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FBI Dismisses Group’s Claim They Solved The Zodiac Killer Case As Police Deny Link To Additional Victim

While the Case Breakers claimed this week that they believe that the Zodiac Killer had another victim, Cheri Jo Bates, Riverside police spokesperson Ryan J. Railsback said that police have ruled out any connection.

By Gina Tron
Zodiac Killer G

The FBI is dismissing an independent group’s claim that they solved the Zodiac Killer case this week.

The Case Breakers, a team made up of more than 40 private investigators, forensic experts, FBI agents and detectives, boldly claimed this week that they have identified the elusive serial killer as Gary Francis Poste, who died in 2018.

The FBI seems unmoved by this assertion.

"The case remains open and there is no new information to report," an FBI spokesperson told NBC News. The bureau did not immediately respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment.

The Zodiac Killer has been linked to five brutal murders between 1968 and 1969 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Case Breakers claimed this week that they are certain he is also responsible for a sixth: Cheri Jo Bates, who was murdered on Halloween of 1966 in Riverside, California, which is located more than 400 miles away from the Bay Area. They cited a 1975 FBI memorandum in which an agent refers to Bates as a victim of the serial killer. Additionally, the memo notes that the Zodiac confessed to the slaying in a 1971 letter.

Riverside police spokesperson Ryan J. Railsback told Oxygen.com by phone on Thursday that the department has ruled out any connection between the murder of Bates and the notorious serial killer.

“The primary and only connection to the Zodiac case came when police officers received a handwritten letter which was very similar to those written by the Zodiac killer,” he said. “In 2016, we received another anonymous letter to our department and that gentleman basically stated he was the one who sent the letter. He said he is not the Zodiac killer, that he did it as a sick joke and that he was a troubled teen.”

Railsback said the department’s homicide unit didn’t just take the letter writer’s word for it. He said that Riverside police worked with the FBI’s genealogy team to determine that the 2016 letter writer also authored the decades-old letter. In 2020, investigators contacted the letter writer and confirmed his story — that he was just a troubled teen and not the actual Zodiac Killer; he’s also not a suspect in the murder of Bates. The Riverside police put out a press release in August announcing that the Zodiac connection was a hoax and that there is a new $50k private reward attached to the case.

Railsback added that, despite media reports that they have refused to discuss with the Case Breakers, Riverside police have not been contacted by anyone who identified as being with the independent group.

“We truly hope that their claims are correct as far as who the Zodiac killer is,” Railsback told Oxygen.com. “We hope that info is turned over to the law enforcement agencies investigating that case and they can confirm that case and get some closure for these families. We’d love the same thing in our Cheri Jo Bates case.”

The Zodiac Killer was infamous for taunting the public and the media about his crimes through coded messages and ciphers. The Case Breakers believe that some of these letters have revealed Poste as the killer. Jen Bucholtz, a former Army counterintelligence agent who has been working on the case for them, claimed this week that after removing the letter of Poste's name from one cipher, an alternate message was revealed.

Because of the high-profile nature of the Zodiac Killer case, as well as the complexity of the ciphers he or she sent out, the killer’s identity continues to be a source of wonder. In June, French engineer Fayçal Ziraoui claimed he cracked the remaining unsolved Zodiac ciphers and unveiled the killer’s identity as Lawrence Kaye, a salesman and career criminal who lived in South Lake Tahoe. He died in 2010 and was never officially named a suspect.

The Case Breakers have not responded to Oxygen.com's request for comment.