The House on Zodiac Corner


Zodiackiller.com Message Board: Other Suspects: The House on Zodiac Corner

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc43b42.ipt.aol.com - 172.196.59.66) on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 06:04 pm:

The house at the corner of Washington and Maple streets in Presidio Heights, San Francisco, has been the object of some investigation regarding the Z case because it was, at one time, the residence of Robert E. Hunter Jr, one of the worst Z suspects ever developed. Apparently, he was identified based on the following assumptions:

1) The killer of CJB, believed to be Z, is also assumed to have written the Desktop Poem, which was signed with what was assumed to be the author's initials, "rh."

2) Z hailed Paul Stine's cab at the intersection of Mason and Geary, and presumably requested Stine to drive him home, as evidenced by the location "Washington and Maple" logged on his trip sheet.

Therefore, anyone with the initials "RH" who lived at that intersection must be Z, according to the logic employed by Ed Rosaia and Dana Best. And, it just so happens that Robert E. Hunter Jr. lived at 3799 Washington, at that very intersection. That is how he became a suspect.

Now, I came across something yesterday while doing Z-search in the city that I had somehow missed before (I think because the volume of Polk's in question was not possessed by the Civic Center library in Marin County where I had done my initial research; the Civic Center was Gattaca in the movie by the same name, btw). The little tidbit was that there was a certain Victor Schiantarelli who lived there after Mignon Augsbury died in June 1968 (she is listed in the 1969-70 Polk's, but had in fact died by the time it was published), and before Hunter moved in sometime during 1970.

It must be noted that he's listed there only in the 1971 Polk's, which canvasses neighborhoods some 6 months before publication; in other words, in mid-1970, he was living there, and therefore appears in the 1971 Polk's. However, the 1970 phone book, which was apparently published in September that year, lists Hunter as living there, which suggests that Schiantarelli moved out shortly after Polk's did their research, and that Hunter moved in sometime after May 26th, 1970 (according to "House of Zodiac: Killer's clues may have been telling the police exactly where he lived," The Napa Sentinel, 11-15-1991), obviously before the phone company did theirs. Harry Martin claimed that Hunter moved in to 3799 Washington as early as 10-4-1969, based on the claims of a neighbor, one Henry Solorzano ("Zodiac: the man who owned the house", The Napa Sentinel, 11-19-1991); very basic research showed that Solorzano was actually a janitor at a downtown hotel, so that little "factoid" has zero credibility. The reason for fabricating it was obviously to place Hunter one block away from the Stine murder at the time in question, even though he moved there 7 or so months later; this is another instance of guilt by association, something that Martin frequently engages in.

A little more research uncovered the following facts concerning Schiantarelli: it seems there were 5 of them who appeared in San Francisco in late 1957 (since they first appear in the 1958 Polk's). There was Guillermo, a chauffer, who lived at 222 Maple Street, an H.M., who was a gardener at the same address, a student named Victor H. and his wife Bessie, and William R., also a student, who lived at 1378 19th Avenue.

Guillermo and H.M. disappeared after that, as did Victor and Bessie by 1960. However, Victor and an Erika A. Schiantarelli returned sometime in 1961; it's apparent that he divorced and remarried, and he's listed as being a "helper" (presumably an apprentice) at Schlage Lock Company. They lived at 3887 18th Street, while William lived at 3799 Washington as a gardener.

Interestingly enough, Victor is listed as living at 28 Shelbourne Avenue in Daly City in the 1968 phone book; he's no longer listed as of 1970 (there is no 1969 phone book at the library, unfortunately). By 1968, Victor was a teamster, and William was living at 222 Maple, as did Guillermo and H.M. back in 1957-58. When I physically checked the address, it turned out that 222 Maple and 3799 Washington are in fact the same house; I would imagine that Mignon Augsbury sectioned off a part of the house that fronted Maple Street, so that her chauffer and gardener could live there at their own address.

Hunter, meanwhile, lived with his wife Sylvia at 2255 Lyon Street, literally a few blocks away, and moved away sometime in 1967 or 1968. Sandy's research places them in Pennsylvania around that time (she wasn't positive, but is checking her notes); James L. Newman moved into 2255 Lyon sometime in 1968. Hunter and his wife returned by 1970. None of the Schiantarellis were listed as being in San Francisco after 1971.

Now, what's all this mean, and why does anyone even care? First of all, because Hunter is part of the case, it's imperative to prove whether he was in California or not at the time of the Z murders (he doesn't appear to have been), and secondly, it shows just how sloppy and inaccurate Rosaia's, Best's and Martin's research was, and indicates that, basically, take it with a grain or two of salt.

