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M_butterfield
Username: M_butterfield

Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 2:10 am:   

GRAYSMITH: Curious Claims, Convenient Changes & Conspicuous Contradictions

True crime author Robert Graysmith has provided varying accounts concerning a letter SFPD Inspector Toschi received immediately after Allen’s release from Atascadero State Hospital on August 31, 1977. Allen’s accusers often cite this mysterious and unseen letter as an example of the suspect’s attempts to taunt investigators.

On page 260 of ZODIAC, Graysmith described how he had first learned of the letter, and the suspect, Allen.


Sunday, March 2, 1980

Because of Zodiac’s gigantic ego, I had always felt that somewhere along the line he would have to write to Toschi using his real name. I asked the inspector if he had ever received a letter from any of the Zodiac suspects.

“Well, there is only one,” he said, “a Vallejo student named Starr (Not his real name) “As I recall the phrasing was:

“‘If I can ever be of any help to you just let me know. I’m sorry I wasn’t your man.’

“After the April 1978 Zodiac letter surfaced a guy named Jim Silver with the California Department of Justice told me, ‘You know, Starr is out of prison and he’s been out for about six months. And you got this new letter and it’s been authenticated.’

“I told him, ‘Yeah I know. I got a letter from Starr about six months ago. He wrote to let me know he was out and I thought at the time it was unusual.”

… “I bet he typed it.”

“That’s right, Robert. It was typed,” said Toschi.



More than fifteen years later, Graysmith presented a different version of his conversation with Toschi on page 181 of his second book, ZODIAC UNMASKED.


“Wednesday August 31, 1977

Liberated from Atascadero, Leigh Allen went to stay with friends in Paso Robles. The following day Toschi received a typed letter from him, the first mention of Zodiac in recent memory. ‘Killers invariably try to inject themselves into the investigation,’ I said to Toschi. ‘Have any of the suspects ever offered to help you catch Zodiac? With his disdain of the police, Zodiac would be irresistibly drawn to offer to catch himself.’

‘Only one,’ he said.

‘And I bet it was typed.’

‘Yes, it was. It just arrived.” He searched his desk. … Toschi found the letter and read aloud: “If I can ever be of any help to you just let me know. I’m sorry I wasn’t your man, but I’m out now and I’ve paid my debt to society. [signed] Leigh Allen.”

“Sorry I wasn’t your man!’” said Toschi in wonderment. A note like this, with its mocking tone, was exactly the kind of letter Zodiac would write, “He’s the one,” I said.



In the second edition of UNMASKED, a third version of this event is offered by retired Inspector Dave Toschi. Graysmith reproduces portions of a conversation between the aging homicide investigator and David Fincher, director of the new film based on Graysmith’s two books.


[FINCHER]: “…By the time 1977 rolls around and you hear that (Graysmith) wants to write a book, it is somewhere in your mind that you kind of go, ‘This has lost so much steam’ and it’s kind if come to an end for you in a way? Are you sitting there and thinking it needs somebody to come in and shake things up?”

“I was kind of spinning my wheels at that point,” says Toschi with a sad smile. “Nothing was forthcoming. Nothing good. I felt that when Robert left the Chronicle and didn’t really cool off on Zodiac, he was going to do something. I believed in him.”

“So you’re not able to disclose information to him initially,” says Fincher.

“I showed him the closed file cabinets full of the original letters and swatches of the shirt,” Toschi replies. …

[FINCHER]: “So you give him this thing. Now you don’t know the half of the Vallejo stuff. You know something is not right in Vallejo. ‘Here’s something,’ you say. ‘”There’s this guy you might want to check out.’”

Toschi nods. “That’s how it started,” he says. “Our prime suspect was just about to get out of prison.”



These three conflicting accounts effectively render each to be suspect. The first account dated the conversation between Graysmith and Toschi on March 2, 1980, yet the second dated the event in August 1977. In the first account, Graysmith asks Toschi about suspects who had written to the Inspector. Toschi says the letter had arrived approximately six months before the arrival of the April 1978 “Zodiac” letter. This estimate dated Allen’s letter in October or September of 1977.

The second account also has Graysmith asking about suspects who had written to Toschi, but this time, the letter purportedly arrived one day after Allen’s release from Atascadero on August 31, 1977.

In the third account, Toschi states that he first told Graysmith about Allen before Allen’s release from Atascadero.

The many contradictions and conflicts inherent in the three accounts reveal a complex yet clear case of a “Catch 22.”

Graysmith claimed that he first learned of Allen at the same time that he first learned of Allen’s letter to Toschi, but Toschi said that this conversation occurred before Allen had allegedly written the letter and before his release from Atascadero. If Toschi’s timing of the event is correct, the conversation presented in Graysmith’s books could not have occurred.

As the author of two nonfiction books in which he described the same event, Graysmith provided two different accounts. This discrepancy is made even more puzzling given the fact that Graysmith was one of only two people who participated in the event. Even more baffling is the fact that two people, Graysmith and Toschi, have produced three different accounts of the same event. Readers may wonder which version to believe, and whom they should trust.

