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The final Zodiac Killer cipher has been cracked after more than 50 years

An international team of three people cracked the cipher to reveal its chilling message.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this May 3, 2018, file photo, a San Francisco Police Department wanted bulletin and copies of letters sent to the San Francisco Chronicle by a man who called himself Zodiac are displayed in San Francisco. A coded letter mailed to a San Francisco newspaper by the Zodiac serial killer in 1969 has been deciphered by a team of amateur sleuths from the United States, Australia and Belgium, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

SAN FRANCISCO, California — After more than 50 years, the Zodiac Killer’s infamous cipher has been cracked by an international team of code breakers.

The code was broken by Australian software engineer Sam Blake, American cryptographer David Oranchak and Belgian software engineer Jarl Van, NBC reports.

The 340-character cipher was sent to the San Francisco Chronicle in 1969 as the Zodiac Killer, named so because many of his messages had astrological symbols and references, terrorized northern California. The still-unknown Zodiac Killer murdered five people and injured two others. However, he claimed to have killed more than 30 people.

In total, the Zodiac Killer sent four ciphers, and the 340-character one that was solved most recently was the last of the four that needed translating.

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Written on greeting card mailed to a San Francisco newspaper (Chronicle) by a killer who calls himself Zodiac and included a letter and a cryptogram in San Francisco on Nov. 11, 1969. Police say Zodiac has killed five, but in his new communications Zodiac claims seven. The writer lists the months the killings took place at the bottom, with the total ?and I can?t do a thing with it!? refers to a drawing on the card showing a dripping wet pen with the salutation: ?Sorry I haven?t written, but I just washed my pen?? (AP Photo)

The translation is chilling and reads:

I HOPE YOU ARE HAVING LOTS OF FUN IN 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 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 WILL BE AN EASY ONE IN PARADICE DEATH

The Zodiac Killer references not being the person on the TV show because days before, someone claiming to be him had called into a television talk show and spoke to Melvin Belli. This famous incident was recreated in the 2007 movie “Zodiac” starring Robert Downey Jr.

 

The FBI tweeted and said they were aware that the cipher had been broken but could not comment on the case as it is still ongoing.

In a YouTube video, Oranchak talks about how he and his two fellow codebreakers went about cracking the 51-year-old cipher.

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