Zodiac Fingerprints?

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: General Zodiac Discussion: Zodiac Fingerprints?

By Howard Davis (Howard) (ont-cvx1-10.linkline.com - on Saturday, June 16, 2001 - 02:08 am:

Just to quote the SFPD Fingerprint Report:All of the latent prints in our case were obtained from a taxi cab. The latent prints that show traces of blood are believed to be prints of the suspect.

The latent prints from right front door handle are also believed to be prints of the suspects.These prints are circled with a red pen.

The other latent prints many of which are very good prints, may or not be prints of the suspect in this case: Per. Insp. Wm. Hamlet Crime Lab 10/19/69

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (tcache-ntc-td01.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, June 16, 2001 - 02:21 am:

Yes, Howard...but from which cab??? Is the report specific? Is there a report of the report?

Sorry, just trying to beat PeterH to the punch.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-th044.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, June 16, 2001 - 02:25 am:

Howard: You said, "The latent prints that show traces of blood are believed to be prints of the suspect."

That's all fine and dandy, but are the "latent prints that show traces of blood" deemed worthy of comparison to another set of prints? If so, have these prints ever been compared to any of the suspect's prints?

I don't mean to belabor this "bloody print(s)" issue, but it seems that they are as critical to the Z case as anything else. If they were compared to all of the primary suspect's prints, and didn't match, then we are possibly wasting precious man hours on suspects that could have already been eliminated. I do appreciate the info.


By Classic (Classic) (spider-tn043.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, June 16, 2001 - 12:09 pm:

Why is this so hard to figure out? The prints CANNOT be used to eliminate anyone. It is not 100% certain that they are z's prints. If he had dropped the gun and prints were recovered from that, that would be 100%. If a suspect matches the prints that means that they were z's prints, not the other way around. On a case this big and complicated, placing so much emphasis on one possibly dubious piece of evidence is about as smart as giving away free bats on nickle draft night at Yankee Stadium. The prints could be everything or they could be nothing. Classic

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (29.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Saturday, June 16, 2001 - 01:38 pm:

And once again, if the prints were absolutely certain to have been those of Z, the police wouldn't have hounded Allen for 20 years. He would have been absolutely eliminated in the early stages of the investigation.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (tcache-ntc-tc01.proxy.aol.com - on Saturday, June 16, 2001 - 02:16 pm:

Especially since it was SFPD that went after Allen. You'd think they would have known best regarding their own prints.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ti021.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, June 17, 2001 - 01:35 am:

Classic wrote: "The prints CANNOT be used to eliminate anyone." I couldn't agree more. I've been practically shouting that very statement in many posts over the past few days and have basically come under attack from three different posters (you know who you are) because of it. My only intention was to point out that ALA CANNOT be eliminated on print evidence alone. But no, it seems that a certain number of my posts have been attacked because of this proclamation, simply because I happen to believe that ALA is a viable suspect regardless of print comparisons. Very interesting indeed.


By Howard Davis (Howard) (ont-cvx1-42.linkline.com - on Sunday, June 17, 2001 - 01:53 am:

Tom: Or whatever your real name is. I don't think you are the real Tom V. and why did you ask that question or was it a question? Anyway ,I disagree with you using my name as how do you know I am Howard?

It says 2:21 AM on your post. I doubt rhe real Tom V. would stay up that late.

How do you know there were not 2 cabs or 3? Stine -or it may have been another cabbie that got in cab 2 and then transferred to cab 1.And why did you leave out cab 3 in your discussion? What are you afraid of-that we will find out you read and write poetry?

I don't think PS worked for Yellow-now he may have been found in a Yellow as Z probably placed him there. I don't think Zodiac was responsible for Stine anyway!

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ti021.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, June 17, 2001 - 01:58 am:

Ps. Take a look at BruceM's post under the thread, Allen: "Titwillow, Titwillow, Titwillow" dated 6/15 - 10:35pm, and you'll see what I mean. He writes, with regard to the prints, "Allen had once been 'dismissed as a suspect' precisely BECAUSE there was no match!" And he was trying to make ME look like the idiot! What the heck is the matter with people like that?!

