Polito, 67, was named by ABC News as the college professor who shot and killed three people and critically wounded another before being killed by police.
The Zodiac Killer was one of the nation’s most feared and mysterious serial killers, stalking the San Francisco area in the late 1960s and sending codes that many have tried — and failed — to break. Numerous people have been floated as the killer over the years, but the killer was never identified or caught. The killer is tied to five slayings, and the Case Breakers team thinks he committed a sixth. The Zodiac claimed to have killed many more.
On his website, Polito, who was retired as a professor, named Arthur Leigh Allen, a well-known suspect in the Zodiac Killer case, as the perpetrator after claiming to solve the killer’s famous cipher.
That’s not only the mystery he tried to solve. Polito also posted an article he wrote called “What Really Happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.”
“This theory posits that MH370 was a failed radical terrorist hijacking, with the intent of using the plane to destroy the twin Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur,” the page says.
Sheriff Kevin McMahill said in an evening press conference that the motive for the shooting was unclear.
Here’s what you need to know:
Anthony Polito Said He Decoded the 18 Alphanumeric Characters of the Zodiac Killer
On the website, Polito wrote in a lengthy 2014 discussion of the Zodiac Killer’s cipher,
For 45 years, the decoding of the 18 alphanumeric characters from Zodiac’s first 408-symbol cipher — which Zodiac stated twice would reveal his identity — has eluded a solution by any and all cryptographers, professional or otherwise. I present here my decoding of those 18 characters — which indeed plainly reveal Zodiac’s true identity.
The 408 Cipher was ‘signed’ by “Mister” Arthur Leigh Allen. Allen is indeed the major Zodiac suspect as portrayed in the 2007 Zodiac movie, in turn based on Zodiac expert Robert Graysmith’s books Zodiac and Zodiac Unmasked.”
Polito wrote in the introduction,
Just so you won’t initially write off my solution as that of a total crackpot, let me first say that I have been a member of MENSA for 35 years, I hold a double undergraduate degree in Mathematics & Statistics (two skills closely associated with successful cryptographers) … and I hold a masters degree and a doctoral degree from top-tier universities as well. So I am not a dumb guy! To be fair, I must state that I do NOT have any special expertise or experience in the field of cryptography, only a general and basic knowledge of it … and neither am I an expert or especially accomplished mathematician and/or statistician.
He also wrote,
On March 3, 2007, I saw Zodiac in theatre on release, then I rented it to watch again on August 9, 2007. Prior to that, my only interest in this topic was the reading of an interesting article about the Zodiac ‘radian theory’ in a magazine sometime in the early 1980s, which I think I recall to have been published in Esquire.
After watching the movie several times, I spent another afternoon further educating myself about The Zodiac case from information available on the Web. I thought it might be interesting to attempt to crack the final 18 characters of the cipher. I did not consult any cryptographic texts or materials, but simply relied upon what I recalled from readings in my youth about cryptography, pen & paper and a few Excel spreadsheets.
Polito noted, “First, in the San Francisco Chronicle version of the 7/31/69 letter delivering the 408 Cipher, Zodiac plainly stated that “in this cipher is my identity.”
Arthur Leigh Allen Was a Schoolteacher Who Was the Only Publicly Named Suspect in the Zodiac Killer Case
According to USA Today, Arthur Leigh Allen was “a schoolteacher in Vallejo, California” and “is the only suspect to be publicly named by authorities in the case of the Zodiac killer. Allen was institutionalized for sexually abusing children in 1975. He was never officially identified as the Zodiac Killer,” who killed five people and then mailed ciphers to the news media.
According to Screenrant, “Allen was the most likely suspect on a truly baffling case. Oddly enough, he died of a heart attack before he could be charged. As Zodiac’s ending shows, it was generally accepted on circumstantial evidence that Allen was the killer, so the case went cold after his death.”
According to Screenrant,
Police officer Dave Toschi believed they had a good start with Arthur Leigh Allen. Toschi began to suspect Allen for a number of circumstantial reasons. He wore a Zodiac watch, which bore the same symbol inscribed on all of the Zodiac Killer’s anonymous letters. Allen’s personality also fit that of a serial killer. He was on the quiet side, socially awkward, and was a known pedophile.
However, Screenrant reported that Allen’s handwriting did not match Zodiac’s.
However, Allen is not the only suspect who has been identified by sleuths in the case. For example, Gary Francis Poste was a California man who was named in a press release as the notorious “Zodiac Killer” by a team of 40 investigators and experts who call themselves the Case Breakers.
The Case Breakers are made up of journalists, former cops, and military investigators who have volunteered their time. According to the Hill, Poste died in 2018. Online records show he had an address in Groveland, California, died at age 80, and was affiliated with a painting business. He was married.
In 2020, one of Zodiac’s cryptic messages was cracked by another team, according to The New York Times. “I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me” and “I am not afraid of the gas chamber,” the coded message said, The Times reported, citing the work of David Oranchak, Sam Blake and Jarl Van Eycke, who broke that cipher.
Tony Polito Described Himself as a ‘Semi-Retired University Professor’
In his deleted LinkedIn profile, he called himself Tony Polito and described himself as “a semi-retired university professor” living in Las Vegas.
According to the page, Polito earned a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, a master of business administration from Duke University, and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and statistics from Radford University in Virginia.
According to the Associated Press, though, the professor “unsuccessfully sought a job at the school.”
Polito previously worked at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, according to his LinkedIn page, which described him as an associate professor there from 2001 through January 2017.
A biography page on his website says, “Dr. Polito’s academic instructional affiliations include The University of Georgia, University of Northern Iowa, East Carolina University, Wake Forest University, Roseman University of Health Sciences and Brenau University. During his academic career, Dr. Polito has directly instructed nearly 6,000 undergraduate or graduate students of management; the majority of his students evaluated the quality/effectiveness of his instruction above 4.5 on a 5.0 scale, over 80% evaluated such above a 4.0.”
The page adds, “Dr. Polito has contributed to academic/intellectual knowledge in the form of 15 journal publications, 34 conference proceedings and 26 conference presentation.”