Monday, June 2, 2014 |
Gary Stewart was abandoned by his birth parents in 1963 and grew up knowing very little about them. When he was 39 years old, he set out on a quest to learn more about his biological father. Now, after 12 years of investigation, Stewart is sharing his horrifying revelation. He believes that his father was the Zodiac Killer, a notorious serial murderer who operated in northern California in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Stewart wrote about his findings in The Most Dangerous Animal of All: Searching for my Father...and Finding the Zodiac Killer.
Stewart isn't the first to claim he has found the Zodiac Killer. Tom Voigt of the website zodiackiller.com has been tracking the case for years. He finds Stewart's claim weak. Stewart and Voigt made their cases to Brent Bambury on CBC Radio's Day 6. You can listen to the segment in the audio player below:
Stewart's biological father was named Earl Van Best, Jr., and he died in the 1980s. Knowing that his father had a criminal record, Stewart and his mother asked the San Francisco police department for his father's file. "The officer in internal affairs told my mother that what was in my father's file was so heinous that it would destroy me," Stewart said. He still hasn't seen the file.
He began to piece together clues, such as the fact that his father greatly resembled a police sketch of the serial killer. "Over the course of a few years, I looked at everything, overturned every rock I could find." A coded message the Zodiac Killer left for the police held another clue. "Zodiac said in this cipher you will find my identity and if you crack this code you will have me and it immediately popped off the page to me," he said. "Written backward was E-V, and then just above it was the solution to the cipher written forward was B-E-S-T and then J-R for junior was written directly above the T."
However, Voigt thinks Stewart shouldn't be so sure. He has reviewed all of Stewart's collected evidence and doesn't think it's strong enough suggest a link between his father and the Zodiac Killer. Voigt said that the handwriting match isn't strong enough, nor are the letters in the cipher definitive. "There's a likeness to my first and last name in the subsequent cipher, so it's really nothing new. People have been doing that for 45 years."
But Stewart says he has too much to lose by lying. "I'm a successful business engineer and family man and well respected in our community here in south Louisiana. The last thing I ever wanted to do was go public and say 'Look guys, my father is the Zodiac Killer,'" he said. "I believe for the first time in the history of this case I have presented something that the [San Francisco police] won't be able to just walk away from."