Who Is The Zodiac Killer? Full Suspect List After Gary Poste's 'Identity Revealed'

A team of specialists led by former FBI agents has claimed to have identified the "Zodiac Killer," a serial killer who was behind a series of "seemingly random brutal murders" in California's San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s.

In a statement on October 6, The Case Breakers team alleged the Zodiac Killer is linked to the death of Cheri Jo Bates, a teenager killed in Riverside, California, in 1966.

The Case Breakers stated that according to an FBI memorandum from 1975, a "victim known to be Zodiac's was a co-ed murdered in Riverside, California, in 1966."

The 1975 memorandum said: "Zodiac acknowledged that he had indeed been responsible for the Riverside slaying" in a letter sent in March 1971.

The Case Breakers said forensic experts now believe Garry F. Poste is "a very strong suspect" following a statewide examination that recovered new evidence.

But, they said, the RPD has "refused to allow a simple comparison of her [Bates'] computer-coded DNA to the sequence of Garry F. Poste." Poste's DNA is being stored at Vallejo Police Department (VPD).

On September 29, however, Riverside Police Department (RPD) stated it is "100 percent sure" Bates was killed by someone other than the Zodiac.

RPD Public Information Officer Ryan J. Railsback told Newsweek: "Their [the Case Breakers] claims regarding our department and our open 55-year-old murder investigation of Cheri Jo Bates are without merit. The Cheri Jo Bates investigation is not related to any of the Zodiac cases.

"Our investigators have worked with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies on our case and we will continue to do everything possible to bring her killer the justice," Railsback said.

Brittany K. Jackson, VPD Public Information Officer, told Newsweek: "This matter remains under investigation, and we are unable to confirm or deny the validity of those reports [that of the Case Breakers team] at this time."

Who Are the Zodiac Killer Suspects?

Over the years, several claims have been made about the identity of the Zodiac Killer, leading to dozens of possible suspects based on speculation and circumstantial evidence.

According to the FBI: "The self-proclaimed 'Zodiac Killer' sent local newspapers a three-part coded message explaining his motive for the killings in 1969 and in a separate letter to the editor suggested his identity was buried within an elaborate cipher message."

Below are some of the high profile suspects, including some highlighted by Zodiackiller.com, a website devoted to obtaining and archiving all available materials related to the Zodiac Killer case, which has been cited by various media outlets.

Gary Poste

The Case Breakers said they recovered "new physical and forensic evidence" and obtained further witness accounts and other information linking Poste (who died in 2018) to the Zodiac Killer, as well as decades of pictures from Poste's former darkroom.

"That includes photographic proof, as a former FBI agent put it, of 'irrefutable' scars on our Zodiac's forehead," according to the Case Breakers' statement.

See the Case Breakers website for more information about their latest evidence relating to Poste.

Arthur Leigh Allen

Arthur Leigh Allen was reportedly the only suspect who was served a search warrant.

According to Zodiackiller.com, Allen was first linked to the Zodiac Killer on October 30, 1966, the day that Bates was killed. He was alleged to have been in Riverside the weekend Bates was murdered.

Back in November 1966, two anonymous, typewritten Bates-murder confession letters were sent to the local police and newspaper. The typewriter used for the letters was identified as being a Royal model, with either Elite or Pica type.

Following a 1991 search warrant, VPD obtained a Royal typewriter with Elite type from Allen's home, according to Zodiackiller.com.

Allen died in August 1992 after suffering from diabetes and heart problems, according to the website.

Handwritten notes from the "Zodiac Killer."
Handwritten notes from the "Zodiac Killer" saying he had murdered seven people. Bettmann via Getty Images

Richard Gaikowski

According to Zodiackiller.com, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Gaikowski wrote for Good Times, an anti-police and pro-violence counterculture newspaper in San Francisco.

Among the evidence linking him to the Zodiac Killer were the words and phrases from the Zodiac Killer's uncovered ciphers.

For articles published in 1969, Gaikowski reportedly shortened his last name to four letters, such as "Gike" or "Gaik." In the same year, the Zodiac Killer sent a separate letter to three newspapers, each containing one-third of a cipher.

The phrase "GYKE" was seen in the Zodiac Killer's three-part cipher mailed on July 31, 1969 and the Zodiac Killer's cipher phonetically outlined Gaikowski's full last name.

He died of cancer in April 2004.

Richard Marshall

Marshall briefly lived in Riverside, California in the mid-1960s before he settled in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to Zodiackiller.com.

Marshall reportedly liked old movies, such as The Red Phantom, which was also cited in a Zodiac letter, and owned a typewriter and a teletype similar to one the Zodiac Killer used. They both also liked felt-tip pens and odd-sized paper, according to History.

He was later interviewed by detective Ken Narlow but denied being the Zodiac Killer.

Marshall died in September 2008, according to the website.

Lawrence Kane

Kane, who had a lengthy criminal record going back to the 1940s, was 45 years old in 1969, during the height of the Zodiac Killer's activity.

Kane's name was alleged to be embedded in one of the Zodiac Killer's ciphers, according to a retired police detective investigating the case in the 1980s, according to the History website.

He died in May 2010 in Reno, Nevada.

Has the Case Been Solved?

The FBI's San Francisco division told Newsweek: "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."

In a statement tweeted in December 2020, the FBI said the federal body was aware that a cipher attributed to the Zodiac Killer had been recently solved by private citizens.

Back in 2007, the FBI said: "The unsolved nature of the murders and the Zodiac Killer's elaborate methods of communicating with the public and his pursuers still captures the imaginations of screenwriters, authors, true-crime buffs, forensic scientists, and, of course, law enforcement."

How Many People Did the Zodiac Killer Murder?

In 2007, the FBI said the Zodiac Killer was behind the deaths of five people in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1968 and 1969. The aforementioned 1975 FBI memorandum reportedly noted Bates as Zodiac's sixth victim.

According to the latest statement by the Case Breakers, the Zodiac Killer "shot, stabbed or choked to death" as many as 10 Californians between 1962 and 1970.

Newsweek has contacted the Case Breakers for further comment.

Update 10/13/21, 2:47 a.m. ET: This article was updated with comment from the FBI, the Riverside Police Department and the Vallejo Police Department.

The FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The FBI headquarters building seen in July 2016 in Washington, D.C. The FBI's San Francisco division has said the Zodiac Killer case remains open. Getty Images