Wow! This next author I am interviewing has to be one of the most fascinating that I have come across. In fact, intriguing. When I was young, I remember all of the stories about the Zodiac Killer and frankly, it scared me to death. Today's author interview with Søren Roest Korsgaard is captivating; and that is just the interview. Wait until you read his book, "America's Jack The Ripper: The Definitive Account of the Zodiac Killer. Take a look.
America’s Jack The Ripper: The Definitive Account of the Zodiac Killer
With nearly 700 references and over 200 pictures, Søren Roest Korsgaard has produced the first authoritative book on the Zodiac, a still unidentified serial killer who terrorized California in the 1960s and proudly commemorated his murderous accomplishments in letters to news media. Søren documents the case with scholarly objectivity, and he dismantles the Zodiac’s psyche and answers major questions by means of statement analysis, linguistics, handwriting analysis, and the established principles of psychology and criminology. Among others, he presents compelling arguments and evidence that Zodiac likely started his reign of terror as far back as 1962, and that he might have been a Canadian.
“This is a must-read for all dedicated students of the case; no Zodiac library is complete without this brilliant work.” Dr. Mark Hewitt
“I have read multiple books on this topic, and it is by far the best. I found it full of details of the case that I was unaware of and void of baseless theories. Many of the Zodiac books out there are nothing more than theories in which an author attempts to fit the evidence to their particular suspect, as opposed to the suspect fitting the evidence at hand. Great book and well written. The author is a good writer, and it flows well from beginning to end.” - Chris D. Gilleland
Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the personal you.
I am originally from a very small city located in the cold, snowy, and mostly rainy Denmark. A few years ago, I packed my bags and moved to a populated city in Germany where murder and violent crime rates are much higher, which is “fortunate” for a true crime author and researcher like me. I am a very busy person, and when I am not writing and editing books and articles about true crime, social issues, “consensus reality,” and a host of other subjects, I publish books through my publishing company. I frequently travel to various destinations in Africa as the ambassador of a humanitarian organization.
What inspired you to author this book?
For as long as I can remember, I have had an interest in the darkest corners of humanity. To better understand the etiology of violence, I have corresponded with numerous inmates, several serial killers included, studied forensic psychology, and – perhaps controversially – studied “legalized serial killers,” and, thus, examined the differences and similarities between killers acting without legal sanction and those who have legal authority to kill. So I have had an interest in serial killers for a long time, and ten years ago, there were zero objective and factually accurate books about the Zodiac case, the most fascinating crime case since Jack the Ripper in 1888. The Zodiac is a still unidentified serial killer who menaced California with a campaign of murder, extortion, and terrorism. He sent about 20 letters and postcards to newspapers in which he described his bloody crimes, taunted the police, made numerous threats, and bragged that he was too clever to ever be caught. When I began my research, almost all of the books were about some “suspect” alleged to be the Zodiac killer. This inspired me to begin researching, such as contracting former witnesses and investigators, and eventually that became a book. The title of my book is, “America’s Jack The Ripper: The Definitive Account of the Zodiac Killer.”
Where did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?
I didn’t have a definitive plan when I designed the cover. I let my intuition guide me. While writing the book, I hired a company to create a “realistic rendering” of a composite drawing that was originally made of the Zodiac killer. The company frequently worked with law enforcement to create age-progressed pictures of missing victims. The original drawing of the Zodiac was made back in 1969 following the murder of a taxi driver in San Francisco. I forwarded the original drawing to the company. They worked on it for some time, and I was very happy with the result. The drawing served as the basis for the book cover.
Who has been the most significant influence on you personally and as a writer?
That I don’t have an answer to, but throughout my career, I have been influenced by the teachings of success coach Brian Tracy and by the intellectual elegance and integrity of my friend, John Remington Graham, a retired defense attorney, and public prosecutor.
What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?
I had too many to mention, but one of them was dyslexia, although it is obviously a condition that affects me mildly. The interesting thing is that the Zodiac killer, who sent numerous letters to newspapers more than 40 years ago, made countless misspellings and other grammatical errors in his communiqués. In my book, there is a detailed linguistic analysis focusing on whether or not he might have been dyslexic or simply deliberately worsened his language.
Tell your readers about your book.
