7 – FACT vs. FINCHER – Scene by Scene – 61 thru 70

Scene 61 – Sherwood’s Garden

Graysmith visits with Sherwood Morrill at his home, and watches as the retired expert tends to his garden. Morrill explains that handwritings habits and tendencies are solidified early in life and do not change as a person ages. He also tells Graysmith that all of the suspects were cleared by his conclusions, and through comparisons to the fingerprint found on the cab at the last known Zodiac murder.

Scene 62 – The Calls Begin

Graysmith is at home when the phone rings. He answers only to find heaving breathing on the line.

NOTE: In media interviews, Graysmith had previously claimed that these sinister “breathing” phone calls first began after the publication of his book in 1986.

Scene 63 – Narlow Again

Graysmith consults Ken Narlow of the Napa County Sheriff’s Office. Narlow tells Graysmith that Marshall is his “favorite suspect.” Graysmith asks how Marshall was cleared as a suspect and Narlow explained that the suspect’s fingerprints did not match the fingerprint from the cab. Narlow tells Graysmith that the fingerprint may actually belong to a curious bystander at the poorly preserved crime scene. He also mentions the gloves found in the cab as evidence that the Zodiac did not leave fingerprints.

FINCHER: Narlow dismisses the evidentiary value of the cab fingerprint and blames poor preservation of the crime scene. He also refers to the gloves found in the cab.

FACT: According to Inspector David Toschi, Officer Armand Pelissetti, and others present on the night in question, San Francisco police kept the crime scene well preserved and did not allow bystanders to touch the cab, much less permit them to cover their fingers in the victim’s blood and then do so.

The gloves found in the cab were a size seven, the smallest size for men, and therefore most likely did not belong to the killer. According to Graysmith’s book, upon which Fincher’s film is based, Toschi determined that the gloves belonged to a woman passenger who had ridden in the cab earlier that day with another driver.

Scene 64 – Morrill Again

Graysmith obtains a sample of what he believes to be the writing of suspect Richard Marshall. He then consults with Sherwood Morrill and learns that the expert considers Marshall’s writing to be “the closest I’ve ever seen” to the writing of the Zodiac.

Scene 65 – Zodiac Again – April 1978

Inspector David Toschi sits in a car with his new partner, a man apparently unaware and unappreciative of Toschi’s fondness for Animal Crackers. Suddenly the radio call instructs Toschi to contact headquarters. He learns that a new Zodiac letter has arrived and that the killer mentioned Toschi’s name. The inspector speeds to the hall of justice to see the new letter

Scene 66 – Forgery?

Graysmith sits at the dinner table with his family while the television announces that the Zodiac has returned with a new letter after four years of silence. Melanie allows him to leave the table to watch the breaking news. A reporter states that Chronicle columnist Armistead Maupin had received anonymous fan mail written by Toschi, and he suspects that the publicity-seeking cop may have forged the new letter in order to get attention. Graysmith calls Toschi’s home and the inspector’s wife tells the concerned cartoonist that Dave has been taken off the case and transferred to the pawn shop detail. Graysmith says he knows that Dave did not forge the new letter.

Scene 67 – Go Away, Graysmith

Graysmith approaches Toschi outside the hall of justice and finds that the inspector wants nothing to do with him. The cartoonist begs for help with his investigation of Richard Marshall, but Toschi tells him that the “Richard Marshalls of the world” are a waste of time. When Graysmith mentions Sherwood Morrill’s opinion that Marshall’s writing is a close match to that of the Zodiac, Toschi spits out, “Sherwood Morrill, who drinks like Paul Avery now,” and reveals that the handwriting expert had been fired for mysterious reasons. Toschi angrily tells Graysmith to go away, and says that Zodiac was “my case, not yours.”

Scene 68 – Quality Time with the Kids

Graysmith’s children have fun as they help him track press reports of unsolved murders according to astrological patterns. He receives a phone call from now Captain Ken Narlow and shares his new astrological findings. The children then present Graysmith with a copy of one of the Zodiac’s coded messages.

NOTE: In his book, ZODIAC, Graysmith described how he took his children on a trip to the Ace Hardware store so that he could blend in while spying on the man he believed was a prolific child molester and the most wanted serial killer in California history, Arthur Leigh Allen.

Scene 69 – Graysmith, TV Star – August 9, 1979

A television reporter tells viewers that Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith has solved one of the Zodiac’s mysterious codes. Paul Avery, aging and in need of an oxygen tank, sits in a darkened bar and watches the television report with amusement.

FINCHER: Graysmith solves the Zodiac’s code.

FACT: While reporters may have been eager to swallow Graysmith’s solution to the Zodiac’s code, FBI cryptanalysts and other code experts quickly concluded that the cartoonist’s solution had no merit. Even a cursory examination of Graysmith’s code key reveals contradictions that effectively prove his solution is not internally consistent and therefore invalid. Absent any further explanation, the scene gives the viewers the false impression that Graysmith had actually solved the Zodiac’s code when, in fact, he did not do so.

Paul Avery was healthy and gainfully employed in 1979, and, he was in good health when interviewed for a television program in 1989. In fact, Avery did not require the use of oxygen until the late 1990s.

Scene 70 – Problems at Home

Graysmith comes home to find that Melanie is unhappy about his television appearance. When Graysmith dismisses her fears, she asks, “Who’s been calling” in the middle of the night. Distracted by his hunt for the killer, he tells Melanie that Darlene’s sister is in jail and can identify Rick Marshall as the strange man at the “painting party.” Just then, the phone rings with more tips from the anonymous informant. He instructs Graysmith to meet with Marshall’s friend, Bob Vaughn. As he attempts to leave, Melanie confronts him regarding his obsessive behavior and failure to act as a husband and father. Graysmith darts out of the door and on his way to a divorce.


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