Zodiac DNA Testing


Zodiackiller.com Message Board: General Zodiac Discussion: Zodiac DNA Testing

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ld86m.dialup.mindspring.com - 209.86.160.214) on Friday, September 13, 2002 - 03:38 pm:

I've just learned that the SFPD are now thinking that pending DNA tests on Zodiac letter samples might possibly be completed before the end of October. This does not mean that a usable result will necessarily be obtained. I don't know the details of the testing being done, but my feeling is that this round might be an attempt at mitochondrial DNA analysis. With the age/condition and amount of the samples, this might be the last best hope for a definitive result. Results from an earlier test a couple of years ago were very mysterious and frustrating. The results from this latest round were earlier thought to be coming this past spring, but that didn't happen. I have not been able to get information on what might be the hold-up, but apparently, forensics labs across the nation are experiencing volume/priority issues. See the following link:

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/2020/DailyNews/2020_unsolvedrape_020125.html

Don't know if this is what is going on in San Francisco, but I predict we are going to be finding out what's what with this very soon.

Ray

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - 12.224.139.118) on Friday, September 13, 2002 - 04:10 pm:

Ray, you do realize we have all been waiting five years for the results of the supposed "pending DNA tests", correct?

By Tom Voigt (Admin) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - 12.224.139.118) on Friday, September 13, 2002 - 08:24 pm:

5-31-00
APBOnline.com
The San Francisco Police Department is still awaiting a months-old DNA comparison on one killing.

10-2-00
San Francisco Chronicle
"All I can tell you is that all of the evidence we've recovered is being studied,'' Lt. West said. ``I can't get into specifics of what that evidence is. We have sent it to a lab, and we are awaiting results.''

2-22-01
Fairfield Daily Republic
Now police hope medical experts can extract the killer's DNA or fingerprints from items left at various crime scenes in Solano County through technology that wasn't available in the late 1960s and early '70s. Such items were recently sent off to local crime labs, Vallejo police Lt. JoAnn West confirmed Wednesday. They hope to have results on the items, such as clothing, by spring.

3-1-01
Vallejo Times-Herald
Lt. JoAnn West of the Vallejo Police Department said she's "hopeful we'll get something back soon. A lot depends on the work load of the crime lab. If we're able to obtain DNA evidence, that certainly would be great."

5-18-01
San Francisco Examiner
All indicators point to Arthur Leigh Allen as the infamous Zodiac killer who murdered five people in the Bay Area in the late 1960s and bragged about it in letters to The Examiner and Chronicle. Armed with DNA evidence from the San Francisco Police Department's DNA crime lab, investigators may be on the verge of proving it. Police are still awaiting the results of the DNA analysis, which was expected this February but should arrive any day now.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc1db1e.ipt.aol.com - 172.193.219.30) on Friday, September 13, 2002 - 08:51 pm:

As easily forgotten as yesterday's headlines, Jeanne Dixon's myriad failed prophecies, or the current Miss America's name...

I think that if the powers-that-be took a massive pay cut (just what do they do for SF anyway??? You have the best chance of confusing SFPD and getting away with a crime such as murder than in any other city in the US) and used all that $$$ instead to fund their crime labs etc, we might actually have had for several years now the DNA results we've been not-so-patiently awaiting...

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19105.linkline.com - 64.30.222.109) on Friday, September 13, 2002 - 10:02 pm:

I heard that the RSPD purchased SFPD so maybe this is the reason for the delay!

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (coral.tci.com - 198.178.8.81) on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 12:48 am:

Um, fellas, aren't we forgetting one major thing? Tom, Ed, the 3 of us were told by the CA DOJ's DNA expert that no samples of DNA existed in the Zodiac case, remember? I've got an interview with her to prove it. Am I missing something here?

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - 12.224.139.118) on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 12:56 am:

Scott, I didn't have the heart to mention that.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (coral.tci.com - 198.178.8.81) on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 01:09 am:

Well, it's disheartening to be sure, but facts are facts.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (221.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.17.221) on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 05:03 am:

Perhaps what they mean is that they've got DNA, but they don't have DNA. It's like a quote I once heard: "We will understand Shakespeare when we understand Shakespeare." In other words, we'll understand the mind of Shakespeare when we understand the works of Shakespeare. So perhaps what the cops are saying is that they have actual cells containing DNA but at present don't have test results consisting of analyzed DNA.

By Ryan Olesin (Ryan) (d150-160-190.home.cgocable.net - 24.150.160.190) on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 05:36 am:

And is this DNA test being performed on a confirmed Zodiac letter? I recall a test being done on the 78 letter, which was most likely a fake.

By Zander Kite (Zk) (dialup-65.57.48.91.dial1.nashville1.level3.net - 65.57.48.91) on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 07:33 am:

DNA technology is moving forward so if they have any form of licked stamp, they should be able to work something out eventually. Remember: GRK evidence: 1982 Ridgway match: 2001

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ld80g.dialup.mindspring.com - 209.86.160.16) on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 09:12 am:

Well, yes, I am aware that there's been a long wait. I guess I just didn't realize that nobody believes anything is ever going to come of it anymore.

