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Modern Mysteries

'Zodiac Killer' cipher solved after 51 years

By T.K. Randall
December 12, 2020 · Comment icon 45 comments

Who is the Zodiac Killer and where is he now ? Image Credit: PD
The notorious serial killer, who to this day has never been caught, left several mysterious ciphers.
The unidentified individual, who terrorized parts of northern California back in the 1960s and 1970s, has been linked to at least 5 murders and several attempted murders in the San Francisco Bay area.

At the time, he had contacted several newspapers and even the police themselves with cryptic messages in the form of ciphers which experts have long struggled to solve.

His first cipher, which was solved by a schoolteacher and his wife, read simply - "I like killing."

Another however, which was sent to The Chronicle in November 1969, proved so difficult to figure out that it has taken a staggering 51 years for someone to solve it.

Now according to expert David Oranchak, who has been working on the codes for years, it reads:
"I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me. ... I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradice (sic) all the sooner because I now have enough slaves to work for me."

Sadly, however, the message does not help authorities identify the killer.

"The FBI is aware that a cipher attributed to the Zodiac Killer was recently solved by private citizens," said FBI spokeswoman Cameron Polan. "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."

Source: SF Chronicle | Comments (45)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #36 Posted by Skulduggery 3 years ago
@pallidin It is very likely the killer is dead by now. Regarding hair, it may be necessary to have the root to get a full profile, I forget; I am not an expert at that stuff. BUT...there is no hair that's confirmed to be from the Zodiac. Some strands were found in the Cheri Jo Bates case (unconfirmed Zodiac victim), but they were determined to probably be facial hair and no DNA analysis has been made as of yet, at least not publicly known if so.
Comment icon #37 Posted by InconceivableThoughts 3 years ago
Maybe it's spelled wrong on purpose?
Comment icon #38 Posted by smanthaonvaca 3 years ago
This is obviously a minutial detail and slightly off topic but it's just an interesting observation. "AZDecrypt" was the name of their decryption software which was inspired by the killer. Was the password cracking program "John the Ripper"  inspired and named after Jack the Ripper? I couldnt find anything on it and I dont know much about these programs but someone else might.  
Comment icon #39 Posted by HollyDolly 3 years ago
Well that could be the case in regards to John the Ripper being based off jack the Ripper. Glad they solved the cipher, but still didn't answer who did the killing.Remember when  several years back, the local San Antonio News and the Seguin Gazette, about 20 miles from me had about some man who onced lived in Seguin as being a Zodiac suspect. Can't even recall this guy's name. Might have to Google it. Haven't heard anything more on the subject, so it might have been a dead end.
Comment icon #40 Posted by Robotic Jew 3 years ago
I thought the unsolved coded letters were meant to reveal his identity when solved? Or am I thinking of something else?
Comment icon #41 Posted by HSlim 3 years ago
I think that's in regards to the Z13 cipher, not Z 340
Comment icon #42 Posted by HSlim 3 years ago
And even with the Z 13 cipher, there's a thought that it's a tease because the first 3 cipher symbols on that one are AEN and that AEN stands for Alfred E Neuman from MAD Magazine.  The Zodiac specifically said at one point that he would not give his name, so this may have been his sense of humor. 
Comment icon #43 Posted by Skulduggery 3 years ago
If you can find anything on this, I'd be interested to see who they thought it could have been.
Comment icon #44 Posted by Skulduggery 3 years ago
Oh, I seem to have found it. Jack Terrance. It's been known for a while he wasn't Zodiac.
Comment icon #45 Posted by Robotic Jew 3 years ago
I keep hoping they're able to pull a GSK type DNA match out of somewhere and solve this thing but I know the chances of that are very slim. 

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