By Reporter Lilli Keeve, MSN News; May 22, 2023
The 60-year mystery behind the identity of the notorious Zodiac Killer who terrorized California in the 1960s continues. And Gary Francis Poste, an Air Force veteran, is primed as the lead suspect.
A non-profit cold case team known as The Case Breakers (CBs) has found evidence that links the now-dead suspect to four gruesome attacks in the San Francisco Bay Area between 1968-1969. But these eclectic 40 volunteers – with a combined 1500 years of skill sets in forensics, law enforcement, CSI, ballistics and military intelligence – believe Poste’s death count could be more than a dozen. Crime scenes with similar MOs and signatures will be studied from San Diego to Lake Tahoe.
In 1963, records reveal that the young Poste (left) quit the military and became a union house painter in the Bay Area. But in 1970 – when the serial killings suddenly stopped — the investigators say he moved to the one-street town of Groveland in the remote High Sierra.
There, Poste married a single mom; his old neighbors, many now believing he was the Zodiac, told the CBs they think his family of three was a decades-long “cover.” Two locals said his recently-deceased widow had confessed that they never slept in the same bedroom, “consummated their marriage,” or even kissed or held hands in a photo. Just before her passing, the widow apologized to the two neighbors, stating she never had the courage to inform the police about her husband’s criminal history.
The Zodiac’s murders consisted of shooting, stabbing, or choking his victims. He is also infamously associated with the cryptic and disturbing letters he mailed to police & newspaper writers, sending waves of fear throughout the West.
The CBs, comprised of mostly-retired individuals, made significant progress during their two-and-a-half years of the Zodiac investigation. The head of the Case Breakers, Thomas J. Colbert, revealed that just before his death in 2018, “Poste had confessed to six people that he was indeed the Zodiac Killer. That includes three people in court affidavits.”
To make the story even more compelling, Colbert said Poste was confirmed as the key suspect by a whistleblower at FBI Headquarters.
The sleuths first turned to the FBI and local agencies in 2021, requesting they compare Poste’s DNA to other samples recovered at their homicide scenes. The CBs also provided photographs and a side-by-side comparison of unique head scars on the Zodiac Killer sketch, to that of Poste’s (above). Retired federal agents on the CB team called the results an “irrefutable” match.
The investigators have also connected Poste to the 1966 murder of 18-year-old Riverside coed Cheri Jo Bates – through 11 “evidentiary clues” found at her crime scene. A 1975 FBI memo recovered by the sleuths (left) says she was in fact a Zodiac victim. But Riverside PD, with the case’s last forensic evidence safely in their lab refrigerator for 56 years, still won’t collaborate with the team or any other private investigators.
The Riverside media spokesperson, Ryan Railsback, said, “If we really had information that the Zodiac Killer was related to Cheri Jo Bates, we would not hide that.”
Colbert has an answer to that statement, if he ever gets the chance: “Prove that our evidence is wrong and we’ll be on our way.”
Seeking to uphold justice and bring peace to the victims’ families, the Case Breakers are demanding a formal evaluation of the historic case’s handling – by local, county, state and federal law enforcement. But, seeing as the San Francisco’s FBI office has left the Zodiac Killer case “open and unsolved,” only time will tell what other news might surface.