A Letter from Gary L. Stewart — 33 Comments

  1. 5/13/2014 Just heard about the book from The Advocate article today. Looking forward to reading the book.

  2. Just got this book and read it. Fascinating! I followed the story back when these killings were occurring and read the Greystone? book; even tried for months to solve the codes. I’ll be interested in hearing if there are any further developments.

  3. Gary,
    In your book you are struck by a first look at a police sketch of the Zodiac killer. At that point in the story you have developed Earl Van Best as a selfish miscreant who likes green girls. You then say with confidence that Van
    takes the opportunity to murder Cheri Jo Bates. That is a long transition to make. From there you recount a series of murders, substituting the name Van for the name Zodiac as the killer. I don’t see that you laid a foundation for your assumptions. Please respond.
    Regards, Alan

    • Hi Alan,

      There are many clues that lead up to that transition, including the fact that my father traveled through Riverside, he visited libraries regularly up and down the California coast, and Cheri Jo bore a striking resemblance to my mother. Please look at the photograph of Cheri Jo Bates in the photo section of the book and then look at the photo of my mother. If you place them side by side, you can see the resemblance. I do say that with confidence at that point in the text; however the main reasons why I believe my father committed that horrific crime come later in the book, most notably the symbol on the Bates letter, which matches the E in my father’s handwriting and my father’s arrest in Riverside years later. He had a habit of returning to the places where he had committed crimes, including the hotel in Mexico where he raped my mother, which is where he eventually died.

      Thank you for your comment.

  4. I’m waiting on the book, but I have seen pics of EVBjr and the unidentified man In a pic with One of the victims And It is VERY similar. I think it’s him IMO

    • Hi Teresa,

      I really can’t say that the man is my father. Others have said it is Darlene’s ex-husband, but I don’t know. There is a resemblance that has been pointed out to me before, but in my opinion, the man in the photo has thicker hair and fuller lips than my father. Thanks for writing.


  5. Gary,
    First, thanks for your reply. It seems that your best source for background on Van 1s his long-time friend,William. Did Van’s former friend relate info that firmed your belief in Van as the Killer. Did William believe that Van could be Zodiac. Also, What did you learn from Van’s wife, Edith?

    • My relationship with William developed slowly and methodically over a period of three or four years. As our friendship grew, and I stopped pressing him for answers, he began opening up to me, relating his memories of my father. William was still angry with my father for refusing to testify that he had nothing to do with Van’s kidnapping of my teenaged mother, so it took a while for him to develop enough trust in me to share his stories about my father’s early life. I was afraid that if I shared my belief that Van was the Zodiac it would make William stop talking to me, so I did not share that with him. As far as Edith is concerned, she did not want her children to have anything to do with me. She insisted that I not contact them again. I have often wondered about her motivations for discouraging my relationship with my half-siblings. Thank you for your questions.

    • Thank you for your question. Unfortunately that’s a question we will likely never have an answer to. Since my father died in 1984, and all of his personal effects were disposed of, or given to charity, there’s no record that I’m aware of regarding his shoe size. From a comparison standpoint, however, standing right at 6’1” tall, my shoe size is a 12. Considering my father’s height of 5’8”, I would think that it’s a reasonable assumption that he would have been in the 10-11 shoe size range, but I don’t know that for sure.

    • Thank you for your questions, Adam. As you may recall, SFPD’s ‘official’ response to the release of The Most Dangerous Animal Of All was ‘if Mr. Stewart has any information regarding the Zodiac case, he needs to come forward.’ As requested, I have traveled back to San Francisco twice in recent weeks, to meet with the Cold Case Inspector in charge of the Zodiac case. Because the case is an ‘open’ case, there are details about the investigation that the department will not share with the general public, which includes me, but there are specifics that he was willing to share as a result of the evidence I presented. There were three things I focused on as my book came to an end, things I felt I deserved to have answers for. First of all, ‘what was in my father’s file that was so ‘heinous it would destroy me,’ and did Harold Butler, or someone else in the SFPD really destroy my father’s file?’ Secondly, whatever happened to the DNA sample I voluntarily submitted to Lt. Hennessey back in 2004, and was it ever analyzed? And lastly, was my father ever a suspect in the Zodiac case? As I mentioned earlier, because the case is still considered ‘open,’ I am not at liberty to share the specific details of my conversations with the inspector, and I certainly, of all people, wouldn’t want to jeopardize the integrity of the investigation so that we can finally bring this 45+-year-old cold case to closure. But what I will share is that all of the ‘old regime’ are all gone now. Gilford, Butler and Sanders are out of the picture, and there is a genuine desire in the Homicide Bureau to finally solve the Zodiac case. The inspector now in charge of the Zodiac case has taken my evidence seriously. He has provided me answers to some of my questions, and I will maintain his confidence and not share details of our conversations until this is all finally over. I am fully cooperating with the SFPD and maintain communication with the inspector at mutually scheduled intervals. The SFPD only has one Zodiac crime under its jurisdiction. That is the Paul Stine case. Since this case is so old and cold, and the preservation of forensic evidence from crimes half a century ago left much to be desired for quality of storage of specimen’s, chain of custody, etc., the process of resolution of the case is going to take some time. Technology is available now to extract genetic material from the tiniest of samples. The challenge now is to find actual material deposited by the Zodiac.
      Thanks again for your questions.

