Solution claimed to Zodiac's last code


42 Responses to “Solution claimed to Zodiac's last code”

  1. starbreiz says:

    Alan: thanks for that link. I was wondering something similar, though I didn’t know the proper term. I would expect something that was encoded to use better spelling, if you ever expect anyone to crack it?

    • Heavy Metal Yogi says:

      Poor spelling doesn’t guarantee that he didn’t crack it, the Zodiac killer actually used poor spelling and grammar in several of his notes, including in cyphers. Since there wasn’t a lot of uniformity in the words that he misspelt, it has been theorized that he did it as a ruse. I won’t believe this until I see his method in details. I’m more than a little skeptical of his claim.

    • semiotix says:

      I would expect something that was encoded to use better spelling, if you ever expect anyone to crack it?

      Misspellings are commonly deliberately introduced into plaintext, the better to hassle and delay bad guys who intercept messages. (The good guys, who know how to decrypt it instantly, won’t be confused by misspellings.)

      Also, if you’ve got a sufficiently complicated method of encryption that you’re doing by hand, it’s easy enough to lose your place or make a mistake on any given letter. Especially if you have dogs whispering in your ear to kill people (etc.).

  2. Heavy Metal Yogi says:

    When you read the article he says that one of his inspirations in “cracking” it is 340 being the area code for the U.S. Virgin Islands, but that area code wasn’t assigned until 1997. That’s a full 5 years after Arthur Leigh Allen died and almost 30 years after the cipher was sent. This makes me a little skeptical. I was really hoping that the case would be broken open. I wish I wasn’t so obsessed with this case.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It looks to me like he applied Caesar shifts to different letters seemingly at random to produce whatever the heck he wanted it to say. Whether he was doing it consciously or subconsciously, I have no idea…it seems like *he* thinks there was a method to his madness at least.

  4. tristis says:

    A load of bunk.

    From the article, after mentioning that 340 (the name of the code, apparently) is the area code for the US Virgin Islands: “This is where it gets even creepier. 3+4+0=7. Right. So you get 7+0=7. 707…707 are the area codes for Vallejo, Napa, and Solano. So I figured, why not start this with Caesar code using 3,4.”

    That’s barely even intelligible, and it reads like stereotypical conspiracy theory. Not to mention that as someone points out in the comments on the linked article, 340 wasn’t the area code for the US Virgin Islands until 1997, many years after the code was created.

    Also, the article mentions that he sent his solution to a cryptographer, who called it “not valid.” Hmmm.

  5. optuser says:

    I don’t know much about crypto, but why the hell hasn’t the NSA turned their WOPR on this for five minutes to figure it out?

    Or is this part of their interview exam?

  6. cramerica says:

    “In Dan Brown’s latest enigmatic novel, the Zodiac Cipher, a handsome professor cracks an infamous code, putting him squarely into the sights of a killer. But is there more to the picture than first suspected?” –E! Weekly, March 11 2012

  7. starbreiz says:

    This article was all sorts of disappointing.

  8. Nylund says:

    Well, he somewhat describes the process for decoding the first word, KILL from HERV. (he says its a V).

    Can anyone tell me how you get that using a caesar cipher as he (somewhat) describes? has a resource page (for members only) with a caesar tool to make playing around with caesar shifts easier. For people who aren’t members, here is another I found:

    Long story short…I think just from those first four letters, it seems like something fishy is going on, (eg, changing the cipher frequently)…aka…picking a cipher that leads to the message saying what you want it to say.

    But if someone can use what he says in the article to get at least the first word, let me know.

  9. Anonymous says:

    There’s breaking a cipher, and then there’s using a Ouija board. This looks more like the later.

  10. cory says:

    Well, I enjoy Seth Rogen’s films, but he’s not much of an amateur cryptographer.

  11. SpeckledJim says:

    The guy comes across as schizophrenic for some reason, and it sounds like he made up the decipherment as he went along, changing both cipher repeatedly to force the results he wanted. Not credible at all.

  12. SpeckledJim says:

    “changing both cipher and key”, that is.

  13. senorglory says:

    “I thought, there’s no way … that Zodiac is going to be prosaic enough not to mention the U.S. Virgin Islands in this code.”

