A group of people passionate about cryptography were able to decipher one of the coded messages sent 51 years ago by the mysterious "Zodiac Killer".
He is the serial killer who terrorized Northern California in the late 1960s and his identity remains unknown to this day.
This message was sent in November 1969 to the San Francisco Chronicle by the "Zodiac Killer". His code, consisting of a series of letters and enigmatic symbols in the form of a table, was a puzzle that the authorities and even the most powerful amateur solvers had not been able to decipher since.
The people involved in the "Zodiac Killer" case and the prosecuting authorities were hoping that this coded message would contain the name or even some other element that would lead to the identity of the criminal, who has been confirmed to have committed at least five murders. from 1968 to 1969, but claimed responsibility for a total of 37 while inspiring other serial killers.
But according to the trio of researchers who broke the code, these are just a few phrases in which the killer brags, defies the authorities and seems to go crazy, without revealing who he is.
"I hope you have a lot of fun trying to catch me (…). "I am not afraid of the gas chamber, because it will send me to paradise soon (…) now I have several slaves who work for me", the message states.
It took endless series of programming code and years of work before David Oranchak, a 46-year-old American web designer, was able to crack the cryptography he started working on in 2006.
He was assisted by Sam Blake, an Australian mathematician, and Jarl Van Aike, a Belgian programmer, Oranchak explained to the Chronicle, which confirmed that the discovery of the trio was confirmed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). .
- FBI SanFrancisco (@FBISanFrancisco) December 11, 2020
This is the second time a message has been decrypted by a killer in a Californian newspaper. The first was broken by a teacher and his wife in 1969: "I like to kill because it's so much fun," he said, referring to the "slaves" he would gather to serve him.
But the code used in that, the first message, was much simpler than the "340 encryption", which was christened because it contains 340 characters (17 columns, 20 lines).
"In the community of those trying to decipher (the messages Zodiac sent), we all thought there was another step, once you find out which letter corresponds to which symbol - indeed, that was the case," Orandzak explained.
The 340 encryption is read diagonally, starting with the first character in the first line on the left, going down one row at a time, and taking the character two positions to the right as the chess officer moves. You have to go back to the front row when you reach the end of this diagonal and continue, in the same way, he explained in a video on his YouTube channel.
According to Oranjak, this coding system can be found in a US military cryptography manual written in the 1950s.