Zodiac is the name for an officially unidentified serial killer. His target area was Northern California. We know that he killed at least five people in the San Francisco Bay Area in the time period of December 1968 to October 1969. The crime scenes were mostly in rural, urban and suburban settings. I do not know if there are any Zodiac cases in industrial areas.
Two of the attempted victims survived. According to the Zodiac, he killed over 37 people.
There is a lot of information about the cases online so we do not have to summarize them here.
Like most people who read true crime, I was familiar with the name and the general outlines of the cases however, I never delved into them. Zodiac always had a huge digital footprint therefore, this movie from 2007 was not on my radar.
I came across it while scrolling. I saw three actors whom I recognized from the Marvel movies. I thought it would be good to see them in different roles. They did not disappoint.
The movie takes us to the known crime scenes and follows the police investigation. It shows you the difficulties of that time. No computers, no digital archives, no cell phones, etc. It also brings up the issues you run into when government agencies need to collaborate across their lines of jurisdiction.
What I appreciate most is that this movie does not focus on gory details. All murders are horrific. The bulk of the time however, more than 2.5 hours, you are following in detail how the investigation inched forward, where it stopped, how it was picked up, who found which needle in the haystack, and most importantly, we witness how everyone involved in the investigation transforms. The ones who were more cool and collected in the beginning of the movie, slowly unravel. Those with a objective, almost clinical take on the matter become obsessed and lose touch with cherished parts of their reality.
The actor Mark Ruffalo who plays Inspector Dave Toschi, reminded me of Lt. Columbo. His wavy hair, the raincoat, the scratching of the head, the focus on the small details, his calmness, I could not help but see the similarities.
In October 2021, a cold case investigation team known as the Case Breakers – a group of over forty former police investigators, journalists, and military intelligence officers, claimed to have identified the Zodiac killer. According to them, his name was Gary Francis Poste. He died in August 2018. He was 80 years old.
Poste was a former US Air Force serviceman and allegedly had a violent character. The group said in this article that they came to this identification based on “forensic evidence, photos found in Poste’s own darkroom and on some of the serial killer’s coded notes.”