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Zodiac Killer cipher solved by YouTube codebreakers after 51 years
12 December 2020, 13:49 | Updated: 12 December 2020, 13:55
The FBI have confirmed that three codebreakers have solved a 340-character cipher purportedly written by the notorious Zodiac Killer, who terrorised the San Francisco Bay area.
The so-called Zodiac Killer, sent multiple coded messages to multiple newspapers during their killing spree, using a series of distinctive symbols.
The culprit was never caught after murdering five people in stabbings and shootings in the 1960s and 70s.
51 years after one of these messages was sent to the San Francisco Chronicle, three people from the US, Belgium and Australia have cracked the code.
On Friday, Virginia web-designer David Oranchak posted a video on YouTube saying he had cracked the code with Australian applied mathematician Sam Blake and Belgian Jarl Van Eycke, a warehouse operator and code-breaking engineer.
Mr Oranchak’s video dedicates their efforts “to the victims of the Zodiac Killer, their families and descendants,” adding: “We hope that one day justice will prevail.”
In a statement the FBI San Francisco Division said: “The FBI is aware that a cipher attributed to the Zodiac Killer was recently solved by private citizens.
”The Zodiac Killer case remains an ongoing investigation for the FBI San Francisco division and local law enforcement partners.
“The Zodiac Killer terrorised multiple communities across Northern California and even though decades have gone by, we continue to seek justice for the victims of these brutal crimes.”
Taunting the reader, the now readable message says: “I hope you are having lots of fun in 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 paradise 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 paradise death”
The message fits with events at the time, after a person purporting to be the Zodiac called into a TV talk show and said “I’m sick... I don’t want to go to the gas chamber.”
The codebreakers conceded the message does not read quite right yet and called for people to help figure out how it is meant to be read.
“It has been a very exciting few days... The message doesn’t really say a whole lot, it is more of the same attention seeking junk from Zodiac,” Mr Oranchak said.
“We were disappointed he didn’t put any personally identifying information in the message, but we didn’t expect him to.”
This is the second cipher to be cracked, after the first was solved quickly by a local couple after it was published in a newspaper.
Similar to this second message, the first also taunted those looking for the killer, reading: “I like killing because it is so much fun.”
The FBI spokesperson added: “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.”