Answer: Her claims were very quickly ruled out, and her credibility has been destroyed. Here’s an article about the police dismissing her claims: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/perez-221153-zodiac-jones.html. Many people have come forward with similar claims, and to my knowledge none have yet been validated. Over the years, the Zodiac Killer case has attracted numerous crazy ideas and theories. It has evolved into a kind of popular mythology. This aspect of the case is both fascinating and deeply frustrating. Once people have enough desire to believe something, they will apply selection bias to cultivate evidence that supports their belief, while ignoring the evidence that denies it.
Question: You are one of the leading Zodiac Killer experts. How comes you are interested in this case?
Oranchak: I would say that I am definitely NOT an expert on the Zodiac Killer case, because I am not deeply familiar with the details of the case, except for the ciphers. My interest in the case is in the ciphers, since they coincide with my interests in computer science, mathematics, and puzzles. I am excited about the possibilities of solving the ciphers with new applications of computer science. I’m also familiar enough with cryptology to know how to separate valid and invalid solution proposals. Here are several people who are much more knowledgable about the case than me:
- Michael Butterfield (http://zodiackillerfacts.com)
- Mike Morford (http://zodiackillersite.com)
- Tom Voigt (http://zodiackiller.com)
- Michael Kelleher (author of “This Is the Zodiac Speaking: Into the Mind of a Serial Killer”)
- Robert Graysmith
Question: Is there any research on the Zodiac case that still waits to be done?
Oranchak: As far as the ciphers go, yes, I believe there is research that can still be done. It involves the testing of various test ciphers, and trying out different assumptions, as I mentioned above. I think systematically ruling out certain types of encipherment can at least narrow the solution search a little. As far as the case itself, I don’t know. There are still so many questions and few answers. Adding to the problems is the fact that Graysmith’s book, “Zodiac”, which created significant popular interest in the case, but has many factual inaccuracies. Graysmith has been known to fabricate information to support the claims in his books.
Question: There are several movies about the Zodiac case. Which one do you recommend?
Oranchak: The only one I’ve seen is David Fincher’s “Zodiac”, which I really enjoyed. I’m a big fan of David Fincher’s work as a director, and his adaptation of “Zodiac” does a great job of showing how the main characters were consumed with obsession about the case.