Paul Stine : Random Victim or Deliberate Target? Message Board: Paul Stine: Paul Stine : Random Victim or Deliberate Target?

By Bucko (Bucko) ( - on Friday, January 12, 2001 - 11:01 pm:

I've always thought that the Stine murder might hold the key to breaking the Zodiac case. The Stine killing just does'nt "fit". All the confirmed attacks by Zodiac up to that point had been couples in at least somewhat secluded areas. So, Zodiac switches to a lone male target in populated S.F. The murder seemed to have a sense of urgency to it. Zodiac took alot of risks that night. Biggest perhaps was spending so much time in the cab after the murder. He took the wallet, keys, and searched (or wiped down...or something) the dashboard. It almost seems like Zodiac was looking for something, either on Stine or in the cab. Perhaps it was some incriminating information Zodiac felt he needed to eliminate or retrieve. This would, at least to some degree, explain why he spent so much time at the crime scene. Perhaps he took the wallet with him (something he never did before) to search through it more throughly later. It would have taken only a small portion of the total time in the cab to get the piece of bloodstained shirt. If Zodiac indeed had his "fingerprint guards" on as he states in a follow up letter to police..why worry about wiping down anything in the cab? I personally think the print, or partial print found on the cab was indeed Zodiac's. I believe Zodiac's follow up letter to the police shortly after the murder tries to "explain away" some of these inconsistencies. Zodiac says that he did not leave behind fingerprints and then explains why. He says he spent so much time in the cab to give the police some "busy work". But, if Zodiac went to all the trouble and risk to let behind "fake clues", why alert the police of your true intentions only days later? Zodiac then states he does'nt look like the composite drawing!!...only when he does his thing!!! Bull...I would bet Zodiac looked EXACTLY like the composite. If indeed Zodiac wore a disguise when he killed why tell anyone that fact! Just let the police believe they are looking for a guy that does'nt look like you! It has been suggested by Graysmith that Zodiac killed Stine primarily for his shirt, perhaps to use in authenticating subsequent letters. But, Zodiac had information about former killings that only he and the police knew. A method he used of authenticating letters he wrote previously.
I believe Zodiac was looking for something Stine might have had on his person or in the cab that night. Maybe it was something Zodiac himself left there by mistake previously. Maybe Zodiac was somehow involved in the accident that dented Stine's cab. Maybe Zodiac was a fellow cab driver. Perhaps Stine knew Zodiac...maybe that's how Zodiac was able to flag Stine down even though he was already enroute to pick up another fare. Whatever the reason, Zodiac took some HUGE RISKS that night, made mistakes, and in fact almost got caught. He then writes a letter and tries to explain away those mistakes! Killing a random victim is less risky then trying to coordinate the killing of a deliberate target. Just my 2 the way Tom....I love this messageboard.

By Hurley (Hurley) ( - on Saturday, January 13, 2001 - 08:03 am:

Hey Bucko, good post. I've wondered if Zodiac was a cop involved in dealing drugs but then I can't explain LB.

By Hiho (Hiho) ( - on Saturday, January 13, 2001 - 11:23 am:

Hey Bucko
It's very interesting you brought up that theory about the Zodiac individual running into Stine's vehicle. I asked my source why was Paul Stine murdered and he replied that his susupect most likely ran into Stine and an argument ensued which resulted in a retaliation killing.How did you come up with that theory? Just a guess? Any other info or theories to share?

By Bruce Monson (The_Adversary) ( - on Saturday, January 13, 2001 - 11:08 pm:

I would be interesting to see a list of names in the employ of the cab company Stine worked for at the time.

By Sandy (Sandy) ( - on Sunday, January 14, 2001 - 01:05 am:

Bruce I would like to find out who Stine had a accident with in the cab a few weeks or days before. Also what the descriptions were of the robbers not long before he was shot.Could of been a test run? Or my thoughts on why his ID was taken? Because he looked very much like one of the killers, whom I believe was into bringing drugs from Mexico and having a name like Stine instead of a Hispanic name would be a lot easier.My Hispanic suspect was never in the Navy nor was he ever arrested,That might explain why the prints haven't matched up?

By Bucko (Bucko) ( - on Sunday, January 14, 2001 - 07:18 pm:

I don't know anyone associated with the Zodiac case. So, I am not privy to any special info. I became fascinated with the case after reading Graysmith's book back in the mid 1980's and came up with the Stine theory then.

