Handwriting Again

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: General Zodiac Discussion: Handwriting Again

By Jake (Jake) (spider-wa073.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 02:15 pm:

Tom wrote in "Lake Berryessa: Zodiac Crime? Part II":
"And until Toschi admits that he forged the 1978 letter, I see no proof that Sherwood Morrill ever made a mistake authenticating Zodiac's handwriting."

The opinion of a panel of experts from across California may not constitute proof, but it makes an excellent case. The politics of the Z investigation at that point may also shed light on Morrill's position -- he was a friend of Toschi, and a foe of Chief Gain.

Also Tom, Mike Kelleher submits that the '78 letter was legit. Will your own politics necessitate a reversal of opinion on this one?

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (aca3f20a.ipt.aol.com - on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 03:44 pm:

Zodiac would know if the 1978 letter was a forgery. If a forgery, the forger would obviously also know.
How would Kelleher know, unless he was either Zodiac or the forger?

Maybe the letter is authentic, maybe not. Politics surrounded both Morrill and Toschi. Until there is proof either way, I'm willing to be wishy washy.

By Jake (Jake) (spider-wl071.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 04:01 pm:

Tom wrote:
"How would Kelleher know, unless he was either Zodiac or the forger?"

Well that's marvelous thinking. I suppose that it applies to the car door as well, not to mention the incidents at Riverside, Berryessa, and Highway 132, not to mention the projector theory, the mystery of the radian, and Zodiac's marksmanship. Are you going to start banning posts from people who aren't the Zodiac or a Zodiac copycat?

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (aca3f20a.ipt.aol.com - on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 04:03 pm:

What are you talking about???

By Ed N (Ed_N) (spider-ntc-ta021.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 04:12 pm:

According to Andrea McNichol in Handwriting Analysis: Putting It to Work for You (pp. 88-90), she states that, in comparison to the "my name is" letter, the 1978 letter has no "manic d's" (ie, d's which are slanted sharply to the right, as seen in many of Z's letters), but that some of the l's are. She also points out that the slanted double l's have a large space before them, indicating the author "was not writing spontaneously at these points." One last point is that the author wrote the word "Editor" larger than his own name, thus "he was giving all the stature and importance to the editor" rather than to himself; by "larger," I presume she means that the "E" in "Editor" is larger than the "Z" in "Zodiac," because the rest of the letters look pretty much the same size. Thus, she concludes that the author of the 1978 letter was not Z.

On the face of it, without any other written communications by Z for comparison, I would have to agree with her. I am disinclined to accept her conclusion, however, because I suspect that she was given only the "my name is" letter and told it was an authentic Z communication, and was then asked if the 1978 letter was written by the same hand.

If we look at the three points she says indicates the 1978 letter was a forgery, we can find each one of them in other Z communiques. For instance, there is not one single "manic d" in the entire Belli letter, yet we know without a doubt it was written by Z because of the swatch of Stine's shirt he included with it. The Dragon card has mostly upright D's, with one almost manic d (in "considerbly"). We also see upright d's and almost manic d's in the 6-26-1970 letter that included the map.

The large space before the double l's in the 1978 letter can also be seen at least twice in the Dragon card, and they are slanted once (in "Well").

In the Belli letter, we can see that Z wrote the "M" in "Melvin" larger than the "Z" in "Zodiac."

Thus, I'm not certain that her analysis is conclusive. But then, I'm not certain one way or the other that the 1978 letter is authentic or not, because I have my doubts about two of the other supposed Z communiques, specifically the Pines card of March 1971, and the "pace isn't any slower" card of October 1970.

By Jake (Jake) (spider-wb014.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 04:47 pm:

Tom wrote:
"What are you talking about???"

Your cavalier dismissal of every single contrary opinion notwithstanding, what I'm talking about is your fallacious logic. Being amateurs, we've all formed opinions on controversial topics without the benefit of first-hand knowledge.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (ac9a1d51.ipt.aol.com - on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 05:04 pm:

You asked me a question regarding Kelleher, and I gave my opinion.

I think my beliefs are very sound regarding the 1978 letter. Of course, this might just be just another cavalier dismissal.

By Joe (Joe) (adsl-63-204-72-195.dsl.scrm01.pacbell.net - on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 07:03 pm:

Re: the '78 letter, Tom's right. Unless Toschi admits to it, hearsay is fallible.

By Classic (Classic) (spider-wb034.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 11:13 pm:

Regarding the '78 letter, Toschi doesn't have to admit to the letter being fake for it to be fake,but it sure would help. Plenty of people are guilty of things that they never admit to. Toschi did everyone a big disservice for forging fan mail and in the process giving the look of impropriety. If Toschi did forge any of the letters he should come forward and set the record straight. This case is complicated enough. If Toschi ever wanted to catch or help catch the Zodiac he should do the right thing. Classic

By Ed N (Ed_N) (spider-ntc-tc031.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 11:51 pm:

Classic: how does one "forge" fan mail? Toschi sent two or three fan letters anonymously to Maupin praising him for including a real life detective (ie, Toschi) in Tales of the City. As he said, "it was kind of like sending fan mail to [him]self" (Zodiac, p. 214).

I don't see how that was wrong; if he forged the 1978 Z letter, then yes, that was wrong. However, he probably thought he had good reasons for doing so, but that's no excuse. In my estimation (and others), everything that happened in the wake of the 1978 letter was mostly political, and his anonymous fan mail was just something opportune that could be used against him; it had little to do with any of the facts.

I personally don't think Toschi forged the 1978 letter (if it really was a forgery), so I don't think he has anything to admit to, at least regarding that letter.

By Peter_H (Peter_H) ( on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 05:53 am:

Ed: One "forges" fan mail by writing phony fan letters with phony signatures. According to Jake's account, all three fan letters were submitted over phony names. How else could Maupin check them out and determne they were phonies? While perhaps not technically forgeries, they were not "anonymous" either, but clearly intended to mislead the recipient to think they came from real fans. As for Toschi's exlanation, it's as phony as the fan mail; he didn't send it to himself. It's more like sending phony fan mail to Maupin, isn't it?

Joe: What are you referring to as "hearsay"? There is nothing like hearsay in the 4 expert opinions that contradicted Morrill, any more than Morrill's own opinion is hearsay. Hearsay is a statement presented by someone (the witness) other than the maker of the statement (the declarant). The five handwritng opinions were offered directly by each of the 5 experts. There is nothing inherently "fallible" in that.

By Jake (Jake) (spider-th051.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 08:05 am:

A prominent source did spread the rumor that Toschi was ID'd as the author through DNA analysis, but this source has been wrong before and since. Anyway, to my mind, Toschi isn't the only suspect -- there's another one that with just as much knowledge and motivation.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Classic (Classic) (spider-tf052.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 08:25 am:

Ed. Peter answered the question about the forged fan mail. As far as the rest is concerned,yes it probably was political,but so what? Toschi was a big boy and knew that in a city like S.F. politics means a lot and there are always people waiting to pounce on someone elses mistake. It doesn't matter whether he forged the letter or not, what does matter is that the validity of the letter is and probably always will be in question.
That also brings the validity of some of the letters into question as well. So time gets spent on trying to prove or disprove its authenticity instead of other aspects of the case. He may have thought he had a good reason for doing it,if he did it, but as the saying goes "The road to h*ll is paved with good intentions". BTW has Toschi ever taken a lie detector test? Would he? Classic

By ZK (Zander_Kite) (a010-0699.stbg.splitrock.net - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 08:30 am:

It seems as if the author of the 1978 letter had the solution to the 340 cipher code. Herb Caen, Toschi the pig, and reference to a movie are all in the code. Either the author was Z or someone who had solved the code- in my opinion - the letter is a phoney. I think Zodiacs last writing as Zodiac was the Jan 29th 1974 letter( though he wrote more as a citizen ). I think Zodiac became BTK and the Jan 15th 1974 crimes in Kansas were the end of Zodiac. Just speculation ????

