Skip navigation! Story from TV Shows. Rachel Paige. During the time, the Zodiac Killer also started taunting the San Francisco Police Department and sent them ciphers with hidden messages inside of them. The killer claimed that if they could be decoded, his identity would be revealed. Stewart, attempts to reveal that identity by concluding Van Best Jr. After being abandoned and adopted as a baby, Stewart was contacted by his biological mother as an adult, and following that decided to search out his father.
That led him to identify Van Best Jr. In his book, which he wrote journalist Susan Mustafa, Stewart stacks up the supposed evidence that his father really was the killer. While some of his points are pretty convincing, unfortunately, none of his discoveries have been proven to be percent fact. And that's the thing about the Zodiac Killer: Everyone's evidence is pretty circumstantial, including Stewart's. Another very compelling, yet greatly disputed argument is that Van Best Jr.
He frequently made trips to Mexico and one Zodiac survivor said that the assailant mentioned going to Mexico. And supposedly, Van Best Jr. While Stewart has handed over his own DNA samples to be compared to that of the Zodiac, according to him the San Francisco Police Department has reportedly not gotten back to him with any actual results.
He was a very nice man, very well spoken. So was Van Best Jr. The Most Dangerous Animal of All — both book and documentary — certainly wants people to think so. Related Content:. Warning: This article contains references to suicide which could act as triggers to some readers. You may want to wait before booking your next Airbnb.
The Haunting of Bly Manor is horrifying for a number of reasons but one of the biggest shocks co. The only drama we deserve in our lives is the Big Little Lies kind. Warning: Spoilers ahead for season 1 of Deaf U, now on Netflix.Like many infamous unsolved cases, the Zodiac mystery draws its share of those who claim to have the solution. Gary Stewart stepped into the spotlight when he identified his father as the Zodiac killer. Dennis Kaufman claimed that his stepfather Jack Tarrance was the Zodiac.
Kaufman offered many theories linking Tarrance to other infamous crimes and even produced a hooded costume and rolls of film which allegedly linked the suspect to the Zodiac murders and other killings. Perez, Kaufman, Hodel and others all claimed that handwriting experts-for-hire determined that their suspects had written the Zodiac letters.
Each claimed that compelling evidence proved that they had identified the Zodiac but none offered such evidence. All of these individuals spoke with certainty that they had solved the mystery when the facts proved otherwise. Yet, all of these people were celebrated by media with little interest in the facts and an ongoing need for sensational content.
The authors and their publicists know that most people do not know enough about the Zodiac case to adequately scrutinize these sensational claims. With co-author Susan Mustafa, Stewart described the search for his biological father, Earl Van Best, and his eventual conclusion that the same man was also the Zodiac killer. Stewart was interviewed on numerous television and radio programs and his solution was praised by many readers who posted positive reviews on Amazon.
Stewart repeatedly said that he wanted a DNA comparison and believed that the results would prove he had identified the killer. The information is not sufficient to provide a conclusive match to any one person. And, some people believe that others who handled the envelopes were potentials sources of the DNA. Doing so would only encourage others to come forward with false claims which waste law enforcement resources. Gary Stewart would require hard evidence if DNA tests could not positively identify the Zodiac killer.
Unsuspecting readers might be impressed by the book and its claims but the facts told a different story. Part one of the book included approximately one hundred and thirty pages devoted to the life of Earl Van Best. At the age of twenty-eight, Best married fourteen year-old Judy Chandler.
Best was eventually arrested on statutory rape charges and was sent to prison.
There's almost no evidence Earl Van Best Jr. was the Zodiac Killer
Chandler gave birth to Gary Stewart and joined Best after his release from prison. However, she later took then four year-old Gary and left Best to escape the abusive relationship. Decades later, Stewart watched a television show about the unsolved mystery and realized that Best somewhat resembled the police sketch of the Zodiac suspect.
