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The Tales of Dave Toschi

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Chaucer
(@chaucer)
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Sorry, guys, but this is going to be quite lengthy. Please bear with me.

I’m going to try to approach this post with a little discretion because Dave Toschi is now dead, and I don’t take casting aspirations on a dead man lightly.

Still, in regards to the Zodiac case, I think it’s important to look at all the facts and information and more importantly from WHERE and from WHOM those facts and information are coming from.

For many years, up until his death in 2018, Toschi was seemingly gracious enough to offer information and insights about the case – much of which was previously unknown and behind-the-scenes sort of stuff. He assisted Greysmith on his book. He helped Harvey Hines in his research. He has spoken to Tom Voigt and Sandy Betts among other amateur sleuths. Full disclosure: I never met Toschi, and I have never spoken with him.

However, I think it’s time to question whether Toschi was as honest and upfront as he seems. In isolation, some of the questionable things he has said and done are easily ignored and explained. Taken as a whole, I think it demonstrates a pattern of…let’s call it “less than honest” behavior.

I’ll start off by saying that Dave Toschi – even before the Zodiac case – had a reputation of being eccentric. His bow tie, his long trenchcoat, his upside down holster, his affinity for animal crackers all lent toward his colorful character. Much has been made about how Steve McQueen modeled his character in the move Bullit on him, and how Dirty Harry was based on him. He never found a camera or microphone he didn’t like. It’s safe to say he was the most well known cop in San Francisco and arguably the most well known detective in America. Taken at his best, he was publicity hound. Taken at his worst, he was an attention whore. Either way, there’s no doubt Toschi was an interesting, colorful guy who loved the adoration he got from his fellow cops, the press, and the citizens of the Bay Area. I also don’t think there is any doubt that he worked tirelessly on the Zodiac case and was a good, competent cop.

However, I think there’s a darker side to Dave Toschi. A side that is so narcissistic that he was willing to “make up” facts in order to sensationalize things and make sure his name was always centrally involved. I think Toschi rode a fine line between attention seeker and fraud. I think it’s time to question the veracity of some of his statements over the years.

Here are some examples that I believe prove my point:

1. It is a fact that Toschi sent pseudonymous fan mail about himself to Armistead Maupin in 1976. This is something Toschi himself has publicly admitted.

2. It was the tone and diction of these fan letters that led Maupin to suggest that it was Toschi who authored the controversial 1978 “City Pig Toschi” letter. That letter was originally believed to be authentic, but has been widely discredited as a fake. Toschi denied to the press that he wrote it, and publicly the SFPD cleared him. But privately, implications were made and Toschi’s career was irreparably damaged.

3. Mike Rodelli spoke with SFPD DNA guy Alan Keel in 2007. At that time, Keel told Rodelli that the 1978 letter and an unknown 1974 letter were both eliminated by DNA. Using deductive reasoning, Mike came to the conclusion that the 1974 letter in question was the famed Exorcist letter. If Toschi forged the 1978 letter, then the DNA on the 1974 letter would have to be identical. This would seem to indicate that Toschi forged both the 1978 letter AND the Exorcist letters. Keep in mind that both of these letters were written years after the originals and immediately put both the Zodiac AND Toschi on the front page again. Richard Grinnell does a fine job of explaining these discrepancies on his website here: https://www.zodiacciphers.com/zodiac-ne … ontroversy

4. Moreover, in Lyndon Lafferty’s book, he transcribes an admittedly rambling phone message that he received from Alan Keel in which Keel states, “…he [Toschi] actually admitted writing it [the 1978 letter]”.

5. Allegedly, Harvey Hines once stated that Toschi admitted to him that he created the Pines card in 1971. It seems odd that Hines would make this up as it undermines his case for Kane. Why would Toschi lie to Hines about this as it makes him look terrible? Also, the Pines Card would be the last “authentic” Zodiac correspondence until…yes, you guessed it – the Exorcist letter nearly 3 years later.

