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Claim of North Dakota connection to Zodiac killings to be on CBS TV's 'Early Show'

Guy Ward Hendrickson

GRAND FORKS - The claim by a California woman that her late stepfather, North Dakota native Guy Ward Hendrickson, was the notorious Zodiac killer will be the subject of CBS TV's "Early Show" this morning, M. William Phelps said.

Phelps, a crime writer from Connecticut, told the Herald on Tuesday he had taped the segment, in which he pours skepticism on the allegation about Hendrickson.

The program runs from 7 to 9 a.m. on KXJB Channel 4. No information on the Zodiac segment could be found on the CBS Web site Tuesday, and TV programming can change.

For months, Phelps has been in contact with Deborah Perez, the Corona, Calif., woman who held a news conference last week in San Francisco accusing Hendrickson of committing at least two murders linked to the mysterious Zodiac killer 40 years ago.

Hendrickson was born in 1915 in Velva, N.D., and died in 1983 in Orange County, Calif., according to his niece, who told the Herald she knew Hendrickson and doesn't believe Perez's story.

Neither does Phelps, who said Perez told him a year ago she was the illegitimate daughter of JFK and that she was with Robert F. Kennedy the day before he was assassinated in 1968.

"I feel bad for Deborah Perez," Phelps said in an interview with the Herald. "I really feel Debbie Perez believes what she is saying to be true, but I don't believe it's true."

Phelps has written several "true crime" books and said he's an expert on serial killers. Too many facts about Guy Hendrickson's life don't fit the typical profile of a serial killer, he said.

Law enforcement never had Hendrickson on their radar in the still-unsolved Zodiac killings, Phelps said. Once he heard Perez make her claims about the Kennedy family, he quit believing anything she said, Phelps said.

Hendrickson's niece, who asked that the Herald not publish her name to protect her family, said she knew Hendrickson when she was a child and he seemed like a kind man.

Over the decades, many people have confessed to being the Zodiac killer or accused others of being him.

Phelps and others point out that the famous police sketch of the killer does not resemble Hendrickson to any extent.

Perez provided photos of Hendrickson to Phelps, dating from the 1950s to the 1970s, and Phelps provided the Herald with permission to publish the photos.

See more of Phelps' work at his Web site, or