Reporter says Zodiac hung Tahoe woman’s remains in tree

Bill rozak

A pine stands next to a grove of aspen trees. It is just yards from a popular Tahoe campground and steps from the lake.

This may be where the remains of local woman Donna Lass were hung high up after her assassination by the Zodiac over 51 years ago. Lass, a Stateline nurse, went missing in September 1970.

Over a year ago, the Tahoe Daily Tribune obtained a pirate copy of an upcoming memoir titled “Catching Zodiac” by Peabody Award-winning television reporter Dale Julin who may be unmasking the killer, deciphering Previously unsolved cryptic puzzles and, through them, find possible macabre treasure maps to Lass’s remains at Zephyr Cove.

In his memoirs, Julin names the late Gary Francis Poste, who lived in a small community in Northern California, as the Zodiac.

A team of crime scene investigators, The Case Breakers, conducted their own investigation based on information in the book and named Poste as a suspect.

The Case Breakers said in an Oct. 6 press release that they believed the hair found in the murder of Cheri Jo Bates over 55 years ago in Riverside may belong to the recently deceased Poste, who they say has shot, stabbed or suffocated to death as many as 10 people between 1962 and 1970, including Lass who disappeared on or around September 6, 1970.

‘The she in the tree’

The Zodiac has sent anagrams and taunt letters to law enforcement and newspapers, spawning many amateurs and professionals over the years to attempt to solve the anagrams and the mystery.

Julin, TV news anchor for WJCL TV-22 in Savannah, Georgia, has spent hours, days and years poring over anagrams. He would spend time at his presenter’s desk before reporting the news, trying to figure out the numbers.

The whistleblower responsible for reporting the story to Julin, who is protected and called Wil, told her a story of being with Poste for a wedding in Tahoe, and that Poste made a crack that, “I fucked up. a she in a tree at Lake Tahoe that will grow forever! ”

In Julin’s book, which runs for about seven years, he said there were three possible cards Zodiac sent to the media, including the San Francisco Chronicle, that teased the press and police about Lass’s disappearance. – the “13 Hole Punch Card” the “Halloween Card” and the “Glance through the pines” card.

His solutions to the maps, which he solved as if they were anagrams, resulted in possible gruesome “treasure maps” for Lass’s body.

Julin solved the puzzles on the cards by treating them as if they were numbers sent entirely in code.

His Halloween card solution sent on October 27, 1970: “Goodbye Birdie! It’s time for me to fly! ”

A-OK (backwards N) Nurse Donna Lass’s body is Y-14-Y in a tree in a hollow ponderosa pine log.

E by night, you will now see her approaching the lunar sunrise in the view of Loch Blue Scorpius down to the ravine.

Y by CB MNZ 85 (degrees) SE of Zephyr Cove, 4 mi E of Stateline on the Hoot-n-Tootin MS Dixie.

OOD takes the helm. Eye eye Capt. Gary Francis Poste. CC: Franck Borman ”

His solution to the map of pins sent on March 22, 1971: “I’m going to drive myself to drink.”

Power up the 12cc = 4hp Model A on USFS acres to see Sis Donna Lass in a tree with an X cache mark.

Navigate to its historic Lincoln address.

On a beach. Facing the hill. Go fishing!

Z is Sir Gary Francis Poste.

His solution to the 13-hole punch card sent on October 5, 1970: “Let it snow … let it snow … let it snow”

Nurse Donna Lass’s body out of the joint is

13 meters tall in a bear cache marks a large pine tree

go compass magnetic north with a bearing of 85 degrees SE at 1970 implied feet from MS Dixie Port at Zephyr Cove

in the historic center of Lincoln,

Collect the phone line call,

Who? Gary Francis Poste.

“I was amazed at Dale’s tenacity and perseverance,” said Jen Bucholtz, a member of the Case Breakers and former military counterintelligence officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, who is also an author. published with a master’s degree in criminal justice and forensic science. . She helped connect Julin with the Case Breakers. “I never thought letters could be anagrams, kudos to him. I think he solved the case. I’ve read other stories and they don’t make as much sense. Him solving anagrams is what solidified him in my mind. This led to what I consider to be an evidence site. It was a big part of the manuscript.

The Tribune used these anagram solutions in June 2020, and like Julin did with a few others and a compass in 2015, went straight to the tree near Zephyr Cove RV Park and Campground, on the other side. from US Highway 50, the Lincoln Highway, hence the MS Quais Dixie II.

