Zodiac killer breakthrough: New theory behind true identity

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A group of more than 40 specialists who call themselves the Case Breakers say they have finally revealed the true identity of one of America’s most notorious serial murderers — the Zodiac killer.

The Zodiac killer terrorised Northern California and killed five people in the San Fransisco Bay area from 1968 to 1969.

During his reign of fear, the serial killer referred to himself as the Zodiac in numerous letters containing ciphers sent to detectives and local newspapers.

Only two ciphers have ever been solved, one by a schoolteacher and his wife in 1969, and the other by a team of amateur sleuths in 2020.

A San Francisco Police Department wanted bulletin and copies of letters sent to the San Francisco Chronicle by a man who called himself Zodiac are displayed in San Francisco. Source: AP
The Zodiac terrorised Northern California and killed five people in the San Francisco Bay area in 1968 and 1969. Source: AP

The Zodiac’s bold crimes and unusual method of contacting those trying to hunt him down has spawned one of the biggest unsolved mysteries, which has been covered extensively in popular movies and books.

Despite the investigation of many potential suspects over the years, no one has ever been charged with the slayings.

The case remains open, FBI’s San Francisco office confirmed last year.

New evidence links man to Zodiac slayings, experts say

However, the Case Breakers say they have finally been able to identify the Zodiac as Gary Francis Poste, who died in 2018.

Members of the team of former police investigators, journalists and military intelligence officers said in a press release they have recovered "new physical and forensic evidence, signed up eyewitnesses, filed court affidavits and secured decades of pictures from Poste’s darkroom".

Gary Francis Poste, who died 2018. Source: Case Breakers
The Case Breakers say they have finally been able to identify the Zodiac as Gary Francis Poste, who died 2018. Source: Case Breakers

The group also pointed to an image of Poste with scars on his forehead, which are similar to the heavy lines depicted in a victim’s sketch of the Zodiac.

Jen Bucholtz, a former Army counterintelligence agent who researches cold cases, told Fox News this week Poste’s name has also been used to help decode the serial killer’s ciphers.

"So you've got to know Gary's full name in order to decipher these anagrams," she said.

"I just don't think there's any other way anybody would have figured it out."

Ms Bucholtz told the publication if you removed the letters of Poste’s full name from one of the Zodiac’s ciphers then you reveal an alternate message.

The image of Gary Francis Poste with scars on his forehead next to a victim’s sketch of the Zodiac.
The group has pointed to an image of Poste with scars on his forehead, which are similar to the heavy lines depicted in a victim’s sketch of the Zodiac. Source: Case Breakers

Police deny possible sixth Zodiac victim

The Case Breakers also claim they have linked a sixth victim to the Zodiac — Cheri Jo Bates, 18, who was found dead in an alleyway on the Riverside City College campus in October 1966.

The team say there are several connections between Ms Bates and Poste, including a military-style boot print that matched the deceased suspect and others found at Zodiac crime scenes, Fox News reported.

However, the Riverside Police Department's Homicide Cold Case Unit told the publication the Bates murder "is not related to the Zodiac killer".

Earlier this year, Riverside police offered a $50,000 (A$68,702) reward for any information that leads to a conviction in the decades-old mystery.

San Francisco cab driver Paul Stine; Cecilia Shepard, 22; and Bryan Hartnell - all victims of the Zodiac.
Three victims of the Zodiac: San Francisco cab driver Paul Stine; Cecilia Shepard, 22; and Bryan Hartnell, 20, who was stabbed but lived. Source: AP

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