Netflix’s ‘Catching Killers: Night Terror: New York Zodiac Killer’ depicts how a ponytailed Bible-quoting serial killer tried to mimic the infamous Zodiac Killer stalking San Francisco between 1966 and 1974. Heriberto “Eddie” Seda earned the moniker ‘The New York Zodiac’ as he preyed on eight victims in New York from 1990 to 1994, killing three and wounding five. If you’re interested in finding out more about the victims and how he was finally caught, we’ve your back. Let’s dive in then, shall we?
Who Were Heriberto Seda’s Victims?
Eddie assaulted his victims throughout New York City, preying on them because he believed — “They were bad. They were evil people.” He terrorized the cities with two crime sprees — a short summer ordeal in 1990 and a prolonged one spanning from 1992 to 1993 — that left three dead and five wounded. A consummate attention seeker, he earned his moniker from the elusive “Zodiac Killer,” who had stalked San Francisco between 1966 and 1974 and claimed to have killed more than 37 people.
True to his “idol,” Eddie sent taunting messages to the police and media after each crime, which included codes based on International maritime signal flags. With the assistance of his father-in-law, a veteran of World War II cryptography and signals intelligence, New York Post journalist Kieran Crowley decoded the ciphers boasting of a demented plot to slaughter people purposefully selected by their astrological sign, one for each of the dozen signs. The authorities initially dismissed it as a hoax, only to be proven wrong shortly after.
Eddie’s first target was 49-year-old Mario Orozco, who was shot in the back near the intersection of Atlantic and Sheridan Avenues on March 8, 1990. A Scorpio, Mario survived the attack and informed the authorities his assailant wore a brown ski mask and gloves. He intercepted him, pressed the gun to his back, fired a shot, and stood for a minute or two, aiming the pistol at his face, before fleeing the scene. Mario had the bullet stayed lodged next to his spine. Eddie struck again on March 29, 1990, shooting 33-year-old Jermaine Montenesdro, a Gemini.
Jermaine was returning home from a late party in the Bronx when Eddie shot him near a subway station, six blocks from where he shot Mario. The bullet entered his body’s left side, going through his liver and seriously wounding him. However, he survived the attack but never saw his assailant. While his first two victims survived, Eddie successfully murdered 78-year-old Joseph Proce, a Taurus, two days later, on March 31. He was standing on 87th Road in Woodhaven, Queens when a disguised Eddie came and asked for a dollar.
Eddie’s fourth victim was Larry Parham, who was shot in the chest on June 19, 1990. His zodiac sign was Cancer, and he survived the attack, with the bullet missing his aorta and exiting his body through his armpit. He remained dormant for a year before he struck again on August 10, 1992, when he lured 39-year-old Patricia Fonti to the shore of the Highland Park reservoir with flirtatious advances. He shot her with a .22-caliber zip gun around 1:30 am and stabbed her over 100 times in panic when she struggled. She was a Leo and died on the spot.
Eddie’s sixth victim was 42-year-old unemployed construction worker Jim Weber, who was shot in the buttocks on June 4, 1993, outside Highland Park at about midnight. His zodiac sign was Libra, and he survived the attack. Eddie’s penultimate victim was a 40-year-old mental patient Joseph Diacone, a Virgo, who was fatally shot in the neck at close range on July 20, 1993. The convicted serial killer’s last victim was 40-year-old Diane Ballard, who was shot in the neck while sitting on a Highland Park bench on October 2, 1993. The bullet missed the Taurus’ vital arteries but remained lodged against her spine, and she was left partially paralyzed.
Where Is Heriberto Seda Now?
The investigators probing into the first phase of attacks initially thought the assailant’s modus operandi seemed to consist of close-range assaults on elderly white males — two victims used walking canes, and Jermaine was inebriated, which might have seemed like physical infirmity to his attacker. However, they were shocked when a background search revealed each was born within the astrological sign noted by their attacker. Their suspicions were affirmed when they found a note containing his astrological sign at the fourth victim’s crime scene.
The NYPD formed a new Zodiac task force and requisitioned files from San Francisco as the media were ripe with rumors about the alleged return of California’s infamous unidentified serial stalker from the 1960s. While the papers listed similarities between the New York letters and some of the earlier California correspondence, the authorities dismissed the claims. The police cautioned the general public to be wary of people trying to learn their birth date, no matter how casually.
However, the perpetrator seemingly enjoyed the media frenzy and started writing letters to the news media besides the police. While he allegedly claimed to be the same Zodiac killer who stalked San Francisco between 1966 and 1974, the authorities noted that the handwritings were not a match. With all the publicity and national headlines, the NYPD was flooded with tips and leads, and the investigators questioned around fifty suspects. Meanwhile, the serial killer went dormant for two years before the second wave of attacks began.
The police connected the second wave of attack to the New York Zodiac killer when he allegedly sent a letter to The New York Post in August 1994, claiming responsibility for the five attacks between June 1992 and October 1994. As the Zodiac fear revisited the city, the authorities confirmed four of the attacks but found no record of a June 11, 1994, shooting, as the letter claimed. While they did not dismiss the letter as a hoax, the detectives were unsure about whether it was written by the same author by someone who knew about the assaults.
The serial killer again remained dormant for around two years before the authorities were called to solve a domestic issue in Brooklyn on June 18, 1996. According to reports, Eddie’s half-sister, Gladys “Chachi” Reyes, called the police after her half-brother pulled out a weapon and began threatening her and her then-partner, even shooting her in the buttocks while she tried to escape. The investigators made the connection when Eddie wrote several letters and scrawled a telltale symbol on his statement to the police about his domestic fight.
After the investigators got suspicious, they collected his fingerprints and matched them with prints lifted from the Zodiac’s crime scenes. During the ensuing interrogation, he admitted to the murders and assaults. While the police could not find any concrete motive, one investigator stated, “He said he had to kill them because they were evil.” Eddie refused to cooperate with the authorities or reveal how he chose his victims. One detective even revealed, “He doesn’t respond to the whys or wherefores. He just got the feeling, he’d go out and select the victim.”
Sgt. Joseph Herbert said, “Eddie was mad at his sister because she was hanging around with the wrong people. Drug dealers, troublemakers — and he didn’t like that.” Officers interviewed the neighbors to learn about the Bible-clutching Eddie’s deeply religious values and how he constantly called the authorities on drug dealers. One officer stated, “He kept talking about Jesus and good and evil and salvation. But he never explained how he made his jump from a Roman Catholic upbringing to a Zodiac serial killer.”
According to police sources, Eddie was within a whisker of being linked to the serial killing when he was arrested in March 1994 for possession of a deadly weapon. An officer had noticed a suspicious bulge in his jacket pocket that concealed one of his zip guns. But his public defender had the charges dropped after the authorities determined the firearm was non-functional. Eddie was later charged with murdering three people and wounding another after the prosecution proved his DNA was found on a stamp of the letters sent to the police.
Eddie was formally charged in the case on June 21, 1996, and found guilty of multiple charges, including second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and weapon possession. He was sentenced to 232 years imprisonment on June 24, 1988. News reports have since stated he began a sexual affair with a murder convict named Synthia-China Blast. According to official prison records, the 55-year-old convicted serial killer is currently serving his life sentence at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York.