and other famous serial killers.
He had a small arsenal of homemade weapons and explosives. He ordered ammunition from catalogs, but he crafted a collection of zip guns himself. He knew that with the zip guns, he could change barrels and thus avoid a ballistics match.
He would not be caught. Not only because he was smart, but because he believed "the magic" was on his side. Yet, he feared "the magic" was wearing off. The police had his fingerprints. If he were arrested for anything at all, the police would know he was the Zodiac. Seda was scared, but he had a course of action.
He would stop killing.
The San Francisco Zodiac stopped. Seda decided he would stop as well. That way, they would never catch him.
When the Operation Watchdog mobilized for an August Zodiac attack, nothing happened. Soon, the Zodiac task force was reduced from 50 cops to 18. In a few months, people calmed down and the city stopped worrying about the Zodiac.
Since Proce had died and there is no statue of limitations on murder, Ciravolo and other detectives pursued the Zodiac when they had time, but the case was no longer a top priority.
Random Acts of Violence
Seda waited a year. He thumbed through his scrapbook and visited the scenes of the first four shootings.
It wasn't enough. He knew it was time for the Zodiac to return. This time, however, Seda knew he must make some changes in his style. The police knew he liked Thursday mornings, so he couldn't shoot on Thursdays. He also couldn't risk searching the victims for identification in order to determine his or her astrological sign. This time around, he would just shoot and run.
On August 10, 1992, thirty-nine year-old Patricia Fonti met a good-looking man near the Highland Park reservoir. After some flirtatious banter, she agreed to accompany him to the shore of the reservoir. At 1:30 a.m., he shot her with a .22 caliber zip gun, but she got up and struggled with him. In a panic, the Zodiac stabbed her over 100 times. She died on the scene. She was a Leo.
One June 4th, 1992, forty-year-old unemployed construction worker Jim Weber encountered a young man outside Highland Park at about midnight. The young man shot him in the buttocks. He is a Libra, and he survived.
On July 20th, 1992, the young man shot forty-year-old mental patient Joseph Diacone outside of Highland Park at 11:35 a.m. He was a Virgo, and he died.
On October 2nd, 1992, the young man shot forty-year-old Diane Ballard as she sat on a bench in Highland Park. She is a Taurus and survived the attack.
The police didn't connect these crimes. In a city that at that time averaged five murders a night, detectives found nothing to connect them.
On March 10, 1994, police arrested Heriberto "Eddie" Seda outside his East New York apartment building after finding him in possession of an illegal zip gun. He was polite and cooperated fully with officers. His gun was incorrectly labeled at the evidence lab, so it was never tested. Seda walked free a week later.
On June 10, 1994, the Zodiac shot a white man in Highland Park with a .22 caliber zip gun. The incident went unreported.
August 1, 1994, the Post received the most bizarre Zodiac letter yet. It contained a list of the new victims, a strange totem-pole code and the creepy line "sleep my little dead how we lothe them." The Zodiac mailed it using a "Love" stamp.
The press ran with the story, and the city fell back into a panic.
The new Zodiac letter baffled police. Was it a copycat of a copycat? Or, was the original copycat back? Detectives didn't know and were sadly certain he would strike again before they found out.
He didn't strike again. The Zodiac, once more, disappeared.
Seda and his seventeen-year-old sister were at odds constantly, especially since he had started ratting on the local drug dealers. Reyes often socialized with the young dealers in the neighborhood, and she told her brother to keep his nose out of her friends' business. Seda warned her to stay away from the young men. Reyes, who brought home the household's only earned paycheck, thought her freeloading, ratting brother had no right to tell her what to do. She warned him that the dealers were going to come and get him. The two often screamed at each other.
Seda went over the edge when on June 18th, 1996, Reyes invited a young male friend over to the apartment. As he listened to the pair socialize in the girl's bedroom, Seda boiled over with rage. He knew the unsavory young man to be a dealer and couldn't stand the idea of his sister consorting with him. He pounded on the wall that he shared with her bedroom.
Reyes knew that meant her brother wanted her guest out of the house. She had always obeyed him in the past, but she was angry about his snitching and fed up with financially supporting him. She ignored him.
An infuriated Seda took one of his zip guns and fired it into the wall. Reyes screamed for him to stop. The brother and sister confronted each other in the living room as Seda brandished a weapon. Seda shot her in the back as she tried to escape through the front door. The gunshot wound did not incapacitate her and she made it out the door into a neighbor's apartment. The frightened neighbor bolted the door and did her best to help the wounded girl. She called 911. Meanwhile, Reyes's friend locked himself in her bedroom and cowered.
The ambulance arrived first. The neighbor let two EMTs into her apartment and soon the four of them were trapped in the apartment as Seda fired shots out the window at police. Seventeen officers gathered in front of the apartment building.
After several hours, Detective Joey Herbert of the 17th Precinct managed to talk Seda into giving himself up. When officers saw some of the zip guns he turned over to them, they joked that it would be "a pisser if this were the Z-man."
In keeping with procedure, detectives asked Seda to write his confession. He obliged, with poor grammar and spelling. At the end of the confession, he drew the cross that he included on each of the Zodiac letters and three sevens. Detective Danny Powers recognized the cross.
He went to Detective Herbert and some other colleagues for confirmation of his suspicion. They all agreed. Seda was the Zodiac. They quickly got "major case prints" from Seda. "Major Case Prints" were sets of fingerprints that included the palm and sides of the fingers in addition to the fingertips. With sirens blazing, Detective Tommy Maher transported the prints to Police Plaza for crosschecking with the Zodiac's prints.
Meanwhile, another Detective, Louie Savarese went home to retrieve some Zodiac letters that he kept there. He had been obsessed with tracking the Zodiac and worked on the case in his spare time. As Savarese and Herbert began the long process of questioning Seda, the prints came back a match.
As the news spread through the department, Savarese and Herbert pushed hard. Maher, who had returned from Police Plaza, played the "good cop." He consoled Seda and told him that he needed to cleanse his soul.
They showed Seda crime scene photos and for the first time he saw the results of his "missions." He saw death close up.
They questioned him about every detail of the case. He became confused, tired and angry. He told his story in all its detail. Then, he asked about his sister.
In June of 1998, a jury convicted Heriberto "Eddie" Seda of being the New York Zodiac Killer. His sentence determined that he must serve 83 1/2 years before becoming eligible for parole. In a separate trial, he was convicted of the attempted murders and sentenced to 152 1/2 years. Having been born in the late 1960s, he obviously had nothing to do with the original San Francisco crimes.
Today, Seda resides in prison where he reads the Bible daily and quotes scripture to his fellow inmates. After being arrested, he made several attempts to reconcile with his sister. Gladys "Chachi" Reyes refused her brother's calls.
She still lives with their mother in East New York.
Most of the Zodiac's living victims still suffer physically and psychologically from the attacks. Some, like devoutly Christian Parham, have forgiven Seda for what he did. Others, like Montenesdro refuse to discuss the case. Orozco still lives in East New York and does not let fear stop him from walking the streets or enjoying the company of friends.
The original Zodiac was never caught. He remains a mystery.