By Francesco Amicone
There is a detail in the cipher containing the name of Zodiac that should not go unnoticed. It is something more than an abstract “interpretation” of a 51 years old note, but a response to a cue that the postman Mario Vanni, alleged accomplice of the Monster of Florence, gave to the police and which however turned into a blind track.
The serial killer, Vanni said while in prison in Pisa in 2003, was American named “Ulysses”.
We should speak of Ulysses-Zodiac connection even before Ulysses-Monster. In fact, the match is the keyword “Bekim” used by Zodiac to encrypt its name in the letter postmarked “April 20, 1970, San Francisco“.
“Bekim” is none other than the actor Bekim Fehmiu, who starred as Ulysses in the 1968 Italian Tv series “Odyssey”.
The decryption is provided at this link.
In the spring of 1970, Fehmiu played the role of Dax Xenos, Latin lover main character of the Hollywood movie “The Adventurers”.
The film was showing in several Bay Area theaters while Zodiac’s letter with his ciphered name was postmarked in San Francisco, on April 20, 1970.
In July 1974, a few months before the series of murders attributed to the Monster began with in Rabatta, near Borgo San Lorenzo, the Italian RAI broadcast the first rerun of the 1968 television series “Odyssey”, Fehmiu playing the role of Ulysses.
The starting point to talk about Ulysses came from a recent discussion on “Sneak JB Fellowship“. For the uninitiated, this is a forum managed by my friend JimMorrison84, a space for discussion on the “Zodiac-Monster of Florence” track. It is mostly made up of a group of users banned for their ideas, in jargon “banned”, by imostridifirenze.forumfree.com some time ago. They have been found guilty of heterodoxy. Unlike all the other monstrologists or almost (there are also “crypto-JBists”), they believe in the involvement of the Italian-American Joe Bevilacqua, the gentleman who fram… helped the Court to sentence Pietro Pacciani in first instance, in 1994, claiming to have seen him at the edge of the woods near the place of the 1985 crime, the day before. Yes, “JB” lived 300 meters from the crime scene and had seen the victims twice just before they were killed… so what?
It was the user “Tuttinessuno” who unearthed the “Ulysses” matter again.
About the mysterious American that Pacciani met in a wood, at the time of the crimes in the 1980s, and to whom he would have told him to being the serial killer, I will give a brief account in the next chapter that those who already know the case will surely want to jump.
Mario Vanni was a former postman of San Casciano in Val di Pesa convicted as an accomplice of the Monster of Florence. Three years after the sentence, in June 2003, Vanni was intercepted by the police, while he was telling his acquaintance Lorenzo Nesi that he had some information on the real serial killer. Pacciani? “No, it wasn’t him.” According to Vanni, the serial killer was an American, a “nero” (black) who called himself “Ulysses”. Nesi and the investigators had never heard of him, until then.
Who is this “nero”?, asks Nesi.
Vanni didn’t know. “He came from America”, he assured the skeptical interlocutor.
It is a mystery how this unknown information had got to the postman. Police and carabinieri had been hoarding gossip, chatter for years; was it possible that the name of Ulysses hadn’t leaked until then? It could have been some secret kept up by Vanni who, as he got older, struggled to keep that.
Vanni claimed that Ulysses would have told someone (it seems Pacciani) that he was responsible for all the murders of the Monster. It is unknown when and where the American and Vanni’s source met precisely. It is known that they ran into each other in a wood.
The taped conversation continues with the postman who seems to confuse what he had heard from the primary source and others: the American would have committed suicide, have left the guns to “the prosecutor who counts” (the Attorney Piero Luigi Vigna?) and have attributed his crimes in a letter. Vanni would have learned these things on television.
Regardless of how these statements will be taken out of context, the alleged identification of “Ulysses” was a failure. Perhaps it would have been useful to record it, rather than simply producing a written report.
According to investigative recounts, on July 10, 2003, the police submitted the picture of an American citizen who was touched by the investigation on the Monster in 1983 to the prostitute Gabriella Ghiribelli, the “Gamma” witness of the trial against Vanni and his drinking partner Giancarlo Lotti.
“By chance, did this man call himself Ulysses?”, police officials asked her.
Of course, “Giancarlo called him Uli”, but “he wasn’t colored”, replied the witness, referring to the term “nero”.
The suspect was named Mario Robert Parker. He could not defend himself from this “identification” because he died of AIDS in 1996.