As far as the lady from DOJ (sorry can't remember her name) - she's from the state crime lab if I'm not mistaken. Doesn't that mean she is only going to be aware of tests submitted to that facility? How is one person going to know what's going on everywhere? Especially since SFPD now has their own lab in which to conduct their own tests, it strikes me they may be in a relatively secretive mood about it. The SFPD is in possession of the letters, so how is she going to know what samples exist or don't exist unless someone tells her? In my view, her lack of knowledge of any tests going on there is not necessarily indicative of the true state of affairs within the SF forensics lab and therefore does not establish any "facts". On the contrary, there are samples, and there is going to be some kind of result soon. It's just like Douglas says.

Are the tests being conducted on confirmed Zodiac letters? Yes, there have been samples taken from other letters. It's not just one sample from one letter.

One of the things that is not universally understood about this kind of testing is that the only way to know if there is a high enough quality sample is to wait until the end of the analysis and see if you get usable results. Kind of like developing photographs. You don't know if they came out until the end. So, some of this waiting may result from tests done on samples with older technology that did not produce a usable result. However, like I said before, they did get some mysterious results a couple of years back that ultimately turned out to be frustrating. This I think was partly the impetus for the new tests.

Anyway, time will tell. Just thought you all would like to hear about it.

Ray

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tb071.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.16.181) on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 02:43 pm:

"On the contrary, there are samples, and there is going to be some kind of result soon. It's just like Douglas says."

Hell, I guess I should've consulted you boys earlier. What was I thinking? It's obvious that you two should know more about the evidence in this case than the CA DOJ does.

I've got information for you Ray, Dianne has a tremendous amount of interest in the Zodiac case and the number of DNA experts in California are very limited. In fact, so limited that Dianne professes to know them all. How does she know that no DNA samples exist in the Zodiac case? All she had to do was call her contemporaries and peers and ask.

Just because someone at SFPD told you that they have DNA evidence doesn't make it a "fact" either Ray. I'll take her word over yours any day of the week. Don't take my word for it, call her and ask for yourself.

By Ray N (Ray_N) (user-38ldfnq.dialup.mindspring.com - 209.86.190.250) on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 02:56 pm:

I don't really want to get into a debate over what is and what is not. I only wanted to offer some information that I got. If nobody believes it or is interested, so be it. I'll just crawl back under my rock.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-130-215.client.attbi.com - 12.224.130.215) on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 04:01 pm:

Ray, the point is that convincing misinformation regarding impending DNA results outdate this site. Talk is cheap, and unless we see something solid, it's only natural to remain skeptical...especially after the false alarms listed above.

Regarding Dianne, even if she is mistaken or lying (neither of which are likely possibilities, IMHO) I find it odd that SFPD would occupy valuable resources testing materials in a 33-year-old case...even if they have their own facility. SFPD has one of the highest percentages of unsolved murder cases in the country, and I have a hunch taxpayers would say that messing around with a cold case isn't exactly what they should be doing.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (cache-dr05.proxy.aol.com - 205.188.209.169) on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 06:12 pm:

Well we know for certain that they have perp DNA in the CJB case. Why not an Allen - Riverside test?

By Zander Kite (Zk) (dialup-65.57.49.5.dial1.nashville1.level3.net - 65.57.49.5) on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 09:58 pm:

Ray, I hear the test results will be in by December 18th(J.K). Actually, DNA experts would have been quoted in 2000 as saying that they have no DNA samples in the GRK case. Because technology improves with time, this is a situation where the passage of time offers more hope, as long as they have stored the evidence. Since the stamps were stuck to closed envelopes, I'm assuming they have been licked or can otherwise be determined to be glue,etc.. And the side strips on the envelope also. There should be DNA trapped there, and it would only be a matter of time before improved techniques allow for it to be extracted.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19105.linkline.com - 64.30.222.109) on Sunday, September 15, 2002 - 06:49 pm:

I do note that the:7/24/70;7/26/70;1/29/74 Zodiac envelopes were tested for DNA and "cells found"is the conclusion.
Other communications were found to have "few cells."
Of course,others are 'lost.'I cringe at the unprofessionalism shown towards these missives.There is no excuse for a security breach dealing with one of the most explosive cases of all time.To 'lose' any Zodiac evidence is beyond belief.
I realize the Stine shirt portion was finally found in another location,but even the fact they did not know where it was for sometime speaks volumes.
The Riverside envelpoes/stamps should be checked also.

By Ray N (Ray_N) (sdn-ap-007scfairp0187.dialsprint.net - 63.189.128.187) on Wednesday, September 18, 2002 - 10:14 am:

Daijove has shared this email from Inspector Maloney:

I have your letter. Thank you very much. I understand your thoughts that
you may be wasting your time in this case, but I appreciate the information
and will add it to the case file.

As you may already know, the investigation is proceeding and there are
prioritized suspects in this case, which are not your suspect. We are
focusing on DNA and other elements of the case. However, I will keep your
suspect in mind should the lead suspect prove to be false leads.

Thanks again for cooperating and putting your thoughts about your
suspect in such a concise format.
___________________________________________________________________
inspector michael maloney san francisco police
zodiacpolice@mindspring.com homicide detail

So, Scott, it appears that you don't have to decide whether to take my word or Diane's. It's apparent here that someone doesn't know what they're talking about. You only have to decide whether it's Diane or the people who are in fact running the investigation and are in possession of the evidence.