6. Toschi also allegedly told Hines that Zodiac didn’t randomly hail a cab at Mason and Geary, but that they had traced the call to the cab company to a pay phone at Union Station. This contradicts every other official police report on the incident and begs the question of how the police would “trace” a call well after the call was made – to a public pay phone in busy urban area no less…

7. Allegedly, Toschi also told Hines that Zodiac could be “50 years old or even older”. He said this despite all public information regarding the Zodiac’s description stating that the oldest he could be is 45 years old. Where does Toschi get the information that he could be older? Worse, if this information is true, then why is he keeping a key piece of identifying evidence to himself?

8. Sandy Betts has posted publicly that Toschi told her that Zodiac was laughing as he killed Cecelia Shepherd. Again, there’s no evidence of this in the police report. Bryan Hartnell has never once mentioned that detail, nor have any other Napa law enforcement officials. Moreover, why is Toschi privy to details about the Lake Berryessa murder? To me this seems like Toschi making up details to sensationalize the case or show off how much he knows and others don’t.

9. Sandy has also posted that Toschi told her that he was convinced that Zodiac masturbated while he wrote his letters. How would Toschi know this detail? What would make him make such a claim? Again, it sounds like Toschi is sharing a salacious detail for no other reason than to grab attention.

10. Sandy has also intimated that Toschi told her something “unusual” about the way the Zodiac sealed his envelopes. I have since followed up on this and spoken with others close to the case. At least one other person close to the case has been told something similar by Toschi. However, if this detail that Toschi shared is true, then it casts doubt on an entire line of inquiry that law enforcement been not shy about discussing publicly. It’s also a detail so unusual – even for Zodiac – that it also seems to be made up for salacious or sensational purposes.

11. Lastly, on Tom Voigt’s website he stated that he heard that “something extremely gross” was including in the Halloween card that tied Zodiac to the Nancy Bennallack murder. Tom, as is his right, refused to divulge what that “gross” thing was. However, in my research I believe I have discovered what that thing was, and more importantly, where that “fact” originated from: Dave Toschi. Tom has gone on record denying that Toschi was the source of this information. Still, if this detail is true (I am dubious), then it creates many more questions than it answers, and if Toschi isn’t the source of this dubious detail then that means someone else in law enforcement was. That opens a whole new can of worms.

12. In the FBI files (p. 122 of Vol. 5) it states that "…Toschi had actually written three letters himself to gain publicity for the Zodiac case". THREE Zodiac letters. Which three?

What does this all mean? It means that we have someone known for his over the top personality and thirst for attention and publicity being tied to not one, not two, but three Zodiac forgeries. It means that after retirement, Dave Toschi delighted in sharing wild, scandalous, salacious “secrets” about the case with wide-eyed researchers – details and facts that barely withstand scrutiny when in retrospect, and which often contradict official police documentation. It means that Dave Toschi unilaterally decided to share details about cases outside of his jurisdiction – details that, if true, make no sense to the case at large.

I know Dave Toschi is a beloved figure in the Zodiac community, and my suggestion that he might play fast and loose with the facts or at worse is an outright fraud, might cause outrage. But I have tried to lay out the facts as best as I know them. In doing so, I think I have shown a pattern of behavior that calls into question the honesty and reliability of an ostensible font of Zodiac information. If Toschi’s information that he has shared with others cannot be trusted, if he has seeded this case with misinformation, then that needs to be recognized and called out so that we are sure that all of us seeking to solve this case are not being misled.

As always, I appreciate any and all feedback, and if anything I have said is inaccurate or untrue, please let me know so that I can immediately correct it. Also, if there are other instances of Toschi’s flexible relationship with facts that I have left out, please let me know.

“Murder will out, this my conclusion.”
– Geoffrey Chaucer

 
Posted : July 27, 2020 10:20 pm
Druzer, Druzer and Druzer reacted
CuriousCat
(@curiouscat)
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3. Mike Rodelli spoke with SFPD DNA guy Alan Keel in 2007. At that time, Keel told Rodelli that the 1978 letter and an unknown 1974 letter were both eliminated by DNA.

Wait, when did they get Zodiac’s DNA to eliminate anything with? As far as I know, Mike has always said there will be no DNA on Zodiac letters because his POI knew to avoid it.

 
Posted : July 28, 2020 1:22 am
(@coffee-time)
Posts: 624
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There’s some heavily redacted business in the FBI files re: 1974 letters that implies SFPD either intentionally misled the press, or didn’t bother to correct them.

