51 Years Later and This Zodiac Killer Puzzle's Finally Been Solved — by Amateurs

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Dec. 12 2020, Published 1:03 p.m. ET

zodiac cipher code broken
Source: YouTube

For some reason, our society is absolutely obsessed with serial killers who murder for some type of "deep reason" or another. Personally speaking, I don't think their stories should become subjects of widespread attention, because whatever pathetic dork or seriously ill individual thinks that their desire to take human life is "special" shouldn't have eyes put on them for that reason. Like the Zodiac Killer, who's code had been left unbroken for 51 years. But now, it's been solved.

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The Zodiac Killer's code, Cipher 340, was broken by three amateur codebreakers with serious academic credentials.

An Australian mathematician, Sam Blake, a software developer, David Oranchak, and a computer program from Belgium, Jarl Van Eycke, all put their minds together to solve the mystery behind the Zodiac Killer's "cipher" that had befuddled police officers and some of the world's most brightest investigative minds for a whopping 51 years.

zodiac killer cipher  code broken
Source: Paramount Pictures
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The Northern California murderer had five victims "credited" to his name and he was never caught. He's been the subject of several news stories, documentaries, true crime reenactments, and one of David Fincher's most celebrated films starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.

His "clues" and personal universe or "code" as to why he killed people became the subject of national fascination.

Folks really bought into the "mystery" behind why he'd murder fellow members of his species and wanted to know the reasoning behind his actions as he was so elusive with them — and the following cipher is a large reason behind his thought process. Read what the trio of codebreakers were able to elicit from there efforts below:

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"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."

Source: Twitter
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The letter seems to corroborate what many speculated about the Zodiac Killer is that he seemed to enjoy the fact that there were individuals actively attempting to apprehend him. The "cat and mouse" game that has become the subject of so many crime stories throughout the years.

The message was written in all capital letters and the TV show that the man is referring to is a local Bay Area program called The Jim Dunbar Show, which reported on the Zodiac Killer murders.

Oranchak says he was stunned to have arrived at the code, he had been attempting to crack the cipher since 2006. He told CNN:

"When I first started, I used to get excited when I would see some words come through — they were like false positives, phantoms. I had grown used to that. It was a long shot — we didn't even really know if there was a message."

They brought their findings to the FBI and waited on the Bureau's OK before they could reveal the work they had accomplished. 

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Source: Twitter

What happened to the Zodiac Killer?

Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of the Zodiac Killer's murders was the fact that he seemed to stop killing people until 1969, but continued to write to authorities and news stations until 1974. Sometimes, the messages would come in coded puzzles. In some instances, he'd even include bloody articles of clothing as "proof" of his crimes.

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The FBI hasn't officially commented on the group's findings or the Zodiac cipher. They did release a statement on Twitter acknowledging that they are aware of the work that's been done to officially solve this puzzle that's mortified people for decades.

Source: Twitter
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"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 trio's open with how they were able to crack the code as well. Oranchak has uploaded how they were able to arrive at the decoding process on his YouTube channel and website.

"We got really lucky and found one that had part of the answer, but it wasn't obvious," Oranchak said.

And although he is extremely happy they were able to crack the code, it was bittersweet for the developer as well, as the team was hoping there'd be some information or hints as to the killer's identity.

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