Independent investigators claim to have solved the Zodiac Killer Case
By Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
Throughout the late 1960s, a masked man terrorized parts of the Bay Area, sending coded notes, supposedly filled with clues about his identity, to major newspapers across the bay area and ultimately committing five known murders. Though his known crimes ended in 1969, they have never been solved, and the mystery of the Zodiac Killer remains one of the most famous unsolved crimes in American history. A group of Bay Area forensic investigators have named a new suspect, claiming to have solved this decades-long cold case.
The Case Breakers, the organization behind the new developments in this case, has named Gary Poste as a likely Zodiac Killer suspect. The group describes itself as a “small army of volunteers—with law and order and public safety in their DNA” and aims to solve neglected cases for overwhelmed agencies. The group was founded by Los Angeles-based documentarians Thomas J. and Dawna Colbert in 2011 and has since grown to be a 40 member task force led by retired FBI officers.
According to a former Army Counterintelligence officer and Case Breaker, Jen Bucholtz, Gary Poste was a member of the United States Air Force and was stationed in Vandenberg California. Once he left the military, he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he started a house painting business. Bucholtz says that Poste can be placed in the right areas and places during the time the murders were committed, including the 1966 murder of Cheri Jo Bates in Riverside, California.
Bucholtz says that the Case Breakers decided to go to the media to get the FBI to confirm or deny the plausibility of Poste being a suspect using testing like DNA testing. Bucholtz claims there is DNA evidence from Cherri Jo Bates’s killer and that the Vallejo police department has DNA from Gary Poste. She says that the Case Breakers theory could be easily tested if the two departments exchange information.
A recent tongue-in-cheek article by KQED reports that “5 other times we learned the Zodiac killers ‘true’ identity” and notes that this is not the first time someone has come forward claiming to have solved the Zodiac Killer case. In fact, the Wikipedia page for the Zodiac Killer lists 21 different suspects. Rae Alexandra from KQED argues that out of these 21 suspects, five of them are much more convincing Zodiac killers than Poste, who died in 2018.
Authorities, however, have cast doubt on the claims made by the Case Breakers. In a statement, the San Francisco FBI office says its “investigation into the Zodiac Killer remains open and unsolved” and declines to release any information related to the independent group’s theory.
“Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, and out of respect for the victims and their families, we will not be providing further comment at this time,” the statement said.
With Gary Poste dead, and authorities refusing to comment further, it is unclear what the future holds for this famous Bay Area case.
Melanie Moyer '22,