May 20, 2023 I Paul Seaburn

New DNA Breakthrough in the Zodiac Killer Case and a Possible FBI Cover-Up

In the late 1960s, young people in California were terrorized by a serial killer who called himself the Zodiac in letters to newspapers where he bragged about killing young couples out on dates and warned of many more. As the number of killings rose, the letters included four mysterious ciphers which were so difficult to crack, two remain unsolved and one was not solved until 2020 by amateur codebreakers. News of the Zodiac killer captured the nation via newspapers, magazines and broadcast TV in the days long before cable television and the Internet made it easy. Because of the taunting letters and ciphers, the manhunt was intense during the time of the killings between December 1968 and October 1969, and investigations by various police departments, the FBI and amateurs continued long after the killer stopped sending letters in 1974. Yet over 50 years later, the killer has never been found and only one suspect was publicly named by authorities - Arthur Leigh Allen, a former elementary school teacher and convicted sex offender who died in 1992.

An early Zodiac Killer wanted poster

However, a team of over 40 detectives, journalists and military intelligence officers calling themselves the Case Breakers issued a report in 2021 identified one Gary F. Poste as the Zodiac Killer and provided photos, proof of matching scars identified by witnesses who survived, and other evidence. At the time, neither the FBI nor the San Francisco police would confirm the Case Breakers’ announcement. Now they may be forced to – the organization announced that DNA was found on what is described as a “a 30-year hiking mat” once owned by Gary F. Poste. Even bigger and more damning was the announcement that a whistleblower revealed that Poste had been secretly listed as the Zodiac “suspect” in FBI computer files since 2016 and his “partial DNA” has been kept hidden at the feds’ Quantico, Virginia, lab. Have the Case Breakers broken the case … and exposed an FBI cover-up at the same time?

“Based on the consistency and similarities, is there a strong chance they’re siblings?” “Yes. At random, you would not expect this many [alleles] in common. You’re expecting from siblings or brothers about 50%, and we’re seeing at least that.”

In a detailed 20-page press release, the Case Breakers reveal all of the evidence they have found pinning the Zodiac killings to the late Gary F. Poste (he died in 2018), starting with their DNA evidence. They started with the 30-year hiking mat which was confirmed to have been once owned by Poste. The Case Breakers then located the town where Poste was born and located at least one blood relative who was willing to provide a DNA sample. As described in the quote above, Case Breaker and University of Maryland Team CSI Chief Tom Mauriello (also a  former DOD Police Chief and Crime Scene Coordinator) gave the DNA samples to Towson University Dir. Kelly Elkins for testing, and Elkins confirmed that there was a high probability that the person who owned the mat was a close relative and quite probably Gary Poste. The Case Breakers will now attempt to compare the mat’s DNA with the mystery hairs found in the clenched hand of 1966 murder victim Cheri Jo Bates – who was not one of the original set of victims but was later suspected to be one of the 49 possible murders linked to the Zodiac killer.

“Heroes Emerge (2014-16): Neighbors and supporters in the one-street town of Groveland quietly approached authorities with the goods on Poste – revealing his dual identity, DNA, photos, cryptic writings and a secret escape map. But the FBI, SFPD & Riverside PD chose instead to whitewash the citizens’ efforts and downplay their credibility in the media. The feds also seized a briefcase with all their evidence.”

Next, the Case Breakers press release lists a timeline of events beginning with the revelation that the FBI, San Francisco PD and Riverside PD all knew about this DNA evidence back in 2014 – along with other strong evidence like photos, cryptic writings and maps provided to them by friends and neighbors who suspected that Gary Poste was the Zodiac Killer. Case Breakers now says that the FBI and the police departments chose to cover up this evidence based on the testimony of an anonymous whistleblower who was told about the DNA evidence by Tom Colbert, the head of the Case Breakers. Colbert revealed to the whistleblower that the evidence was given to the FBI and the others by Poste’s neighbors – it was not found by an investigation. When the whistleblower went undercover and checked with his own sources in the FBI, they told him Poste had been considered a suspect since at least 2016 but the evidence was suppressed. Why?

“Like cops, federal agents are dealing with huge caseloads, constant training, odd rules and bureaucracy. But when someone wearing a badge or uniform works with others to avoid or hide materials, sidestep difficult procedures, or lie about evidence, they’re hurting our volunteers and the thousands of families waiting for answers.”

It appears the cover-up may have been due to the fact that the DNA evidence was given to the FBI and the police and it would be embarrassing to admit that all of their years of investigations never found it first. Now we have an anonymous team member who located Poste’s blood relatives, obtained DNA samples and – after consulting with specialists from 4 other universities and 2 private labs – determined a likely match. The press release states that these results will be shared with the Riverside PD for analysis and comparison to victim Bates’ hairs.

One of the Zodiac killer's ciphers

Is this a ‘drop the mic’ moment in the investigation of the Zodiac killings? What does the FBI say about it?

"The FBI's investigation into the Zodiac Killer remains open and unsolved. Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, and out of respect for the victims and their families, we will not be providing further comment at this time."

That statement was given to Newsweek by a spokesperson for the FBI's San Francisco office. Case Breakers thinks this and other actions by the FBI, the San Francisco Police Department and Riverside Police Department "warrant a serious review." Will that ever happen? We’ll keep an eye on the case for updates as kudos go to the Case Breakers for their dogged pursuit of the truth about the Zodiac killer.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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