Best, as the Zodiac, then sent a threatening Halloween card to Avery. The symbols V and E are substituted for the letters B and E in the deciphered text. This strained interpretation was hardly conclusive and relied on the assumption that the Zodiac intended for his name to be noticed in both the original symbols and deciphered text together at the same time.
The initials were not in the proper order and the lines containing the letters J and R were not the same as the line which contained the letters V and E. Stewart and Mustafa further claimed that another Zodiac cipher implicated Best.For nearly five decades, police and amateur sleuths have sought the identity of the Zodiac—and never come close to making an arrest. The serial killer who murdered at least five people, taunted police and terrorized Bay Area residents in the s and s apparently vanished without a trace.
Yet he left behind a mystery that still grips the public imagination, spawning books, movies, TV crime shows, websites—and a trail of tangled theories. Over the years, Zodiac buffs have suggested dozens of possible suspects based on speculation and circumstantial evidence. A handful of publicity-seekers claim their fathers were the Zodiac.
In recent years, absurd allegations have spread on social media—including that Texas Senator Ted Cruz was the Zodiac, even though he was born two years after the first confirmed killings.
The most dangerous animal: Was the Zodiac Killer Earl van Best?
Law-enforcement officers from two Bay Area counties and San Francisco, meeting on October 20, to compare notes toward catching the Zodiac Killer before he struck again. He served in the Naval reserves, where he might have learned coding, and a car accident left him with a brain injury that could have compromised his ability to control urges.
He was arrested for peeping in and for prowling in Kathleen Johns, who escaped from a man believed to be the Zodiac in Modesto inalso identified a photo of Kane as the abductor. Sullivan also sported a crew cut and glasses similar to the composite sketch of the Zodiac.
He moved to northern California in and was hospitalized several times for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Sullivan wore an Army jacket and military-style boots like those that left footprints at the Lake Berryessa stabbings. Allen wore a Zodiac-brand watch, owned the same caliber gun used in one Zodiac shooting and told police the bloody knives in his car were used for killing chickens. He was less-than honorably discharged from the Navy and been fired from his school-teacher job amid sexual-misconduct allegations.
He was also ambidextrous, which some theorists say could have helped disguise his handwriting. Police investigated Allen again in after an informant facing armed-robbery charges said Allen had boasted to him about killing a cab driver.
At that point, Michael Mageau, who survived the Vallejo attack, identified a photo of Allen as the shooter. According to the film, police were closing in when Allen died. The movie contained many fictitious elements, Zodiac researchers say. Allen died of a heart attack in He lived in a basement apartment, which the Zodiac also cited. He owned a typewriter and a teletype similar to those the Zodiac used. They both liked felt-tip pens and odd-size paper. A former coworker sent long, rambling letters to law-enforcement agencies accusing him of being the Zodiac and said Gaikowski invited him to engage in violent acts together.
On the show, a police dispatcher who spoke to the Zodiac said she thought it was the same voice.Stewart's research that indicated his father could have been the infamous Zodiac killer. It's been nearly five years since Gary Stewart's book was published laying out the evidence that led him to conclude his biological father was the notorious Zodiac Killer of the s. Stewart has spent the last 17 years of his life researching his biological father, Earl Van Best Jr. Stewart with Susan Mustafa.
In his book,"The Most Dangerous Animal of All," written with true crime writer Susan Mustafa, Stewart claims his father would go on to murder at least five people in northern California between and Stewart, a Baton Rouge native who still works in the area as an electrical engineer, says he did not set out to prove his father was a criminal.
Instead, he hoped to find a man to sit and have a cup of coffee with. He said he believes there have been more documentaries done on The Zodiac case in the last year than at any point in the last fifty years since the last known victim, taxi-cab driver Paul Stine, was killed in San Francisco.
Stewart internationally known as possibly the son of an infamous serial killer. The spotlight wi…. Inwhen Stewart first met his biological mother, Judith Gilford, she told him about how Best had abandoned him and abused her, and he decided he wanted nothing to do with the man.
