By San Francisco crime historian and author Paul Drexler
The decision got here at 9:30 AM on September twenty sixth.
“Hello, That is Tom Colbert. I’m a Hollywood producer. Is that this a nasty time to name?”
For a author, there isn’t any unhealthy time for a Hollywood producer to name.
“I’ve learn your columns within the San Francisco Examiner. I like your work, particularly the tales concerning the Zodiac.” he mentioned.
Tom proceeded to inform me that he and his staff had recognized the Zodiac and located his hideout.
I’ve researched and written about historic crimes for twenty years. The longest chapter in my ebook, Infamous San Francisco: True Tales of Crime, Ardour, and Homicide, is concerning the Zodiac Killer.
The Zodiac case has spawned over 1000 web sites, impressed a brand new discipline of examine, Zodiology, disturbed the sleep of at the very least 10,000 cryptologists, and motivated “non secular” wars between the followers of competing theories.
Between 1968 and 1971 a person calling himself “The Zodiac” killed at the very least 5 folks in and round San Francisco. Many consider that his murders began earlier than 1968 and that Zodiac could have had as many as 20 victims.
However It was Zodiac’s overweening ego that grew this case to legendary standing. Zodiac despatched letters to the newspapers bragging about his omnipotence and ridiculing the police. In a few of these letters, he included cryptograms that he claimed would reveal his identification if appropriately decrypted. He despatched novelty postcards with hidden messages to reporters, detectives and others. He threatened to shoot youngsters on faculty busses, included tough sketches of explosives he deliberate to bury.
Zodiac continued sending letters till Could of 1974. He has not been heard from since.
In 1986 Robert Graysmith, a former cartoonist on the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote Zodiac, a greatest vendor, through which he claimed that Arthur Leigh Allen was the Zodiac. Since that point at the very least 20 males have been suspected of being the Zodiac. They fall into three primary classes.
The primary class I name “The Normal Suspects.” These are early Zodiac suspects, equivalent to Arthur Leigh Allen, Laurence Kane, and Richard Gaikowski, who had been first accused by the administers of various Zodiac Killer web sites. Their claims have been largely debunked by proof from rival web sites.
The second class is “Daddy did it.” Not less than 4 folks have accused their deceased fathers of being the Zodiac. The info to show this are sadly missing.
Superstar killers, the third class, equivalent to Ted Kaczynski, and the Manson household have additionally been accused. As well as, two retired detectives accuse their suspects, Edward Edwards and George Hodel of committing different well-known murders, such because the 1946 Black Dahlia case and the Lipstick Killer. Once more, the proof is weak.
Getting again to our new suspect, I acquired a 43-page, doc from Tom Colbert, replete with the identification of the Zodiac, clues, bios, witnesses, deciphered interpretations of the seven Zodiac postcards, and a timeline.
Whereas I’m skeptical, I give Tom Colbert some measure of credibility. He’s a producer with a protracted historical past in TV information and true crime, and appears to have a knack for locating tales. Extra importantly, he’s related to The Case Breakers, a forty-person volunteer staff of largely retired FBI brokers and police, forensic specialists, and others who work on chilly circumstances.
Then again, Tom Colbert is a TV producer, a person with a product to promote, on this case, a documentary. Tom additionally claims to know the actual identification of airline hijacker D. B. Cooper, and the ultimate resting place of Jimmy Hoffa.
Here’s a transient abstract of Colbert’s story:
Colbert’s staff believes that Zodiac was Gary F. Poste, an air power veteran and portray contractor who lived in Alameda California between 1963 and 1974. Along with the 5 official Zodiac murders, the staff claims that Poste additionally killed Cathy Jo Bates in Riverside California in 1966 and Donna Lass in Lake Tahoe in 1970. Each these murders have been linked to the Zodiac by others.
In 1974, Poste moved his girlfriend (and future spouse) Mary and her 10-year-old son Mark, alongside together with his enterprise companion, Rod Hamlin, and household, to Groveland Ca, a small city within the Sierras. Although solely 300 folks stay in Groveland, two million folks cross by it annually as a result of it’s the city nearest to Yosemite Nationwide Park.
At this level, Gary stopped killing folks however he glad his blood lust by his stepson’s pals. Gary taught them survival and taking pictures abilities, learn how to kill animals, and learn how to make explosives. Poste additionally directed the younger males in a collection of petty crimes, and vandalism.
In 2007, after a long time of tenting and looking with Poste, Wil, one in all his stepson’s pals, began studying true crime materials. Wil observed a resemblance between Poste and the Zodiac.
In 2014, after listening to that Wil was researching the Zodiac, Poste attacked him. After the lads had been separated Wil went into hiding and tried telling his story to the press and police. Nobody believed him till met TV anchor Dale Julin, who started his personal investigation.
In 2016 Gary Poste was arrested for home abuse when he pushed his spouse Mary down a flight of stairs. In 2018 Poste was despatched to a locked facility for dementia sufferers the place he died later that yr.
Dale Julin continued his investigation, gathering affidavits from Poste’s cellmates and different proof. In 2020 Colbert joined the investigation and introduced in a few of the members of the Case Breaker staff.
I’m intrigued however not satisfied. At this level, there are too many unknowns and witnesses who must be additional questioned.
A serious barrier to fixing the Zodiac case is the dearth of dependable forensic information. The DNA gathered from the stamps of Zodiac’s letters has deteriorated and might solely be used to eradicate suspects.
There are partial fingerprints on one of many Zodiac sufferer’s automotive, however they’re too incomplete to establish the killer. Witnesses have mentioned that the Zodiac all the time wore gloves.
We’ve the bullets from the victims and shell casings. However with out having the weapons that shot these bullets, their worth is proscribed.
Handwriting evaluation is the final forensic relevant on this case. However this isn’t a precise science and handwriting specialists usually disagree.
One of the intriguing points of Colbert’s principle is that it has the potential to ship full DNA proof, based mostly on a case the place the Zodiac is a suspect.
In my subsequent report, I’ll analyze the strengths and weaknesses of Poste because the Zodiac, reveal an in depth timeline regarding Poste and the Zodiac case, and establish what proof is required to both exonerate or convict Gary Poste within the Zodiac courtroom of public opinion.
© Copyright Paul Drexler
Concerning the Creator: Paul Drexler is a author and crime historian in San Francisco. He usually writes for the San Francisco Examiner together with his column ‘Infamous Crooks’ and he’s the Director of Crooks Excursions of San Francisco providing strolling excursions of the town and its felony historical past. Paul has appeared in plenty of documentaries for the Discovery ID community and on Paramount TV the place he featured as an skilled on the Zodiac Killer.