Zodiackiller.com Message Board: Letters: SFPD DNA Report

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (ptlddslgw5poold162.ptld.uswest.net - on Thursday, June 07, 2001 - 04:03 pm:

As seen in my 6-6-01 update, SFPD has been able to extract DNA from several Zodiac envelopes. Wouldn't it be grand if they would just explain to everybody where the case stands?

By Ed N (Ed_N) (spider-ntc-tc064.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, June 07, 2001 - 05:54 pm:

It would be nice. Since they did extract DNA, did they have enough to compare to anyone else?

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (243.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Thursday, June 07, 2001 - 06:28 pm:

Tom, I don't see anything in that update that says that SFPD extracted DNA from the envelopes. The report you've posted states, under "comments" that "cells" were found. The term "cell" apprehends a wide variety of biological material, some of which may or may not consist of DNA. Supposing DNA does exist within the "cells," it must be of a sufficient quality in order to process, especially given the very minuscule specimens. What is the date on the report? Given the addition of the 1978 letter results this looks to me to be from several years ago.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (ptlddslgw5poold162.ptld.uswest.net - on Thursday, June 07, 2001 - 06:34 pm:

I obtained the report a couple of years ago.
I'm sure "cells" meant DNA. In fact, I was told it did.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (243.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Thursday, June 07, 2001 - 06:48 pm:

Well, "cells" don't mean "DNA," at least not in the real world, just as "human body" doesn't mean "liver." If they had good DNA that long ago, they should have processed it by now and obtained results. But the '96 results were inconclusive, except for the '78 letter, which has been discounted--probably because the DNA wasn't a match for Allen.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb52ee9.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, June 07, 2001 - 07:24 pm:

Doug, the letters and envelopes were examined for DNA. DNA was found on certain envelopes, although not enough to compare to a suspect. That was made clear to me by not only the document, but the conversation from within SFPD when I obtained the document.
You're not going to nitpick everything to death, are you? One PeterH is enough.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (243.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Thursday, June 07, 2001 - 07:45 pm:

We just don't want to give certain people the wrong impression.

By Tony (Mahalo) (1cust139.tnt1.wailuku.hi.da.uu.net - on Thursday, June 07, 2001 - 10:45 pm:

Has DNA technology advanced enough in the last couple of years to where smaller samples are now decipherable? Why else all the renewed interest? Didn't the Calaveras article state that the 'Z Taskforce' was also there recently investigating Allens old records. Obviously, they haven't given up on him yet. Maybe they're trying to get the full picture on Allen before they give us the good news.(Wishfull thinking...mine)

By Classic (Classic) (spider-mtc-tb072.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, June 07, 2001 - 10:46 pm:

Since the report states that the '78 letter is not a zodiac letter, the dna must have matched somebody who could not possibly be z. Ok, once and for all, who wrote the '78 letter? Actual evidence not theories. Is sfpd not going to say because it was toschi and they are embarrassed enough already? If it was toschi,when did they get his dna? Classic

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb404cc.ipt.aol.com - on Thursday, June 07, 2001 - 10:57 pm:

Toschi has never admitted writing the letter, and I've never seen proof that he wrote it. Until proven otherwise, I am giving Toschi the benefit of the doubt on this.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-mtc-tj021.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, June 08, 2001 - 12:49 am:

If not Toschi or ALA then who? Was the DNA extracted from the '78 letter from someone unknown? Citizen X? The true Zodiac? Sorry for the ignorance, but I am simply not aware of the '78 letter's history beyond what Graysmith published. Anyone wish to give a concise history or point me in the direction of something that I've overlooked?


By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-mtc-tj021.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, June 08, 2001 - 01:20 am:

Okay, thanks to Tom I was able to answer most of my own questions. Sorry, I was just a bit scrambled there for a moment.

However, after reviewing the report a couple of other questions entered my mind.

I'm assuming that "CELLS FOUND" means enough DNA for testing and that "FEW CELLS" means the opposite. Am I incorrect? It seems to me that the "KJ letter," the "buttons letter" and the "Exorcist letter" are the letters being used for any current DNA analysis. Am I overlooking something? And I still don't know if the '78 letter was ever matched or even compared to anyone. Was the DNA from the '78 letter ever compared to ALA or Toschi?

