Richard Gaikowski (aliases: Gike, Gaik) is a unique figure in the history of San Francisco counter-culture whose life and career straddled the Haight-Ashbury era of the late-60s and the burgeoning tech scene of the early-90s. He would perhaps be a mere footnote in the history of the Bay Area if he hadn’t become a “suspect” in the Zodiac killings.
Raised in a small town in South Dakota, Gaik was drafted during college and served two years as an army medic. Like so many other disillusioned beatniks, revolutionaries and drop-outs, Gaik made his way to San Francisco and joined the movement, carving out a career as a radical journalist and experimental filmmaker. Later in life, Gaik became involved in the Bay Area computer community and slam poetry scene.
During the 1970s, Gaik was institutionalized for mental health reasons. When he returned to San Francisco, he became a crucial figure in the rise of the Roxie, the Bay Area’s most legendary independent movie theater.
Why is Gaik sus’? A couple bits of information about his life make him an intriguing candidate for the Zodiac, although nothing conclusive has emerged. Gaik’s early writings were pro-violence and anti-cop. The radical rag he wrote for was located a stones throw away from the Paul Stine shooting. Paul Stine’s shirt was ripped off in a way that an army medic would have known how to. Also, the police dispatcher who purportedly talked to the Zodiac on the phone claims Gaik’s voice and the killer’s were one and the same. Also, one of the Zodiac’s cipher even includes the world “Gyke.” See if you can find it.
Also, the fact that there exists a mug shot of Gaik with a smug look on his face (smugshot?) makes him seem all the more suspicious. Nevermind that he intentionally got arrested to write an exposé on jail conditions…
At the end of the day, I kind of want Gaik to be the Zodiac since he’s such an intriguing individual and a connection to the murders would make both him and the Zodiac even more interesting. Still, I’m not convinced and Gaik seems like he was a flawed but fascinating figure. Most of us are the former, few the latter.