A cold-case team claims it has identified the Zodiac Killer, who terrorized residents of Northern California in the 1960s.
Investigators working with the Case Breakers said the group, headed by former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents and retired law enforcement officials, identified the killer as Gary Francis Poste, who passed away in 2018, the New York Post reported Wednesday.
The group also tied the serial killer to a sixth murder that occurred in Southern California.
— New York Post (@nypost) October 6, 2021
The Post article continued:
The Zodiac Killer had already been linked to five murders in 1968 and 1969 in the San Francisco area by the FBI. During his spree, the madman sent a series of letters to local newspapers, in which he coined his nickname and threatened more slayings if they weren’t printed. Some letters included ciphers — with some puzzles still unsolved decades later. One cipher received by the San Francisco Chronicle in 1969 was finally cracked in December, revealing a message that said he wasn’t scared of being executed if ever caught.
Years of investigation led to recent forensic evidence in the case that included pictures from Poste’s darkroom showing scars on his forehead that matched those on the sketch of the Zodiac, the team said.
“Deciphering letters sent by the Zodiac also revealed Poste as the killer who had claimed to have slaughtered as many as 37 people,” the article read.
In one of the notes, the letters of the man’s full name were removed to show an alternate message, a Case Breakers investigator explained.
“So you’ve got to know Gary’s full name in order to decipher these anagrams,” former Army counterintelligence agent Jen Bucholtz commented, adding, “I just don’t think there’s any other way anybody would have figured it out.”
The group also believes Poste killed Cheri Jo Bates on Halloween in 1966, approximately 400 miles away from San Francisco and two years prior to the first killing connected to the Zodiac Killer.
The 18-year-old was found dead with over 40 stab wounds in an alley at Riverside City College once her father reported she was missing.
Authorities received a handwritten letter the next year which led them to believe her slaying might be connected to the Zodiac Killer, until officials got another anonymous letter in 2016 claiming the previous one was a “sick joke.”
“The author admitted that he was not the Zodiac Killer or the killer of Cheri Jo Bates and that he was just looking for attention,” Riverside police commented.
The Zodiac Killer was never linked to the young woman’s murder and the case was still open, according to the department.
“However, the Case Breakers believe Poste is a ‘very strong suspect’ in Bates’ murder and are urging investigators to compare her DNA to his,” the Post report said.
An FBI spokesperson told the outlet on Wednesday the agency would investigate the Case Breakers’ claims about Poste.