The Mystery of the Zodiac Killer
The Zodiac Killer is probably the most famous American serial killer. His identity has plagued the minds of investigators for decades.
Who is the Zodiac Killer?
The Zodiac Killer operated in Northern California in the late 1960s. He claimed to have killed 37 people, but there are only two confirmed victims: two were killed on Lake Herman Road, one wounded and one killed in Blue Rock Springs, one wounded and one killed at Lake Berryessa, and one killed in Presidio Heights.
He gave himself the name "the Zodiac" in a letter received by The San Francisco Examiner on August 4, 1969. Four days earlier, three letters were sent to the Vallejo Times-Herald, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The San Francisco Chronicle. These three letters were almost identical, and the Zodiac Killer took credit for the shootings at Lake Herman Road and Blue Rock Springs. Each letter contained ⅓ of a cipher which the Zodiac Killer claimed to have contained his identity. Part of his claim to fame was that he didn't lie low like other serial killers. He called the police twice to report murders he committed and sent dozens of letters to newspapers. For a truly spooky night, you can read some of his letters here.
The Zodiac Killer is most famous for his ciphers, two of which remain unsolved to this day. The Z 408 cipher was sent on July 31, 1969 to three newspapers. The following three ciphers were all sent to The San Francisco Chronicle: the Z 340 cipher, sent on November 8, 1969; the Z 13 cipher, sent on April 20, 1070, along with a diagram of a bomb to kill children on a school bus, and Z 32 sent on June 26, 1970.
The Z 408 cipher was the longest cipher and was also the quickest solved, taking less than a week. It is believed to be referencing "The Most Dangerous Game."
Here is the solved cipher, complete with misspellings (punctuation added).
I like killing people because it is so much fun. It is more fun than killing wild game in the forrest because man is the most dangerous animal of all. To kill something gives me the most thrilling experence. It is even better than getting your rocks off with a girl. The best part of it is that when I die I will be reborn in paradice and all the I have killed will becume my slaves. I will not give you my name because you will try to slow down or stop my collecting of slaves for my afterlife. EBEORIETEMETHHPITI"
Chilling right? The last part of the cipher is not a mistake, it just hasn't been translated yet.
The Z 340 cipher was the only other cipher to be solved and it was solved decades later in December 2020.
Here's the translation (punctuation added).
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.
Definitely sounds like it was written by a serial killer. Personally, I am scared of how many people he killed between August and November if he got enough "slaves" between these two notes.
The Z 13 cipher was the shortest cipher and because of that, the most difficult to solve. This cipher has multiple possible solutions and it is unsure which is the right one. It's pretty unlikely that this cipher contains the Zodiac Killer's name, considering that he said that information would be revealed in the first cipher.
The Z 32 cipher was the most unusual because it involves a map. Like Z 13, it has not been solved. It's unknown if a bomb really went off because of this cipher. It is also interesting that the Zodiac Killer specified that he meant magnetic north, which is slightly different than north, not a fact that the average person knows.
Zodiac Killer Identified?
Throughout the years, many people have been suspected of being the Zodiac Killer. Recently, a cold case team called "The Case Breakers" has stated that they identified the Zodiac Killer as a man named Gary Francis Poste. Poste died in 2018, so we won't be getting a confession anytime soon. The Zodiac Killer and Poste have similar scars on their foreheads and multiple people who knew Poste claimed that he had creepy and psychopathic tendencies. But it's important to remember, that this man has not been confirmed to be the Zodiac Killer. The real Zodiac Killer may still be out there, watching and waiting to make his next kill.