Twelve days after the crime, on October 23rd 1969 the San Francisco Examiner ran this:"The search also took police to Nob Hill, where the Fairmont Hotel became involved again in the manhunt. This was because: #1. Cabbie Paul Stine, 29, the Zodiac's latest victim is believed to have picked up his fare on a street near the famed hotel. #2. A waitress in the hotel candy shop-fountain told police she served coffee during the television show (Jim Dunbar/Melvin Belli) to a man who resembled composite drawings of Zodiac. She saved the cup and saucer for a fingerprint check."
It clearly states "the Fairmont Hotel became involved again," indicating it had previously been considered a possibility. But why? Paul Stine was returning to the theater district from the San Francisco International Airport, when he was directed by taxicab operator Leroy Sweet to a fare at 500 9th Avenue. There was no mention by anybody that Paul Stine was picking up a fare outside the Fairmont Hotel en route. The taxicab meter read $6.25 at 10.46 pm, as it rested near the intersection of Washington and Cherry, and this meter reading, along with the final contact with Paul Stine, was used to calculate his approximate position in the theater district, by Union Square. Something else must have prompted this consideration.
On September 30th 1969, a Chinese Yellow Cab driver in San Francisco picked up a fare at the 950 Mason Street, Fairmont Hotel. "He was first robbed at gunpoint. Then he was forced into the trunk of his cab and locked in after his pleas that he might suffocate failed to sway the gunman. But the cabbie was found and freed by military police inside Presidio grounds before being overcome. San Francisco Captain Martin Lee explained there is an amazing similarity in MO in the two cabbie cases. Both times the drivers picked up ostensible fares in the area of the Fairmont-Mark Hopkins Hotels at night- and they climbed in alongside the drivers. Both passengers asked to be driven to Presidio Heights, in fact just three blocks from each other. Then, nearing their destinations, each one made a last minute change, in where he wanted to be taken. The descriptions of the passengers made by the surviving driver and the three children varied widely. But Captain Lee said, only partly in jest, "all Occidentals look alike to an Oriental person." The taxicab driver had been waiting in line in front of the Fairmont Hotel at 11.00 pm on September 30th when a man, who appeared to be a cook or other hotel worker came up. He hopped in the front and asked to be taken to Washington and Locust Streets. The cabbie later asked the fare if he worked in the Mark Hopkins. He replied tersely "yeah". Near the original destination the passenger told the cabbie to drive down to Arguello and into the Presidio."
The crucial part is "Both times the drivers picked up ostensible fares in the area of the Fairmont-Mark Hopkins Hotels at night-" This indicates that the September 30th case was not the catalyst for investigators to consider the Fairmont Hotel in the Paul Stine murder, but was separate and independent of it.
The Fairmont Hotel clearly generated no leads we are aware of, but what drove investigators to consider this pick-up point as a viable option in the Paul Stine murder case.
As stated above, the Zodiac Killer knew that investigators could backtrack his approximate location to the theater district, so possibly had to throw them off his scent by offering an alternative area of interest, in line, and not widely in conflict to the taxicab meter reading. The Fairmont Hotel and Union Square/Mason and Geary Street areas, are virtually the same distance to the Washington and Cherry intersection. Often the police withhold details of a crime to verify future correspondence from the killer. Captain Martin Lee would allude to this in a KPIX news report on November 12th 1969. Did the Zodiac Killer deliberately drop "fake clews" inside the taxicab on October 11th 1969, insinuating a connection between him and the Fairmont Hotel, sending police on a wild goose chase, "running all over town," and was he aware of the previous taxicab hold-up, using it to his full advantage.