Tragic and significant, it is like the last ZODIAC attack at Lake Berryessa a conundrum. The first two ZODIAC crimes appeared very uninspired, almost drive-by shootings. At Lake Berryessa ZODIAC was theatrical. At San Francisco, on this date October 11, 1969, ZODIAC killed cab driver Paul Stine at “Washington and Cherry” (probably Washington and Maple like he claimed in his letter to the San Fran Chronicle).
This installment in The ZODIAC’s crime spree had no continuity with the others. He didn’t attack a couple. It wasn’t a lonely, rural road. It was in the heart of an affluent neighborhood in San Francisco.
Nevertheless, the Stine Murder, which is dealt with in detail on my website, can be logically understood more than the Lake Berryessa attack on September 27, 1969.
It is after this attack that ZODIAC switched purely to being a terrorist by proxy. It is the Fall of 1969 that San Francisco remembers as the season of terror. ZODIAC threatened to attack school buses and made any number of claims about undiscovered victims. His whole purpose seems to have been to frighten a city and Stine, or anybody for that matter, was the require résumé to do so.
Had ZODIAC not attacked in the City, his terror campaign would have had little punch. Just how premeditative was he? What was his ultimate goal? One is tempted to think that ZODIAC had another motive and that any murder, even a thug style killing like a cab murder, was enough to fulfill his goal. Was it always a terror campaign? We still do not know. He never killed again. After years of writing letters, he vanished. To this day no one is sure what the ZODIAC’s ever-changing MO was all about.
We only know that he must have carefully preplanned the night’s events by having parked near the area (or had a house to stay in) and then walked all the way into the bustling downtown at Geary and Mason where he caught the cab and had the driver (Stine) take him to Presidio Heights. He no doubt shot him at Washington and Maple as he claimed in his letter. This explains the fact the kids heard no gun shots. He would then have seized the wheel and let the car coast to the next block where he pulled over and shifted. The kids saw him cleaning off the dash and wheel inside. Then he walked away down Cherry to Jackson Street and backtracked to Maple, where 3 minutes after being seen by the kids at Washington and Cherry he was seen again by police rushing to the scene. They did not stop because they were told the suspect was a black man.
Thus The ZODIAC escaped again and was never seen again. ZODIAC is the American Jack the Ripper in terms of name recognition. But his crime spree follows no real discernible pattern. It merely developed into a contradictory game of death, game of boasting, and game of Murder and Seek.