When authorities announced the arrest of the infamous Golden State killer in April 2018, the news cycle accelerated. Almost everyone who had investigated or investigated the vexing matter over the years appeared to be on TV at the same time. Relatives of Joseph James DeAngelo’s victims sobbed and police detectives watched with grim satisfaction.
On Tuesday, a team of independent investigators calling themselves the Case Breakers announced that they had most likely identified the suspect in another infamous serial murder case: The Zodiac Killer.
Zodiac is one of the few cases even more notorious than the Golden State Killer – especially here in the Bay Area, a region gripped by rampant fear in 1969 and 1970 as Zodiac (aka Gary Francis Poste, if the Case Breakers are correct) sent taunting letters to cops and media.
This time around, the reaction could be described as moderate interest buried under waves of contempt.
On the popular The Zodiac Killer – Unsolved & Unforgotten bulletin board, some regulars admitted they were keeping an open mind, or even intrigued by some of Case Breakers’ findings. More responded as commentator Uncle Sporkums, who wrote, “Fill in the garbage. The most circumstantial evidence. They would have been laughed at this site if they had brought this here.
Another, who uses the nickname bobloblawslawblog, said: “Another likely downside is exposed. If (and when) it breaks down, these “case breakers” should be put out of the question. “
Mike Morford, who created a multi-part podcast called The Case of the Zodiac Killer, and then released a book with a full transcript of that audio production, tweeted almost immediately after the Case Breakers released their press release.
“Can’t believe on the same day they both identified the #ZodiacKiller and captured a #Bigfoot #Sasquatch live,” he wrote, adding a devastating tilt-laugh-cry emoji with a GIF of someone doing a wacky dance in a furry Bigfoot costume.
Jennifer Bucholtz, one of the 40 or so members of the Case Breakers team, said she expected a backlash. Still, she ended up X-ing on her Twitter window for the day Tuesday because of the amount of hate she was receiving.
“People don’t want to be proven wrong,” she told The Press Democrat on Wednesday. “I understand. They’ve tried a lot. But all we’re saying is, ‘Just wait until you get the rest of the information.’ “
It was Bucholtz, a Colorado private investigator and program developer for the US State Department, who launched this new campaign to unmask the zodiac killer after receiving an unannounced call from weekend anchor Dale Julin. -end to WJCL-22, a television channel. in Savannah, Georgia. Julin presented Bucholtz with the manuscript of his book on Gary Poste, an Air Force veteran and house painter who died in 2018 and may have lived in the Sierra region of California.
“I was skeptical,” she says. “But when I started reading I was like, ‘My God, he’s got the guy.'”
The rest of Case Breakers’ loosely affiliated team includes other private investigators, archivists, cyber investigators, DNA experts, document analysts, code crackers, handwriting experts, psychologists and more. a host of retired FBI agents, US police and lawyers.
“I maintain our work,” Bucholtz said. “It’s been over seven years and thousands and thousands of hours by these investigators. It’s not just couch potatoes watching a lot of real crime. And I’m not trying to disparage amateur researchers. But we have hundreds of years of expertise represented on the team.
One of the possible reasons amateur sleuths were so hostile to the Case Breakers announcement is that Gary Poste’s name is a new name in Zodiac canon. Attention was focused on Arthur Allen Leigh, who owned a mobile home in Sunset Trailer Park in Santa Rosa and who was brought to light in Robert Graysmith’s book “Zodiac”, which was adapted into a film by the same. name with Mark Ruffalo and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Ross Sullivan, Lawrence Kane, and even the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, have become the suspect animals of other zodiac obsessives. Post was not found on The Zodiac Killer – Unsolved & Unforgotten website. Bucholtz said it was because Julin “worked backwards,” as she put it, learning Post’s name in an interview before realizing that it matched some of the ciphers or coded messages that Zodiac sent to investigators.
But there’s another big reason why Bucholtz and his teammates aren’t hailed as crime-solving heroes. When DeAngelo was exposed as the Golden State Killer, dozens of law enforcement officials and prosecutors attended the press conference. The Case Breakers did not receive such approval.
“The Zodiac killer case remains open,” a representative of the FBI’s San Francisco office told The Press Democrat on Wednesday. “We have no new information to share at this time.”
“We cannot speak to potential suspects as this is still an open investigation,” the San Francisco Police Department said.
And at least one department was openly hostile to the Case Breakers’ findings. “Is there a chance that Poste killed Cheri Jo Bates?” No, ”Riverside cop Ryan Railsback told the San Francisco Chronicle. “If you read what they publish, that’s just circumstantial evidence. It’s not a lot.
Riverside PD hasn’t always been drawn into the Zodiac Killer saga. One of the big revelations of the Case Breakers is their claim that Cheri Jo Bates, a young woman killed in Riverside in 1966, was clearly a victim of the Zodiac.
Bucholtz takes the decisions of law enforcement agencies seriously. “I would not characterize a case as officially resolved until the investigating authority says so,” she noted.
In this case, it’s a patchwork of authorities that would include SFPD, Vallejo PD, Riverside PD, and the Napa County Sheriff’s Department. What Case Breakers is really trying to accomplish now, Bucholtz said, is to convince Riverside Police to share DNA evidence with some of their Northern California counterparts. She believes this will prove Gary Poste murdered at least six people in a cheeky rampage in the Psychedelic Age.
First, the cops will have to take the work of the Case Breakers seriously.
“One thing we’re working on is how do we get law enforcement in this country to start accepting outside help? Said Bucholtz. “We have a quarter of a million unsolved homicides in this country. Would you consider resorting to outside help? It’s a great thing to ask. But we hope some of this attention will help with that. Because a victim’s family doesn’t care who solves a case. They just want this to be resolved.
You can reach Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or [email protected] On Twitter @Skinny_Post.