The Trail Went Cold – Minisode 4 – Donna Lass

September 6, 1970. South Lake Tahoe, California. 25-year old nurse Donna Lass is nearing the end of her shift at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel-Casino when she vanishes without explanation. Her landlord and boss soon receive phone calls from an unidentified man, who claims that Donna will be absent for awhile because of a family emergency. However, this claim turns out to be false and Donna is never seen again. Months later, the San Francisco Chronicle receives a cryptic postcard which is allegedly sent by the infamous Zodiac killer, who implies that Donna Lass was one of his victims. Was the Zodiac responsible for Donna’s disappearance or was the postcard nothing more than a giant red herring? We attempt to answer that question in this week’s minisode of “The Trail Went Cold”.

Additional Reading:

“Zodiac Unmasked: The Identity of America’s Most Elusive Serial Killer Revealed” by Robert Graysmith

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The Trail Went Cold is produced and edited by Magill Foote.

All music is composed by Vince Nitro.

4 thoughts on “The Trail Went Cold – Minisode 4 – Donna Lass

  • Yet another really good story. Thanks, Robin! The cops should have turned that guy’s house, office and vehicle upside down looking for Donna Lass. It seems likely they would have found something. I think you’re right that it had to be someone who knew something about her personal life, and even though the evidence against him is circumstantial, it looks pretty damning. Even creepier because I’m going to be going to Incline Village this weekend on vacation …

    You said to tell you if we know who the Zodiac Killer is. Actually, I do. His name is Arthur Leigh Allen. There is so much evidence against him it’s unbelievable. I don’t remember all the details on the story now, as it’s been a while since I read about this stuff, but when he was interviewed by the cops he accidentally volunteered information about a case that only the killer could have known. He had a typewriter of the same model that was used to type of the Zodiac notes. I forget all the other details, but all the evidence I’ve ever seen almost proves it. Unfortunately the cops bungled the investigation, because they served a search warrant at his house and didn’t find anything, whereas he didn’t usually live at the place they searched. He lived in a trailer a short distance away in another county, and the cops couldn’t convince the jurisdiction there to serve a search warrant fast enough to get there before he could get rid of any incriminating evidence.

    My brother knows a guy who was on the Vallejo police force during that time period, and he says all the cops there were sure Allen was the Zodiac. They just couldn’t get enough evidence because the Zodiac spread his activities across several jurisdictions, and they couldn’t coordinate their investigation well enough to nail him.

    The only arguments people have made against him being the killer is that none of his fingerprints were ever found at the crime scenes or on the pay phone he used to call in a tip once. Well, a simple pair of gloves explains that pretty easily. Also, the cops extracted DNA evidence from the stamps used to mail the letters to the media and the police, and the DNA doesn’t match Allen’s. This is interesting, but Allen was known to ask other people to lick his stamps for him because he said he didn’t like the taste of the glue. In those days DNA testing didn’t exist, but you could tell someone’s blood type from their saliva, which would explain why he wouldn’t want his own saliva on the stamps.

    If you look up pictures of him on the internet, you’ll see a lot of pictures of him that were taken many years after the Zodiac killings, that don’t look like the composite sketches. But if you compare the composite sketches with pictures of Allen in his younger days, the way he would have looked at the time, your jaw will probably drop to the floor. He’s a dead ringer. In fact, one of the Zodiac’s victims who survived identified Allen out of a photo lineup as the Zodiac. One month after he did so, Vallejo police officers served an arrest warrant on Allen at his home, only to find him dead in his home of natural causes, and summoned to answer to a higher Judge, Who metes out perfect justice, Who doesn’t offer plea bargains, and Who can’t be bought, manipulated or deceived.

    • Thank you. That’s interesting, I’ve never heard that tidbit about Arthur Leigh Allen getting people lick his stamps. I know that Allen has always been looked at as prime suspect#1 to be the Zodiac and assumed that that lack of DNA match had ruled him out, but that’s a compelling explanation about the stamps. There’s still a lot of good evidence against Allen, though opinions still seem divided about whether he’s the guy.

    • Thank you. And, yes, I do think there’s a good possibility that Kane killed Lass and may have been responsible for other crimes we don’t know about. I don’t think he’s the Zodiac, but I think there are few too many coincidences connecting Kane and Lass.

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