The time has finally come. After decades of uncertainty and many attempts to crack open the case, the Zodiac Killer has finally been identified.
The infamous serial killer allegedly murdered over 37 victims over the course of his killing spree. He terrorized Northern California in the late 60s through the ’70s and his identity hasn’t been pinned down until now.
According to Investigators with the Case Breakers, Gary Francis Poste was identified as the killer, but he died in 2018. During the decade of “make love not war,” he sent cryptic letters, taunting law enforcement.
While there’s been much speculation over the years regarding his identity, Hollywood has played detective, too, with countless portrayals of the case on the big screen, small screen and books. Here are some of the best books, movies and TV adaptions to get your fix of the Zodiac Killer case.
For all those bookworms out there:
“Zodiac” by Robert Graysmith
This 1986 book served as the basis for the 2007 David Fincher-directed film. Since its original debut, the non-fiction novel has sold over 4 million copies. Graysmith started his writing career working as a cartoonist for “The San Francisco Chronicle” in the 1960s when the Zodiac murders began.
The book was so well-researched that many readers began to actually believe that the author was the serial killer himself. A sequel, “Zodiac Unmasked: The Identity of America’s Most Elusive Serial Killer Revealed,” was published in 2006 and reexamined the research in an attempt to truly find out the identity of the killer once and for all.
“‘This Is the Zodiac Speaking’: Into the Mind of a Serial Killer” by Michael D. Kelleher and David Van Nuys
Writer Michael D. Kelleher teamed up with psychologist David Van Nuys to pen a novel to try to understand the psychopathic mind of a murderer. In their 2001 book, the two recreate crime scenes, examine police records and analyze the Zodiac Killer’s infamous handwritten notes in order to shed some light on the slasher’s wicked and twisted mind.
For lovers of the small screen:
The History Channel released a five-part mini-series in 2017 in which the network brought in code breakers and investigators to decipher the Zodiac’s cryptic messages sent to authorities and newspapers. According to the documentary, the team of experts leading the investigation was retired LAPD homicide detective, Sal LaBarbera, former FBI detective Ken Mains and University of Southern California Professor of Computer Science Kevin Knight.
This four-part documentary series aired on FX in 2020 and is based on the New York Times best-selling book of the same name. The show dove deep into one man’s journey and search for his father who left him— the man believed that his father is the Zodiac mastermind himself.
For moviegoers everywhere:
Perhaps the most famous adaption of the case is Fincher’s 2007 big-screen flick. The thriller is based on Graysmith’s novels and starred the talents of Jake Gyllenhaal as Graysmith himself, alongside actors Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch and Chloë Sevigny.
The film follows the story of Graysmith, crime reporter Paul Avery and Inspector Dave Toschi as they try to solve the case and uncover the identity of the Zodiac through an extensive investigation.
This 2017 Canadian mystery drama is a highly fictionalized version of the cold case. The movie is directed by Jonathan Wright and stars Shane West and Leslie Bibb.
According to the thriller’s official synopsis, the story follows “a down-on-their-luck couple young who discover the serial killer’s film reels. They decide to take the law into their own hands, risking everything for the chance at a $100,000 reward. It isn’t long until they find themselves in the killer’s lethal cross-hairs.”
Watch the film on Amazon Prime Video.
This 1971 film was released while the Zodiac Killer was still on the loose and was directed by Tom Hanson with Hal Reed, Bob Jones, Ray Lynch and Tom Pittman starring in the low-budget flick. While the plot is based on the murders, many creative freedoms were taken with the case’s investigation. A backstory, as well as a name, were given to the Zodiac Killer and the film portrays a month through the eyes of the murderer.