The Zodiac Killer is one of the most vicious serial killers in the US.
The Zodiac Killer murdered at least seven people and possibly up to 20 in northern California between December 1968 and October 1969 and it has remained one of the world’s greatest unsolved crimes.
The Zodiac nickname was derived from a series of cryptic and taunting letters which were posted to the media from the San Francisco Bay area.
They included ciphers and only one of the four has been decoded.
But now a former detective, Kimberly McGath, has identified the Zodiac as Dennis Rader. Rader, now 70, is better known as the BTK Killer.
He derived his grisly nickname from the fact that he Bound, Tortured and Killed his ten victims in Wichita, Kansas between 1974 and 1991. Rader was in the US Air Force from 1966 and 1970 before settling down with a wife in Kansas.
The BTK Killer sent numerous letters to the media but suddenly stopped. He then vanished until 2004 when he suddenly started sending letters again. The following year Rader was arrested after he sent police a floppy disk, which was traced back to him.
Faced with a mountain of forensic evidence Rader confessed to being the BTK Killer and is now serving life imprisonment with no parole. But he has never been questioned about the Zodiac killings.
Ms McGath has been studying links between the two killers for two years, especially the letters they both wrote, and she told Daily Star Online : “There are just so many similarities between Zodiac and BTK.”
She lists dozens of similarities in handwriting styles, phrases used and military terminology, as well as phrases like “consternation” and “glorification” which are unique to Lutheran sermons. Rader was president of his local Lutheran church.
The Zodiac Killer stabbed or shot his victims out in the open while the BTK Killer targeted people in their homes and often strangled or hanged them.
But Ms McGath explains the change of modus operandi: “When he was in California he was an out-of-state stranger but in Wichita he was well known and could not risk being recognised. That’s why he switched to home invasions.
But Ms McGath said Rader had colon cancer so it was crucial to talk to him before he died. She said: “If a skilled investigator spoke to him I think they could get him to confess to Zodiac. Ms McGath said she believed Rader had also killed other victims, including prostitutes, while serving in the air force in Turkey, Greece and Okinawa.