Most believe Zodiac to be highly intelligent. I agree. This is why the circumstances of the Stine killing never made sense to me. There had to be a good reason for him to assume the added risks he did that night. As I stated in my original post, he tries to explain away certain inconsistencies in follow-up letters. One thing I forgot to note, was how he explains the MO shift to a lone male victim. He states in a later letter that he shot a man in a car with a .38. Again, trying to divert suspicion away from the real reason Stine might have been killed.

I shared my thoughts about Stine only one other time. That was with Jonathan Zychowski, ( I'm sure this is misspelled ) who operated a Zodiac website a few years ago. I e-mailed him and got a nice response. Shortly afterward, he died in a tragic accident while on vacation. I'm sure the timing was just coincidental...but it made me feel kinda creepy. Perhaps Tom would know the proper spelling of his name and the circumstances surrounding his death.

I encourage people to post their views, even though not everyone will be in agreement. After all, as someone once said, "..I suppose we're all just guessing."

By Bruce Monson (The_Adversary) ( - on Sunday, January 14, 2001 - 11:22 pm:

I heard that Zychowski died in a scuba diving accident.

By Clark (Clark) ( - on Monday, January 15, 2001 - 05:54 pm:

I wrote to Jonathan Zychowski in August 2000. He said he had a new suspect he was investigating that nobody had yet mentioned, one who had very strong evidence against him. Does anyone know for certain that he has indeed died?

By Kevinrm (Kevinrm) ( - on Monday, January 15, 2001 - 06:39 pm:

August 2000? This guy died a long time before that!

Kevin M

By Rogerr (Rogerr) ( - on Monday, January 15, 2001 - 10:06 pm:

CLARK>I wrote to Jonathan Zychowski in August 2000. He said...

KEVIN> August 2000? This guy died a long time before that!

Roger> I believe that would be his son (don't know whether it's Jon Jr, or perhaps Jon W) that wrote Clark back.

By Howard (Howard) ( - on Tuesday, January 16, 2001 - 01:08 am:

Zodiac crimes fitting?He did state "I shall CHANGE[EMP mine]the WAY[EMP mine] the collecting of slaves.I shall no longer announnce(sic)to anyone when I comitt my murders, they shall LOOK LIKE [EMP mine]routine robberies,killings of anger ,& a few fake accidents,ETC.[EMP mine].He fully understood how and the concept of 'changing' his so called MO.SIG'.Look at the leap from up front car shooter(4/4/5/69') to a Ned Kelly like costume complete with hood/knife/gun/rope,etc.And from a darkened parking lot to a daylight hour caper on a beach near a lake! !Oh yes,and that carefully embroidered 'white' cross/circle on black cloth -and those nifty clip on sunglasses...Putting this guy in a box is a little tricky-lets be careful.

By Eduard Versluijs (Eduard) ( - on Tuesday, January 16, 2001 - 02:35 am:

I wrote Jonathan Zychowski in late april 1999 and got a reply back signed Jonathan.
He was interested in some theories of mine...
When did Zychowski actually die?


By Bucko (Bucko) ( - on Tuesday, January 16, 2001 - 07:44 am:

Howard wrote:

"Zodiac crimes fitting?He did state "I shall CHANGE[EMP mine]the WAY[EMP mine] the collecting of slaves.I shall no longer announnce(sic)to anyone when I comitt my murders, they shall LOOK LIKE [EMP mine]routine robberies,killings of anger ,& a few fake accidents,ETC.[EMP mine]"

Zodiac wrote these words after the Stine killing. In regards to changing the weapon and manner in which he killed you are correct. However, of the confirmed Zodiac killings, the choice of victims did change from couples in more or less secluded areas to a lone male target in a much more populated area. Stine also marks the first time Zodiac took any personal items from the victims ( at least that anyone is aware of ) even though he had the opportunity to do so previously, especially at Lake Berryessa.

I agree we should keep an open mind to all possibilities in this case. But I believe the above angles of the Stine killing should be explored....perhaps they already were.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) ( - on Tuesday, January 16, 2001 - 10:14 am:

Bear in mind that after Berryessa the public started catching on to Zodiac's true motivation, i.e., his sexual inadequacy. The Stine killing would have served to detract public attention from that facet of Zodiac's personality, something that was necessary to sustain his ego.