Somewhat confused,

By Eduard (Eduard) (i0527.pvu.euronet.nl - on Friday, June 08, 2001 - 06:18 am:

You don't need loads of cells to dertermine DNA.
The cells you have, can you make more of with a PCR-machine (without losing the original DNA).
The original cells only must not been damaged by age.

I did it myself when I worked for a university in Utrecht. Why can't the cops do it as well?
Beats me!


By Mark (Mark) (95-129-237-24.anc-dial.gci.net - on Friday, June 08, 2001 - 06:52 am:

Call me mystified also-what IS going on? As I said in another post this is the ZODIAC case we're talking about not some run-of-the-mill murder investigation! I would think just out of wanting to get some recognition and fame out of being the person and police department to finally solve the case would be motivation enough. Mark

By Eduard (Eduard) (1cust192.tnt28.rtm1.nl.uu.net - on Friday, June 08, 2001 - 07:59 am:

To backup my DNA talk....
A link that tells how DNA multiplying is done:
DNA multiplying

I really don't know what the cops are doing if they are not using this!


By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (spider-ti072.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, June 08, 2001 - 12:51 pm:

Eduard: Interesting link. It makes me think that, if the "FOUND CELLS" are not damaged, there should be no problem with analyzing them. I'm still curious as to the "NOT AUTHENTIC ZODIAC LETTER." I'm under the assumption that it was discounted because of a documents expert and not because of DNA. But again, I have to claim ignorance. I simply do not know the history of the '78 letter beyond what Graysmith published. I'm thinking that something was done with the '78 letter in '96, but I'm not sure as to what.


By Classic (Classic) (spider-tn053.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, June 08, 2001 - 01:31 pm:

Is it know if all three dna samples match each other? I would not want to even try to imagine the possibilities if they did not.
My first impression is that Toschi did not write the '78 letter. However, since sfpd says they know it is a fake,that must mean they know who wrote it because they don't know who wrote the rest of the letters. Follow my point? Now, who would sfpd stay silent about being the forger? Certainly not Graysmith. That would tend to point the finger at Toschi. Life would be so much simpler if sfpd would be forthright about it, especially since it is a fake.
On the report did anyone else notice the score column? I thought that unusual, why I don't know. Classic

By Jake (Jake) (spider-wo011.proxy.aol.com - on Friday, June 08, 2001 - 02:48 pm:

Scott wrote:
"Anyone wish to give a concise history or point me in the direction of something that I've overlooked?"

Try my site, linked below, and click on "The 1978 Letter" in the "Overview" section.

At the risk of sounding overly-skeptical, what exactly is the origin of the DNA report? I understand the need to keep sources confidential, Tom, but since there's no letterhead or official-looking notation anywhere, it could have been word-processed by a teenager. I have faith in your judgement, but in light of the 42-wounds debacle, I'm inclined to double-check this sort of thing.

And what's this about the August '69 letter going to the VTH? I thought Ed had settled the dispute, saying that it had gone to the SFX. And what's this "Monticello" letter? Tom? Anyone?


By MDB (Michael_D_Brown) (micro189.lib3.hawaii.edu - on Friday, June 08, 2001 - 03:49 pm:

Eduard, When was it first possible to get DNA samples from Zodiac evidence?

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-10407-2.linkline.com - on Friday, June 08, 2001 - 07:17 pm:

It was first possible when they took Bebbolemerase and transcripted it to Zodiacase-in '63 I think!

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (13.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Friday, June 08, 2001 - 08:18 pm:

Jake, the reference to the Monticello letter didn't even catch my eye, but it's probably the most significant thing Tom has posted in the past few months. Just on the basis of what I see in the report, it's something exactly in the vein of the "Peek through the Pines" card. The accompanying text (evidently a cut-and-paste) is said to read, "In the woods dies April."

Now check this out: there's a 1936 book titled "Through the Woods: The English Woodland - April to April." Its author? H.E. Bates. See it at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0711209928/o/qid=992056123/sr=2-1/ref=aps_sr_b_1_1/104-5628896-7642338.

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acb5c5a7.ipt.aol.com - on Friday, June 08, 2001 - 08:40 pm:

Morrill authenticated the 1978 letter. He also authenticated the desktop poem. According to "Carefully drawn copy: Four experts term Zodiac letter fake" (San Francisco Examiner, 8-3-1978, p. 6):

Sherwood Morrill, Prouty's predecessor and now retired, said he is standing by his report to Toschi that the April 24 letter is genuine. He declined Gain's request to examine the letters again.

