SAN FRANCISCO - A group investigating the cold case of the Zodiac killer has named a person they believe is a "very strong suspect" in the unsolved killings that terrorized San Francisco and the Bay Area in the 1960s and beyond.
The Code Breakers identified a now-dead man as the likely Zodiac, citing supposed matching facial scars among photos of their suspect and sketches of the Zodiac. The team, which counts retired law enforcement officers and forensic experts among its members, named Gary Poste as the Zodiac suspect. However, Poste has not been named by a police department.
Poste, an Air Force veteran and professional housepainter, died in 2018, according to Fox News.
Authorities have linked five Bay Area murders in 1968 and 1969 to the so-called Zodiac, who came up with the name himself in a series of cryptic messages sent to newspapers. In those letters, the supposed killer claimed the death toll was higher.
The Code Breakers point to similarities in the forehead scar of the Zodiac sketch and the photo of Gary Poste, a deceased Air Force veteran they have called a "very strong suspect" in the unsolved Bay Area killings.
The Code Breakers put the number at "as many as 10 Californians" who were killed between 1962 and 1972.
Among those victims, the group accused Poste of a brutal murder in Riverside, Calif., in 1966 that they believe has special significance to closing the book on the Zodiac.
The Code Breakers claim that an alleged confession written by the Riverside killer shows remarkable similarities to a letter written by the Zodiac. They also said that Poste's full name is part of the code in one letter, Fox News reported.
Evidence from the Riverside killing should be compared to Poste's DNA that is held by the Vallejo Police Department, according to the Code Breakers. Vallejo is a location of interest in the Zodiac case, because the fatal shooting of a woman and wounding of a man there have been blamed on the Zodiac.
The Riverside Police Department, however, said to Fox News that it has determined that the 1966 killing of Cheri Jo Bates was not committed by the same murderer responsible for the Bay Area killings.
The case, which is still considered open by the FBI's San Francisco office, has spanned rampant theorizing with books, films and online groups attempting to solve the case and decipher the coded letters allegedly penned by the killer.
Last year, another group of sleuths claimed to have cracked the a well-known cipher written by the Zodiac that was sent to the San Francisco Chronicle.
"I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me," part of the message said, according to the Chronicle, "I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradise all the sooner because I now have enough slaves to work for me."