SFPD Composite: Useful or Useless Tool?


Zodiackiller.com Message Board: General Zodiac Discussion: SFPD Composite: Useful or Useless Tool?

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tb053.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.16.173) on Sunday, June 02, 2002 - 03:50 pm:

I've never had a lot of faith in eyewitness testimony to begin with; however, following a rather violent episode that occurred to my wife and I about a week ago, I have virtually zero confidence in it at this point. The only possible exception that I can fathom is if the person being described by the witness and/or witnesses has a readily identifiable physical feature (Doug's "dwarf" scenario, for example) or some sort of unique marking, such as a tattoo.

Basically, I said all of that to say this: We may as well throw the SFPD Z composite right out of the friggin' window. I'm convinced, now more than ever, that the SFPD composite of Zodiac is so vague -- and I would also argue that, with regard to certain aspects of it, it is also blatantly wrong -- that it was essentially worthless from the moment it was finished by the artist.

Now, I'm not sure how divided we board members are on this issue, but I'd honestly like some constructive feedback in order to get an idea of how much value is being placed on the SFPD composite.* I'm sure there are those who feel that I am only pointing out the obvious, and that is fine. Likewise, I'm also sure that there are those who've based an entire theory around the composite (the Peter O. theory, for example) and think that my claim is ludicrous, and undoubtedly there are a plethora of opinions that fall somewhere between the two extremes. That is also fine.

What I'm asking of the board is not where you stand on this particular issue but why you believe the way you do with regard to both eyewitness testimony and the SFPD composite. I apologize if this seems like a waste of a topic and unworthy of discussion. However, if a meaningful dialogue can be started in this thread, it will become obvious why I felt the need to create it.

Thanks,
Scott

*Certainly, the value of the composite has diminished with the passing of time. I mean, the Z obviously wouldn't look the same as he did 30+ years ago. So, by "value" I mean to say, what was its worth even at the height of Zodiac's activity?

By Ryan Olesin (Ryan) (d150-160-190.home.cgocable.net - 24.150.160.190) on Sunday, June 02, 2002 - 04:13 pm:

A composite is only good if there is more evidence to link to that person. I woudn't throw the composite out the window, but its not going to be the silver bullet. All it could be used for is to show that a certain suspect could resemble the composite either naturally or by some disguise. But then again most people could look like that in the dark with a disguise. At best its a tiny piece of circumstantial evidence.

And you're right about the 30+ years since Z certainly wouldn't look the same. But still I don't like the idea of throwing any evidence out.

Ryan

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (29.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.17.29) on Sunday, June 02, 2002 - 04:20 pm:

I don't think the purpose of a composite is to develop evidence against a suspect. It's a tool that the police use to draw attention to an individual with the thought of developing that individual as a suspect.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-tc022.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.17.27) on Sunday, June 02, 2002 - 06:10 pm:

Scott,
I would agree that it's just a tool, nothing more.
Keep in mind as well that some composites are hautingly accurate. Examples: Bundy at Lake Samamish, Polly Klass's killer Richard Davis.

By Bucko (Bucko) (spider-wc081.proxy.aol.com - 205.188.193.56) on Sunday, June 02, 2002 - 09:14 pm:

I think the value of eyewitness composites can vary greatly. Good eyesight, multiple witnesses, length of time to view the suspect, conditions viewed under, etc. can be factors to consider.

The young witnesses had good eyesight, their attention was drawn directly to Z, and they had ample time for more than just a fleeting look. The lighting conditions were not the best, however. Their composite drawing gains credibility when the two officers apparently feel it is close enough to the face of the man they saw, as to only slightly change the facial features in the amended composite. The officers apparently got a fairly good look, otherwise they probably would not have offered changes at all to the composite.

Z himself offers further credibility when he states in a letter, "...I look like the description passed out only when I do my thing,....". Now Z may have lied, but when all the above is taken into account, I believe the SFPD composite may be pretty accurate.

Not all eyewitness accounts are "created equal". Even the best, in my opinion, are, as Doug and Sylvie have said, tools. How much weight the tool is given may depend on the circumstances under which it was obtained.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (spider-wm074.proxy.aol.com - 205.188.199.184) on Sunday, June 02, 2002 - 09:38 pm:

The composite worked for Johns,but I well know the varied opinions on this subject.She told me she instantly tied the composite to the man driving the "interesting ride "vehicle and she was right next to him,separated by a center console,for about two "howers"in a full moons light.She could even see his pock marked chin.
Johns did not see the stranger without a "disguise",if indeed,he had one.
If any of the Stine witnesses saw the perp without a disguise(?)would they recognize him?That's really the issue here.
Eyewitness testimony as to a suspects appearance is only ONE tool in an investigation anyway.
We are back to DNA and prints,but we know the story on Zodiac prints!
It seems as though everything is contraversial in this case ,except the death of the canonical victims.Don't even go into supposed Zodiac victims!

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-td042.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.17.167) on Monday, June 03, 2002 - 03:28 am:

"All it could be used for is to show that a certain suspect could resemble the composite either naturally or by some disguise."

Ryan, I see what you mean but let's be honest here, a lot of American males in the late 60's looked like the composite. Take a look at Peter O., the SF businessman, TK, or Kilgore's father, and then show me what it is about the SFPD composite that separates one from the other.

"At best its a tiny piece of circumstantial evidence."

Indeed.

"It's a tool that the police use to draw attention to an individual with the thought of developing that individual as a suspect."

Doug, very true. However, based upon any and all criteria set forth in the SFPD composite, wouldn't it have drawn attention to thousands upon thousands of American males living in California in the late 60's?

"Keep in mind as well that some composites are hautingly accurate. Examples: Bundy at Lake Samamish, Polly Klass's killer Richard Davis."

Sylvie, I agree with you 100%. Is it the quality of the witness, the skill of the artist, or a combination of both that accounts for the difference? Would you say that the quality of artistic ability exhibited in the SFPD composite vs. that demonstrated in the Klass case is radically different? If so, why?

"Not all eyewitness accounts are 'created equal'."

Bucko, I agree with that, and you have eloquently pointed out numerous reasons to support your position. However, let me ask you, doesn't it seem strange that the composite itself doesn't resemble the description directly below the drawing? IMO, the descriptions "heavy build" and "crew cut" are not reflected in the composite itself. Do you agree with that statement?

"The composite worked for Johns . . . She could even see his pock marked chin."

Howard, you are correct about the opinions with regard to Johns' testimony. However, even if she was a Zodiac victim, I certainly don't see the "pockmarked chin" description reflected in the SFPD composite. Perhaps that is an indicator that the Zodiac didn’t abduct Johns?

"If any of the Stine witnesses saw the perp without a disguise(?)would they recognize him?That's really the issue here."

Excellent question Howard. Personally I'd say "no." Seriously, what do you think?

Excellent stuff folks; let's hash it out for all it's worth, once and for all.

Sincerely,

Scott

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (199.251.68.84) on Monday, June 03, 2002 - 05:21 am:

Scott, you observe, "... based upon any and all criteria set forth in the SFPD composite, wouldn't it have drawn attention to thousands upon thousands of American males living in California in the late 60's?"

Yes, I believe that's how it would have turned out. But the police were hoping that it would be unique enough to at least give them a few leads. Incidentally, that's what happened in the Bundy case, where the composite was very good. Unfortunately, the number of leads was so great that by the time the police got around to Ted Bundy he had already been arrested in Utah for an attempted rape/abduction. Nonetheless, they would have gotten him eventually.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-17-67.bos.east.verizon.net - 141.154.17.67) on Monday, June 03, 2002 - 08:47 am:

Scott: to respond to your original question:

If you look a little closer at opinions and studies that demonstrate the weaknesses in eyewitness testimony, I think you will find that these have identified particular areas of weakness, rather than a categorical condemnation of eyewitness testimony altogether. For example, in cases of aircraft crashes that result in exploasion, witness will often recall the explosion occurring before impact. This is probably due to the vividness of the explosion. Details that call for estimates or interpretation are also notoriously varied among witnesses to the same event, such as height or weight estimates. Phenomena that have strong cultural connections, such as use of language, exact wording or manner of dress may be strongly influenced by the witnesses prior experience, beliefs or prejudices. There is a classic example used in clinical trial courses at many law schools that involves showing a subject a picture of a scene for a minute or so and then testing for recall. In one scene, two men, one black and one white are having an apparent confrontation on a susbway. One of the men is brandishing a straight razor. A remarkable number of test subjects will recall the black man as being armed with the razor, although it is the white man in the depiction. (I believe this is essentially what happened in the dispatchers report on PH. Someone along the chain of communication "saw" a black man when given a description of the event.) The same test subjects will be able to recall the general scene, including background details and the physical descriptions of the two men reasonably accurately.
Point is, a composite may be very accurate, especially if consistent across a number of witnesses to the same incident. Also, the general sequence of events, such as the observation of Z at the PH scene, are probably reliable. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38lde9a.dialup.mindspring.com - 209.86.185.42) on Monday, June 03, 2002 - 01:52 pm:

Scott,

I think a composite can be a useful tool if it is properly used.

As with other types of evidence, within limitaions, a composite might rule someone in, but it would be dangerous to rule persons out with such a sketch. The problem is, if the police use the sketch to decide who is to be investigated, it will only be helpful if the sketch is accurate. There is no way to know until after the game is over whether or not the sketch is accurate. What's worse is that eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, speaking from a historical point of view. Now, there have of course been many examples of how a composite quickly apprehended the right guy, but I see all the time on New Detectives and Forensic Files, etc how this kind of thing doesn't work. In fact, there was an episode of one of these devoted to this phenomenon. There was some Phd on there who studies this exclusively. He has volumes and volumes of case files where eyewitness testimony was totally wrong. One of these cases happened in Chicago where there was a bandit/rapist who targeted beauty salons. The guy would come in, rob everyone, and then get a favor from one of the ladies at gunpoint before leaving. They made a composite, a suspect was identified who lived in the area, and something like 9 women picked him out of a lineup on the first try. They all went to court and said yes that's the guy and he wouldn't confess so the judge gave him 105 years. Luckily, he met the real bandit in prison, and convinced a new lawyer to look into it. DNA was able to rule him out after several years in jail. The other inmate matched the samples.

That's my reason to have doubts about the sketch.

On the other hand, I personally believe Foukes and Zelms spoke to Z. The amended drawing did not differ siginificantly from the first, so this gives a much greater degree of credibility to the accuracy of the sketch in this particular case. I'm not saying this sketch should be thrown out. It's just that it would never be courtroom evidence, which is all that we are really concerned with after so much time has passed. I say keep the sketch, but don't expect anything amazing to come from it. And, be mindful that a bad sketch can sink an investigation.

Ray

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-10407-2.linkline.com - 64.30.209.40) on Monday, June 03, 2002 - 03:26 pm:

Scott,
If the S.F. witnesses viewed a man who was in disguise then WITHOUT that disguise it would have been very difficult for them to have ID'd the same perp.If the police placed horn rimmed glasses,etc.,on suspects(with the Zodiac as one of them-oh sure!) in a lineup it could have helped ,but manipulating witnesses could have been a real issue.
Both Ray and Peter have made good points as it relates to this contraversy about witnesses and the composite.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tc012.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.17.22) on Monday, June 03, 2002 - 11:26 pm:

Doug wrote, "Nonetheless, they would have gotten him eventually."

Based solely on the composite? Maybe, maybe not. However, such an eventuality doesn't seem to apply in this particular case.

Peter wrote, "Details that call for estimates or interpretation are also notoriously varied among witnesses to the same event, such as height or weight estimates."

Which seems to be the problem with eyewitness testimony in this case, right?

"Phenomena that have strong cultural connections . . . may be strongly influenced by the witnesses prior experience, beliefs or prejudices."

True. But I don't see that being applicable in this case, do you?

"Point is, a composite may be very accurate, especially if consistent across a number of witnesses to the same incident."

Okay, I can agree with that, but I'm still unsure that there is any consistency among eyewitnesses in this case, even at Presidio Heights. I'm not sure what to make of the three teens at PH because I don't believe that we know enough about them. Were they interviewed independently or as a group? If as a group, then I simply can't put too much stock into their testimony. If they were interviewed separately -- which should have been SOP -- then I'd love to read the three different descriptions they gave in order to get a feel of how similar they were/are.

"Also, the general sequence of events, such as the observation of Z at the PH scene, are probably reliable."

Will you explain what you mean in more explicit detail, please? Also, it's okay to throw out the bathwater as long as you know the baby isn't in it. In other words, if it can be shown that the composite of Zodiac is worthless, why not throw it out so as to not impede the progress of the case? I'm mindful of Ray's statement that, "a bad sketch can sink an investigation." Exactly Ray, exactly.

Ray N. wrote, "The problem is, if the police use the sketch to decide who is to be investigated, it will only be helpful if the sketch is accurate. There is no way to know until after the game is over whether or not the sketch is accurate."

Very good point, Ray. Furthermore, with regard to this case, how do we know that we aren't essentially looking at the Zodiac's disguise? I mean, maybe the glasses were a part of the disguise and maybe they weren't. Maybe Zodiac lied about wearing a disguise, maybe he didn't. Which parts of the composite constitute a part of the disguise and which don't and are reflective of his true features? With these kinds of questions looming largely, perhaps we can make some solid judgements about the composite prior to the end of the game.

"I personally believe Foukes and Zelms spoke to Z. The amended drawing did not differ significantly from the first, so this gives a much greater degree of credibility to the accuracy of the sketch in this particular case."

I'm not so sure about that, Ray. It's my understanding that Foukes and Zelms never even talked to the artist of the composite. The composite's description certainly wasn't changed to reflect Foukes' statement that the Z appeared to be "approximately 5'10"" instead of "5'8"" and Foukes also never said anything about a "crew cut." In fact, if I'm not mistaken, even Toschi was disgusted by this fact and he believed that the composite was probably wrong. (Ed N., can you help me out on this one? Didn't you have Toschi's exact quote with regard to the SFPD composite?)