By Classic (Classic) (spider-to031.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, June 17, 2001 - 02:20 am:

The case against ALA no matter how compelling, should not preclude the investigation of other leads, no matter where they take us. I think where some people are making a mistake is that they assume 100% that ALA is guilty and go from there,trying to gather evidence only on ALA. This is not like the O.J. Simpson case where after a point you know ABSOLUTLY, FOR SURE that he did it and it is only a matter of gathering evidence. In that case the titwillow comment might be compelling, however it is still only a carpenters finish nail in the coffin. No case is going to rise or fall on the memory of someone that was a preteen 30-some yrs ago that remebered a comment that has only an oblique connection to the case. That is not to say that that kind of information is not useful, because it is. Every little nail helps. There are a lot of intelligent researchers and investigators on this board. Once the DNA test results are released,that is when the rubber hits the road and every single one of you is going to be wracking their brains. If it is ALA,he is not around to answer any questions, the two biggest being why? and how did someone like that get away with it for so long? If it is not ALA, then what? The possibilities are endless. Remember that everyone is working towards the same goal here, the resolution of this mystery.I am sure that Tom, Doug, Howard, Sandy, etc would like to know who it was whether or not it was their suspect. I hope people have learned to not follow in RPD, VPD, SFPD, etc., footsteps by not cooperating with each other. Sorry, thats just my opinion, I could be wrong....Classic

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (tcache-ntc-ta01.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, June 17, 2001 - 02:21 am:

Howard, it was me. I was trying to be funny.

To prove I am Tom, I shall state some facts which only Howard and I know:
1) We ate at the Ringside Restaurant
2) Your living conditions are changing
3) 0815

By Mark (Mark) (86-129-237-24.anc-dial.gci.net - on Sunday, June 17, 2001 - 06:30 am:

Classic-Speaking of nails, you've certainly hit one on the head in respect to the Police and their lack of cooperation-I think if they'd worked together the case would've been solved by now or at the very least ALA would've been ruled out as Z.

Tom(or whoever you are! Ha Ha!) Nice touch with the identical times-spooky!

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-wf042.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, June 17, 2001 - 11:38 am:

Classic: Once again, I agree with you, except for the O.J. part. He was found "not guilty," remember? I still have faith in our judicial system, despite the OBVIOUS O.J. glitch. So I have no alternative but to abide by the verdict issued in that particular case.

Okay, enough of that.

I still contend that the two most viable suspects in the Z case are ALA or someone unknown. Based upon everything I've observed, read, and studied in this case, I honestly feel that if ALA is not Z we're in a whole lot of trouble. Because, I opine, none of the other major suspects seem very viable. I'm not saying that I, and we, shouldn't examine and reexamine them closely. It's just that my "gut instinct" tells me that if ALA falls from the picture, we'll ultimately end up looking for a suspect that hasn't even been named yet. Z will end up like his most famous predecessor, Jack the Ripper, by becoming a mythological figure rather than an actual suspect. I hope that doesn't happen, because going back to the proverbial chalk board and starting from scratch is a very daunting notion. (Yes, I am assuming here that we'll have exhausted all of the known suspects in the case PRIOR to starting from scratch. - Just FYI stuff for those who are waiting to tear this post to shreds.)

I hope that the ball is rolling in comparing ALA's DNA to the DNA taken from the CJB case, because I feel it's clearly demonstrable that any and all latents in the Z case are utterly useless. We'll never be able to eliminate ANY suspect on print evidence alone as Classic has been so kind to point out. I agree.


By Howard Davis (Howard) (ont-cvx1-3.linkline.com - on Sunday, June 17, 2001 - 11:53 pm:

Tom: You knew that I knew you were kidding and that I took the part of "Yours truly;"so I guess that's poetic justice!Z on the hood -I don't think so!Had to make your night.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (ont-cvx1-79.linkline.com - on Monday, June 18, 2001 - 01:29 am:

Scott: As you know I was merely quoting the SFPD Finger P Report.

Those prints and the opinion of the Examiners that "are believed to be latents of the suspect"are based on the fact the perp had bloody hands/finger tips as he handled Stine's blood soaked-Z called the pieces "blood stained"(good luck on that midnight snack you were planning!)shirt ,neatly(!)tearing future Z 'credit cards-Zisa'!

Zodiac was seen by three teen witnesses holding on to the center door post with his right hand ,and of course, the dp prints were from the right hand with an angle of placement representing his grip on the beam as he was seen reaching in and wiping the dash( "fake clews")and leaving those bloody prints.

