Several news stations in upstate New York have received letters from someone claiming to be the ‘Chinese Zodiac Killer’ – an homage to the infamous 1960s California serial killer.
The FBI field office in Albany has asked local media outlets to keep an eye out for any such letters and to not open them in order to preserve DNA evidence.
News of the letters was first reported Thursday by the Albany Times Union, which did not receive one.
It is unclear what the letters say or which outlets got one.
The real Zodiac Killer murdered at least five victims in the San Francisco Bay Area between December 1968 and October 1969. He was known to taunt media outlets with coded letters, threatening bombings and killings if they weren’t published.
The identity of the 1960s California serial killer has never been confirmed, according to the FBI.
But a group of former law enforcement officers claimed to have identified the serial killer as Gary Francis Poste, who died in 2018, in October this year.
The Zodiac Killer’s notorious ‘340 Cipher’ (pictured), which was sent to the San Francisco Chronicle 51 years ago, was cracked by an international code-breaking team last year
The FBI says the newest batch of letters poses no threat to the community.
In August 1973, the Times Union got a letter from someone claiming to be the real Zodiac Killer after the paper ran a story on him.
It read: ‘YOU Were WRONG I AM NOT DEAD OR IN THE HOSPITAL I AM ALIVE AND WELL AND IM GOING TO START KILLING AGAIN Below is the NAME AND LOCATION OF MY NEXT VICTIM But you had Better hurry because I’m going to kill her August 10th at 5 P.M. when the shifts change. ALBANY is A nice Town.’
One of the Zodiac Killer’s victims, Elizabeth Ferrin, previously lived in Albany with her husband, who worked at the Times Union, according to the newspaper.
The 1960s serial killer has five known victims, but he’s claimed to have killed as many as 30 people. He called himself ‘Zodiac’ in his fourth letter to the press on August 7, 1969, according to The Sun.
The mystery of his identity has led to amateur sleuths trying their hand at the case for decades.
In October, The Case Breakers – a group of about 40 independent investigators – identified Gary Francis Poste, who died in 2018, as the alleged serial killer.
The group announced that Poste had given away weapons and bullets before his death, which could finally lead to the true identity of the killer.
Betti Lou Jensen (left), David Faraday (center), and Darlene Ferrin (right) are said to be three of the Zodiac killer’s victims
The FBI and Riverside Police Department say that the Zodiac Killer (sketch) case remains open, despite veteran sleuths claiming to have identified the killer as Gary Francis Poste (left)
‘When The Case Breakers approached officials about a new Zodiac suspect last spring, five police and state agencies would not cooperate,’ the group said in a statement last month.
Full text of ‘340 Cipher’
‘I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me.
That wasn’t me on the TV show, which brings up a point about me.
I’m not afraid of the gas chamber.
Because it will send me to paradise all the sooner, because i now have enough slaves to work for me.
Where everyone else has nothing when they reach paradise so they are afraid of death.
I am not afraid because I know that my new life will be an easy one in paradise.’
‘But last week, the man who runs the 10-year cold case team, Thomas J. Colbert, received a tip from his long-time sources in the remote town of deceased Gary Francis Poste: They had verified the existence of an evidentiary goldmine.’
The statement revealed that Poste had given away his weapons and bullets, with most of them still remaining untouched and hidden away.
‘Old associates of the housepainter/alleged serial killer claim that, a few years prior to Poste’s 2018 death at 80, he had quietly given away his weapons, pistol parts, gunpowder, bullets and shell casings – more than a thousand, involving 25 different calibers – to his favorite locals,’ they added.
‘And most of these peculiar “gifts” have remained in basements and closets, untouched, ever since.’
The FBI and Riverside Police Department have said that Poste is not the killer and that the case is still open.
In 2020, a ciphered letter mailed to a San Francisco newspaper by the Zodiac killer in 1969 was cracked by a team of amateur code-breakers from the United States, Australia and Belgium.
According to code-breaking expert David Oranchak, the cipher’s text reads: ‘I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me. … I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradise all the sooner because I now have enough slaves to work for me.’
THE ZODIAC KILLER’S VICTIMS
Although the Zodiac Killer claimed to have killed as many as 37 people in his letters to local newspapers, police have only linked five murders – and two other injuries – to him.
On December 20, 1968, David Arthur Faraday, 17, and Betty Lou Jensen, 16, were on their first date when they pulled over into a lovers’ lane on Lake Herman Road in Benicia. There, they were forced from the car by a killer and Faraday was shot in the head. Jensen began to run away but was shot multiple times in the back.
On July 4, 1969, Michael Renault Mageau, 19, and Darlene Elizabeth Ferrin, 22, were in the parking lot of Blue Rock Springs Park in Vallejo – 4 miles from the first crime scene – when they were shot ‘to pieces’, according to the investigator. But while Ferrin was pronounced dead on arrival, Mageau survived being shot in the face, neck and chest.
On September 27, 1969, Bryan Calvin Hartnell, 20, and Cecelia Ann Shepard, 22, were having a picnic at Lake Berryessa in Napa County when they were approached by a hooded man who bound and stabbed them. Hartnell survived eight stab wounds to his back, but Shepard died two days later.
On October 11, 1969, cab driver Paul Lee Stine, 29, picked up a passenger and drove him to Presidio Heights – where he was shot in the back of the head and robbed. The killer also ripped part of Stine’s shirt, which he later sent with a letter to a local newspaper.
Four other victims and one other escapee have been connected to the Zodiac Killer, but none have been confirmed.