Ray

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-20-212.bos.east.verizon.net - 141.154.20.212) on Wednesday, September 18, 2002 - 10:53 am:

Ray:

Is it a safe assumption that Daijove's fwd is authentic?

Have you read D's recent posts?

C'mon, "mindspring.com?" This is what SFPD uses for email?

"Maloney" would tell D where the investigation is actually going?

Am I the only skeptic on this board?

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - 12.224.139.118) on Wednesday, September 18, 2002 - 11:15 am:

Peter, that is their e-mail address. I've linked to it for months at the News Center page.

Ray, in late 1999 I casually met with a few retired Zodiac investigators. The Vallejo P.D. had an active detective tag along, supposedly because he was a buddy of one of the participants. The next day a reporter contacted me to ask if I had heard the news about the "big, multi-jurisdictional task-force meeting that just went down in Napa". Seemed Vallejo P.D. swerved this reporter.

Hmmm...wonder if that could ever happen again.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-20-212.bos.east.verizon.net - 141.154.20.212) on Wednesday, September 18, 2002 - 12:12 pm:

Well, I'll be. So the DNA issue is open?

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acc32bcc.ipt.aol.com - 172.195.43.204) on Wednesday, September 18, 2002 - 12:15 pm:

D'ya'll think it just might be possible that they're feeding us some of the famed mis-/disinformation of olde, that same mis-/disinformation that Graysmith was fed on occasion to make him happy???

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (coral.tci.com - 198.178.8.81) on Thursday, September 19, 2002 - 12:03 am:

Gee, I don't suppose Maloney's supposed email to Daijove could have been fabricated? Well then, if Daijove said it's true it must be, because there is no way on God's green earth that Maloney would blow sunshine up his/her ass, now is there? Forget what the DNA expert for the CA DOJ said to the contrary, even though all of the DNA experts in California amount to a small handful and Dianne knows them all, Daijove must be correct because he has Maloney's email address.

By Zander Kite (Zk) (dialup-65.57.51.152.dial1.nashville1.level3.net - 65.57.51.152) on Thursday, September 19, 2002 - 06:59 am:

Anyone claiming that there is no DNA evidence to work in the Zodiac case has already made an incorrect statement (or otherwise incomplete statement) because of the Riverside DNA. Unless, of course, Dianne can rule out The Zodiac as the killer there. If so, I'd like to hear more about how she was able to.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tb071.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.16.181) on Thursday, September 19, 2002 - 07:10 am:

Zander,

You do know that Cheri Jo Bates is not a confirmed Zodiac victim, right? Why do you insist on needlessly complicating such issues?

By Zander Kite (Zk) (dialup-65.57.51.152.dial1.nashville1.level3.net - 65.57.51.152) on Thursday, September 19, 2002 - 07:59 am:

OK Scott, I agree with you. She can't confirm if there is any DNA evidence in The Zodiac case.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ntc-tb082.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.16.187) on Thursday, September 19, 2002 - 08:15 am:

Zander, Zander, Zander . . .

All I can do is lead you to the water my friend; the rest is up to you.

Speaking of confirming things, how are you coming along on placing TK in California for the timeframe in question? No matter what you find in the 340-character cipher, you'll still need to establish this thing called "opportunity" before a case against TK can even leave the ground. But then, of course you knew that, right?

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-af07.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.26.172) on Tuesday, October 15, 2002 - 04:54 pm:

Well, in light of Tom's most recent update, it looks like I stand corrected about the DNA, Allen, the whole 9 yards. It's back to the drawing boards . . .

By Ray N (Ray_N) (sdn-ap-014scfairp0048.dialsprint.net - 63.183.136.48) on Tuesday, October 15, 2002 - 06:54 pm:

Tonight on SF's CBS affiliate KPIX, Maloney and Carroll were interviewed on the DNA results. Maloney said that the sample was large enough to be able to eliminate Allen as not having his saliva on the envelope that was tested. Carroll said that every step such as this moves the case forward.

The reporter later stated SFPD's position that the results do not conclusively eliminate Allen as the Zodiac, however. DNA behind a stamp is not so certain to be that of the author of the letter as say, a bloodstain on the floor at a crime scene. In other words, there are some possible ways another person could have licked a stamp. What is required now is to attempt to establish a broader pattern of samples, to find DNA samples on other letters that match amongst themselves. If that is accomplished, then it would probably be fair to say definitively that it is Zodiac DNA. I don't think you'll find the SFPD reckless enough to go ahead and say "Allen was not the Zodiac" just yet. The fear I have is that the case will stall again in the face of the severe lack of funding and manpower in the lab. New more comprehensive tests could take much longer to complete. But, the case has waited 33 years. I guess a while longer won't hurt anything. Perhaps the state lab could assist with further testing now that the news is out.

BTW, the type of test that was done is called a PCR test or "polymerase chain reaction" in which small samples are chemically multiplied by splitting strands apart and then reassembling the missing half of each side. When this process is repeated again and again, it’s possible to replicate millions of copies of targeted DNA templates, enabling very small samples to be magnified for testing. This particular technology has been much improved in recent years.

