He claimed that he killed 37 people and experts who were on the case estimate the number to be anywhere between 20 and 28, a horrific number that puts him right up there with Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy. He also inspired multiple other serial killers, including the BTK Killer who sent messages to the media but caught because of it.
What’s remarkable about this unidentified monster is that he sent numerous letters to local newspapers and media stations in the San Francisco Bay area in the 1960s and 1970s, the area that the killer operated. These letters often included cryptic messages, many of which have never been solved.
For multiple decades, countless experts have cracked their heads trying to decipher these messages with the hope of unveiling the person behind these heinous crimes.
What nobody deemed possible has finally happened. A trio of amateur researchers managed to solve the cryptic message that was sent by the Zodiac Killer to reporters of the newspaper the “San Francisco Chronicle” in November 1969.
The trio consists of American David Oranchak, a 46-year old web designer who lives in Virginia, Sam Blake, an Australian mathematician, and Jarl Van Eycke, a Belgian programmer.
Oranchak had been working on a program to solve the Zodiac Killer code since 2006, and in December 2020, his program finally solved the mystery.
The Zodiac Killer Code
The cipher in question is referred to as the “340 Cipher” (because it contains 340 characters) and the text that was revealed is the following:
I HOPE YOU ARE HAVING LOTS OF FUN IN TRYING TO CATCH ME THAT WASNT 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 IS LIFE WILL BE AN EASY ONE IN PARADICE DEATH.Solution of the “340 Cipher.”
Unfortunately, this revelation didn’t reveal the identity of the killer but ti does paint a picture of a delusional serial killer who killed because he believed his victims would help him in the afterlife.
The TV show he’s referring to in the message was Jim Dunbar’s “AM San Francisco” on KGO-TV. This show aired in October of 1969 and the caller claimed to be the Zodiac Killer.
This turned out to be a prankster with a sick sense of humor, something that was also confirmed in the cryptic message sent by the real Zodiac Killer a few weeks later. The guy in the TV-show actually mentioned that he was afraid of the gas chamber, something the real Zodiac denied.
Will the real Zodiac Killer ever be unmasked?
The solution to the 340 Cipher didn’t help the investigation one bit, and it only confirms that the killer had a death wish. This in combination with the fact that the confirmed murders happened over 5 decades ago make it unlikely that the killer is still alive.
There are, however, 2 ciphers left to be solved and what gives us hope is that in one of the letters he claims that his name is mentioned in at least one of them.
This means we can only hope that the computer program of the 3 amateur experts will do its magic to solve the Zodiac Killer code once again and reveal the true identity of one of the most notorious serial killers in history!