Until the next day when I was flying back to Baton Rouge and I had time to think about it. I decided I wanted to hear his side of the story. Stewart is one of at least four people to come forward with claims their parent committed the heinous Zodiac murders. In May ofafter a DNA profile developed through an open-source database lead to the arrest of Joseph DeAngelo, the man accused of being the Golden State Killer, the Vallejo police department submitted two envelopes containing letters from the Zodiac Killer for a new, more advanced form of DNA analysis.
San Francisco police have been skeptical of all Zodiac claims. Stewart said he has been swabbed for DNA testing at least twice, once in by San Francisco homicide detective John Hennessey and once since the book was published.
Stewart said Pierucci had the DNA tested against the partial Zodiac profile and could not eliminate his father as a suspect in the Zodiac case.
Edit Close. Toggle navigation. Francisville St. Close 1 of 2. Gary Stewart. Was Zodiac killer a Baton Rouge man's dad? This new documentary explores the mystery. View comments. Follow Us.A new book claims to have unmasked one of the most notorious serial killers, the Zodiac Killer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area in the s and 70s, murdering at least seven people, terrorising the city and taunting the police and newspapers with cryptic notes and undecipherable cyphers and cryptograms.
And so have millions more, with the book earning a place on the coveted New York Times best-sellers list backed by a big name publisher, Harper Collins. All of which lend kudos and credibility compared to the many alternative theories about who the Zodiac Killer may be.
The book begins in with Stewart, adopted at birth and now in his late 30s, the director of a Louisiana cleaning company, who receives a phone call from a woman called Judy, who says she is his birth mother. They eventually meet in San Francisco, form a relationship and then the question about who his father was becomes something he must answer.
Judy is reluctant to tell him and for good reason. He later discovers that Earl Van Best died in Mexico City in thechoking on his own vomit and visits his unmarked grave. Here he makes a startling confession:. He was my father. We were bound together by some invisible, unbreakable rope. Of course, there is also the lure of some kind of celebrity and the royalties earned from publishing a best seller.
He claims a San Francisco police cover up has prevented this from ever being tested. As with Jack the Ripper, a veritable community of amateur sleuths and conspiracy theorists exists to weigh up the evidence and suggest theories about who the Zodiac Killer really was. The most comprehensive website is zodiackiller.
Not impressed. So is yours. People have been finding what they were looking for in the codes for 45 years. This is nothing new. There are a dozen people who claim to know the identity of the Zodiac Killer. These include Dennis Kaufman who claimed that his stepfather Jack Tarrance was the Zodiac Killer, but whose claims were later discredited. The DNA itself may be a red herring, as there is no proof the Zodiac Killer licked the stamp affixed to the envelope, something Stewart does admit to in his book.
But Gary Stewart remains convinced that his father, Van, is the Zodiac as he writes at the end of the book:. I have handed the SFPD their killer.The series follows Gary L. Though his evidence was circumstantial, Stewart gathered a lot of it: an uncanny police sketch, partial-fingerprint evidence, matched handwriting, encrypted messages in letters written by the Zodiac Killer, and partial DNA.
Inspired by meeting his biological mother, Jude Gilford, who tracked him down 18 years ago, Stewart set out on a labored, at times torturous, process that lasted a dozen years and culminated in the memoir he co-wrote with journalist Susan Mustafa. Fechheimer also noticed that Stewart had doctored a police report, and — in the biggest revelation — tracked down Van Best Jr. They decided to wait to present Stewart their findings until close to the end of the yearlong production.
As the discrepancies mounted, the producers forged ahead because, they decided, what mattered was that Stewart believed his father was the Zodiac Killer. We had to be strategic with how we disseminated information, which was hard because I consider Gary a friend. Dinerstein and Stewart had an easy and quick connection from the first time they spoke on the phone in A true-crime fan, Dinerstein had read the memoir and responded to its nature versus nurture themes, so he called Stewart to tell him he was interested in buying the rights.