Ray

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - 12.224.139.118) on Tuesday, October 15, 2002 - 07:02 pm:

Thanks, Ray. I figured it wasn't 100%.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc000bb.ipt.aol.com - 172.192.0.187) on Tuesday, October 15, 2002 - 08:11 pm:

Ray wrote:

... the type of test that was done is called a PCR test or "polymerase chain reaction" in which small samples are chemically multiplied by splitting strands apart and then reassembling the missing half of each side.

I mentioned this about 4 1/2 months ago in General Zodiac Discussion : GRK and the Zodiac on Tuesday, May 28, 2002 - 12:32 pm. Was SFPD working on this all along, or have they been following the board, read my post and thought, "HEY! What a great idea! Why didn't we think of that five years ago???" After all, it only took one month from when the GRK Task Force sent Ridgway's DNA to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for the PCR-STR test to when they arrested him based on the results, so if SFPD's only just getting the results now, they must have started on them in September. It's a good thing they have amateur investigators like us to help them on their "difficult" cases.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-af07.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.26.172) on Wednesday, October 16, 2002 - 08:39 am:

Ray, you wrote, "What is required now is to attempt to establish a broader pattern of samples, to find DNA samples on other letters that match amongst themselves. If that is accomplished, then it would probably be fair to say definitively that it is Zodiac DNA."

I agree 100%. So, assuming that each sample points to the same individual, we would therefore be able to take any single sample [knowing with 100% certainty that said sample belongs to the Zodiac] and compare it to the DNA of any Zodiac suspect in order to see if a match could be found or to eliminate a suspect completely. I agree, we can't eliminate Allen completely, but if more samples from the letters begin to trickle-in, and they all point to the same individual [and they must, otherwise we're talking a completely different ballgame], and said individual's DNA doesn't match that of Allen's, or any suspect's to which it is compared, then you automatically have to eliminate said suspect from the list of Zodiac potentials.

There are only 3 reasonable explanations that come to my mind at present [assuming that SFPD has no reason to fabricate these results] with regard to the significance of SFPD's results: 1) Allen isn't the Zodiac. [Likely, given the evidence.] 2) The Zodiac was actually a team effort committed by at least two people. [IMO, unlikely, given that none of the evidence suggests this possibility.] Or, 3) The Zodiac actually figured out a way to use somebody else's saliva to moisten the stamps. [Unlikely, because DNA profiling would most likely be a concept unknown to the Zodiac during the time of the murders.]

I agree that it is of the utmost importance to collect and compare as many samples as possible, but I'm obligated to admit that reasonable explanation is pointing to a perp other than Allen. I can logically deduce that reasonable doubt exists as to the handwriting and the fingerprints, but there's no sense trying to get around the results of DNA testing unless one can support the theory of more than one perp with significant evidence. For what it is worth, I'm of the opinion that such evidence doesn't exist, at least, not as of now.

Having said all of that, allow me to conclude with this: If a second sample is obtained that doesn't match the first, all bets are off.

Scott

By Gregusjay (Gregusjay) (12-234-233-242.client.attbi.com - 12.234.233.242) on Wednesday, October 16, 2002 - 08:31 pm:

You would almost have to conclude that it is Z who licked the stamps and envelopes.
DNA molecular structure was in it's infancy in the 60s. I think the basic molecular structure of DNA was discovered in the early 1950s and at that time was only known to be typically the same in like species. It of course has grown by leaps and bounds since.
I don't think Z would have bothered having anyone else lick the stamp.
The strong possibility that someone else did the killing and another the writing and stamp licking is plausible and could explain the reference to Maple street and not Cherry in the Stine slaying. Maple being the intended cross street for the killing and reference in the letter, and Cherry for whatever reason (defiance?) as the actual cross street.
This is just conjecture on my part.

By Linda (Linda) (208-59-124-127.s127.tnt1.frdr.md.dialup.rcn.com - 208.59.124.127) on Wednesday, October 16, 2002 - 09:09 pm:

As long as the DNA extrapolated has come from a "known" Zodiac correspondence, I feel that there should probably be little question; however, obtaining a corroborating sample from another "known" Zodiac piece would seem to nail the coffin down. If this DNA has come from a sample which can't be confirmed, there definitely remains doubt.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-pb-4550.linkline.com - 64.30.222.109) on Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 12:04 pm:

Gregusjay,
Z wrote "over by"Washington and Maple.Z could be very detailed(like the writer of the Confession letter)or he would approximate.He referred to 12/20/69 as "christmass."There are other examples.
Good project for someone.Pick out his 'detail' traits from the letters and his tendency,at times,to 'approximate.'

By Gregusjay (Gregusjay) (12-234-233-242.client.attbi.com - 12.234.233.242) on Monday, October 21, 2002 - 06:39 pm:

I also noticed Howard, on Z letters where he signs as either "a citizen" or "red phantom"
or the "badlands" letter, the mis-spelling is virtually gone. It appears Z is has to psyche himself up to become this "mad and evil serial killer" the mis-spellng adds dramatic insanity to the letters for cause and effect.

