The Murder of Paul Stine: 50 Years Later

Serial Killers
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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

I'm Vanessa Richardson and today we're discussing the murder of Paul Stein a cab driver who gave a ride to the Zodiac killer on the night of October eleventh nineteen sixty nine and was killed in his car after reaching his destination had it not be in for a communications breakdown within the police the Zodiac killer's ten month long killing spree might have ended that night four we discussed the hunt for the elusive Zodiac killer. Let's go back to the evening of October Eleventh Nineteen Sixty nine twenty nine year old Paul Stein didn't like to define himself as a cabdriver that was his night job meant to support him as he pursued his doctorate in English at San Francisco State University he was even gearing up to quit just a few months before he'd been mugged by a passenger and ever since he'd felt a tinge of worry whenever a stranger got in his car. Stein had decided that cabdriver having wasn't for him but he still needed to work the job while he found something else and so on the night of October Eleventh Stein and his yellow Bob were cruising through San Francisco's theatre district he picked up a new fare at some point around nine thirty pm the singer was a white man even the brightly lit intersections that surrounded San Francisco's Union Square the shadows seemed to dance across the passengers Ace keeping him in a gloomy shroud Washington and maple the man said in a near whisper he didn't speak again Stein started the meter and pulled away it takes an average of eighteen minutes to reach Washington and Maple in the presidio Heights neighborhood from union in station Stein's passenger remained silent for the entire ride Stein didn't mind that he'd been driving a cab for long enough to expect all tips he'd had passengers told him their entire life story from the backseat of his cab others like tonight's ride kept silent speaking only to require Esta Destination Stein thought about turning on the radio but decided against it all of the stations were talking about one thing anyway the Zodiac killer just two weeks before to students had been tied up and stabbed by a man in an executioner's hood over at Lake Barry Esa the get up was weird enough but the guy had also been writing letters to the city's newspapers sending puzzles for people to solve the city was on edge wondering when the next attack was going to come Stein didn't want to think about it he opted for the ambient din of the assing city instead if the passenger minded he didn't speak up Stein reached for the meter he pulled over at the corner of Washington Street and apple street wait the shadow shrouded man whispered from the backseat pull on up Stein didn't speak he just nodded as he put the cab back in gear maybe the guy had gotten his address wrong it happened all the time where to Stein asked as the cab cruised along Washington street here the man said suddenly as the cab approached the next intersection after Washington and Maple Stein pulled over and turned off meter the man owed six dollars and twenty five cents he leaned forward from the back seat reaching into his pocket to get his Wallet Stein's opposed he didn't even see the gun the passenger raised his nine millimeter pistol and fired point blank into Stein's head Stein was dead before his head hit the steering wheel the killer exited the cab and moved around it to the front passenger door he opened the door and reached in to pull the keys from the ignition. He pocketed them then he snatched Stein's wallet from his pocket and began to rip his shirt apart the killer didn't know it but he was being watched three teenagers in an apartment across the street phoned the police shortly before ten pm they reported a man white may be tween twenty five or thirty five with reddish brown hair and heavy rimmed glasses they could likely see Stein's body from their vantage point down in the cab the killer grabbed a swatch of stine's torn shirt and took off down Cherry Street patrol officers. Don Falcone and Eric Films were the closest to the crime scene as they made their way toward Washington Cherry their dispatcher gave them an update on the suspect he described the man they were looking for as a black male so when falcons elms passed a heavyset white man walking away from the crime scene they thought nothing of it they hurried to the scene only then did they learn that the dispatch had mixed up the suspect's description falcons elms both realized that they had very likely just past the killer coming up breath man hunt sweeps the surrounding blocks now back to the story Paul Stein was murdered in his cab fifty years ago today on October Eleventh Nineteen Sixty nine in San Francisco's Presidio Heights neighborhood a manhunt ensued police searched the surrounding blocks but it was too late the killer was gone the murder was not initially linked to the Zodiac killer the crime didn't fit his usual mo all of the other known Zodiac attacks had occurred in secluded areas and the victims had all been cut tells the gun that the killer used to kill Stein also did not match the suspected weapons used in the other attacks it was the Zodiac himself who led the police to suspect that there was more to Paul stine's murder since August of nineteen sixty nine the Zodiac killer had been mailing letters to the San Francisco medical the San Francisco Examiner and the Vallejo Times in these letters the killer took credit for his crimes taunted the police for their inability to catch him and sent bizarre ciphers that he challenged the police to try and solve it was also in these letters that the killer had shared his name the Zodiac the killer had not sent a letter in several weeks the newspapers had not heard from him even after the events of the timber twenty seventh nineteen sixty nine when the Zodiac had killed Cecelia Shepard and attacked Bryan Hartnell but on October third eighteenth two days after Stein's death the San Francisco Chronicle received a new Zodiac letter it read I am the murderer of the taxi driver over by Washington Street and Maple Street last night to prove this here is a bloodstained piece of his shirt I am the same man who did in the people in the North Bay area the San Francisco police could have caught me last night if they had searched the park proper early the letter included a bloody scrap of Paul stine's shirt the witnesses who had initially called the police worked with a sketch artist to produce composite sketch of what they believed the killer looked like this was widely circulated but to no avail the Zodiac killer wrote another letter to the San Francisco Chronicle on November ninth nineteen sixty nine in it he claimed that he actually spoke with police officers on the night that he killed Paul Stein this is likely untrue officers Falcons films reported that they had just seen the man passing on there way to the scene and realized after the subjects description was updated that they might have missed him still if the man that Falcons Elm saw okay was the Zodiac than that was the closest that the police ever got to catching him between December of nineteen sixty eight and October nineteen sixty nine the Zodiac killer brutally attacked seven people killing five of them he seemed to resurface at least once more in eighteen seventy when he attempted to abduct a woman named Kathleen Johns and her infant child Kathleen later linked her attacker to the police sketch of Paul stine's murderer the Zodiac killer continued to send letters to the San Francisco Chronicle over the next few years in some he claimed credit for murders that had occurred in the San Francisco Bay area but the police were never able to definitively connect him to any of those crimes today a is the fiftieth anniversary of Zodiac's last known murder the killer's identity has never been discovered as time continues on it seems unlikely that it ever will

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