My book is about the Zodiac, a serial killer who terrorized California in the 1960s and proudly commemorated his murderous accomplishments in letters and phone calls. He also sent codes or ciphers to newspapers. Only one of the ciphers was ever solved. He claimed that one of them contained his name. Interestingly, the Zodiac left behind a catalog of evidence, both advertently and inadvertently, for example, handwritten letters, witnesses, fingerprints, palm prints, DNA, and ballistics, but he has never been caught or identified, and there are no viable suspects. The Zodiac is still out there, either dead or alive.
In the book, I not only document the case details, but I also analyze the
Zodiac’s psyche and personality from a variety of perspectives, including statement
analysis, linguistics, handwriting analysis, and the established principles of
psychology and criminology. My book is very detailed and has almost 700
references and over 200 pictures. It is based on more than 2500 pages of police
reports, FBI files, autopsy reports, and interviews I conducted, and so forth.
Although the Zodiac can be conclusively tied to five murders starting in 1968, I reveal in the book, via linguistic as well as criminological analyses, that the Zodiac with near certainty also shot and killed Ray Davis in 1962 in Oceanside. Davis’ killer, like the Zodiac, taunted the police in phone calls before and after the murder. The Zodiac was able to hide his identity, but he was unable to hide his psychological fingerprint and linguistic idiosyncrasies. I also document other murders he may have committed in 1963, 1964, and 1966. We know with absolute certainty that he killed five people between December 1968 and October 1969.
In the book, I also reveal a new hypothesis that the Zodiac might have been a Canadian. A meticulous analysis of his language reveals unique linguistic characteristics associated with Canada, including linguistic devices. Furthermore, his choice of words, spelling, and phrases show a blend between American and British English, which is associated with Canada. Canadian speakers can usually not be distinguished from American ones. Those who spoke with the Zodiac couldn’t detect an accent.
What is statement analysis?
Statement analysis is a linguistic technique to detect deception and extract veiled information. The foundation of statement analysis is the concept that people mean exactly what they say or write. A statement analyst will scrutinize, deconstruct, and examine sentences word by word according to each respective definition, as well as pay heed to omissions and grammar, among other objective aspects. A statement reflects the subject’s beliefs and view of reality. In one of the last chapters, I use statement analysis to cast light on some grey and dark areas in the case. For example, the Zodiac claimed in a letter that two police officers stopped and talked to him a few minutes after a murder in October 1969. Some people believe him; others don’t. Statement analysis clearly indicates that the Zodiac told the truth. One of the two officers, Donald Fouke, later denied it by stating that they only drove by him. However, a careful analysis of his denials shows that he was being deceptive. The other officer, Eric Zelms, died in the line of duty not long after the incident with the Zodiac.
Wasn’t there a movie about the case some years back?
Yes. David Fincher directed a movie about the case, which, unfortunately, was based on two poorly researched books by Robert Graysmith. His books are mostly fiction. Graysmith thought he had identified the Zodiac killer, but his suspect was later cleared by DNA, handwriting, fingerprints, and other evidence. Unfortunately, the movie gives a false impression that the case has been solved, which is not true. There’s absolutely no evidence that the Zodiac has been identified. Numerous authors have claimed to have solved the case, but not a single speck of credible evidence has been presented implicating any of the accused. Since it is obviously inconceivable that all of the accusers can be right, the most reasonable conclusion is that they are all wrong.
Who is your target audience, and why?
Given the contents of my book, it appeals to all true crime readers, mystery lovers, those who are interested in criminal psychology and serial killers, and it is relevant to those who are criminal profiling aficionados. This is not a sensationalized book about alleged “suspects.” This is an objective, detailed, and analytical book, which is informative while being entertaining.
Is the Zodiac Killer still alive?
The last confirmed letter from the Zodiac arrived at the San Francisco Chronicle in 1974, but he most likely also sent a postcard to that newspaper in 1990, and since then, we have not heard from him. So to answer your question, maybe yes, maybe no, maybe rain, maybe snow.
one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre?
I am not biased.
Will we ever be able to catch or identify him?
Probably not. Like Jack the Ripper, I believe that the Zodiac case will always be shrouded in mysteries. While my book addresses many questions related to the case, there are several remaining mysteries, in particular the Z408, which is a lengthy cipher that he mailed to the Chronicle in November 1969. It remains unsolved despite numbers attempts by supercomputers and other experts to solve it.