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The Zodiac Killer’s cipher has been cracked after 50 long years

The legend of the northern California serial killer has ended…hopefully

On Friday, a team of cryptography enthusiasts revealed that they had successfully cracked one of the coded messages from the Zodiac Killer, sent over 50 years ago. The famed serial killer claimed to have killed 37 between the late 1960s and early 1970s have terrorised northern California and was never caught.

The message that was decided was sent in November 1960 to the San Francisco Chronicle by the alleged killer and consisted of cryptic letters and symbols, which was his modus operandi.

Staying a step ahead


The sleuths were hoping that his identity was included in the message but it was nothing but boasts and defiance of the authorities and did not provide anything related to his motive or identity.

One of the messages were: “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 paradise all the sooner because I now have enough slaves to work for me.”

David Oranchak, the 46-year-old American web designer started working on the code from 2006 and had to rely on various computer programs to decipher it. He was assisted by Sam Blake, an Australian mathematician, and Jarl Van Eykcke, a Belgian logistician. Oranchak confirmed the discovery to the FBI and later told the San Francisco Chronicle. 

One of the first messages sent to the newspapers was decoded by a schoolteacher and his wife in 1969. It read: “I like killing because it is so much fun.” At that time the code was much simpler compared to the “340 cipher” that was later adopted. This system of coding appears in particular in a cryptography manual that was used by the US army during the 1950s.

(Cover: Getty)

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