The Zodiac Killer’s Code Has Just Been Broken, It Took 51 Years To Read This Message

Over fifty years after it was sent to authorities, one of the original ciphers from the Zodiac killer has been solved by a team of codebreakers.

By Doug Norrie | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

Zodiac Killer

The Zodiac killer might still be at large after more than five decades, but there’s at least a sliver of hope that he/she will one day be caught. Causing mayhem, murdering, and sending in cryptic messages was all part of the elusive game played by this psycho. But one of those messages may begin to point to the killer’s actual identity. Over fifty years after it was sent to authorities, one of the original ciphers has actually been solved by a team of codebreakers

As part of their modus operandi, the Zodiac Killer would send in letters and cards to the press and the San Francisco police with a series of cryptograms for them to solve. The cipher in question here was originally mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle and contained 340 characters. No one was able to solve it for years, frustrating authorities because they believed it would offer a major clue to his identity. But now, a team of codebreakers, led by David Oranchak and including Sam Blake and Jarl Van Eycke have figured it out and sent their findings to the FBI. The letter reads like this: 

The team of codebreakers used a computer program along with just general trial-and-error to eventually decode the Zodiac killer’s cipher. They worked on it for over a year, which is impressive considering authorities had this puzzle for half a century and couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Though it doesn’t point to the killer’s actual identity, there could be some clues in the message that help lead to eventually identifying this murderer. 

The Zodiac killer operated in the Bay Area in the latter part of the 1960s and early 1970s. They were responsible for at least seven different murders, but some believe they actually may have committed more than 30 during their reign of terror. Originally, they appeared to target young couples on dates either stabbing or shooting them, but some of the later murders were just of individuals. The inconsistency of both victims and methods – sometimes stabbed, sometimes shot – baffled authorities and caused significant strife among the community who feared for their own safety. 

Causing even more fear and mystery, the Zodiac killer sent in letters to the press which were sometimes in the form of standard communication, but other times were written in code. This latest one, solved just a few days ago, specifically references a local television talk show on which a person claiming to be the Zodiac killer called in, saying they didn’t want to go to the gas chamber, but this letter refutes that appearance.

Zodiac Killer come
An example of the Zodiac killer’s coded messages.

The Zodiac killer case is still open and though maybe not actively investigated, is a sticking point for authorities. That it remains unsolved makes it one of the true mysteries of our time. But there’s still hope of one day tracking down the killer’s identity. The Golden State Killer just recently outed using DNA technology after years of searching. There’s some hope the Zodiac killer can be tracked down in a similar way.

After more than fifty years one of the major clues of this crazy case has been cracked, but the killer still remains at large. Here’s hoping it’s another step closer to tracking the Zodiac killer down and bringing him to justice if they’re even still alive. 

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