By Joe (Joe) (adsl-63-205-196-28.dsl.scrm01.pacbell.net - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 09:39 am:

Peter H, Hearsay as in "I have a source who says that Toschi wrote the letter." Or, "I heard they matched Toschi's DNA to the '78 letter." The experts you speak of only verified the '78 letter as being a forgery in their opinion. Not that it was written by Toschi.

By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) (csdu-24203.communicomm.com - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 11:01 am:

Since my second reading of Graysmith (when I realized the desktop poem related to suicide and not homicide)I have wondered if everyone, from law enforcement on down to we humble amateurs have relied too heavily upon handwriting analyses. Handwriting analysis is an inexact science as evidenced by the fact that genuine professionals disagree about several of the most important "Zodiac" handwriting samples.

As a defense attorney might point out in a summation to the jury: "Re: the 1978 letter, either Mr Morrill or the other 4 professionals are wrong. We don't know who, but we know SOME professional analysts are totally wrong. As this is the case, how much confidence can we place in ANY of the handwriting analyses?"

By Ed N (Ed_N) (spider-ntc-tb081.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 11:41 am:

Hmm, somehow I missed that, I always understood they were anonymous. And yes, he sent them to Maupin, but he said it was kind of like sending fanmail to himself. Maybe it was a weak explanation, but it's the one he gave; maybe he was caught by surprise and that was the first thing out of his mouth. Either way, they should have had nothing to do with the 1978 letter.

According to "Strange Turn in The Zodiac Case" by Duffy Jennings (San Francisco Chronicle, 7-11-1978, p. 1) those "fan letters" were written two years before, in 1976 (now that I'm rereading it, it does say that he "signed fictitious names to them"). What, did Maupin suddenly remember those letters two years later and realize they were "similar in tone" to the 1978 letter? If they were the only fan letters he ever received, I could understand him remembering them. If not, it is rather suspicious on Maupin's part.

By Jake (Jake) (spider-tm021.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 01:51 pm:

The Toschi incident came up shortly before the publication of Maupin's book, "Tales of the City," and I think that's why he had a publicist with him when he went to the police. I wouldn't be surprised if this were not a coincidence, but regardless of the timing, Maupin's hunch about the fan letters was right on the money, and Toschi admitted as much.

Nonetheless, the important matter here is whether the Zodiac wrote the 1978 letter, rather than whether Toschi wrote it.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Ed N (Ed_N) (spider-ntc-ta023.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 06:20 pm:

Yes, Maupin was correct about Toschi's "fan mail," but we are still left with some questions, especially since he made that "connection" between Toschi's letters and the 1978 letter. There was a gap of two years between letters. Maupin realized there was a "similarity in tone" that made him think that Toschi wrote the 1978 letter. After two years?

Either Toschi wrote the 1978 letter and Maupin has an eidetic memory and recalled those previous letters instantaneously and saw the "similarity in tone," or Toschi didn't write it, and Maupin kept the fan letters to use against Toschi at an opportune moment (but didn't necessarily know what that moment would be).

There is a third possibility too: that Maupin forged the 1978 letter himself (or had someone else do it) to destroy Toschi. Graysmith didn't go quite that far in suggesting such a scenario, but Toschi opined that Maupin and Maley used the convenient 1978 letter (whether genuine or not was irrelevant) and linked it to Toschi's fan letters in order to destroy his reputation (Zodiac, p. 216).

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-10407-2.linkline.com - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 07:18 pm:

We should realize there was an envelope that had a penned address, etc. and it was taken into consideration.

I am still with the late Morrill as he was, and still is, the TOP authority on Zodiac's handwriting/printing.

