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Louisiana man says his biological father was Zodiac Killer

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Posted at 8:20 PM, May 13, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-13 22:20:14-04
By Michael Martinez and Dan Simon

CNN

(CNN) — A Louisiana man claims in a new book that his biological father was the notorious Zodiac Killer of northern California, who’s still sought by authorities, publisher HarperCollins said Tuesday.

The Zodiac serial killer is believed to have killed five people in 1968-69 and gained notoriety by writing several letters to police boasting of the slayings, with swatches of bloody clothing as proof of his claims. The serial killer claimed to have killed as many as 37 people and has never been caught.

Now Gary L. Stewart, a vice president at the cleaning company Delta Tech Service in Baton Rouge, is recounting his decade-long search for his biological father and has concluded that man — Earl Van Best, Jr., who’s now dead — was the Zodiac Killer, the publisher said.

On Tuesday, police in northern California said they weren’t aware of the book or its claims.

“It’s an open and active case, so we don’t comment,” San Francisco police spokesman Albie Esparza told CNN. “But (it’s) certainly something our homicide investigators will take a look at.”

Added Capt. Steve Blower of the Napa County Sheriff’s Office: “We have talked to many people over the years. We’ve gotten reports over the years from people who don’t pan out. This case is still open, and we still do accept tips or leads that may have bearing on the case.”

Stewart was born in New Orleans and abandoned as a newborn in a stairwell of Baton Rouge apartment building. He was later adopted and “had an idyllic childhood,” the publisher said.

About 10 years ago, when he was 39, Stewart’s birth mother, Judy, contacted him for the first time. He then began his search for his biological father, with whom his mother hadn’t been in contact since Stewart was abandoned.

Stewart, who is married with a child, kept a journal during the search, which became the basis for the book. Stewart has bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Louisiana State University.

“Stewart and Mustafa construct a chilling psychological profile of Stewart’s father: as a boy with disturbing fixations, as a frustrated intellectual with pretensions to high culture, and as an inappropriate suitor and then jilted lover unable to process his rage,” the publisher said.

The book, “The Most Dangerous Animal of All: Searching for My Father … and Finding the Zodiac Killer,” was co-written with journalist Susan Mustafa.

HarperCollins publicist Tina Andreadis told New York Magazine that “Stewart’s father had a criminal record in San Francisco (‘forgeries, bad checks’), and there was a strong resemblance between his father’s mug shot and the police sketch,” the magazine said.

“If you look at Gary’s photo next to the sketch of the Zodiac (killer) next to his father’s mug shot, you can see that there is very clearly more than just a passing resemblance,” Andreadis told the magazine. “They look alike.”

The Zodiac Killer craved attention and wrote several letters to newspapers taking credit for his crimes. He also included cryptograms or ciphers that he claimed would shed light on his identity.

But he was never caught.

The unsolved case inspired the 2007 film “Zodiac,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo.

CNN’s Augie Martin contributed to this report.

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