8 – FACT vs. FINCHER – Scene by Scene – 71 thru THE END

Scene 71 – Bob Scares Bob

Robert Graysmith meets with the odd but friendly Bob Vaughn. The two travel to Vaughn’s home where Graysmith’s questions lead to the revelation that Marshall is a Zodiac suspect. Graysmith wants to know if Marshall, a movie buff who ran a theater, had ever shown the film The Most Dangerous Game. When citing the handwritten movie posters as possible proof that Marshall is the killer, Vaughn shocks Graysmith by revealing that the writing on the poster did not belong to Marshall, but Vaughn himself.

Now fearful and trapped, Graysmith thanks the man for his time and starts to leave but Vaughn invites him into the basement to search for the records regarding the films shown at Marshall’s theater. Graysmith reluctantly joins Vaughn downstairs and becomes concerned when he hears what appear to be footsteps above them. Vaughn enjoys toying with the cartoonist until Graysmith flees the house in terror.

Scene 72 – Surprise, Surprise

Graysmith returns home to find that Melanie has left with the children. A note tells him not to contact them.

Scene 73 – Linda, Jailhouse Informant

Graysmith travels to the jail in San Joaquin to speak with Darlene’s incarcerated sister, Linda Del Buono. He asks about the painting party and the mysterious stranger. Linda says that she told police about the party “so long ago,” and tells Graysmith about a man who brought Darlene presents from Tia Juana. She says that Darlene was deathly afraid of this man and that he had killed someone, possibly while in the service. The man at the painting party had worn a suit, according to Linda, and he sat in a chair during the entire party. She recalls that Darlene was murdered only a few weeks later.

Graysmith wants the identity of the man at the party, and Linda says that he had a short name. Graysmith says, “It was Rick.” Linda says, “No.” Graysmith insists, “It’s Rick.” Linda once again says he is wrong, and, as he leaves, she turns and dramatically declares, “It was Lee.”

FINCHER: Linda remembers that a man who brought Darlene presents from Tia Juana was the same man who had terrified Darlene shortly before her murder. Linda further states that this man also attended the painting party and wore a suit for the occasion.

FACT: Within hours of Darlene’s murder, police interviewed Linda near the scene of the crime. She told police that a man named Lee was one of Darlene’s closest friends and that he often brought her gifts from Tia Juana. At no time did she bother to mention that Lee had terrified her sister, had been bothering her in the weeks before she was killed, and had killed someone. In fact, Linda never mentioned any of this seemingly important information to police until the late 1970s, almost a decade after Darlene’s murder.

Less than a handful of witnesses claimed to have attended the so-called “painting party,” and all lacked credibility. Yet none of these witnesses ever claimed that a man named Lee had attended the party. In fact, two of these witnesses identified another suspect, “Todd Walker,” as the man who had terrified Darlene at the party. Years after Darlene’s death, Linda identified suspect Larry Kane as Darlene’s mysterious friend.

NOTE: Graysmith’s books present differing accounts of his encounter with Linda.

Scene 74 – The Vallejo Police Files – Open All Night

Graysmith races through the darkness and rainfall to the Vallejo police department. He pounds on the glass door, begging the officer inside to let him check the police files. Detective Jack Mulanax suddenly appears and opens the door for the soggy amateur sleuth.

Inside, Graysmith searches through the files until he finds the report describing Linda’s original statements regarding the Lee bearing gifts from Tia Juana. He proudly tells Mulanax of his discovery that Arthur Lee Allen is the Lee connected to Darlene Ferrin. Mulanax is not impressed and tells Graysmith that he and Toschi agree that Allen is not a good suspect.

FINCHER: Graysmith finds the report that unlocks the mysterious connection between Darlene and her killer.

FACT: The report in question demonstrates that Linda described “Lee” as Darlene’s friend and did not attempt to inform police that this man had bothered or frightened her sister. None of the witnesses who claimed to be at the painting party said that anyone named Lee had attended; in fact, these witnesses claimed that the man at the party was not Arthur Leigh Allen, but another suspect. Linda herself had identified this stranger as Larry Kane, and not Allen.

Scene 75 – Finish It

Graysmith sits at home, surrounded by his growing collection of Zodiac memorabilia. Melanie walks in to deliver divorce papers. Graysmith says that the children should not see him in his present condition and she agrees. Melanie stoically tells Robert to finish the book and then leaves. Graysmith looks down to find the driver’s license belonging to Arthur Leigh Allen and notices that the suspect was born on December 18.

Scene 76 – A BIG Mistake!

Outside the home of David Toschi, Robert Graysmith races through the darkness and downpour to pound on the inspector’s bedroom window. He shouts, “Dave, you made a mistake!” Toschi climbs out of bed and mutters something about getting his gun while Graysmith continues to shout his criticisms of Toschi’s investigative skills for all the neighbors to hear. Graysmith then blurts out, “It was Arthur Leigh Allen!”

Toschi opens the door for the dripping detective as Graysmith proudly produces Allen’s drivers license and cites the December 18 “birthday” call to attorney Melvin Belli. Toschi then confides that Allen had written to him after finishing a sentence for molesting a child. Graysmith is convinced of Allen’s guilt, but Toschi reminds him of Morrill’s opinion that Allen did not write the Zodiac letters. Graysmith quotes Toschi’s previous remark, “Sherwood Morrill, who drinks like Paul Avery now?”

FINCHER: Toschi seems impressed by Graysmith’s discovery concerning Allen’s date of birth and the date of the “birthday” call to Melvin Belli.

FACT: Unless Toschi had suffered a recent head injury or a case of amnesia, the inspector would know that the “birthday” call did not occur on December 18, and that a patient in a mental hospital, and not the Zodiac, had placed the call. If Toschi somehow lacked the intelligence to retain such information, this could explain how he could have overlooked such an important fact for almost a decade when obtaining a suspect’s date of birth and other vital statistics is usually the first thing on an investigator’s list of things to do. Toschi’s seeming stupidity would seem to have also infected his partner, William Armstrong, and every other person involved in the investigation of Arthur Leigh Allen.

Scene 77 – Just the Facts, Bob

Toschi sits at a diner table while Graysmith continues in his attempt to sell Allen as a hot suspect. He reminds the inspector that expert Terry Pascoe had warned them not to dismiss Allen solely based on handwriting alone. Toschi tells Graysmith that, if Allen were to stand trial, the defense would call Morrill to the stand to testify that Allen did not write the Zodiac letters. Graysmith then cites thirteen facts to prove that Allen was the Zodiac.

Allen was seen with the Zodiac ciphers.

Allen was in the Navy, and the killer left a military boot print at Lake Berryessa.

Allen and the Zodiac shared the same sizes for shoes and gloves.

Allen and the Zodiac were fans of the short story or movie, The Most Dangerous Game.

Allen owned a Zodiac watch, the only place where the name and the crossed-circle symbol appear together.

Allen had a background with schoolchildren and the Zodiac threatened to kill schoolchildren.

Allen and the Zodiac misspelled the word Christmas as “Christmass.”

Allen mentioned bloody knives in his car on the day of the stabbing at Lake Berryessa.

When Toschi says that a search of Allen’s belongings should have produced the rest of Paul Stine’s bloody shirt as well as the cab driver’s missing wallet and keys, Graysmith notes a police report, and the statements of Allen’s sister-in-law. He explains that Allen suspiciously moved his trailer to Santa Rosa in the days after he was first interviewed by police in 1971.

No Zodiac letters were received while Allen was imprisoned for molesting a child, and a new Zodiac letter arrived shortly after his release.

The calls on the night of Darlene’s murder proved that she had known her killer.

Graysmith had proved that Darlene also knew Arthur Leigh Allen.

Darlene Ferrin worked at the House of Pancakes located less than a block from Allen’s home in Vallejo.

Toschi is visibly convinced by Graysmith’s presentation, and leaves with a “thank you.”

NOTE: This scene suggests that the circumstantial evidence described by Graysmith is convincing and based on fact.

FACT: The thirteen points presented in this scene cannot withstand minimal scrutiny and cannot be said to implicate Allen in the Zodiac crimes.

A friend of Allen told police that he had seen the suspect with a scrap of paper featuring symbols somewhat similar to those used by the Zodiac. This witness told police that Allen had these symbols AFTER the Zodiac’s codes had appeared in the newspapers. Allen told police that he had followed the Zodiac story in the news when the case first began. The Zodiac’s codes marked the beginning of the media coverage surrounding the Zodiac crimes.

The military boot print was only relevant if Allen could be linked to the same boots that had made the boot print. No evidence existed to link Allen to such boots, despite the fact that the film shows him wearing identical boots when interviewed by police in 1971.

Allen and the Zodiac may have worn the same shoe size, but the gloves found in the cab of Zodiac’s last known victim could not have fit Arthur Leigh Allen, who, by all accounts, was a very large man.

Allen may have professed his fondness for the short story, The Most Dangerous Game, but the attempts to link the Zodiac to this story are tenuous at best. The Zodiac never used that exact phrase; in fact, the killer wrote that man was the most “hongertou” animal of all, or the most dangerous animal of all, and not, “the most dangerous game.” The short story may have inspired the Zodiac, but there is no evidence that he ever referred to the story in any of his many communications.

The Zodiac watch was not the only place where the name Zodiac and the crossed-circle appeared together. Allen’s possession of such a watch might be suspicious if other credible evidence implicated him in the crimes, but such evidence did not exist.

Allen’s background with schoolchildren did not link him to the Zodiac crimes.

Allen’s comments concerning bloody knives were incriminating, and stand as one of the few facts said to implicate him.

