This negro male individual became the perfect eyewitness for Zodiac, tying the phone call and brown car into one neat package. The Zodiac Killer attempted to authenticate this individual by giving us his color, age and mode of dress - along with the convenient timing of a phone call which drew attention to him and his brown car. How absolutely unfortunate for the Zodiac Killer to have his vehicle confirmed by this individual as brown, just like the recollection of surviving victim Michael Mageau. This selling job should be viewed with skepticism, when we consider the tracing of the phone call by ring-back.
The Zodiac Killer described in his own words, that once he "hung the phone up" it began to ring. This must have happened almost immediately, because the negro male (according to Zodiac) was "walking by" the payphone when it rang, which caused him to notice both Zodiac and his vehicle together. The premise of the following reasoning, is that Zodiac is selling us a big fat red herring and he was never in his vehicle when he placed the call to the Vallejo Police Department. He had driven home and had walked the relatively short distance back to the payphone to place the call. The introduction of a brown vehicle into the letter specifically designed for purpose, to give the impression that the Zodiac Killer could have driven anywhere after the payphone call - and the proof is in the police report, time-stamped at 12:47 am.
In 'The Cases That Haunt Us' by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker, they stated "It took seven minutes for Pacific Telephone to trace the call to a payphone in front of a service station".
In 'Unsolved in America' by Harold Schechter, Lee Mellor, Michael Newton, Kim Cresswell, Aaron Elliott and Robert Hoshowsky, it stated that "Within an hour, the call had been traced to a payphone outside Joe's Union Station".
In 'The Hunt for Zodiac: The Inconceivable Double Life of a Notorious Serial Killer' by Zodiac researcher Mike Rodelli, he stated "Several minutes later the call was traced back to a phone booth located at Joe's Union 76 Station in Vallejo".
The following question has to be asked: If the trace was achieved after several minutes, or even seven minutes, why was Zodiac still at the payphone when the ring-back occurred. He clearly stated "the damn thing began to ring & that drew his attention to me + my car." If this were the case, then are we to conclude that the Zodiac Killer after hanging up the telephone, remained alongside his vehicle by the payphone for several minutes until operators traced the call and rang it back. This clearly doesn't stack up. That is why we know he is lying. The whole negro eyewitness story of a man spotting his "brown car" was very likely designed to divert attention away from the truth - that he was on foot and lived nearby.
Even if the call was traced within 30-40 seconds, how could the Zodiac have heard the phone ring. As soon as he had hung up the phone (bearing in mind his claims of a negro eyewitness and brown car), he would have immediately returned to his vehicle and driven away. He would have been out of audible range. If the call was traced fairly quickly, or if the call was traced after several minutes, a killer in a car would have been long gone. But if the killer lived nearby and was on foot, he could easily have heard the phone ring as he was walking away. The distance he can cover is reduced, keeping him within earshot of the payphone for longer. Below is an example of the distance the Zodiac Killer could have traveled on foot, putting him within audible range of the payphone. He could have traveled further than the examples shown below and still have heard the payphone ring.
Page 13 of the police report stated "At 12:47 am Mrs JOHNSON PT&T Operator called. The above call was traced to a coin operated telephone at Joe's Union, Tuolumne and Springs Road. The call was traced by Betty Main whose supervisor would not allow her to give a statement at this time."
It states that Mrs Johnson called the police at 12:47 am to report the call had been traced to Joe's Union Gas Station. But what time was the actual call traced using ring-back. This was an urgent matter, in that a killer had just rang in to the Vallejo Police Department at 12:40 am via the operator, declaring murder. If they had rang back the payphone immediately, as Zodiac claimed, and traced the call by at least 12.41 am, then why on earth, considering the gravity of the matter, would Mrs Johnson wait 6 minutes before calling the police. One would suspect they would have called the police the instant they had traced the call. The fact that they called the police at 12:47 am, would seem to indicate they had just traced the call moments earlier. Had this been approximately 12:46 am and Zodiac heard the payphone ring, we would have to assume he was still at the payphone over 5 minutes after he hung up. Having just committed a heinous crime at nearby Blue Rock Springs, and made a phone call to the Vallejo Police Department (situated in close proximity to the payphone), do we really believe that he just sat by the payphone in excess of 5 minutes.
But had he walked away from the payphone, he realistically, after 5 minutes, should have been out of earshot, as he would have been in a vehicle. However, if he lived in a residence within earshot of the payphone, it wouldn't have mattered when the phone rang back. He would always be within audible range. Was this why the Zodiac Killer was so eager to convince police he was in his vehicle alongside the payphone? Had the police interviewed neighbors close to the payphone about anything they heard or saw that night? Was the residence of the Zodiac Killer closer to the payphone than we ever could have imagined, and the 'Debut of Zodiac' letter was the perfect opportunity to paint a completely different picture of the events that morning.