Features

Zodiac Killer: Cold Case Cracked after 53 years?

By: Sunny Walia 

10/7/2021 

Police Sketch of the Zodiac Killer in the 1960s

Photo Credits: (Sunny Walia)

SAN JOSE CALIF. – The Zodiac Killer has been one of the most notorious serial killers in the past 60 years. Known for his killing rampage and sinister letters in Northern California, the killer’s identity has a new face.

Bay Area’s Zodiac Killer case that remained unsolved for 53 years, now has a new face after volunteer cold case investigators came forward with a groundbreaking revelation. 

The “Case Breakers” are a group of more than 40 volunteers consisting of former military enthusiasts and true crime fanatics. They believe that Gary Polte, who died 3 years ago, was the Zodiac Killer. There may be circumstantial evidence backing the accusation, but it’s very compelling. The suspect has creases on his forehead matching those of the Zodiac Killer police sketch, and his boot size matches the size of a heel print found on scene. He may potentially even be linked to the murder of Jo Bates in Riverside. A wild claim, but he had brown hair and there were 3-4 brown hairs found on her body not belonging to her. Two years prior to his death in 2018, he was even supposed to go to court on a domestic violence case. But because of old age he could not show up to court. 

Even more compelling, Poste had a strange interest in hunting and dead animals. This may be a connection to his message cipher Z408. The message entailed “I like killing people because it is so much fun. It is more fun than killing wild game in the forest because man is the most dangerous animal of all,” – Zodiac. Wil, a member of Poste’s group that roamed through the Sierra mountains, said in an interview to the Case Breakers “Marmots, just anything that lived, he liked to shoot them, watch [them] fall down. He liked to mess with the carcasses when he was done. He just got bloody.” 

This fascination of hunting victims might help officials get closer to closing this case. 

What made the case so particular is that the killer made his presence public, he would mail newspaper locations, ciphers and letters about his killings and threats. He sent out 4 ciphers between the years of 1969 to 1970 made up of characters, letters, and numbers made for detectives to try and decipher them. One cipher was solved in 1969, and the latest cipher ‘340’ was solved on video in 2020 by a Virginia Tech software developer Oranchak. However, the cipher did not add any other evidence to finding a suspect. 

Over the last 53 years, numerous professionals and true crime enthusiasts have been working on this case. There have been many suspects, some having died over the years. The primary suspect considered was sex offender Arthur Reigh Allen, who was a former elementary school teacher. He passed away in 1992, but was cleared before because his DNA did not match up with the Zodiacs.

Unfortunately, SPFD and the FBI chose to keep this case as open and ongoing because the evidence is very circumstantial.

Silver Creek science teacher Alejandro Mendoza shows his forensic students true crime films every year, one of them being the 2007 film “Zodiac” documenting the Zodiac Killer and his murders. His opinion on the case is “ It’s a pretty hot lead. I don’t know if it’s true law enforcement or true crime fanatics on the case, but in the future they’ll probably come together to solve cold cases.” He even theorizes like many others that the murders were committed by various killers or even copycats.

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