by Randall Scott Clemons
San Francisco, California Oct. 11, 1969
Paul Lee Stine never suspected this night might be any different than any other night as he got into his yellow cab preparing to start his shift. Paul was the husband of Claudia Stine. According to his obituary he attended S.F. State after leaving his native Oklahoma. At just 29 years of age he never suspected this would be his last night on earth.
While in route to a fare ,Stine, was just just beginning his shift when he picked up a man near the corner of , Mason and Greary Streets in ,San Francisco.
This mystery man who was later to be identified as the elusive Zodiac Killer instructed Mr. Stine to take him to the corner of ,Washington and Maple near the Presidio in the high end neighbor hood of Presidio Hieghts.
An upper class neighbor hood next to the Presidio golf course and Julius Kahn playground , just was not the kind of place where things like what was about to take place happened.
Upon reaching the destination the unknown passenger then instructs Mr. Stine to go up one more block to the corner of , Washington and Cherry streets. We know this because the original destination was written in the fare book in the possession of Mr. Stine.
After reaching the corner of, Washington and Cherry, the passenger waits for Mr. Stine, to put the cab in park , then fires one shot in to the back of the head of the victim. A nine millimeter shell casing was found in the front floorboard of the vehicle.
After murdering Paul Stine, he then cuts off a piece of Paul Stine's shirt and soaks up some blood with it . He used these peices of shirt to prove he was the killer of Paul Stine in later letters to the police and newspapers. Witnesses say he then wiped down parts of the cab with a cloth.Possibly trying to remove and fingerprints or evidence that might be left. He then proceeds takes the victims wallet and glasses (Trophies for him to keep). It makes you wonder what else he may have taken from other victims?
While this is going on two children in an upstairs room look out the window across the street only to witness what is happening in the cab below. Thinking the man may have been robbing the taxi driver , they call and report the crime to the police.
Armond Pelissetti, and his partner ,Frank Peda, were only minutes away and were first to respond to the scene. When they arrived the saw the body of 29 year old Paul Stine slumped over in the car . The first description that came out over the air on the suspect was that of an N.M.A. ( Negro Male Adult). No one really knows why this wrong description was aired. It was quickly corrected after the witnesses described to Officer Pelissetti, first hand what the had seen, They also stated the subject headed off down the street in the direction of the, Presidio, were the golf course and park were located.Though the description was corrected rather quickly it may have been too late.
Officer Don Fouke and his partner Eric Zelms were also just minutes away from the scene when the call came over the radio of a possible Negro Male Adult robbing and shooting a cab driver at the corner of . Washington and Cherry streets.
Eric Zelms, was the officer assigned to Donald Fouke that night. Eric, was not ,Don's, usual partner. His usual partner was not working on this particular night for unknown reasons.Pellissetti and Zelms were headed north bound on , Presidio Avenue when the call came through.
According to Don Fouke , they turned west on , Jackson Street , then headed toward Maple Street. As they were going down the street Officer Fouke, witnessed a white male adult ( which he seems to be able to give and an almost scary detail description of) walking down the street. This man was walking away from the general direction of the crime scene.
Since the description he had of the suspect was of a Negro Male Adult Officer Fouke claims they never thought to stop the man. Not even to at least ask if he had seen anything strange or anyone else in the neighbor hood.That to some seems kind of odd, but what happens next has been the subject of speculation and debate for many years.
One thing is sure, mistakes were made that night. If the man that Don Fouke saw was the killer then they may have arrested the man calling himself the Zodiac that night , but let him slip through their fingers.
Fouke claims he never stopped the man to speak with him , but some think it odd for an officer to see a potential witness to a crime and not even ask him if he saw anyone else in the area. The Zodiac himself bragged in a letter to the press that two police officers stopped him while leaving the crime scene. They called him over and asked if he had seen anything and then sent them off on a false tip. If the man that Officer Fouke claims he saw was not the Zodiac, then how could the Zodiac have known about the encounter of these two pollice officers with a man walking away from the general direction of the crime scene. ? Unless it actually was the Zodiac.
Don Fouke, stated the last he saw of the White Male Adult that he was headed up a stair case ( possibly just to avoid police) at a residence near by.
Officer, Armond Pelissetti, later stated that Don Fouke admitted to him that they did indeed stop a man that night in the vicinity , but let him go (just as the Zodiac stated in his letter) . Don Fouke emphatically denies this. If only Eric Zelms were alive today to give us his side of the story.
Zodiac boasted that he hid out in the park nearby and watched the authorities as they did their jobs running up and down the streets. He bragged that if they had searched the park properly they would have caught him. Though this just may have been a ruse as he could have been hiding nearby anywhere ,and just wanted to fulfill his own self serving need to feel superior.
Back at the cab a bloody latent finger print was found ,but never identified. Also found in the cab were a pair of men's gloves. . No one really knows if these gloves belonged to Stine, a passenger , or the killer. Some have speculated these gloves may have just been a false clue left at the scene in and attempt to seed evidence.Also found at the scene was a Nine Millimeter shell casing.
In letters to the police the Zodiac bragged about how much smarter he was than the authorities who were chasing him. In one of his letters reffered to as the Bus bomb letter or Death Machine letter he bragged about how he out smarted the police the night of the Stine Murder, and described a bomb he planned to set. In this same letter he stated the had killed seven people up to the end of October.
He also desctibed a method of how he would cover his finger tips with two coats of airplane cement so he never left any fingerprints at any of the crime scenes. He claimed that the finger prints found at the crime scene were not his and stated " As of yet I have left no fingerprints behind me contrary to what the police say."He claimed it was unnoticable and very effective. The prints found at the scene may or may not belong to the killer. This boasting by the Zodiac also could have just been another false claim meant to throw the police off. To this day the print found at the scene has never been matched to a person, but there is always hope.
The murderer of 29 year old Paul Lee Stine was never identified. For the first time the images of the crime scene and victims can be viewed in color. So see more images click the link below.
Article by Randall Scott Clemons