Could Any of These Men Have Been the Zodiac Killer?
A couple of weeks later, they met in New Orleans for lunch. By the time the meal was over, Stewart chose Dinerstein over other producers who were courting him. And I thought this show could be his closure. It could be almost like a therapeutic experience. I found him to be very genuine.
But he told Stewart from the start that he would conduct his own investigation. I was somewhere in the middle.
Both men say that Stewart was enthusiastic to work with them and expressed that he was looking forward to finding the finality he did not get with the release of the book.
Stewart declined to be interviewed by Vulture for this story. He just wears his emotions on his sleeve and is easily triggered by all of it. When the time finally came to confront Stewart with their new evidence, Davidson said he became angry but stuck to his theory. Dinerstein was not in Louisiana the day Stewart learned what their investigation had turned up, but he spoke to him on the phone after they finished filming.
Six months after production ended, the producers still struggle with their conclusions about Stewart. For Davidson, the lingering questions are more about Stewart himself.
I think this man really believes this. But is there an element of opportunism? The producers allowed Stewart to screen the series ahead of its release to assuage his anxiety over it being a hit piece. That took another, final surprising turn. So Gary is a huge fan of the series. But then you have to ask yourself: What does that tie into, that he loved it so much?
How is that even possible? Already a subscriber? Log in or link your magazine subscription. Account Profile. Sign Out. Was Earl Van Best Jr. Probably not.It ran during news coverage of his "child bride" scandal, dubbed the "Ice Cream Romance" by the press.
This week, FX debuts its miniseries on the Zodiac Killer. The show is just the latest in a long line of television and film explorations of the serial killer's identity, from dozens of true crime specials to David Fincher's modern classic "Zodiac. The Zodiac Killer took on a mythic status not so much because of his crimes but because of his words: He sent bragging, cryptic letters and sometimes cryptograms to the media.
Over the years, countless suspects have been investigated, but police never got close to an arrest.
Does ‘The Most Dangerous Animal of All’ Reveal Who the Zodiac Killer Was?
Into that void have stepped dozens of people claiming to know, or be related to, the real Zodiac Killer. Shortly after meeting Judy Chandler at an ice cream parlor, he married her. She was pregnant with their son — Gary Stewart — at By that time, Van Best had been imprisoned for statutory rape. Van Best was also allegedly an abusive father, eventually abandoning his one-month-old in Louisiana. Stewart was adopted and did not learn about his biological parents until when he was contacted by Judy.
Van Best, who would go on to be charged with DUIs, fraud, rape and pedophilia, among other crimes, died in in Mexico. Superficially, Van Best did have some commonalities with the Zodiac Killer. They both loved operas, specifically "The Mikado" which is referenced in a Zodiac letter.
Van Best was also a fan of ciphers. He always filled those out. I laughed when I saw it in that book. Stewart does not link Van Best to individual crime scenes — except to say he may have lived near the Paul Stine murder site — nor does he provide any ties to murder weapons or physical evidence.
Only Stewart can answer that, of course. But after reading his book, you come away feeling that Stewart does sincerely believe his father is the Zodiac Killer. It's clear that Stewart struggles to grapple, as anyone would, with the terrible revelation that his father was a convicted pedophile who victimized Stewart's own mother.
By turning a bad guy into The Bad Guy, a horrible personal history becomes something more meaningful. But whether putting that story out there for the world to see on television helps or hurts Stewart's case remains to be seen. Contact: katie. On Dec. The pair pulled into a well-known lover's lane on Lake Herman Road in Benicia. Zodiac approached their vehicle and ordered them out at gunpoint. He opened fire, killing them both. Police had no leads until six months later A car pulled up beside them, idled, then left.
Some 10 minutes later, the car returned and parked behind them. Armed with a 9 mm pistol, both were shot as they sat in the car.