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This theory changes everything.
It’s a meme so ingrained in our national political consciousness that it’s shown up in polling questions and on T-shirts: GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Rafael “Ted” Cruz is the infamous Zodiac Killer. But a new, competing meme presupposes: What if he weren’t? What if the real Zodiac Killer is Sen. Bernard “Bernie” Sanders?
We’ve already conducted a thorough examination of the case that Cruz killed at least five people in California in the late ’60s and early ’70s and sent taunting letters and cryptograms about his crimes to police. But that’s not enough to persuade some amateur investigators who believe that Cruz cannot be the Zodiac simply because he hadn’t yet been born when some of the murders were committed. They recognize the obvious truth that one of the 2016 presidential candidates committed the Zodiac murders, but they believe the case for Bernie is much stronger.
On Tumblr, Gavelenvy (who runs a Zodiac blog as a hobby) laid out some questions about Sanders’ whereabouts post-college, around the time of the California murders:
It wasn’t until the mid-to-late 70s that Sanders became recognizable as the politician we know now. In the intervening years, verbal record puts him at some point on a kibbutz ‘somewhere in Israel’, though a reporter with Forward has been unable to uncover exactly which kibbutz – and when questioned, his campaign did not provide clarification.
Property records place him back in the United States at some point in 1964, but those are far from definitive proof of location. He was in the United States between 1966 and 1971, the Zodiac Killer’s speculated period of activity after the initial (suspected) activity in 1963.
What years are unaccounted for in Sanders’ publicly available history? Of course, 1964-1971 – after which he aligned himself with the Liberty Union Party and made a number of attempts at public office. Why the sudden foray into the public sphere?
It seems simple enough: Sanders is the Zodiac Killer, and he knew he was close to being caught. Where better to retreat to than Vermont? How better to establish his alibi than as an anti-war public figure? Even so, he continued to taunt the police well into the early 1970s, finally going silent in 1974 as he made his first bid for a Senate seat and succumbed to the pressure of greater public scrutiny.
Hmm! Bernie Sanders was in the United States during the late ’60s. So was the Zodiac. Doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together, and it looks like two plus two equals Bernie Is The Real Zodiac.
Fortunately, this only makes the best sideshow of this made-for-reality-TV presidential election more entertaining. Can you imagine what would happen if both alleged Zodiacs win their parties’ nominations?
With Ruffalo backing Sanders, a Sanders-Cruz general election would be great only for the endless Zodiac jokes and images.
— Nicholas Slayton (@NSlayton) March 7, 2016
Photos via San Francisco Police Department, Danny Lyon/Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.