"I wrote the report to Dave Toschi," Morrill said last night. "It's down in black and white. Apparently Chief Gain has no respect for me and that's mutual. I don't do any work for San Francisco any more. I did not write any letter retracting my original opinion. My report stands."

Morrill's professional opinion was pretty clear: that the letter was genuine. So, this is a rather curious dilemma: can we accept one communication (the desktop poem) as authentic but regard the other (the 1978 letter) as a hoax? Or do we accept or discount both?

Earlier in the same story:

He (Keith Woodward, former LAPD documents department head) said his conclusion was that the letter was a "poor attempt by an unknown writer to copy the true hand printing of Zodiac."

Now, how can some putz have been able to produce a "poor attempt" at Z's writing that fooled Morrill? If it was an obvious hoax, do we therefore discount all of Morrill's professional opinions regarding authentication of anything?

By Ed N (Ed_N) (acb5c5a7.ipt.aol.com - on Friday, June 08, 2001 - 08:46 pm:

Which means that, IF the 1978 letter is genuine, then they did extract Z's DNA from it...

By Roger Redding (Roger_Redding) (user-33qs1q9.dialup.mindspring.com - on Friday, June 08, 2001 - 09:11 pm:

Just from the brief description given, the Monticello letter sounds like a copycat rip-off of the "peek through the pines" card. If so, one wonders why SFPD would decide to include it, out of the probably dozens of copycat letters there must have been.

Then again, some people think that the "peek through the pines" card was a copycat.


By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acb5bb6f.ipt.aol.com - on Friday, June 08, 2001 - 10:00 pm:

Initially, I asked why the Monticello letter was included on the list, and the detective felt it was because it was one of the few letters to still exist. (Many items have disappeared.)
The letter was never authenticated as being from Zodiac, they were just playing it safe.

I saw the letter, and it looked like a bad attempt at a forgery. There was no handwriting. If it was Zodiac's work, he might also be responsible for all the inserts I keep finding in my Sunday paper.

By Eduard (Eduard) (1cust183.tnt33.rtm1.nl.uu.net - on Saturday, June 09, 2001 - 12:31 am:


It was first possible to take DNA samples when the evidence poured in.
The samples were taken soon after the crimes.
But now it comes....
Researching the material for a DNA-match is another story. I did my DNA research in 1994 and that was when the PCMR-testing in labs was a few years old. Allen died in 1992 so I believe before 1992 Allen could never have been linked with his DNA because then certainly the police didn't have those tests.

About the blood on the knive....
After all these years I think you can't get any good DNA-samples of it anymore.
Blood, and other liquid's DNA detoriates just to quick even if it is stored at the right temperatures. I also worked with bloodsamples and there was a perticular time we had to do or research in or else the samples weren't useful anymore.

The bigest change to get DNA from the crime-sites is to get:
"death" material like hairs or nails or even skin-tissue (are all three not "alive" like other cells in the human body).
This stuff you can store for ages!

They have found a hair at the Bates scene...but if they find a DNA match that only says that the suspect with the match killed Bates, it doesn't tells directly that the sample was also from Zodiac.
So the biggest change to link a suspect is from DNA in "death"-material from the other crimesites or from fingerprinting.


By Eduard (Eduard) (1cust5.tnt4.rtm1.nl.uu.net - on Saturday, June 09, 2001 - 01:19 am:

I forgot one thing....
Finding Stine's wallet in the home of one of the suspects also could help.
But "The Zodiac" now has had enough time to destroy this evidence if he still had it.


By Eduard (Eduard) (1cust5.tnt4.rtm1.nl.uu.net - on Saturday, June 09, 2001 - 01:31 am:

Me again,
To explain a bit of the SFPD DNA Report Tom had a scan of...

The samples found on the envelopes can be also skin tissue. We lose a lot of cells of or skin (thousands) doing things like writing a letter.

I think they will only use samples found inside the letters ( skin cells from Z. putting the letters in ). Why?
Do you know how many people have touched the outside of the envelopes (mailmen,people at the papers the envelopes were send to, editors, policemen etc.).

I actually don't know if saliva-samples (from the stamps) can be used after more than 2 decades but I will ask some ex-colleages of mine to come up with an answer.

See yeah,