The Status of the Zodiac Case
The view from a recently-retired San Francisco homicide cop

Nov. 9, 2005

By Inspector Michael Maloney | Star 2014
San Francisco Police Dept. | Retired

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SAN FRANCISCO, Cal. -- The Zodiac case will not be solved until the current San Francisco Police Dept.'s manager in the homicide section is transferred.

Unfortunately, John Hennessey has involved his ego in this case. He could not tolerate the attention this case brought to the inspectors working it. He closed it and ordered one of the most informed and capable police inspectors in the SFPD, Kelly Carroll, to return the case to the file and never respond to questions about it in the future from anyone, forever. As long as he is an employee of the SFPD, and since the case is such a complex one, the lieutenant in charge cannot manage it very well since he knows little about it. So Hennessey closed it -- kind of like sweeping dirt under a rug. And, rather than re-assign the case to another team, Hennessey put the case to bed after the first significant lead advancement in 30 years.

My partner and I were the first team to be able to apply forensic DNA techniques to the Zodiac case.

We were the first team to solve a cold case, 25 years old, with DNA. We know what we do, and we did it well.

We could have torn that case apart with DNA testing, but we were thwarted with all kinds of excuses from Hennessey.

Now that I'm retired, I feel I can put the blame squarely where it belongs: with the case lieutenant. When Hennessey is removed, the case will be opened again. DNA testing will eventually be cheaper. When that happens, the case will become very exciting because enough DNA tests will be made to really draw some conclusions, such as did the same person touch or lick all of the envelopes?

If not, how many other DNA traces are we dealing with? Does this mean others were involved? Is there similar DNA in possession of other police jurisdictions connected to the case?

What DNA exists on the Paul Stine shirt? I don't believe there isn't any on a shirt involved in a bloody murder. Sweat has lots of DNA.

This case is so much about DNA that most police investigators' eyes would grow very large if given the chance and the means to work it.

I mean it is the most famous SF murder of all time, other than Dan White's act, and that wasn't a who-dunnit.

Unfortunately, I also had 50 other cases, with about 800 leads to track down. And Kelly had more work because he had been in homicide a little longer.

However, the Zodiac case was so exciting to us, we would have worked it in our spare time had we any left.

We tried working it on weekends; all that was thwarted by Hennessey.

So, I leave this as a testament for history; homicide cases are worked only if the heat for them is turned up under the butt of the boss. Otherwise there simply isn't time.

The police department doesn't provide the resources. I mean, 800 leads of my own and no help. What is that all about?

The people of San Francisco are not getting their money's worth. Cops fight for overtime at the expense of the case work and that hurts our society. Hennessey got a lot more money, our overtime money that we could have used to work the Zodiac case, so that he could sit at his desk longer and BS with his cronies on the phone.

He is ambitious and ruthless and cares not about his mission. His mission is his career not the cases, not the people of our City.

I relished the opportunity to work on the Zodiac case and am saddened that ego stopped the investigation. I know that DNA technology will make the case progress further if it is applied.

It is an unfortunate fact that very few police officers still understand how DNA works in a forensic setting. It is very clear that Hennessey does not and it is crystal clear that he should not be a homicide leader. It is doubtful that he should have ever investigated cases, as he is more politician than technician or critical thinker.

Well, there you have it: My status summary in a nutshell. Good luck to everyone. Some day this case will really be closed because of the work and interest of everyone involved who sincerely would like to find out who the killer is.

-Inspector Michael Maloney

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

Inspector Michael Maloney, SFPD
Inspector Michael Maloney, SFPD

The Zodiac killer
The Zodiac killer

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