By Kevin (Kevinrm) (ip68-98-108-6.ph.ph.cox.net - 68.98.108.6) on Monday, October 21, 2002 - 07:32 pm:

Now that we have DNA results from TWO crimes attributed to Zodiac, I wonder if anyone has bothered to see if they match? I'm talking about comparing the DNA from the CJB murder with the recently obtained DNA. Yes, we know the Bates DNA didn't match Allen, but did it match that taken from the stamp? I doubt it will, but it should be a simple matter of comparing numbers.

By Ray N (Ray_N) (sdn-ap-008scfairp0139.dialsprint.net - 63.189.136.139) on Tuesday, October 22, 2002 - 03:13 pm:

That's good thinking, Kevin. If those two samples could be matched to each other, that would confirm the SFPD sample as Zodiac DNA and conclusively eliminate Arthur Allen, would it not?

I don't think the two panels were the same type of test, though. An apples and oranges kind of problem. Regardless of that, a match could still not be affected since the SFPD panel is incomplete. But a partial match would sure be enough to light a fire under this thing. A hot one.

Ray

By Muskogee (Muskogee) (216-19-219-89.getnet.net - 216.19.219.89) on Friday, October 25, 2002 - 04:11 pm:

Kevin, this is in response to your post under the "Allenites only" heading.
You seem to feel that the DNA behind the stamp is Zodiac's with 99.9% certainty and, therefore, Allen cannot be Z. While I agree there is a very high probability that this is the case, I don't think it's anywhere near 99.9%.
My point is this: a stamp on a letter is not an airtight seal. There are HUGE gaps (at a microscopic level) for cells to fall into and become stuck between the stamp and the envelope. Many people have handled the Z letters and, consequently, many people's DNA from epithelial (skin) cells and hair follicles have a possibility of being behind the stamp. This is why people like Scott and Ray feel it is important to test other letters. If they find the SAME DNA, it strongly supports Zodiac as the donor of said DNA. I agree wholeheartedly with Scott and Ray on this issue.

By Kevin (Kevinrm) (ip68-98-108-6.ph.ph.cox.net - 68.98.108.6) on Friday, October 25, 2002 - 04:55 pm:

Okay, point well taken. Let's just hope they do more testing. And if they do, let's hope we don't have to wait another 3 years for another TV show to come out in order to find out the results.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-pb-4550.linkline.com - 64.30.222.109) on Saturday, October 26, 2002 - 12:30 am:

I meant 12/20/68-sorry.

By Muskogee (Muskogee) (216-19-219-89.getnet.net - 216.19.219.89) on Saturday, October 26, 2002 - 09:05 am:

Kevin, I agree completely. Of course, the way the DNA testing has dragged, I have the sinking feeling it might take another big-name t.v. show to get it done.

By Ray N (Ray_N) (sdn-ap-009scfairp0456.dialsprint.net - 63.189.145.202) on Saturday, October 26, 2002 - 07:32 pm:

I've received an email today which included some information pertinent to the pitfalls of PCR testing that I've talked about before on here. Well, here is a bonafide expert saying the same things. Basically, his position is that PCR is fine when you've got a nice, juicy drop of blood at the crime scene that logically is that of the killer, or a semen specimen that is obviously the rapist's, etc. Unfortunately, since the technology can also be pressed into service upon ever smaller samples, it is now being questioned as to whether this is responsible science, in that the unbelievably small amount of data removes the probative value in that investigators don't have any idea from where it came, only that it is DNA capable of producing a profile. Apparently, there is some concern among scientists that the envelope is being pushed hard and that sooner or later innocent persons are going to end up with needles in their arms. Here follows an excerpt from that email:

"Anyway, here is the discussion I found online and this person, an expert in the field, apparently an
expert in the PCR method had some very interesting comments. You may have already run across it. This discussion was under the heading of The National Committee of Future DNA Evidence.

JOE BELLARO: 'I have lot of comments, questions and things, but I guess the place I would start is the history of PCR-based DNA really evolved around identifying a bodily fluid or actual visual stain, not just because we could, but because the probative value of linking that sample to somebody was much higher than the probative value of what fingerprints can often be, which is they can be deposited from a casual contact. So I have a lot of problems with the probative value of this approach; but then further on that, as far as the technological approach, in order for you to even derive value, if you accept that they can be probative, in order to even derive the value, you have to push the limitations of PCR extra cycles, which people that are familiar with PCR have always known the potential pitfalls of that, (and the biggest pitfall is not just detecting background contamination in reagents or handling other things, but to potentially mistype a sample, because you are just starting with too little DNA.) And as a PCR scientist, I always taught that that is the worst thing you can possibly do is to mistype something. It doesn't really matter how many safeguards you put in place to try to interpret things, if the potential is there to do it, I have never understood why to pursue that as a scientist first, but then as a criminalist second. I think you just have to let something go sometimes, because personally I think it compromises the integrity of the entire science. It sometimes pushes things to get what I would call miscellaneous samples sometimes.'"

I would just say that possibly too many lay persons are a bit too confident in technology that they don't understand at all, for no other reason than that they know the courts have embraced it and it yields impressive odds. As the technology develops, we must ensure that it gets better without getting worse at the same time. In some ways, I guess you could compare this situation to a couple of monkeys, one with a stick of dynamite and the other with a pack of matches. Neither one knows what's going on, but they sure could make a mess if they're not careful.

