Cold Case Group Claims FBI Has ‘Zodiac Killer’ Suspect
San Francisco: San Francisco police circulated this composite of the Bay Area's "Zodiac" killer.
Bettmann/ Getty Images

The FBI has a suspect in the infamous “Zodiac” killings, a cold case group claims.

Case Breakers, a volunteer group of investigators led by investigative journalist Thomas Colbert, claimed in a press release on Thursday that the FBI has listed Air Force veteran Gary Francis Poste as a suspect in the Zodiac killings since 2016. The group said it learned the information from “a senior FBI agent.”

“The felon has been secretly listed as the Zodiac ‘suspect’ in Headquarters’ computers since 2016 – with his ‘partial DNA’ safely secured at the feds’ Quantico, Virginia lab,” Case Breakers claimed.

Case Breakers previously identified Poste, who died in 2018, as the Zodiac killer, and has questioned why the FBI hasn’t notified the victims’ families. Investigators have agreed that seven people were the victims of assaults by the Zodiac killer, five of whom died from their injuries. He is suspected of killing 20 to 28 in total, and the killer himself claimed to have killed 37 in his infamous letters to media outlets and detectives. The Zodiac operated in the San Francisco Bay Area between 1968 and 1969.

The FBI maintains that the case is still unsolved and remains open and active.

In its press release, Case Breakers claimed it had found DNA on a hiking mat Poste owned and confirmed the DNA using a living relative. The group has asked the FBI to compare that DNA to hairs found on Cheri Jo Bates, believed by the group to be one of the Zodiac’s victims. Police, however, don’t believe Bates was killed by the Zodiac.

“The Cheri Jo Bates investigation is not related to any of the Zodiac cases,” Riverside Police spokesman Ryan J. Railsback told Newsweek two years ago.

More than 50 years after the Zodiac sent a cipher to the San Francisco Chronicle taunting authorities for failing to catch him, three amateur code breakers believed they cracked the cipher. The cryptic message, known as the “340 cipher,” was allegedly solved by Virginia software developer David Oranchak, Belgian computer programmer Jarl Van Eycke, and Australian mathematician Sam Blake. They believe the message contains a misspelling of the word “paradise,” but says:

I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me

That wasn’t me on the TV show which brings up a point about me

I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradice all the sooner

Because I now have enough slaves to work for me where everyone else has nothing when they reach paradice so they are afraid of death

I am not afraid because I know that my new life will be an easy one in paradice death.

The TV show reference is to “The Jim Dunbar Show,” a television talk show that aired in the San Francisco area. In 1969, a man claiming to be the Zodiac Killer called into Dunbar’s show repeatedly, saying a few words before hanging up each time. The cipher that has been decoded was sent to the Chronicle two weeks after the show aired.

This is not the first time someone has claimed to know the identity of the Zodiac killer. Numerous people have claimed to be relatives of someone they believe to have been the killer.

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