The legend of the Zodiac Killer is still one of the most intriguing to aficionados of "true crime" stories. It has all the requisite trappings for a first rate mystery: a string of victims, taunting letters with cryptic clues, and a perpetrator that has never been caught.
The person claiming to be the Zodiac Killer sent letters to newspapers about his killings. He claimed to have killed 37 people. Investigators have only confirmed 7 people, but there are specific other cases that are suspected.
Zodiac also included in his letters a cryptogram, most of which has been solved. In it he claimed to be killing people to collect as slaves for the afterlife.
Zodiac was last heard from in 1974, 40 years ago. Now one man claims to know who Zodiac is. He says it is his father.
Gary L. Stewart was searching for the identity of his biological parents. He had been adopted as an infant, and like many adoptees, he went searching for clues about his past. His search spanned over ten years, during which he kept a detailed journal of the search. Those journals now serve as the basis for his book, "The Most Dangerous Animal of All".
He says that he has pieces of evidence "that conclusively identify his father as the Zodiac Killer". His biological father was one Earl Van Best Jr. Stewart says he has letters written by his father, and that he has had the handwriting compared to that of the letters sent by Zodiac. He says it is a perfect match.
He says he has asked for his DNA to be compared to any samples that investigators may have, but has been unable to have that done.
Stewart seems very resigned to the fact that his father was the Zodiac now.
"I've had a whole lot of time to think about it," he said. "I set out to disprove my theory and every rock I overturned just gave me more and more and more evidence, and at one time I just came to the point in my life that there's nowhere else to turn and nothing else to investigate. My worst nightmare is true, and it is what it is."
But Stewart feels that he is nothing like his father, in that respect. He feels lucky to have been taken out of that life and raised in a loving home.
"I still would love the opportunity to have met him, loved him, given him a hug, see what he smelled like, felt like, what his body language was like," Stewart said. "It's personal to me. ... I don't live in the serial killer world. This is the true story of nature versus nurture, and I am the epitome of nurture."
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