An independent group of cold-case investigators say they have identified the man known as the Zodiac Killer. The discovery comes more than 50 years after the notorious serial killer terrorised San Francisco.
Behind the discovery is a volunteer organisation, known as Case Breakers, which is made up of former law enforcement officials, led by retired FBI agents. They say the discovery was made after uncovering new physical and forensic evidence and gathering information from witnesses.
The group submitted court affidavits and secured decades of pictures from the suspected killer's former darkroom.
They named the man as Gary Francis Poste in a press release, saying they believe he died in 2018. The police have not commented.
The Case Breakers say they have also identified a sixth murder victim of the Zodiac Killer. They claim to have new evidence that their suspect killed Cheri Jo Bates, a woman murdered in Riverside, California, in 1966.
The murder had been attributed to Zodiac Killer in the past, but Riverside police had debunked the theory.
The San Francisco Police Department confirmed the case of five people murdered in the late 1960s in San Francisco remains open. They did not comment on the newly identified suspect or victim.
The Zodiac Killer shot or stabbed seven people in the San Francisco Bay Area over the course of about a year between 1968 and 1969, killing all but two.
During his murderous spree, he sent a series of taunting letters to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. The letters contained cyphers, which the killer claimed would reveal his identity once decoded.
Out of the four cyphers sent, only two were decoded in the decades since the murders. Last year, a volunteer team of global code-breakers solved one of the mysterious cyphers.
“I hope you are having lots of fun trying to catch me,” said the cypher.
“I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradice [sic] all the sooner because I now have enough slaves to work for me.”
Solving the cyphers and discovering the identity of the killer has become an international fixation for true-crime followers.
Theories abound about the identity of the killer, but the only person to ever be named as a suspect by police was Arthur Leigh Allen of Vallejo, California, who died in 1992.
The case has inspired numerous books and movies, including 1971’s Dirty Harry, starring Clint Eastwood, and 2007’s Zodiac with Jake Gyllenhaal.