By Oscar (Oscar) ( - on Wednesday, January 17, 2001 - 01:21 am:

To state that Zodiac's "true motivation" was "(i.e.)his sexual inadequacy" is misleading. How do you, or anyone else besides Z, know what the true motivation was for these crimes? Unless you are willing to cop to being Z, perhaps you should use terms like 'probable', 'likely' etc. I concur: there is little doubt in my mind that Zodiac most likely (see how I did that?)suffered from some kind of sexual dysfunctia, but I acknowledge that this is utter speculation without a suspect to question and observe etc.
Speaking of speculation/theories etc., has anyone ever developed a theory that Z may have been a homosexual? I know there was some talk of this due to the fact that Z seemed incapable of killing male victims (sidebar- why is Farraday forgotten, or so it seems?), but I have not seen a real development of the idea. It would make for entertaining reading.
With Respect,
Oscar the Semantic Kraut
p.s.Doug, if you have something that you need to confess, please do not hesitate to contact Father Oscar at once. All will be forgiven, provided that, if it is really 'juicy', i get first shot at selling the movie rights. (smile)

By Oscar (Oscar) ( - on Wednesday, January 17, 2001 - 01:26 am:

To Whom...
My 2 cents on Zychowski. I heard he passed away in a boating accident two years ago. Is THIS true? Anyone? (sidebar-Darn! This shouldn't be that hard to find's not like we are looking for Jim Morrison or ...Zodiac!).
Oscar/aka "The Big O"

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) ( - on Wednesday, January 17, 2001 - 09:48 am:

Hi Oscar--My name is not "Dougie."

By Jake Wark (Jake) ( - on Wednesday, January 17, 2001 - 02:35 pm:

The skinny on Jon Zychowski is this: in '97 or '98, he was sent an email suggesting that his suspect, as a sailor, would have prints on record. The email further indicated that the cab prints, or the letter prints, or some prints, had been run through the AFIS system which would have automatically checked them against Naval records. According to the email, there was no match, ergo Zychowski's suspect could not have been the Zodiac. Obviously, there are a few unfounded assumptions at work here, and I'd like to point out that while I did correspond with Zychowski, I didn't send him that particular email.

Shortly thereafter, a notice went up on Zychowski's site stating that the operator died in a tragic diving accident while on a Carribean vacation. Some months later, I wrote to the new operator, who was maintaining the site and using the same email address. He wrote back, claiming to be Jon Zychowski, Jr, carrying on the investigation in his father's name.

Now, I don't have kids, but if I did, I sure wouldn't trust them with my email password. On the other hand, "Junior" was a lot more polite than the first guy I contacted. He used to post here, or maybe it was at the old alt.true-crime newsgroup, which doubles as a dating service / anger management class for teenage vampires and fortysomething spinsters. Anyway, I kind of suspect it's the same guy, but whoever it is he's OK in my book, even if he hasn't updated the site in three years.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Oscar (Oscar) ( - on Thursday, January 18, 2001 - 05:56 pm:

Dear Doug,
Sorry, errant fingers. It will not happen again. Cheap beer really does it for me.
Oscar Wilder,
p.s. Sidebar- I think "Dougie" is kind of-gulp!- sexy!

By Ed N. (Edn) ( - on Thursday, January 18, 2001 - 06:49 pm:

Jake: he did add something recently (ca. October 2000), a link to the recent Chronicle story about that new unnamed Z suspect.

By Clark (Clark) ( - on Thursday, January 18, 2001 - 08:35 pm:

I received an e-mail from Jonathan today. It was his father, Jonathan, who died in the tragic accident. Jonathan Jr. is carrying on his father's work. I hope this clears some confusion. And now, back to our regularly scheduled topic...

By Chrissy (Chrissy) ( - on Tuesday, January 23, 2001 - 11:07 pm:

Dear Bucko:

I am speculating only here, so please take it in that light. The Santa Barbara homicides really look like an immature version of what eventually took place at Lake berryessa. I feel as though that "act" or scene was a big part of Z's thing.

Once he was not able to out do his fantasy, I feel that he began to experiment. I am one person not ruling out the Johns abduction. It seems to me(though there is no way to lay ones hands on all the archival material in the SF are news from the time period)that someone ventured a guess of Z being gay in his inability to kill some intended male victims.

The Stine homicide does stand out, but again the killer used a blitz kill in that(as far as I know)the gun was pulled up and shot, and there is no conclusive way of knowing if anything of substance took place between the driver and his fare in that taxi. San Francisco was the big league and Z took extra effort to prove that he could both kill a male and do it right under a big city police department's nose.