I suppose it boils down to how much the public is entitled to know and what that justifies.

By the way, can anyone find any evidence that "Fred Woebber" (or these other people) actually existed?

(Edited post to remove a misquote.)

 
Posted : July 28, 2020 1:27 am
Chaucer
(@chaucer)
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Topic starter
 

Mike can chime in and clarify but in his book he writes about Alan Keel, SFPD criminologist, who “revealed that there were two letters in possession of the department that, in contrast to the "true" Zodiac letters, had abundant saliva and DNA-containing oral epithelial cells on them, that DNA was easily extracted from these two letters, and that the DNA extracted from these two letters matched between them.”

The two letters mentioned were the 1978 letter and an unknown 1974 letter which Mike later deduced was the Exorcist letter.

This link provides more context:

https://www.zodiacciphers.com/zodiac-ne … ontroversy

“Murder will out, this my conclusion.”
– Geoffrey Chaucer

 
Posted : July 28, 2020 1:32 am
CuriousCat
(@curiouscat)
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Well, this is all as clear as mud. :?

 
Posted : July 28, 2020 1:53 am
Chaucer
(@chaucer)
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Topic starter
 

Well, this is all as clear as mud. :?

Yeah, I know. There’s a lot of moving parts. Not only that, but, IMO, a lot of what Toschi said and did made this case harder to solve rather than easier.

ETA:
Also, Coffee, a quick Google search for “Fred Woebber” provides exactly three results with one being the article you posted. An ancestry.com search reveals two results, both in New York with birthdates that would put them in their 80s in 1976. Nothing else.

“Murder will out, this my conclusion.”
– Geoffrey Chaucer

 
Posted : July 28, 2020 1:57 am
(@tomvoigt)
Posts: 1352
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I don’t trust those quotes/claims attributed to Toschi.

Regarding the Halloween card, the info didn’t come from Toschi; he had nothing to do with it.

 
Posted : July 28, 2020 7:55 am
(@coffee-time)
Posts: 624
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OK, now that I’m done eating ice cream:

– My impression was that Toschi wouldn’t speak to "amateurs." He spoke to Sandy because he was still working on the case; he agreed to meet Rodelli, but bailed out. Howard Davis giving Duffy Jennings some questions to ask is the closest thing I’m aware of.

– Zodiac laughing at LB was reported in some of the papers at the time. Don’t know if Ranger "stab me first, I’m chicken" White was the source for that or not. Toschi was probably just repeating what he’d heard.

– Re: the Herb Caen letter, Shimoda protested that he had to work from a photocopy, but Toschi disputed this in YB. So there’s another "wtf?".

 
Posted : July 28, 2020 8:19 am
(@tomvoigt)
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– My impression was that Toschi wouldn’t speak to "amateurs." He spoke to Sandy because he was still working on the case; he agreed to meet Rodelli, but bailed out. Howard Davis giving Duffy Jennings some questions to ask is the closest thing I’m aware of.

I met with Toschi on the 30th anniversary. I’m proud to say he directed people to Zodiackiller.com until he passed away.

 
Posted : July 28, 2020 8:40 am
(@coffee-time)
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Yup, I remember that pic now.

 
Posted : July 28, 2020 9:25 am
Richard Grinell
(@richard-grinell)
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If law enforcement believe the Exorcist letter was truly Zodiac, this communication should be one of the first ports of call when searching for DNA. In fact, if the Exorcist letter had abundant saliva and DNA-containing oral epithelial cells on them and a match between two 1974 letters was achieved, why do people who believe wholeheartedly in the Exorcist letter as genuine correspondence, still eagerly wait for DNA news from two years ago. They must believe we already have Zodiac DNA – and so must law enforcement who have confidence in this letter. The continuing search for Zodiac DNA indicates a lack of trust in this letter. Either that, or they already know who the author was, the sex of the author, or that it was David Toschi. The only other possibility is to question the statement of Alan Keel. It may be correct information, but it is second hand and undocumented.

https://www.zodiacciphers.com/

“I simply cannot accept that there are, on every story, two equal and logical sides to an argument.” Edward R. Murrow.

