Zodiac Killer’s cipher finally decoded: Read the newly cracked message
The Zodiac was the most elusive & intriguing serial killer of the 20th century. He killed dozens of California denizens during the 1960s & 70s, but his identity remains a mystery to the world despite the written letters teasing his name. All that could change, however. A trio of men claim to have solved the Zodiac’s infamous 340 cipher, and the FBI have validated their discovery.
The trio is comprised of Belgian software engineer Jarl Van, American cryptographer David Oranchak, and Australian software engineer Sam Blake. They decided to take a crack at the Zodiac’s most infamous cipher, and they told CNN that they managed to find an accurate (albeit chilling) translation for the message.
The trio’s translation reads as follows:
“I hope you are having lots of fun 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.”
The comment about television is in reference to an alleged appearance the Zodiac made on Jim Dunbar’s talk show in 1969. A man called in claiming to be the killer and talked on the air, but surviving victim Bryan Hartnell confirmed that it was not Zodiac’s voice.
The translated cipher continues, with references to “paradice” (Zodiac was known for misspelling certain words) and “slaves”, or the souls of the people he killed.
“All the sooner because I now have enough slaves to work for me where everyone else has nothing when they reach paradise 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”, the killer allegedly wrote.
Long time coming
The trio had been working on decoding the cipher since 2006, and were shocked to find that they had actually broken through. “It was incredible”, Oranchak told CNN. “It was a big shock, I never really thought we’d find anything because I’d grown used to failure.”
“When I first started, I used to get excited when I would see some words come through — they were like false positives, phantoms”, he added. “I had grown used to that. It was a long shot — we didn’t even really know if there was a message.”
#Breaking – Our statement regarding the #Zodiac cipher: pic.twitter.com/cJCtlDEbMw
— FBI SanFrancisco (@FBISanFrancisco) December 11, 2020
Long time coming
Van, Oranchak, and Blake reportedly took their findings to the FBI a week ago, but they did not speak on their discovery until the Bureau made a formal announcement.
“The FBI is aware that a cipher attributed to the Zodiac Killer was recently solved by private citizens”, the FBI’s San Francisco office said in a written statement. “The Zodiac Killer case remains an ongoing investigation for the FBI in San Francisco and our local law enforcement partners.”
The FBI confirmed that the Zodiac murders are still considered to be open cases, and therefore they are unable to share additional information regarding the cipher or the trio’s discovery.
For those interested to see how the trio broke the cipher, you can check out a YouTube breakdown that was posted on Oranchak’s channel. In the video, the cryptographer says he used a specifically developed decryption software that was able to sort through 650K variations of the message.
The 340 cipher has long been considered the holy grail of Zodiac cyphers, so solving it is a massive step towards solving the case. That said, the cipher seemingly offers no info about the killer or his identity. This frustrating discovery is not lost on Oranchak.
There’s a chance the Zodiac’s identity could be hidden in the two ciphers that remain unsolved, but the cryptographer does not consider them to be solvable. Both of these ciphers are short in comparison to the 340, which means there are smaller margins for error and less information to be able to determine a pattern.
The search for the Zodiac continues . . .