    I think this statement is cipher, and needs to be decoded.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I stand by my belief that Zodiac was my neighbor on 15 th St., San Francisco. He was a painter who copied the old masters (who were into ciphers). He took special interest in the text of other languages and could recreate characters in languages he didn’t speak. He had the crosshair sign tattooed on his wrist. Always wore the same dirty beige outfit and was old enough. He is most certainly dead now. Somewhere, I have a handwriting sample. He had a great view of the Chronicle building and seemed to have a woman captive in his apartment for many of the years I lived there. Dead now, as far as I know.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Reviewing on the personality of the killer, I don’t think he would write such a thing with guilt in it, he had a very big ego and the way he killed his victims (stabbing for example) denote he didn’t have a lot of empathy with them, if he was able to feel guilt he might have expressed it before; besides, his ego and his beliefs in an afterlife might refrain him for killing himself. If this is the right translation then I would assume it was a letter to fool the police.

  16. Jonathan Badger says:

    It is very easy to create a “decipherment” of anything if one allows arbitrary substitutions and the like — look at all the supposed decipherments of the Voynich manuscript — a supposed coded text that according to the current theory may not encode anything at all!

  17. travtastic says:

    The Zodiac was a genius; he created a puzzle that will decode into anything you want it to.

  18. Heavy Metal Yogi says:

    I’m pretty sure that it has something in it, but I also don’t believe that the Zodiac would disclose his identity. Maybe I’ve just spent too many years looking at the ciphers, trying to figure them out to believe that it’s a doodle with no meaning. I think that there’s probably more math to it than Starliper put into it. I wish this story were true, but it rings so false.

  19. Anonymous says:

    “I became absolutely obsessed with the case, to the point that I’d look up from Graysmith’s books … and realize that I’d actually forgotten to eat.”

    By the looks of him, he wasn’t as obsessed as he claims.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Let’s not just dismiss this without a second thought.

    If someone else can get this solution, now that we know it’s at least plausible, using a logical method, then it’s true.

    • travtastic says:

      No, it’s not without a second thought.

      The first thought is ‘Wow, really?’

      The second thought is ‘Oh, that’s ridiculous.’

      • Anonymous says:

        Couldn’t be as ridiculous as Graysmith’s “solve,” which proposed it to involve disorganized transposition — i.e., FUBAR, absent a system by which an intended recipient could have decrypted it. Armed with this supposition, Graysmith still yielded a confused plaintext, which he then interpreted to explain all of the foregoing through its revelation the Zodiac had been taking LSD.

        See also William Friedman’s tongue-in-cheek cryptanalytic “proof” that Theodore Roosevelt wrote the plays widely attributed to Shakespeare.

  21. Alvis says:

    I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain.

  22. Little Mikey says:

    I don’t know, this person’s methodology and explanations seem a bit off to me. But this other person who has been trying to crack the Zodiac’s last remaining undeciphered message – – seems very interesting.

  23. TSI says:

    This guy is an idiot.

    Hey Shleprock, try to break this code. I changed the key and cipher “frequently (every letter)”:


    The fact that you can make this [or the Zodiac] say anything you want it to, if you assume it is effectively a one-time pad encryption, which is what you do when you change the key and cipher “frequently (i.e. with no pattern)”

    He fails realize that one-time pad encryption can’t be broken, unless you get access to that sheet. For the reason that it could say anything the decrypter wants it to say. I highly doubt the Zodiac killer used a one-time pad encryption.

  24. Nedril says:


    True, unless you are properly trained to do it (a process that includes conditioning, desensitization and dehumanization) then it becomes as easy an automatic as peeling a banana or opening a can of beer… of course as the conditioning wears off the delayed psychological repercussions can be rather serious.

  25. princeminski says:

    Worth reading for the Ovaltine line.

  26. vaccum says:

    I dont think a cipher this simple would have survived the scrutiny given to it by many curious cryptographers. An example would be at

  27. Anonymous says:

    Stabbing someone is a very intimate form of killing. Unless it is purely done in the heat of the moment or due to a lack of options (a gun) choosing to stab someone would be a very personal attack. To stab a stranger requires getting right up to their face and getting bloody yourself. It shows a lot of rage.

  28. SpeckledJim says:

    Apart from everything else, the ciphertext doesn’t look at all like someone crying out for “HELP ME KILL MYSELF GAS CHAMBER”. It’s someone highly organised, methodical and arrogant.

    It doesn’t fit psychologically in itself, let alone with the tone of the previous messages.

  29. Scott Elyard says:

    Why are some of the characters boxed in the original? What’s it for?

  30. Even I don’t write that bad. I don’t believe that guy has solve it.

  31. Kirby Malk says:

    Maybe the real message is in what’s missing…

  32. Brainspore says:

    If Harold Camping wants to take another stab at predicting Judgment Day maybe he could team up with this guy.

  33. David Oranchak says:

    As everyone suspects, it’s a hoax.

  34. nycdave says:

    Trying to crack this code was a hobby of mine.

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