Despite what you may have read today in the news, the Zodiac Killer has not been identified. That’s according to an expert on the infamous, still-unknown serial killer who murdered at least five people in northern California in the late-Sixties.
Earlier today, a team of cold case investigators announced, via press release, that a now-deceased man named Gary Francis Poste was the Zodiac Killer. Among the evidence: a furrowed brow on the sketch artist’s drawing that matches Poste’s forehead scarring; an allegation that one of the Zodiac’s mysterious ciphers could be unlocked using Poste’s full name; and claims that Poste perhaps killed a waitress named Cheri Jo Bates, an assumed-but-not-definite Zodiac victim.
The story was picked up by Fox News and spread quickly. Social media made jokes, noting that investigators had figured out who the Zodiac Killer was before they managed to track down Gabby Petito’s missing boyfriend (and person of interest in her death) Brian Laundrie. However, for Tom Voigt, operator of ZodiacKiller.com and author of Zodiac Killer: Just the Facts, the news of the ID itself was “completely bogus” and “hot garbage.”
Rolling Stone spoke to Voigt on Wednesday about the bombshell report and why, in his opinion, it’s “bullshit.”
You have been researching the Zodiac Killer for 25 years, what got you into the mystery?
My father was an investigative reporter in Southern California, 1960s. He was a reporter for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, which was the newspaper that the Black Dahlia Avenger wrote his letters to. That’s what I grew up hearing about and seeing, and all the craziness in Southern California at the time, and the Zodiac was part of that.
By now obviously you’ve seen the news about the Zodiac Killer’s identification. What’s your take on it?
Yeah, I’ve got about a million people on my website right now. It’s all bullshit, by the way, just to get that out of the way. This is hot garbage. I don’t know why it got any coverage at all. It was basically a press release.
Are you familiar with the Case Breakers?
First of all, the funny thing is, I’ve never heard of any of these people that are these so-called experts. I have been doing this for 25 years and I’ve never heard of any of them. So that there are some red flags right off the bat. And then the funny thing is, they’re matching up lines on foreheads. No witness ever described lines on Zodiac’s forehead. Those lines were simply added by the sketch artist to fill in the sketch. The amended sketch, which is supposed to look more like Zodiac, according to witnesses, doesn’t really even have any lines. So they got rid of them. So because the witnesses were like, “We’re not really happy with that sketch that we gave you a few days ago,” they got changed. The lines went away. No witness ever described that.
What about their claim that Poste’s name unlocks one of the Zodiac’s ciphers?
A lot of what they’re typing and talking about is nonsense. These people, what I’ve seen, they don’t really have any kind of a command of the basics of the Zodiac case. From what I’ve read, they’ve gotten their Zodiac information from the comments section at Facebook. They’d skip the main article and they went right to the comments and they think they know everything about this. Maybe they’ve saw the Fincher movie, but probably not. Or, they turned it off after the two-hour mark or so.
Why do you think Fox News picked up the story?
It was probably some overnight intern that didn’t read the press release carefully, didn’t realize it was just a publicity thing, and threw it in the news feed. And then other people thought, “Well, this must be legit, it’s on Fox News.” And so they started recycling. And it’s so funny because there’s not even one person who has had any trouble seeing through this for what it is.
I read on Reddit that this same group of investigators also looked into the D.B. Cooper case a while back.
They went all-in on that and it blew up in their face. [They accused Robert Rackstraw], but he’s a super-prominent suspect.
I know that your site has a list of suspects. Obviously there’s Arthur Lee Allen and Rick Marshall. Even the Wikipedia page has an extensive list of suspects. Was Poste ever on your radar in any way? Have you ever even heard of this guy?
I wouldn’t even call him a suspect. I don’t think he checks any boxes whatsoever. In fact, if he does have scars on his forehead, that’s a really fucking good reason to rule him out.
The heart of their argument is that Poste maybe killed this possible Zodiac victim Cheri Jo Bates. Do you think that Bates was killed by the Zodiac?
I do believe so. The original task force in November 1969, the Zodiac detectives and the Riverside Police, got together had a meeting and determined through sharing evidence that Zodiac was absolutely responsible for the murder. That’s what they determined, and that’s what I believe.
So let’s say hypothetically this team of investigators somehow tie Poste to the Bates murder. Does that eliminate Bates as a Zodiac victim? Or does it kind of open the door for him to maybe possibly be Zodiac?
It’s possible any of the victims that have been linked to Zodiac, that somebody else may have killed them and the copycats had taken responsibility. It’s a hypothetical question so I have a hard time with it. The [Gary Poste] case they’ve presented in public is probably one of the weakest I think I’ve ever seen against any so-called suspect. You know, I’ve had people honestly contact me thinking Clint Eastwood was Zodiac, L. Ron Hubbard was the Zodiac. People that thought that Bill Russell, the basketball player, seven foot tall, black guy. They were serious and they had a whole team. They had a whole laundry list of reasons why Bill Russell was the Zodiac. I would put Gary Poste down there with Bill Russell as being one of the worst suspects I’ve ever seen.
If you had to put your money on one suspect, who would it be?
Richard Gaikowski is my best bet. If I was if I was an employer looking to hire the Zodiac, he’d probably have the most impressive résumé in my eyes. But the reality is that Allen is the suspect you just can’t quit. I just can’t quit that “Big Al,” especially now I’m going over all these old emails and tips and leads going back 25 years. And some of the stuff that was that was said to me about about how it is just mind boggling. Yeah. If he wasn’t, if he wasn’t the Zodiac, he might be responsible for some other murders.
(This interview was edited for clarity and to protect the names of still-living people who haven’t been convicted of murder.)