He was nearly caught(or that is the standard view)and few serial killers risk anything they don't have to. He now had need to close loose ends and change how he did things. He was not a rapid cycle killer compared to some and he closed a lot of doors, all the while attempting to wrestle as much glory from his spree as he could.

Anything beyond Stine and Johns is speculation and if evidence really exists regarding other crimes of his beyond that someone really has covered it up well. I will be the first to say I do not know.

I drove taxi at night, most of the drivers I know really don't want to know much about their fares. Mr. Stine might have know something or Z might have lost something, but I think the is cause to think Z was collecting a bit of shirt and making sure he left nothing behind in the taxi. It was an enclosed space and for all we know, the very first time Z murdered at such close range in a place that evidence could be so easily gathered.

Chrissy Shaw

By Oscar (Oscar) ( - on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 03:33 am:

I will take strong exception to your assertion that "few serial killers risk anything they don't have to". The literature on the topic simply does not lend credence to this generalization. Most serial killers are bona fide risk takers...I would argue, at least semantically, that the very nature of serial killing makes this a moot point. Now, draw the distinction between risk, which is inherent in these crimes, and unnecessary risk in relation to Zodiac. This is what I see:
1. Yes, Zodiac was very methodical, but also prone to extravagant statements. The phone calls to the police station indicate a personality that, at least to my mind, enjoys inordinate risks!
2. People often bring up the fact that Zodiac was careful to not leave clues when writing his various letters etc. How many garden variety (excuse the diction) killers are willing to risk any form of communication with police officials? Not many. However, I could bore you with a veritable laundry list of serial killers who were compelled to write the cops. Yes, it goes beyond mere risk and into the area of pathlogy and motivation etc., but it does indicate that MANY of these personalities enjoy taking extraordianry risks. And for you smartasses who will say that there was no risk in Z mailing the cops,let me prempt you by saying this: WRONG! Any information that you divulge can come back to haunt you at any time. Every communique involved the possibility of extreme error, perhaps to the point of capture.
3. The Stine killing was extremely risky. I'm sure you have visited and walked the site. One is a short distance from an entrance to the Presidio (30 seconds..tops), but it would also be easy to get boxed in very quickly in that neighborhood. Z almost got nailed as it was. My point is that Z could have shot someone in a much more- I'm coining this and hating it simultaneously-"serial-killer friendly" environment in SF.
The literature on the topic of serial killing does bear out that serial killers, by and large, are not afraid of inordinate risk. This contradicts your statement. I'll go with the sources.
Also, I think we may be mistaken if we classify Zodiac as a serial killer, at least if using the accepted definition in practice today. As well, I'm beginning to believe that this case could be an elaborate game of smoke and mirrors- a cerebral shell game, if you will. But, alas, I'm sliding off topic.
Take Care,

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) ( - on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 10:47 am:

Oscar, I believe there's a fundamental difference between classical serial killers whose murders are actually part of their overall sexuality, and killers like Zodiac, who appear to be motivated by a combination of ego and hatred. There's probably more risk-taking amongst the former than the latter; in fact, the sexual psychopath may actually find risk-taking at least as stimulating as the murder itself.

Kaczynski, for example, wasn't actually averse to risk-taking, but he had the self-discipline to avoid it when necessary. He had no problem committing burglary, arson and the attempted murder by rifle of a Montana prospector, but his records show that on several occasions he planned spur-of-the-moment shootings and knifings but stayed the impulse simply on account of the risk involved. In one specific instance the only thing that saved a couple of cyclists he found encroaching on his territory was his fear that he wouldn't be able to kill them both and one would manage to escape and sound an alarm.

By Chrissy (Chrissy) ( - on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 01:35 pm:


When I stated risk, perhaps I was not clear. Disorganized killers often do risk without calculation. In the case of someone such as Z, I would say that any risk he took was prodded on mostly by arrogance. If you look at the entire series you will note that deliberation seems evident. He scoped the planned scene over what is likely to have been an entire day if reports given are actually Z who was seen.

In the Stine case as in many taxi homicides one has a in-and-out blitz. I don't know what Z knew about such crimes, but they happen at a very high frequency, usually motivated by robbery. It is a crime that is usually easy to walk away from. Compared to a number of other type of assaults it is less brazen.

