Back in the 1960s and 1970s a serial killer was on the loose and was known as the zodiac killer. During his run, he killed nearly five people in the Northern California Bay area.
His first two victims were high school students who were parked in their car, on their first date. In his later attacks, he murdered the women of two couples, while their partners survived. A male San Francisco cab driver was his last known victim.
Throughout his span, he sent letters to the media, taking credit for the kills. To prove he was who he said he was, he gave details from the scenes that only the killer would have known. His messages were written through a cipher, in which he used different symbols to represent letters. His first letters were sent to three papers in the region, and each contained a different cipher.
The papers then ran the ciphers as directed by the zodiac killer, who threatened to kill more if they did not comply. One of his simpler ciphers was decoded as “I LIKE KILLING PEOPLE BECAUSE IT IS SO MUCH FUN IT IS MORE FUN THAN KILLING WILD GAME IN THE FORREST BECAUSE MAN IS THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL OF ALL TO KILL SOMETHING GIVES ME THE MOST THRILLING EXPERIENCE IT IS EVEN BETTER THAN GETTING YOUR ROCKS OFF WITH A GIRL THE BEST PART OF IT IS THAT WHEN I DIE I WILL BE REBORN IN PARADICE AND ALL THE I HAVE KILLED WILL BECOME MY SLAVES I WILL NOT GIVE YOU MY NAME BECAUSE YOU WILL TRY TO SLOW DOWN OR STOP MY COLLECTING OF SLAVES FOR MY AFTERLIFE EBEORIETEMETHHPITI”.
However, many of his letters were so complex, they could not be decoded until 2020. “The cipher had been unsolved for so long, it had a huge target on its back, and I felt like it was a challenge that had a chance of being solved,” stated Dave Oranchak, who was a part of the team of three men who cracked the code. “It was an exciting project to work on, and it was on many people’s ‘top unsolved ciphers of all time’ lists.”
His final code read, “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 PARADICE SO THEY ARE AFRAID OF DEATH I AM NOT AFRAID BECAUSE I KNOW THAT MY NEW LIFE WILL BE AN EASY ONE IN PARADISE DEATH.”
Since the news, the FBI did confirm that the cryptogram was solved. According to the FBI, “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 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.”