In a previous article, available by clicking the photographic link on the right, we showed an order of events that seemed to suggest that Paul Stine was actually murdered one block earlier, at the intersection of Washington and Maple Street, and appeared to concur with the Zodiac Killer's claims in the October 13th 1969 letter.
The Zodiac Killer shot Paul Stine as he was performing a run-through stop- as this deadly fare was believed to be an unscheduled pickup, en route to a dispatched call at 500 9th Avenue. The bloodstains on Paul Stine's shirt and the fingerprints on the driver side door panel, as well as other points of interest, seemed to suggest that after Paul Stine was shot, the taxicab motioned forward, out of control. The Zodiac Killer, determined to secure a trophy for his master plan, quickly exited the rear of the taxicab, accessed the driver side door, and after stepping over Paul Stine leaned against the body to gain some form of limited control and coast the taxicab to the intersection of Washington and Cherry Street, where he secured his memento. For a more detailed account of this sequence of events, along with blood pattern analysis, visit the link on the right.
It is a 'most dangerous game' trying to apply logic to the most illogical of all killer's, but some things the Zodiac Killer did were logical. His attempt to remove fingerprints from the inside of taxicab, including the compartment area, along with both exterior doors, were born out of logic- he did not want to get caught. So is it possible the removal of the wallet and keys were taken from the scene for the exact same reason, they harbored his fingerprints. We know that the three teenagers from across the street thought they saw the murderer searching through the victim's pockets, and this in all likelihood is correct, as Paul Stine's wallet had been taken.
If you were the killer of Paul Stine on October 11th 1969 and you were determined to secure a trophy to prove you were inside the taxicab that night, what is easier, searching the victim's pockets for a personal photograph, a drivers license or some other form of ID card, or carefully tearing a rectangular section from the victim's shirt, which would without doubt take up far more time, and ultimately increase the risk of detection, or at worst capture. The killer wanted proof and he wanted it fast. If he had found Paul Stine's driving license, it seems bizarre he would then start searching for further trophies. This would seem to suggest he found Paul Stine's wallet, but it did not contain the proof he needed, so continued on to remove the shirt piece. Or the swatch of shirt was the ideal 'trophy', able to be torn into several pieces and mailed multiple times in future correspondence. Which is exactly what he did. This would place the letter writer and the murderer of Paul Stine under one banner, the Zodiac Killer.
The Zodiac Killer never took any trophies from his first three attacks at Lake Herman Road, Blue Rock Springs Park and Lake Berryessa, however he was determined to convince us he was the killer, by stating facts supposedly only known to him and the police, in his first letters to the Bay Area newspapers. He was determined to convince us even more when he placed two phone calls after the second and third crimes, and furthermore by writing on the car door at Lake Berryessa.
Had he killed taxicab driver Paul Stine on October 11th 1969 without mailing a section of Paul Stine's shirt on October 13th, after an altogether different crime, there would be little to suggest this offering as the work of the Zodiac Killer. He needed something more, to ultimately tie him to the crime and what better way than linking a trophy to his handwriting. He never sent parcels or packages, he stuck rigidly to letters and postcards, that afforded him ultimate anonymity. The choice of mailing a shirt piece was ideal in this respect.
The police report stated: "Suspect should have many bloodstains on his person and clothing, suspect may also be in possession of the keys to the Yellow Cab, possibly his wallet belonging to the victim". But why did he take these items? They were never mailed to the newspapers or police by the Zodiac Killer, and would have been too bulky to have been received via the standard letter route. Despite numerous letters subsequent to this murder, the keys and wallet were never mailed. It may not be conclusive, but in all probability he took the keys and wallet for a totally different reason. A reason that had nothing to do with securing further trophies, and was nothing more exciting than simple common sense.
It is not easy to hold a wallet and wipe down all its surfaces without depositing further prints. It is of course possible a number of ways, but you are ultimately wasting valuable time. It is easier to take the wallet with you, and this is ultimately what the Zodiac Killer did. But why take the keys. If not for the procurement of a trophy, then in all probability because he touched the keys also. The items he touched that were not actually bolted down to the taxicab were easier and quicker to remove, than spending extra valuable seconds wiping them down.
The only question left, is why did he touch the keys in the first place: The answer lies one block east.
We have conjectured that after killing Paul Stine at the Washington and Maple Street intersection, not everything went to plan and with the taxicab motioning forward out of control, the Zodiac Killer had seconds to react, by accessing the front section of the vehicle and setting the taxicab back on track. It is here things may have unfolded slightly differently to the previous analysis, albeit not much. It was to be the very reason he took both the wallet and the keys one block later.
Although we cannot prove this and it is just speculation, it again fits with the known facts.
When the Zodiac Killer attempted to regain control of the errant taxicab at the Washington and Maple Street intersection, the car may have stalled, and he was forced to restart the engine. His fingerprints were now in evidence and the rest is history.