A team of cold-case specialists said Wednesday that it has identified the notorious Zodiac Killer.
The Case Breakers say the man who killed at least five people in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s is Gary Francis Poste.
The group also says he committed another murder in Riverside on the other side of California despite the murderer never having been officially attributed to Zodiac.
Zodiac became notorious for a series of taunting notes and mystifying codes to the police and the newspapers in the late 1960s. He’s been the subject of numerous TV shows and movies and a slew of official and unofficial investigations.
The team of more than 40 former law enforcement investigators, journalists and military intelligence officers said it based its conclusions on forensic evidence and photos from Poste’s darkroom and on some of the killer’s anagrams and coded notes.
One of the photos shows scars on Poste’s forehead that match scars on a sketch of Zodiac, Fox News reported the team as saying.
Jen Bucholtz, a former Army counterintelligence agent who works on cold cases, told Fox News that one of the letters gives away the identity by producing an alternate message when the letters of Poste’s full name are removed.
“So you’ve got to know Gary‘s full name in order to decipher these anagrams,” Ms. Bucholtz said. “I just don’t think there’s any other way anybody would have figured it out.”
Even if the team is correct, don’t anticipate justice coming soon in the case.
Poste died in 2018 at age 80. He was never charged with any Zodiac-related offenses.
The Case Breakers said that little is known about Poste’s life except that he had a wife and a son, was an Air Force veteran and worked as a house painter after his service. He was reportedly arrested on a wife-beating charge in 2016, and some of his neighbors expressed suspicions about him to the Case Breakers.
A California woman who lived next door to the Postes, and who had been babysat by them a child in the 1970s and 80s, but gave her name only as Gwen said she thinks Poste was the Zodiac killer, telling Case Breakers that she saw callous and cruel behavior toward a wife who slept on the couch.
Mrs. Poste, who is now in her late 70s, reportedly told Gwen in a recent phone call that “I’m sorry that I didn’t tell the cops about his past.”
Also, according to Case Breakers, a woman named Michelle who claimed to have been be the common-law wife of Poste’s son and bore a child by him, said her father-in-law had a criminal “posse” who would harass and intimidate her.
According to Michelle, Poste ordered his “posse” to break her windows, assault her, and make her flee the state when she and the son broke up after 10 years.
The known facts of Poste’s life echo certain details in the Zodiac murder spree.
For example, footprints from a “military-style boot,” which the investigators said were about the Air Force veteran’s size, were found at three Zodiac crime scenes.
A paint-splattered watch believed to have been worn by the killer was found near the body of Cheri Jo Bates in Riverside, California. This killing happened two years before the 1968-69 Bay Area spree, but authorities have gone back and forth over the decades on whether the killing was Zodiac-related.
Poste also was getting a medical check-up at a hospital 15 minutes from the site of the Bates slaying on that day, the Case Breakers said.