After initial digs, Zodiac killer theory turns up nothing but dirt |

After initial digs, Zodiac killer theory turns up nothing but dirt

South Lake Tahoe police officer Chuck Owens digs into earth where a Zodiac researcher believes Donna Lass was buried by the serial killer in 1970. The Tuesday morning dig in Tahoma did not reveal any human remains.

Using shovels and directions from an amateur Zodiac sleuth, authorities searched 4 feet into the earth for the body of Donna Lass, a nurse who disappeared 37 years ago.

They found nothing.

After months of investigating the disappearance of Lass, a 25-year-old Stateline nurse who some believe was a victim of the infamous Zodiac serial killer, Clifton Calvez believes he knows where Lass is buried.

Calvez, a retired Air Force colonel who lives in Morgan Hill, hounded authorities and media types with e-mails laying out his theory. He arrived at Tahoe during the Angora fire and walked the site. On Tuesday, Calvez and a handful of law enforcement officials broke out the shovels.

The Zodiac killer was never caught or identified by authorities during his rampage in 1969 and 1970. A movie released this year tackled the events surrounding the Zodiac, and a subculture of sleuths sought a challenge, combing through the details of the serial killings, hoping to solve the mystery.

A large tree off Timber Wolf Drive was the focal point of the dig, and Calvez pointed to the exact spot where he believed the nurse was buried. Calvez used a postcard depicting a Sierra condominium complex at Incline Village that was sent to the San Francisco Chronicle and a Christmas card sent to Lass’ sister, Mary Pilker.

The crew got to the site but had to wait for roughly an hour while determining who owned the land in order to get permission to dig.

Then, after getting the green light from the California Tahoe Conservancy, they dug. When the hole revealed nothing more than dirt, Calvez pointed authorities to another location. After the second hole unearthed nothing but earth, the search was called off.

Even though nothing was found, Calvez is not discouraged. Despite the fact that the house he used as a focal point for angles determining the location was not built until 1976, six years after Lass’ murder, Calvez still believes Lass is buried in the area.

“I was disappointed, but even at this point I think that’s the place,” he said. “Somewhere around that tree, no doubt about it.”

South Lake Tahoe police Sgt. Jeff Reagan said authorities wanted to dig soon after Calvez announced where he believed Lass’ body might be buried after his visit. Authorities envisioned people going to the site and doing their own research, Reagan said.

The hole was refilled to the satisfaction of a Conservancy representative.

Calvez said he also wouldn’t allow the obstacle to hinder his goal of solving the Zodiac riddle.

“I don’t consider it to be a fatal blow,” he said. “My overall plan is to identify the Zodiac’s victims and what his grand plan is and why he decided to do it and where they are located and so on.”

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