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The Case of the Zodiac Killer: Has the Mystery Been Solved?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Suffolk chapter.

The Zodiac killer, potentially one of the most notorious serial killers known to America, is a case of confusion and tragedy. During the late 1960s, this unidentified killer committed a number of murders in San Francisco, known to society by no other name than “the Zodiac.” The criminal was confirmed to be behind five deaths, but has been suspected of other crimes as well. In addition to committing such heinous acts, the Zodiac killer had also sent various messages, letters, and ciphers to newspapers and police officers. These messages taunted law enforcement and only furthered the panic that resulted in the light of the situation. This case has been cold for decades, and various movies and documentaries have since been released detailing the investigation. 

This past week, however, the cold case of the Zodiac killer has been brought back to the public’s attention. “The Case Breakers” are a group of retired FBI agents and law officials who have dedicated their time to investigating cold cases and promoting public service careers. This non-profit organization has not only worked on the Zodiac killer case, but has actually claimed to have solved the mystery, putting out the name of the individual they believe to be the Zodiac killer himself. Because of how prominent the case is in our society, this naturally captured the attention of the public, wondering if we finally have an answer to one of America’s most infamous cold cases.  

To be more specific, the group released a statement on Wednesday stating that the identity of the Zodiac Killer belonged to a man named Gary Poste, an air force veteran who passed away in 2018. This conclusion comes from alleged similarities between Poste and the 1969 police sketch of the Zodiac, specifically regarding the scars on the man’s forehead. In addition, the team has also stated that the letters sent by the Zodiac at the team contain an anagram of Poste’s name. The group also claims to have evidence that the Zodiac killer was responsible for the murder of Cheri Jo Bates, despite this theory being rejected by local police.  

So has the mystery been cracked? Can we finally put the cold case of the Zodiac killer to rest and properly mourn his victims? The truth, unfortunately, is that this investigation is ongoing. As stated by the FBI’s San Francisco office, “The FBI’s investigation into the Zodiac Killer remains open and unsolved.” The office has refrained from providing further commentary on the situation due to the nature of the investigation and respect for victims’ families. Furthermore, there continues to be doubt surrounding the theory from law enforcement. For instance, Riverside Police Officer Ryan Railsback has stated the following regarding the Case Breakers: “If you read what they put out, it’s all circumstantial evidence. It’s not a whole lot.”

All-in-all, the case of the Zodiac killer continues to puzzle our society. The alleged breakthrough that has taken place in the last week is not as clear-cut as it may seem. We may never know the true identity of the notorious criminal himself, and though the Case Breakers firmly believe they have solved the case, the truth is that what we have is simply a new theory, and the investigation of the Zodiac Killer continues to remain unsolved. 

Kaviya is a junior studying psychology. Her hobbies include drawing and reading thriller/mystery novels, and she hopes to work in the field of clinical psychology one day.