This Day in History

Gary Jenneke
5 min readDec 20, 2021


December 20th

1968 — Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday killed. They were the first known victims of the Zodiac Killer, who committed his crimes mostly in Northern California. Jensen, 16, and Faraday, 17, had gone to different high schools in Vallejo, California, had known each other only two weeks and were on their first date. They were parked in a secluded “lover’s lane” when the killer first shot into their car, they got out and Faraday was shot in the head and Jensen was shot five times in the back as she tried to flee. The police, believing it had something to do with drugs, never pursued the serial killer angle. The Zodiac Killer, after another set of killings, taunted the police by saying he also was responsible for Jensen and Faraday. reported that some cold case experts believe the Zodiac Killer to be a now deceased house painter named Gary Poste. However the FBI still considers it to be an unclosed investigation.

In my February 5th post I wrote about a crew mate of mine nicknamed Twidge. Twidge and his wife, Joyce, were murdered by an unknown assailant on a San Diego beach in 1964. In researching this piece I saw that the caliber of the weapon used in the Jensen and Faraday attack was the same as the one against Twidge and Joyce Swindle. There has speculation that Twidge and Joyce, despite it being Southern, not Northern, California, were the first victims of the Zodiac Killer.

A relative of Twidge contacted me via email. Researching the Zodiac Killer and her uncle’s murder, she came across my blog. I had written about Twidge and I serving together and she thanked me, saying it was refreshing to learn more about him as a vibrant young man, rather than just the murder victim he had become.

1989 — Operation Just Cause. President George H. W. Bush ordered 27,000 American troops to invade Panama. The justification he gave was to protect American lives in Panama, combat drug trafficking, insure the integrity of the canal and also to bring Panama dictator General Noriega to justice. The invading force lost 23 Americans killed while 514 Panamanian soldiers and civilians lost their lives. Panamanian sources put their losses at closer to 1,000. Noriega had been on the payroll for the CIA since the 1960s and also worked for the DEA in suppressing the drug trade in Panama. However he was also receiving money from drug dealers to help facilitate trafficking. Noriega was eventually captured, sent to Miami for trial, and spent the rest of his life in custody.

In the war against drugs the ends justify the means. So the possibility the invasion possibly violated the charters of the Organization of American States and the United Nations, met with little scrutiny. It also did little to curtail the drug trade. Here’s my personal rant about the unsuccessful war on drugs. Instead of going after the supply, why not attack the demand? The best way to eliminate prostitution is to arrest the Johns, not the hookers, so why not apply that to drugs also? Battling the cartels on their home turf, arresting low level street dealers solves nothing. Follow the money, and my bet is the money isn’t coming from the streets of impoverished neighborhoods, where most of the arrests take place.

2019 — U.S. Space Force launched. It was designated to protect America “in,” “from,” and “to” space. It is the first addition to the armed forces since the Air Force separated from the Army. The Space Force was created through a bipartisan effort in Congress led by Democrat Jim Cooper and Republican Mike Rogers. The smallest of the armed forces, the Space Force, according to wikipedia, has slightly over 6,000 personnel and 77 space craft.

I suppose there is an outside chance we might run out of wars to fight here on earth, so that only leaves space. I mean, it has to be there for a reason. Although I would have been more impressed if they would have created a Peace Force… Oh, I apologize, what was I thinking? Such grand silliness on my part.


1841: Ferdinand Buisson. Professor, activist, radical, Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Buisson was regarded as the world’s most persistent pacifist. His pursuit in life was the advancement of human rights and democracy. AS a professor at the Sorbonne he fought against anti-semitism in France and also spoke out for women’s suffrage. After WWI he opposed the harsh conditions the Treaty of Versailles imposed upon Germany, fearing it would lead to another conflict. Working with a German counterpart, Ludwig Quidde, who shared the 1927 Peace Prize with him, they sought future peaceful relations between France and Germany. Buisson died in 1932, not living to see his fears come to fruition.

I can only wonder, with sadness in my heart, why the ideals of someone like Buisson can be buried so easily in history, while the tiki-torch bearers of the world can still so readily embrace the hatred of Hitler. Doesn’t say much for the future of humankind.

1867 — William “Pudge” Heffelfinger. Football player, politician. Born in Minneapolis, Heffelfinger went to Yale University where he was a three time All-American. In one of his seasons at Yale they were not only undefeated, nobody scored against them. They outscored their opponents 698–0. Heffelfinger is considered the first person to be paid to play professional football. He coached for a few years, including one year at the University of Minnesota, compiling a 7–3 record there. After that he was a businessman in Minneapolis and also entered politics. He was elected to the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners and twice ran for Congress as a Republican and was defeated both times. This was during Prohibition, which he opposed, and he ran as a “wet.” Heffelfinger died in 1954.

Interesting side note. Heffelfinger’s father, Christopher, at the start of the Civil War, enlisted as a private in the 1st Minnesota Infantry. The 1st Minnesota made the historic charge at Gettysburg and helped turned the tide of that battle. Outnumbered 6–1 the 1st MN lost 215 of its 262 men that day, still the highest percentage loss any U.S. regiment has ever suffered. Christopher Heffelfinger was one of the few survivors. The next day he helped repulse Pickett’s Charge and was slightly wounded in the process. A musket ball struck him in the chest but a notebook and pencil inside helped deflect the impact. Starting the war as a private, he rose to the rank of major by its end.

I’ve probably made this editorial comment before, but damn I find history fascinating.

1881 — Branch Rickey. Baseball executive. Rickey is best known for his efforts to break the “color line” and integrate major league baseball. As general manager, he brought Jackie Robinson to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers and forever changed baseball. Rickey was also responsible for creating the minor leagues as a way to develop players for the big leagues. Some say Rickey’s reasons for integration may not have been all that altruistic, he just saw it as a way of improving the team and increasing profits.

It really doesn’t matter which, it was the right thing to do.




Gary Jenneke

Writer, traveler, veteran, miscast accountant except for one interesting stint at a Communist cafe, retiree and blogger.