With his natty wardrobe, Mr. Toschi was for many people the public face of the investigation as the case took twists and turns over the years.

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

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

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

“Looking back, I feel mostly frustration,” he told The Los Angeles Times. “That 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 and stepfather, Millie and Mario Peri.

After graduating from Galileo High School in…

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