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Fri Dec 11, 2020, 04:42 PM

Zodiac '340 Cipher' cracked by code experts 51 years after it was sent to the S.F. Chronicle [View all]

Source: San Francisco Chronicle


Zodiac '340 Cipher' cracked by code experts 51 years after it was sent to the S.F. Chronicle

Kevin Fagan Dec. 11, 2020 Updated: Dec. 11, 2020 12:29 p.m.

The solution to what's known as the 340 Cipher, one of the most vexing mysteries of the Zodiac Killer's murderous saga, has been found by a code-breaking team from the United States, Australia and Belgium. ... The cipher, sent in a letter to The Chronicle in November 1969, has been puzzling authorities and amateur sleuths since it arrived 51 years ago. Investigators hoped the Zodiac, who killed five people in the Bay Area in 1968 and 1969, would reveal his name in one of his many ciphers, but there is no such name in the 340.

According to code-breaking expert David Oranchak, the cipher's text includes: "I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me. ... I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradice (sic) all the sooner because I now have enough slaves to work for me." ... Oranchak, a 46-year-old web designer who lives in Virginia, has been working on the Zodiac's codes since 2006.

"This is exciting," Oranchak said in an interview Friday. "We've been sitting on the solution since last Saturday. When I first started looking at the Zodiac ciphers all those years ago, I thought, 'Oh, I can just write a computer program and solve it,' but it's been kicking my a-- all this time. Until now."


In most ciphers, like the 408, the solution consist mainly of figuring out which letters are represented by certain symbols. In the 340 cipher, it turned out the alignment of the words runs diagonally down the page, and they occasionally they get shifted over a column. ... It's a complicated bit of code creation, Oranchak said, but a basic scheme for it can be found in at least one U.S Army code manual from the 1950s.



Kevin Fagan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @KevinChron


Kevin Fagan

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Kevin Fagan is a longtime reporter at The San Francisco Chronicle. He specializes in enterprise news-feature writing and breaking news, taking particular pleasure in ferreting out stories others might not find — from profiling the desperate lives of homeless drug addicts to riding the rails with hobos, finding people who sleep in coffins and detailing the intricacies of hunting down serial killers.

From 2003 to 2006, Kevin was the only beat reporter in the United States covering homelessness full time. He has witnessed seven prison executions and has covered many of the biggest breaking stories of our time, from the Sept. 11 terror attacks at Ground Zero and the Columbine High School massacre to Barack Obama’s election as president, the deadly Mendocino Complex, Wine Country and Ghost Ship fires and the Occupy movement. Homelessness remains a special focus of his, close to his heart as a journalist who cares passionately about the human condition.

He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Jose State University and was raised in California and Nevada.

Read more: https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/Zodiac-340-cypher-cracked-by-code-expert-51-years-15794943.php

NewHatState Retweeted


It took fifty years to break the Zodiac Killer's cypher.

-- -- -- -- --

And the killer is .......

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