|Sketch of the Zodiac killer|
The Zodiac killer was one who operated in California in the 1960s and 70s. He targeted men and women, often couples, and got his name because he taunted the police and the press, sending ciphers with supposed clues to his identity in them. Up until 2012, only one of the four ciphers was positively solved.
Now, a hobby code-cracker from California named Corey Starliper believes he's solved another of the killer's puzzles, which has remained a mystery for more than forty years. The cipher, known as the 340-cipher because there are 340 characters, is one he took an interest in soon after learning about the case by way of several books and the 2007 film, Zodiac.
Starliper believed that the number 340 itself was significant. After studying the case, he found that the killer, according to police reports, had some ties to the U.S. Virgin Islands. The area code of the U.S. Virgin Islands, it turns out, is 3-4-0. Playing around with the numbers some more, Starliper found evidence of the exact area codes that the Zodiac's most infamous kills were committed in. Using the numerals 3, 4, he began applying a Caesar code.
(Caesar code is a substitution type cipher where an encoder has “simply replaced each letter in a message with the letter that is three places further down the alphabet,” according to http://www.simonsingh.net/The_Black_Chamber/caesar.html.) (Source)
It wasn't quick or easy, but Starliper eventually came out with the following message:
|Arthur Leigh Allen, 1978|
In 2007, a DNA profile from an envelope sent by the Zodiac killer was compared to several suspects in the case, including Leigh Allen. All tests came back negative. Of course, that only proves that the DNA wasn't his, not that he wasn't the killer.
Today, the Zodiac case is officially "inactive." Forty years after the fact, whoever the killer was is likely dead, or at least elderly, and many maintain that it was Leigh Allen, though it cannot be proved.
As for Starliper, there are plenty of skeptics and so-called specialists who claim his code is not valid. But his efforts have yielded a more sensible, readable message than anyone else's in forty years' time.
Other's claim his method is either a guessing game or a hoax, despite the fact that the Huffington Post (which is by no means infallible) linked to his story. (Source)
What do you think of Starliper's efforts? Do you think his code is valid? Do you think it proves anything about the case?