Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/07/25/zodiac_cipher_cracker/

Amateur claims crack of final Zodiac Killer cipher

Serial murderer's crypto-proclam broken 40+ years on?

By John Leyden

Posted in Security, 25th July 2011 13:07 GMT

An amateur codebreaker claims to have deciphering the final encrypted message of the infamous Zodiac killer. However there's no general agreement that the answer is correct.

The Zodiac Killer was a serial killer who preyed on couples in Northern California in the years between 1968 and 1970. Of his seven confirmed victims, five died. More victims and attacks are suspected.

The killer sent four messages to newspapers in California's Bay Area, only one of which has ever been decrypted. This first message – split into three parts – claimed Zodiac wanted to kill victims so that they would become his slaves in the afterlife.

The 408-symbol cryptogram was cracked by Donald and Bettye Harden of Salinas, California.

Now noted amateur codebreaker Corey Starliper, of Tewksbury in Massachusetts, claims to have cracked Zodiac's final message, a 340-character cipher. Starliper claims to have solved the code, using some pre-substitution of symbols for letters and a Caesar Cipher, according to local media reports.

The solution, if that's what it is, appears to reveal that the message had been signed by Arthur Leigh Allen, the prime suspect in the case. Allen, a diabetic, died in 1992 aged 58.

Other solutions to the code have been suggested in the past without any general agreement that anyone had hit on an answer. If nothing else, the supposed solution of the code points to the continuing fascination with the case, which has spawned numerous books and even a feature film adaptation.

The Daily Mail has pictures of Starliper along with the code and his suggested solution in a story here. ®