Cold Case Investigators Believe They Have Finally Identified Notorious 'Zodiac Killer'
© AP Photo / Eric RisbergFILE - In this May 3, 2018, file photo, a San Francisco Police Department wanted bulletin and copies of letters sent to the San Francisco Chronicle by a man who called himself Zodiac are displayed in San Francisco. A coded letter mailed to a San Francisco newspaper by the Zodiac serial killer in 1969 has been deciphered by a team of amateur sleuths from the United States, Australia and Belgium, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
© AP Photo / Eric Risberg
In the late 1960s, northern California was terrorized by the infamous "Zodiac Killer." The serial killer left a trail of coded messages and ciphers that taunted law enforcement and captured the attention of the nation. Now, over 50 years later, a team of investigators believes they have cracked the case of the "Zodiac Killer."
The Case Breakers, a group of over 40 specialists with backgrounds in law enforcement, journalism, and military intelligence, have identified the "Zodiac Killer" as Gary Francis Poste.
The team of sleuths spent years collecting and analyzing new forensic evidence. One of the keys to their revelation came in the form of a picture from Poste’s darkroom that showed scars on his forehead that matched a sketch of the "Zodiac Killer."
Another clue came from deciphering letters the "Zodiac Killer" had sent to officials at the time of his crimes. Letters from Poste’s entire name, Gary Francis Poste, were removed and created an alternative message. Additionally, the team believes the 1966 murder of Cheri Jo Bates was the committed by the notorious killer, and had allegedly been Poste’s sixth known victim.
Incidentally, Poste, a US Air Force veteran, received medical check-ups at a hospital 15 minutes from where Bates’ body was found. A watch with paint splatter was found at the murder scene, which tied back to Poste as he had painted homes for decades.
© AP PhotoWritten on greeting card mailed to a San Francisco newspaper (Chronicle) by a killer who calls himself Zodiac and included a letter and a cryptogram in San Francisco on Nov. 11, 1969. Police say Zodiac has killed five, but in his new communications Zodiac claims seven. The writer lists the months the killings took place at the bottom, with the total ?and I can?t do a thing with it!? refers to a drawing on the card showing a dripping wet pen with the salutation: ?Sorry I haven?t written, but I just washed my pen?? (AP Photo)
Written on greeting card mailed to a San Francisco newspaper (Chronicle) by a killer who calls himself Zodiac and included a letter and a cryptogram in San Francisco on Nov. 11, 1969. Police say Zodiac has killed five, but in his new communications Zodiac claims seven. The writer lists the months the killings took place at the bottom, with the total ?and I can?t do a thing with it!? refers to a drawing on the card showing a dripping wet pen with the salutation: ?Sorry I haven?t written, but I just washed my pen?? (AP Photo)
© AP Photo
Last but not least, detectives found a shoe print from a military-style boot that matched both the style and size of Poste’s footwear and those found at other "Zodiac" killings. However, it's worth noting that the Riverside Police Department’s Cold Case Unit refutes Bates’ connection to the "Zodiac" murders.
While the Case Breakers believe they’ve found the perpetrator, they won’t be able to get any justice, as Poste died in August 2018. It has been alleged that Poste led a criminal gang that roamed around California’s High Sierra region.
From 1968 to 1969 a string of five murders in the San Francisco area were attributed to the "Zodiac Killer." The first three confirmed killings were attacks on couples, with the male partner surviving the later two encounters. The final, and fifth, confirmed "Zodiac" killing was of a San Francisco cab driver. However, the "Zodiac Killer" claims to have murdered 37 victims.
No one was ever charged or identified in connection with the slayings, but numerous people have been alleged to be the infamous "Zodiac Killer." Whether or not Poste is the official killer, that determination will ultimately be made by law enforcement officials.