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Alleged Chinese Zodiac Killer is behind bars, Clayton mother speaks out about violent incident in the past

Published: May. 20, 2022 at 5:04 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A LaFargeville man who calls himself the Chinese Zodiac Killer is behind bars.

Federal Officials are citing he sent dozens of threatening letters across the Northeast, including to us here at 7 News.

The arrest has one Clayton mother speaking out, talking about a violent incident in the suspect’s past.

“He played guitar and sang, and composed, he wrote a lot of his own songs and lyrics,” said Melody Brabant.

Brabant talking about her son Keith, who died more than a decade ago.

Keith was involved in an incident with his childhood best friend Jesse Bartlett at Bartlett’s County Route 2 home.

Here is Bartlett’s account of the altercation from 12 years ago:

“There came a point where the gun came into issue with me trying to protect myself because this guy was going absolutely berserk and I am not exaggerating, threatening to murder me,” said Bartlett.

A grand jury decided to not indict Bartlett who claimed he was defending himself against Brabant.

Now, Bartlett is facing federal charges in a separate matter, accusing Bartlett mailed threatening letters and cyphers to businesses, government offices, and churches in several states, claiming to be a serial killer.

Here at WWNY, we received one of Bartlett’s letters last Fall.

The sender called himself the Chinese Zodiac Killer, saying he is a sexual predator and a killer and “loose in your realty.”

Bartlett was surveilled dropping letters off, with gloves on, into post office boxes in Watertown and Clayton.

Now with this out there, Brabant hopes this will lead to her son Keith’s case possibly getting a 2nd look.

“Keith’s dead, nothing is going to change that, but there is a lot of people who want justice for Keith,” said Brabant.

In the letter, Bartlett wrote that we was looking to kill a school bus driver and keep a watchful eye on kids.

7 News has learned Jesse Bartlett was working for the bus company, First Student, at the time of his arrest.

A spokesperson for the company says they are partnering with local authorities and the FBI, placing Bartlett on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Bartlett faces up to 5 years in prison if convicted. He is set to appear in federal court in Albany on Monday.

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