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Man thought to have been Zodiac Killer revealed as leader of group trained as ‘killing machines’


A man suspected of being the Zodiac Killer recruited a posse of troubled young men and ordered one to shoot one an enemy dead, it is claimed.

Gary Poste is said to have let alleged apprentice Chris Avery watch as he ordered another  unidentified boy to shoot an enemy dead after luring the unidentified man to a remote lake near his home in Groveland, California.

‘He just didn’t have a conscience,’ Avery said of Poste – the man who was tabbed as the infamous Bay Area killer by a group of 40 private investigators last month. 

‘He could kill indiscriminately.’

The Zodiac Killer, sketched above, was responsible for at least five murders in Northern California between 1968 and 1969

Suspected Zodiac Killer Gary Poste (at left) reportedly trained a group of wayward youths how to kill in the decades after his alleged Bay Area killing spree, one alleged mentee has revealed

Speaking to the group of independent sleuths, dubbed the Case Breakers, last month, Avery revealed he had served under the alleged serial murderer after he had migrated from San Francisco to Groveland in 1970, following his string of highly publicized killings.

‘He couldn’t stop after he moved up here,’ Avery divulged to the group.

‘He still had to continue to kill… even if it was small animals – just to make himself feel better. 

‘Of course, he did end up killing other people,’ Avery added.  

Chris Avery says he served under Poste as a young man for decades while the pair lived in the picturesque mountain town of Groveland

 Chris Avery says he served under Poste as a young man for decades while the pair lived in the picturesque mountain town of Groveland

Avery said he fled Groveland in 2010 after coming across Zodiac sketches bearing a likeness to Poste, spurring him to confront his malevolent mentor – who he says oversaw a group of 10 men whom he trained as assassins over the course of several decades, until his death in 2018. 

Ex-cop turned investigator Thomas Colbert, the head of the Case Breakers, is still investigating the late Poste, however, and says Avery was one of the ‘wayward’ men, often in their late teens or early 20s, recruited by the house painter. It remains unclear if Avery is telling the truth, and if Poste is the Zodiac, with investigations into both allegations continuing. 

Locals reportedly labeled the group ‘The Posse.’ 

Ex-cop turned investigator Thomas Colbert, the head of the group investigating Poste, says Avery was one of many 'wayward' men, often in their late teens or early 20s, recruited by the suspected serial killer

Ex-cop turned investigator Thomas Colbert, the head of the group investigating Poste, says Avery was one of many ‘wayward’ men, often in their late teens or early 20s, recruited by the suspected serial killer

Colbert told The New Post Friday that Poste, a veteran of the US Air Force, would regularly take his young followers deep into the nearby Sierra Mountains, where they were taught how to ‘hike and kill.’  

He also instructed the impressionable recruits how to build powerful pipe bombs and kill animals for fun, the snoop said.

‘He taught them how to turn a pipe bomb into a bomb that would blow up houses,’ Colbert told the outlet. 

Avery said he fled Groveland in 2010 after coming across Zodiac sketches bearing a likeness to Poste, spurring him to confront his malevolent mentor. Pictured here is a 1969 police sketch of the serial killer, next to a 1963 photo of Poste, then 25

Avery said he fled Groveland in 2010 after coming across Zodiac sketches bearing a likeness to Poste, spurring him to confront his malevolent mentor. Pictured here is a 1969 police sketch of the serial killer, next to a 1963 photo of Poste, then 25

‘One time, he had a kid climb out on a tree branch and hang caches of raw meat from it,’ the investigator added. 

‘He also nailed salmon hooks below to catch bears trying to get to the meat. One time there were three bears bleeding to death from this tree trying to get the meat and Gary [Poste] just watched them, laughing at them.’

The sleuth also said that Poste would regularly have his proteges scare off law enforcement in the area, so that they could engage in their villainous practices. 

‘If new cops moved into town,’ Colbert added, he would have them throw rocks into their windows to get them to move out. 

 ‘He was involved in loaning guns out to suicidal people in town.’

Colbert’s collective of 40 sleuths, which included former federal agents, prosecutors, retired Army intelligence officers, investigative journalists and academics, came forward last month claiming Poste was the infamous Zodiac, citing. 

The Zodiac Killer was known for his ciphers that he sent to the San Francisco Chronicle during his string of murders in the Bay Area in the 60s. Some have still not been solved to this day

The Zodiac Killer was known for his ciphers that he sent to the San Francisco Chronicle during his string of murders in the Bay Area in the 60s. Some have still not been solved to this day

The team of volunteer investigators used photographic evidence comparing a distinctive scar seen in sketches depicting the Zodiac killer to known photos of Poste over past six decades to make the identification, as Fox News first reported. 

They also relied on accounts of people who knew Poste, including Avery’s account of his experiences with the alleged killer, whose recruits would affectionately refer to him as ‘The Old Man,’ as well as further accounts from a neighbor whom the alleged killer used to babysit as a child, and an ex-girlfriend of Poste’s son.

The group also obtained physical evidence against Poste during their exhaustive probe into the identity of the elusive Zodiac, which included weapons and bullets the said Poste had given prior to his death to his ‘favorite locals.’  

In 2020, an international code-breaking team cracked Zodiac's notorious '340 cipher' (pictured) sent to the San Francisco Chronicle in 1969

In 2020, an international code-breaking team cracked Zodiac’s notorious ‘340 cipher’ (pictured) sent to the San Francisco Chronicle in 1969

Little is known about Poste’s life beyond the fact that he was married, had a son, and worked as a house painter after retiring from the US Air Force, according to information gathered by the Case Breakers.

In February 2016, a then 78-year-old Gary Francis Poste, from Groveland, was arrested at his home on Merrell Road on suspicion of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse. 

Two years later, Poste passed away in Groveland on August 14, 2018, at the age of 80 of sepsis and dementia. 

He was never charged with any offenses related to the Zodiac Killer – a case that is still deemed by lawmen to be unsolved. 

ZODIAC KILLER WHO TERRORIZED SAN FRANCISCO IS STILL UNIDENTIFIED 50 YEARS ON

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, a serial murderer terrorised Northern California.  

Evading capture, the killer taunted police by sending clues to local Bay Area press in the form of cryptograms, hence the name the Zodiac killer.

Though police linked him to five murders, he boasted of at least 37 victims in his letters to the press.

The inability of cops to solve the case so frustrated Dave Toschi, who was San Francisco’s lead investigator on the murders from 1969 to 1978, that he revisited Zodiac murder sites long after he was taken off it.  

Below are the five confirmed cases linked to the Zodiac killer: 

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. 



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