VALLEJO -- Those who knew him would likely say it would have pleased the performer in Lyndon Lafferty to know it was standing room only at Vallejo's Wayside United Methodist Church on Friday, where family and friends gathered to bid farewell to the longtime Vallejo resident and retired law enforcement officer.
A prolific writer of letters to the editor, Lafferty died March 5 at age 83.
He served four years in the United States Air Force, as part of its Secret Security Service and spent nearly the entire time in Japan working with codes. It was there he also performed in the Ochi Ballet Company as a tap dancer. There he was the lead in "American in Paris," and earlier in his life performed a solo at the 1939 Treasure Island Wold's Fair.
After the military, Lafferty joined the California Highway Patrol, where he spent 28 years.
That was where Lafferty believed he had learned the identity of the infamous Zodiac Killer that terrorized Vallejo and the Bay Area in the late 1960s and early '70s. So sure was he that he had figured out the truth, Lafferty wrote and published a book, "The Zodiac Killer Cover-up," which put him in the international public eye, with interviews and radio and television appearances.
Not everyone agreed with Lafferty's theory on the Zodiac, however.
Tom Voight, an Oregon man at least as obsessed with the Zodiac as Lafferty, and who might have been the closest thing he had to an adversary on the issue, said, "I have never believed his suspect had anything to do with the Zodiac crimes whatsoever ... especially after reading Lafferty's book."
Lafferty briefly attended a couple of Voight's public Zodiac gatherings in Vallejo, once in 2002 and again in 2009, Voight said in an email.
"He was quite sure he had identified the Zodiac killer and thus solved the case," he said. "I don't agree, especially after reading his book. Lafferty is the most recent of a rather large number of original Zodiac players to have passed away."
On Friday, though, Lafferty's deep blue and silver casket, bearing a white floral arrangement, was flanked by a recent photo and one of him in his CHP dress uniform. A U.S. Air Force color guard preceded the service, led by Rev. Ernie Bringas. A CHP officer stood watch over the casket.
Lafferty was described as innovate and creative, a talented singer and writer, "a kind soul" with a wicked sense of humor and a brave and gutsy guy who still wrote poetry to his wife Yvonne, even after 58 years of marriage.
"I will never forget you," one mourner, Al Losado, said. "The billboard up ahead says 'case solved, case closed.' Farewell and Godspeed."
Another spoke of how Lafferty had taught him what forgiveness was, having granted it to him when he really hadn't deserved it.
"He showed me what dignity is," he said.
Lafferty's son, local Realtor Curtis Lafferty, recalled his father's love for the outdoors and camping -- a passion he has inherited and a tradition he carries on.
"I don't think it's stopped raining since Dad passed," his daughter Lisa said. "And it's fitting that it's raining today."