Another thing is, how is it that a presumably middle-class teamster and gardener were able to afford to live in a house in a very wealthy part of town after the previous owner died? It's impossible to say at the moment, so I won't venture to guess, but it turns out that Hunter did not live at 3799 Washington Street when Paul Stine was murdered; that much is absolutely certain. I'm not certain how much more research into this is warranted, however, but it certainly is odd that the Schiantarellis lived there for as long as 2 years unknown to researchers, just before another man who would later become a Z suspect did.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - 12.224.139.118) on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 06:12 pm:

Kudos, Ed.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (aca7dde2.ipt.aol.com - 172.167.221.226) on Wednesday, May 21, 2003 - 12:43 am:

A little followup on Hunter and the Schiantarellis: Robert E. Hunter Jr. and his wife Sylvia first show up in the SF Polk's directory in 1951, meaning they had moved there sometime in 1950. They lived at 2867 Green St, and he was a clerk at Crocker First National Bank. In 1952, they moved to 3765 Jackson Street, literally just around the corner from where Paul Stine would be shot by Z 17 years later; by that time, Hunter was an assistant cashier for Crocker Bank. It's interesting to note that one of the places that Robert Graysmith claims Foukes and Zelms spotted Z in front of is 3769 Jackson, immediately next door to Hunter's old digs.

In 1954, Hunter was assistant vice president of Crocker Bank, and in 1957, he was vice president. They moved a few blocks east to 2255 Lyon, where they remained until 1968 (although, rather curiously, he's listed as living back at 3765 Jackson in the 1960 Polk's, and does not even appear in the 1961 edition; since I have found the occasional error in Polk's, I suspect they still owned that house and simply rented it out, and something got mixed up while preparing the volume). James Newman moved in sometime after the papers were signed on 10-16-1968.

As far as John and Mignon Augsbury go, he died on 2-14-1947 (just reverse those last two digits, and it's the date the SLA letter was mailed), and there was a private service the next day. A short funeral notice appeared in the Chronicle on 2-18-1947, page 11; considering he was buried the day after he died, he was probably sick for quite a while, and his wife was prepared.

There were legal matters after Mignon died on 6-5-1968, which were sorted out in December 1969. In Book B390, p. 169, we find:

NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED as follows:
(a) That there be and there is hereby distributed to
THE CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES said decedent's house and lot
in San Francisco, California, more particularly described as
follows:
(then followed a lengthy physical description I didn't bother to copy)
commonly known as 3799 Washington Street.

So, it appears that Harry Martin was actually correct on this count, except that the Academy of Sciences could not possibly have allowed Hunter to move into that house some 8 months early on 10-4-1969, because they did not even take possession of it until 2 months later on 12-4-1969, when the papers were filed!

Henry Solorzano, who Martin claimed was a neighbor of Hunter's, actually lived with his wife Lily at 3653 16th Street. He was a janitor at the El Cortez Hotel at 550 Geary. Interestingly, only his wife is listed in the 1971 Polk's as a janitor at the El Cortez, still living at the same address; it's not indicated that she was widowed or anything, so it's impossible to say at this time what happened to Henry.

Now, as far as the Schiantarellis go, in Book B390, p. 170 we find:

(b) That there be and there is hereby distributed to VICTOR
SCHIANTARELLI the sum of $30,000 and said decedent's Jaguar automo-
bile.


Why he got the money and the car, I won't even speculate, because it was William who lived with Mignon Augsbury for a few years, not Victor. And, there's no mention of either William or Victor's second wife, Erika. Those are perhaps some loose strings to be tied up at some other time, but, for the moment, things certainly look interesting. And, there is no question now that Robert E. Hunter Jr. cannot be connected with Z in any way, shape or form, because the "logic" that was used to discover him is faulty. As far as I can tell, based on the documentation, Victor Schiantarelli was living at 3799 Washington Street in October 1969, not Hunter. And the initials "vs" were not found at the end of the Desktop Poem.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (12-224-139-118.client.attbi.com - 12.224.139.118) on Wednesday, May 21, 2003 - 02:37 am:

Ed, I usually sleep in pretty late. Which soap opera was this again? LOL!

Just kidding, buddy. Good job. Attention to detail is the key to successful Zodiac research. Some people have it, some people don't...and you've obviously got it in spades.

By Kendra (Kendra) (pluto.cds1.net - 216.174.197.132) on Wednesday, May 21, 2003 - 08:32 pm:

One thing that I was curious about was to why Mrs. Augsbury willed her home to the Academy of Sciences. Turns out that at one time, there was a "John C. Augsbury room of Heads and Horns" at the Academy of Sciences. This bit of info has lead me to believe that at some point, Mr. (and/or Mrs.) Augsbury, having had lots of $$$, made a large donation to the Academy (hence, the naming of the room after him). This establishes a connection between the Academy and the Augsburys.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc49012.ipt.aol.com - 172.196.144.18) on Thursday, May 22, 2003 - 06:02 pm:

Victor and Erika Schiantarell (they appear to have dropped the final "i"), ages 62 and 59 repsectively, both live in San Bruno, according to ussearch.com (but their phone number is unlisted). Since there were no others by that name listed as living in the US, and since their ages would be about right, I suspect they're the same two I discovered regarding the house on Zodiac corner.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc49012.ipt.aol.com - 172.196.144.18) on Thursday, May 22, 2003 - 06:04 pm:

BTW, Kendra: good piece of detective work! That explains why Mignon Augsbury willed her house to the Academy of Sciences (that, and that there doesn't appear to have been any other Augsburys in SF at the time, children or otherwise).

