"Zodiac" serial killer suspect captured by police after siege

 

NEW YORK police believe they have captured the notorious serial killer who called himself Zodiac. He terrorised the city for several months in 1990 by vowing to murder one person born under each sign of the zodiac.

The suspect was arrested after a wild shoot out with police that befitted the finale of a Hollywood thriller.

Detectives linked the gunman, Mr Heriberto Seda (29), with the Zodiac killings after noticing similarities between his language and letters claiming responsibility for the star sign attacks.

They claim to have matched Mr Seda's fingerprints with partial prints found at the scene of one of the Zodiac slayings and with others on a letter from the killer. According to one report, Mr Seda has confessed to two of the three killings attributed to Zodiac.

He emerged yesterday as a reclusive, unemployed weapons fanatic who had amassed a vast arsenal of home made guns and bombs. Neighbours said he rarely left his Brooklyn home by day.

According to one, he was seen last week standing outside his apartment building yelling: "I'm going to start killing. I'm going to start killing motherf... because, I'm not getting no sex."

Tuesday's denouement began after Mr Seda shot his 17 year old sister, Ms Gladys Reyes, in the apartment he shared with her and their mother. He then opened fire on police officers and pedestrians on a crowded Brooklyn "street.

He kept several hundred officers pinned down with raking fire from his house for three hours before agreeing to surrender. First he filled three buckets lowered by police from the roof with at least 13 home made guns.

The Zodiac shootings had all the ingredients to capture the imagination of a city already unnerved by an apparent epidemic of violent crime.

His victims appeared to be chosen randomly in every respect other than their star sign. Each was shot before dawn on a Thursday, precisely 21 days after the previous attack.

The victims ranged from a 30 year old homeless man shot in Central Park for a 78 year old man attacked outside his Brooklyn home. The gunman drew the astrological symbols of his three victims on a note found at the scene of one of the attacks.

The police were puzzled by how he knew their star signs.

For a while the gunman seemed to disappear. But someone claiming to be the Zodiac killer wrote to the New York Post in naval code in 1994 claiming to have attacked five more people, killing, two of them. His message ended: "Be Ready for More."