Page 90 of ZODIAC features another curious contradiction. Graysmith described the evidence discovered in a cab where the Zodiac had shot and killed the driver.


“Just under the dash, Toschi found a pair of dull-black leather gloves. They were soaked with blood but were too small for a man. Later he discovered that they belonged to a woman passenger from earlier in the day.”


Photographs of evidence on display in the offices of the San Francisco Police Department appear to show these gloves stored in a plastic bag. A report prepared and distributed by the California Department of Justice stated that the gloves found in the cab were men’s gloves, size seven.

Men’s gloves are sized using two different methods. One method measures the size of the hand in inches while the other method creates an estimate based on height and hand size. According to either method, a size seven glove is small or extra small. The gloves found in the cab were most likely too small to belong to the individual described by witnesses to the crime.

In the updated edition of ZODIAC UNMASKED, Graysmith wrote that the gloves were important evidence belonging to the killer. His description of a scene from the film based on his book features this puzzling passage regarding the police search of a trailer owned by suspect Arthur Leigh Allen.


“The trailer search continues as the inspectors find two windbreakers. “Hey, hey,” says Toschi, “black gloves. Size seven, same as we found in the cab. He’s got the same shoe size and glove size as Zodiac – I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.”


If Toschi had determined, in 1969, that the gloves belonged to a woman passenger, as Graysmith wrote, he would have no reason to believe that the gloves belonged to the killer when searching Allen’s trailer in 1971. If Toschi knew that the size seven gloves were too small to belong to the killer or Allen, Toschi would not have any reason to say that Allen had the same gloves size as the Zodiac. Allen was more than six feet tall and weighed more than 200 pounds, and had large, even massive hands.

The size of the gloves indicates that the killer left the gloves behind to mislead investigators or that the gloves belonged to someone other than the killer and are not related to the crime. The discovery of the gloves is curiously absent from Graysmith’s other accounts of the trailer search in both ZODIAC and ZODIAC UNMASKED.

Graysmith’s books also serve to confuse readers further regarding the date that Allen obtained his notorious “Zodiac” wristwatch. First described as a 1968 Christmas gift, the watch then becomes a gift for Allen’s birthday on December 18, 1968. Graysmith then again states that the watch was a Christmas gift before changing back to the birthday date.

In ZODIAC, Graysmith incorrectly stated that a vehicle Allen may have used was at a gas station for repairs, and then accurately stated that the car was there for sale, only to again revert to the first explanation.

In ZODIAC UNMASKED, Graysmith also told his readers that the Zodiac “was cynically pleading for help by phone - begging to be stopped before he killed more.” In truth, Graysmith is referring not to calls attributed to the Zodiac, but calls later traced to an imposter. Graysmith was aware that the calls had been the product of a hoax. He even described the episode in ZODIAC.

Those readers seeking a final, reliable accounting of these events may have to wait until Graysmith releases another book with new and improved versions of the facts.
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Deoxys
Username: Deoxys

Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 2:50 am:   

Beautiful, Mike.

I especially like the version where Graysmith informs Detective Toschi that "killers invariably try to inject themselves into the investigation". What would Toschi have done without this sage profiling advice???

While sometimes true, I don't see Allen's letter (if it does indeed exist) to Toschi AFTER he was investigated as being an attempt to "inject himself into the investigation".

Aside from the many blatant fabrications you've pointed out, I think Graysmith is a cautionary tale for any of us of how easy it is to make the evidence fit your person of interest instead of making your POI fit the evidence.

Terrific work. You may have just set the movie release date back another six months, lol.
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Nancydrew
Username: Nancydrew

Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 2:56 am:   

don't count on it, deo.

yes i think mike did a great job. however, don't forget that david fincher was the movie director and he allegedly grew up in marin county (just across the bay from san fran). in fact, fincher was only about 6 or 7 years old when zodiac threatened the school kids.

in other words, fincher's juvenile recollection of events probably meshed perfectley with greysmit's exaggerated, BS-heavy, underestimate-people's-intelligence writing style.

in other words, it's a match made in heaven. at least until people realize what we already know, and then it'll be fincher's turn at what mel gibson has been going through lately.

i hope.
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Deoxys
Username: Deoxys

Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 3:53 am:   

I hear ya, Nancy. Unfortunately $85 million is not a replacement for the years of research guys like Mike, Tom, Ed and others have done. I guess I never had any expectation that a Hollywood movie would be able to capture the complexities of a case like this so at least I won't be disappointed...
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Ed_neil
Username: Ed_neil

Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 6:57 pm:   

Deoxys wrote:

I guess I never had any expectation that a Hollywood movie would be able to capture the complexities of a case like this so at least I won't be disappointed...

