4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

The Oceanside Zodiac murder

Body found in St. Malo gated neighborhood

Ray Davis
Ray Davis

Little did an Oceanside historian know, when she was researching the history of the longtime exclusive beachfront neighborhood of St. Malo, that she would run across perhaps the first murder of California’s infamous Zodiac killer.

Kristi Hawthorne, the events coordinator for the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, is a published historian, investigating Oceanside’s long-told rumors, stories, and myths.

A patrolman discovered the body of Davis in a St. Malo alley.

In 2018 she began researching the midcentury-built enclave of St. Malo, a gated neighborhood at the beachfront end of South Pacific Street. She stumbled upon an item labeled, “rich people killing each other.”

“I thought this would be juicy,” she told me.

She found mentions of an Oceanside Checker Cab driver, Ray Davis, being murdered in 1962. Further research from news stories in the now defunct Oceanside Blade newspaper found the unidentified murderer, on April 9, 1962, called the Oceanside Police Department stating, “I am going to pull something here in Oceanside and you’ll never be able to figure it out.”

Two nights later, at 11:10 pm, the cabbie radioed his dispatcher that he was taking a fare from his Mission Avenue taxi stand to the South Oceanside area. He was never heard from again.

In the early morning hours following, a patrolman discovered the body of Davis in an alley in St. Malo, with two bullet wounds. His bloodied cab had one shot fired through the windshield and was found hours later in the 400 block of South Pacific Street.

A few days after the murder, the supposed perpetrator called the police department again. He knew details of the cabbie’s murder, and stated he was next going to kill a bus driver. For the next three days, Oceanside police officers and military police from Camp Pendleton were placed aboard every city bus. No further incident occurred.

“I was the first one to put this together [possible connection to the Zodiac killer],” Hawthorne said.

The Zodiac killer plagued Bay Area cops from late 1960s to the early 1970s, phoning police and sending taunting letters to authorities and the press of his horrible crimes. He had five known victims, but claimed 37. He stated he was unstoppable, nor would police ever capture him. He was right.

Hawthorne discovered that the Oceanside cabbie was murdered with the same type weapon, a 22-caliber pistol, which the Zodiac killer used years later. She also learned the Zodiac’s first threat in the Bay Area was to kill a busload of children – the bus being similar to the threat in Oceanside.

In one taunting letter to Bay Area police, Zodiac claimed he had killed many undiscovered victims in Southern California. Hawthorne reported Zodiac killer expert Tom Voigt has always credited the Davis murder was the work of Zodiac.

Another San Diego murder, that of Johnny Ray and Joyce Swindle on the boardwalk in Ocean Beach in February, 1964, bore resemblance to a Zodiac murder.

“When I first called OPD in 2018, my biggest concern was that they’d think I was a crazy person.” She says Oceanside police’s cold-case investigator, Tom Heritage, took her seriously. “The case was so old, their cold case list only went back to the 70s,” Hawthorne said.

A week later Heritage called her with news they had found the Davis murder file, with crime scene photos. “Of course they can’t share them,” Hawthorne said, but she found images from other sources for her recently published expose in the September/October issue of the O’sider Magazine.

Reportedly, Oceanside’s cold-case investigators say the opening of the Davis murder file has sparked interest from the law enforcement detectives and crime analysts from around the state. Investigator Sylvia O’Brien will enter old fingerprint cards collected from the scene in 1962, into the FBI’s high-tech Fingerprint Identification System, knowing this may be their last chance to solve this case.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

A5 old fashioned: Wagyu fat-washed bourbon

The essence of the richness of steak
Next Article

Laird Hamilton’s revolutionary idea: stand-up paddling surfboards

“The thing is, most of the time, San Diego waves are gutless. With paddle boards? That’s no problem.”
Ray Davis
Ray Davis

Little did an Oceanside historian know, when she was researching the history of the longtime exclusive beachfront neighborhood of St. Malo, that she would run across perhaps the first murder of California’s infamous Zodiac killer.

Kristi Hawthorne, the events coordinator for the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, is a published historian, investigating Oceanside’s long-told rumors, stories, and myths.

A patrolman discovered the body of Davis in a St. Malo alley.

In 2018 she began researching the midcentury-built enclave of St. Malo, a gated neighborhood at the beachfront end of South Pacific Street. She stumbled upon an item labeled, “rich people killing each other.”

“I thought this would be juicy,” she told me.

She found mentions of an Oceanside Checker Cab driver, Ray Davis, being murdered in 1962. Further research from news stories in the now defunct Oceanside Blade newspaper found the unidentified murderer, on April 9, 1962, called the Oceanside Police Department stating, “I am going to pull something here in Oceanside and you’ll never be able to figure it out.”

Two nights later, at 11:10 pm, the cabbie radioed his dispatcher that he was taking a fare from his Mission Avenue taxi stand to the South Oceanside area. He was never heard from again.

In the early morning hours following, a patrolman discovered the body of Davis in an alley in St. Malo, with two bullet wounds. His bloodied cab had one shot fired through the windshield and was found hours later in the 400 block of South Pacific Street.

A few days after the murder, the supposed perpetrator called the police department again. He knew details of the cabbie’s murder, and stated he was next going to kill a bus driver. For the next three days, Oceanside police officers and military police from Camp Pendleton were placed aboard every city bus. No further incident occurred.

“I was the first one to put this together [possible connection to the Zodiac killer],” Hawthorne said.

The Zodiac killer plagued Bay Area cops from late 1960s to the early 1970s, phoning police and sending taunting letters to authorities and the press of his horrible crimes. He had five known victims, but claimed 37. He stated he was unstoppable, nor would police ever capture him. He was right.

Hawthorne discovered that the Oceanside cabbie was murdered with the same type weapon, a 22-caliber pistol, which the Zodiac killer used years later. She also learned the Zodiac’s first threat in the Bay Area was to kill a busload of children – the bus being similar to the threat in Oceanside.

In one taunting letter to Bay Area police, Zodiac claimed he had killed many undiscovered victims in Southern California. Hawthorne reported Zodiac killer expert Tom Voigt has always credited the Davis murder was the work of Zodiac.

Another San Diego murder, that of Johnny Ray and Joyce Swindle on the boardwalk in Ocean Beach in February, 1964, bore resemblance to a Zodiac murder.

“When I first called OPD in 2018, my biggest concern was that they’d think I was a crazy person.” She says Oceanside police’s cold-case investigator, Tom Heritage, took her seriously. “The case was so old, their cold case list only went back to the 70s,” Hawthorne said.

A week later Heritage called her with news they had found the Davis murder file, with crime scene photos. “Of course they can’t share them,” Hawthorne said, but she found images from other sources for her recently published expose in the September/October issue of the O’sider Magazine.

Reportedly, Oceanside’s cold-case investigators say the opening of the Davis murder file has sparked interest from the law enforcement detectives and crime analysts from around the state. Investigator Sylvia O’Brien will enter old fingerprint cards collected from the scene in 1962, into the FBI’s high-tech Fingerprint Identification System, knowing this may be their last chance to solve this case.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

The masterful Meistersinger singers

The best six hours I've spent in an opera house
Next Article

It’s not just about surfing, it’s being out there in the water.

Just get in the water and have fun.
Comments
1

I wouldn't be surprised if Zodiac operated in Oceanside, as well as the entire state of California.

Sept. 14, 2020

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close