"I say keep the sketch, but don't expect anything amazing to come from it."

If nothing amazing has come from it at this point, I think it's fair to say that nothing ever will.

Howard wrote, "If the S.F. witnesses viewed a man who was in disguise then WITHOUT that disguise it would have been very difficult for them to have ID'd the same perp."

Howard, see above for my remarks regarding the disguise. Also, your point is well taken but I'm somewhat confused. Do you believe the SFPD composite of the Z is valuable or not? How about on a scale from 1 - 10 with one being the least amount of value?

Great stuff folks, I appreciate your input.

Scott

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acbe54c7.ipt.aol.com - 172.190.84.199) on Tuesday, June 04, 2002 - 01:50 am:

Scott: In "Deluge of Tips: Zodiac Letter Is Making the Rounds" by Duffy Jennings (San Francisco Chronicle, 4-28-1978, p. 3), we find the following:

Meanwhile, Toschi said a nine-year-old "composite sketch" of Zodiac is no longer reliable and should not be the basis for telephone tips to police.

Toschi said he has been deluged with hundreds of calls from Zodiac buffs and tipsters.

"The sketch is killing me," he said, noting that most of the calls were from persons who saw the drawing in Wednesday's Chronicle
("Zodiac Ends Long Silence," 4-26-1978, p. 16) and think they know someone who resembles it.

"It is of no value to me at this point," said Toschi. "Even in 1969, we didn't know how good it was."
(emphasis mine)

The sketch, by a police artist, was based on descriptions provided by three Presidio Heights teenagers who saw a husky man in the darkened street the night cab driver Paul Stine was slain in 1969, and from a young man Zodiac stabbed at Lake Berryessa three weeks earlier while wearing a hood. Zodiac is known to have murdered six persons, although he has claimed many more.

"We have no idea what he looks like now," Toschi said. "We need something more than a lookalike. If someone is positive they have seen something or overheard a conversation that would be helpful, or if they have a sample of someone's hand printing they want to send me, I'd love to hear from them."

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tc032.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.17.32) on Tuesday, June 04, 2002 - 04:08 am:

Mucho gracias, my friend. You are a one-man repository for all things Z!

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tc032.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.17.32) on Tuesday, June 04, 2002 - 04:27 am:

Ed, by the way, "Zodiac is known to have murdered six persons . . ."

That is interesting. Is the author including Cheri Jo Bates or does he/she merely have their facts wrong?

By Bucko (Bucko) (spider-wi032.proxy.aol.com - 205.188.197.32) on Tuesday, June 04, 2002 - 09:24 am:

Scott wrote: "However, let me ask you, doesn't it seem strange that the composite itself doesn't resemble the description directly below the drawing? IMO, the descriptions "heavy build" and "crew cut" are not reflected in the composite itself. Do you agree with that statement?"

I think the description indicated "short brown hair". The composite appears to have short hair, at least to me. "Heavy build" probably referred to the body of the individual, rather than the face.

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldfem.dialup.mindspring.com - 209.86.189.214) on Tuesday, June 04, 2002 - 02:34 pm:

It just seems to me that the analysis of the drawing represents a discussion of the finest details of something that has completely lost whatever dubious evidentiary value it ever had, if any.

As far as the disguise angle goes, what's in a diguise in this instance. If you think slipping on a pair of horn rim glasses is a disguise, well ok. There's not much to that from my POV. Short hair and glasses are all that appears to be possible. There is no mustache, beard. Maybe the hair was cut and colored. That means I am putting on a disguise every time I go to the barber shop?

This is another one of those times when one can ask, "Where are you trying to go and will the road you're on get you there?" There is no way that any composite is going to produce one molecule of substantive proof one way or the other about anyone, and it's certainly not going to produce any new suspects. These facts beg the question, "Could the drawing be detrimental to solving the case?" Of course it could. In fact, I predict when Zodiac is identified, there will be voice coming from the back row saying, "It can't be him, he doesn't look a thing like the sketch!"

Ray

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (12.81.120.135) on Tuesday, June 04, 2002 - 06:41 pm:

When the Unabom composite hit the papers back in '94, I had friends all over the country calling me asking if it was me. Even people who knew that I can barely change a lock were asking if I was this nutjob mad bomber.

The composite on John Doe #2 from the OKC bombing looks like stumpy little fireplug-shaped guys I see in bars all the time.

Composites are pretty useless.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-td074.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.17.184) on Tuesday, June 04, 2002 - 11:46 pm:

Bucko wrote, "I think the description indicated 'short brown hair'. The composite appears to have short hair, at least to me. 'Heavy build' probably referred to the body of the individual, rather than the face."

Actually, the amended composite does say "short brown hair". It was the original SFPD composite, dated October 13, 1969, that gives the "crew cut" description. IMO, that only complicates matters further. The 3 teens must have described seeing a "crew cut" because it is their testimony that prompted the original composite. However, the amended composite does say "short brown hair". Was this changed to reflect Foukes' description? If so, why didn't they also change it to reflect Foukes' description of Z's height?

As for the "heavy build" description, I suppose it is possible that it is only referring to Z's body. However, considering that we don't know that for sure, the composite, in my mind, is just that much more confusing, which supports the idea that, as far as the Z case goes, the composite simply isn't that viable.

Ray N. wrote, "If you think slipping on a pair of horn rim glasses is a disguise, well ok."

Like I said, Ray, maybe they were a part of the disguise and maybe they weren't. Allow me to ask you this; if in fact the Zodiac was telling the truth about wearing a disguise, what do you think it consisted of? Also, do you think he was telling the truth or not?

"'Where are you trying to go and will the road you're on get you there?'"

Ray, there are people who've built entire theories about the Zodiac's identity based upon the SFPD composite. Peter O., is one such example. In fact, the composite is so important to the author of that theory that he goes out of his way to show how his suspect has Ptosis and that this condition is clearly represented in the composite. Have a look: Peter O. and SFPD composite.

Yes, Ray, I do think I am on the right road and I'll tell you why; I'm tired of people asking, "ALA doesn't look like the composite so how can he be the Zodiac?" Or saying, "My suspect is a dead ringer for the composite, it has to be him." Come on, you know the type of comments I'm referring too. "Allen was 6' tall but the Zodiac was only 5'8" so it can't be Allen." And on and on and on . . .

What I'm trying to do is create an informed and intelligent consensus amongst all of us bright posters to determine what value the SFPD composite really possesses. What I want to know is if it is logical to discount or include certain suspects based solely on the composite. I want to know if the composite can be used with any degree of credibility when debating any issue that pertains to this case. All I want to do is level the playing field, as it were. Either the composite is useful, useless, or somewhere in-between. I want to know which it is and why. Is that fair enough?

Alan wrote, "Composites are pretty useless."

Alan, I appreciate your input, but I'd like to know if that is a truism in all cases or just cases like this one?

Thanks all,

Scott

By Linda (Linda) (208-59-124-74.s74.tnt1.frdr.md.dialup.rcn.com - 208.59.124.74) on Wednesday, June 05, 2002 - 05:27 am:

As mentioned already, I agree that a composite is just a tool to use when you need additional help in finding an unknown. Composites are merely suggestions of what a person was remembered to look like. Since, in most cases, you'll have an artist trying to interpret the visions of another through verbal description, it's inevitable that the end sketch, although close, may still not completely resemble the image that the victim/witness may have still hold in his mind. It is hopeful; however, that a sketch will be recognizable to someone, subsequently leading to a positive match with other clues in a case.

Alone, a sketch is probably pretty useless...unless, of course, there's a unique and identifying physical characteristic (i.e. tatoo, scar, different color eyes, missing ear, etc.) to clearly narrow down the field.

Linda

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldfmn.dialup.mindspring.com - 209.86.190.215) on Wednesday, June 05, 2002 - 11:17 am:

Scott:

I don't have an opinion as to whether Z wore a physical disguise or not. I'll only concede it is a possibility. Having said that, it seems you have pretty much answered your own questions as to the evidentiary value of the composite. When I asked you if you thought you were on the right road you said yes, because you were tired of people comparing known suspects to the composite and drawing hard conclusions based on that. That still doesn't answer the question as to whether you're on the right road or not. Think of it this way: you have to have an identified goal in mind. What is it that you hope to end up with? If your goal is a concensus, that's fine. But what good will a concensus about the value of the composite be if one can even be reached? I'd like to see one person on here say that they would accept an exonneration of any WMA without disfigurements based solely upon the sketch. We already know that if we included everyone that looked like the sketch there would be years and years of work to do. This doesn't even include the fact that over 30 years have gone by. The other option is to include someone you already suspect based on the sketch. This is different than what you asked about including persons based solely upon the sketch. If you do that then you have to include every single person who resembles it. It's just impossible. Even if not what are you going to do, get handwriting samples, fingerprints, and alibi's from all of them? That would be about as beneficial as going out in your back yard, measuring the length of every blade of grass, and recording each one by number.

The whole process of making comparisons with suspects is kind of like playing a lottery, particularly because we don't even know for sure who the person in the sketch is. Is he even the Zodiac? When you factor in a disguise, it is obvious, at least it is to me, that this is not the right road because as soon as one starts down it, there is a big sign that reads, "DEAD END".

As far as Peter O's theory is concerned, it suffers from a credibility standpoint because of the things I have mentioned here. After all, his analysis never produced a suspect did it? All he did was claim to describe highly specific characteristics of Zodiac based upon the drawing of a person who is not even known to be the Z and if he is, may or may not be in disguise. Wow. Stop the presses.

Keep in mind that all of the above is only my opinion. I'm not trying to force a concensus, but the way I see it, we need to focus completely on the forensic evidence available. Whatever conclusion is drawn from that must stand, regardless of whether the identified suspect looks like the composite. Save the sketch for the museum.

Ray

By Zander Kite (Zk) (a010-0047.stbg.splitrock.net - 64.196.40.47) on Wednesday, June 05, 2002 - 02:06 pm:

I would adopt the stratedy of attempting to build off a composite. Let's take the Bundy composite. They also knew that "Ted" drove a Volkswagon, so you're looking for a guy similar to this sketch that drives a Volks. etc. You keep shortening the possibilities with further details. In the Zodiac case, you are looking for a guy similar to the sketch who is a murderer, publicity-seeker, bomber, drove a tan(MM) or brown(Z) car at that time, etc.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (122.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.17.122) on Wednesday, June 05, 2002 - 02:14 pm:

Can't imagine who that might be.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-wq052.proxy.aol.com - 205.188.200.173) on Wednesday, June 05, 2002 - 03:18 pm:

Linda wrote, ". . . in most cases, you'll have an artist trying to interpret the visions of another through verbal description, it's inevitable that the end sketch . . . may still not completely resemble the image that the victim/witness . . . hold in his mind."

Very true, Linda. So, essentially what you are telling me is that the quality and value of a composite will vary depending upon, not only the artist's skills, but also how well the witness is able to communicate their memories and how good the artist is at interpreting said communication. Is that about right? That certainly sounds logical but also very complicated. I realize that, at its best, you will end up with something like the composite done of Bundy -- virtually identical. However, what is the worst-case scenario and where does the SFPD composite fit into the mix?

Ray N. observed that, "you have to have an identified goal in mind."

Even if the goal is nothing more than to have a meaningful dialogue about the value of the SFPD composite, what is the matter with that? I doubt a consensus will ever be reached, but there is nothing wrong with evaluating the topic, is there? I truly value your input Ray, and welcome it whenever you are willing to provide it. However, it seems as though you are asking me to have a completely hashed out theory prepared before starting a new thread. What seems obvious to you and I appears to be a mystery to others and that is fine. Perhaps they have perfectly good reasons for finding the composite beneficial. If so, I'd like to know "why" that's all. No harm no foul, right?

"As far as Peter O's theory is concerned, it suffers from a credibility standpoint because of the things I have mentioned here. After all, his analysis never produced a suspect did it? All he did was claim to describe highly specific characteristics of Zodiac based upon the drawing of a person who is not even known to be the Z and if he is, may or may not be in disguise. Wow. Stop the presses."

Ray, you didn't even bother to check out the nice little link I provided in my previous post, did you? Peter O. is the suspect and was initially labeled as such because of his resemblance to the SFPD composite. Seriously, check it out.

Zander wrote, "In the Zodiac case, you are looking for a guy similar to the sketch who is a murderer, publicity-seeker, bomber, drove a tan(MM) or brown(Z) car at that time, etc."

Just for the record, are you telling me that step one in finding the Zodiac is to look for a guy "similar to the sketch"? (See what I mean, Ray?) If that is your opinion that is perfectly okay by me, you are certainly entitled to that. However, will you please explain to me why the perp has to look similar to the composite?

Doug, I can easily argue either side of the fence when it comes to the SFPD composite and TK, as I'm sure you are well aware. Out of curiosity, I'm wondering, what was the very first connection that you made between TK and Z? Also, how heavily does the composite weigh into your theory?

Thanks again, all!

Scott

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-wq052.proxy.aol.com - 205.188.200.173) on Wednesday, June 05, 2002 - 03:45 pm:

One additional note: Ray wrote, "the way I see it, we need to focus completely on the forensic evidence available."

Hey, I'm all about that as well. In fact, I've demonstrated my resolve and am continuing forward in that endeavor as is evidenced in a couple of other threads. That reminds me, Ray, did we ever agree upon a more realistic time than "2 seconds" for the BLJ shooting?

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldf42.dialup.mindspring.com - 209.86.188.130) on Wednesday, June 05, 2002 - 03:56 pm:

Scott:

On the contrary, I'm not attacking your thread. I fully see what you mean. You asked for opinions on what the value of the sketch was and I gave my opinion on that. It was not intended to rebuff your thread. I was only trying to express my befuddlement at why people would assign so much value to the composite. Like I said, it may be the guy but so what? This is just like the fingerprints thing. Everybody instinctively wants to start drawing conclusions based on stuff that supports no such conclusions. It's maddening.

As far as Peter O., I did check out the link, but had no way of knowing whose photo appeared there as there is no label. I had never heard the name before and assumed he was the author rather than the suspect.