Ray

By Kevin (Kevinrm) (ip68-98-108-6.ph.ph.cox.net - 68.98.108.6) on Saturday, October 26, 2002 - 09:26 pm:

Ray,

Correct me if I'm wrong, but these folks are worried about contamination, right? As you (I think) are saying, it could be contaminated from multiple sources. However...

Let's take the Z letter they just tested. First, there definitely was amylase (saliva) enzime there, so that eliminates the sponge. Some human being did in fact lick that stamp, agreed?

Next, I agree, it's possible that, in theory, a flake of the mailmans skin got caught up under the stamp (although I assume they would test under the center of the stamp). If that were the case, then I could see how a positive human DNA result would be found. Why, however, is there a "lack" of Allen's DNA there? If he licked that stamp, wouldn't his DNA show up? Why was there no "Allen DNA"?

It sounds to me like you and some others are saying that the DNA test performed in no way changes the scope of things, is inconsequential by itself, and in no way lessens the likelyhood that Allen is Zodiac. I think the odds that Allen is Z were significantly reduced with the results of this test.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (171.philadelphia08rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.30.171) on Saturday, October 26, 2002 - 10:14 pm:

I think we should also look at this in terms of inclusionary, rather than exclusionary, evidence. In that case, we need to consider the odds of a contaminated specimen turning up with the same type alleles as that of someone who is, apart from his DNA fingerprint, a reasonable suspect in the case.

By Muskogee (Muskogee) (216-19-219-89.getnet.net - 216.19.219.89) on Sunday, October 27, 2002 - 09:05 am:

Kevin, I agree with you that, at this point, Allen's odds of being Zodiac are greatly reduced. However, I think there are 2 things that must be considered.

1.) DNA from the suspect could be too degraded to show up on a test, even if salivary amylase was found. The degredation of amylase and DNA do not necessarily occur at the same speed.

2.) Amylase is not only found in the saliva, but in the bloodstream as well. I do not know if testing can be done to specify whether our amylase is salivary or not (Ray, do you know?).

Again, these are just possibilities . I think it is likely that the DNA is from Zodiac and that the amylase is from his saliva. I'm just saying we can't be certain, and in this case, I don't think we can be too careful about ruling suspects in/out.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (217.philadelphia04rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.23.217) on Sunday, October 27, 2002 - 09:41 am:

Just as an aside to the thread, I received a call from Inspector Kelly of SFPD this afternoon, requesting that I not contact the lab directly to discuss the case. That's not something I'd do at all events, but I thought it strange that he should call me, of all people. I don't like dealing with police agencies for the same reason I don't listen to sports interviews--that is, because no usable information is ever imparted and it becomes a complete waste of time after all.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (217.philadelphia04rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.23.217) on Sunday, October 27, 2002 - 09:44 am:

Excuse me, that's Inspector Carroll.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p51-144.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - 159.134.51.144) on Sunday, October 27, 2002 - 10:48 am:

Interesting! What do you make of it Doug?

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (193.philadelphia01rh.15.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.16.193) on Sunday, October 27, 2002 - 12:17 pm:

The lab people don't like being bugged by amateur sleuths, for one thing. For another, I think they may be hot on someone's tail (can't guess whose)and don't want any info leaking out while they're in the process of corroborating and enlarging the DNA results. That's understandable. However, I must say that Carroll had a certain brusqueness in his tone that I found quite unpleasant.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (pluto.cds1.net - 216.174.197.132) on Sunday, October 27, 2002 - 09:50 pm:

Douglas: is it possible that someone called the lab at SFPD to suggest a DNA comparison with TK and used your name??? That might explain Carroll's out-of-the-blue call to you.

By Gregusjay (Gregusjay) (12-234-233-242.client.attbi.com - 12.234.233.242) on Sunday, October 27, 2002 - 10:09 pm:

My two cents says that the technology used in the testing of Z and Allen DNA structure is sufficient enough and accurate enough to believe Dr. Hottie when she said there was enough DNA to do a comparison and get definative results..
DNA technology has advanced three-fold since the days of the O.J. trial.
We should all be glad that the case is moving forward and that hopefully we'll have an answer as to who Z was/is.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (253.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - 12.90.17.253) on Sunday, October 27, 2002 - 11:26 pm:

Ed, I believe that may have been what happened.

By Kevin (Kevinrm) (ip68-98-108-6.ph.ph.cox.net - 68.98.108.6) on Tuesday, October 29, 2002 - 11:52 pm:

DNA leads to man's arrest in '65 slayings...


http://www.cnn.com/2002/LAW/10/29/brf.old.homicides.ap/index.html

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19167.linkline.com - 64.30.222.109) on Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 12:21 am:

It is my understanding that Dr.Holt was contacted by phone and Bruce Davis was brought to her attention.She was extremely interested in Davis and it was suggested that some of his letters be tested,but she wanted to get DNA from Davis at the prison.
I had given,due to a request from the late Dave Peterson, some of Davis' letters for DNA testing by the FBI.An FBI agent friend of his made the request.After a long period of time this agent called Peterson and told Dave that the proposed tests were 'blocked from the top.'
Dave and I were quite surprised to say the least,but not half as startled as the agent!
He could find no explaination for this turn of events as they had been anxious to do testing.
I had nothing to do with the call to Dr.Holt(including any encouragment!)to Dr.Holt as I would never contact the lab or her directly.I know where she lives and her personal phone number,but I would never contact her(I heard Tom and Ed spend a lot of time at her home!).
I certainly hope this is not why Doug got that call asking him not to call the lab directly.
There are people that know about my suspect and if they call direct,I can't be responsible.All I can say now is Davis being looked at for testing.
He continues to refuse to talk about the Zodiac case.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - 12.224.139.118) on Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 12:36 am:

Howard, you troublemaker!!!

