A team of "case breakers" led by a former FBI agent believe they have discovered the identity of the Zodiac Killer, and identified another victim that law enforcement had missed.
In the late 1960s heading into the early 1970s, a serial killer with the pseudonym "Zodiac" murdered at least five people in California. During his spree, the killer gained widespread attention after sending taunting messages to the press. These were written through a cipher, where letters are substituted for different letters or numbers (or in the case of the Zodiac killer, a series of symbols).
Over the years, amateur sleuths and professional detectives have attempted to solve the ciphers – one of which claims to reveal the killer's name. Several have claimed to have figured out the killer's true name through the use of the cipher alone. This new analysis makes use of the messages, though a large part of it rests on more traditional methods of evidence-gathering, and uncovered DNA and witness testimony.
The "case breakers" – including former law enforcement members, prosecutors, intelligence officers, and private investigators – claim that they have found new evidence that the killer was Gary Francis Poste.
Part of the evidence they present is from a separate murder, currently not associated with the Zodiac Killer: that of Cheri Jo Bates in October 1966. Bates was 18 years old when she was stabbed to death on the grounds of Riverside City College. A month after her death, a letter was sent to the local police "confessing" to her murder.
The team point to similarities between the letter, including similar phrases and identical spelling errors, and letters sent years letter by Zodiac to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The team believe that other evidence collected at the time points to Poste being Bates' killer, including a paint-spattered wristwatch (Poste was a house painter for 40 years), a heelprint of a military-style boot in the same style and size as prints found at Zodiac crime scenes, and hair found in Bates' clenched fist.
More compelling is witness testimony gathered by the case breakers from "Outlaw-Turned Zodiac Whistleblower, Wil". Wil claims that he saw Poste burying murder weapons, and can reveal their location.
“He had a great side. He just didn't have a conscience. He could kill indiscriminately. And I mean, you know, he's pretty much proven that over the years, he couldn't even stop after he moved up here," Wil told the team.
"Uh, he still had to continue to kill, even if it was small animals just to make himself feel better. I've seen him kill bears, deer, otter, um, ferrets. marmots, just anything that lived, he liked to shoot them, watch [them] fall down. He liked to mess with the carcasses when he was done. He just got bloody.”
Another witness who claims they knew Poste told the team that Poste had taught her how to use guns, and witnessed his violence towards his wife over the years. She claims that his wife recently said on a phone call that “I’m sorry that I didn’t tell the cops about his [Zodiac] past.”
Poste died in 2018, but the team believe they can prove he is the killer of Bates at least, if DNA was to be taken from the hair found in her hand. However, the Riverside Police Department believe that Zodiac was not involved in her murder.
"Our Homicide Cold Case Unit has determined the murder of Cheri Jo Bates in 1966 is not related to the Zodiac Killer," the department told Fox News. “We understand the public interest in these unsolved murders, but all inquiries regarding the Zodiac Killer should be referred to the FBI.”
The team claim that by removing Poste's name from the cipher, a hidden message is revealed, though so far they have remained silent as to what that message is. Their suspect is at odds with many other guesses over the years, including a codebreaker who claims to have revealed his name using the ciphers earlier this year.