The FBI and police in California on Wednesday disputed claims by a group of private investigators that the infamous Zodiac Killer has been identified, telling the San Francisco Chronicle that the case is still open and that evidence cited is entirely “circumstantial.”
The self-proclaimed Case Breakers – described as a team of more than 40 detectives, journalists and military intelligence officers who claim to have solved this case – published their conclusions Wednesday morning, deeming the killer to be Gary Francis Poste, who died in 2018.
The group connected the Zodiac case to the murder of Cheri Jo Bates in Riverside, California, saying they had established a concrete link.
“Is there a chance that (the Case Breakers suspect) killed Cheri Jo Bates? No,” the Chronicle quotes Riverside Police Officer Ryan Railsback as saying. “If you read what they (the Case Breakers) put out, it’s all circumstantial evidence. It’s not a whole lot.”
While several outlets reported Wednesday that the so-called Case Breakers had identified the killer, the group’s statement, laid out in a bizarre news release, hedges things considerably.
“Evidence stored for 55 years could end ‘Zodiac’ mystery,” the group claimed in the statement, which also complained they “have been barred” from studying it.
The Case Breakers based their discovery off of photos found in Poste’s darkroom. The photos of Poste contain forehead scars that match those in the description of the Zodiac Killer.
As found on the Case Breakers website, “An outlaw-turned-whistleblower tipped these developments to the team, led by retired FBI agents. The turncoat claims to have escaped from the Zodiac’s criminal ‘posse,’ roaming in the mountains for decades.”
The Zodiac Killer was connected to more than 30 homicides between 1968 and 1969 in San Francisco. While he was an active killer The San Francisco Chronicle received ciphered letters decoded into disturbing messages. Two people survived his attacks and lived to describe the killer’s appearance.
The case has been portrayed in many Hollywood productions, including 2007’s “Zodiac.” In that film, Jake Gyllenhaal plays San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith, who takes up the task of tracking down the Zodiac Killer. Directed by David Fincher, the film also stars Robert Downey Jr. as Chronicle staffer Paul Avery and Mark Ruffalo as investigator David Toschi, who competes with Gyllenhaal’s Graysmith to break news of the killer’s actions and identity. The film is based on a book by Graysmith.