As I approach my chapter “Comic Strip Crusade” in HorrorScope, I have had to be quite detailed with the circumstances of Paul Stine’s murder. His murder is the stepping off point to the ZODIAC’s publicity campaign of terror. It also marks his last murder.
Many of those who have followed the case have lamented on what little SFPD has ever released. However, there’s actually enough to recreate the general circumstances. There are nevertheless some points that it would be preferable to have qualified, and a few clues certainly are contained therein.
This old pic of Mason & Geary found its way onto the web.
For instance, was a trail of blood found leading down Cherry Street? The 7 K-9 units were used for searching that night-early morning. None are bloodhounds. Was a bloodhound used later? It seems unlikely. ZODIAC’s trail was never followed and backworked.
When did Stine pick up ZODIAC? It is commonly said today that he picked him up on the way to pick up a fare at 500 9th Avenue in Inner R. The time elements don’t seem to allow this. At 9:45 p.m. the dispatch sends him. It’s about 10 minutes from Mason and Geary to Washington and Maple. With the traffic today, Google will say 12 minutes and 2.8 miles.
Mason is pretty much the same today here.
The murder occurred around 9:55 p.m. Stine’s fare was reassigned to another cab at 9:58 p.m.. A couple of minutes late is cause to reassign another cab? Even if Stine had simply let a passenger off at Washington and Cherry at 9:55 p.m. he could not have made 9th Avenue in 3 minutes.
The silence of SFPD, however, is not that important when it comes to investigative leads. There is a method of investigation, so that it is fairly easy to second-guess the methods they used and what steps they took. They had a cab killing. Dave Toschi was always frank about what little evidence there is from a cab killing. The letters gave them a few more options they wouldn’t otherwise have had.
But for the sake of reenactment, official details would be invaluable. I suspect there aren’t any. If ZODIAC parked nearby on Jackson or in the Presidio bloodhounds could have traced him. But they weren’t used. Nevertheless, if he was drenched with blood there are a few places in the Presidio where he would have bounded about when stepping down to the nearest roads. It is likely at these places that blood drops would have been cast from him. Obviously they didn’t find any. Don Fouke later changed his official statement and said that he saw ZODIAC go into a specific address on Jackson.
ZODIAC’s flight from the crime scene was calm and cool. This we know. He wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry. He may not have known that kids were watching from the window across the street. But he had to take into consideration he might be spotted. He had what he believed was a sure fire way to escape without a clue, and it seems to have worked.
Following a trail through Presidio is impossible today. But logistics tells us ZODIAC had parked or had an abode nearby. The biggest clue is probably the one Captain Martin Lee declared publicly. He was sure ZODIAC knew the neighborhood.
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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.