After more than five decades of mystery, the Zodiac Killer, who terrorised multiple communities across Northern California between 1968 and ’69, is thought to have been identified.
The cryptic letters and unsolved ciphers with which the killer used to taunt law enforcement and the San Francisco Chronicle over their gruesome year of killing has continued to fascinate the world, decade after decade, inspiring many documentaries, books, movies and even music.
The ongoing attention has made it difficult to understand how it’s taken so long for authorities to figure out who the killer was, even with bulk evidence.
Investigators belonging to the cold case task-force team known as The Case Breakers told Fox News on Wednesday that they have identified the killer as being Gary Francis Poste, who died at 80 in 2018.
So who was Gary and why do investigators believe he was responsible for the string of killings? Gary was a US Air Force veteran who lived most of his life in the east side of California. There’s not much else that is known about him, apart from the fact that a relative of his contacted the San Francisco Chronicle six years ago, suspecting him of being the killer. Police didn’t find any connections initially, until Gary’s former daughter-in-law, Michelle Wynn, also accused him of being the killer, in a report by the newspaper.
According to The Case Breakers, the Zodiac Killer’s identity was exposed through forensic evidence found in Gary’s own darkroom. The investigators found photos of him that showed quite the resemblance to the infamous sketch, because of matching scars on his forehead.
The team also happened to decipher a few letters originally sent by the Zodiac, which ended up revealing all the letters of Gary’s full name and, once removed, revealed an alternate message.
Code for San Francisco’s notorious Zodiac Killer cracked after 51 years https://t.co/arGmhhLfy5
— Fox News (@FoxNews) December 11, 2020
According to former army counterintelligence agent, Jen Bucholtz, “So you’ve got to know Gary’s full name in order to decipher these anagrams … I just don’t think there’s any other way anybody would have figured it out,” she told Fox News.
The breakthrough comes just over three years after the Golden State Killer was identified in 2018, when police used a tissue to extract DNA that matched the evidence they already had.