By Iliana P-B
Ordinary people love to demonize political elites. They have accused politicians like Gary Condit and royals such as Prince Charles of heinous crimes. There are a variety of reasons for this, including genuine similarities in personality between serial killers and politicians. While Ted Cruz is clearly not the Zodiac Killer, it is not surprising that some Americans have claimed that he was.
The first reported comparison between Ted Cruz and the Zodiac Killer was in 2013. Twitter user now named @NowWhereWasI1 joked that Ted Cruz was giving a speech titled “This is the Zodiac Speaking.” That was not the title of his speech, but it didn’t stop the internet from having a field day. The meme died out for a few years, only to resurface in 2016 during the Presidential Election. Another Twitter user Photoshopped a fake ticker tape displaying “Is Ted Cruz the Zodiac Killer?” across what appeared to be the Presidential Debate stage. The internet ruthlessly compared the two, making jokes about everything from Cruz’s appearance to his policies to his social capital.
Much like a serial killer, Ted Cruz is generally despised. Democrats obviously don’t like him. He led multiple efforts to repeal Obamacare and generally work against efforts made by the Obama administration. Republican politicians don’t like Ted Cruz either for a variety of reasons including his decision to blame fellow Republicans for a failed filibuster to defund Obamacare. Lindsey Graham, another Republican Senator, once joked that “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.” It is clear that Ted Cruz is hated by many people, but that does not mean he is the Zodiac Killer.
To be sure, Ted Cruz was not the Zodiac Killer. The last confirmed Zodiac murder took place in 1969, a year before Cruz was born. Unless he began his killing spree in utero, the Zodiac
Killer must be someone else. But this raises the question: who was the Zodiac Killer? No one knows for sure. Police suspect a white man in his late 70s to early 80s who, at the time, had greasy brown hair, was about 5 feet 11 inches tall, and lived in California. The Zodiac Killer committed five confirmed murders from 1968 to 1969, although he claims to have killed dozens more. He sent cryptic letters containing clues to his identity and details proving he had committed the murders. As of 2019, the Zodiac killer has not been caught and there are no new leads.
Like Ted Cruz, Gary Condit was accused of murder. Gary Condit was a U.S. Representative for California from 1989 to 2001. In 2001, police and the public suspected him of murdering a young intern named Chandra Levy. He confessed to having an affair with her, but only after denying it several times. Condit himself had called on President Bill Clinton to be honest about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. This hypocrisy, combined with his multiple denials, made him guilty in the public’s eyes. However, he was never formally charged and authorities fully exonerated him in connection with her murder.
Similarly, Prince Charles of England suffered similar scrutiny years after the death of his ex-wife Princess Diana. Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car accident in August of 1997. There was a great deal of controversy surrounding her death, but the attention shifted to Prince Charles in 2003. Her former butler, Paul Burrell, reported that she left a him a note detailing how Prince Charles wanted her killed in a car accident. There is a great deal of doubt on the validity of that letter. One friend of Diana’s came forward to argue she did not write the letter and Mr. Burrell himself didn’t believe Prince Charles could have planned her death. The investigation determined that the driver was seriously intoxicated and driving over the speed limit. He lost control of the vehicle and that was the cause of the crash, not Prince Charles.
This fascination with accusing politicians like Ted Cruz, Gray Condit, and Prince Charles of being killers may be based in genuine similarities between the two groups. Jim Kouri, a career law enforcement professional, has suggested that politicians and serial killers may share some personality traits. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, he found that they both exhibit superficial charm, an inflated sense of self-worth, an ability to smooth talk, a tendency to lie, lack of remorse, and the ability to manipulate others. These traits are part of why serial killers take so long to be caught. These are also traits a politician would need to convince voters, get donations, and ultimately get elected. Gary Condit was a Democratic running in a Conservative part of California. He needed a superficial charm and to smooth talk and manipulate others. Prince Charles, as the future King of England, must also come off as charming and smooth. Moreover, he is part of a monarchy with a history of remorse issues and lies. As modern media exposes us to more politicians and more serial killers, ordinary people have the ability to compare them, even subconsciously. It is important to note that few people genuinely believed Ted Cruz was The Zodiac killer. Most people just thought it was funny. However, the public’s desire to connect politicians to murderers could be an acknowledgement of similar personalities rather than simply a joke.
TL;DR: While Ted Cruz is not the Zodiac Killer, he may share many of the same characteristics. After all, they can both be described as 5 feet 11 inches tall with greasy dark hair. They both have an inflated sense of themselves. And neither is welcome in California.