Ray

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (199.philadelphia08rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.31.199) on Wednesday, June 05, 2002 - 07:43 pm:

Scott, the first connection I made between Unabomber and Zodiac was about a year before Kaczynski's identity came to light. The criminal signature, a rare one, appeared to be similar.

Ted resembles the composite in point of the large, square lower jaw, which is a salient point of his features and the one element definitely remembered by the witness who had seen him plant the bomb in Salt Lake City.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (12.81.120.227) on Wednesday, June 05, 2002 - 09:51 pm:

I'm a prolific driver and do a great deal of travelling. I write a LOT and hold opinions very similar to those expressed in the FC manifesto. I look like the composite. I was very much "off the grid" during the time frame in question.

And I am not only completely baffled by any technical apparatus more complicated than a can opener, but I deplore the use of bombs in any context other than performance art, although I do think that nuking Jerusalem six or seven times wouldn't be a bad idea.

Even the wretched shrink I subsequently fired asked me if I was the Unabomber. I guess she figured it was some variant of savant syndrome. Anyway, composites (and eyewitness testimony) are generally unreliable. I'm sure they have their uses, but I don't think one should try to build a case on one or fixate too much on resemblances.

By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) (66.138.8.139) on Wednesday, June 05, 2002 - 10:53 pm:

My guess (and that's really all ANY of us have on this subject) is the sketch is reasonably accurate. My thoughts are based on the facts that the drawing was made with multiple witnesses, with a competent artist who did this type of thing regularly (not a local painter pressed into service which sometimes happens in small communities) and was evidently 'confirmed' by an independent witness (Foulkes). Teenagers often do have phenomenal eyesight, and they had several minutes for their observations. While the police only looked at the man for a few seconds they knew they were approaching a crime scene and their senses were very alert. The only reason they missed the blood is Z was wearing dark clothing which did not show it was wet and hid the color of the blood. I am very aware of the problems with eyewitness testimony and weaknesses in sketches, but the multiple witnesses, at least one trained observer, and the experiencd professional making the sketch all lead me to believe it is pretty accurate. I doubt Z was wearing any disguize other than maybe fake glasses and I doubt that. I think that statement was a puny effort to through off identification by casting doubt on the sketch. Zodiac's strong suit was usually stealth. Here it failed him and he was probably freaking out when he saw the sketch. His only course of action: Lie.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tc031.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.17.31) on Wednesday, June 05, 2002 - 11:20 pm:

Ray, no problem, I guess I just got my wires crossed there for a second. Btw, I actually did state a thesis of sorts in my first post: "I'm convinced, now more than ever, that the SFPD composite of Zodiac is so vague . . . that it was essentially worthless from the moment it was finished by the artist."

So far, I haven't seen anything substantial to discredit this statement. Do you remember "Kenny Kilgore"? His father (stepfather?) looks a lot like the composite as well. However, that is apparently all that he has in common with this case. For whatever reason, he swore he had physical evidence against his pappy but refused to reveal what it was. Go figure.

Finally, I apologize for the confusion on the Peter O. stuff. However, PO is apparently also a "suspect" because he has Ptosis, a trait that the author of the theory claims to be visible in the composite. That would somehow be a lot more intriguing if the SFPD composite also mentioned such a trait in the verbal description. Que sera, sera . . .

Doug, that is interesting, seriously. You actually made the connection between TK and the Z based upon criminal signature? I'm impressed, sincerely. Then again, I also realize that you are no slack when it concerns such matters. How long did it take you to realize that TK was a good match with the SFPD composite? Or, had such a connection not occurred to you until after TK had been captured?

"Ted resembles the composite in point of the large, square lower jaw . . ."

To be honest with you Doug, I don't see that at all in the composite. Also, for that matter, I also don't see TK's build, nose, or age anywhere on the SFPD composite. Finally, one more question: What do you believe the Zodiac's disguise consisted of, if in fact he used one?

Alan Cabal wrote, ". . . although I do think that nuking Jerusalem six or seven times wouldn't be a bad idea."

Yikes! I'm not even going to touch that one!

"Anyway, composites (and eyewitness testimony) are generally unreliable. I'm sure they have their uses, but I don't think one should try to build a case on one or fixate too much on resemblances."

I couldn't agree more.

Thanks again!

Scott

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (199.251.68.84) on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 06:03 am:

Scott, that's exactly what happened. Only I wasn't aware that it was called "criminal signature" at the time. My interest in the Zodiac case and killers in general arose from a personal investigation into the mental origins of artistic creativity, which I began ca. 1987. To be very brief and simplistic, I divided personalities into two fundamental types which I labeled "acute" and "obtuse," depending on the degree to which external stimuli gave rise to associations. My intellectual travels led me to a treatise on sociopathy, and there I noticed that what psychologists referred to as a sociopath appeared to possess an extreme form of my "acute" personality type. I became interested in sociopathy, and from there it was a short jump to serial killers, among whom was, ostensibly, Zodiac. About 1990 I picked up the Graysmith book, read it halfway through, and put it down. It wasn't Graysmith's writing style that put me off, but rather, the dearth of anything actually approaching the elements of sociopathic murder that made "Zodiac," less interesting a read than the works on Bundy or Gacy and their ilk. A few months later I finished reading "Zodiac," chuckled, and filed the whole case mentally away. I resolved that if Zodiac were ever to be caught it would be because he had returned to killing for the sake of widespread national publicity. I had no clue who he was, but felt fairly certain that if he surfaced again I would know it.

So far as Zodiac's disguise is concerned, we have little to go on except the words of the people who saw him. Hartnell might not have seen his face, but he's been very consistent about the way he dressed, e.g., sloppy, blousy garments; loose-fitting trousers, a shirt under a windbreaker; trousers tucked into boots; glasses, and of course, the elaborate hood. At PH he appears to have altered his hairstyle somewhat, if you compare it to what Mageau, and to a lesser extent, Hartnell, saw. Apart from a professional makeup job, what more could he have done? If you're normal-sized, you make yourself look bigger. If you're short, you make yourself look taller. If your hair is blonde, you dye it brown. If you wear glasses, you remove them. If you don't wear glasses, you get yourself a pair.

So far as the composites are concerned, that's a pretty subjective thing and I can't argue the point with you. Anyone interested can to go http://home.att.net/~mignarda/p10.html and settle the question for himself.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (199.251.68.84) on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 06:05 am:

See also http://home.att.net/~mignarda/p11.html.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-tb022.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.16.157) on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 06:51 am:

I'll touch it Scott. Nuke Jerusalem 6 or 7 times? What a horrific thought! Along with killing several million souls, we could devastate the histories of three major world religions. What possible thrill could one get at that?
Oklahoma Mike: excellent post, I think you said it all.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (229.sanfrancisco-12rh16rt-ca.dial-access.att.net - 12.81.119.229) on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 07:51 am:

Even though I disagree with Doug's theory, I think that his technique is admirable and his work is very thorough. Doug, have you shopped the book around? It seems to me that there is a very wide audience for it out there. This "signature" approach will get investigators further than any sketch ever will.

Going strictly by the sketches, an impartial investigator could easily come to the conclusion that the Berryessa perp and the SF perp were two completely different people.

No thrill, Sylvie, just an end to tiresome and dangerous eschatologies. I subscribe to a minor religion.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-17-67.bos.east.verizon.net - 141.154.17.67) on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 08:15 am:

Scott: I respond literally between the lines of your post:

"Peter wrote, "Details that call for estimates or interpretation are also notoriously varied among witnesses to the same event, such as height or weight estimates."

Which seems to be the problem with eyewitness testimony in this case, right? "

PGH: Nope, not necessarily. The height and weight variations are not all in testimony to the same event. They may or may not be the same person, but they are not the same event. You can't assume they are the same person, and if there was a disguise involved, it may have involved padding, shoe lifts, etc. So you can't really dismiss Mageau's or Hartnell's account, for example, due solely to the inconsistency. There are too many other variables to explain the difference, because they are not witnesses to the same event.

" "Phenomena that have strong cultural connections . . . may be strongly influenced by the witnesses prior experience, beliefs or prejudices."

True. But I don't see that being applicable in this case, do you?"

PH: Again, I certainly do, especially at LB. All that personation is strongly cultural and emotional. That's what makes it personation. Also at PH, the very fact of a night-time cab robbery could easily have triggered someone's racial prejudices, leading to the erroneous description. One can certainly imagine what the black teenage witnesses' emotional and cultural responses might have been.

" "Point is, a composite may be very accurate, especially if consistent across a number of witnesses to the same incident."

Okay, I can agree with that, but I'm still unsure that there is any consistency among eyewitnesses in this case, even at Presidio Heights. I'm not sure what to make of the three teens at PH because I don't believe that we know enough about them. Were they interviewed independently or as a group? If as a group, then I simply can't put too much stock into their testimony. If they were interviewed separately -- which should have been SOP -- then I'd love to read the three different descriptions they gave in order to get a feel of how similar they were/are.

PH: All good points, but they go to interview technique, not to the inherent nature of eyewitness testimony.

"Also, the general sequence of events, such as the observation of Z at the PH scene, are probably reliable."

Will you explain what you mean in more explicit detail, please?"

PH: In the evidence class test I referred to, a sample of witnesses to the same event will get the basic facts right, the overall sequence of events, the number of actors, sexes of each actor, things like that. There will be strong disagreement on such details as whether the gun went off before the knife was drawn, or as I said, whether the plane caught fire before or after it crashed. But there will be general agreement that the plane descended, crashed, exploded, burned, people either escaped or didn't, amabulances and fire trucks arrived, press arrived, etc. generally in that order.

"Also, it's okay to throw out the bathwater as long as you know the baby isn't in it. In other words, if it can be shown that the composite of Zodiac is worthless, why not throw it out so as to not impede the progress of the case? I'm mindful of Ray's statement that, "a bad sketch can sink an investigation." Exactly Ray, exactly. "

PH: Exactly, Scott, exactly. As long as you have determined that the sketch sucks for specific reasons, such as bad interview technique, etc, not just because it was based on eyewitness accounts. In tis case, I think you have plenty opf reasons other than general unreliability to dismiss the composite. Not the least of which, any way I look at it, the SFPD composite is no way a beefy, stocky, or husky guy. Go figure.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (199.251.68.84) on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 09:08 am:

Add to the general confusion the probability that when the brain is confronted with a traumatic event it tends to see, not what it's actually seeing, but what it thinks it's seeing. I'm not sure why that is, but I think the thalamus is involved. It's more or less a defensive mechanism.

Alan, I shopped the concept of the book around before I had actually finished it, in 1997. I didn't have too much success, so Rusconi and I decided to publish it on CD. I'm in the process of updating the entire script, and I believe we'll be making another stab at formal publication. I should acknowledge that Michael Kelleher has kindly offered to assist me in the attempt and if I do manage to get a publisher I'll owe a great deal to his generosity.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc20dfe.ipt.aol.com - 172.194.13.254) on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 11:14 am:

There's only one "tiresome and dangerous eschatolog[y]," the one responsible for destroying ancient Buddhist statues, female circumcision, forcing women to wear burkas, not allowing them to speak nor go unescorted in public, walking behind their husband in public, and indoctrinating their children with the belief that killing themselves in order to take out as many of the infidel as possible is a good thing. But, that's my opinion.

In the meantime, speaking of eyewitness testimony...While doing research on the Santa Rosa murders, I came across a story I'd heard about many years ago, concerning a 17-year-old college student by the name of Lawrence Berson who was arrested in New York on 10-31-1972 for a series of rapes he steadfastly insisted he did not commit. He was spotted at his job by one of the rape victims.

However, he was released when the actual rapist, 20-year-old Richard Carbone, was arrested that November. According to a spokesman for the Queens DA, "the resemblance was startling." The pictures published with the story did show a marked resemblance, but the hair and nose were different (see "'Dead Ringer' Finally Freed in NY Rape Case," The Press Democrat, 11-12-1972, p. 16A).

So, as far as eyewitness testimony goes, no matter how good it is, they can still be in error. Therefore, I'm not too crazy about the composite having to exactly resemble Z. It's not like Jeanne Boylan was the artist anyway.

By Judy (Judy) (waf-dc28-160.rasserver.net - 206.215.13.160) on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 03:52 pm:

It appears in the SF composite drawings--more so
in the amended drawing- that the suspect has a
lazy left eye.

Do any of the known suspects have this feature?

Judy

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (191.philadelphia-18-19rs.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.7.191) on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 04:26 pm:

Judy, those composites aren't meant to depict the perpetrator in any detail. They're generalizations based on the eyewitness reports. In this case, no one could have gotten a good enough look at Zodiac to determine that he had a lazy eye. Besides, what I understand to be "lazy eye" is a neural condition that wouldn't manifest itself externally.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (12.81.120.219) on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 10:16 pm:

Ed N.: there are 3 tiresome eschatologies, and they all involve Jerusalem. My own involves Camden, NJ, which town I'd nuke myself if someone would just give me the gadget.

Tom's probably tired of this tiresome eschatology drift, so I'll just wish Doug good luck and shut up for a while in this particular thread. I think better minds than mine have dealt with this subject pretty effectively.

By Judy (Judy) (waf-dc25-137.rasserver.net - 206.214.1.137) on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 10:58 pm:

Doug, perhaps "lazy eye" is not the correct term.
It is obvious in the drawing that the person has
a droopy look in his left eye. Why the artist would make such a distinction is yet another mystery which will most likely never be
answered.

As a child, I had a "lazy eye". While the average
person may not notice, that eye does have more of
a "squint" than the other eye.

Judy

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc0c0eb.ipt.aol.com - 172.192.192.235) on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 11:27 pm:

Judy: the composite depicts Z as having ptosis, but that was all in the imagination of the artist. At a distance of 50 feet at night in the fog, especially with streetlights that wash out all fine features, you can't see much other than the basics, ie, eyes, nose, mouth etc. It would be impossible under those conditions to see if one eyelid was droopy in comparison to the other (possibly unless you were an Aborigine; they have incredible eyesight), especially when you figure in the duress the teens were under once they realized a crime was in progress.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-ta073.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.16.53) on Friday, June 07, 2002 - 03:08 am:

Mike, you make some very excellent points and perhaps you are correct on more than one of them.

