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Zodiac Killer ‘revealed’ news – Gary F Poste ‘was obsessed with killing animals’, friend says, as FBI keeps case ‘open’

THE Zodiac Killer who terrorized the San Francisco area in the 1960s has finally been identified, a group of cold case investigators say, and was reportedly obsessed with killing animals.

Poste’s friend Will who spent two decades backpacking with Poste in Northern California said his violent streak was on full display during their trips as he killed animals “indiscriminately” and treated their carcasses in a manner he described as “chilling.”

Years later Will began to suspect that Poste could be the Zodiac after watching a true crime documentary on serial killers, TMZ said.

The Case Breakers, a team of specialists who have worked to crack a number of America’s most high-profile unsolved cases, claimed to have uncovered the Zodiac Killer’s identity on Wednesday.

The man they say is responsible for the string of five murders in 1968 and 1969 is Gary Francis Poste, who died in 2018.

They also claim to have linked Poste to a sixth killing hundreds of miles away that has never before been connected to the Zodiac.

Read our Zodiac Killer live blog for the very latest updates…

  • JOSEPH BEVILACQUA NAMED A SUSPECT

    A journalistic inquiry on a connection between the Zodiac and Monster of Florence cases named Joseph Bevilacqua as a suspect.

    Bevilacqua was born in New Jersey and had a career in the Army for 20 years before moving to Florence.

    The author of the inquiry, Francesco Amicone wrote an account of Bevilacqua’s reported partial admission to being responsible of the murders attributed to both killers in an unregistered conversation in 2017.

    But after the release of the first part of the inquiry, Bevilacqua denied his admission and threatened Amicone with a lawsuit.

  • WHO IS SUSPECT RICHARD KANE?

    Lawrence Kane was pinpointed as a suspect when Kathleen Johns – who claimed to have been abducted by the killer – picked him out of a photo lineup.

    Patrol officer Don Fouke, who possibly saw the killer following Stine’s murder, said Kane closely resembled the man he encountered.

    He also worked at the same hospital in Nevada as Donna Lass – a potential victim of the Zodiac.

    Kane was diagnosed with impulse-control disorder after suffering brain injuries in an accident in 1962. He died in 2010.

  • WHO IS SUSPECT RICHARD MARSHALL?

    Richard Marshall was accused of being the killer by police informants as they claimed he hinted at being the Zodiac.

    He lived in Riverside in 1966 and then San Francisco in 1969, close to the murder scenes of Cheri Jo Bates and Paul Stine.

    His fingerprints, however, did not match those collected from scenes or letters.

  • LINKED TO 28 MURDERS

    The Zodiac Killer is believed to be a California man who gave himself that nickname to conceal his identity from authorities.

    He is known to have targeted at least seven victims – three couples and a lone taxi driver. Two of them survived gun and knife ambushes.

    The same killer has been linked to as many as 28 murders — claiming to have killed 37 people in taunting letters sent to newspapers and police.

  • HOW DID THE ZODIAC KILLER NAME COME TO BE?

    The killer earned his nickname by signing his fourth letter to the press with “Zodiac” on August 7, 1969.

    In it, he wrote: “Dear Editor This is the Zodiac speaking.” 

    He also signed his letters with a circle and a cross over it, resembling a target or a coordinate symbol.

  • CRIMINAL HISTORY PART 4

    Court documents claim that, had he stood trial, Poste would have faced up to 16 years in prison for the most serious offense on the indictment. 

    But later orders in the case reveal he was found mentally incompetent.

    After spending time in Tuolumne County jail he was referred to the California State Hospital in Napa. 

    Then in 2017, he appears to have been placed under the custody of a probate conservator.

    Before passing away on August 23, 2018, Poste had been staying at a live-in facility in Stockton, according to the documents.

  • CRIMINAL HISTORY PART 3

    Mary was 74 at the time of the attack, according to the court documents. 

    A neighbor told The Sun on Wednesday that he had heard Poste pushed his wife down the stairs.

    Brian Pladsen, 68, said: “I was gone in Belize when I guess he pushed her (Mary) down the stairs or something.

    “That’s what I heard but I’m not really positive what went on.

    “I’m pretty sure he spent time in jail for that.”

  • CRIMINAL HISTORY PART 2

    A criminal complaint filed at the Superior Court in Tuolumne County and obtained by The Sun states that Poste “did wilfully and unlawfully inflict a corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon Mary Poste, who is the spouse of the defendant.”