 
Posted : July 28, 2020 2:53 pm
Druzer, Druzer and Druzer reacted
Chaucer
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Topic starter
 

There’s a great deal that doesn’t make sense here. Overall, I think there is enough smoke to suggest there might be fire and enough evidence to at least question Toschi’s credibility.

Regarding Toschi’s statements to Hines, again I’ll ask what Hines gained by saying this? His guy was Kane and his entire case hinged on the Peek Through The Pines card. What does he gain by casting doubt on the biggest clue against his favorite suspect? Regarding Hines claim about Toschi stating that they traced a call to Union Station – again, cui bono – who benefits? What does Hines gain by lying?

There is, I believe, enough circumstantial evidence to link Toschi to two and possibly three Zodiac correspondence. If that is true, then it turns the whole case on its head. That alone is worth the cost of exploration.

Tom, if you say that Toschi wasn’t the one who told you about the “gross” thing in the Halloween card, then I believe you. I corrected my original post to reflect that.

Regardless, there is still enough smoke to suggest there’s a fire and enough evidence to at least question Toschi’s credibility. To be clear, my only concern is the truth. This case is murky enough without false information being leaked and traded behind the scenes. We all have to be sure that we can be certain about the honesty and credibility of those who provide us information and the integrity of that information.

This isn’t about law enforcement holding back information. That’s a tried and true tactic, and while I think it’s obsolete in this 50+ year old case, it is what it is. But if law enforcement does choose to share confidential info to private citizens, then I think we have to expect that those law enforcement folks are sharing good, accurate information. If not, then the whole thing goes off the rails.

Richard, in my research, it’s become pretty clear to me that there is A LOT more to the DNA aspect of this case than the general public has been led to believe. I can only hope that it leads – quickly – to an identification of the killer.

“Murder will out, this my conclusion.”
– Geoffrey Chaucer

 
Posted : July 28, 2020 11:22 pm
(@coffee-time)
Posts: 624
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The 1978 letter sounds like a direct response to a specific Herb Caen column (about Toschi & Zodiac) from 1976. Referencing a nearly two year-old newspaper column is a weird thing for a random jerk to do. Seems like this was a personal matter to the forger.

Graysmith quoted this column in the YB, so he was definitely aware of it. The book has a 1976 copyright.

Maupin’s logic: mentions of Toschi (ego) and Caen (Toschi sent fake fan mail to him), and the "I’m waiting for a good movie about me" quote sounds eerily similar to Toschi’s "somebody should write a book about him."

However, if the writer was simply responding to Caen’s column, that could explain the Toschi & Caen references. The Caen column also referenced movies ("Maybe The Omen will smoke him out" or something to that effect).

For me, this muddies Toschi’s involvement, while making Graysmith more suspicious.

Alternately, you have some outlier nutjob obsessively following the case for years, who mysteriously felt compelled to send this letter in the middle of Toschi’s self-promotion campaign and the launch of Graysmith’s work on the YB.

Cheney seemed nervous about the DNA tests. Some people think the ’78 was supposed to incriminate Allen. Cheney was clearly willing to lie to make Allen look bad. How far would he have gone to persecute ALA?

It’s been said that the author had inside info. I did find one article where an LE source admitted that the forger could have simply copied the handwriting from old newspapers, so I’m not confident anything truly secret was involved. We keep hearing about this "special sealing method" Zodiac supposedly used…was this used on the 1978 letter?

Finally, I’ve asked before and I still don’t expect an answer: was the palm print on the Exorcist letter compared to Toschi? Contrary to Reddit, this palm print was not "extracted in 2002," there are direct references to it in FBI files from 1974. (I could also ask why they waited till 2001 to compare Allen, but that’s another topic.)

 
Posted : July 31, 2020 3:25 am
(@mccririck)
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The Pines card was never verified as being authentic.

 
Posted : August 9, 2020 8:27 pm
(@coffee-time)
Posts: 624
Honorable Member
 

Morrill did authenticate it. I have no idea why it’s never listed as a confirmed letter/card.

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/zodiack … t4762.html

 
Posted : August 9, 2020 9:29 pm
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