It’s been more than 50 years since the serial killer known as the Zodiac Killer sent a cipher to the San Francisco Chronicle taunting authorities for failing to catch him. It was just one of the ciphers sent to the Chronicle while he terrorized Northern California in the late 60s, yet it now appears to have been solved.
CNN reported that three amateur code breakers may have finally figured out what the killer’s cipher was saying.
“Dubbed the ‘340 cipher,’ the message was unraveled by a trio of code breakers — David Oranchak, a software developer in Virginia, Jarl Van Eycke, a Belgian computer programmer, and Sam Blake, an Australian mathematician,” CNN reported.
The message, which contained all capital letters and a potential misspelling of the word “paradise,” is believed to say:
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 I now 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 will be an easy one in paradice death.
As CNN noted, the TV show reference is to “The Jim Dunbar Show,” a television talk show that aired in the San Francisco area. In 1969, a man claiming to be the Zodiac Killer called into Dunbar’s show repeatedly, saying few words before hanging up each time. The cipher that has been decoded was sent to the Chronicle two weeks after the show aired.
Oranchak, the Virginia software developer, told CNN that it was “incredible” to decipher the killer’s code.
“It was a big shock, I never really thought we’d find anything because I had grown so used to failure,” he told the outlet. “When I first started, I used to get excited when I would see some words come through — they were like false positives, phantoms. I had grown used to that. It was a long shot — we didn’t even really know if there was a message.”
Oranchak has been reportedly trying to decode the killer’s ciphers since 2006.
The FBI’s San Francisco branch released a statement following the news:
The FBI is aware that a cipher attributed to the Zodiac Killer was recently solved by private citizens. The Zodiac Killer case remains an ongoing investigation for the FBI San Francisco division and our local law enforcement partners. The Zodiac Killer terrorized multiple communities across Northern California and even though decades have gone by, we continue to seek justice for the victims of these brutal crimes. Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, and out of respect for the victims and their families, we will not be providing further comment at this time.
The Zodiac Killer is known to have killed five people within the span of one year, yet in his correspondence to the media, he claimed to have killed 37. Numerous people have claimed to be relatives of someone they believe to have been the killer.
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