It took 51 years, but Zodiac’s 340 Cipher has finally been cracked

By a team of international cryptographers

Three codebreakers working remotely from around the world have managed to crack one of the Zodiac Killer’s remaining unsolved ciphers, 51 years later.

In what is without a doubt one of the most well-known unsolved cases in history, the Zodiac Killer terrorized California from the late ’60s to early ’70s with five confirmed victims and two men surviving the attempted murders. What made this case so intriguing was the letters and ciphers sent to various newspapers that went unsolved for so many years.



The first cipher was mailed in three parts to three different newspapers but was quickly solved a few days later by a schoolteacher and his wife. After that, the Zodiac’s ciphers because even more difficult and many thought they would go unsolved forever.

Enter Sam Blake (Australia), Jarl Van Eycke (Belgium), and David Oranchak (USA).



In a video published on December 11th, David Oranchak breaks down his team’s long journey to finally decipher the infamous 340 cipher, so-called because it contains 340 characters. The cracked code was sent to the FBI on December 3rd and was later confirmed as being solved.



The information that really confirms this solve is the fact that it mentions both a “TV show” and a “gas chamber”. This cipher was received two weeks after a supposed call on live TV from Zodiac to Jim Dunbar mentioning his fear of the gas chamber.

Here’s what the Cipher says:

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


While it’s still a long shot, many are hoping that this solve will help glean insight into the final two unsolved ciphers, one of which supposedly contains the Zodiac’s identity. The cipher in questions is preceded by the words “My name is” but many are skeptical that it would really include his true identity.



The team who finally cracked the 340 cipher have dedicated their efforts to the victims of the Zodiac Killer, their families, and decedents, in the hopes that one day, justice will prevail.


Featured image courtesy of AJC via ajc.com

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