It was "believed" ,and the Report reflects the view, at that time, the prints must have been the suspects.So believed Dagitz and Kirkindal,two of SFPD'S best men.

Enter Zodiac:"As of yet I have left no fingerprints behind me contary to what the police say[also this really refers to the LB statements of the PD in the papers that Z left prints at the LB phone booth -enter Peter H!] in my killings I wear transparent finger tip guards. All[note the same minimal "All" that we find when Z refered to his "electric gunsite"-he likes to keep it simple!]it is is 2 coats of airplane cement coated on my finger tips-quite unnoticable & very efective."

Now,did all that blood, etc. cause at least two of his "coated"tips to come off and he was unaware of this possibility?

Did he,in the excitement of the events relative to his PD encounter, romp and concealment in the park (his third park to date!) forget to do a 'ten count' when he washed up, hence, he left those prints?

Enter posters:Did Z use reverse image prints or someone else's print impressions made of latex as described in anti detection books at the time and was this also part of the "fake clews"he said he left behind?

Or,as has been suggested,did Z use some severed finger tips(still want that snack?)to leave misleading clues behind?

Graysmith indicates it was a 'preserved' crime scene and he indicated Toschi felt that it was and DT has, to the best of my knowledge,never refuted that indication.There is nothing in the reports to say otherwise.

Of course, many will disagree with my statements, but I am only relating what the indications are. If anyone can refute this with facts I am more than willing to listen!

Jake, on his site, has a good section devoted to this discussion. He went through the FBI Reports, etc.and recounts what is given on this controversial subject.

What is my view?Well,some of my friends are for it and some are against it -I am for my friends(someone's definition of compromise!).More later.

Scott, I know you already knew the above , but I thought I would share with those that are new,etc.Just FYI.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (ont-cvx1-79.linkline.com - on Monday, June 18, 2001 - 01:41 am:

Scott: Also, the "fake clews" could have also included those mens gloves(size seven-and Z said up to the end of October he had killed seven people) that were found in the cab-if indeed, Z did leave them behind.See the DOJ Report on this site which refers to the Stine '87.

CraZy time.What if those were the black leather gloves-if Z left them-that Hartnell recounts in his statements as part of his description of the attacker's costume?

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-wq021.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, June 18, 2001 - 02:03 am:

Thanks Howard for all of the information you provided. It seems that the bloody prints are a matter of serious debate, as well they should be. However, to my knowledge (unless I'm overlooking something, which is very possible), none of the prints were ever used to "eliminate" any suspects. I know that print comparisons have been made, even against ALA's, and that they came up as a "no match," yet none of these suspects has been officially eliminated based on the print evidence alone. It seems that if SFPD and the FBI had complete faith in the prints, then many suspects would have been eliminated. However, I can't find any documentation that clearly eliminates any of the suspects based upon the print evidence. This fact just seems strange to me. But again, it is possible that I'm overlooking something here.

Thanks again. Your opinions, knowledge of facts, and comments in general are greatly valued.


Ps. I wonder if there's any leftover pork ribs in my fridge? For some reason I suddenly have an appetite.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-wq021.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, June 18, 2001 - 02:10 am:

Howard: I've always wondered about those gloves as well. I wonder if any of the known suspects wore a size 7 men's glove?

Thank God there were some leftover pork ribs!


By Howard Davis (Howard) (ont-cvx1-43.linkline.com - on Monday, June 18, 2001 - 02:51 am:

Scott: You whetted my appetite for finger sandwiches(Jeffery Dalmer's fav')and beef stew-yum!

By Ed N (Ed_N) (ac847de8.ipt.aol.com - on Monday, June 18, 2001 - 06:06 pm:

According to Mel Nicolai in the Special Report: Zodiac Homicides, p. 7:

Pending receipt of any additional evidence, handprinting is the most positive method of identification or elimination of suspects. (italics mine)

Fingerprints obviously aren't worth much in this case, and any argument in favor of their viability is kinda pointless. So, should a suspect ever be identified through physical evidence, handprinting, DNA etc, and it turns out one of the latents from Stine's cab matches said suspect, then cool. If not, no big deal, since no one's certain that any are actually Z's anyway.

