Who is the Zodiac Killer? Independent investigators believe they’ve found the answer

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Who was the Zodiac Killer? California man

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 Thursday, May 3, 2018, in San Francisco. Detectives in Northern California are trying to get a DNA profile on the Zodiac Killer to track him down using the same family-tree tracing technology investigators used in the Golden State Killer case. Vallejo police Detective Terry Poyser tells the Sacramento Bee his agency has recently submitted two envelopes that contained letters from the Zodiac Killer for DNA analysis. The Zodiac Killer stabbed or shot to death five people in Northern California in 1968 and 1969. He was dubbed the Zodiac Killer after he sent taunting letters and cryptograms to police and newspapers that included astrological symbols. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

The Zodiac Killer has haunted victims and police for decades, but a crack team of investigators may have solved the decades-old case.

The Case Breakers, a team that includes 40 law enforcement investigators, journalists and military intelligence officers, identified the Zodiac as Gary F. Poste, reports Fox News.

Poste died in 2018. The team said years of digging led them to forensic evidence and photos from Poste’s darkroom. One image showed a scar on Poste’s forehead that matches a scar on a composite sketch of the Zodiac.

Another clue, according to the team: removing the letters of Poste’s last name in one of the Zodiac’s notes revealed an alternate message.

The Zodiac Killer is officially linked to five murders in the San Francisco area between 1968 and 1969. He taunted authorities with coded messages and ciphers sent to newspapers and local police. He claimed he killed nearly 40 people.

The killings have spurred the imagination of many a true crime fan, spawning countless books, movies and documentaries from amateur and professional investigators hoping to solve the case.

The key to the Case Breakers’ claim comes from a murder hundreds of miles away from San Francisco and two years before the Zodiac killings started.

The Case Breakers team believes Poste killed Cheri Jo Bates in 1966. That murder happened in Riverside, California. A year after her murder, authorities received a handwritten note that led them to believe Bates’ murder was linked to the Zodiac Killer.

That note, however, turned out to be a “sick joke,” police said, and years later, someone confessed to writing it. The Zodiac was not officially connected to Bates’ slaying, which remains an open investigation by the Riverside Police Department.

But the Case Breakers believe Bates was Zodiac’s victim, Fox News reported. They’ve tried getting investigators to compare DNA in that case to no avail.

A few coincidences link Poste and Bates, they said.

Poste was an Air Force veteran when he received a medical check for a “gun incident” about 15 minutes from the Bates murder scene, the Case Breakers said. Investigators recovered a wristwatch with paint splatter on it at the murder scene; Poste painted homes for more than four decades.

Detectives also found a heel print from a military-style boot that matched the same style and size of those found at other Zodiac crime scenes and of Poste, according to the Case Breakers.

It remains to be seen if the claim will stand up to scrutiny. Over the years, several people have been linked to the Zodiac killings; none have yet been confirmed as the infamous killer.

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