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Arthur Leigh Allen (December 18, 1933 – August 26, 1992) was the primary suspect in the Zodiac Killer investigation. While being investigated Allen passed a polygraph test, had his fingerprints compared to those at the murder scene of known Zodiac victim Paul Stine and had his handwriting examined. In 2002, a DNA comparison to a sample found on one of the stamps of the Zodiac letters did not match Allen's.
Allen was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to Ethan and Bernice Allen, and had one younger brother named Ronald. Allen's father was a lieutenant in the Navy who had witnessed the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In 1943, Allen moved with his family to Vallejo, California and lived near a naval base where his father was stationed.
He was of above average intelligence, with an I.Q. of 137, and was allowed to skip three grades. Allen graduated from Vallejo High School in 1949 and attended Vallejo University, majoring in art and literature. He graduated from Vallejo University in 1957 and shortly after joined the Navy. He was dishonorably discharged on December 27, 1957 after serving less than a year. In early 1958, Allen enrolled in California Polytechnic State University and received an undergraduate degree in teaching in 1960.
On June 15, 1958, Allen was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct after an altercation with an acquaintance, but the charges were later dropped.
In 1960, Allen got a job teaching at the Santa Rosa Elementary School in Atascadero, California. After losing his job at Santa Rosa Elementary, he got a job working as a nurse at Atascadero State Hospital, but only worked there during the summer of 1962. One year later, Allen was hired as a teacher at Travis Elementary School. He was fired and arrested shortly after for having firearms in his car while parked on school grounds. In 1966, Allen got another job teaching at Valley Springs Elementary School in Valley Springs, California and worked there until 1968 when he was fired and subsequently arrested for molesting a female student.
In 1969, Allen went back to living with his parents and worked part-time at a gas station for the next six months. He was fired from his job as a gas station attendant because of his chronic alcoholism. In 1970, Allen got a job working as a janitor at Elmer Cave Elementary School in Vallejo. He was fired because he reportedly threatened school children. Afterwards, Allen went back to college and attended Sonoma State University and graduated in 1974 with a bachelor's degree.
On September 27, 1974, Allen was arrested again and charged with the molestation of a young boy. He pleaded guilty to all of the charges against him and was confined to Atascadero State Hospital (where he once worked) on March 14, 1975. On August 31, 1977, Allen was released on parole. On June 25, 1978, Allen was hired at a hardware store in Vallejo where he remained employed until he died from kidney failure (from diabetes) on August 26, 1992 at the age of 58.
Most of the case for Allen being the Zodiac is based on circumstantial evidence, which was outlined and explored in Robert Graysmith's book Zodiac. The brand of typewriter used to type a letter sent to the Riverside Police Department from Cheri Jo Bates's killer was identified as a Royal with an elite type, the same brand of typewriter which was found during a search of Allen's residence in February 1991. Allen's shoe size (10.5) was the same as the killer's. He owned and regularly wore a sports watch that was a Zodiac brand with the same logo used by the killer. Allen lived in Vallejo and worked minutes away from where one of the first victims (Darlene Ferrin) lived and where one of the killings took place.
In January 1969, Allen is said to have had a conversation with Donald Cheney, describing an idea he had for a novel. He described how the killer in the novel would call himself "Zodiac" and use the Zodiac watch symbol as his mark. He also described how he would kill people in lovers' lanes using a weapon with a flashlight attached to it. According to Cheney, Allen also indicated he would write letters to the police to confuse and taunt them, mentioned shooting children as they got off school buses and detailed how to get women to stop on the freeway by indicating they had problems with their tires. After they stopped, Allen said one could loosen the lug nuts so their tire would later fall off and he could then take them captive. All of these actions were later carried out or threatened by the Zodiac killer.
It should be noted, however, that there is no proof this conversation between Allen and Cheney ever occurred. The only evidence was Cheney's own statement to the police, in which there was an inconsistency with the date on which the conversation supposedly happened, as Cheney originally said the conversation took place on January 1, 1968 instead of a year later.
Philip Tucker, who stated he was a close friend of Allen's, also claims that Allen talked about shooting with special sights for shooting in the dark. 
The Zodiac stated, "You don't know if the bomb is at the site or stored in my basement for future use", in a letter dated November 9, 1969. The same letter also indicated that killing tools were bought through mail order. During a police search of Allen's residence in February 1991, pipe bombs were found in Allen's basement, as well as formulas for ammonia nitrate and stove oil bombs. The search also found mail order catalog pages regarding bombs, booby traps, and guns.
In July 1971, a friend of Allen's reported his suspicions to the Manhattan Beach Police Department, and the report was forwarded to the San Francisco Police Department. When questioned later, Allen claimed without prompting that the bloody knives he had in his car the day of the Lake Berryessa attack had been used to kill chickens; and when asked if he had read "The Most Dangerous Game" he replied affirmatively and said it had made an impression on him. This interested the police, as the 408 character cipher appears to reference that short story. Allen was the only suspect in the case whom police had enough evidence against to execute not just one, but three search warrants: on 14 September 1972; 14 February 1991; and 28 August 1992, just two days after he died. Allen denied his guilt in interviews but there was much circumstantial evidence against him. Police found no physical evidence to prove that Allen was the Zodiac Killer, and the Vallejo Police Department chose not to press charges against Allen, a felon, despite finding weapons and explosive components in his home following the 1991 search. However, Allen's fingerprints and handwriting did not match the Zodiac's, no concrete evidence linking him to the Zodiac killings was ever found, and DNA testing on the Zodiac letters in 2002 did not provide a match. However, neither Vallejo nor the San Francisco Police Department ruled Leigh out after the test results.
Robert Graysmith's book identifies Allen as the Zodiac killer, under the name "Robert 'Bob' Hall Starr." In 2007, the film Zodiac, directed by David Fincher, dramatizes Graysmith's attempts to build a case for Allen as the killer. In the film Leigh Allen is portrayed by John Carroll Lynch. One theory, presented in Graysmith's books, is that Allen knew and dated Darlene Ferrin, one of the first victims of the Zodiac killer.
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