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Serial Killer Letter Declared Hoax

October 29, 1987 GMT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A letter sent a newspaper by someone who said he was the Zodiac serial killer of 19 years ago was declared a hoax Thursday by the state Department of Justice.

The letter, in which the writer threatened to kill trick or treaters on Halloween, was similar to several mailed to area newspapers in the late 1960s and early 70s. It was received by the Vallejo Times-Herald Wednesday, but a handwriting analysis found it to be a phony, police reported.

Vallejo police Capt. Roy Conway said the letter ″was not authored by the authentic Zodiac, but that it is a simulation of a hoax letter written in 1978.

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″There will be an investigation to try and determine the author of the hoax letter for potential prosecution.″

The 1978 letter, also purportedly from Zodiac, went to the San Francisco Chronicle and was also declared a phony.

The San Francisco Police Department then announced that detective David Toschi, for nine years the top investigator in the Zodiac case, had written other, self-congratulatory letters over fictitious names to an area author. He was demoted to the pawn shop detail and retired from the force two years ago.

The department left no doubt that Toschi, who admitted writing the complimentary letters, was also suspected of writing the phony 1978 Zodiac letter. Toschi had called that ″absurd.″

Toschi did not immediately return telephone calls Thursday.

Police say Zodiac killed at least five people, apparently starting Dec. 20, 1968, with two shootings in Vallejo. The killer, in bizarre, rambling letters to three newspapers, claimed he killed at least 37 times since 1966.