By Sarah Moon & Cheri Moosburg, CNN; Updated 10/8/21
Law enforcement agencies said they are still investigating the Zodiac Killer case. But an independent group of volunteer sleuths believe they have solved the mystery of who was behind the decades-old serial murders.
Using new physical and forensic evidence and information from eyewitnesses, The Case Breakers, a team of 40 former law enforcement investigators, say they have identified the man they believe is the Zodiac Killer: Gary Francis Poste.
The group also filed court affidavits and secured decades of pictures from the man’s former darkroom, the Case Breakers said. He passed away in 2018.
The Zodiac Killer is believed to be responsible for at least five murders in Northern California, from 1968 to 1969. But the team believes the count is as many as ten, with crime scenes stretching from San Diego County to Lake Tahoe.
In response to the new claims, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) confirmed to CNN that it is still unsolved.
“We are unable to speak to potential suspects as this is still an open investigation,” the SFPD said in a statement. The FBI, which has been supporting local law enforcement in the investigation, also did not acknowledge the claims. “The Zodiac Killer case remains open. We have no new information to share at the moment,” the FBI said in a statement to CNN.
The Case Breakers also said in the release that they believe Poste is responsible for the 1966 killing of Cheri Jo Bates in Riverside County, California.
While the Riverside Police Department could not comment on the man identified by the Case Breakers, RPD public information officer Ryan Railsback said the Zodiac Killer is not the person responsible for the death of Bates. The department, it should be noted, has never publicly named a suspect.
Exactly 55 years ago this month, police received a typed note with details only the Bates killer would have known. There was no signature on this alleged “confession.”
FYI from TJC: While Riverside P.D. has told the media they’re “100% sure” the Zodiac isn’t connected to Bates’ case, one of the agency’s former leaders, Chief L.T. “Curly” Kinkead), firmly disagreed with that assessment. And he should know – the attack occurred on his watch (1965-72). After phoning in the similarities of his 3-year-old case to the Zodiac Task Force in 1969, the commander typed up a formal evidentiary summary (highlights below) for the Northern California chiefs. Kinkead ended his detailed letter with a sincere request: if the other agencies have a murder that “is the same as ours, please advise.” Note: Chief’s 3-page letter is available.