Adirondack Daily Enterprise: The Covert Hunt for Poste’s Roots


Adirondack Daily Enterprise

By Brian Kelly, Watertown Daily Times; 5/24/23

WATERTOWN, N.Y — The man a volunteer group of cold case investigators claims is the notorious Zodiac Killer has roots in the North Country.

The Case Breakers (CBs) — which includes former FBI agents, law enforcement officials, forensic experts, private investigators and retired military — issued a statement Wednesday claiming now-deceased U.S. Air Force veteran Gary F. Poste (left, at 25), a 1956 graduate of Port Leyden Central School, was the person responsible for a series of murders in California in the late 1960s.

The killer made national news by taunting investigators with cryptic letters sent to newspapers, threatening to continue killing if his letters were not published. In all, the Zodiac Killer claimed to have committed 37 murders, but has never been identified and is officially tied to six murders.

The CBs have previously named Poste as the killer, but claimed Wednesday that the group’s founder, Thomas J. Colbert, “found DNA on a 30-year hiking mat once owned” by the now-dead suspect. His unpaid sleuths then sought and “found [his] ancestral town, where DNA from a blood relative was offered by a confidential informant.”

The statement also claims that, days later, “good profiles” from Poste’s relative and DNA from the mat were compared by forensic experts from five colleges, and “strong similarities” were in fact found. But that would likely only demonstrate that the mat indeed belonged to Poste, and he is related to the second contributor of DNA.

The last genetic material in the decades-old investigation – four hairs found in the clutched hand of a 1966 dead coed – are in the jurisdiction of Riverside Police Department in California.

According to FBI records, the RPD collaborated with the bureau to clear two Riverside men in the years 1999-2000. But since then, Colbert claims the small agency has refused to compare this genetic material with the CBs, let alone any other private investigators.

The frustrated CBs also suggest federal agents have not properly employed a national DNA databank, called CODIS, that could connect Poste to the Zodiac killings. But the bureau will only state its investigation into the Zodiac Killer is still open and unsolved, the NY Post reported Thursday.

CODIS, incidentally, is run by the FBI.

Poste, who died in 2018 at 80 years old, was raised in Lyons Falls, Lewis County, New York. His mother, Elva, who died in 2009, was born in Pierrepont, St. Lawrence County, while his father, who died in 1992, was born in Parishville. The couple moved to Lyons Falls in 1945 when Poste was a youth.

As a junior in high school, Poste played on Port Leyden’s varsity basketball team that finished second in its division in the Lewneida League with a seven-win, five-loss season.

According to a Jan. 10, 1959, Times article, he joined the Air Force in November 1956. In early January 1959, when he was a 21-year-old airman, he was a passenger in a car driven by fellow airman, Robert A. McManus, 20, of Brooklyn.

The Times’ article says that the car smashed into the wall of an underpass of the Chicago & Eastern Illinois railroad southeast of Clinton, Indiana. McManus was killed in the crash, and Poste suffered a fractured leg, facial scarring, fractured jaw and the loss of many of his teeth. He was not expected to return to duty before the summer.

Times records also show Poste visited his parents in Lyons Falls in May 1969. According to a timeline of confirmed Zodiac Killer murders compiled by History Channel, three killings would occur in the ensuing months — one each in July, September and October 1969.

Colbert claims that since 2016, the FBI has “secretly listed” Poste, who lived for decades in Groveland, California (left), as the suspect in the Zodiac killings. Colbert cited a “senior FBI agent” who has acted as a “whistleblower” for the team. The fed tipster, who appears to be an active agent, allegedly told the group that the FBI has “partial DNA” of Poste, “safely secured” at its lab in Quantico, Virginia.

Nevertheless, Colbert said his involvement with the Zodiac Killer investigation came at the request of Poste’s neighbors in this one-street town (above) in the High Sierra, where residents are very anxious to see the case finally get solved. “It is causing pain and suffering to these families,” the team organizer said of the lack of resolution. “They want the mystery to be over.”

Colbert, a former CBS newsman, Paramount story editor and 18-year state law-enforcement trainer, has been investigating cold cases since 2011. He and his wife Dawna now oversee a national task force of 40 investigators, led by retired FBI agents and U.S. Marshals. Their non-profit company is in Ventura County, California.

The Colberts cited FBI statistics: There are reportedly more than a quarter-million murders now; their goal is to expand the teams into every state, in order to keep up with the thousands of new unsolved homicides that appear each year.

As they learned through various agencies: “Breaking crime has eliminated the budgets and staff for cold case teams. Only five percent of departments now have them. Retired public servants, like these heroes, are the future.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here