Police to re-examine Zodiac Killer evidence 

The San Francisco Police Department has reopened the Zodiac Killer case, providing old evidence to the Vallejo Police Department for re-testing with current DNA analysis.

Vallejo Lt. Rick Nichelman said the SFPD has returned a number of envelopes — possibly those tested in 2002 during the investigation of one suspect, Arthur Leigh Allen, who died in 1992 — to Vallejo for further testing.

"DNA testing of five years ago is not as efficient as it is now," Nichelman said. "It was not as good of a sample as they can test now."

In addition to testing the envelopes, Nichelman said the department — which has kept the case open since it started — will continue to rotate a detective onto "cold cases," including the Zodiac. It may also devote additional officers or create an e-mail address to handle an influx of information police expect to receive once the movie hits theaters.

"We’re just beginning to see the initial phases of an onslaught after the movie comes out," Nichelman said. "Anything that comes in that we think is a viable or workable lead, we’ll pay attention to."

Above, the first cipher received by The Examiner. The last 18 characters have never been determined.

Amateur Zodiac tracker Tom Voigt says he hopes the newfound attention will bring more leads and information to the case. For the last 10 years, Voight has researched and maintained www.zodiackiller.com as an Internet location for interested sleuths.

He said he receives leads and suggestions daily on his Web site, ranging from the predictable — like "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski and Charles Manson — to the odd, including Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and a Canadian woman’s "Uncle Bubba."

Voigt said he was disgusted that San Francisco previously gave up on the case, but glad it had been kept open and alive by Vallejo police and the Napa County Sheriff’s Department.

"If Vallejo can get the state crime lab to investigate some letters, how come San Francisco can’t?" Voight asked. "I’m happy someone is doing something; this case can be solved."

No one has been arrested and charged with the deaths of five people confirmed to be victims of the famous serial killer, and local investigations have cooled or stopped in the last decade. The case had been closed by the SFPD in 2004 because they had run out of viable leads.

San Francisco Sgt. Neville Gittens said the department will not comment on the status of an ongoing investigation.


The Zodiac Killer coined his name in a 1969 letter to the Examiner. Our special section reviews the new "Zodiac" movie and looks back at his still-unsolved killing spree.

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