According to Graysmith, Allen had suspiciously cleaned and moved his trailer immediately after police alerted him that he was a Zodiac suspect. Graysmith cites a police report, and the statements of Allen’s sister-in-law, as evidence of Allen’s suspicious attempts to destroy evidence and avoid detection. Graysmith fails to mention that the very report in question states that the sister-in-law did not consider Allen’s behavior at all suspicious as the suspect had announced his plans to move the trailer BEFORE his first meeting with police.

It is a fact that police did not receive any further Zodiac letters while Allen was incarcerated. However, it is also a fact that the Zodiac also failed to send further letters during extended periods of time when Allen was not incarcerated. The “Zodiac” letter of April 1978 was initially deemed authentic by some experts, but a majority of handwriting analysts determined that the letter was the work of a forger. The timing of the Zodiac’s letters does not implicate Allen.

The phone calls to Darlene’s home, the home of her parents and the home of her in-laws on the night of her murder do not prove that Darlene knew her killer or implicate Allen. Darlene’s brother Leo stated that he made these calls.

No credible evidence exists to connect Darlene and her killer, and no credible evidence exists to connect Darlene to Arthur Leigh Allen. The notion that Darlene knew a sinister man named Lee came from one witness, Darlene’s sister, Linda. In the days, weeks, months and years after Darlene’s murder, Linda never attempted to provide police with this valuable information concerning Lee, despite the fact that she had mentioned this individual within hours of the murder and described him as one of Darlene’s closest friends. In later years, Linda identified Larry Kane as the man in question – she did not identify Arthur Leigh Allen.

At one time, Allen did live in his parents Vallejo home less than a block from Darlene’s place of work. However, the available information suggests that while Darlene worked at this location in Vallejo, California, Allen lived in a rented house many miles south in Calaveras County.

CONCLUSION: The thirteen points cited by Graysmith’s character in this final summation scene do not implicate Allen in the Zodiac crimes. The phone calls on the night Darlene was killed, the terrifying “Lee,” and the “birthday” call to Melvin Belli on Allen’s date of birth, are the lynchpins of Graysmith’s solution to the case. All three of these points are easily refuted by the known facts.

Scene 78 – Staring At Allen – Date: Unknown

Graysmith appears at Allen’s place of work, an Ace Hardware store. The cartoonist stares at the suspect until Allen asks if he is in need of assistance. Graysmith, at inner peace after finally tracking down the killer, tells Allen that he does not need help and leaves.

NOTE: At the beginning of this scene, a title appears dating this event in March 1983. During the scene, Allen stands next to a calendar that reads, “February 1980.”

Scene 79 – The Almost Eyewitness

August 1991. Retired Vallejo police detective George Bawart walks through the airport in Ontario, California. A display holds dozens of paperback copies of Graysmith’s book, ZODIAC, under a sign that reads “The National Bestseller.”

Inside an airport security room, Bawart meets with Michael Mageau, the man who survived the shooting that killed Darlene Ferrin. Bawart shows the witness several photographs of men, including Arthur Leigh Allen. After a moment, Mageau points to Allen’s picture and says, “That’s him. That’s the man who shot me.” Bawart asks if Mageau is sure, and the survivor says, “Yes, he had a round face like him,” pointing to the photograph of another individual. When Bawart asks whether he is identifying the second man, Mageau says no. Bawart asks Mageau to rate his identification of the suspect on a scale of one to ten. Mageau replies that he rates his degree of certainty at 8. He adds, “I’m very sure that this is the man who shot me.”

FINCHER: Mageau identifies Allen.

FACT: The Vallejo police department did not consider Mageau’s identification of Allen to be valid, and even the detective who interviewed him days after the shooting did not believe that Mageau could have accurately identified the gunman at that time. Michael Mageau was blinded by a flash of light and then shot in the neck and jaw at close range. By his own admission, he never got a good look at the gunman and only saw the suspect briefly in a profile view. In the film, Mageau is shown looking up at the approaching gunman.


The end titles of the film state that a DNA sample was later obtained from an authentic Zodiac letter and this DNA did not match that of Arthur Leigh Allen. According to the title, Vallejo authorities were allegedly preparing to charge Allen in the Zodiac crimes but were unable to proceed when he suddenly died in 1992. The title then informs audiences that the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, the Solano County Sheriff’s Office and the Vallejo Police Department still consider Allen to be the “prime and only suspect” in the Zodiac case.

FACT: While spokesmen for the Vallejo police department have stated at various times over the years that Allen remains a person of interest in the investigation, all of the law enforcement agencies mentioned in the end titles of the film still investigate other suspects and other leads. Investigators from the Napa County Sheriff’s department, including Ken Narlow, do not believe that Allen was the Zodiac. The end titles make no mention of Allen’s suspect status with the one law enforcement agency at the center of the film’s plot – the San Francisco police department. At the turn of the century, the SFPD had little interest in Allen after announcing the results of DNA comparisons that appeared to exonerate the suspect, and the news that a “writer’s” palm print, found on the Zodiac’s infamous “Exorcist” letter, did not match the palms of Arthur Leigh Allen.

All of the law enforcement agencies involved in the Zodiac investigation consider the case unsolved.


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