Case Closed
The San Francisco Police Dept. shuts the books on the Zodiac

April 2, 2004

By Tom Voigt
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San Francisco, Calif. -- In an unprecedented move, the San Francisco Police Dept. (SFPD) has officially closed its Zodiac homicide investigation, despite the fact the 1969 case remains unsolved and leads continue to pour in.

The Zodiac case marks the first time in SFPD history it has closed an unsolved homicide investigation.

Zodiac - 1
SFPD - 0

Getting Away With Murder

"All that work down the tubes," a source within SFPD told me. "Now there's nobody to field tips, answer e-mail, push for DNA testing and all of the other things that solve those older cases."

Typically when a case turns cold a department will deactivate it and assign investigators to other tasks. However, the case would still be investigated should new leads develop. Closing a case guarantees leads will be ignored and information will not be collected -- no matter how pertinent to the investigation.

"The lieutenant who made the decision to close it -- a guy named John Hennessey -- essentially figured the detectives investigating it were only motivated by the "cult following" and publicity associated with the case. And that's bullsh*t," my source said.

The detectives assigned to the Zodiac case since 2001, Michael Maloney and Kelly Carroll, have been reassigned.

"There has been a lot of turmoil within the department in the last year or so and apparently it was determined a "shake up" was necessary," my source said.

A Long History

SFPD's investigation into the Zodiac case began almost 35 years ago when cab driver Paul Lee Stine was murdered in the San Francisco neighborhood of Presidio Heights. The killing first appeared to be a routine robbery. However, two days later the Zodiac took credit for the killing in a letter mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle. The letter also contained a threat to kill school children. When SFPD's captain, Marty Lee, briefed the news media on the threat, the Zodiac quickly became a household name throughout the Bay Area and elsewhere.

"The timing on this is horrible," my source said. "What we need to solve the case is more DNA testing. Getting a partial profile in 2002 was great, but we need to retrieve DNA samples from all of the Zodiac's letters. That was the goal. Now, forget about it. It aint' gonna happen. The Zodiac himself could call to turn himself in and there would be nobody to answer the phone."

What if someone discovers that final piece to the puzzle investigators have been waiting for all of these years? What if a family member of the Zodiac's only-known San Francisco victim should like to discuss the case with an investigator? My source offered this advice:

"Refer all Zodiac communications to Lt. John Hennessey, SFPD Homicide Detail. Call him during business hours at (415) 553-1501. Lt. Hennessey has closed the Zodiac case and can answer all questions pertaining to it."

Zodiac's San Francisco victim, Paul Stine. Oct. 11, 1969
Zodiac's San Francisco victim, Paul Stine. Oct. 11, 1969

SFPD Captain Marty Lee. Oct. 13, 1969
SFPD Captain Marty Lee. Oct. 13, 1969

DNA testing of Zodiac letters, circa 2002
DNA testing of Zodiac letters, circa 2002

The Zodiac killer
The Zodiac killer

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