Since the release of poll results conducted by Public Policy Polling indicated that 10 percent of Floridian responders reported that they believed Ted Cruz to be the Zodiac Killer, the bizarre rumors have taken the internet by storm. Credited to have been started by a satirical Twitter account known as @RedPillAmerica in March of 2013, the Ted Cruz/Zodiac Killer connection is just now gaining public attention.

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So, are the rumors based on any truth? Could Ted Cruz possibly be the the unidentified killer who terrorized Northern California throughout the 1960s and 1970s? I think it’s safe to say that it’s impossible for a number of different reasons, but Twitter has offered some compelling “evidence” created by trolls and comedians supporting the idea.

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These are all clearly fabricated with the intention of being funny, but I was still curious if there were people who truly believed that Ted Cruz could be the Zodiac Killer. I tracked down a former Vice contributor who set up a small online store selling “Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer” t-shirts. He adds in the disclaimer that it’s clear that Ted Cruz is not, in fact, the Zodiac Killer and was only using the meme as a launch point to spread awareness of Ted Cruz’s anti-abortion policies in Texas. The store creators – Tim Faust and artist Rory Blank – have since reported that they were able to raise $65,000 for abortion charities through their online sales alone.

Regardless of your personal feelings on abortion, you have to admit that the two activists accomplished a phenomenal feat utilizing a satirical internet smear campaign against Cruz. While looking into Faust’s motivations for selling the t-shirts may have led me to a dead end in regards to my question on whether or not some people believed Ted Cruz to be the Zodiac Killer, I was still determined to dig up something.

I decided to join in the fun on my own Twitter account, going straight to the source and asking Ted Cruz to issue a statement on whether or not he was the Zodiac Killer and how he felt that some believed this to be true. I also took the opportunity to ask other Republican presidential candidates if they believed Cruz could possibly be the infamous killer.

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As I expected, there was no response to any of my media inquiries.

The truth was out there, and I was determined to find it.

The truth was out there, and I was determined to find it.

Finding someone to answer my questions may have proven itself to be more difficult than I expected, but I hadn’t given up hope yet. Drudging through hours of Mark Dice and Alex Jones videos, lurking through popular conspiracy theory messages boards, surely there had to be something on Ted Cruz being the man behind the burlap mask of the Zodiac Killer. It was approaching 2:30am EST and I was well past my limit on the bottle of Wild Turkey I had purchased earlier, but that didn’t matter. I had a story to write.

I scrolled through post after post. “PROOF! Miley is an Mk-Ultra Sex Kitten!” said one, while another indicated that CNN reporter Anderson Cooper had been implanted with a reptilian chip. If anyone believed that Ted Cruz could possibly be the Zodiac Killer, then I was certain that I would find that person here.

I continued to search through website after website, looking for any scrap of evidence to confirm that someone, somewhere took the joke seriously. Growing ever so drunk and discouraged with each passing click, I finally succumbed to exhaustion and called it a night, determined to get an early start the following morning.

That early start never happened, but I did manage to come up with two interesting leads on Reddit. One of these leads included a petition created on Change.org, requesting Ted Cruz to make a public statement on whether or not he was really the Zodiac Killer. Included within the link is a video the petition’s creator — Grace Holcombe — created exposing “evidence” against Cruz. Though I could not reach Holcombe for comment directly, it would seem that Holcombe was in on the joke.

The second lead was a crowdfund set up by a documentary filmmaker, Xander Winans, a Fresno City College student. According to Winans’ crowdfunding page:

“The Zodiac Killer still walks among us and now he is running for president. Help me uncover the truth once and for all! I plan to prove without a shadow of a doubt that ‘Ted Cruz’is the real Zodiac Killer. To do this I need your help! Help fund my endeavor as I document my investigation of the murders and their connection to the presidential candidate. This money will be used to purchase the required camera equipment as well as travel expenses as I travel to interview anybody who supposedly knows Ted as well as anybody with inside information that may prove helpful.

This mystery has been unsolved long enough let us hold the real killer responsible.”

I attempted to reach Winans in order to hear in his own words why he decided to start this project and if he truly believed that Cruz was the Zodiac Killer. He never responded to my interview request. Based on only a quick analysis of his Facebook and Instagram accounts, it would seem that Winans liked the idea to push his own political agendas and didn’t really care if Cruz was or wasn’t the Zodiac Killer.

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My investigation had come to an end. My takeaway was that not only is Ted Cruz definitely not the Zodiac Killer, but even on the internet, no one really believes it to be true.

While my investigation may have not panned out the way I had hoped it to, I find what’s most interesting about the tongue-in-cheek theory that Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer is that it doesn’t matter if it’s true. It’s a social experiment designed to demonstrate what a powerful force the internet is. Every major news agency has covered the joke within recent weeks and some people clearly found it funny enough to mark “yes” on a poll question regarding whether or not they believed the joke was true. It’s a force that can transform Presidential hopefuls into serial killers and others into saints with just a few strokes of the keyboard. If that kind of raw and easily accessible power doesn’t scare people just a little, then I don’t know what will.