DNA profile sought to solve mystery of Zodiac Killer

Sketch of the "Zodiac" Killer
San Francisco police circulated this composite of the Bay Area’s Zodiac Killer. The drawing on the right is an amended version of the left based on further questioning of witnesses to the slaying of a cab driver.

Bettmann/via Getty Images

Detectives trying to identify the infamous Zodiac Killer hope to use the same DNA-tracing technology that recently lead to an arrest in another decades-old serial killer case in California.

But first, they need to obtain a profile of one of California’s most elusive criminals. The Vallejo Police Department has submitted two envelopes that contained letters from the Zodiac Killer to a private lab in hopes of finding his DNA on the back of the stamps or envelope flaps that may have been licked.

Results from the advanced DNA analysis, which previously had not been available in the case, are expected to be returned as early as the next few weeks.

“They were confident they would be able to get something off it,” Vallejo police Detective Terry Poyser told the Sacramento Bee.

Poyser said he hoped the same technique that lead to an arrest in the Golden State Killer case could be used if a complete profile of the Zodiac is obtained. Authorities arrested Joseph DeAngelo last month on suspicion of committing at least 12 murders and 50 rapes in California between 1976 and 1986.

Authorities say they were finally able to track down the man they believe to be the Golden State Killer after linking DNA evidence collected from the murder scenes to genetic information stored on a consumer genealogical website. After struggling for decades to identify who the DNA came from, investigators got their big break when they tapped genealogical databases commonly used by consumers to search for relatives and ancestors.

The Zodiak Killer roamed the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s, shooting or stabbing to death at least five people and possibly dozens more. The suspect was dubbed the Zodiac Killer after sending taunting letters and cryptograms to the police and newspapers that contained astrological symbols.

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