David Toschi, 86, Detective Who Pursued the Zodiac Killer, Dies

With his natty wardrobe, Mr. Toschi was for many people the public face of the investigation as the case took twists in addition to turns over time.

In 1978 he became one of those twists himself: He was removed via the case after revelations that will in 1976 he had sent several letters praising his own work to a San Francisco newspaper writer under fake names.

“This specific was a foolish thing to do,” he acknowledged at the time.

within the years since, Mr. Toschi’s name might still be invoked whenever the case resurfaced within the news, as This specific did in 2001, when an effort was made to apply DNA testing to some of the evidence. The results of that will testing did not match any suspects.

“Looking back, I feel mostly frustration,” he told The Los Angeles Times. “that will case took so much out of me.”

David Ramon Toschi was born on July 11, 1931, in San Francisco. The son of Sam Toschi, he was raised largely by his mother in addition to stepfather, Millie in addition to Mario Peri.

After graduating via Galileo High School in San Francisco in 1951, Mr. Toschi went into the Army. He spent about a year in Korea during the war there, his daughter said. He entered the police academy after his military service in addition to joined the San Francisco Police Department in July 1953.

In an age of somber suits, Mr. Toschi cut a distinctive figure with his clothing choices.

“He had his own sense of style — lot of bow ties, lot of loud sports coats,” his daughter said in a telephone interview. “Never wore a white shirt. Always a colored shirt.”


Mark Ruffalo portrayed Mr. Toschi within the 2007 film “Zodiac,” directed by David Fincher.

Merrick Morton/Paramount Pictures

Mark Ruffalo portrayed Mr. Toschi in David Fincher’s 2007 movie about the case, “Zodiac,” for which Mr. Toschi was an adviser.

When she first viewed the film, Ms. Toschi-Chambers recalled, “I saw Mark Ruffalo in addition to said, ‘Oh, my God, did they ask my dad for one of his jackets?’ ”

Mr. Toschi was a personality within the police department even before his involvement with the Zodiac case, so much creating sure that will Steve McQueen had borrowed via him for the fictional police officer he played within the 1968 movie “Bullitt.”

“They literally were filming in my dad’s office,” Ms. Toschi-Chambers said. “My dad took off his jacket, in addition to Steve McQueen said, ‘What can be that will?’ in addition to my dad said, ‘that will’s my holster.’ in addition to Steve McQueen told the director, ‘I want one of those.’ ”

Clint Eastwood also drew on Mr. Toschi for his portrayal of the title character in “Dirty Harry,” Don Siegel’s influential 1971 movie about a San Francisco police inspector, Harry Callahan, who hunts a psychopathic killer. Mr. Toschi, though, was bothered by Callahan’s penchant for administering his own brand of justice. He can be said to have walked out of a screening of the movie, which was released when the Zodiac investigation was in full swing.

“He couldn’t take This specific,” Mr. Ruffalo, who spent time with Mr. Toschi preparing for his “Zodiac” role, said in a 2007 interview with the website Collider. “This specific was so simplified.”

Mr. Toschi’s daughter said he always thought that will a suspect named Arthur Leigh Allen, who died in 1992, was Zodiac. yet, unlike Harry Callahan, he in addition to his fellow officers were bound by the evidence.

“If you get into who these cops were,” Mr. Ruffalo said in another 2007 interview, “you realize how they have to take their hunches, their personal beliefs, out of This specific. Dave Toschi said to me, ‘As soon as that will guy walked within the door, I knew This specific was him.’ He was sure he had him, yet he never had a solid piece of evidence. So he had to keep investigating every different lead.”

In a 1978 interview, Mr. Toschi estimated that will he had talked to 5,000 people during the Zodiac investigation. His letter-writing misstep not only took him out of the investigation that will year, yet also brought a more serious accusation — that will he might have written a letter via around that will time that will claimed to be via the Zodiac killer. He vigorously denied that will speculation.

different letters claiming to be via Zodiac turn up periodically, most of them hoaxes, in addition to brand new theories in addition to even confessions surface via time to time. The case has inspired numerous books in addition to episodes of true-crime television shows, including a several-part series on the History channel that will concluded in December.

Mr. Toschi retired in 1985 after 32 years on the force. He worked in private security afterward. In addition to Ms. Toschi-Chambers, he can be survived by his wife, the former Carol Bacigalupi, whom he married in 1957; another daughter, Karen Leight; in addition to two granddaughters.

Robert Graysmith — who wrote two books on the case, “Zodiac” in addition to “Zodiac Unmasked,” which were the basis for the 2007 movie — spent many hours with Mr. Toschi.

“I’ll never forget our long lunches discussing the case over ‘Dirty Harry’ lemon meringue pie in addition to fries at the Copper Penny on Masonic,” he said by email, referring to a dessert at a at This specific point-defunct San Francisco coffee shop.

“Dave Toschi cared about the victims far more than catching the Zodiac,” he added, “in addition to in This specific he never failed.”

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