A Coast Guard officer who volunteered to help Julin find the tree using his crypto solutions helped solve part of a puzzle by recognizing a windbeard on the map . In the book, Julin quotes him as saying, “From where we stand, from here to the end of the dock next to the ship (MS Dixie II), the windbeard symbol found on the Halloween map points directly to the bottom of the platform. Here it indicates the direction of the prevailing wind. The wind blows from the quay towards the shore. South East. “

Like Julin, the Tribune started walking from the dock, crossed the street and entered the campsite. Due to the amount of activity in the RV park and the growth of vegetation outside the fence surrounding the campground, a direct route was not possible. But after a few tweaks trying to stay the course, within minutes we were at the base of the tree on Forest Service land, just outside the campground.

Julin describes in the book how Poste was a longtime house painter and that painters regularly use 40-foot ladders. He has also described at length through others how, on camping trips in the Sierra, Poste hung bear caches in trees.

At about 40 feet high, there was equipment connected to the tree, including a pair of metal wires that hung close to the ground.

Julin said: “There was a hole where the two main branches of the tree trunk separated and then grew back together. And in that hole was either a metal bar or a piece of cut wood that looked metallic. There was a glass insulator right next to it. The kind used on old telephone poles. Two metal wires hung from the insulator, each about 15 feet long. There was a metal strap that could have been used as a makeshift painter’s pulley. Pass a line through it. Bring things back.

After finding the pine tree using the Windbeard, visual clues, and compass bearing, Julin’s group held hands at its base and said a prayer for Lass.

Although he located a suspicious tree, Julin did not find Lass’s remains.

Julin called 911 after finding the tree and deputies from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office responded. Julin said they seemed skeptical and told him he needed to speak to detectives, which was not possible for a few days.

A few days later, Julin told his story to the detectives while he was sitting in their office and they agreed to visit the tree.

Julin located a local painter who authorized the use of a ladder. He said that when he was leaning against the tree, he led to the exact spot.

A detective climbed the ladder but Julin said the detective thought, “It was just another tree in the forest” and there was no “X” or “Z” marking the spot. .

Detectives agreed to send a corpse dog to search for any remains, which Douglas Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Elges recently confirmed to the Tribune. An approximately hour-long search with a cadaver dog that took place on the day the Golden State Warriors won an NBA title in 2015 turned out to be empty.

But Julin wrote that there are unfinished business and the search should have taken longer and expanded to cover a larger area.

He suggested that the owners of Zephyr Cove Resort could take “ghost” tours from the dock across the highway to the RV campground. From a particular site, the tree is visible above a small fence in a ravine.

“Everything it takes to uncover the true story of Donna Lass’s disappearance,” Julin wrote.

“When he first reached out, I was understandably skeptical, hundreds of people thought he had solved the problem,” Bucholtz said. “I went through about half the book and I was like, oh my god, this all makes sense. And in the end, I felt like it had to be the guy.

Julin contacted Bucholtz as he searched for a way to advance his theory and she, in turn, helped him put him in contact with the Case Breakers.

“What I immediately liked and respected was that Dale took his chances with someone else by bringing him this information,” Bucholtz said. “He took a chance, gathered the information and went down this path, this 7 year journey, and I have so much respect for that. Who accepts this as a second full time unpaid job and never gives up? It will pay off for him and his work will be recognized.

DNA match could unravel mystery of the zodiac

Gary Francis Poste died in 2018.

The Case Breakers believe that Post’s DNA from the Riverside murder would match if they were to take a test. But the Riverside Police Department has not made this DNA available.

“Without saying how we got there, we ruled out Cheri Jo Bates was murdered by the Zodiac,” Riverside Police spokesman Ryan Railsback told the Tribune last week.

Railsback said his department has ruled out Bates being murdered by the Zodiac due to a multi-year collaboration with an FBI genealogy team that determined that a handwritten letter was written by a troubled teenager. He also mentioned that he didn’t want to use the DNA they left or didn’t leave because they thought it wasn’t Zodiac.

Case Breakers organizer Thomas Colbert said in a statement it would take a few minutes to compare DNA and that he hopes the next leader will have “a backbone.”

Editor’s Note: The Tahoe Daily Tribune was contacted by Julin over a year ago, after discovering that the Tribune had acquired a copy of her memoir which had yet to be published. The Tribune delayed publication of this story until the release of The Case Breakers press release last week, naming Poste as a Zodiac suspect. Julin agreed to let the Tribune share his revelations about Zephyr Cove because he has been in contact with Donna Lass’ family for over five years and now says, more than ever, that he wants them to have closure.

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