I knew and did a project with the late Document Examiner Henry Silver who was a genius in handwriting, and on several occasions several Experts would go against his opinion-so there was a four(and more!)to one and later evidence showed Silver-the LONE affirming Expert was right! He was undefeated in court.All the other Experts were wrong and Silver was right.

I say Morrell was a genius in his field and in the case of the '78 letter he could be -like Silver-the lone man who was correct.There could have been some kind of 'tracing' technique Z used- and there are many- and if there was a team effort then one of that number could have used the technique, but not with the same style or skill as Z and only an Expert like Morrill could see the subtle differences.under magnification.

You would have to read my research to see it from my standpoint. Of course,I am open ,I have no pride of opinion.This is only one of many controversies that has raged on in the Zodiac case!

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (ac88fe0d.ipt.aol.com - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 08:05 pm:

It's very curious that SFPD didn't stick with Morrill's ruling regarding the authenticity of the 1978 letter.
Chief DeAmicis and Inspector Toschi apparently did not get along well at all. Perhaps the letter was internally designed to cast suspicion at Toschi, except the plot was foiled when Morrill authenticated the letter. That could explain why, for the first time, other experts were employed.

By Clark Kent (Clark) (slip-32-102-192-160.ca.us.prserv.net - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 11:09 pm:

The FBI seemed to accept the 1978 as a forgery by Toschi in at least one memo, dated 8/23/1978: "In light of recent new disclosure of 7/12/78, indicating that Det. David Toschi had authored one or more 'Zodiac' letters...psychological profiling of recent letter submitted by your division will be discontinued."
I have no idea if they based their judgment entirely on the SFPD report(s) or not, but it does add to my belief that the 1978 letter is a forgery.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (spider-ntc-tc062.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 11:52 pm:

The thing that gets me is that, if it was a forgery, why did Morrill authenticate it? Surely, as the top questioned documents examiner for how long? Thirty years? he would have determined it was a forgery. If it was forged, then whoever did it was an expert.

By Roger Redding (Roger_Redding) (user-33qs1t6.dialup.mindspring.com - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 12:23 am:

Jake: to my mind, Toschi isn't the only suspect -- there's another one that with just as much knowledge and motivation.

ZK:It seems as if the author of the 1978 letter ... solution to the 340 cipher code. Herb Caen, Toschi the pig...
all in the code...

Roger: hmmmmm

By Classic (Classic) (spider-mtc-tj071.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 12:42 am:

J*sus H. C*rist on a crutch this is a mess! One lowly stinkin' letter that really has no significance to the killers identity and it is causing all this confusion. I actually know whether the '78 letter is forged. It doesn't matter! Because noone except Zodiac and maybe the forger if it was forged will know. How can we trust what anyone says about it at this point? The 3 likely forgers, Toschi,Maupin,Graysmith, would ALL have reasons for saying NO they didn't do it or YES they did do it. Classic

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (ac85f3f4.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 12:48 am:

I agree 100%.
All we know for sure about the 1978 letter is that Arthur Leigh Allen didn't lick the envelope or stamp. (And that it was written after "Sleuth".)

By Ed N (Ed_N) (spider-ntc-tc062.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 01:28 am:

Now that you mention it, Classic, I'm surprised no one else (that I can recall) has suggested the possibility that Graysmith forged the letter. He himself admitted that he could forge Allen's writing so well that Allen couldn't tell it apart from his own (Zodiac, pp. 281-282). This was in April 1980, just two years after the 1978 letter surfaced.

However, the question is: why? To keep Z in the headlines to boost sales for his own upcoming book? If so, that's really strange, because Zodiac would not be published until 1986. It's kinda hard to say for certain, but it looks like Graysmith started his own investigation in 1976-77 (Zodiac was copyrighted in 1976, and, in the book, Graysmith shifts from narrative to active investigation, apparently in 1977 (Zodiac, p. 201), but correct me if I'm wrong). So he was barely into it, and decides to forge a letter (and by his own admission, he was pretty good)? It's possible, I suppose, but why?

