A New York man accused of mailing threatening letters that identified their sender as the “Chinese Zodiac Killer” is a school bus driver who owns multiple firearms, according to prosecutors.
Jesse Bartlett, 45, was arrested and charged on May 19 for sending the letters to multiple locations across the Northeast, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia. Recipients were private businesses, houses of worship, media outlets and government offices, including the White House.
At a detention hearing on Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Wentworth-Ping said investigators found five rifles, two shotguns and a high-capacity magazine at Bartlett’s home in LaFargeville, Jefferson County. They also allegedly found messages for the FBI on his walls, but the details of their contents have not been disclosed.
Bartlett reportedly admitted to mailing the letters, in which he claimed to have killed people and eaten their flesh. He also threatened to murder more, including an unidentified bus driver.
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Months after the first letters were sent, authorities began to focus their attention on Bartlett. On May 12, the FBI filmed Bartlett dropping 21 envelopes into U.S. Postal Service boxes in Watertown and Clayton, and another 21 in the same Watertown bin on May 15. Further investigation found that all 42 letters were consistent with those written by the “Chinese Zodiac Killer.”
Bartlett did not always identify himself as the “Chinese Zodiac Killer.” The May 12 letters were signed “Aleister Crowley,” an apparent reference to the late British occultist, which aligns with investigators’ discovery that Bartlett has an interest in black magic.
This is not Bartlett’s first run-in with the law. In 2010, he fatally shot a former friend who allegedly “invaded his home and threatened to kill him,” and was cleared on the grounds of self-defense.
Bartlett has been charged with mailing threatening letters, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, up to $250,000 in fines and up to three years of supervised release. He is being held at the Albany County Jail, where he is awaiting psychiatric evaluation.
Featured Image via FBI