A certain Z "investigator" from Napa became a short-lived Z suspect in 1981, and what really strikes me as curious is that he made the apparent claim that he was cleared on the basis of his fingerprints. That suspect was none other than everyone's favorite whipping boy, Gareth Penn. His own account of his suspect status may be found in his own book, written in his own words (Times 17, p. 29). In his own words:

I became a Zodiac suspect because I had shown up in Ken Narlow's office in possession of knowledge which I wasn't supposed to have. Not only did I know about the radian hint, which I adequately explained by reference to my father's part in it, but I also knew p to fifteen places. (I know p to 10 places; does that make me a suspect too?) These were really inadequate, as grounds for suspicion of murder go. But the grounds for being cleared of suspicion were even less adequate. When the Riverside murder took place, I was in charge of preparing my unit's Morning Report, which accounts for the whereabouts and duty status of everyone in the unit. It would not have been hard for me to falsify an entry. And I had been on leave in California during the first half of October 1966. It would not have been too difficult for me to get a military hop to March AFB from Oklahoma (Penn was stationed at Fort Sill, OK, at the time) for a three-day pass, which would not even have been reflected on the Morning Report, anyway. The fingerprints, of course, were definitive and conclusive. (italics mine)

What are we to make of that in light of Mel Nicolai's report?

By Roger Redding (Roger_Redding) (user-33qs0lk.dialup.mindspring.com - on Monday, June 18, 2001 - 11:06 pm:

The much-maligned, sometimes justly so, Gregory Butterjack[1] theorized that Z. had messed up in his application of the glue and had missed the very tips of his fingers. He claimed that the prints that SFPD recovered from the cab had a sharp edge, which was consistent with his theory. (Did he reveal his source? ha ha ha).

munchin' on some ladyfingers,


[1] When I type his real name, I get "profanity detected in post"

By Terri H (Terri) (dhcp065-024-048-076.columbus.rr.com - on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 07:24 pm:

Here's something for you...
The prints do not belong to Z. I believe that Z may have dismembered the forearm of a victim and the witnesses thought he was wiping down the cab as if to clean it when actually he was wiping on the misleading prints. Yet another of his ways to "play" with the police.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (tcache-wa01.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 07:30 pm:

My forearm doesn't have fingerprints; good thing he didn't use mine!

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (186.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 07:36 pm:

The FBI reports mention latents with "traces of blood." Supposedly these prints came from the area between the front and rear windows as the suspect was leaning inside the car on the driver's side to wipe down the interior.

Suppose, however that the suspect, far from leaving bloody prints, simply left a daub or smudge of blood on the area, and another individual came behind him and placed his own fingers over the smudge. Very hypothetical, to be sure, but not completely implausible, especially if the prints, at the time, weren't sufficiently defined to allow for a positive ID against the officers responding, or others at the scene.

By Terri H (Terri) (dhcp065-024-048-076.columbus.rr.com - on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 07:48 pm:

Okay Wise A*s - notice I capitalized as you are the Kingpin of them all, let me clarify that the hand and fingers were still attached.

By Mark Coombs (Mark) (50-127-237-24.anc-dial.gci.net - on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 08:53 pm:

Doug-I can see how your theory could be possible, it wouldn't be the first time that someone inadvertently contaminated a crime scene! If the DNA testing doesn't come up with a match I hope they will double check the prints with all the personnel at the scene. If there isn't a match then on to the databases of the criminals, military, state employees etc. Again if there are no hits then there's the depressing possibility that the Zodiac never held a job that he had to be fingerprinted for OR that he planted someone elses. I know that checking out the prints through all of these databases would be a massive undertaking even with the great strides in computer networking-a last resort procedure to be sure. So is the severed hand theory bizarre? Of course, but what isn't in this case? Terri, I was curious why would he use the entire forearm-wouldn't he want to "travel light"? (I can already see my name in the "kook" file-ha ha!) I think it's a real stretch but it's possible.

By Terri H (Terri) (dhcp065-024-048-076.columbus.rr.com - on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 09:03 pm:

I'm guessing that there was just enough arm to grip. It wouldn't have been severed past the elbow. I also believe that the arm was lightweight and dainty, that of a female.