In the 1980s, Parker had stayed in the guest house of Villa La Sfacciata, near Florence. He was a bachelor gay stylist and none of his relatives had ever heard him call “Ulysses”. It is therefore not clear why he should be the person indicated by Vanni, apart from the fact that he was an American already examined by the police at the time of the crime in Via di Giogoli, the road at which the palace where Parker lived stood. For this reason, nothing else, the judiciary police submitted a photo of him to “Gamma”, who seemed to have “recognized” him at the first attempt.
Who Ulysses is, really
The identity of Ulysses has never been established. Vanni had only heard of him, did not know him and did not confirm Ghiribelli’s statements.
If an attempt was made to identify Ulysses today, following a rigorous method of research, and not not very solid “acknowledgments”, it would be necessary to rely on the words that the postman received from his primary source, Pacciani, excluding Vanni’s verified interpolations, that is whatever he would have learned from other sources, such as television, from which he would have learnt that Ulysses had committed suicide.
The facts reported to Vanni by Pacciani are certainly four: the Monster was called Ulysses, he was American, “black”, Pacciani met him in a wood. The end.
At least 50 percent of this information can be found not in the words of an impressionable witness, but in a newspaper clipping of 9 years earlier.
“‘Pacciani was in the woods’. Few time later two French were found dead” reads the title above. The American who runs into Pacciani near a wood is not the designer Parker but the former “criminal investigator” Joe Bevilacqua.
Bevilacqua is not black, but compared to unarmed stylist Parker he has twenty years experience in the U.S. military, 10 of which, both official and unofficial, in the Criminal Investigation Division, which carry on with criminal investigations on members of the U.S. Army. He also fought in Vietnam, where he was awarded a silver medal. He certainly knows how to use firearms, even if he said testifying against the defendant in the Pacciani trial, on June 6, 1994, he did not use guns: “Just the hands”.
Inexplicable is the attitude of an alleged honest witness, Bevilacqua, who failed to say he knew the defendant, at the trial, revealing to myself, twenty years after his testimony, that not only had he met the alleged Monster several times in the Scopeti wood, but that Pacciani had even tried to get hired at the American cemetery managed by Bevilacqua, before he entered a prison again in the 1980s.
However, it is not surprising that Pacciani tried to shut up. He could not expose Bevilacqua without placing himself where the witness claimed to have seen him. He certainly did not want to share with the jury the information that he hung out in the crime area.
Back in his cell in prison, Pacciani must have asked himself a few questions about why the superintendent of the Florence American cemetery pretended not to recognize him. Why didn’t he say he saw him other times? Could he be… Ulysses? Didn’t that mysterious hooded man wearing black clothes he had met one night in the Scopeti wood and who claimed to being the Monster have a foreign accent? Pacciani had thought that man was just a voyeur… now, it turned out that he could really be the serial killer.
Perhaps it simply went like this: it was not Bevilacqua who recognized Pacciani, at the trial, but Pacciani who recognized Bevilacqua in Ulysses.
Pacciani’s intention was not to denounce the Monster to the authorities – who would believe him? – but to blackmail Ulysses and have himself cleared of all. Pacciani informed his friend Vanni through someone who would have escaped the control of the judicial authority, a lawyer, a priest or a nun (if you are reading and you know you are the mysterious intermediary, it would be better if you go and talk with the authority).
Pacciani, however, was acquitted and died before the second appeal ordered by the Cassation Court was held before the Florence court. This must be the reason why the name of Ulysses came out just five years later, when it resurfaced in the mind of Vanni, who in the meantime has made up his own “idea” about the American murderer, linking Pacciani’s tale with stories he had seen in television.
Possible meanings of the word “nero”
Bevilacqua is a white male, not black, someone objects. In this case, it makes sense saying: “So what?”. In fact, it is possible to hypothesize many reliable misunderstandings as origin of the term “negro”, “nero”, used by Vanni instead of “black”.
Ulysses could have had his face covered with a hood or dark-colored military make-up. It would certainly have been useful, in order not to be seen, or in any case recognized, as he moved in the late evening in the half-light of the woods in search of his new victims. Vanni would therefore have misinterpreted the meaning of “black”, attributing it to the color of Ulysses’ skin.
Another example. If an Italian comes across an individual dressed in the way the Zodiac looked at Lake Berryessa (sketch below), the most likely thing he would think is that he is a neo-fascist. Italian extreme right militants recognize themselves in the celtic cross symbol (poster below) and are commonly called “neri”, “blacks”. If an Italian speaks another Italian about a neofascist, calling him “nero”, it is certainly possible that his counterpart misunderstand this term, thinking it means “black man”.