A vice president of a Louisiana cleaning company claims he solved one of the most notorious cold cases in America — the Zodiac killings.
In his new book, “The Most Dangerous Animal of All,” Gary L. Stewart says his father, Earl Van Best, Jr., was the notorious murderer who terrorized Northern California in the ’60s. Best lived in California around the time of the murders and looks like the police sketch of the serial killer.
Here’s a side-by-side shot:
The Zodiac Killer — who was the subject of a poplar movie — has never been caught.
Police have investigated thousands of leads and still get many tips every year about the true identity of the killer whom police believe killed five people in northern California between 1966 and 1969. The killer sent letters to newspapers with threats about his next crimes, and he seemed to focus on murdering couples.
The evidence in Stewart’s book is circumstantial, and police didn’t appear to be looking at Best as a suspect in the killings. But Stewart is still convinced.
- Best reportedly abused and abandoned Stewart as a child and enjoyed hurting animals, which are signs of a possible psychopath.
- The poem the Zodiac killer etched on the underside of a desk in a library near the scene of the first murder is signed with the initials of Best’s alias — R.H., which Stewart says are the initials of two of Best’s aliases, Richard Lee and Harry Lee.
- Judy, one of Best’s wives (and Stewart’s mother), whom he married when he was in his late 20s and she was 13 years old, resembles the female Zodiac victims.
- The San Francisco Chronicle reporter who wrote about their union and Best’s subsequent imprisonment — dubbed the “Ice Cream Romance” — is the same reporter who was targeted by Zodiac letters.
- Best reportedly made frequent trips to Mexico, and one of the Zodiac victims who survived the killer’s attack told police the attacker said he needed a car and money to get to Mexico.
- A cab driver allegedly killed by the Zodiac killer died near the apartment where Best was living at the time.
- Around the time the Zodiac killer re-emerged and sent another letter after being silent for three years, Judy got engaged to a police officer.
- Best’s handwriting from a marriage certificate supposedly closely matches the handwriting of the Zodiac killer.
- There also might be similarities in their fingerprints — Best’s fingerprints from police records show a scar on one of his fingers that Stewart says matches a bloody fingerprint supposedly left by the Zodiac killer.
Stewart also has an explanation for why police won’t investigate his findings. He says there’s been a massive cover-up by police because a cop tied to the Zodiac case, Rotea Gilford, was married to Judy, Best’s ex-wife. This would have been so embarrassing to the San Francisco police department that they covered up the identity of the Zodiac killer, Stewart contends.
Stewart reportedly provided his DNA to investigators to test against Zodiac evidence, but they never got back to him. The head of homicide investigations told The Chronicle that the reason cops never got back to Stewart is because there wasn’t enough evidence to make a case, but Stewart took it to mean that there was a cover-up going on.
There are also questions surrounding the handwriting sample that Stewart says is from his father. An administrator at the church the marriage certificate comes from told The Chronicle that the priest filled out the form, not Best. But Stewart argues that his mother told him Best filled out the certificate, not the church.
Of course, many others have come forward in the past claiming to have solved the Zodiac mystery. Some have even implicated relatives.
In 2009, a California woman claimed that her dead father was the Zodiac killer and said that when she was young, she helped send the letters from the killer that appeared in newspapers.
The main suspect police focused on was Arthur Leigh Allen, a child molester who died in 1992.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.