Letter Sent to Bob Garrett

THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL OF ALLTHUMBS DOWN!!!
Discussion of this new Zodiac book by author Gary L. Stewart should be posted here

Letter Sent to Bob Garrett

Mike99
DOJ
Joined: February 26th, 2007, 1:14 am

December 7th, 2015, 12:42 pm #1

Dear Mr. Garrett,

My name is Mike Rodelli.  I am a researcher in the case of the Zodiac killer.  I would like to ask you some questions about the print comparison you did for the book
The Most Dangerous Animal of All by Gary Stewart.  While Mr. Stewart presents a figure showing the work you did, he provides no report or even the slightest
explanation for the rationale behind your work on the case, which I found unfortunate.  How can such monumentally significant evidence warrant only half a page of
discussion in a 367 page book?

First, I work with a retired police detective from the Vallejo, CA police department, Jim Dean, who was trained as a crime scene technician in the 1960s.  I asked him if
there was ever a rationale for "reversing," or taking a mirror image, of a fingerprint for comparison.  He could not think of one.  Fingerprints are lifted with clear tape and then
placed on a card specifically in order that to preserve their original orientation from the crime scene, so that comparison to standard fingerprint cards is possible. What caused
you to reverse the print from Stine's cab?

Second, in looking at Mr. Van Best's fingerprint card, the scar on his finger (assuming for a moment that this is what that line represents, as well as assuming that the line
in the print from the cab is also a scar and that neither feature is an artifact) appears to be a straight line with no bifurcation.  In contrast, the line in the cab
print is clearly bifurcated, as emphasized in red in the figure in the book.  When you overlay the two prints (as in Mr. Stewart's book), it is obvious that they do not correspond in that the red
line representing the bifurcation in the cab print overlays ridge detail in Mr. Van Best's print.  I found this disturbing and I was wondering why it cannot be argued that the
bifurcation does not actually rule Mr. Van Best out.  Or is it your position that the scar on Mr. Van Best's finger changed in character between 1962 and 1969?  If so, what proof are you
offering of that notion?

Third, the scar on Mr. Van Best's finger clearly extends laterally from the crease in the finger made by the distal interphalangeal joint (DIP).  This is cropped out for some reason in the
figure in the book showing the comparison, so that this bit of orientating anatomy is not visible.  One does not get the sense from looking at the cab print that the this print also comes from the DIP. 
The impression one gets from looking at the print from the cab is that the line/scar is distal to the DIP, which is not visible in the cab print.  In addition, I used a protractor
and measured the angle of the lines on the two prints from the horizontal. The line from the cab is a little over 40 degrees and the one from Van Best is about 60 degrees.  It is therefore difficult to imagine
that they represent the same feature.
 
Fourth, given the shape of the cab print, it appears to be pretty much a full print from side to side.  That being the case, the scar or line appears to start on the side of the finger, not the center as is
the case with the line on Mr. Van Best's print card.  In order for the scar on the cab to represent the scar on Mr. Van Best's index finger, the cab print would have to represent only half the width of Mr. Van Best's
finger, since his scar starts in the middle of his index finger (i.e., the print on the cab only represents half of the width Mr. Van Best's finger, which seems unlikely given its shape looking like the full pad of a finger). 
Is that your position?
[size=80]
Therefore, as regards overlaying the prints on each other, did you use any specific anatomical reference point on each to assure that they were both oriented in the same direction and that you were
comparing apples to apples?  Clearly, you seem not to have, since the long axis of the Van Best print is at an approximate 20 degree angle as compared to the long axis of the cab print (i.e., an imaginary
line drawn down the length of the finger).  This makes sense given the measurements above, whereby the angles to the horizontal for each print are 40 degrees and 60 degrees with a difference of about 20
degrees.  As you know, without any reference point any two lines can be rotated so that they overlie or superimpose on each other. This need to change the orientation of the Van Best print in order to effect
an overlay therefore emphasizes the differing angles of the prints and once again seems to rule him out as the contributor of the cab print.

https://images.search.yahoo.com/images/ ... rt=mozilla

I found it interesting that the only way in which you apparently gave Mr. Stewart permission to use your results was to make it clear that you could not effect a match between Mr. Van Best and the cab print. 
And yet he apparently touts this evidence as "proof" that Van Best was the Zodiac killer.  He seems to have gone well beyond the level of comfort which you seem to have had regarding this comparison.  What do
you feel the exercise demonstrates as regards Mr. Van Best's guilt or innocence?  If the fingerprints do not nail him and the handwriting (see below) was a proven red herring then all he is left with is "my father
looks like the police sketches and his name is in the codes."  And this is the case that thousands and thousands of people have made since 1969.  Claims on the Net to Stewart having a "five for five" allele match to the DNA
from which SFPD has slowly distanced itself over the past six years given its unscientific pedigree are seemingly specious.
[/size]
 
My opinion is that the fingerprint evidence he presented serves to exclude his father as having been the Zodiac killer.  1) In order to get the two scars to align, the cab print (or that of Mr. Van Best) had to be
"reversed," which is not standard practice in fingerprint comparisons.  2) The scar on the cab is bifurcated, while the one on his father's print card is not.  When the cab print is overlaid onto Van Best's the
bifurcated portion of the cab print overlies ridge detail on Van Best's print. 3) The angles of the two prints to the crease for the DIP in Mr. Van Best's case and to the horizontal with respect to the cab print
are different from each other.  and 4) The scar on the cab print appears to traverse the entire pad of the finger, whereas the one on Mr. Van Best's card starts in the middle of his finger. 
 
