The Zodiac Killer: documentaries and podcasts about the notorious American murderer

The infamous cold case that fascinates many creatives is thought to have been cracked by an independent group of investigators

FILE - In this May 3, 2018, file photo, 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 in San Francisco. A coded letter mailed to a San Francisco newspaper by the Zodiac serial killer in 1969 has been deciphered by a team of amateur sleuths from the United States, Australia and Belgium, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

One of the most notorious cold cases in modern US history is thought to have been solved, as an independent group of investigators say they have decoded the mystery of the Zodiac Killer.

The Zodiac Killer is a serial killer who terrorised San Francisco and Northern California from 1968 until the early 1970s. He was known for his regular communication with the police and newspapers during his killing spree, and the cryptograms he sent, which he said would reveal his identity when decoded.

He was known for a crosshair-like symbol, which he used when signing off his letters.

The group of investigators, known as the Case Breakers, have named a man who they believe is the Zodiac Killer, saying he died in 2018.

Before now, he's frequently been referenced in popular culture, and there have been several documentaries and podcasts dedicated to trying to solve the infamous cold case.

Here, we round-up podcasts, documentaries and films about the Zodiac Killer:

'The Most Dangerous Animal of All'

FX's The Most Dangerous Animal of All is a four-part TV mini-series about Gary L Stewart, who suspects his biological father is the Zodiac Killer after years spent trying to find him.

The documentary series is based on The New York Times best-selling book of the same name.

'Zodiac: A to Z'

Michael Butterfield's podcast Zodiac: A to Z reports on facts and debunks myths surrounding the murderer.

The podcast debuted in September 2019, with new episodes released as recently as last month. Episodes are long, ranging from about 45 minutes to more than an hour and a half, with shorter bonus content peppered in.

'Monster: The Zodiac Killer'

The second season of iHeartRadio's Monster podcast focuses on the killings of the Zodiac Killer. Released in 2019, with the narrative starting at Christmas 1968, the 15-episode series explores the notorious unsolved serial killing and tries to answer the question: who is the murderer?

The episodes range from 35 to 49 minutes long, and explore copycat killers, the Zodiac Killer's relationship with police and the press, and his legacy 50 years on.

'True Crime Garage'

Crime podcast True Crime Garage is presented by duo Nic and the Captain, and started in 2015. The pair tackle a different crime each week, but released a five-part series on the Zodiac Killer in March.

The podcast goes through Zodiac's confirmed kill timeline, with speculation on who they think it could have been.

'The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer'

In 2017, the History Channel released a five-part series titled, The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer.

The mini-series focuses on expert code breakers who are trying to crack the riddles left behind by the Zodiac Killer with a team of investigators. During the series, the team managed to break one major code.

It can be watched on YouTube.

'Zodiac Speaking'

Presented by Christopher J Garcia, podcast Zodiac Speaking does a deep dive into the case, but not with the intention of solving it, as many others endeavour to do.

The podcast instead focuses on the cultural impact of the Zodiac Killer. The facts that the killings started five years before Garcia was born and that the man killed members of his parents' generation heavily influence the series. The podcast focuses on the victims more than the killer and the suspects, and the families left behind.

The Zodiac Killer in film

It is not only documentary retellings of the Zodiac Killer that are prevalent in popular culture, as he has been referenced a number of times in film, music and TV.

Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. Courtesy Warner Bros Entertainment

In 1971, when the killer was still active, The Zodiac Killer was released and starred Hal Reed and Bob Jones. In the same year, Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry was loosely based on the killer. The film is about a murderer who has named himself Scorpio, a Zodiac sign, and is tracked down by Eastwood's character, San Francisco Police Inspector 'Dirty' Harry Callahan.

Robert Downey Jr., and Jake Gyllenhaal in Zodiac
CREDIT: Paramount Pictures

Later on, the 2007 film Zodiac stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey, Jr and Mark Ruffalo. Directed by David Fincher, the film is based on Zodiac and Zodiac Unmasked: The Identity of America's Most Elusive Serial Killer, two non-fiction books by Robert Graysmith. The film is set in San Francisco between 1968 and 1983. It is available to watch on Netflix in the UAE.

Updated: October 7th 2021, 10:51 AM