Is the identity of the Zodiac killer revealed?
The Zodiac killer was named Gary Francis Poste and left his name in code in one of his encrypted messages. This is what a group of private investigators in the USA claims. What is there to this sensational claim?
In the late sixties, a serial killer was on the loose in the San Francisco area: the Zodiac Killer. He killed at least five people and seriously injured two. Possible further victims could not be clearly assigned to him. The crimes of the Zodiac Killer were never solved.
For cryptologists, the case of the Zodiac Killer is interesting because the perpetrator sent a total of four encrypted messages to the press. At least two of them have been solved. The second solution was found only last year by Dave Oranchak, Jarl Van Eycke and Sam Blake.
Blog readers Ralf Bülow, Andreas Barchfeld and Thorsten Voß have thankfully pointed out to me that there is news about the Zodiac killer according to press reports. The identity of the killer is said to have been revealed, and cryptography is said to have played a role in this. These claims do not come from an amateur detective, but from a group of experts. It sounds like a sensation!
Gary Francis Poste
Behind the sensational report is a group calling itself “Case Breakers.” Its 40-plus members are retired U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officers, ex-prosecutors and journalists. The Case Breakers are dedicated to solving cold cases. Last Wednesday, they announced they had investigated the Zodiac Killer. The media coverage was enormous.
The Zodiac Killer, the Case Breakers were told, was named Gary Francis Poste and was professionally active in the U.S. Air Force. He died in 2018 at the age of 80.
The Case Breakers identified Gary Francis Poste as the alleged killer by comparing photos of him to composite sketches. In each case, characteristic scars are allegedly visible on the forehead. In addition, the plaintext of the second encrypted message allegedly contains an anagram that points to Poste. An anagram is created by changing the order of letters in a word or part of a sentence.
What’s the story?
Supposedly sensational reports about the Zodiac killer were and are a dime a dozen. The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, which also reports on the new hypothesis, receives corresponding tips on a near-daily basis.
Is there more to it this time? I fear not.
The San Francisco police have already waved off the new evidence. In general, I find it hard to believe that a sketch is enough to clearly identify someone.
I also find it suspicious that the Case Breakers have already solved two other spectacular criminal cases, but have hardly been heard. These are, first, the airplane hijacking with ransom extortion by a man called Dan Cooper in the press. This crime is one of the best-known unsolved cases in U.S. criminal history and has also played a role on Cipherbrain. The solution presented by the Case Breakers has never been widely accepted.
The second mystery, which the Case Breakers have long claimed to have solved, is the disappearance of U.S. labor leader James Hoffa in 1975 – arguably the most famous missing persons case in the United States. However, the Case Breakers’ view did not prevail in this case either.
To say more, one would have to take a closer look at the anagram in question. So far, however, I have not found a description anywhere. Does any reader perhaps know more.
In several articles about the Case Breakers revelation, Dave Oranchak, one of the three solvers of the second Zodiac message as well as a reader of this blog, is quoted. Apparently, he too is skeptical. Correctly, he points out that one can “decode” quite a bit by anagramming any part of the text. So caution is advised.
All in all, I assume that the identity of the Zodiac killer is still unclear. So let’s wait for the next sensational revelation.
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Further reading: Die sieben bedeutendsten Zodiac-Killer-Trittbrettfahrer