You wrote, "Zodiac's strong suit was usually stealth. Here it failed him and he was probably freaking out when he saw the sketch. His only course of action: Lie."

Not a bad observation, in fact that actually makes a lot of sense. My only problem is that it is still speculative with no evidence to support it. The very fact that Zodiac could have worn a disguise casts suspicion on the validity of the composite, in my opinion.

Doug, the amount of work that you have done is commendable. If anyone deserves publication it is you and I sincerely hope that Kelleher can help you find a good publisher. I'm of the opinion that there is a huge audience for such material and that yours will be considered among the finest of the genre once it finds its audience. Believe it or not, when I asked you what sparked the connection between TK and Zodiac, I honestly didn't expect you to say "the composite." However, I also didn't expect the reply that you gave, either. Honestly, I'm blown away and have gained more respect for the viability of your suspect as a result. On the other hand, I agree with Alan's assessment. The criminal signature route that you discovered in far more intriguing than TK's resemblance to the composite. Finally, let me ask you this: How "high" would you be on TK as a Zodiac suspect if he didn't resemble the SFPD composite in any way, shape, or form?

Alan Cabal wrote, "Going strictly by the sketches, an impartial investigator could easily come to the conclusion that the Berryessa perp and the SF perp were two completely different people."

Were you referring strictly to the SFPD composite or are you including the NPD composite into the mix? If so, why? Will you kindly explain in greater detail what was meant by this statement?

Peter H. wrote, "The height and weight variations are not all in testimony to the same event."

They're not? Are you certain about that? However, I do understand what you mean but I'm just not sure that such is the case with the SFPD composite.

"One can certainly imagine what the black teenage witnesses' emotional and cultural responses might have been."

I see what you mean and you are correct but, to my knowledge, the teens were white so I don't see how it is applicable in this instance. Also, I agree that the interviewing techniques of the artist, as well as the artist’s skills, are extremely important. I'm of the opinion, however, that the SFPD artist was not nearly as skilled as Jeanne Boylan (thanks, Ed!) by a long shot which, obviously, lessens the viability of the Z sketch.

"All good points, but they go to interview technique, not to the inherent nature of eyewitness testimony."

Absolutely Peter, and I have reasons to doubt the interview technique in this instance.

"In this case, I think you have plenty of reasons other than general unreliability to dismiss the composite. Not the least of which, any way I look at it, the SFPD composite is no way a beefy, stocky, or husky guy."

I agree with that completely. In fact, one of my major arguments against the Z composite is that the description contradicts the sketches. Where is one to put their faith? I suppose toward that which best describes their suspect, right? Another point, in my opinion, where the composite is rendered useless.

Alan, without the prospect of death, there would be no need for religion would there? Also, please stay more active on the board, okay? Personally, I love your forthright attitude.

Scott

By Judy (Judy) (waf-dc29-172.rasserver.net - 206.215.14.172) on Friday, June 07, 2002 - 08:22 am:

Ed, I get it. I am still puzzled as to why he
would even bother to alter the eyes on his own-
with no input from anyone. Of course, without
really knowing exactly what the police officers
communicated about their impression of the suspect- we really will never know how accurate or
inaccurate this drawing is.

We are all guessing as to how good a look the cops really got that night. That drawing may be
more accurate than we realize.

Judy

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-17-67.bos.east.verizon.net - 141.154.17.67) on Friday, June 07, 2002 - 09:46 am:

Scott:

Obviously the PH descriptions are from three kids, all to the same incident. Do they match? I guess we don't know. Aside from them, what two eyewits do we have to any one event? Hartnell, the girls at LB, the doc at LB, Mageau, KJ, even the cops at PH did not witness the same event as anyone else, including the kids: the cops saw someone minutes later, who may or may not have been the perp. Not the same event.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (26.philadelphia04rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.22.26) on Friday, June 07, 2002 - 09:50 pm:

Scott, for TK not to resemble the composite in any way, shape or form, he'd have to be a woman, or something other than a caucasian male; exceptionally old or exceptionally young--you get the point. There's not a caucasian male of that general age group about whom you couldn't say there was something in common. As it is, two elements of the composite stand out as relating to Kaczynski, i.e., the stiff hair and the large, square jaw of the #2 adaptation. In fact, I can't imagine why the artist would have altered the first composite in that way unless he were given specific information by the witnesses (the police officers) involved. And if it were Kaczynski they saw, I can very well understand why they would have tendered that particular description. Kaczynski's chin/lower jaw is so prominent a part of his features that it was the only element recalled by the 1987 Unabomber witness that actually resembles Kaczynski on the famous composite that's forever been associated with the case.

Consequently, to the extent TK resembles the composite, I put a check mark in the "plus" column, and to the extent he doesn't resemble the composite I put a check mark in the "minus" column.

If the composites and/or descriptions had depicted other than a caucasian male between the ages of, say, 20 and 45, I'd have called it a day and gone home!

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-td072.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.17.182) on Saturday, June 08, 2002 - 03:41 am:

Judy wrote, " . . . without really knowing exactly what the police officers communicated about their impression of the suspect- we really will never know how accurate or inaccurate this drawing is."

Excellent point, Judy. Incidentally, I also believe the same can be said of the information provided by the 3 teens. Btw, perhaps you are right, maybe the composite artist was trying to signify the ptosis of the subject's left eye. Have you taken a look at suspect Peter O.? You can find him on Tom's "links" page.

Peter wrote, "Obviously the PH descriptions are from three kids, all to the same incident. Do they match? I guess we don't know. Aside from them, what two eyewits do we have to any one event?"

Peter, you are right, we don't know. Also, I finally get your "single event" concept and I believe it to be accurate, to a degree. So, in your opinion, is it fair to say that the SFPD composite, which utterly lacks any multiple witnesses to the same event, is therefore, by definition, less accurate than a composite created from multiple witnesses viewing the same incident? Personally, I've seen studies where the exact opposite has proven to be the case.

A good example of what I am talking about can be found in the first post of the "Eyewitnesses?" thread I started some time back. I've also had police officers (including my father, who is a retired state trooper) tell me that 15 witnesses, once isolated from one another, will provide 15 different answers to the same question. That may be a hyperbole of the truth, but the point is nevertheless understood. Granted, the more witnesses you have to one incident can certainly be used by the prosecution to bolster their case. However, as has proven to be the situation in more than one instance, it can also be so heavily relied upon that an innocent person could easily end up in prison instead of the actual perp. Have a look at the King bank robbery case that took place in Denver several years ago. King was acquitted of all charges -- rightfully so, I might add -- despite the fact that numerous witnesses testified that he was the one they saw during the robbery. In an ingenious move by the defense, it was clearly demonstrated in a court of law that the real perp was able to get away with the crime because of one simple thing: A disguise, which consisted of a hat, glasses, and a fake moustache.

The point is, with regard to this case, what do we really know about the SFPD composite? In my opinion, quite a bit actually. Unfortunately, I'm also of the opinion that that knowledge seems to indicate that the composite is completely worthless.

Peter, sorry for the excessive verbiage (you too, Tom); I know that we are more in agreement than not. However, I challenge you to look at what I'm talking about BEYOND its connections to the courtroom. I wonder how many innocent people have suffered in the hands of the law simply because some as*hole is willing to step forward and say, "Yep, that's the guy."?? I'm not trying to undermine the value of justice, but I often wonder if it is in need of reform, especially when the life of an individual hangs in the balance? I truly appreciate your willingness to contribute your knowledge to such matters, Peter, but I also realize that the legal system has to be examined as objectively as anything else that is meaningful in life. After all, like every other human endeavor, it too is flawed.

Doug wrote, "for TK not to resemble the composite in any way, shape or form, he'd have to be a woman, or something other than a caucasian male; exceptionally old or exceptionally young--you get the point."

Assuming that I do get the point, is it then fair to say that the investigative tool called a composite is utterly worthless? I mean, if all it amounts to is generalizations with regard to race and age, then of what value is it at all? Why not just post a flyer that reads, "WAM, approximately 5'2" to 7' with short hair, and approximately 25 - 50 years old."?? Also, why couldn't the composite be a depiction of a woman? I mean, if all that was available in the case was the composite based upon the descriptions given by the teens, why would we necessarily have to eliminate the possibility of the perp being a woman? Once again, that is assuming that all we had available was the composite and nothing else. It wouldn't be logical to eliminate females in that situation, would it?

". . . two elements of the composite stand out as relating to Kaczynski, i.e., the stiff hair and the large, square jaw of the #2 adaptation. In fact, I can't imagine why the artist would have altered the first composite in that way unless he were given specific information by the witnesses (the police officers) involved."

Excellent point, but if Foukes and Zelms had called that much attention to it, why wouldn't such a description be available directly beneath the sketches? Maybe that description ended up in the same scrap heap as Foukes' "approximately 5'10"" description?

"There's not a caucasian male of that general age group about whom you couldn't say there was something in common."

To be honest with you, Doug, I honestly don't see Arthur Leigh Allen anywhere in that composite. Are you saying that, in principle, I could eliminate him from the list of suspects with no possible repercussions simply because he doesn't seem to match the composite in any capacity?

"Kaczynski's chin/lower jaw is so prominent a part of his features that it was the only element recalled by the 1987 Unabomber witness that actually resembles Kaczynski on the famous composite that's forever been associated with the case."

And yet, no such feature has been described by a single Z witness and also isn't mentioned in any official capacity, including the description beneath the composite?

". . . to the extent TK resembles the composite, I put a check mark in the "plus" column, and to the extent he doesn't resemble the composite I put a check mark in the "minus" column."

Granted, having TK as a suspect does afford you that luxury. However, I'll still standby ALA despite the fact that I can't say the same. I'm not discounting the SFPD composite because it doesn't resemble Allen. Instead, I discredit the SFPD composite because I'm convinced that it can be shown to not be creditworthy. There is a huge difference between the two. I look at it like this: If I have nothing but the composite in my investigative file, and I assume that the composite is trustworthy, then I'd have no alternative but to rule out Allen as a suspect. On the other hand, if I believe the composite to be less than credible, and I have all of the other stuff connecting Allen to the case, he'd immediately become one of my prime suspects. And, when you consider the fact that "the disguise" may or may not be represented in the SFPD composite, why would anyone place any value in it?

Toschi said, with regard to the composite, "Even in 1969, we didn't know how good (the composite) was."

A reminder of the "loose" thesis of this thread: "I'm convinced, now more than ever, that the SFPD composite of Zodiac is so vague . . . that it was essentially worthless from the moment it was finished by the artist."

Perhaps Toschi would agree?

"If the composites and/or descriptions had depicted other than a caucasian male between the ages of, say, 20 and 45, I'd have called it a day and gone home!"

Even if you had all of the connections that are made between TK and Zodiac that exists within your book and on your website? Somehow, I seriously doubt that.

Thanks again, folks!

Scott

By Judy (Judy) (waf-dc26-162.rasserver.net - 206.214.2.162) on Saturday, June 08, 2002 - 07:00 am:

Thanks for the acknowledgement, Scott. Being a new poster, most of my posts have been ignored.
Yes, I did see that picture of Peter O.-and did notice his left eye.

Does anyone know if the person who did the composite is still alive? Was he ever questioned
by anyone regarding his amendment to the first
sketch? I have always felt this drawing was very important in helping to identify the killer. I
am surprised that it seems very little attention
was given to find out the specifics of the whole
story surrounding it.

Judy

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acbf78f0.ipt.aol.com - 172.191.120.240) on Saturday, June 08, 2002 - 02:16 pm:

Judy: it's not that you're a new poster or that your posts are being ignored, sometimes that just happens. I (among other regular posters) occasionally post things that go unacknowledged, mainly because not everyone feels the need to reply to every single post (way too much to post and way too much for everyone else to read!). Trust me, they get read (I have read every single post on this board since it's inception in March 1999, except for Str*mjunkie's garbage).

As far as I know, the composite artist is still alive. Sandy mentioned that one of the times she called SFPD many years ago, she happened to get that very artist on the phone, but doesn't remember his name now. He might have been Asian, but Sandy can tell you more; it would be interesting to get right from the horse's mouth whether he actually did speak with Foukes and/or Zelms.

By Judy (Judy) (waf-dc25-163.rasserver.net - 206.214.1.163) on Saturday, June 08, 2002 - 04:29 pm:

Thanks, Ed. I guess I'm being a little hyper-sensitive. Compared to most of the board members I really am a novice-just wanted to feel more like part of the group... And in reality, the few
posts I have put up were not exactly so inspiring
as to really warrant a response. Your point is
well taken.

By the way, do you have a favorite suspect? I
think I read-- I may be wrong-that at one time
you and Mr. Rodeli (sp?) shared the same suspect?

Judy

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-186-54.client.attbi.com - 12.224.186.54) on Saturday, June 08, 2002 - 09:13 pm:

Judy, maybe you and Ed should e-mail each other about that instead of posting in this thread.

By the way, the teen witnesses were too far away to notice Zodiac's eyes, and the officer who allegedly saw Z from the patrol car only got a profile.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc220a9.ipt.aol.com - 172.194.32.169) on Saturday, June 08, 2002 - 09:20 pm:

What happened was that Rodelli asked me to look for something in old issues of the Chronicle, and I came across a name that I was positive was made up. It wasn't, he recognized it, and it went from there; the suspect we both discovered is the SF businessman. Rodelli was really more excited about him as a suspect than I was (mainly because I could never discern why such an individual with so much to lose would become Z), and he did 95% of the research. What we uncovered was pretty amazing, to say the least, and had we turned up that evidence 25 years ago, he would certainly have been brought in for questioning.