Risk taking as I am defining it here lies in the overall likelihood of capture. I don't see Z risking as much as one might initially think. Even with being reported, coming near to capture as he did, he still walked away. Had this happened at any of a number of addresses, he likely would not have needed to deal with such a quick response.

Yet his action after Stine seem muted and perhaps more carefully thought out. He proved he could kill men and he proved even with the odds in their favor, that SFPD was no match for him. Next to Berryessa, Stine murder must have been a cherished high point from which he could entertain himself a very long time.

As some of the experts have said, he did not act out his crime in a crowd. He stole away into the shadows of the residential transition and hidden in a taxi, did his deed. In two other crimes he is in the dark, in perhaps two others he is in costume--that is not a sign of a high risk taker.
Ultimately, the only risks he took were those he probably had no way to calculate and when presented with those unseen risks, quickly handled the situation towards minimizing there effects.

Chrissy Shaw

By Michael Mc (Michaelmc) ( - on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 07:43 pm:

Chrissy, do you think that Z intended any of victims to live? if Hartnell had died for all anyone would have known Z could have been dressed like Bozo or in drag. The chance at being caught is part of the "thrill" for these guys. I really think that Stine was motivated by the need for "big city" attention.


By Lapumo (Lapumo) ( - on Thursday, January 25, 2001 - 08:00 am:

You do make a fair point,or at least there is a question begging to be asked especially in relation to Hartnell.It has always bugged me.I think it would be hard to say that Zodiac had not intended to kill Hartnell,but he did survive.Z went to alot of trouble with this "costume", especially with the "headgear"(a balaclava would have sufficed).Did Z finally come to believe his own myth or did he want a surviving witness to give a description?

By Hurley (Hurley) ( - on Thursday, January 25, 2001 - 05:42 pm:

Dear Big O.,

Me thinks you are right about this case being an elaborate game of smoke and mirrors, a cerebral shell game. I am especially intrigued by DF's association with the police. I may have mentioned this elsewhere...did this association add complications to this case?

By Alanc (Alanc) ( - on Thursday, January 25, 2001 - 06:28 pm:


By Hurley (Hurley) ( - on Thursday, January 25, 2001 - 08:00 pm:


By Chrissy (Chrissy) ( - on Thursday, January 25, 2001 - 10:11 pm:

Dear Michael:

I don't think he intended for anyone he stabbed or shot to live. I have always maintained that the costume was beneficial only to z for two reasons: One he was able to face his victim in what was left of the daylight that day and two, as some ritual the meaning of which only z himself could elaborate on. If he wanted to just cover his face he would have bought or stole a nylon stocking. His choice of weapons and distance from his targets was enhanced by use of this silly get-up of his.

The scene at Berryessa is very close to the Santa Barbara scene. I am guessing this guy was a-social in the extreme and there may well be a real or imagined feature physically that brought it on. Behind the mighty mask z could actually talk and touch his captured victims. The main thrills this guy seemed to get were from the power to kill(especially women)and the power to brag with impunity. Contrary to popular belief, I suspect with this type of an individual the idea of being caught never really forms fully until some failure leaves them no option. What I think is key to bragging offenders is that they really assume they are smarter than anyone or thing and their actions they offer as proof. Most braggers a caught rather quick, but every once in awhile there comes one with enough clicking upstairs to get a long ways along the road of trouble.

Chrissy Shaw

By Michael Mc (Michaelmc) ( - on Friday, January 26, 2001 - 07:16 pm:

I would say the costume was for Z's own amusment Its meaning ....well only he knows for sure. I do agree that the killing of women is what really turned him on ...but killing them first in front of men was even more exciting and made him feel even more powerful. He could kill even when they were being "protected" The fact is without some luck on the part of LE even the most inept killer can get away, And Z although not a genuis was not inept.


By J Eric (J_Eric) ( - on Saturday, December 14, 2002 - 12:27 am:

RG states in his book that Stine once worked as a reporter for the Turlock Journal. IF you believe my decoding of the 340-cipher message and the bomb location cipher, it's very strange that Turlock's mentioned both in the 340 (TID'S = Turlock Irrigation District, water management agency for Don Pedro Reservoir) and as a target city for drowning if the bomb was at the damsite. I didn't realize there was any connection with Turlock to anyone or anything in the case when I decoded, other than the Route 132 connection with Kathleen Johns. But now I wonder: just what stories DID Stine work on while at Turlock? Would Z have known him somehow?