Seriously though, Dr. Holt must have known she would be the subject of interest as a result of her involvement with ABC's Zodiac show. After all, she's a Zodiac Hottie.

By Linda (Linda) (208-59-124-132.s132.tnt1.frdr.md.dialup.rcn.com - 208.59.124.132) on Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 02:59 am:

I'm probably the one guilty of Doug receiving the call from Lt. Carroll. The day after the airing of Primetime, I called S.F. Police Dept and asked if Dr. Holt was out of their offices. They said she wasn't, but offered her number and extension. I left a voice mail for her that the segment she had done was extremely interesting and that there was another high-profile suspect, Ted Kaczynski, whom I wanted to bring to her attention due to the fact that his DNA is available (even on the Web - at least partial). I made no other attempt to contact her and had no intention of doing so; I just wanted to make sure she knew about Kacyznski and his, apparently, easily available DNA (which, would, of course, possibly eliminate him quickly). After all, she may not really be following the case in it's entirety and may be only involved in the case to the extent of what the investigators themselves present to her.

Two days later, I contacted Lt. Carroll, just to ask if the S.F. Police would pursue Kaczynski in light of the DNA, especially based on the very credible and extensive research done by Doug and Mike. Lt. Carroll said I would probably be disappointed in what he was about to say, which was that he "could not comment on an on-going investigation." The next morning, Lt. Carroll was being interviewed "Live" on CNN and was just telling about he Zodiac case when the interviewer interrupted him, apologizing for having to cut the interview short, but that there was breaking news that must be covered (news was related to the Moscow siege and deaths from the sleeping gas, if I remember correctly). Unfortunately, we won't know what he was going to say, because they never came back to the interview. Maybe he was going to let everyone know that the investigation was continuing and that there may be other credible suspects. Who knows... Anyway, that afternoon is when Doug received the call from Lt. Carroll, I believe.

Whether it's Davis or Kaczysnki, to me, if they don't next thoroughly investigate, through DNA, all the prime suspects, there's something wrong. Why in the world would the S.F. Police Dept use expensive lab testing to compare DNA from two off-the-wall suspects like Charles Collins and "the California Businessman," and not seriously consider the other, credible suspects? Especially when the DNA is readily available (or at least appears to be readily available).

I think something must be up and they're not commenting because there may be some type match from someone and they are trying to perform further testing and/or trying to obtain other evidence before making some kind of announcement.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acadcc0a.ipt.aol.com - 172.173.204.10) on Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 10:45 pm:

To say the very least, it would be extremely irresponsible if SFPD did not test TK and BD, two criminals incarcerated here in sunny California and whose DNA should be readily available. The FBI won't be blocking anything, Z's hardly a federal case.

I am glad that "Citizen Q" was tested and exonerated, however, as it finally vindicated my gut feeling about his innocence since I discovered him back in June 1999.

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) (lsanca1-ar16-4-47-002-193.lsanca1.elnk.dsl.genuity.net - 4.47.2.193) on Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 11:04 pm:

Ed, isn't the Citizen Q exoneration predicated on the very same sample that has received such mixed reviews here on this board? If you believe that Citizen Q has been exonerated, then you must also then accept Allen as a former suspect.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acadcc0a.ipt.aol.com - 172.173.204.10) on Sunday, November 03, 2002 - 12:37 am:

Quite right, Bill, however, it wasn't so much the fact that his DNA didn't match the partial profile that is assumed to be Z's as the fact that he readily volunteered his DNA for comparison in the first place. If I was Z, and knowing there was the distinct possibility that a full DNA profile could be obtained from a stamp and/or envelope flap I licked 33 years ago, I would most certainly not give SFPD's lab anything to test. They'd have to get a court order to obtain anything from me in that regard. So, at least for me, "Citizen Q's" actions speak volumes: they do not appear to be those of a guilty man with something to hide. Granted, that's a very subjective perspective, but that's how I see it, for whatever it's worth. Strictly speaking, if we rule him out based on DNA, then we must eliminate Allen as a suspect also. However, in this particular case, since I consider his actions to be more important than the DNA comparison (even with the speculation of contamination that could conceivably explain why his didn't match Z's), I think he can be safely eliminated as a suspect altogether without necessarily affecting Allen's status. Am I making sense, or am I off base here?

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-af07.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.26.172) on Sunday, November 03, 2002 - 07:18 am:

Personally, I don't see "Citizen Q" being eliminated as a suspect based upon the DNA results; I see him being eliminated simply because he is a bad suspect.

