The TV channel HISTORY is launching a series about the Zodiac Killer. Allegedly, a solution to one of the famous cryptograms created by this serial killer will be presented.
Throughout the late 1960s, the Zodiac Killer, one of history’s most famous unidentified serial murderers, terrorized America in a spree of heinous attacks, sending taunting letters to the public.
The four Zodiac cryptograms
Four of these letters contained encrypted messages. Here’s the first one (it was solved by Donald and Betsy Harden in 1969):
The three other encrypted messages are unsolved to date. Here’s the second message:
This is message #3 (only one line of the message is encrypted):
And finally, this is the fourth Zodiac cryptogram (two lines encrypted):
As #3 and #4 are too short for an unambiguous solution, codebreakers usually focus on message #2. Is has never been solved.
Has the second Zodiac Killer message been solved?
Now, a new TV series, The Hunt For The Zodiac Killer by HISTORY (formerly known as The History Channel), opens up a new investigation into the mystery of this serial assassin. This five-part limited series will premier tomorrow, Tuesday, November 14 at 2200 ET/PT. It will launch on HISTORY UK on Wednesday 22 November, 9:00PM GMT.
Allegedly, The Hunt For The Zodiac Killer will present new evidence, new witnesses, new clues, and new information from representatives of the CIA and FBI. A super-computer named CARMEL (“the first of its kind programmed to think like a killer”) will play a major role.
According to a press release, a team of codebreaking experts hired by the producers of the series believe that they have broken a significant portion of the second Zodiac Killer cryptogram (sometimes called Z340).
If this announcement proves correct, we will soon see one of the greatest codebreaking successes of this century!
Usually I doubt claims like these. The Voynich Manuscript has been “solved” at least 50 times without a “solution” ever beeing accepted by the experts. Other famous crypto mysteries have been “solved”, as well. This is also the case for the second Zodiac cryptogram. For instance, here’s a video about a “solution” and here’s an article about another one.
However, this announced Zodiac Killer solution appears to be different. The members of the HISTORY codebreaker team are renowned cryptanalysts. The press release mentions Kevin Knight, who deciphered the Codex Copiale a few years ago. Another member, who is not mentioned, is Craig Bauer, …
… mathematics professor, editor in chief of the scientific magazine Cryptologia, and author of the great book Unsolved.
At the NSA Symposium on Cryptologic History I talked to another experienced codebreaking expert (he didn’t want me to mention his name), who was involved in this TV production. He confirmed that the solution found by his colleagues was correct.
So, chances are good that we will soon witness a sensation.
How to watch this series?
It goes without saying that I am looking forward to watching this series. However, I don’t know how this works best from Germany. Here’s a website with a HISTORY livestream. Does a reader know a better one? Will the episodes be available online after they have been broadcast? Any hint is welcome.
Further reading: The Zodiac Killer code is solved – at least in this new movie