So, all the hullabaloo surrounding the new zodiac sign… “Ophiuchus”(which only applies to Sidereal astrology practiced in the far east and not Tropical so no your sign hasn’t changed if you’re a product of western civilization) well it got me thinking about the Zodiac killer, an unsolved mystery that I’ve always been somewhat interested in. They never found out who it was, and all of their longtime suspects have been cleared by DNA or fingerprint evidence. He’s still lurking out there, if he hasn’t died of old age(he would be about 65-75 years old.) So yeah, I guess you could say I’m yet another of those people obsessed with this case. Some of the zodiac’s ciphers are still unsolved after 40 years. In fact, only the first one he sent was solved. It is widely believed that since nobody has been able to solve them after all these years, that they cannot be solved through conventional methods of cryptography. Here is the unsolved zodiac 340 cipher:
A couple years ago, a guy named John Cecil came up with the idea of a 4 quadrant solution. He made a decent effort, but others have claimed his solution invalid saying the methodology he used would have allowed for too many possible solutions. So it’s not a valid solution, but I believe he may have been on the right track.
John Cecil’s attempted zodiac 340 solution
Actually the main thing that turns me off about the solution is that if you scroll down to some of his other blog posts there’s some far fetched claims about a certain “suspect” with some vague correlations and bizarre logic. These things are always a red flag to me and lead me to doubt other claims by the person.
Anyway, about a year after he mailed the cipher, the zodiac sent this halloween card. I believe he was disappointed that nobody could solve it and view his message and so he offered up some hints. If we utilize the Halloween card as a clue to the cipher…in my interpretation we have four sections: top left/top right/bottom left/bottom right. There would also be the center text vertically and horizontally.
I apologize for the jankified nature of this image as I just made it rather quickly with MS Paint.
It could be that there is a completely separate key for each section, and then you merely piece them together, and decipher the center text separately as well. Or you could experiment with using the center text as key for all the outlying sections and so forth. Or yet still, there could be markers for shift changes and cycling. Notice the locations of the “P” in “Para” and “D” in “Dice” are identical in both the cipher and the card.
I think the “4-teen” could be a clue as well as the “sorry no cipher” diagram on the outside of the envelope. I have a couple of decrypting programs, but I’m not an expert at cryptanalysis or anything, so I’m trying to study more and see if I can get anywhere from here.
Brief paper on Zodiac Ciphers from a University in Norway,
only 24 pages and no solutions offered but some interesting findings:
Cryptography and Murder –The Zodiac killer
University of Bergen
San Jose St. U. students’ masters theses on 340 Cipher:
HEURISTIC SEARCH CRYPTANALYSIS OF THE ZODIAC 340 CIPHER
Pallavi Kanagalakatte Basavaraju
Analysis of the Zodiac 340-cipher
San Jose State University
I’m very interested in the ciphers. Whether or not they provide any useful information, I think solving them is a great challenge, and the victims deserve justice however long it takes. The problem seems to be that too many people want to take shortcuts and simply try to finagle words out of nonsensical partial solutions to find some sort of strained way to insert their suspect of choice. Personally I think there’s no way the zodiac would put his actual name in any of the codes(especially not the one where he claims to give a location to where a bomb is hidden.)
I think that if these codes are ever to be solved it will be by a combination of a mathematical approach(with the aid of computer programs) and some intuition regarding the zodiac’s psychological profile, writing style and word usage. The solution would be a clear message, easily recognized as being a solution by all.
By the way, the best website for all things relating to the Zodiac Killer is http://www.zodiackillerfacts.com Don’t bother going to other sites because most of them are filled with nutty theories, bizarre accusations, misinformation, and the type of people who would call into the show “Coast to Coast.”
Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism“