How Gary Poste’s neighbors feared he was the Zodiac Killer because gruesome murders stopped when he moved
RUMORS swirled about Gary Poste potentially being the notorious 'Zodiac Killer' years before he was apparently unmasked by a cold case task force.
Neighbors feared the married painter may be responsible for the gruesome murders after the killings apparently stopped when he moved.
A team of cold-case investigators claimed to have unmasked the Zodiac Killer’s identity on Wednesday.
They allege that painter Gary Francis Poste, who died in 2018, is responsible for a string of five murders in the San Francisco area between 1968 and 1969.
But, cops in San Francisco and FBI agents say the case is still open.
The FBI confirmed that they have “no new information to add” as the probe remains ongoing.
Poste’s neighbor Brian Pladsen, 68 told The Sun: “I’ve heard the rumors that Gary was revealed to be the Zodiac killer. He was a great neighbor, I knew him for 20 years or so.”
The neighbor said that rumors had circulated in the area for a while before Poste died.
He said: “It was kind of a coincidence all that stuff happened to stop when he moved here, that’s what I understand.”
Pladsen said "shy" Poste would talk about football as he was a New York Giants fan
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He said: “We would talk because we were neighbors and we would always be out in the yard.”
The 68-year-old said that Poste would take one of his neighbor's backpacking when they were kids.
He said: “I just know Gary liked his mountains and he liked to go backpacking and go up in the middle of nowhere.”
The so-called 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.
'HE LIKED BACKPACKING'
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.
The letters included complex ciphers – some of which haven't been officially solved to this day.
The case was deemed inactive in 2004 but the San Francisco Police Department reopened it in March of 2007.
Over the years, many independent sleuths have claimed to have decoded the Zodiac's true identity.
The Case Breakers crew is comprised of more than 40 former law enforcement investigators, journalists, and military intelligence officers.
The team said they discovered Poste's identity after years of digging through new forensic evidence and his darkroom.
One image uncovered from the darkroom purportedly featured scars on Poste's forehead which match a sketch of the Zodiac.
The team alleges the Zodiac's ciphers also point to Poste.
In one note, removing the letters of Poste's full name revealed an alternate message, according to former Army counterintelligence agent Jen Bucholtz.
"So you've got to know Gary's full name in order to decipher these anagrams," Bucholtz told Fox News.
"I just don't think there's any other way anybody would have figured it out."
'SPATE OF KILLINGS'
The killer earned his nickname by signing his fourth letter to the press with "Zodiac" on August 7, 1969.
He also signed his letters with a circle and a cross over it, resembling a target or a coordinate symbol.
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.
The Case Breakers claim 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.
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.
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