    The complaint further alleges that Poste “did, under circumstances and conditions likely to produce great bodily harm and death, knowingly and wilfully cause and permit Mary Poste, an elder and dependant adult, to suffer, and inflicted thereon, unjustifiable physical pain”.”

    It adds that “having the care and custody of said victim, (he) wilfully caused and permitted Mary Poste to be placed in a situation in which her health was endangered” and that she suffered “great bodily injury.”

  • CRIMINAL HISTORY

    Court records show that the suspected murderer pushed his wife Mary down the stairs of their Groveland home in California back in February 2016.

    He was later found mentally incompetent to stand trial and was referred to a California state hospital before apparently being placed under a mental health conservatorship. 

    Sheriff deputies were alerted on February 22, 2016, from the address next door to the elderly couple’s home that someone was “hurt, fell and wants an officer.”

    Poste was arrested and then charged two days later with one count of corporal injury to a spouse and another of elder or dependent adult abuse over the domestic violence incident.

  • WHO IS LAWRENCE KANE?

    Lawrence Kane was pinpointed as a suspect when Kathleen Johns – who claimed to have been abducted by the killer – picked him out of a photo line up.

    Patrol officer Don Fouke, who possibly saw the killer following Stine’s murder, said Kane closely resembled the man he encountered.

    He also worked at the same hospital in Nevada as Donna Lass – a potential victim of the Zodiac.

    Kane was diagnosed with impulse-control disorder after suffering brain injuries in an accident in 1962. He died in 2010.

  • WHO IS RICHARD MARSHALL?

    Richard Marshall was accused of being the killer by police informants as they claimed he hinted at being the Zodiac.

    He lived in Riverside in 1966 and then San Francisco in 1969, close to the murder scenes of Cheri Jo Bates and Paul Stine.

    His fingerprints, however, did not match those collected from scenes or letters.

  • WHO IS ROSS SULLIVAN?

    Ross Sullivan emerged as a suspect through a possible link between the Zodiac and the murder of Cheri Jo Bates in Riverside.

    He was a library assistant at Riverside City College and coworkers were suspicious when he disappeared for several days after the killing, especially as he resembled sketches of the murderer.

    Sullivan moved to Santa Cruz in 1968 and was hospitalized several times for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, before dying in 1977 at the age of 36.

  • WHO IS ARTHUR LEIGH ALLEN?

    One of the most convincing names to emerge was an alleged pedophile named Arthur Leigh Allen.

    He had been discharged without honor from the US Navy and was fired as a primary school teacher after allegations of sexual misconduct.

    Allen was first interviewed as a suspect in 1969 after he was seen near the scene of one attack.

    He came to police attention again in 1971 when his friend told officers he had spoken of his desire to kill people and used the name Zodiac.

    San Francisco police searched his home the following year but found no evidence linking him to the murders.

  • 340 CIPHER PART 2

    The Chronicle credited a group of citizen coding experts who submitted their findings to the FBI.

    “Last weekend, a team I’m on solved the 340 and submitted it to the FBI,” coding expert David Oranchak said. “They have confirmed the solution. No joke! This is the real deal.”

    The FBI acknowledged the achievement in a statement, writing: “The FBI is aware that a cipher attributed to the Zodiac killer was recently solved by private citizens.

    “The Zodiac Killer remains an ongoing investigation for the FBI San Francisco Division and our local law enforcement partners.”

  • 340 CIPHER CRACKED

    The case was revived in December 2020 when the San Francisco Chronicle revealed it had solved the 340 cipher it received back in November 1969.

    “I am not afraid of the gas chamber,” the killer wrote, according to a Chronicle journalist, noting the serial killer gave no name when he penned it a whopping 51 years ago.

    The coded letter – full of letters, numbers and symbols – read: “I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me.

    “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.”

  • DECIPHERED MESSAGE CONTINUED

    “ALL THE SOONER BECAUSE I NOW HAVE ENOUGH SLAVES TO WORK FOR ME WHERE EVERYONE ELSE HAS NOTHING WHEN THEY REACH PARADICE SO THEY ARE AFRAID OF DEATH I AM NOT AFRAID BECAUSE I KNOW THAT MY NEW LIFE IS LIFE WILL BE AN EASY ONE IN PARADICE DEATH,” the killer said.

    It is unknown what television show the Zodiac was alluding to. 

    In a statement to NBC from FBI headquarters, the bureau said its own Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit (CRRU) acknowledged and confirmed the code breakers’ work.