The thing about the SFBM is that he's a dead ringer for the composite, even more so than Peter O. or any of the others. I really wish I could say more, because there'd be even more reason to suspect him, but since this thread concerns the composite, let's leave it at that. In any case, assuming that he's innocent of the Z crimes, the composite should have been enough for him to be questioned (apparently no one thought anything of the similarity back in 1969). When you take into consideration my post of Thursday, June 6th, 11:14 am, regarding Berson and Carbone, a great miscarriage of justice could have occurred had he been identified as Z in a lineup by the three teens.

Therefore, while the composite is certainly a useful tool, and perhaps the first step in an investigation, it is by no means the only tool that should be used in said investigation.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (151.philadelphia04rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.23.151) on Saturday, June 08, 2002 - 10:48 pm:

Scott, Kaczynski's large jaw wasn't mentioned in the descriptions either, but it was definitely given by the witness and used in the composite. As far as I'm concerned I can't see any justification for the SFPD artist taking such an extreme liberty with the Zodiac composite unless he received some kind of description from a witness.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc220a9.ipt.aol.com - 172.194.32.169) on Saturday, June 08, 2002 - 11:37 pm:

Douglas, why would the artist add a detail like ptosis if it was clearly impossible for anyone to have seen it under the conditions I described in an earlier post?

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tb081.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.16.186) on Sunday, June 09, 2002 - 03:55 am:

Judy wrote, "Compared to most of the board members I really am a novice-just wanted to feel more like part of the group..."

Judy, we were all novices of the Z at one point or another, including Det. Baker and Tom. If you have access to this site, which, obviously you do, then essentially anything you need to know about this case is at your fingertips. The more you read about the case the more comfortable you will become in speaking/posting frankly about it, especially among this fiery but well intending group. If you feel intimidated about posting, all you need to do is spend more time reading. Trust me, the verbiage will flow freely soon enough.

Ed wrote, "The thing about the SFBM is that he's a dead ringer for the composite, even more so than Peter O. or any of the others. I really wish I could say more, because there'd be even more reason to suspect him . . ."

Personally, if based strictly upon the composite, I'd still say it's a tossup between Peter O. and the SF businessman. Nevertheless, your point is well taken, especially if you consider the 10/13/69 letter than Z sent to the Chronicle.

Doug wrote, "Kaczynski's large jaw wasn't mentioned in the descriptions either, but it was definitely given by the witness and used in the composite."

Doug, that is a very subjective opinion from where I stand, and you know as well as I do that, objectively speaking, your statement is completely false. However, with the wealth of information that you have gathered connecting Kaczynski and the Zodiac, does it really matter how well your suspect matches the SFPD composite?

That is the point I've been trying to make from the beginning: The SFPD composite, like the fingerprints found on Stine's cab, simply cannot be used to eliminate a single suspect. Therefore, assuming that the aforementioned is true, of what value is the composite in this particular case? Honestly, show me any evidence that the 3 teens or Foukes or Zelms, ever mentioned anything about the man they saw having a "large jaw" and I'll openly admit that TK is probably the most likely perpetrator of the Zodiac crimes. The point I'm trying to make is that, in my mind, having honestly tried my best to rationalize the value of the composite, I've honestly concluded that TK, Allen, Davis, etc., will still maintain their status as viable Zodiac suspects regardless of their resemblance to the composite. Look at it this way, if you had a few hard clues connecting a suspect to the Zodiac crimes, would you, as a prosecutor let's say, choose not to forward the proceedings because the defendant turns out to be a 23yearold, Hispanic male with a slight build? I mean, if you really had good evidence against this guy, of what value would the composite be to your theory at that point? As a prosecutor, do you seek a trial or not given these circumstances?

By the way Doug, I really appreciate your input. If I didn't, I wouldn't take the time to post a response that is as lengthy and, in some instances, redundant as that written above. I thank you if you actually took the time to read all of it!

Scott

By Judy (Judy) (waf-dc28-44.rasserver.net - 206.215.13.44) on Sunday, June 09, 2002 - 06:07 am:

Thanks for the info, Ed.

Scott, I have read all of the posts. It is just
so much info. to digest and to remember.

I think I have asked this question before: Has
anyone-the SF police, or anyone else, ever recreated the events of the night Mr. Stine was
killed regarding the view the kids had. Has anyone
actually gone into that same apt, under the same
conditions, and looked into the interior of a
car as they did that night? I would think this
would be one way to really ascertain what kind
of view they really had of the killer.

Judy

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (18.philadelphia08rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.30.18) on Sunday, June 09, 2002 - 07:42 am:

Scott, I don't deliberately lie about the facts as I understand them. The composite artist, a forensic specialist named Boylan, elicited details about the jaw and also Kaczynski's underbite, from the witness. I'll hold to my belief that the Zodiac artist wasn't worth his salary if he added such an egregious detail to the original sketch without anything to base it on. Maybe he thought it looked prettier that way?

That said, I tend to agree with your assessment of the composite's value. And I certainly wouldn't, if it were up to me, fail to pursue a suspect who fit the bill in all respects but the composite. However, in deciding whether to prosecute, I'd have to weigh the impact of factors such as wide divergence in racial characteristics, skin tone, hair type, etc., upon any jury likely to try the facts.

Another factor to consider is that, assuming I'm a law enforcement official, I don't have eons of time to go looking at every potential suspect simply because the possibility exists that the physical characteristics of the suspect as described by the witnesses might deviate from the actual facts. I won't necessarily "eliminate" every black woman or Chinese-American teenager, but they'll be way, way, way down on my list of potentials.

Let me reiterate, too, that I believe the value of a composite lies not in obtaining a conviction, but in drawing suspicion toward a particular individual so that individual can be investigated. By itself, it's a poor tool at best, but certainly better than nothing in extreme cases. The Bundy composite is probably the best I've ever seen, but even it was accompanied by details such as the Volkswagen, the ski rack, the name "Ted," and the British accent.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p107.as1.clonmel1.eircom.net - 159.134.150.107) on Sunday, June 09, 2002 - 10:07 am:

Scott,
Just to put a different slant on this; the person who abducted Johns was almost certainly not Allen,the Stine composite definitely does not resemble Allen.The fingerprints in Stine's cab weren't Allen's.You have argued that you believe
Foulks and Zelms spoke with Zodiac and that Allen is the Zodiac.We can argue that Zodiac did not abduct Johns,that the teenagers did not get a good look at Zodiac and also that he did not leave fingerprints,all well argued as stand alone items.However,when we begin to put all of them together, isn't there a problem?
I'm not trying to put you on the spot because personally,I will be shocked if Allen was not involved in this.However as evidence mounts it's getting harder to explain away.

By Zander Kite (Zk) (a010-0057.stbg.splitrock.net - 64.196.40.57) on Sunday, June 09, 2002 - 07:01 pm:

I agree that there is a collective problem with Allen. What if there was a nearly identical incident whereas a composite of Zodiac was made, and let's say it matched the Stine composite very well. One could isolate both events and argue that neither can be said to be accurate. But common sense or otherwise collective reasoning tells us that the composites would be accurate. That same "collective-reasoning" should be used to gauge the entire case, composite included. Allen has a problem being Zodiac if there is any agreement between the witnesses on the accuracy of the composite(3 teens, 2 cops), because I would guess that Zodiacs disguise was mainly baggy clothes and glasses, similar to Woodfield placing Band-aids on his nose. The Stine composite includes glasses which is why there's only a small nose, you only are seeing the tip of the nose. The eyeglassless composite includes a real nose, and in my opinion holds a very good resemblance to Kaczynski. It is only my opinion, yet based on viewing hundreds of composites from other cases. It appears that the composite put a scare into Zodiac sending him in the direction of bombs. Works well with Kaczynski and his personality, but not so well with Allen who apparently would have to be a very daring type to pull this off less than a week after police interviewing him as a Zodiac suspect. Allen definitely does not resemble the composite, so it would make no sense to tell the police that he looks entirely different than the composite, especially knowing that he has recently fallen under suspicion. Would not he view the composite as unexpected and timely good luck, whereas the police would be led away from Mr. Allen via the composite. This kind of logic would also lead one into believing that this kind of incompetence would reflect elsewhere, in other words Allen would not have what it takes to pull off or otherwise create a high-publicity serial murder case. Kaczynski flows on this angle. Just a sidenote to ponder: Most rapists and molesters are apprehended because they aren't truly capable of killing.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p207.as1.clonmel1.eircom.net - 159.134.150.207) on Monday, June 10, 2002 - 06:24 am:

Some of the composites in the Woodfield case were very accurate, however there were some differences
in height estimates,some as low as 5f 10'.These by victims who had spent some time with him.This isn't an Allen versus Kaczynski argument.Granted if it were,Kaczynski holds a slight advantage with regard to these specific points.However I do not see the Stine composite as resembling TK, the fingerprints were not his.Doug has done a good job on his site in likening him to the person Johns described.However Johns did point to the composite first.The children's clothes in the car
does also present a problem as in my opinion do the "shining shoes".My own personal opinion on Kaczynski, is that there has been a great case built against him as to why he should be considered a Zodiac suspect.
However,there is a difference between that and proving that he actually was, the Zodiac.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-17-67.bos.east.verizon.net - 141.154.17.67) on Monday, June 10, 2002 - 07:15 am:

Scott wrote: "So, in your opinion, is it fair to say that the SFPD composite, which utterly lacks any multiple witnesses to the same event, is therefore, by definition, less accurate than a composite created from multiple witnesses viewing the same incident? :

Not quite. My point is that the debate about different witnesses seeing different things does not enter in unless we are talking about witnesses to the same event. If we are talking about one witness to an event, then we are talking about the inherent biases, prejudices etc of the one witness.

And no, I dont believe that a composite put together by a number of witnesses is inherently more relaible: it depends on the circumstances and individuals involved. In fact I can see how it could be less reliable: the result of compromise between an accurate recollection and an inaccurate one. Like averaging height estimates. Remember the old definintion of a camel: a horse put together by a committee.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (252.philadelphia05rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.24.252) on Monday, June 10, 2002 - 04:17 pm:

While we're on the subject of composites, my attention was drawn today between the stark similarity between the composite drawing of the so-called "John Doe #2" put out by the FBI following the Oklahoma City bombing and John Padilla, the alleged "dirty bomb" conspirator arrested today by the FBI. What's the consensus here? Is there any similarity?

John Padilla:
http://foxnews.com/story/0,2933,54908,00.html

John Doe #2:
http://xld.com/public/jdt/jdtindex.htm

My opinion? There's fodder here for further investigation.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (252.philadelphia05rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.24.252) on Monday, June 10, 2002 - 04:17 pm:

Pardon; his name is Jose Padilla, not John Padilla.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-tc011.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.17.21) on Monday, June 10, 2002 - 05:00 pm:

Interesting Douglas.
Each time I hear someone saying "well look at Oklahoma City, no islamic fanatics there", I'm always replying "wait, not so fast".
Keep in mind as well that Ramsey Yousef and Terry Nichols were on the same flight to the Phillipines. Just a coincidence?
As for composites. There was a case recently on AMW that illustrates the way a composite can be used as a useful tool. The witness had seen the perp in much the same way as PH, looking down from a window at night. The perp left behind a ski mask with some of his strands of hair attached. When an informant contacted police, they matched the hair and made a comparison of the composite. The hair was a positive and the composite was so accurate that it was if he had posed in person for the sketch.
Bingo, they got their guy.
Thus, it can be simply one of many identifying factors.

By Zander Kite (Zk) (a010-0024.stbg.splitrock.net - 64.196.40.24) on Monday, June 10, 2002 - 07:58 pm:

Those 2 composites appear fairly similar. They both have very little forehead. Is this purely an exercise in composite comparison, or could they actually be the same person? I thought that that John Doe #2 composite turned out to be a youngster or otherwise someone that went up in flames. If not, it could get somewhat interesting because how many Americans of Mexican appearance are running around (possibly) involving themselves in grandoise bomb plots. His age would be right as well as the timing of his conversion, 1993. Mcveigh would probably hesitate to take a non-white into the fold unless that person was a real die-hard(thus trustworthy), and apparently this guy (possibly) is.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (243.philadelphia05rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.25.243) on Tuesday, June 11, 2002 - 09:56 am:

Zander, I think it's both an exercise in comparison and a possibility that they might be the same. I see where you're coming from with Padilla being "nonwhite" (actually, I think he'd be classed as Caucasian), but if you recall, Kaczynski flirted with leftists even though he obviously despised them. I believe he thought of them as his "useful idiots."

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-10407-2.linkline.com - 64.30.209.40) on Tuesday, June 11, 2002 - 11:20 am:

The teens saw Zodiacs face and person from different angles,but the incident that Ed brought out in a post some time back ,was that Zodiac stopped and looked straight up at them and paused.What a great Kodak (er Zodiac) moment, which aided their view of his face and person.
Great eyesight at that age and as the PD report said,their view was "unobstructed".If Zhe did have a disguise as he firmly declared,then the teens and the officer/s simply got a view of a disguised person/face!
I don't think the PH attack scared Z.All he had to do was kill,again,in lovers lanes and other less public places,etc.He was in charge and could select any area(Lake Tahoe/Patterson/L.A. areas as examples?;it's hard for some N CA bounders to get out of the kill box they place Z in!)or place he wished to kill.
He kept claiming 'victims',but whether or not they were real is a matter of debate.Bomb threats just added to the fear and panic he was trying to create.Afterall, not one device or bomb was attributed to Zodiac that went off and ,of course,there were no fatalities.
I personally think that in 1970, at the height of his bomb threats, he abducted Lass in Tahoe and Johns in the Patterson area.
Remember, KJ was not supposed to survive(the same for Mageau and Hartnell) and would have become another "number" in his ongoing count.He did say he had the "woeman and her baby" on his unfinished "list"!
I am all for getting a top expert on composites and use the poster picture/s and the surviving witnesses and come up with a more virtual view.The flat stiff cardboard look of the 60s is out and an advanced drawing displaying real form ,color and dimension is in.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc293c7.ipt.aol.com - 172.194.147.199) on Tuesday, June 11, 2002 - 02:56 pm:

One name springs to mind: Jeanne Boylan! However, is it possible to do an accurate composite of Z after 33 years?? Unsolved Mysteries did a segment on D.B. Cooper some years back, and the stewardess on that flight insisted that the composite that was done at the time was incorrect despite her protestations, and so UM did another one that she said looked like him. So, perhaps it's possible... if the then teens are interested and willing to do so.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-td083.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.17.188) on Tuesday, June 11, 2002 - 11:18 pm:

Doug wrote, "I don't deliberately lie about the facts as I understand them. The composite artist, a forensic specialist named Boylan, elicited details about the jaw and also Kaczynski's underbite, from the witness."

