Month: January 2012

The Mystery of the Zodiac Killer

The case of the Zodiac killer will be featured along with other California crime stories on the Travel Channel series HIDDEN CITY. The show will air on Tuesday January 10, 2012 [at 10:00 PM and again at 1:00 AM in the Mountain Time Zone. Check your local listings for the Pacific, Central and Eastern times zones, or, consult the Travel Channel schedule.] Host and writer Marcus Sakey will also examine the assassination of famed San Francisco politician Harvey Milk (the subject of the film MILK, starring Sean Penn) and the “Vigilance Committee” of the Bay Area “Gold Rush” days. [Video Clip: Marcus Sakey discusses the Zodiac codes with crossword creator Byron Walden.]

According to a brief description posted at the Travel Channel website, “Marcus takes a cab ride with amateur detective Tom Voigt to the site of the only Zodiac murder that took place in the San Francisco city limits.” If the brief blurb is correct, the show will apparently focus on the Zodiac’s last known murder, the killing of San Francisco cabdriver Paul Stine. This attack occurred on the night of October 11, 1969, at the intersection of Washington and Cherry Streets. The crime scene is located in an upscale neighborhood known as Presidio Heights, named for its proximity to the Presidio military base at the northern tip of the San Francisco peninsula.

More than any other Zodiac crime, the murder of Paul Stine has been the subject of ongoing controversy and debate. According to the San Francisco Police Department, the killer left fingerprints at the scene which could possibly identify the Zodiac. After police made this announcement, the Zodiac denied that he had left any fingerprints behind. The killer was seen by three witnesses who provided the only eyewitness description and composite sketch of the killer. The Zodiac later claimed that he only resembled the sketch during his crimes. According to San Francisco police, two patrolmen drove by a white man who matched the description provided by the witnesses but they did not stop to question him because the police dispatcher had mistakenly described the killer as a black man. The Zodiac claimed that he had been stopped by two police officers who then allowed him to escape. The killer also claimed that he had hidden on the Presidio grounds and he mocked police for failing to catch him. Two days after the murder, an envelope arrived at the offices of the San Francisco Chronicle which contained a piece of the victim’s blood-stained shirt, establishing an undeniable link between the killer and the author of the many “Zodiac” letters sent to Bay Area newspapers. The letter included the Zodiac’s infamous threat to attack a school bus filled with children. Zodiac’s fantasy inspired the famous scene in the classic crime thriller DIRTY HARRY, in which a Zodiac-like killer named “Scorpio” hijacks a school bus and threatens the children on board. Authorities were unable to link the Zodiac to any murders after the killing of Paul Stine, although the elusive killer repeatedly alluded to other unidentified victims.

Those who are interested in learning more about the murder of Paul Stine and related subjects can view the original composite sketches of the Zodiac suspect, read the original police report written by the first officer to arrive on the scene, examine the fingerprint evidence, view the crime scene, watch videos about this crime, and study other material by following the links below. also provides a free message board forum where members can discuss the case, present their own research, or seek answers to case-related questions. The Document Gallery provides thousands of case photographs and a comprehensive collection of The Zodiac Letters. Visitors can also view the actual police reports and other official documents at The Zodiac Case Files page. A new section titled The Zodiac Crimes features links to pages devoted to the known and suspected Zodiac crimes, including photographs of the crime scenes and other material. If you are new to the Zodiac story and would like to learn more about this enduring true crime mystery, the Case Summary has been updated and expanded to provide a basic overview of the Zodiac story from 1968 up to 2012.

SAN FRANCISCO: Photographs, Videos, Newspaper Articles, and Official Documents


* Paul Stine


* Washington and Cherry Streets – October, 1969


* Crime Scene Photographs


* Paul Stine’s Shirt

* The Fingerprints


* San Francisco Investigators and Others


* Sketches of the Suspect


* The Zodiac’s Envelope and Letter


* Newspaper Stories and Other Material


* Paul Stine’s Brother Joe


* Paul Stine: Record of Death

* Paul Stine: Certificate of Death

* Report by SFPD Officer Armand Pelissetti

* Excerpt from Dept. of Justice Report on Stine Case

* Memo on the Zodiac Sighting by SFPD Officer Don Fouke


* Paul Stine’s Cab

* The Crime Scene: Washington and Cherry Streets

* A Possible Escape Route

* SFPD Officer Don Fouke on the Zodiac Sighting

* SFPD Captain Martin Lee on the Zodiac’s Threat to Attack a School Bus

* SFPD Captain Martin Lee on the Zodiac’s Crossed-Circle Symbol

* SFPD Captain Martin Lee on the Zodiac’s State of Mind


NOTE: Writer/researcher Michael Butterfield toured the Zodiac crimes scenes with the original investigators and criminalist Paul Holes (Chief Forensic Services Division of the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department) for the History Channel documentary series MYSTERYQUEST, which also examined the accusations against Zodiac “suspect” Richard Gaikowski. Watch the video tour of the San Francisco crime scene (the tour begins at the 4:07 mark).

TV ALERT: The popular TV crime series CRIMINAL MINDS will feature a Zodiac story in an upcoming episode titled “True Genius.” The CBS website posted the following synopsis: “A series of murders in San Francisco bearing the tell-tale signs of the infamous Zodiac Killer have the BAU wondering if the notorious serial killer has returned. Also, Reid ponders if he should be doing more with his genius abilities, on CRIMINAL MINDS, Wednesday, Jan. 18 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT)


Copyright 2012