Kathleen Johns Incident

Victim: Kathleen Johns (survived)

Date of incident: March 22, 1970

Time of incident: Approx 11:15 PM.

Location: Highway 132 near Interstate 5, Tracy, CA (Google map, Street view)

The Zodiac Killer took credit for the abduction of Kathleen Johns and her daughter (both escaped and survived). Despite this, it is debated whether she was actually abducted by the Zodiac killer or not.

At around 11:15 PM on March 22, 1970, Kathleen Johns, 22, was driving west on Highway 132 near Interstate 5 with her 10-month-old daughter Jennifer, when she observed a late model vehicle, light in color, following her and flashing its lights. She pulled over and the other car pulled behind her. A man got out and approached Johns's car with a tire iron in his hand. She later described the man as a WMA (white male adult), age 30, 5' 9", 160 lbs, dark hair, wearing black rimmed plastic glasses, a dark ski jacket, and dark blue bell-bottomed pants. (http://www.zodiackiller.com/JohnsReport.html) The man told Johns, "Your rear wheel is wobbling. I'll tighten the lugs." Johns stayed in the car while the man worked on the wheel with a tire iron for about 1 to 2 minutes. The man then told her the wheel was ok and she could proceed. When she attempted to pull away the wheel fell off the car. Johns got out and discovered that the wheel had been secured with only one bolt. The man then returned and offered to drive her to a service station. Johns entered the suspect's car carrying her daughter.

However, instead of driving to a service station, the man instead drove around on side roads in the area for approximately one hour to 1 1/2 hours (possibly near the town of Tracy, CA). According to a police report on the incident, the man was friendly and not threatening, but several times when Johns asked if he intended to stop at a service station, the man would "merely elude the question and start talking about something else."

Johns became frightened and started to thought the man intended to do harm to her. At one point, when he slowed down at a stop sign, she announced that she was going to be sick, then opened the car door and jumped out carrying her daughter. She ran into a nearby field, hiding from the man. The suspect closed the passenger door and drove away.

Johns managed to flag down a vehicle on the road, and the occupants drove her to Patterson PD station to report the incident. 

While reporting the incident at the police station, Johns was extremely upset and crying hysterically. At one point, she noticed a wanted poster with a police composite sketch of the Zodiac killer on the wall and said, "That's the man!"

Police later found Johns's car near Byrd Road and Highway 132, totally burned.

The Zodiac killer took credit for this incident in a letter written on July 24, 1970.

There are conflicting reports about this incident, and several elements of the story as reported in the newspaper article referenced below are not mentioned in the police report. (The above summary is a composite of both reports.)