Heriberto Seda aka The Copycat Zodiac Killer spread terror through 1990s NYC when he began a murder spree

Mugshot of Heriberto Seda
Heriberto tried to copy the infamous Zodiac killer with a murderous crime spree in NYC. Pic credit: New York Police Dept.

This week on Mark of a Killer, the team examines the case of The Copycat Zodiac Killer, also known as The New York Zodiac Killer, or The Brooklyn Sniper, who spread terror spread terror across New York City in the early 1990s.

Heriberto Seda, who was a keen admirer of San Francisco’s Zodiac killer, sent letters to the police where wrote of a plot to kill twelve people based on their star signs. He signed the letters “Zodiac.”

In the course of his reign of terror, he killed three people and wounded another five. His victims were mostly from the margins of society; they tended to be homeless and physically impaired.

Starting on March 8, 1990, Seda shot Mario Orozco, a Scorpio, in the back and left him for dead. Then later that month, on the 23rd he shot Jermaine Montenesdro, a Gemini, in his left torso, luckily, both men survived the attacks.

The third victim, Joseph Proce, a Taurus, was not so lucky, shot in the back on May 31, he died in hospital three weeks later. He left a note near Proce’s body, which featured a pie-shaped picture containing the star signs of the three victims, a note read “Zodiac, time to die.”

On June 1990, he shot Larry Parham, Cancer, a homeless man who was sleeping on a bench in Central Park. Parham survived the attack and told police how a man had asked him his star sign a few days beforehand.

In 1992 Seda resumed his shooting spree

Zodiac remained quiet until August 1992 when Seda shot Patricia Fonte, a Leo, and then stabbed her 100 times. About a year later, on June 4, 1993, he shot James Weber, a Libra, in the leg.

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Then On July 20, he crept up on John DiAcone, a homeless Virgo, and shot him to death at point-blank range. Finally, on October 2, he wounded Diane Ballard, another Taurus, and left her partially paralyzed.

Seda stopped with his reign of terror but managed to avoid justice for three years until the NYPD finally caught up with him in June 1996. A stand-off ensued and involved Seda firing numerous rounds at the police until he eventually gave himself up.

At his trial in 1998, Seda was described as a 30-year-old high school dropout and loner from Brooklyn. He was supposedly a religious man who argued with his sister for hanging around with disreputable types. He also despised drug dealers.

Neighbors recalled the time he stood in the middle of the street and declared: “I’m going to start killing. I’m going to start killing because I’m not getting no sex.”

Investigators were able to use fingerprints and sample writing to tie Seda to the letters he had sent the police and media. The most damning piece of evidence was the discovery of his DNA on the stamp of a letter he sent to the police.

In 1998, Seda was found guilty of killing three people and of wounding a fourth. He was sentenced to 83 and a 1/2 years in prison.

More murders from New York profiled on TV

Last week on Mark of a Killer, the case of Salvatore Perrone, who terrorized New York shopkeepers when in 2012 he started visiting stores just before they closed and opened fire on store owners with a sawn-off rifle. Over five months, he murdered three men before the NYPD finally bagged their man.

Also profiled on TV was the murder of millionaire George Kogan by his flamboyant wife in 1990. Barbara Kogan, aka The Black Widow, paid her divorce lawyer to hire a hitman to gun down her husband on a busy New York street near his mistress’s apartment.

Mark of a Killer airs Thursday at 8/7c on Oxygn.

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