Tips Still Pursue Multiple Slayer
San Francisco Chronicle - August 26, 1976
It's been one of those weeks when there have been a lot of nickel and dime leads popping up -in the Zodiac case. Homicide detective Dave Toschi methodically checks every one of them out.
"I feel he's out there. I feel he's going to surface," he says.
With the transfer of his longtime partner, William Armstrong, to the fraud detail, Toschi is the only San Francisco detective on the case now, one of the most baffling in the history of American crime.
"It's quite a challenge," he said. I never let a day go by without remembering Zodiac. Now that I'm, the only one working on it, it's gotten to be more personal."
For seven of the nine years he's been on the homicide squad, Toschi has been led down countless blind alleys in the vain search for the pathological killer who dubbed himself Zodiac in a series of boastful, taunting or threatening letters to newspapers.
In unprovoked attacks dating back to 1966 when he slashed the throat of a Riverside coed, Zodiac has killed at least six persons and wounded two others. His claim of having Slain 37 people is not supported by any hard evidence, Toschi says.
Jeanne Borgen, 39, a psychic who lives in Pinole, stirred up some fresh interest in the case on Monday.
She called Toschi to say that a male had telephoned her Saturday night. "I need your help and you know who I am," the caller said. Toschi said Borgen divined that the voice belonged to Zodiac.
Borgen, who has made numerous predictions forecasting the capture of Zodiac; said that before dawn the following morning a man in an orange sports car drove past her house several times before stopping, getting out and walking to her gate. He looked as if he was going to come in, but apparently reconsidered and left, the psychic said.
"She felt there would be danger around her for about two weeks," said Toschi. "I can't discount it." The detective arranged to have Pinole police increase their visists to the neighborhood.
Officially, the killer hasn't been heard from in 31 months, but long silences are not unusual for him. Zodiac went 34 months before sending what was his last message to date. Unpublished until now, that hand-lettered postcard mailed to the Chronicle on Feb. 14, 1974, read:
"Dear Mr. Editor: Did you know that the initials SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army) spell 'sla,' said, an old Norse word meaning "kill." It was signed, "a friend."
In saying that he expects some sort of activity on Zodiac's part, Toschi admits he is relying solely on hunches. This despite the fact Toschi has filled eight filing cabinet drawers with Zodiac data-including the names of more than 2000 potential suspects.
Despite the mountains of information mined over the years by more than a score of investigators, the trail is stone cold. Many of the tips and leads these days come from mystics, eccentrics, people with sudden suspicions about friends, neighbors or co-workers.
Borgen predicted in May of last year that Zodiac would be captured in San Francisco. She also forecast then that President Ford would resign in September. Ronald Reagan would start a third party, and Ted Kennedy would win the presidency.
In the years since he was assigned to the case,the detective has investigated over 500 murders or suspicious deaths, but Zodiac remains his principal enthusiasm. "I don't know if I'll ever get the case solved, but I'm sure as hell trying," Toschi said gamely.