  6. Also wondering if Michael Mageau (isn’t he the only one who got a good look at zodiac without the mask?) has had an opportunity to look at the mugshot of your father?

    • Thank you for your questions, Adam. I would guess that Bryan Hartnell has seen my father’s mugshot, but I wouldn’t expect him to respond. Bryan did not get a good look at Zodiac because he was wearing a hood with only the eyeholes cut out at Lake Berryessa. There was a pair of clip-on sunglasses covering the eyeholes, so Hartnell couldn’t identify Zodiac in a police lineup. As far as verifying my father’s fingerprints and the prints lifted at the Paul Stine crime scene, I would guess you can try going to the SFPD and asking them, or writing the records department. But the Zodiac case is still an open case, and I’m not certain the SFPD would share any information about an open case with you.
      Thank you.

  7. Hello sir. My cousin just told me she is taking a writers course where you were recently a guest speaker. She said you might be able to enlighten me on my journey to locate my biological mother. I have traveled down many paths only to reach a dead end on all of them. I was born in New Orleans where, i think, you are aware that records are sealed. Is there anything you can tell me that might get me closer to discovering the identity of my mom?

    Thank you, sir,
    Ladson Poole

    • Hi Ladson,

      I have a dear friend that I will put you in contact with who assisted my biological mom in finding me. In addition, I believe the local attention my story has received has not fallen on deaf ears, and I’ll participate in a very new and more powerful role in this next attempt by the Louisiana Adoption Advocacy Board to push legislation through that will allow adult adoptees to gain unlimited access to our birthrights–our original birth certificates.Keep the faith!


  8. Mr. Stewart,
    My name is Karly Wagner. I am in 9th grade and live in Pennsylvania. I am doing a school project about some thing that interests me from the past. We have to interview someone who was alive during this event, or in your case knows a lot about it. I have been fascinated by the zodiac killer for a while because I love mysteries. I was wondering if I could e-mail you a few questions about it. It would mean so much to me. Thank you.
    Karly Wagner

  9. Hi Gary I run Zodiac Ciphers and would like to run an article on the topic of suspects. I would like your opinion on the experiences you have encountered since you revealed your suspect to the world, in particular from the many Zodiac websites and forums. Have you had any doubts, after certain ‘evidence’ this website has used, has been called into question, the handwriting on the marriage certificate and the use of the ciphers to reveal names. Many people have their favorite suspects, but what really interests me is what you thought might happen prior to beginning the project, in terms of how this new information may be received and how have this differed to the reality now, if any. I would like your thoughts on the experiences you have encountered in the Zodiac circle. If you send me your thoughts, of good article length, I can run it on my website for some feedback, with accreditation. If this is something you would like to do, send me an email in article form, but if this does not appeal, thanks for your consideration, all the best, Richard.

  10. Dear Gary,
    I have always been fascinated by adoption stories and the twists and turns along the road to discovery. A few years ago I was asked to write a biography ( of someone now aged 70, and your issues of rejection and abandonment were powerful reminders of what I struggled to convey adequately in words (he had red hair and freckles too). For those of us who take references to a family resemblance for granted, it is difficult to understand how lack of this affects ones sense of belonging.
    I appreciate your determination to see this search through to a conclusion, even at the risk of additional pain. Your willingness to be vulnerable gives a voice to others whose need for answers still lacks the courage to find them. Thanks for sharing your well-written story.
    Elsie Loewen

    • Dear Elsie,

      Thank you for taking the time to write and for sharing your kind comments. Thank you for sharing your story and your website! Just looking at the photo on the homepage made me think of my journey. More and more we’re seeing the world become more curious about our personal genesis as indicated by the flood of television documentaries and the new DNA tool available on It further validates that the work we’ve done was important, if only to us back then, now hopefully inspirational to others.

      All my best,


  11. Hi Gary,
    Just read your book and adding it all up I feel EVBJ was the Zodiac!
    I’ve followed this case over the years since the early 70’s out of curiosity and by far your book has the best preponderance of evidence thus far.
    I have to ask if you looked into the Timex watch gathered at the Bates crime scene? I have read some talk of it being traced to a PBX in London and given your fathers time over there and ROTC connections its not much of a stretch if in fact that watch was sold there. I note that was much earlier than the Bates murder but also note that those types of watches were produced in the early 50’s even hard to tell with a glance. Makes me wonder if they would have more info on that watch!

