A French engineer said he solved the two remaining ciphers left by the “Zodiac Killer” after working on them for two weeks in January.
Faycal Ziraoui, who designs 3D animations and virtual reality software, became interested in the mystery when he read about the serial killer in a French magazine.
“I was obsessed with it, 24 hours a day. That’s all I could think about,” Ziraoui said.
The “Zodiac Killer” terrorized southern California in the 1960s and 1970s. During his killing spree, he sent four cryptograms to media outlets, the first of which was solved. The second, Z340, was solved in late 2020.
But the last two, Z32 and Z13, had 32 and 13 characters, respectively, making it difficult to find the encryption key to cracks the cipher’s code.
The first unsolved cipher, Z32, contains the time and location of a bomb the killer told police would go off at a school sometime in 1970. Although police could not decode the cipher, the killer’s threat never materialized.
“LABOR DAY FIND 45.069 NORTH 58.719 WEST,” the message said after Ziraoui decoded it.
The coordinates, based on the earth’s magnetic field rather than latitude and longitude, land on a school in South Lake Tahoe, a city the killer referred to in one of his letters, Ziraoui said.
The other, Z13, is preceded by “My name is … ” in a letter from the killer, believed to reveal his identity.
The deciphered code read, “Kay,” after Ziraoui applied the code. The 13-character cipher could be narrowed down to three, which is how he came up with the name.
“Kay” is an alias of Larence Kane, a suspect in the investigation who sometimes went by “Lawrence Kay,” Ziraoui said. Kane died in 2010.
Ziraoui found the messages using the same encryption key on his two ciphers as the code-breakers who solved Z340.
After completing his findings, Ziraoui took them online to forums filled with armchair detectives who spend their free time trying to solve cold cases such as this one.
They promptly dismissed his findings.
“When he says that it took two weeks to crack the Z32 and an hour for the Z13, I think that sums it up pretty well,” one commenter wrote.
More established detectives were split on the validity of his findings.
Ziraoui’s findings are sound and should be considered by law enforcement to solve the case, said David Naccache and Emmanuel Thome, two French professional cryptographers.
“Hundreds of proposals for Z13 and Z32 solutions” are already available, and “it is practically impossible to determine if any of them are correct,” said David Oraonchak, who led the team that cracked the Z340.
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Original Author: Charles Hilu
Original Location: French engineer claims to have cracked ‘Zodiac Killer’ ciphers