Mystery Case of the Zodiac Killer Cracked After 51 Years


Angelina Moschella, Writer

A group of cryptographers were able to crack the code of the Zodiac Killer case after years of threats sent to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Zodiac Killer is one of the most infamous serial killers of all time. He is known for leaving behind a mystery of five unsolved murder cases between 1968 and 1969. Even though he was never caught and his identity was never truly found, he left behind writings for the police after all his killings which gained him his notoriety all around the world. 

These writings included coded messages or bragging statements about killing his victims. He had also included bits of the victims clothing in his letters for proof of his disgusting actions, and had claimed he killed up to as many as 37 people. These cases still remain ongoing as the FBI from the bureau’s San Francisco office are trying their best to solve them. Nevertheless, they will be keeping privacy during this time to respect the victims and their families.

“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,” the SanFrancisco FBI tweeted on December 11, 2020.

After 51 years of the case being a complete mystery to everyone, three people had come together to piece together all the missing pieces and crack this case. David Oranchak, a software developer in Virginia, Jarl Van Eycke, a Belgian computer programmer, and Sam Blake, an Australian mathematician, were the men who had decoded the cipher and revealed the truth on who really was the Zodiac Killer. 

The following messages were shown when they had decoded the cipher: “I hope you are having lots of fun 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 will be an easy one in paradise.” These haunting messages trace back to “The Jim Dunbar Show” when those messages were referred to by a man who claimed he was the Zodiac Killer himself.

“It was incredible. It was a big shock, I never really thought we’d find anything because I had grown so used to failure,” said David Oranchak, who had been working on solving and decoding the Zodiac Killers messages since 2006.

The trio of men had taken their evidence to the FBI and the San Francisco Police Department had also been made aware of the solved cipher, which was when the information had been sent to the department’s cold case homicide investigators. The team had to go through many trials and errors and used a unique program so sift through 650,000 variations of the messages. (Asmelash and Mossburg, p. 18).

“We got really lucky and found one that had part of the answer, but it wasn’t obvious,” David Oranchak said, explaining that it was a very hard time handpicking their way through the codes to decipher the rest of the message.

Even though they had found one part of the message, there are still two remaining ciphers. The team says that there is no way at the moment to decipher the rest of the messages and “almost hopeless” to this case. With the remaining messages being short, and thousands of different words and phrases, it is very unlikely they will solve it anytime soon. The team also did not find any personally identifiable information, meaning they do not know the exact person.

After the 51 years of this case being a complete mystery to the media, a team had decided to put their whole effort into breaking the ciphers and solving hidden messages. The team will eventually return to this case of the Zodiac Killer and it will come to the answer of the question we have all been asking: who really is the Zodiac Killer?