Doug, which composite are you referring to? I never meant to imply that you were lying, just that I can't understand why such a feature would not be specifically referred to in the SFPD composite if it were so prominent. Without specific knowledge to the contrary, I have to assume that seeing such a feature in the SFPD composite is, by definition, subjective.

Lapumo, you make some very excellent points, but you know as well as I do that no suspect can be eliminated based on the fingerprints or the composite. As for Kathleen Johns, well, I'm of the opinion that her testimony is as about as useful as Mageau's. My biggest problem with KJ is that every police report on the incident seems to directly contradict her supposed "testimony." Not one police report mentions anything about Johns being attacked or threatened. In fact, she talks of the suspect as being "friendly." Also, why would the Z go from murder to kidnapping? Finally, if you read the description that KJ gave of her "attacker" and compare it to the SFPD composite, they don't match anyway. What are we to make of that? KJ's attacker sounds more like a Z wannabe that the actual Z, IMO.

Zander wrote, "Allen has a problem being Zodiac if there is any agreement between the witnesses on the accuracy of the composite(3 teens, 2 cops) . . ."

That's just it, Zander, there isn't any agreement that I can see. The 3 teens described Z as being "approximately 5'8"" whereas Foukes described him as "approximately 5'10"." The 3 teens described a "crew cut . . . perhaps with a reddish tint". Foukes described the hair as being "Short and light brown." Also, even though apparently both the teens and Foukes described the Z as having a "heavy build," the artist seems to have failed to include that feature into his drawing.

Thanks Peter, your points are well taken and I think we are working off of the same page, as it were. Also, I never averaged the height estimates if that is what you were alluding too. I think my reasoning for labeling the Z as "approximately 5'10"" is sound, and it has nothing to do with averaging witnesses' height estimates.

Sylvie, I agree with your assessment that a composite can be a useful tool. It's just that, for all the reasons that I have outlined thus far, I don't think that it happens to be a useful tool in this case.

Howard wrote, "If Zhe did have a disguise as he firmly declared,then the teens and the officer/s simply got a view of a disguised person/face!"

Exactly Howard; I'm of the same opinion.

Scott

By Zander Kite (Zk) (dialup-166.90.104.13.dial1.nashville1.level3.net - 166.90.104.13) on Wednesday, June 12, 2002 - 04:46 pm:

Scott, you wrote: "also, why would Z go from murder to kidnapping?" Don't take this as an attempt to start any trouble, but you know why I find this amusing, right? I agree with you. Zodiac is a publicity-seeking terrorist-style killer and bomber. Why would he go from that to kidnapping or let's say ........ child molestation. Why would he go from killing without molestation, to molesting without killing. Technically though, Zodiac could be charged with kidnapping in the Lake Bery. event. The composite, in my opinion, is something to be taken collectively in it's use. For example, if you had a suspect who is fairly bright and investigated by the police as a Zodiac suspect just before the Stine event, who does not resemble the composite. Then you'd have to question why that guy would tell the police that he looks entirely different, as opposed to letting a bad composite ride. Not to just attack Allen, but this is the kind of approach I would take in (possibly) getting some use out of the composite. It becomes a reduction/elimination argument. It's been my experience in reading about serial murder, that when the real killer is caught or otherwise unearthed, there is a certain flow or otherwise everything makes sense or falls into place. Most of these Zodiac suspects are bumpy rides, too bumpy for me to give them serious consideration. It is with this in mind, that I am not surprised that the suspect that I strongly believe is The Zodiac resembles the composite.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-ta033.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.16.33) on Thursday, June 13, 2002 - 12:31 am:

Zander, you asked, "Don't take this as an attempt to start any trouble, but you know why I find this amusing, right?"

Yes Zander, I do, to a degree. However, if I hyperbolize what you are saying would it be fair to say that a serial killer will also not engage in petty theft? Your not actually saying that serial killers tend to commit no other crime than serial murder, are you?

"Technically though, Zodiac could be charged with kidnapping in the Lake Bery. event."

Yes, that is true. Btw, am I sensing that you also have doubts about the Kathleen Johns incident?

"For example, if you had a suspect who is fairly bright and investigated by the police as a Zodiac suspect just before the Stine event, who does not resemble the composite. Then you'd have to question why that guy would tell the police that he looks entirely different, as opposed to letting a bad composite ride."

First of all, there is no need to be so cryptic; anyone can figure out whom you are referring too. Secondly, exactly where are you paraphrasing Allen's words from? Third, innocent or not, what harm is there in pointing out the obvious? For all we know, if in fact Allen said anything similar to what you paraphrased, Allen was being facetious when he made that comment. "Come on, fella, I don't even resemble the composite." However, and this is my major source of contention with your argument, you seem to be referring to an interview that took place prior to the PH crime. How in the hell could Allen refer to a composite that didn't even exist at the time of the interview?

"It becomes a reduction/elimination argument."

If one were to reduce and/or eliminate the likelihood of a suspect's complicity in the Zodiac crimes based on the SFPD composite, then they should have their friggin' head examined. If I had motive, opportunity, and physical proximity to the crime scene on a particular suspect, I wouldn't care if he was a she and black rather than white. Sure, I'm exaggerating to a degree but essentially, this is my point: If the composite can be shown to be flawed, then why place value in it at all?

"It is with this in mind, that I am not surprised that the suspect that I strongly believe is The Zodiac resembles the composite."

Personally, I feel that this is complete fantasy. The nose, the jaw, sorry but I just don't see it. IMO, Peter O. and the SF businessman look a lot more like the composite than TK does. Btw, of the 3 suspects I just named, TK is not the best among the lot. Granted, that is just my opinion.

One last thing, this thread wasn't created to pitch best suspect stories, it was created to determine the actual worth of the SFPD composite. Zander, have you any opinions that pertain directly to that topic? Regardless of the person who actually is the Zodiac, what is your opinion strictly of the composite based on the known facts in the case?

Scott

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc038ae.ipt.aol.com - 172.192.56.174) on Thursday, June 13, 2002 - 02:56 am:

Considering that the composite might not even really look like Z, and since Toschi admitted he didn't know how good it really was in 1969, then we might actually be safe in supposing that any suspect that resembled the composite exactly can be ruled out entirely.

By Daijove (Daijove) (1cust120.tnt1.san-angelo.tx.da.uu.net - 67.202.28.120) on Thursday, June 13, 2002 - 04:30 pm:

If the composite at lake Bery had been better circulated I feel a more positive result would have been obtained. Why wasn't a composite done by the people at the party Zodiac was supposed to have attended?

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-186-54.client.attbi.com - 12.224.186.54) on Thursday, June 13, 2002 - 09:35 pm:

What does that have to do with this thread?

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-ab02.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.26.39) on Saturday, June 15, 2002 - 08:11 am:

Ed,

Very good observation and I happen to be in agreement with you.

Daijove,

Keep in mind that, unlike the SFPD composite, the Lake Berryessa composite may not have been the Zodiac. Also, as for the painting party, the idea that the Zodiac may have been in attendance is a "Graysmithism" that cannot be independently verified and is very likely untrue.

The SFPD composite, on the other hand, is based on descriptions from witnesses who actually saw the Zodiac. Nevertheless, I personally have a number of reasons why I believe that the composite is not to be trusted. In fact, I think it's likely that the SFPD composite has actually hindered the investigation since the beginning. I'm also of the opinion that if and/or when the Zodiac is identified, we'll find that he bore no resemblance to the composite at all.

Scott

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-ta073.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.16.53) on Saturday, June 15, 2002 - 10:39 am:

Well there are actually some very intelligent people who believe the U.S. never really landed on the moon, that the whole thing was staged to save face. I guess everyone has the right to an opinion.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (spider-ntc-ta073.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.16.53) on Saturday, June 15, 2002 - 10:46 am:

Actually, I bet you are right Scott, I'm sure he'll look exactly like Shaq.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-40-92.bos.east.verizon.net - 141.154.40.92) on Saturday, June 15, 2002 - 11:43 am:

Actually, Sylvie I think its a case of some moderately intelligent people trying to sell the idea to some not so intelligent people.

By Zander Kite (Zk) (dialup-65.57.49.112.dial1.nashville1.level3.net - 65.57.49.112) on Saturday, June 15, 2002 - 01:06 pm:

While the highly intelligent people are amused.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-ab02.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.26.39) on Saturday, June 15, 2002 - 07:44 pm:

Oh boy, here we go again.

See what I mean folks, instead of being able to verbally state a reasonable argument as to why my opinions and ideas about the composite are unreasonable, all I get in return is nonsensical garbage. In fact, Zander, I've asked you to provide me with logical explanations for several of your claims. I can only assume that, considering that these requests have gone unanswered, you don't have any logical explanations. The same can be said for Sylvie who, as is usually the case, must resort to idiotic analogies rather than argumentation with any amount of substance.

Zander wrote, "While the highly intelligent people are amused."

Zander, I suppose that if I were in your shoes (tunnel vision logic with no real comprehension of the facts) I'd be forced to say the same thing.

Notice how I have left Peter out of this discussion? The reasoning is simple: Unlike Zander and Sylvie, he actually supports his ideas and comments with substance rather than dribble and for that I have a great deal of respect for him. Therefore, if he feels the need to take some jabs at me I can actually respect that because, unlike Zander and Sylvie, his bark is actually accompanied with a bite.

Scott

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acbf4e33.ipt.aol.com - 172.191.78.51) on Saturday, June 15, 2002 - 10:25 pm:

Scott wrote:

In fact, I think it's likely that the SFPD composite has actually hindered the investigation since the beginning. I'm also of the opinion that if and/or when the Zodiac is identified, we'll find that he bore no resemblance to the composite at all.

The interesting thing about the four GRK composites in the June 2002 issue of Maxim (p. 116) is that two of them bore a vague resemblance to Ridgway, but, even then, they don't exactly resemble him. I'm not certain that I'd pick Ridgway as the GRK based on any of the four. In like manner, I bet that Z vaguely resembles the composite, but not enough that his family or friends would pick him (after all, a lot of people look like a lot of other people). Therefore, I think that Scott is correct, the SFPD composite may in fact have somehow hindered the investigation. Case in point is when mention of the April 1978 letter was published along with the then nine-year-old composite, and people called Toschi about suspects who looked like it in 1978 and not 1969 (as mentioned in my post in this thread from Tuesday, June 04, 2002, 01:50 am).

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (161.philadelphia05rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.25.161) on Saturday, June 15, 2002 - 11:38 pm:

On the other hand, if you have other good evidence against a suspect, and he happens to match the composite in one or more salient details, it becomes another nail in his coffin.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-40-92.bos.east.verizon.net - 141.154.40.92) on Monday, June 17, 2002 - 06:14 am:

Thanks, Scott.

But I hope you also noticed my last post was not a jab at you. I fact I hope none of them were. It was a shot at an attitude that crops up in these discussions from time to time that fails to distinguish between a reasoned rejection of an assumed fact -- like the resemblance of the SFPD composite to Z, or the attribution of certain acts to Z -- and the unthinking acceptance of speculative theory, or even pure myth.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p66.as1.clonmel1.eircom.net - 159.134.150.66) on Monday, June 17, 2002 - 04:21 pm:

Zander,you display a tunnel vision with respect to TK that borders on arrogance.As far as the composite goes,it is a very detailed sketch.That in itself,can only mean two things IMO.Either Foulkes and Zelms actually spoke to Zodiac or there are problems with it.As described by people on this board, who have visited the site, the teenagers view was from over 50ft away.If the officers did not speak with Zodiac, then we have a 5 second drive by.How does one then get that detail,in these circumstances?If Foulkes and Zelms did talk to Zodiac,given the detail,how did they miss that JAW? It would probably have been in the drivers lap.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-af07.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.26.172) on Friday, September 27, 2002 - 10:44 am:

Toschi didn't like the composite. Therefore, why should I?

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19105.linkline.com - 64.30.222.109) on Friday, September 27, 2002 - 12:22 pm:

Toschi wasn't a witness Scottie.

By Classic (Classic) (cache-mtc-ak04.proxy.aol.com - 64.12.96.201) on Friday, September 27, 2002 - 10:16 pm:

Witnesses can sometimes make mistakes. What is odd is that how two seperate sets of witnesses in different locations at differest times,albeit maybe only a few minutes, could have made the same mistakes.

The two composites are of the same person. The first was amended, as it should have been, because F&Z got a closer look.

Toschi said he didn't like the composite. What else is he going to say? We know exactly what the guy looks like, but we still can't find him? Didn't Toschi also say that he didn't write the '78 letter?

Irregardless, on the night that Stein was killed, z looked like the composite. Is that how he looked all the time? Who knows. Classic

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19105.linkline.com - 64.30.222.109) on Friday, September 27, 2002 - 11:17 pm:

Good share Classic!

By Kendra (Kendra) (pluto.cds1.net - 216.174.197.132) on Saturday, September 28, 2002 - 12:19 am:

Unfortunately, the composites of Z were drafted from Stein's murder only, not from any of the other crime scenes, so we have nothing to compare it to. Z most likely DID look like the composite that night, but who knows what he looked like during the other murders? Mageau is the only one who can provide another, separate composite to compare with, but that seems unlikely. Oh, and the supposed man who saw Z make his phone call the night of Darlene's murder too. If he exists (who knows?) and if he could be tracked down (which I highly doubt), this info might become a valuable tool.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (coral.tci.com - 198.178.8.81) on Saturday, September 28, 2002 - 03:06 am:

"What is odd is that how two seperate sets of witnesses in different locations at differest
times,albeit maybe only a few minutes, could have made the same mistakes."

