5 – FACT vs. FINCHER – Scene by Scene – 41 thru 60

Scene 41 – An Altered State of Expert Opinion

Sherwood Morrill’s opinions are once again called into question as Armstrong consults the expert’s subordinate at the Department of Justice, Questioned Documents Examiner Terry Pascoe. Working under Morrill, Pascoe is reluctant to refute the conclusions of his superior, but Armstrong presses him concerning Allen’s ability to write with both hands, and the possibility that an “altered” psychological state could manifest in a change of handwriting. Sensing Armstrong’s lack of options and confidence in the suspect, Pascoe tells the inspector not to exclude the suspect simply based on handwriting alone.

FINCHER: Armstrong doubts that handwriting can identify the killer.

FACT: As late as 1989, Armstrong believed that handwriting and the fingerprint found on the cab of victim Paul Stine would identify the Zodiac. Pascoe rightfully advised that it would be unwise to exclude a suspect based on handwriting alone, but a fingerprint comparison had also cleared Allen.

Scene 42 – Armstrong’s Warrant

After confirming that Donald Cheney would testify that the “Zodiac” conversation with Allen had occurred on January 1, 1968, Armstrong obtains a warrant to search Allen’s Santa Rosa trailer.

FINCHER: Armstrong meets Cheney to confirm his testimony.

FACT: According to Cheney, Armstrong made the confirmation by phone, and not in person as seen in the film. If Cheney had, in fact, testified in court that Allen spoke of being “raw” about losing his teaching job, and that this conversation took place on January 1, 1968, Cheney would have been committing the crime of perjury. Allen lost his teaching job three months after the alleged conversation, in March 1968.

Scene 43 – The Search

Investigators descend on a trailer lot in Santa Rosa, and invade the unit owned by suspect Arthur Leigh Allen. Inside they find squirrels running amok, in cages, and in the refrigerator – part of Allen’s work towards a biology degree. They also discover two handguns, an M-1 rifle, and two blue windbreakers similar to the one worn by the killer of cabdriver Paul Stine. A large jar of Vaseline and a wooden dildo are visible near the bed. Toschi discovers a pair of black, size seven gloves, and remarks that Allen and Zodiac share the same boot and glove size. Allen arrives and the investigators seem happy to see him, but the search of the trailer fails to uncover any further evidence to implicate the tempting suspect.

Scene 44 – Allen Aftermath

After the fruitless search, Toschi faces more disappointment. A fingerprint comparison excluded the suspect, and writing samples produced by Allen’s left and right hands did not match the writing of the Zodiac. The experience has taken a toll on Toschi, but the investigation moves on in search of other suspects.

Scene 45 – Dirty Harry

At the San Francisco premiere of Clint Eastwood’s action movie, DIRTY HARRY, Inspector Toschi grows uncomfortable and heads to the lobby. Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith appears and tells Toschi that he will catch the Zodiac someday. Toschi is pessimistic, and says that the case is already the stuff of Hollywood movies.

Scene 46 – The End of an Era

Graysmith watches as reporter Duffy Jennings arrives in the offices of the Chronicle and assumes his place at Paul Avery’s old desk. Graysmith introduces himself to the disinterested Jennings, and he is visibly shaken by the changing times.

Scene 47 – The End of a Partnership

Toschi stops the car in front of Armstrong’s home, and tells his partner that he will see him the following day. Armstrong confesses that he has asked for a transfer out of the homicide detail and wants to see his kids grow up. He worries that he has left Toschi alone, but his partner tells him to go in peace. Armstrong walks off with his wife as Toschi watches from the car.

Scene 48 – The Beginning of a Book

Robert Graysmith sits at home, looking through his own Zodiac scrapbook. His wife, Melanie, appears and tells him, “No one has more Zodiac stuff than you.” The cartoonist gets an idea.

Scene 49 – Paul is Dead

Graysmith arrives at the new home of disgraced reporter Paul Avery. He is surprised to find Avery living among ashtrays filled with half-smoked joints, liquor bottles and debris. Avery is surprised to see Graysmith and says that no one from “the old days” visits him anymore. Graysmith then tells Avery that he should write a book about the Zodiac case. Avery is not amused by the idea, and is not pleased that Graysmith took it upon himself to give Avery a sense of purpose. He rather cruelly dismisses the cartoonist, saying that he had done little more than “go to the library.” Graysmith is shocked by Avery’s lack of concern for the Zodiac case, runs back to his car and drives away.

FINCHER: Graysmith visits Avery to inquire about a Zodiac book only to be attacked by the cruel and self-destructive Avery.

FACT: This scene is pure fiction.

Scene 50 – Home Again

Graysmith returns home with an armload of books. When Melanie asks where was, and he replies, “The library.” Melanie begins to suspect that something is not right.


IntroductionPart 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8 – Conclusion