By Sandy (Sandy) (12-233-119-238.client.attbi.com - 12.233.119.238) on Thursday, May 22, 2003 - 08:31 pm:

Great work!! Well for sure that lets Hunter out of the picture. Not that Augsburys had anything to do with the Z case but I wonder how did they come by so much money and not have any s.s. number ? Wouldn't they have to pay taxes? The only other Augsbury was in L.A.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (host-66-81-183-88.rev.o1.com - 66.81.183.88) on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 - 01:11 am:

BatEd...and Robin did it again!My mask is off to ya!Fine research.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc457af.ipt.aol.com - 172.196.87.175) on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 - 12:24 pm:

Howard: I'd like to talk to the Schiantarellis if possible; even though I've proven it through the documentation, I'd like to get it straight from the horse's mouth that Hunter did not move into 3799 Washington on 10-4-1969. If Victor Schiantarelli says something like, "Yeah, we moved out of that house in the spring of 1970," that will once and for all prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Hunter is innocent of the Z crimes, because Harry Martin's entire "case" against him hinges on that. I do kinda like overkill...

By Howard Davis (Howard) (64.30.222.112.lcinet.net - 64.30.222.109) on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 - 08:33 pm:

Ed,
Have you tried US Search?Overkill is good...

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (pluto.cds1.net - 216.174.197.132) on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 - 10:28 pm:

Already did, Howard. They live in San Bruno, but I didn't pay the $9.95 to get their address or phone number.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc32cd4.ipt.aol.com - 172.195.44.212) on Friday, May 30, 2003 - 12:25 am:

In addition to mentioning Hunter in Zodiac (p. 299), though not by name, Graysmith gives a few more details in Zodiac Unmasked (p. 108), but, as usual, gets a few facts wrong:

1) RG claims that Hunter "lived a block away when Paul Stine was murdered," although I've proven conclusively that Victor Schiantarelli lived there at the time;

2) He claims that Hunter lived in southern California when CJB was murdered, and yet, there's no question that he lived in San Francisco since 1950;

3) He makes the claim that Hunter owned property at LB, even though I proved that he did not own anything in Napa County until the late 1990's.

Three incorrect statements in one paragraph. Amazing, even for Graysmith!

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc32cd4.ipt.aol.com - 172.195.44.212) on Friday, May 30, 2003 - 01:37 am:

I found Robert E. Hunter Sr. and wife Gwendolyn in Pasadena in the 1914-15 Thurston's directory, living at 505 Orange Grove Avenue, and they remained there as late as 1955. Also in 1955, there appears a Robert E who lived in Santa Barbara but had an office at 234 East Colorado Boulevard, room 227, but whether he was Hunter Jr. or not, I don't know at this time; whoever exactly he was, he was no longer listed after 1956.

The only other Robert E. Hunter listed in Pasadena was married to Barbara and lived in Rosemead. He worked at Burton's Ice Cream Store, which became a Baskin Robbin's in 1956. Clearly, he's not the Hunter who came to live in Presidio Heights.

By Sandy (Sandy) (12-233-119-238.client.attbi.com - 12.233.119.238) on Monday, June 02, 2003 - 03:36 pm:

Ed, Robert E and Gwendolyn Hunter did live in Santa Barbara after living in Pasadena,until Sr. died. The other Robert E hunter was a lawyer,do the reverse check on that address and it will show you what it was. Rosemead huh,Darlene and Jim Phillips old stomping grounds back in 66.

By J Eric (J_Eric) (dsc03-lai-ca-3-175.rasserver.net - 204.30.131.175) on Monday, June 02, 2003 - 11:02 pm:

Meticulous research, but--if I was going to kill a taxi driver, why would I direct him to the front of my own house? And why would a bank employee in S.F. care about what the Vallejo Times printed on its front page?

By Ed N. (Ed_N) (acc18d24.ipt.aol.com - 172.193.141.36) on Tuesday, June 03, 2003 - 12:42 am:

J Eric: exactly! Not only that, if the vice president of Crocker Bank could afford to live in Presidio Heights, what's he doing taking a taxi home in the first place??? I imagine he would have had more than one car at his disposal to drive... the point is, Hunter is one of the worst suspects ever developed, and never should have become a suspect in the first place. It has taken years to find the documentation that proves that the "theory" is so much BS (mainly because, had I known it existed when I first started looking at Hunter back in 1995, I would have jumped on it right away). Strike Hunter from the list...

By Howard Davis (Howard) (64.30.222.112.lcinet.net - 64.30.222.109) on Monday, June 09, 2003 - 08:19 pm:

You can BANK on it-the Hunter Z theory is a bankrupt myth and our good friend and meticious researcher,Ed N. has exploded the safe for all to see!