Sorry Classic, that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. The teens described Z as having a "crew cut," whereas Foukes described Z's hair as being "short." The teens described Z as being "approximately 5'8"," whereas Foukes described Z's height at "approximately 5'10". Additionally, I don't see the "heavy build" description in the composite drawing anywhere. Do you? So, both the teens and Foukes made exactly what mistakes?

"Irregardless, on the night that Stein was killed, z looked like the composite."

I contend that, except for the glasses, no, he didn't look like the composite. By the way, in the late 60s, if you were a male but weren't a hippie or a member of the military, chances are pretty good that you might resemble the composite.

Also, Toschi claimed to never have liked the composite. It had nothing to do with never apprehending the Zodiac. Toschi didn't place any value in the composite from the day it was created.

"Didn't Toschi also say that he didn't write the '78 letter?"

Are you saying he did? If so, where's the proof of that?

By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) (66.138.8.138) on Saturday, September 28, 2002 - 08:54 am:

Scott, Re: description discrepancies. I don't see any contradiction in the descriptions "Crewcut" and "short hair". Living in that time period it was common to interchange the terms, i.e. a man geting in the barber chair might say either 'cut it short' or 'a crewcut' and chances are the barber would know what he meant. Likewise, the difference between 5'8" and 5'10" are very close. With the teen witnesses looking down on the scene and the cops seated in the car looking slightly up at the suspect this slight difference in perspective could easily account for an estimation of 2", and remember, both witnesses supposedly said "approximately".
One reason I have fair-to-good reliability in the composite is that the two sets of witnesses, did not give wildly different descriptions. That is, nobody said "shoulder length hair" and nobody said "bald headed". Height was not variously described as 6'1" vs. 5'4".
Since the surviving witnesses who claim to have seen his face (the teens, the cops, and Mageau{in a different crime}) this gives us three possibilities: 1-The teens and cops were wrong at Presidio Heights. 2-Mageau was wrong at BRS.
3-The two crimes were committed by 2 different people. All very interesting choices.

By Classic (Classic) (cache-mtc-ak04.proxy.aol.com - 64.12.96.201) on Saturday, September 28, 2002 - 10:45 am:

Kendra, You are correct, we don't know what z looked like at other times. This is the best we have as far as descriptions go.

Scott, Mike pretty much answered your questions. The circumstances with which the composite was made were not optimum(i.e. not having F&Z sit with a sketch artist). What I was looking at mainly were the facial features.

As far as the slight descrepancies, they seem well within the norm. 5'8 and 5' 10 no big deal under the cicumstances. Short hair and crew cut, the drawing wasn't really changed in that area so they must have been looking at the same thing, only using different terminology.

Toschi's involvement with the '78 letter has been discussed on here several times. The FBI seems to think it was him. Tom would have more exact, detailed info on that.

Thanks Howard. You didn't say that just because the composite looks the most like Davis? LOL

For me, this is the most maddening part of this case. IMO the composite looks like Davis, however the possibility of Ted's name in the ciphers is extremely intriguing. Walker and Marshall seem to fit the profile better than any. Allen just doesn't stand out, for me. Sometimes I wish he did. Classic

By Kendra (Kendra) (pluto.cds1.net - 216.174.197.132) on Saturday, September 28, 2002 - 11:19 am:

Mike, there is a fourth possibility concerning the eyewitness's descriptions and Zodiac (which I guess I was not clear about before, lol): Z looked different at Blue Rock than at the Presidio, different at Presidio than Lake Herman, etc. He may have looked different every time! We don't know because we don't have any other composites to compare.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19105.linkline.com - 64.30.222.109) on Saturday, September 28, 2002 - 11:53 pm:

Good comments Classic/Mike/Kendra.As far as Mageau goes in the PD reports he says he did NOT see Zs full face,but from a 'profile'or side view only.As he said "it was dark out."He was careful to say that the shooter was "young" "short"("about 5'8") and "heavyset."
All we have is Johns(about two hours in a full moon) and many reject this incident as a Zodiac attack even though Z claimed her-and it was a failure on his part!

By Tony (Mahalo) (hnllhi1-ar1-4-65-055-183.hnllhi1.dsl-verizon.net - 4.65.55.183) on Sunday, September 29, 2002 - 01:03 am:

Did we forget about the 3 sun bathing girls description that was circulated, or was HE just some kook at the wrong place at the wrong time that dreadfull day at Lake B. Well, it doesn't fit TK or B. Davis so,.. maybe just another Graysmithism. Oh,.. What? There's a detailed police report & composite of this strange individual? O.K.,..well, it doesn't match the P.H. composite. What??? He was wearing a hooded disguise according to the only living witness of the Lake B. attack? Must have been some kinda ceremonial or moon drivin' thing, 'cause why would one of the most (wanna be) prolific serial killers in USA history want to change his looks? A master of disguise? Now why would someone go through all the trouble of cryptic messages, false prints & fake clews, just to look the same at every murder? HELLO!!!

By Kendra (Kendra) (pluto.cds1.net - 216.174.197.132) on Sunday, September 29, 2002 - 11:54 am:

Good thinking, Tony. I haven't forgotten about the LB "strange man" composite, but that has not been proven to be the Zodiac. If it could be proven, then yes, it would be a very useful tool.

By Kendra (Kendra) (pluto.cds1.net - 216.174.197.132) on Sunday, September 29, 2002 - 12:03 pm:

If the LB "strange man" composite IS the Zodiac, that would back up my suggestion that he looked different during every murder. Of course he was wearing a hood during the LB attack, but if he was sniffing around that day looking for victims, allowing himself to be seen, then he may have worn a wig and/or other disguise.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-ta051.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.16.41) on Monday, September 30, 2002 - 09:30 am:

Mike, Classic, Howard, et al:

Though I agree with you in principle, I still come to a different conclusion. Here's why:

Mike wrote, "I don't see any contradiction in the descriptions 'Crewcut' and 'short hair'. Living in that time period it was common to interchange the terms . . ."

No, the terms are not synonymous; at least they shouldn't be in the lexicon of an artist working for SFPD. If the terms were synonymous, there'd be no reason to change the wording on the revised composite. Could it be that the descriptions given by teens was just slightly different than that given by Foukes and Zelms?

I'm not saying that the teens and F&Z didn't see the Zodiac; I'm saying that they did. However, what I don't understand is what accounts for the variations among the witnesses, and what were the deciding factors that led to the revisions of the original composite? We can't simply dismiss the differences as intangible because they're not.

"Likewise, the difference between 5'8" and 5'10" are very close. With the teen witnesses looking down on the scene and the cops seated in the car looking slightly up at the suspect this slight difference in perspective could easily account for an estimation of 2" . . ."

The same goes for height. If you say "approximately 5'8"" what you are implying is that the suspect was between 5'6" and 5'10" and that these two numbers are polar opposite: no shorter than 5'6" and no taller than 5'10". If you run the math on approximately 5'10", it's easy to see why we need to fully understand what is being inferred from the composite. 5'6" becomes 5'8" at the shortest, and 5'10" becomes 6' at the tallest. That is why I have a hard time believing it when somebody tells me -- not just you, Mike, anybody -- "the difference between [approximately] 5'8" and 5'10" [is] very close," and "height was not variously described as 6'1" vs. 5'4"."

Kendra, Tony,

As to the possibility of Z looking different at each crime, I honestly think there is something to be had there. Look at it like this: Mageau's description at BRS, the teens, and Foukes and Zelms at Presidio Heights, and Hartnell at Lake Berryessa. After all, I certainly think that wearing a hood would count as "masking ones features," wouldn't you? Very intriguing concept. What could he have looked like at LHR??

Classic, you wrote, "IMO the composite looks like Davis, however the possibility of Ted's name in the ciphers is extremely intriguing. Walker and Marshall seem to fit the profile better than any. Allen just doesn't stand out, for me. Sometimes I wish he did."

That paragraph genuinely intrigues me, especially the sentence that I emphasized. Classic, would you mind continuing that line of thought elsewhere? If so, please create a link or give directions to the location from here so I can find it. Thanks.

Peace all,

Scott

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19105.linkline.com - 64.30.222.109) on Monday, September 30, 2002 - 11:26 am:

Scott,
Just click the zodiac vortex link kindly provided by Tom and then click suspects.Ryan has a nice site.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-af07.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.26.172) on Monday, September 30, 2002 - 04:05 pm:

Yes Howard, he has a fine site. Anything in particular that you'd have me take a look at?

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19105.linkline.com - 64.30.222.109) on Monday, September 30, 2002 - 04:31 pm:

Scott,
I was referring to the morphing of the Z suspects into the Zodiac composite.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (coral.tci.com - 198.178.8.81) on Monday, September 30, 2002 - 11:12 pm:

Howard:

What about them? A) Computer morphing compressors are not an exacting science Howard; you of all people should know that. At best, they produce a "guesstimation" of the truth and nothing more. B) What good is morphing photographs of suspects if the composite they're being morphed into is of no value? C) Why should we believe that the composite has any evidentiary value?

I've already given numerous reasons why we should approach the composite with a certain sense of skepticism, and I've yet to be provided with any reasons not to be skeptical. Would anybody care to provide me with reasons why I shouldn't be skeptical? And I'm looking for something a little more solid than teenagers have good eyesight. Why doesn't the face look heavyset? What gives with revising the hair description but not the height description? If the "approximately 5'8"" description is a carryover from Vallejo, then we are talking about Mageau's description. I thought Mageau's testimony was of no value? What about Hartnell's testimony regarding Z's height and weight?

If you can honestly put faith in the composite as it stands with all of these glaring questions staring you in the face . . . well, let's just say that that I don't subscribe to the notion of accepting things blindly. Until these and other questions regarding the composite are resolved, I will not place any value in its evidentiary value. IMO, it's the logical thing to do.

Scott

By Classic (Classic) (cache-mtc-ak04.proxy.aol.com - 64.12.96.201) on Monday, September 30, 2002 - 11:51 pm:

Scott, the reason the composit should be accepted is that both drawings show that the twp sets of witnessesn saw the same person.

A group of teenagers at fifty feet saw one thing, the cops at a few feet saw the same thing, but just added detail.

Short hair versus crew cut. All poodels are dogs, but not all dogs are poodels. All crew cuts are short, not all short hair is a crew cut. The guy had short hair, whether it be a crew cut proper or not.

If you see a deer in the woods, you tell your buddies, I saw a buck, it was an 8 or ten point. The same deer walks past me at a much closer range and stops. I come back to camp and say hey, I saw a ten point. I can't tell you the exact lenght ofn the G2's, but I know for sure it was a ten point. All the cops did was to confirm the id of the teenagers.

Anyway a person cuts it, the composite does not match Allen. That is one of the biggest things,FOR ME, that eliminates him.

Scott, I'll answer your other question about Walker and Marshall in a day or so. Have to dig out the DOJ file first. Classic

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tf021.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.18.156) on Tuesday, October 01, 2002 - 09:58 am:

"A group of teenagers at fifty feet saw one thing, the cops at a few feet saw the same thing, but just added detail."

I'd like to think that is true, Classic, but I'm not sure that it is. IMO, if it were, they'd have used Foukes' description of approximately 5'10" instead of approximately 5'8" which was given by . . . the teens? Mageau? Who knows? Apparently nobody seems to think that it matters besides me. Wouldn't that stand to reason? If in doubt believe your fellow officer? Also, don't you find the lack of a weight estimate on the composite somewhat confusing? I do. How a guy that short of stature is able to have a "heavy build" without it also being noticeable in his face is a complete mystery to me. Did Z have an unusually small head for a guy with a heavy build? Did he have a beer gut? If so, why not simply call it that? What does "heavy build" mean? Lumpy, fat, stocky, big boned, muscular, muscle with fat, lean muscle? Seriously, aren't a few things being taken for granted here?

I don't know folks; there are way too many unanswered questions with regard to the composite for my tastes. When in doubt, leave it out. I seriously have my doubts.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (12.81.120.112) on Tuesday, October 01, 2002 - 09:58 am:

It may eliminate ALA from the Stine murder, Classic, with emphasis on the word "may", but it doesn't eliminate him from any of the others. Once again, I advise investigators not to rule out the Team Z theory.

The LB sketch is totally at odds with the SFPD sketch, on the face of it.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19105.linkline.com - 64.30.222.109) on Wednesday, October 02, 2002 - 12:56 pm:

A smaller head compared to body?If Zs clothes were loose fitting,and this certainty seems true- right down to baggy slacks like at LB, then Zs REAL body dimensions were not manifested to witnesses.This fits Zs overall nature to deceive.He says as much by saying he used a "disguise."
The composite seems to back up one assertion that Z was not really as large as some seem to believe.Dougs sons 'dress up' in baggy clothing(and he didn't even have that large hood on!)picture certainly displays how looks are deceiving as they say!
The smaller head compared to supposed larger body type or what he actually could have been
does not jibe.If the composite is a good match as Z himself stated,then the snaller body type belief holds as matched to the smaller head as seen by four witnesses- and if Zelms was involved, five.More later.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19105.linkline.com - 64.30.222.109) on Wednesday, October 02, 2002 - 03:51 pm:

More info.The teens had the height of the cab to assist them in their height estimation of Zs height(about 5'8")-the cab was the backdrop or gauge as it were.Mageau,according to PD reports,used the height of the Covair to judge the shooters height which he described as "short" or "about 5'8."
As I pointed out in the past,this cab was almost three feet from the curb on the right side and since the cab was very wide, it brought the teens a better view of Zodiac as he was on the LEFT side of the cab bringing him closer to their line of sight.
Then,on top of this,Z turned around and stared directly at the teens.We may suppose he was even a bit closerto them yet as he wasn't right up next to the left side of the cab!This gave them a good view of his face and height,etc.
There was,and according to the S.F city official I contacted.,and still is, a street light right near the place where the cab was parked on the corner across the street.Z,being on the left side of the cab,took him even closer to this light thus granting our witnesses a good look at his face.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (12.81.121.29) on Thursday, October 03, 2002 - 05:59 pm:

I received an interesting suggestion from a lurker regarding this matter. I'm putting it in the appropriate thread out of FEAR of Tom Voight's Stark Fist Of Removal.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-af07.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.26.172) on Monday, October 07, 2002 - 12:56 pm:

Howard,

I'm not sure how the presence of the cab aided the teens in estimating Zodiac's height. Is the height of a cab common knowledge or something? Also, the teens were looking down on the murder scene; they weren't viewing it from the level of the street. Therefore, I don't see how the cab served as a "gauge" as you say.