    • Good Morning,

      Over the course of the past 13 years as I’ve researched my case, I determined to take advantage of my time in the San Francisco Bay Area as I had the need to be there for my business anyways. Because the Cheri Jo Bates murder was generally ‘undecided’ as to whether or not it was a crime of the Zodiac, I felt spending my resources in Southern California would cost me too much time away from the ‘hot spot’ for the majority of the Zodiac crimes, the Bay Area. As you know, the RCC campus has changed quite a bit, and when I did make my only trip there during my journey, I felt it best to stick to where the Zodiac case remained active and not try to convince the new Riverside authorities that the Zodiac killer was responsible for Cheri Jo Bates’ murder. I think it’s pretty well accepted that they do not believe there is a connection. As for my personal belief, you are absolutely right. I believe that Timex belonged to my father for all the reasons you mention. And I believe that DNA will ultimately link them together and close that case as well.

      Thanks again for your comments and questions.

  12. Gary,
    Makes perfect sense that a father sending his son abroad and a WW2 veteran would most likely had messaged a former war buddy there. Its post WW2 England and surly at this stage of EVBJR life a military career would still be on the table.
    All adds up, greet the son, give the nickle tour of the base and hob nob with the officers. Could have been a graduation gift on top of that! Reading your book I seem to feel their relationship was not estranged as of yet. Albeit dysfunctional.

    • Thanks LastShooter! I do in fact have photos of my grandfather giving my father a tour of his base with all the Top Brass in tow. Good observation!

  13. Gary,

    I just read your book and found it fascinating.

    The more I think about it, the stronger I think your case is.

    Let’s assume, as your critics say, that the marriage license was written by someone other than your father. That does nothing to denigrate the rest of your reasoning. The piece that has stuck in my mind of late is that Paul Avery’s articles did ridicule your father. Someone as narcissistic as he would be furious at Avery and might well obsess about it. While that may sound silly to most people, consider how little your father did with his life after his separation from your mother. Few people would become that stuck.

    Also, I’ve read some on the other top suspects in the Zodiac industry. None knew cyphers like your father did, none knew the Mikado like your father did, and none — not one– comes even close to looking like the police drawings.

    Like you moreover I think all of the women who were killed looked very much like your mother.

    This is all easy to resolve. Why haven’t the police done the DNA comparison? I assume you’re willing to pay for it.

    Good luck with finishing this out.

    John O

    • John O,

      Thank you for your kind comments. I have offered to pay for the DNA testing; there is a problem with that due to chain of custody. I now realize that it’s not necessarily about the money, or funding for the Crime Lab, it’s about the priority of where a nearly 50 year old case stands in pecking order, compared to hundreds of more current cold cases where people, suspects as well as victims, are alive and awaiting justice. Thanks again for reaching out.

  14. Gary, just finished your book. Very compelling.
    Two questions that stand out to me.
    1. What kind of car did EVB have, and did that correlate to the witnesses that lived. Especially the lady with the baby. She said she was studying every detail in the car.

    2. Have you tracked down the officers that saw EVB after the Stine murder.
    Would like to see their reaction to his mugshot.

    All the best


    • Hello TF,
      Thank you for reading and reaching out. The only person that I’m aware would know for certain what type car my father drove would be his wife at the time, Edith. As you know from my book, she’s chosen not to share the truth with her children and has isolated them, and herself, from me. Of all the evidence I uncovered, and given I’d spent a decade researching the most significant evidence such as names in the cipher, fingerprints, etc., the specific car he drove is less important to me. The contents of that car as described by Kathleen Johns is more important. The papers, documents, and baby clothes would fit my father’s lifestyle perfectly.

      I’ve tried to locate the last surviving officer who saw my father with no success. I too would love to see his reaction to my father’s mugshot.

      Thanks again.


  15. hey gary!

    this is tobi from germany, just read ur book and im really stunned about all the details and connections u found! somehow now after reading it all makes perfect sense! r u still waiting and hoping that someday someone gonna make the dna-test?
    there is only one detail in the book that i dont understand (but maybe its a translation error cuze i read the book in german)…after the riverside murder the police got that letter from the zodiac, it the he said sth like ‘u will pay for all the rejections that u gave me in during the years’……so if in his mind he saw judy in this girl…why he said in the letter that she gave him so many rejections? i thought judy told him on the phone clearly that she never wanted to hear his voice again and after that there has never been any contact or advances from van again? maybe im just missunderstood sth?

    anyway great book! thank u for writing it!
    glad to hear u had such wonderful parents that took care of u!:) wish u all the best!

    is there any chance that i could get an autograph from u? 🙂

    greetings from germany

    • Hi Tobi!
      Thanks for taking the time to write and thank you so much for your kind words. Yes, I have confidence that evidence left at the Paul Stine crime scene will be analyzed with current technology to bring this to closure once and for all. My mother told me that she never spoke to my father again, but there is no doubt in my mind that he didn’t give up with one rejection. Remember, he was arrested multiple times for eloping with my mother on multiple occasions. He was obsessed with her. I believe we will see this case closed when the right Law Enforcement division decides they want to end, once and for all, the case of America’s ‘Jack the Ripper.’
      All my best,

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