The Mystery of the Zodiac Killings in the 1960s


Loor Elbedour

On December 20th of 1968, the Zodiac killer took his first life marking the beginning of an era of murder and mystery. The Zodiac killer terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area from 1968 through the 1970’s. His first attack took place in what was known as a ‘lovers lane,’ which was a remote area in northern San Francisco where couples would have intimate relations in their cars. On their first date, David Arthur Faraday, 17, and Betty Lou Jensen, 16, were shot to death in an effort to escape their car.

The name Zodiac comes from ciphers that the killer would send to newspapers to taunt police, gain attention from the public, and take credit for murders that would occur. The Zodiac would send letters marked with a crosshair symbol and threaten publishers that if they didn’t publish his letters then “they would be next”.

The case of the Zodiac Killer has remained unsolved for over a decade. A Cold Case Breaking Team of former cops, forensic analysts, and retired military have been working on finding the Zodiac Killer for 10 years. They are believed to have cracked the case linking Gary Francis Poste, a former air force veteran turned painter, to the Zodiac killer.

Poste was revealed as the “ringleader” of a “posse” that he trained to become “killing machines”. According to the New York Post, Poste would recruit men in their early teens and late twenties to form his own criminal gang in a mountain town close to Yosemite.

In a sketch of the Zodiac formulated by the police department, there proves to be physical similarities between Poste and the Zodiac. There were forehead scars identical to the ones found on Poste’s forehead. The article, “‘Zodiac Killer’ Gary Francis Poste led posse of ‘thrill kill’ assassins” by Dana Kennedy, recounts a testimony of Will, a former member of Poste’s posse. Will fled Groveland in 2010 after seeing a side-by-side sketch of the Zodiac killer and Poste. He said when confronting Poste, he admitted to Will that he was the Zodiac killer.

However, many suspects have been linked to the Zodiac killer until his abrupt disappearance in 1974. In 1990, a prime suspect in the case was Arthur Leigh Allen, a schoolteacher who had been institutionalized in 1975 for child molestation. Robert Graysmith, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter, was convinced that Allen was the most likely suspect . He wrote a book in 2002 called “Zodiac Unmasked ” unpacking all the evidence pertaining to the case and how it points to Allen.

The Zodiac killer has been linked to at least 37 murders during the 1960’s. However, there is not enough conclusive evidence to sustain the identity of any suspect in the case. The case of the Zodiac Killer remains a mystery with the identity and motive of the Zodiac still being unknown.