After 51 Years, The Zodiac Killer’s Cipher was Finally Cracked
In the late 1960s, five murders occurred in California that have been unsolved and have left law enforcement stumped since. Finally, all of that has come to a close. Thanks to an international team of codebreakers, the mystery has been solved.
The Zodiac Killer is the alias of an unnamed serial killer that was believed to have murdered five people in the Northern Bay area in California from 1968 to 1969. The code was sent to the San Francisco Chronicle in November of 1969 and authorities and codebreakers alike have been trying to decipher it since. The code contains 340 characters and because of this, it has been known as the 340 Cipher.
The message was solved by a team of codebreakers from Australia, Belgium, and the United States. The team is made up of Sam Blake, a mathematician in Australia; Jarl Van Eycke, a warehouse operator and computer programmer in Belgium; and David Oranchak, a software developer in Virginia. Oranchak has been working on the code since 2006 and has not given up since. In a YouTube video last Friday from his YouTube channel called “Let’s Crack Zodiac,” he details about the process they did to break the code. It involved trying out more than 650,000 possible simulations. Van Evcke’s program was responsible for revealing the first two clear sections of the code. As it turns out, the words ran diagonally down the page and sometimes moved over a column. The whole message says:
“I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me. That wasn’t me on the TV show which brings up a point about me. I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradice all the sooner because now I have enough slaves to work for me. Where everyone else has nothing when they reach paradice, so they are afraid of death. I am not afraid because I know that my new life is life will be an easy one in paradice death.”
It is thought that the misspelling of the word paradise was intentional as it also appeared in his other writings. The TV show in the message refers to Jim Dunbar’s AM San Francisco show where a person called in claiming to be the Zodiac Killer and said, “I don’t want to go the gas chamber.”
This isn’t the first time a Zodiac code has been cracked. In 1969, the Zodiac Killer sent a cipher to newspapers The Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, and Vallejo Times-Herald that was solved by a Salinas schoolteacher, Donald Harden, and his wife, Bettye. The 408 Cipher, as it’s called, reads, “I like killing because it is so much fun. It is more fun than killing wild game in the forest because man is the most dangerous animal of all.”
The messages don’t do much except prove that the Zodiac Killer wanted attention. He claims to have committed 37, but only 5 were proven to be done by him. However, this is still a step towards solving the murders. There are still two more codes left to crack and authorities are hoping the Zodiac’s name will be revealed in one of them.