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (174.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 01:37 am:

The police ought to have checked the '78 letter and envelope for fingerprints, which, since Zodiac knew nothing about the significance of fingerprints, would obviously be there. Then, they could check those prints against the mountain of other Zodiac prints on file and determine whether the letter was authentic.

By Peter_H (Peter_H) ( on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 02:14 am:

Ed, Check Jake's site. It's there. Graysmith did it, not me.
Doug: Dang, why didn't I think of that: I could have forged the prints, too.

-- Dave

By Zoe Glass (Zoe_Glass) (max1-12.evansinet.com - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 08:16 am:

if z was indeed collecting slaves for the after life, could he also have collected some to serve him in his life? perhaps he dictated some or some parts of the letters.

By Classic (Classic) (spider-tf052.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 08:29 am:

Ed N. : Sorry I can't take credit for thinking of Graysmith as a possible forger, I saw that on Jake's site. What are the possible reasons for Graysmith forging the letter? I don't know. Maybe he forges one and mentions Caen and Toschi, then a few months later he forges another and mentions himself in some way to get publicity for the book. But the first one is discovered as a fake, so there ends the charade. Come to think of it, Graysmith goes out of his way to paint Toschi in a good light concerning the '78 and the events surrounding it. Is that because he knows that Toschi didn't write the letter and feels bad about the trouble it caused Toschi? The speculation is endless. Classic

By Ed N (Ed_N) (spider-ntc-ta083.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 10:06 am:

I should have clarified:

I'm surprised no one else on this board to date (that I can recall) has suggested the possibility that Graysmith forged the letter.

That's what I meant; I was referring only to this forum, not information contained on any other Z site. Sorry for the confusion.

By Jake (Jake) (spider-tm064.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 02:09 pm:

Clark Kent wrote:
"The FBI seemed to accept the 1978 as a forgery by Toschi in at least one memo, dated 8/23/1978....I have no idea if they based their judgment entirely on the SFPD report(s) or not, but it does add to my belief that the 1978 letter is a forgery."

To my knowledge, the FBI had no investigative role in the Zodiac case -- they offered the support of their lab for testing prints and handwriting. I believe that memo was based on info supplied to them by SFPD, and not through their own detective work.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Clark Kent (Clark) (slip-32-102-192-81.ca.us.prserv.net - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 08:47 pm:

Classic wrote: One lowly stinkin' letter that really has no significance to the killers
identity and it is causing all this confusion. I actually know whether the '78 letter is forged. It doesn't matter!

I think that it does matter. If the 1978 letter is valid, that proves that the Zodiac was still alive. Without this letter, his last known surfacing would be in 1974. The postmark on the letter would also give us an idea of where he was on a certain date, which could help weed out some suspects. A forged letter in 1969 would be of lesser importance, since there are later communications, and the gap between Z activity is much smaller.

By Classic (Classic) (spider-to073.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 11:03 pm:

Clark: Granted if the '78 letter is real we would know the he was still alive at that time. But having said that are there any viable suspects that died between '74 and '78? As far as the postmark, all the other letters had varying postmarks so that can't be used to narrow down where a particular suspect might be. What I meant by that letter not mattering was in the content. The only way it would really matter was if it had some actual physical evidence, ie fingerprints, DNA,etc. Classic

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (pluto.cds1.net - on Wednesday, February 05, 2003 - 11:12 pm:

On Tuesday, I found Sherwood Morrill's obituary in the Sacramento Bee (3-23-1988, p. C2), and there were some interesting tidbits: he died at the age of 73 on 3-19-1988 (in a case of near-zynchronicity, it was just 2 days after what would have been Darlene's 41st birthday). It also said:

Among his most famous cases was the Zodiac killer, in which Mr. Morrill cleared nearly 9,000 suspects. Although he said he was able to narrow the number of suspects down to one, he never publicly or privately named the person, family members said.

