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  • Writer's pictureMackenzie Wilson

Wanted: Dead or Alive

The infamous Zodiac Killer had stalked the streets terrorizing the residents of California in the late 60s. He is believed to have murdered at least five people, often couples in secluded areas near San Francisco. While the time span of his crimes and the complete list of his victims might be unknown and incomplete, a team of investigators thinks they have finally cracked the case of his identity. The Zodiac Killer has captivated the media because he had a unique relationship with it. Zodiac sent messages to the media immediately after his first murder that were coded. His calling card was a circle with a plus sign over it and his most infamous cipher read: “This is the Zodiac speaking. By the way, have you cracked the last cipher I sent you? My name is…” This was followed by a series of 13 symbols that were supposed to be his name, encoded. It had not been cracked, until now.

In 2020, a team of amateur codebreakers believed they have solved one of the Zodiac Killers ciphers.

“I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me that wasn’t me on the TV show which brings up a point about me I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradise all the sooner because I now have enough slaves to work for me where everyone else has nothing when they reach paradise so they are afraid of death I am not afraid because I know that my new life is life will be an easy one in paradise death.”

Now in 2021, a team comprised of more than 40 former law enforcement investigators, journalists, and military intelligence officers, has tackled many unsolved cases and they believe they have found the Zodiac Killer. His name is Gary Francis Poste and he died in 2018. The team, the Case Breakers, uncovered new forensic evidence and photos from his darkroom and claim that Gary Francis Poste was responsible for the murder of Cheri Jo Bates who was believed to be the first victim of the Zodiac Killer. Her body was found in an alleyway in Riverside, California. The clues they found included a photo featuring matching scars of the Zodiac Killer and Poste. There was also “deciphering letters sent by the Zodiac that revealed him as the killer,” said Jen Bucholtz, a former Army counterintelligence agent who works on cold cases. “In one note, the letters of Poste's full name were removed to reveal an alternate message.” Poste was an Air Force veteran when he received medical check-ups for a gun incident at a hospital located 15 minutes away from the Bates murder scene. A wristwatch with paint splatter on it was collected at the murder scene and is thought to have been worn by the killer.

Despite all the evidence the team believes to have cracked, as of October 7th, the FBI rebuts the claim that the Zodiac Killer has been found saying, "The case remains open and there is no new information to report." Riverside police Officer Ryan J. Railsback told NBC News that authorities "ruled out any connection" between the murder of Cheri Jo Bates and the Zodiac Killer. The reward for information on the Bates case is still available and the FBI is inviting anyone with information on the case to come forward.


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