I look forward to your reply.  In May 2014, I was able to point out serious issues with the handwriting comparison that was done between a marriage certificate that Mr. Stewart alleged to have
been hand printed by Van Best and the Zodiac letters.  This "evidence" was bogus, in that I learned that Mr. Stewart and his handwriting expert had not done their homework and that it was actually
the priest who had conducted the marriage ceremony, not Van Best, who had filled out the form.  I now have similar concerns about the evidentiary value of this print comparison and hope you can provide
me with some clarity on the issues I have raised.  Given the magnitude of the Zodiac case and the unusual techniques you used, I wish you had insisted that Mr. Stewart include a detailed
discussion of what was behind this comparison in his book, so that the reader could better judge for himself the weight it is to be given in the alleged case against Mr. Van Best.

 
In conjunction with the handwriting, which I was able to prove was not from his father, I hope this brings Mr. Stewart some peace of mind in the knowledge that his father was probably not a serial killer.  I know that must
be a terrible burden for someone to carry.


Sincerely,

Mike Rodelli

Quote
Like
Share

Tahoe27
DOJ
Joined: March 5th, 2007, 6:45 pm

December 7th, 2015, 8:53 pm #2

I do hope you get a reply.  Those are reasonable questions.


..."I know that must be a terrible burden for some to carry."


Some, but many seem to get some sort of weird kick out of it.
"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple". Dr. Suess   
Quote
Like
Share

Paradice
DOJ
Joined: March 9th, 2007, 12:44 pm

December 8th, 2015, 3:12 am #3

I wonder if Stewart had Rev. Fliger's prints compared as well since his handwriting expert pegged the Reverend as the author of the Zodiac letters...
Quote
Like
Share

Mike99
DOJ
Joined: February 26th, 2007, 1:14 am

December 8th, 2015, 1:57 pm #4

Hi-

I received a reply from Lt. Garrett. In it, he stated that is was author Mustafa who contacted him and said that the cab print needed to be reversed because of the manner in which it was collected. He also cited instances where prints would need to be reversed, like if they were in such a position that they had to be photographed with a mirror due to accessibility issues, etc.

http://zodiackiller.com/ZPrints.html

According to this sheet, the prints were recovered from the top of the window of the passenger's side (presumably front) door. I do not believe that such prints would need to be reversed, since they could be developed and photographed right in place. There is also nothing written on the fingerprint sheet by SFPD warning that these are mirror images. That would presumably have been an important caveat for the FBI in 1969. It is up to Mustafa to explain her rationale for asking Garrett to use a mirror image.

As regards the figure in the book, Garrett says he simply outlined places on the latent prints that could represent a scars He made the overlay and left any conclusions to be drawn by the (amateur) authors. He did not offer any opinion as to whether these were the same prints based on the position or characteristics of the scars, etc. He referred me to Mustafa and Stewart for any conclusions they have drawn based on the figure.

Mike
Quote
Like
Share

Mike99
DOJ
Joined: February 26th, 2007, 1:14 am

December 8th, 2015, 5:06 pm #5

Hi-

I just received another reply from Lt. Garrett and I don't believe our conversations will be fruitful. Suffice it to say that IMO overlaying those two prints is like laying an apple on an orange and marveling at how they are identical.

He had no part of making any determinations as to whether or not the prints or scars match. He just made the overlay and said to Mustafa, "Draw your own conclusions." I am trying to work with Tom to prove that the location of the print on the cab was such that it was unnecessary to make a mirror image of it to begin with. It does not appear that any unusual techniques were necessary to develop it given its location.

Looking at those two prints it is difficult to imagine that those are the same scars, if they are scars at all. Doesn't one cut all the way across the tip of the finger and one originate from the center of the finger? The one on the cab looks like the terminator on the moon: the sharp line separating light from dark. Is that a scar or is that where the blood on the finger ends?

Even if we assume the fork in the cab print is an artifact, the main scar does not appear to be in the same place as the one on the print card.


Mike
Last edited by Mike99 on December 8th, 2015, 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Quote
Like
Share

Tahoe27
DOJ
Joined: March 5th, 2007, 6:45 pm

December 8th, 2015, 5:34 pm #6

An expert telling someone to draw their own conclusions says a lot, imo.

I don't think you need to waste any time trying to determine if there is a match.  Anyone who is promoting a suspect is going to tweek it in their favor.  When law enforcement declares their match of a suspect to evidence, THAT should draw the attention of people.  Until then, this is just another fail; Fliger's handwriting and misleading statements about a fingerprint.  It's unfortunate, but it is what it is...
"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple". Dr. Suess   
Quote
Like
Share

Mike99
DOJ
Joined: February 26th, 2007, 1:14 am

January 7th, 2016, 4:16 pm #7

Hi-

I sent the fingerprint material to a retired expert.  He looked it over and said that he could not even be certain that what is on the cab is a "scar."  It could be an artifact from the lifting process.  He said that it is impossible to draw any conclusions from this purported evidence and that if someone is saying or implying that this "scar" proves that someone was Zodiac they are going way, way beyond what any fingerprint expert worth his salt would be able to say.

Garrett did the case a real disservice by throwing this exhibit together.  Even he doesn't say it means anything.

So let's see, the handwriting is a farce unless you think the Reverend is in on  the Z case and the fingerprint/scar evidence does not tell us anything other than that some people have wild imaginations.  So what we are left with is Dad looked like that damn sketch and his name is in the codes.  Will HC be including errata in future editions or will they just let the general public live in the bliss of ignorance?

Mike
Quote
Like
Share