'In the 'Debut of Zodiac' letter received by the San Francisco Examiner on August 4th 1969, the Zodiac Killer stated;
"The man who told police that my car was brown was a negro about 40-45 rather shabbly dressed. I was in this phone booth having some fun with the Vallejo cop when he was walking by. When I hung the phone up the damn thing began to ring & that drew his attention to me + my car." This negro male was never traced and did not feature in the police report. The details of his age range and what he was wearing, on the face of it appear unnecessary, unless of course the Zodiac Killer was deliberately creating a fictional character who just so happened to observe his brown car. Bearing in mind Zodiac had likely read newspaper reports of Michael Mageau detailing a brown car in the parking lot of Blue Rock Springs, what better way to corroborate his sighting by further implanting the seed of a brown car into the minds of investigators, by the hand of this fictional eyewitness. If Zodiac's vehicle was 'Ermine White' then clearly this is to his advantage. Voluntarily offering the color of his vehicle as brown, if in fact it was brown, must be viewed with suspicion'.
In his communications to police the Zodiac would never refer to his victims by name, calling them boy, girl, teenagers or taxicab driver. He only expanded on their descriptions when attempting to verify he was the killer, or in this case to verify he was spotted in his "brown car", by a "40-45 year old shabbily dressed negro male." Indeed, very helpful descriptions by the murderer, yet somewhat unnecessary. What had the killer to gain by adding this superfluous information, other than to benefit himself. He made specific reference to "that drew his attention to me + my car", when he could simply have said "that drew his attention to me". The killer appeared to be emphasizing that not only was he in his car, but it was also brown, just like Mageau had described. By placing himself at the payphone in his vehicle approximately 40 minutes after the attack, when it was only 10 minutes from the Blue Rock Springs parking lot, may have suggested to police that he drove to the payphone and could live almost anywhere. Or was that what he wanted them to believe, by being so utterly unselfish and extremely forthright, in adding in the detailed eyewitness and his brown car parked nearby. When in fact he was on foot, and had placed the phone call after returning home, ditching his weapon, vehicle and clothing (which may have received blood transfer from the shooting).
The downside of a killer resident in downtown Vallejo, American Canyon or Benicia, is that, had he driven home to these locations to ditch his clothing and weapon, he would effectively be driving back towards or nearer to the crime scene to place the phone call. What killer would make a phone call after a murder extremely close to his residence? A killer who was implanting the seed of a brown car, when in fact it was white and not there.
The content of the phone call may also be telling. The directions he gave were correct, apart from the distance. He stated "I wish to report a double murder. If you will go one mile east on Columbus Parkway to a public park, you will find the kids in a brown car. They have been shot by a 9 mm Luger. I also killed those kids last year.... Good-bye"
This appears incorrect on first reading, whether from the payphone or the police station, but by inserting one break or comma, the directions make perfect sense. "I wish to report a double murder. If you will go one mile east..... on Columbus Parkway to a public park, you will find the kids in a brown car. They have been shot by a 9 mm Luger. I also killed those kids last year.... Good-bye" Or by changing one word regarding the recollection of Nancy Slover. "I wish to report a double murder. If you will go one mile east..... on Columbus Parkway by a public park, you will find the kids in a brown car. They have been shot by a 9 mm Luger. I also killed those kids last year.... Good-bye"
However, is the killer playing down his familiarity with this particular payphone by placing it one mile west of Columbus Parkway, when its true distance is 2 miles.
The timeline of Lake Herman Road is debatable, but it is fairly certain that James Owen passed the turnout at 11.08-11.10 pm and heard a shot 30 seconds later. This being the case puts the killer in the turnout at around 11.10 pm.
Stella Medeiros spotting the bodies in the turnout, raced off to Benicia and flagged down Officer Daniel Pitta. This has been argued between 11.19-11.25 pm (Officer Daniel Pitta's police report states 11.25 pm). The dispatch to Benicia Police Department was shortly after. It is widely believed to be around 11.28-11.30 pm.
"Bidou and his partner had served a warrant on a Lake Herman Road cabin Dec. 20, 1968, and were on their way to deposit some marijuana in the police department’s evidence locker when they were dispatched back to Lake Herman Road. Initially, they were told a woman was lying outside a car; they thought they were being sent to a crash. Police at first speculated it might have been a crank call, but the officers headed back north. But when they arrived, Bidou realized it was no crank call and no car accident. Instead, it was a sinister crime scene."
But why, in the plural, had "police at first suspected it was a crank call." What gave them this idea, after all this incident was radioed in by an experienced officer. Was the supposition of a crank call, which police "first suspected," allayed when the radio message arrived moments later from Officer Daniel Pitta. Had this been called in by Zodiac? Had this been called in from the payphone at Springs and Tuolumne, just as it was to be some six and a half months later? If police first suspected this was a crank call, then it was likely called in before Officer Daniel Pitta radioed in, whose confirmation would effectively quash the idea it was a hoax, as police first suspected.
The journey time from the Gate #10 turnout to Springs and Tuolumne is 12 minutes. Had the Zodiac Killer left the turnout at approximately 11.10 pm or shortly thereafter, let us say 11.11-11.12 pm, then the killer was able to place the phone call 12 minutes later at 11.23-11.24 pm, before Daniel Pitta radioed in, leading to the initial confusion experienced by police officers and the assumption it was a crank call. The Zodiac Killer may even have had a extra 3-5 minute window to travel home, ditch his vehicle and weapon, and walk to the payphone. Whatever the case, the author of the 'Debut Letter' was seemingly eager to sell us a narrative.