  • PREVIOUS MESSAGE DECHIPHERED

    The Zodiac Killer’s case was inactive since 2004 but the San Francisco Police Department reopened it in March of 2007.

    Australian software engineer Sam Blake, American cryptographer David Oranchak and Belgian software engineer Jarl Van said they finally got the symbols, numbers and letters to decipher a message left by the Zodiac. 

    The message read: “I HOPE YOU ARE HAVING LOTS OF FUN IN TRYING TO CATCH ME THAT WASNT ME ON THE TV SHOW WHICH BRINGS UP A POINT ABOUT ME I AM NOT AFRAID OF THE GAS CHAMBER BECAUSE IT WILL SEND ME TO PARADICE.

  • POSTE’S CAUSE OF DEATH

    The certificate says that Poste died from a combination of dysphagia, vascular dementia, septic shock and sepsis.

    It’s not clear what caused the dysphagia (an inability to swallow), or the extremely low blood pressure from the septic shock.

    However, TMZ reports that Poste suffered from a host of health issues including atrial fibrillation, hypothyroidism, hypertension and osteoporosis.

  • WHEN DID GARY POSTE DIE?

    Gary Francis Poste was 80 years old when he died in 2018.

    He was alive for 50 years after his murder spree, and never caught or charged before his death.

    Soon after the Zodiac’s identity was reported, TMZ was able to obtain his death certificate.

  • WHO SURVIVED THE ZODIAC KILLER?

    Ferrin and Mageau were both attacked while sitting in Ferrin’s car at the Blue Rock Springs Golf Club in Vallejo, California.

    While Ferrin died, Mageau became the Zodiac’s first survivor.

    Much like Ferrin and Mageau, Shepard and Hartnell were also on a date and were having a picnic at Lake Berryessa in Napa County when they were approached by a man wearing a hood that had a symbol of two intersecting lines in a circle.

    After threatening the pair with a gun, he then tied them up, then stabbed them.

    Despite being alive when help arrived on the scene, Shepard passed away while Hartnell recovered, becoming the Zodiac’s second survivor.

  • POSSIBLE VICTIMS

    Some of his other possible victims include:

    • Ray Davis, 27, was shot twice from behind in his own cab
    • Cheri Jo Bates, 18, was beaten and stabbed multiple times with a short-bladed knife
  • WHO ARE THE ZODIAC KILLER’S VICTIMS?

    The Zodiac Killer claimed to have killed 37 people during his five year span but investigators were only able to link him conclusively to seven victims, five who died and two who survived.

    The Zodiac Killer’s victims include:

    • Paul Stine, 30, was shot once in the head at point-blank range
    • Cecelia Shepard, 22, was stabbed 10 times, five in the front and five in the back
    • Bryan Hartnell, 20, was stabbed six times in the back
    • Darlene Ferrin, 22, was shot five times
    • Mike Mageau, 19, was shot four times
    • David Faraday, 17, was shot once in the head at point-blank range
    • Betty Lou Jensen, 16, was shot five times in the back
  • SIXTH KILLING PART 2

    That theory was quashed in 2016 when investigators received an anonymous note from someone who claimed they’d written the earlier note as a “sick joke.”

    However, the Case Breakers have maintained that the Zodiac did kill Bates and claim investigators have blocked them from comparing her DNA to Poste’s.

  • SIXTH KILLING

    The Case Breakers have asserted that the Zodiac is also responsible for a sixth killing in Riverside, California, on October 31, 1966.

    Cheri Jo Bates was 18 years old when she was found dead in an alley on the Riverside City College campus.

    In 1967, police received a handwritten letter which later led them to believe Bates’ killing may have been committed by the Zodiac.

  • VICTIMS

    Authorities believe the Zodiac claimed his first two victims on December 20, 1968, when 17-year-old David Arthur Faraday and 16-year-old Betty Lou Jensen were shot and killed in Benicia.

    The second two victims – Michael Renault Mageau, 19; and Darlene Elizabeth Ferrin, 22 – were found shot in a parking lot in Vallejo on July 4, 1969. Ferrin was killed and Mageau survived.

    Nearly three months later, 20-year-old Bryan Calvin Harnell and 22-year-old Cecelia Ann Shepard were found stabbed at Lake Berryessa in Napa County on September 27, 1969. Shepard was killed and Hartnell survived.

    Taxi driver Paul Lee Stine, 29, was shot and killed in his car in San Francisco’s Presidio Heights neighborhood on October 11, 1969.



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