I found that quite interesting: as of March 1988, Morrill may quite possibly have identified Z through his handwriting. Also, as of March 1988, Ted Kaczinsky, Jack Beeman, Jack Tarrance (Kenny Kilgore's/Dennis Kaufman's stepdad) and Citizen Q had not been identified as possible Z suspects, and so, if Morrill truly did identify Z, then he could not possibly have been any of those 4.

To those, we might possibly add Robert Hunter Jr. and Mike O'Hare, because I do not recall Penn mentioning anything about submitting samples of O'Hare's writing to Morrill for evaluation, and anything that Harry Martin wrote concerning Z is questionable at best, so I'm not particularly concerned that he claimed that Morrill had seen Hunter's writing.

I think it's a foregone conclusion that Peter O's handwriting had never been submitted to Morrill either, so he might be eliminated as well. I don't know if Bruce Davis' writing was ever examined, but he might be eliminated also; considering he was the only one of these suspects who was incarcerated, and since some in LAPD apparently thought he was Z, it's possible his writing might have been examined quietly, but we'll never know for certain.

So, IF Morrill did in fact identify Z, then 7, and possibly all, of the suspects mentioned above must be eliminated as Z suspects.

OK, everyone, you can open fire now...

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-dr05.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 06:07 am:

"Although he said he was able to narrow the number of suspects down to one, he never publicly or privately named the person..."

I can't even conceive of a reason why Morrill would take that secret to his grave with him; that's absolutely bizarre. Unless he felt that his analyses alone wouldn't get a conviction, what other moral justification can there be for not revealing Z's identity?

"Cleared nearly 9,000 suspects"? That thought is absolutely frightening to me as well. Certainly SFPD wasn't eliminating suspects on handwriting alone? Jesus...

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (cache-rp06.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 08:26 am:

Given SFPD's dismal track record with solving homicides, it wouldn't surprise me at all.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (pluto.cds1.net - on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 11:22 am:

It seems inconceivable that Morrill wouldn't reveal the identity of the suspect he couldn't eliminate, especially to his wife (or Graysmith, lol). Perhaps he did tell her and his kids, but cautioned them to not mention it, perhaps for fear of a lawsuit should it get out (especially if the guy had no record or whatever).

In any case, Mel Nicolai wrote in his report that handprinting was the only way to positively identify or eliminate suspects, so that was their mode of thinking then. I didn't know there were so many suspects, it certainly would be interesting to get ahold of their files and comb through them, looking for other things besides the handwriting evidence (which is but a small part of the case). I still think that, in like manner, if the public had access to the GRK files for instance, Ridgeway would easily have been identified as the prime suspect and would have been arrested by 1985, possibly earlier; as many as 200 women might still be alive today. It appears that the most obvious facts and clues seem to confuse police, none of which are rocket scientists.

By Len (Len) ( on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 12:08 pm:


To be fair, not many rocket scientists are policmen, either.

Didn't Morrill eliminate ALA as well? Or is that more rumor than fact?

A certain amount of openness and, yes, publicity can work wonders. Does the Unabomber case ring a bell?

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - on Thursday, February 06, 2003 - 12:27 pm:

I have a bit of experience with the news media and have a strong hunch the facts were highly exaggerated.

By Nick (Nick) ( on Friday, February 07, 2003 - 12:43 am:

I have no doubt that the suspect list reached 9000. It was a high profile case and covered a fair amount of real estate. I imagine everyone and their sister was phoning in leads. I do doubt that Morill obtained and analyzed the handwriting samples of 9000 suspects. That's a bit of a stretch. If he worked the case for say 20 years, that's 450 samples a year. That's a lot of work. No wonder his family doesn't want to talk about it.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc2b2f1.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, February 10, 2003 - 07:29 pm:

If there truly were 9,000 suspects, then from August 1969 to March 1988 (roughly 18.5 years, rounded down to 18 for ease of calculations), Morrill would have needed to examine the handwriting of only two suspects a day; I don't imagine he would have taken more than an hour to examine them either, and probably not even that long. That's assuming a five day working week, with two weeks vacation per year. Thus, 2 x 5 x 50 = 500/year, 500 x 18 = 9,000. So, it's not so incredible, but is it accurate?

