Armchair detectives and true-crime podcast addicts everywhere know about the Zodiac Killer, the unidentified serial murderer who terrorized San Francisco in the late 1960s with bizarre, puzzle-like riddles about his chilling homicides. The Minnesota faithful will tell you it’s no surprise the guy turned out to be a Vikings fan.
News broke on Oct. 6th that a group of former law enforcement officers and journalists had at last (allegedly) successfully identified the Zodiac Killer as Gary Francis Poste. Not long after the revelation, photos surfaced of Poste, who died in 2018, and there’s an awfully familiar logo on his purple cap in a lot of the pics.
That’s right, one of America’s most terrifying boogeymen was throwing his remote at the TV when Gary Anderson missed his kick in 1999, just like you were.
The potential connection between Zodiac and Vikings isn’t a new one, although the link to our particular Purple People Eaters was a little less obvious. In one of the notes the killer sent to the San Francisco Chronicle, he makes reference to “‘sla’ an Old Norse word meaning ‘kill.’” There was already a theory that the killer was into Vikings…just not, you know, THE Vikings.
If you want to know more details about the Zodiac Killer’s years-long murder spree, allow me to introduce you to Wikipedia, or check out David Fincher’s pretty excellent movie on the topic, 2007’s not-so-cryptically titled Zodiac.
First, it should be noted that Wisconsin has produced or sheltered several of the most notorious serial killers in American history so, statistically, there’s a good chance that more serial killers approve of the Green Bay Packers than the Vikings.
But, if we’re being honest with ourselves, can we really be shocked that the man who was likely the Zodiac Killer also considered himself a part-time Skoldier?
No, we cannot.
It makes too much sense that the Zodiac was a Vikings fan.
There’s the obvious connection: The guy fetishized pain and misery. Obviously, he’s taking it to pathological extremes, but who among us have not wondered if we’re a little sick in the head for wallowing in tragedy, for continuing to subject ourselves to suffering while we in turn watch the suffering of others. We relive the agony on instant replay. In slow motion. It’s certainly a kind of sickness, even if the veneer of Tony Romo color commentary has a normalizing effect. Many a Vikings fan was born into the tradition and embrace it nobly, but we can’t kid ourselves that it might also be a magnet for certain sicko-types.
What really gives it away is the Zodiac Killer’s obsession with riddles. Among the taunting messages he sent to police and journalists were elaborate puzzles, often consisting of letters and (obviously) zodiac symbols that suggested his identity would be revealed if someone just cracked the code.
Who, more than Vikings fans, can appreciate a seemingly solvable puzzle that only retreats into mystery the closer you look at it? The Minnesota Vikings have been trying to figure out how to construct a Super Bowl-winning roster since the early ‘60s (just a few scant years before the murders began, btw), and every time they think they have it figured out, the answer seems to melt away into a blur of arcane scribblings and computations that don’t quite add up.
Journalist Robert Graysmith, on whose firsthand account of the investigation the movie Zodiac is based, writes about his own personal unraveling as he pours over the killer’s taunting puzzles. Graysmith is convinced that if he just looks hard enough, just matches up the right set of symbols, and finds the proper combination, he can unlock all the answers. But the answers remained elusive, and his obsession with it nearly drove him mad.
Sound familiar? Or is staring at the offensive line depth chart for hours and poring over Kirk Cousins’ stats to find out if he’s actually not all that bad in clutch situations if you just look at the numbers in a certain way, is that all perfectly healthy behavior?
We’ve taken a few surprising Ls here in the first couple months of the season, but finding out that a human monster was likely rooting along with us for Adrian Peterson to break Eric Dickerson’s record is one of the more startling. Still, we can’t really be surprised.
No, Gary Francis Poste’s purported fandom didn’t curse the Vikings. Nor did the Vikings’ woes drive anyone to murder. (What are we, Raiders fans?) It does, however, seem inevitable that the masochistic ritual of hoping consistent special teams play finally gets you past the NFC Championship game for the first time in decades is going to hold some appeal for deeply troubled types.
Don’t take it too personally, though, my Purple-blooded friends. There’s almost certainly some photos floating around out there of Jeffrey Dahmer wearing green and gold.