Can you picture Q [a high profile citizen recognizable to the public] as Z murdering Stine in his own neighborhood just a matter of blocks from his own home? Besides that, isn't the doorway that Foukes pointed out beyond Citizen Q's property? [Help me out here, Ed.] If so, why would he walk past his house while leaving the scene instead of simply ducking into his own yard?

By obiwan (Obiwan) (ciw1.ciw.edu - 192.70.249.30) on Sunday, November 03, 2002 - 08:04 pm:

Linda...interesting story. Too bad we didn't get to hear the end of it, but then perhaps the reason Lt. Carrol decided to go on CNN was to definitively and clearly say those magic words "I couldn't comment on an on-going investigation." ;)

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (pluto.cds1.net - 216.174.197.132) on Sunday, November 03, 2002 - 10:37 pm:

Scott: unfortunately, they didn't indicate precisely where Foukes saw Z walk up that flight of stairs, just that it was close to "Citizen Q's" place. I suspect it was on the same block, and it was certainly on the same side of the street; I shall have to check it out next time I'm in SF (soon, hopefully).

You are correct, however, Q is quite possibly one of the worst suspects ever identified in this case, and I had eliminated him almost as soon as I discovered him; call it a gut feeling, but I never could believe he was Z, despite all the coincidences. Rodelli thought differently, and kept pursuing the investigation, which is cool, but I don't think he ever considered the possibility that Q wasn't Z. That might explain his quiet disappearance after Primetime Live.

By Sandy (Sandy) (12-233-103-176.client.attbi.com - 12.233.103.176) on Monday, November 04, 2002 - 10:53 am:

Ed, It is my understsnding that contamination will not change the blood type. Please correct me if I am wrong. This is why I thought the jury on the OJ trial didn't listen to the evidence,and gave this jerk a get out of jail card. Anyone know if the Z blood type is A pos.? Just a hunch.Have they checked to see if it is Hispanic, Jewish, Asian, Russian ? Has John Walsh given the blood letter's for comparison ? That could prove interesting.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19167.linkline.com - 64.30.222.109) on Monday, November 04, 2002 - 10:20 pm:

The Riverside DNA and the stamps on the '67 note and the flaps on the Confession letter should be compared to the S.F. Z sample.
Any so called copycat missive should be tested as well.
The Tahoe cards stamp should be compared with them and the Lass family Christmas card as mentioned in my post.
I still wish the Halloween card KJ told me she received was available for testing!Drats.It could be in the pile of letters at the S.F.Chronicle archives.
She was firm when she told us she mailed the card to Avery.

By Gregusjay (Gregusjay) (12-234-233-242.client.attbi.com - 12.234.233.242) on Saturday, November 09, 2002 - 09:07 am:

I think the real exciting news from all of this is that, if they somehow can come up with a full DNA profile of Z,(with the rest of the letters) they should be able to know Z's eye color, and skin complexion and be able to identify his geneaology as well. Yup, they be able to ID Z's family tree, so long as they have a sample from one of his relatives on the data-base. DNA technology has advanced so much, it's almost scary. It's common place now in most coroner's labs to store a small blood sample from cadaver's for complete ID purposes.
So, my feeling is that we are on a hotter trail than we realize, although the time frame and money issue are always factors.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) (207.233.36.252) on Saturday, November 09, 2002 - 12:13 pm:

I would love to give them a "little list" of individuals to test. Naturally, I would include TK, B Davis, and L Kane but I would also include serial killer Richard Macek and how about 1960's SF Chronicle reporter Tom Findlay. Anyone seen him? Physically a great Zodiac match.

By Linda (Linda) (208-59-124-91.s91.tnt1.frdr.md.dialup.rcn.com - 208.59.124.91) on Saturday, November 09, 2002 - 04:03 pm:

I would have a hard time believing that they have not checked TK out yet; especially since they know his DNA is available; and at least a partial is listed on-line through the Unabomber Court Documents site. Whether there is a possible match or no match at all, I think they're holding back on making any statement on this suspect right now for some reason.

By Warren (Warren) (w205.z064002105.hou-tx.dsl.cnc.net - 64.2.105.205) on Monday, November 11, 2002 - 01:57 pm:

This month's Vanity Fair (Dec. 2002)has an article naming the "Jack the Ripper" perp. Used DNA. Am perusing as we chatter.

By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) (66.138.8.190) on Sunday, November 17, 2002 - 06:04 pm:

Currently reading book by Patricia Cornwell regarding her belief she has solved the case. Not far enough along with book to come to firm conclusion but some very interesting ideas so far.
I think it is the same basic theory, the culprut alleged as artist Walter Sickerts

By Ann (Ann) (58.detroit01rh15rt.mi.dial-access.att.net - 12.87.72.58) on Saturday, June 14, 2003 - 09:17 am:

Okay, I've been sifting through the discussions trying to find out if anyone ever mentioned anything about this. Question: Some years back, DNA was extracted from the '78 letter, which I know is a letter considered questionable by many, however, my question is, was that test an RFLP or PCR? Anyone know? My guess would be PCR since it was more than likely a very small amount of a sample. Question: Has anyone ever said that this DNA was compared to the more recent DNA profile?