Four episodes of the Zodiac Killer documentary on HISTORY have aired now. The fourth one ended with Craig Bauer saying that he has broken Z340. Will episode 5 tell us the solution?
The reactions of my readers on HISTORY’s five part Zodiac Killer TV documentary have been reserved, to say the least. The four episodes that aired so far mainly covered well-known hypotheses about the case, including a number of well-known suspects. The “super computer” Carmel discovered a few facts about the Zodiac cryptograms that had been known before, too.
All episodes are available on a French web portal:
A new crypto mystery?
In spite of all the criticism, there are a number of positive things I see in this documentary. First, the Zodiac Killer case has received a lot of attention. My first blog article about the series proved to be one of the most-read I ever wrote. Second, my friends Craig Bauer …
and David Oranchak …
… appear in this documentary. There’s no doubt that the two have deserved this honor.
And third, the series featured a cryptogram I hadn’t known before: the encrypted text on the Donna Lass search poster. As is explained in the series, Donna Lass was a young woman from the San Francisco area, who disappeared in 1970. Somebody made the following search poster, which contains two encrypted lines:
The cryptogram on this poster looks pretty similar as the Zodiac messages. However, it easy to solve, as it is encrypted in a simple substitution cipher (MASC). The cleartext is: BEWAREIAMSTALKING YOU…DONNA LASS. For more information check Nick Pelling’s blog post about the Donna Lass cryptogram.
It seems quite unlikely that Donna Lass was a victim of the Zodiac Killer. I don’t know why the creators of this poster included a Zodiac-like cryptogram. Probably, they hoped to get more attention.
Is Zodiac 340 solved?
There is one thing about the Zodiac Killer documentary that has thrilled crypto enthusiasts from the beginning: the producers announced that their team has solved one of the Zodiac’s crypto mysteries. The fourth episode presented this announcement as a cliff-hanger: towards the end of the episode crypto expert Craig Bauer calls his fellow investigators and tells them that he has succeeded in breaking Z340, the second Zodiac cryptogram. Details will be revealed in the final part of the series.
If Craig’s announcement was true we will soon witness one of the major codebreaking successes of the century.
Episode number five will air in a few hours. Will it really reveal the solution of one of the world’s most important crypto mysteries? At the NSA Symposium on Cryptologic History a very knowledgable crypto expert (I can’t mention his name, as he wants to stay anonymous) said that he checked Craig’s solution and that in his opinion it was correct.