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) (lsanca1-ar16-4-47-009-231.lsanca1.elnk.dsl.genuity.net - on Monday, February 10, 2003 - 07:56 pm:

Ed, I would venture to say that of the 9,000 suspects, assuming that each one was cleared on the basis of a handwriting comparison, it's likely that the vast majority of that number were immediately rejected by Morrill with a mere glance. I know fingerprint examiners who can do this with latents they have become intimate with. I doubt that more than a very small percentage of the suspect writings required a more in-depth study. On that basis, in 18+ years of comparing exemplars with originals, 9,000 doesn't sound unreasonable. I wonder, though, if the 9,000 number referred to the total Z suspects that were eliminated through all means, and not necessarily through handwriting.

Hate to sound partisan, but I wonder if Morrill, who rejected Allen's handwriting as that of Z early on, could have much later reviewed ALA's writing (or additional specimens) and came to the conclusion that a match did in fact exist after all. The embarrassment and damage to his reputation he would expect to suffer from this reversal could account for why he chose not to reveal his findings. Since there were no longer any killings attributable to Z, his conscience may have been sufficiently clear to take the secret to his grave.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acbf6105.ipt.aol.com - on Tuesday, February 11, 2003 - 12:57 am:

Bill: I had suspected that perhaps Morrill was good enough to glance at and either reject an exemplar or deem it worthy of a closer look. What you suggest is certainly intriguing: if Morrill had gotten ahold of exemplars of Allen's pre-1969 writing and found that he was unable to eliminate him as a suspect after all, I could certainly understand him not revealing that fact. But I do find it hard to believe that he didn't even tell his wife.

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) (lsanca1-ar16-4-47-009-231.lsanca1.elnk.dsl.genuity.net - on Tuesday, February 11, 2003 - 01:51 am:

Do you really believe that Morrill's wife would not have been an exception to any self-justifying admission? Her lasting impresssions of him were certainly as protective as they could be of Morrill's fallacies. I would expect nothing less of a doting spouse. If, in fact, Morrill succeeded in identifying the Zodiac from handwriting comparisons, whether sooner or in any later examinations, that such comparisons would have cemented any subsequent conslusions.

By Sandy (Sandy) (adsl-67-112-24-4.dsl.snfc21.pacbell.net - on Wednesday, February 12, 2003 - 02:07 pm:

Bill, I think you are both right. I believe she was told who he was, and was asked never to give up the name,not only because her husband asked her not to. But because Z was and still is alive,it could cause her and the rest of the family great danger!The man who is either the real Z or a copy cat, has not left Darlenes family alone,has also gone after my family and friends.I believe that because of all the documentation Pam and I have given to the police is working to keep us safe. I also think that the two people who went to see Morrill, (one of which looked like a man in drag) was the z himself.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (host-66-81-28-178.rev.o1.com - on Sunday, February 16, 2003 - 11:45 pm:

I agree with Tom.Peterson told me that Morrill said he could never find a match with all of the suspect writings he examined.This included the Riverside batch,which was quite extensive.He said that he could spot Zs distintve writng style even at a distance!
As a professional,he yearned to see and match Zs writng to a suspect before he passed away.This was never realized,unless you believe some reporter at the Bee.I don't.
All that we know about Morrill tells us that if got a match he would have made a report and submitted it.He was an impartial technician and a dedicated professional who would never hide a match for any reason.I think it's absurd to think otherwise.