By Tony (Mahalo) (1cust46.tnt2.wailuku.hi.da.uu.net - on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 11:05 pm:

It would 've been quite chilling that night if Foukes & Zelms had gunned down & killed Z and upon searching his jacket pulled out a...severed hand!!!

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tb062.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 12:37 am:

This "severed hand" concept has been hashed-out before, but I've got a few comments to share, nonetheless.

None of the KNOWN Z victims were mutilated. So, Z would have to have obtained a severed hand from elsewhere. One of his UNKNOWN victims, perhaps? Maybe. But I'm starting to side with those who opine that Z was lying about his tally of victims. Judging from the crimes that we can attribute to Zodiac, he wasn't a very accomplished killer when compared to some of his contemporaries. Although, in fairness, he did manage to elude justice unlike some of them. Then again, mutilation doesn't seem to fit Z's MO or signature, therefore I'm inclined to rule out the "severed hand" concept. Unless Z acquired the hand by pulling an Ed Gein . . . Nah, it just doesn't seem to fit. It can't hurt to speculate, can it?


By Terri H (Terri) (dhcp065-024-048-076.columbus.rr.com - on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 06:22 am:

The "severed hand" theory doesn't seem to fit Z's MO, also correct. However, there are still things that only S.F.P.D. know about the victims that were found. This may have been one of the things that they have kept back if nothing else b/c of thinking along the same lines with the prints that were left behind on the cab.

By Boojum (Boojum) (30.new-york-08rh15rt-ny.dial-access.att.net - on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 07:33 am:

I'm with you on the severed hand/fingers idea, Terri. I've thought that all along. Jimmy Coonan from the Westies (a NYC crime gang) used to cut the hands off the mob guys he'd whack and store them in the freezer so he could put their prints all over the place at future hits. The bodies he'd just dump in the river with the bellies and the lungs slit so they wouldn't rise to the surface.

I've been convinced for some time that whatever prints turn up on Stine's cab ain't gonna be our boy.

By Terri H (Terri) (dhcp065-024-048-076.columbus.rr.com - on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 11:08 am:

I really think we're on the right track Boojum.

By Zoe Glass (Zoe_Glass) (max1-22.evansinet.com - on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 11:31 am:

"It" could be yet another character from film.
What was that TV show with the character played by a hand in a box? Anyhow it's all together creepy.

Scott good point it doesn't fit the signature or M.O. ,neither of which have a practical application in this case. This serial killer played by his own rules.

By Terri H (Terri) (dhcp065-024-048-076.columbus.rr.com - on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 01:27 pm:

This serial killer definitely played/plays by his own rules. He wouldn't have it any other way.
He may not have seen or heard about anything like this before, he could have just made it up himself (at the time). I think the idea was never to do the exact same thing twice which would add to the level of complexity of the case.

By Mark Coombs (Mark) (81-120-237-24.anc-dial.gci.net - on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 03:32 am:

Zoe-I think the answer to your trivia question is the "Addams Family", how much do I win?!

Scott, Boojum and Terri-I'm glad to see that you are as open-minded as I am on this, it's certainly possible! I don't think Z was lacking in creativity, possibly there are still some stones left unturned! -Mark

By Zoe Glass (Zoe_Glass) (max2-19.evansinet.com - on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 05:00 pm:

Mark, thank you oh yes that's it. Your prize will be one private label vintage 40oz brew.

Scott, where you the one who first brought up the
hand? Did that idea grow from a FBI file?

On the other hand another agency has an open, common practice of switching public files with similar cases, to safeguard identities.

By Eduard (Eduard) (erasmuscollege.nl - on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 11:27 pm:

Zoe wrote:
"On the other hand another agency has an open,..".
Who's hand would that be? LOL


By Ryan Olesin (Ryan) (d150-160-190.home.cgocable.net - on Friday, January 11, 2002 - 02:08 pm:

With all the prints they have from the different sources, have they ever compared the prints to see if the same print appears more then once?
i.e. Do any of the prints from the cab match the phone booth?

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38lddt0.dialup.mindspring.com - on Friday, January 11, 2002 - 02:46 pm:


I think Jake has some info on this at his site which came at least partly from the FBI report.
In reference to some of his past posts, I believe Jake's thinking is that we can assume that any and all reasonable comparisons along these lines were made. Of course, I don't mean to speak for him.