How can a movie about the Zodiac Killer, one of the most infamous mass murderers of our time, relate to a class about archives? A large reason for the intrigue in the Zodiac Killer goes beyond the ciphers and  creepy phone calls – the case remains a mystery because the man’s identity was never confirmed. It has been said that if he lived in today’s world, the Zodiac Killer would have been unmasked very early in his murderous career, but due to lack of technology and organization in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the mystery and speculation about his identity endures today.

One could say that the mismanagement of the archive of evidence is the reason the Zodiac Killer was never brought to justice. During the movie, it was clear that the communication between police districts was minimal. Certain districts had specific intelligence and information that was not shared, and thus, pieces of the puzzle were never brought together. In one scene, an officer is acting as a middleman between two other police districts that seemed somewhat indifferent about sharing their evidence, partially because they didn’t all have fax machines to send the information with. In this situation, a communal pool of evidence and information would have been the best way to store and track the data.

Another aspect that struck me was the ease with which a common civilian was able to access confidential police records. Of course, it’s unclear whether this happened in real life or whether it was added flair for the movie. Were they that ambivalent about the case at that point that they would risk compromising the case just to appease an obsessed cartoonist? It certainly harkens back to the debate about security vs. accessibility of archives. I suppose at that point, the detectives were all pretty resigned after years of dead ends, and as such, made a security exception for the cartoonist.

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