With regard to the streetlight, yes, it is still there. However, I don't see how this aided the teens in seeing Z's facial features. Think about it, if the streetlight is overhead [which it was and still is], any features below the brow are going to be immersed in shadow; such is the nature of physics.

Finally, why are you giving so much credence to the teens and Mageau with regard to Zodiac's height when we have testimonies to the contrary from Hartnell [who clearly spent more time with the Z than any other victim or witness] and Foukes, a trained police officer? Either one believes Mageau's testimony or they don't. This picking and choosing from Mageau's testimony is absurd. In other words, you contend that his picking Allen out of a photo lineup is impossible but his description of Z's height is right on. Sorry Howard, I respect you tremendously, but this makes very little sense to me.

By Chrissy Shaw (Chrissy_Shaw) (dialup-67.24.225.15.dial1.seattle1.level3.net - 67.24.225.15) on Monday, October 07, 2002 - 08:50 pm:

Dear group:

May i add my two cents here please? A composit is merely a second hand rendition of what witnesses claim to have seen. Eye witness testimony is always, and i do mean ALWAYS secondary to forensic evidence. It can never be the sole basis for ruling in or out a suspect because it comes from subjective recollections.

It use as a tool in an investigation is(at the time)is tool hopefully have some person step forward and identify a suspect, who then is added to a list of suspects, who then are ruled in or out, as the evidence dictates.

I was once thought to be a person who lived in lander, Wyoming when i chanced to pass through there. People came up to me and said hello to someone they thought I was. I am not now, nor have I ever been a resident of Lander, Wyoming. I say this to point out, that people who knew a person, a resident, still were able to confuse that person with a complete stranger. If common people in Wyoming can make such an error, how much easier would it be from a rendition of the memories of witnesses to a homicide?

The use of the tool in this case(Stine)would have been useful only for the time around the case, sat two maybe three years if that. While it remains an interesting historical feature of this case, it is hardly worthy of being the critical piece of the z puzzle at this point and time.

CS

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - 12.224.139.118) on Monday, October 07, 2002 - 08:57 pm:

"Dear group: May i add my two cents here please?"

Chrissy, will you please just cut the crap? Your not writing a formal letter and you don't need permission to post.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19105.linkline.com - 64.30.222.109) on Monday, October 07, 2002 - 09:05 pm:

Howdy Scott!
My upstairs office is on the second floor and closely approximates the height from which the three teens saw Zodiac.The brick fence that is near the street, but adjoins the parking lot affords me of the same kind of viewing perspective and distance as those teens.
When I see a person standing next to a car by the fence I can estimate his/her height by the cars height.The cars are not over six feet in height, just like the Yellow cab wasn't over this height(it's not an SUV- or you!).When a person stands next to it I get a perspective of how tall the person is.Later, checking with that person I have had a fair degree of accuracy and it was the first time I had seen them!I am new to this complex.And yes, this can be at night- and I have tinted windows!The street light helps greatly.
What I am saying is that it does not create an insurmountable obstacle to height evaluation,to the contrary!
Three different people(and they ALL agreed on his height and body type -including facial features!) saw Zodiac alongside that cab for a period of time!Then, when he was finished wiping the cab down,he stopped and looked DIRECTLY up at the witnesses and stared at them.Makes a good impression...and that street light.
Now, we keep forgetting that cab was very WIDE and was parked about three feet from the curb.Stine thought he was just dropping off his deadly fare and didn't need to 'hug' the curb side.That street isn't that wide either; so we have this wide vehicles' left side closer to the middle of the street and here is the Zod' right alongside the left side out in the street.This brings our subject in closer and even better than my office set up.
I don't give any more regard to Mageaus and the teens estimate of Zs height.M said he was white,young,stocky and "short or about 5'8""- using the covair as his gauge.He was right next to the shooter-so distance is not a problem!I have been in a Corvair and can see how his estimate can be accurate.
A six footer,for example, towers over that low height vehicle.This is why M said he was short.
BH started at a height of 5'8" also.It's in the NPD reports.Read ALL of them.
Bryan jumps all over the place as to height,weight,etc.He still can't tell us what kind of accent the perp had!
Read my posts on this topic.I QUOTE from all the NPD reports,so I would be fair.
The compaction "test" was unprofessional and not according to rule.They needed several men out there of varying heights and weight,etc.AND do those tests as soon as they could before the next day due to moisture changes affecting the soil and thus interfere with accuracy. Morrill had expressed concern about the way they did the so called "compaction" tests(!).
Each print left by each man wearing identical boots as Zodiac(or excuse me a copycat!)would have to be carefuly measured from the bottom of the impression to the ridge from tip to heel at various strategic points.Walking speed would have to be duplicated too.
I am not being critical,but this is case fact based on ALL of the reports.BH said he could have been short.He gave estimates as high as 6'1" or 2"!We simply can not trust BHs 'estimates'.I would love too,but just can't.
If I were a lawyer I could could have a field day with his testimony and do it honestly("honestly"-did I just say I was a laywer?).
BH saw a man in boots and a loose BAGGY outfit with a LARGE hood that, no doubt, had a hollow space from Zs head to the top of the hood(three inches or more-this would distort real height?),so no wonder BH had trouble with his estimates!It was all very abnormal.
Johns told me her perp(I say it was Z-you don't, I understand so FYI) was about 5'9".He stepped in front of her headlights twice and she got a good look then.Also,she saw him(in a full moons light) for a "coupple of howers one evening" seated next to the driver, as Z stated.
And,of course she saw the composite and said the driver looked like the 'second view'which was a 'little closer' to her guy.
You mention Mageaus' ID of Allen.I don't think George Bawart would 'coach' him,he seems like a dedicated detective.Fine,Mageau expressed his opinion.
What do we do with Christina, Darlenes sister who was with Darlene and saw her- just before her death- arguing with a man whom she told me looked indentical to Bruce Davis!I have her testimony on video.
See,she is expressing her opinion that is the person she saw that fateful evening(and three times in day light close up -just like that night of the Fourth before the murder).
This IS the Zodiac case!Let's keep at it.
I have found your posts over the years to be full of information along with various views,etc.,Scott-they are a "rather interesting ride"! rh

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-af07.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.26.172) on Tuesday, October 08, 2002 - 08:37 am:

Howard,

What do we really know about the teens' testimony with regard to Zodiac's height? Is it documented anywhere? How can we be sure that the "approximately 5'8"" that is written on the composite isn't a carryover from BRS and Mageau? Also, don't you find it strange that an approximation of Zodiac's weight is not on the composite? Also, why wasn't Foukes' description of "approximately 5'10"" taken into consideration when the composite was revised? If it was taken into consideration, why was it ultimately left out of the revised composite's description? Again, think about what happens to somebody's facial features when they are being lit from above: shadows are forced downward, the eyes look sunken and the cheeks hollowed. Were the lights on or off where the teens were located? If they were on, the reflections on the windows will cause slight problems with one's clarity of vision while looking through them.

You wrote,

"You mention Mageaus' ID of Allen.I don't think George Bawart would 'coach' him,he seems like a dedicated detective.Fine,Mageau expressed his opinion."

I don't think Bawart coached him either. In fact, I'll bet the ID completely surprised him. Also, "expressed his opinion"? Howard, we're not talkin' about the son of some nephew whose friend told him so here; Mageau is a 100% bonafide Zodiac victim. Therefore, his opinion carries slightly more weight. Also, what motivation would Mageau have to lie to Bawart? None that I can think of, not without having to ascribe explanations for motivations that are purely speculative to begin with.

"What do we do with Christina, Darlenes sister who was with Darlene and saw her- just before her death- arguing with a man whom she told me looked indentical to Bruce Davis!I have her testimony on video."

Maybe she saw the Zodiac and maybe she didn't, but one thing is for certain, Mageau DID see the Zodiac. Personally, I don't care what kind of issues Mageau has, events which are that traumatic [tend to] leave certain impressions, which will last forever. I promise you that Mageau has certain images, however brief, that run through his mind to this day. What are they? It seems that nobody cares, given the connotations that drug and alcohol abuse bring with them. Nevertheless, you can't tell me that you wouldn't savor the opportunity to interview Mageau under hypnosis, because I know that you would. That's a good thing. So, why is everyone so reticent to include Mageau's testimony into the mix? After all, from all appearances, SFPD certainly did.

What it comes down to is this: To say that Mageau's and Hartnell's testimonies as eyewitnesses have less value when compared to that which was provided by the teens' and Foukes' is kind of ridiculous when you think about it. First of all, nobody spent more time with Zodiac than Hartnell did, which is pretty telling of the situation. I'm sure in that time Hartnell was bright enough to determine any misdirection with regard to Zodiac's weight, ie, anything from a flack jacket to a box worth of garbage bags stuffed in his shorts. Secondly, there is the issue of height, but a good reading of Hartnell's testimony combined with the description given by Foukes will quickly demonstrate an excellent argument as to why the SFPD composite should have been revised to approximate Zodiac's height as 5'10" rather than 5'8".

More later. I need some breakfast.

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) (lsanca1-ar16-4-47-005-226.lsanca1.elnk.dsl.genuity.net - 4.47.5.226) on Tuesday, October 08, 2002 - 10:36 am:

Thought I'd weigh in with a perspective based on experience -- positive and negative -- with witness descriptions. And Tom, please forgive me for not properly researching your site for existing info before posting; if I misrepresent the facts, it's my bad.

There are several cardinal rules that, ideally, should be followed when police initially make contact with possible witnesses. One of the most basic is that a witness is to be isolated, as soon as practical, from other people, prior to the interview. In the case of multiple witnesses, they must be separated so as not to have their recollections unduly influenced by those of others. In virtually every grouping of people, especially adolescents, one is likely to be more dominant than the others, owing to age or size or strength of personality, etc. This individual also tends to be more overbearing and authoritative as to his/her account of the person or event that was witnessed, assuming an undeclared position as group spokesman. The other witnesses, perhaps with differing impresssions, are influenced early on by what this dominant witness recounts, often altering their own observations in acquiescence and compliance. This is not intentional or dishonest, but it does serve to revise the witness's memory at a critical time when the memory is still being processed and assimilated. Once this occurs, the original data that comprised the witness's observations become irrevocably obscured. This is not to say that the dominant witness was not 100% accurate, but it does taint the validity of the accounts of the other witnesses.

My guess, and it's only speculation at best, is that the teenagers were initially interviewed en masse by responding uniformed officers and basic information was obtained as to what they saw, including a suspect description. This would also be true of the initial emergency call that was made to the police dispatcher. This is not a criticism, because I know that in the chaotic first minutes, when the police are anxious to obtain information that will assist them in promptly finding and arresting the suspect, the luxury of separating witnesses is a pipe dream. Nevertheless, witness contamination often results.

I'm confident that the witnesses were later interviewed separately, but the damage, if any, would have already been done. I don't know how the police sketch was obtained, whether the witnesses sat with the artist as a group and finessed the sketch to the satisfaction of all, if an initial sketch was obtained from one of the witnesses, perhaps the "dominant" one, and the others, in turn, critiqued it and refined it, or if there were three sketches constructed, and a consensus was reached on the most accurate. The point is, it's unlikely that the final sketch from the teenagers, collectively, was devoid of unintentional collusion and undue contamination.

As for Foukes and his partner, it's my understanding that neither one sat down with the artist and assisted in developing an independent sketch. Through their input to investigators, the age appearance was modified, with other minor changes, but the basic face depicted remained essentially the same. The circumstances under which Foukes and his partner saw the man, with respect to lighting and the time-length of the observations, were less favorable than those that the teenagers were afforded. Although the officers would be considered "trained observers," and their observations arguably more trustworthy, I don't think that they saw his face clearly enough to appreciably alter the sketch created by the teenagers. The officers' description of size would and should be granted more credibility, but the face? I think that's why there was no independent effort made to obtain an artist's rendering from Foukes, or his partner. It does seem unfortunate, however, that any enhancements that the officers provided as to the suspect's height, weight, etc., was not incorporated in the bulletin that was distributed.

By Sandy (Sandy) (ppp-67-116-224-232.dialup.pltn13.pacbell.net - 67.116.224.232) on Thursday, October 10, 2002 - 11:40 pm:

I have a copy of the first composite and I believe the age was 25 to 35.On the revised poster it was more detailed with the age 35 to 45.The suspects left eye looks different in the amended poster,also the chin looks like a cleft chin or a scar. I would think someone would have to see this guy up close to get that detail. The only suspect that I know of, who has the right eye that squints, and has a scar on his chin alot like that is Kane.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (64.30.222.112.lcinet.net - 64.30.222.109) on Friday, June 20, 2003 - 11:01 am:

A book that I have is called Methods of Disguise.It is typical of several books that were available in the 60's.I did a lot of research on disguises used in the 60's,including the use of latex strips,filler,spirit gum,etc.
Here are a few subjects the book covers:
"Change the shape of your body;change your facial characteristics;alter the looks of your eyes and mouth;disguise your voice(monotone?);alter your apparent height and weight(this is easy);"age" yourself by adding years to your appearance;control and change habits and mannerisms("lumbering"?);choose and apply makeup;use wigs(crewcut?),mustaches and beards(RCC library?),create false fingerprints(Stine cab and other contacts?)."
"I shall not tell you what my disguise consists of when I kill...I look like the description passed out only when I do my thing ,the rest of the time I look entirely different."Possible by just studying a disguise book or two!