Here's an interesting quote from David Fincher concerning this case, as found in Zodiac (January 2007 edition), p. 338 and Zodiac Unmasked (January 2007 edition), p. 491:

We need to construct Zodiac from its emotional truth as opposed to it's factual truth. (emphasis mine)

And in the very next paragraph, producer Brad Fisher blatantly contradicts director David Fincher:

David is beyond Zodiac being a reconstruction," says Brad. "He is interested in the progression of events that he can accurately capture on film and that dispel any myths in the case." (emphasis mine)

I have no idea what "emotional truth" is supposed to be, but it's obvious that it has little, if anything, to do with the facts; the trailer makes it pretty clear that this movie will be a little about the crimes and a whole lot about the fictional aspects that Yellow Book fabricated. What's really funny is how screenwriter Jamie Vanderbilt says (Z p. 342/ZU p. 496):

"The biggest struggle in this draft was to get it to the point where Fincher not only felt it was true to life (he's obviously very invested in that)..." (emphasis mine)

I guess the fact that Fincher cofounded Propaganda Films says it all (Z p. 342/ZU p. 495)...
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Scott_n
Username: Scott_n

Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 11:38 pm:   

Anyone who expects this movie to be sacrificed or altered to conform to the truth in this case is, well, rather ignorant.

Fincher to didn't go from a lackey at Skywalker sound to being Madonna's boytoy to uber director because he is interested in long range fidelity to facts (or earnestly attempting to solve a crime).

But then again, neither did Graysmith..
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Sean
Username: Sean

Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Friday, February 09, 2007 - 8:14 am:   

Mike,
Does the following not provide an alternative reasonable explanation of Graysmith's account of Allen's alleged letter.

On March 2 1980 Graysmith has a conversation with Toschi regarding this letter.(obviously regarding an earlier event)
Whereas in his next book he gives the date of Wednesday 31st of August 1977 as the release date for Allen with the letter coming the following day.

How does this give two different accounts of the same event?
Are you really suggesting that because Toschi(later)said "about six months earlier" as opposed to a more technically correct 8 months that it throws real suspicion on the letter?
Isn't it also true that if this letter does not exist (and I'm not saying it does)that both Graysmith AND Toschi have to be liars?

Regarding the watch....what real difference does it make whether the watch was a birthday gift on December 18th 1968 or a christmas gift 7 days later? Zodiac didn't use symbol or name until the following year
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Ed_neil
Username: Ed_neil

Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Friday, February 09, 2007 - 11:14 pm:   

Sean: read this post of mine, and my next post after that. The fact is, Yellow Book gives us 3 different versions of the same event and gives us 3 different dates, and he was half of the people present during that conversation. He's not talking about remembering on 3-2-1980 about a conversation he had with Toschi in either July/August or September 1977 (take your pick, Yellow Book ain't sure either), he's clearly lying about at least 2 of his versions, and, given his track record, probably all 3.

In other words, you don't mistake first hearing about Allen on 3-2-1980 when it really happened 2½ years earlier. It's an outright, blatant lie, and it's obvious why he lied: he's distancing his learning about Allen from the forged April 78 letter, when the fact is, he knew about Allen at least 8 months before that letter was forged! It strengthens the case against him forging it and, more importantly, it looks as if he was trying to frame Allen with it. "I am back with you," indeed. He knew Allen had been out of circulation and had just returned from jail, so that makes the wording of the forgery not only highly suspicious, it's obviously intended to point to Allen and literally points directly at Yellow Book as the forger since he's the one who's not only been accusing Allen of being Z for 21 years, he's fabricated whatever evidence he needed to as well.
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Sean
Username: Sean

Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Saturday, February 10, 2007 - 5:08 am:   

Hi Ed,
I'm already on record as stating that I believe Graysmith to be the most likely forger of the 78 letter and the reason you have outlined for the discrepancy in is a good one.I'm not here to defend Graysmith.
That said, what I do believe I'm seeing in the last year, is this whole thing (condemnation of Graysmith)taking on a life of its own. Much of it is necessary,I'm not disputing that either, however much of it is irrelevant and at times dileberatly distorted in favour of creating other myths, that only serve to confuse this whole issue.

The whole point here is the alleged letter Allen sent on his release from Atascadero.
Mike describes it as this "mysterious and unseen" letter.The clear implication is that it may not exist.Maybe it doesn't, i don't know, but if it does not Graysmith and Toschi are liars, not just the former.It seems to me that this letter may have served as the idea for the later forgery.
It's whether this letter exists or not that is the relevant issue, it certainly isn't because a bunch of "allenite's" (wherever they are)"often" cite it as an example of Allen taunting police.
We already know allen taunted poilce, we don't need to rely on this letter.
Also I again ask the question...in terms of overall relevance, what difference does it make whether Allen recieved the watch on Dec 18th or seven days later?
graysmith wasn't there and I assume he spoke with someone who seen it on allen around christmas of that year.Yet some would have us believe that the revelant issue is whether Graysmith lied

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