Arthur Leigh Allen was first suspected in October of 1969, but it isn't very clear why. He was dismissed as a suspect because he was too tall and too bald to match Zodiac's discription. No one gave furthur thought to him until 1971.
July 15, 1971, a man named Santo Panzarella went to the Manhattan Beach Police and told them that Allen had made incriminating statements to his partner, Donald Cheney, which indicated that Allen may be the Zodiac Killer.
Cheney told police that in December 1968, in Allen's basement on Fresno Street, Allen and he were talking about hunting, when Allen soon turned the topic to elsewhat. He brought up the classic short story The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell, and mentioned that he identified with the count. Allen also gave a hypothetical account of how he would committ multiple murders in a lover's lane, and just generally described what the Zodiac actually did, before he even did anything. Also mentioned was the destruction of a school bus, complete with the mention of harming children as they come off the bus, similar to the Zodiac quote (See the Zodiac Quotes page). To top it all off, Allen claimed that he would call himself 'Zodiac,' but when questioned why that particular name, Allen gave a fit.
Very incriminating information, but certain questions arose. One, in particular, the police never figured out: Why it took Donald Cheney two years to forfeit this information the the police. Police have crossed out any logical explanation. Yes, Cheney did move out of the area, although still in California, so he was excused from not reporting this after the Vallejo attacks, but the Paul Stine case went state wide, so why Cheney didn't report it till two years after is a mystery. To further incriminate themselves, Panzarella and Cheny both admitted to both seeing and reading articles in paper about the Zodiac. In fact, the duo told police that "...the recent killings in the Grass Valley Area by an unknown suspect..." brought out their suspicion. Another question brought out by police was why Allen would release these facts, only incriminating himself. That alone was very un-Zodiac like, for the Zodiac always held control of situations.
Unfortunately for police, Cheney's information is not exactly usable. He has been caught changing his information time and time again. At one time, Cheney said that Allen was looking to become a police officer, gathering various information as to how to figure out when people are getting around the cops. Another time, Cheney mentioned that Allen mentioned becoming a criminal, and shortly afterwards mentioned that Allen planned to write a crime novel, rather then becoming a criminal. Another thing going for Allen was Kathleen Johns. Although she claims that it was the Zodiac who attacked her, she has ruled Allen out as the one who attacked her.
On one August day, police interviewed Allen at his place of employment. He claims he knew of the media reports of the killer, but knew nothing of the crimes. He offered an alibi for the night of the Shepard/Hartnell attack, yet when questioned about a bloody knive found in his car, he stated that he used the two knives to kill a chicken, which, incidently, may have been in reference to the media's claim of Bryan Hartnell pleading to the Zodiac to be stabbed first, for he was a chicken and could not bare to see Cecelia hurt. He was also asked of his whereabouts in October 1966, to which he immediately replied, "You mean about the Riverside killing?" which, by this time, had been linked to the Zodiac.
During the interview, the police commented on Allen's watch, which was made by the manufacurer "Zodiac," whose logo is the same as the Zodiac's. Unfortunately for Allen, he incriminated himself by stating that he was given the watch as a Christmas gift right before the killer took his name. When the police were given a search warrent for Allen's home in 1991, they took the watch for evidence, never to return it.
In December 1990, Ralph Spinelli was arrested for armed robbery in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. He asked for leniancy, offering a tip to the Zodiac's identity: Arthur Leigh Allen. Spinelli claimed that Allen had told him (pre the attack) that he was going to kill a San Francisco cab driver.
When the police finally got ahold of Allen's fingerprints, they matched them up with those in the Paul Stine case. Because they did not match, nor did his handwriting, Allen was dropped as a suspect.
Allen, who was a convicted pedophile, was incarcerated for a time at Atascadero. It just so happened that during his incarceration, the letters from the Zodiac stopped, only to start up again once he was released.
Forgetting the whole top Zodiac suspect thing for a moment, Allen himself was not normal by most standards. He was considered eccentric by mulitple accounts. His background includes a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. Navy at age 25. As stated before, Allen was sent to Atascadero State Hospital because of his tendency to lose jobs, alienate friends, and openly brag about being the top suspect in the Zodiac case.
Arthur Leigh Allen died in 1992 of natural causes legally blind with diabetes and kidney failure. He died without the only one thing he wanted from police: his Zodiac watch from his mother back. His name remains forever tainted.