Zachary Z. Rowe was a slender man with dark hair that was very thin on the top of his head. He typically went by his first initials only - "Z.Z."
Rowe had had a career as a file clerk at a large company. When his department was computerized, his job was eliminated and he was laid off.
Confused Identity[edit | edit source]
Shortly after Rowe lost his job, a computer glitch caused his identity to be confused with Zeke Z. Rowe (no relation), who had a poor credit history. This caused severe financial hardship for Zachary. His wife left him, and he was forced to move in with his adult daughter. When the only job he could get was as a dishwasher in a truck stop, Z.Z. Rowe became embittered and determined to get revenge.
Rowe purchased a shotgun and mask and created a list of targets. Making his way into the offices of the Equity America Life Insurance company, he menaced the receptionist with his shotgun and demanded access to the main computer banks. Rowe shot the computer and fled, causing significant property damage and loss of stored information.
Rowe then committed similar assaults on computers at the offices of the Moneycard credit card company and City Credit Bureau. His actions had attracted the attention of Dick Tracy and the Major Crimes Squad, as well as the press. Newspapers dubbed Rowe "The Computer Killer".
Tracking the Computer Killer[edit | edit source]
As Dick Tracy and his squad were speculating about the Computer Killer's motives, they also examined his pattern of behavior. They guessed that he would strike a major financial institution next, and arranged to monitor activity at the First National Bank. The hunch proved correct when Rowe arrived with his mask and shotgun.
However the situation was complicated when Dwight Digit also arrived on the scene with a mask and shotgun. Dwight and his sister Denise had been embezzling from the bank and planned to use the Computer Killer's modus operandi as a way of covering their tracks.
When Rowe encountered Digit wearing the same mask, Rowe became even further unhinged. He assumed that it was the other Z.Z. Rowe attempting to co-opt his identity again. Digit removed his mask in an attempt to calm the raving Rowe, but Rowe fired his shotgun at Digit. Digit dadged the blast, which struck a nearby computer terminal. Digit then lunged at Rowe's legs, knocking him into the now-exposed wiring of the computer. The high voltage shock killed Rowe (March 25, 1979).