To most, the word “Zodiac” conjures up images of astrological symbols and the positions of stars. Corey Starliper, a Tewksbury, Mass. native and hobby code-cracker, thinks of a serial killer of the same name.
Starliper also thinks that he has solved a cipher devised by Zodiac that has remained unsolved for over 40 years.
Zodiac was the name taken by a murderer who operated in the Bay Area, including Napa, Solano, and Vallejo counties, in 1968 and 1969. Zodiac sent encrypted communication to area newspapers, taking credit for killings and warning of more to come, according to Robert Graysmith, who personally investigated the murders and wrote several books on the case.
Police attributed seven murders and two attempted murders to Zodiac because of information he was able to provide that was unavailable to the public, though the number of unconfirmed victims may be much higher.
The first coded communication was a three-part cipher sent in portions to the Vallejo Times-Herald, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the San Francisco Examiner on July 31, 1969, according to “Most Evil”, written by Steve Hodel. The complete cipher contained 408 characters and was published on August 2 and 3, 1969 in accordance to Zodiac’s demands. It took just a few days for the code to be deciphered.
“The first one was cracked by a history teacher and his wife,” said Starliper. “What I’m driving at was the first code was cracked by amateurs. So they figure that any communication after that would be able to be cracked by amateurs.”
After the decryption of the first code, Zodiac sent many more communications to law enforcement and the media, including his most famous: a 340-character cipher, mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle, according to zodiackillerfacts.com. To this day, the cipher has not been completely cracked.
Starliper, however, believes he has found the solution to that code. ...