Detectives may have recently made strides toward identifying one of America’s most famous serial killers by extracting DNA from a murder victim’s clothing.
The Zodiac Killer, a mysterious serial murderer who conducted a string of killings throughout Northern California in the 1960s and ’70s, claimed as many as 37 victims through puzzling riddles he sent to newspapers, according to Fox News.
One of those victims, Cheri Jo Bates, was stabbed after leaving the library at Riverside Community College in October 1966, although police never officially linked the Zodiac Killer to the murder.
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Decades later, cold case detective Ken Mains said he believed specimens from Bates’ clothing could point to the Zodiac’s DNA.
“We have the potential to obtain Zodiac’s DNA,” Mains told Fox News.
The former FBI task force member and Marine Corps veteran explained that he had discovered two bloody handprints at the bottom of Bates’ pants during an examination of her clothing.
“We have touch DNA from those handprints,” he said.
Mains was examining the clothing as part of a new, televised investigation into the Zodiac Killer.
In the History Channel’s “The Hunt For The Zodiac Killer,” Mains teamed up with retired LAPD homicide detective, Sal LaBarbera and University of Southern California Professor of Computer Science and code-breaker Kevin Knight to solve the decades-long mystery.
In their hunt for the killer’s identity, the team has obtained unprecedented access to police files, new witnesses and clues, Fox News reported.
So far, the team has focused on two primary suspects: Ross Sullivan and Lawrence Kane.
Sullivan worked in the college library where Bates was last seen alive. He often wore military-style clothing and combat boots, and footprints that appeared to come from such boots were reportedly found at Bates’ murder scene.
His physical appearance also closely resembled a police sketch of the Zodiac Killer at the time, and he was even questioned by police about the murder, though he was never charged.
The current whereabouts of Sullivan, who would be 76 years old if he is alive, are unknown, according to the U.K. Daily Mail.
Meanwhile, Kane, a Navy veteran who died in 2010, has been looked at as a suspect based partly on his extensive knowledge of cryptography, meaning he may have been capable of creating the coded riddles sent to the media at the time.
Kane “has some red flags in his background that jump out to me that make him a viable suspect,” Mains told Fox News.
Interestingly, he was arrested in 1968 for “bizarre behavior” in Santa Barbara, not far from where the Zodiac murders took place, the Daily Mail reported.
The DNA analysis advancements and other forensic technology made during the last 50 years have breathed hope into solving the killer’s identity.
“It’s probably the greatest American unsolved serial killing case,” Mains said. “I’m very confident it can be solved.”
Although it may be too late for justice through the courts, it certainly would be satisfying to finally put the mystery surrounding this dark time during American history to rest.
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