Dave Toschi

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Dave Toschi
Toschi at Hall of Justice, San Francisco
Born David Ramon Toschi
(1931-07-11)July 11, 1931
San Francisco, California, United States
Died January 6, 2018(2018-01-06) (aged 86)
San Francisco, California, United States
Education Galileo High School[1]
Occupation Inspector (1952–1983)
Known for The Zodiac Killer Case

David Ramon Toschi (July 11, 1931 – January 6, 2018), whose personal style was the model for Bullitt and Dirty Harry, was widely known for his efforts in the San Francisco Police Department as an inspector in the Zodiac Killer case.


Toschi was born to the Italian-American family of Sam and Millie Toschi in San Francisco, and was an alumnus of Galileo High School. Immediately upon graduation, he joined the U.S. Army, and became a member of the 24th Infantry Division during the Korean War, honorably discharged in 1952.[2]

Returning to San Francisco, Dave joined the San Francisco Police Department, where he served from 1952 to 1987. He was assigned to the S.F.P.D. homicide detail from 1966 to 1978.[3] He is best known for his role as a chief investigator in the Zodiac Killer case, which he and partner, Inspector Bill Armstrong, began to work on after the murder of taxi driver Paul Stine; however, he also was assigned to the Zebra murders team, and in 1985 received a meritorious conduct award for curtailing the career of a rapist/burglar. Toschi also received attention for his style of dress, including bow-ties, 'loud' plaid suits, bounteous curls, and an exaggerated trench-coat.[4] In 1976, his quest for attention led him to send anonymous letters admiring his own efforts to Armistead Maupin, then a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle; revelation of that led to him being removed from the case in 1978.[5][6] Toschi was also accused (though later exonerated) of writing one of the Zodiac letters to Duffy Jennings, which the USPS crime lab verified as authentic but was later impeached by other experts; the suspicion ended Toschi's chance of replacing S.F.P.D. chief Charles Gain.[7]

Shortly after he left the S.F.P.D., Dave became Director of Security for St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco's Mission District, and later served the same role for San Francisco's Pan Pacific Hotel. Toschi was vice president of North Star Security Services in Daly City.[8][9] He was a technical advisor to the producers of the 2007 film Zodiac.[10]

Toschi married Carol Bacigalupi in 1957, they had three daughters.

In popular culture[edit]

Actor Mark Ruffalo portrayed Toschi in the David Fincher film Zodiac.

Screenwriters Harry Julian Fink and R. M. Fink also modeled Harry Callahan, the main character of Dirty Harry portrayed by Clint Eastwood, on Toschi;[11], while the film's villain - based on the Zodiac Killer - was called "The Scorpio Killer".

Steve McQueen claimed he copied Toschi's distinctive style of quick-draw shoulder-holster by wearing his gun upside down for the 1968 movie Bullitt. McQueen also modeled much of his Bullitt character on Toschi.[12]

George Lucas gave an interview to Empire magazine once stating that the Zodiac murders captured his imagination at the time as a high schooler and then college student at USC, and he always felt like Toschi was harshly judged for how the investigation was handled. He explained this is why he named a location on Tatooine Tosche Station, "in honor of the SFPD inspector."[13]

External links[edit]