Cold Case Team Claims They’ve Identified The Zodiac Killer. Police Aren’t So Sure.
1/17/1969 - San Francisco, California: The "Zodiac" killer broke his silence Nov. 11 to boast in letters and cryptograms that he has now murdered seven persons. Two letters and a cryptogram were sent to the San Francisco Chronicle. Police believe the auth. (Photo by Bettmann/Corbis/Getty Images)
Bettmann/Corbis/Getty Images

The Zodiac Killer, the prolific serial killer who killed as many as 37 people in the late 1960s, has been identified, according to a team of private investigators who work specifically with cold cases.

The group of over 40 journalists and former law enforcement and intelligence officials, called Case Breakers, identified the Zodiac killer as Gary Francis Poste, an Air Force veteran and house painter who died in 2018. 

The Case Breakers used evidence from Poste’s darkroom, including a picture of Poste with scars that match the ones on sketches of the Zodiac killer. The team also deciphered a letter that revealed Poste as the killer. The Zodiac killer infamously used ciphers, which he mailed to local newspapers and law enforcement agencies. 

The team also believes that Poste was responsible for the murder of Cheri Jo Bates in Riverside, California, in October 1966, two years before and more than 100 miles away from the first Zodiac killing. They cite as evidence an FBI memo written to the Riverside police which identifies Bates as the sixth victim. The team also cited the fact that Poste received medical care at a hospital in the area where the murder took place, as well as a watch recovered from the scene of the murder with paint splatter on it, and a military-style bootprint that matches those found at other Zodiac crime scenes and the boots worn by Poste. 

Riverside Police have cast doubt on the theory, and have refused to allow the Case Breakers to cross-examine a fistful of hair and a sample of DNA recovered from the body of Cheri Jo Bates and stored by the Vallejo Police Department. Eight Riverside Police Chiefs have refused to connect the Zodiac killer to Bates’ murder, according to a press release authored by the Case Breakers. The Riverside Police have offered a $50,000 reward for any information that would lead to a conviction. The San Francisco Police Department and FBI also released statements dismissing the claims. “We are unable to speak to potential suspects as this is still an open investigation,” The SFPD told CNN. 

“The Zodiac Killer case remains open,” said the FBI in a statement. “We have no new information to share at the moment.”

 The Case Breakers disagreed vociferously and said the police departments are devaluing their evidence. “The real portion here has everything to do with ego and arrogance,” Case Breaker Bill Proctor said of the RPD, to Fox News. “They’re not talking about what they have, which means that anybody else who comes to the table might have a reasonable argument that an outside organization’s information is as valuable, if not more valuable, than what the police department has already done.”   

“Fifty-five years ago this month, RPD chose to ignore the obvious,” said team organizer Thomas J. Colbert. “It would take just minutes to quickly and quietly compare Poste’s DNA. You’d think the pain Cheri Jo’s family and her old friends have been living with would be Priority #1. Here’s to hoping the next chief finds the courage to act.

The Case Breakers further announced via their website that they were given a location by a former member of the Zodiac’s “posse” where the team could uncover the weapons used by the Zodiac and gather fingerprints and DNA to confirm his identity.

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