20 years after the last message of the infamous Zodiac Killer an unknown person sent a Zodiac-style postcard to a California newspaper. As far as I know, it has never been deciphered.

After the TV documentary The Hunt for The Zodiac Killer has aroused new interest in the Zodiac Killer case, I it is now a good time to take a look at the Zodiac Killer copycats. In fact, there were at least ten people over the last four decades who sent Zodiac-style encrypted messages to the police or the media. Some of the anonymous senders claimed to be the real Zodiac Killer, others just imitated the killer’s way of encrypting. Some of the Zodiac copycat messages were solved, others weren’t. As far as I know, none of these letters could ever be linked to a real crime, let alone to the real Zodiac Killer.


The “Sleep My Little Dead” message

The following Zodiac copycat message was written in 1994 (about 25 years after the murders):


This message is a part of a letter that includes the words “Sleep my little dead how we loathe them”.


It is introduced on a web site last updated in 2013. As far as I know, the “Sleep My Little Dead” message is solved. However, I don’t know the solution and I can’t find it online. Can a reader help?


The Celebrity Cypher

Let’s now proceed to one of the unsolved Zodiac copycat messages. On September 25, 1990 an unknown person sent the following postcard to the Vallejo Times Herold, a regional newspaper of the San Francisco Bay area:


The three lines of cleartext contain the name and the location of the newspaper, as well as the expression CELEBRITY CYPHER. A “celebrity cypher” (today usually spelled “celebrity cipher”) usually refers to a crypto puzzle based on an encrypted quote by a famous person. Celebrity ciphers are quite popular among the members of the American Cryptogram Association (ACA) and other puzzle enthusiasts. There are books and web pages about celebrity ciphers.

The woman on the stamp is poet (and celebrity) Marianne Moore – I have no idea if this is of any concern.

The alphabet of the Celebrity Cypher cryptogram looks pretty much the same as the one the real Zodiac Killer used. Here is, for comparison, the second original Zodiac message (Z340):


Of course, codebreakers have checked whether the letters used in the Celebrity Cypher message have the same meaning as in the first Zodiac cryptogram (this one is solved), but to no avail.

There are quite a few web pages around providing information about the Zodiac Celebrity Cypher. Some of them describe alleged solutions. However, as far I have seen so far, most of them are of this kind:


This solutions, as well as a few others, I have checked don’t look very promising to me.

Can a reader solve the Zodiac Celebrity Cypher?

Further reading: The Zodiac Killer code is solved – at least in this new movie

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Kommentare (22)

  1. #1 David Wilson
    24. Dezember 2017

    The Celebrity Cypher looks almost like a return US postal address.

  2. #2 Norbert
    24. Dezember 2017

    The Celebrity Cypher looks almost like a return US postal address.

    Makes sense, especially if lines 3/4 of the right half stand for MY NAME IS.
    The two words appearing both left and right would then be the sender’s name. Which, on the other hand, would mean that his last name is YI?????E. Can’t think of any matching name …

    Merry Xmas to everyone!

  3. #3 Thomas Ernst
    24. Dezember 2017

    As someone has certainly already noticed (I am new to this): the top two lines on the left, and the bottom two lines on the right are the same text. Probably sender’s name. – Guess out of the blue for the first four lines on the right: DO YOU / KNOW / MY NAME / IS / [first name] / [family name]. – The two letters on the left side, line four, after the comma, probably stand for a state or province (if sent from Canada?? – doesn’t look like it, though). Can’t make out the city in the postmark. – Am surprised this card made it through the mail at all, having no zip code. – A very happy X-mas to all!

  4. #4 Narga
    24. Dezember 2017

    The card seems to be sent from California (stamp on lower left), so the two letters Thomas Ernst was referring to are probably CA. The round stamp could be from Oakland, CA. This would fit also the number of letters in the first word on line four. Also the Y=K (from the right side) would be a match.

    It seems like the vowels are rotated from one instance to another for the O’s on the right side? Perhaps < and > are A’s then?

  5. #5 Gerry and Andrea
    25. Dezember 2017

    The city in the postmark and the fourth line on the left could be OAKLAND, CA (which is 40 km from Vallejo, CA). And the stamp seems to cover one more word starting with M – maybe ME. Merry Xmas!

  6. #6 Gerry and Andrea
    25. Dezember 2017

    Oh, Narga was seconds faster.

  7. #7 Alex Ulyanenkov
    25. Dezember 2017

    Re Zodiac solution – it was published here – https://www.zodiologists.com/z408_cipher_ebeorietemethhpiti.html

  8. #8 Norbert
    25. Dezember 2017

    The graphical cipher is a simple substitution with a few homophones and must be read from left to right. Plaintext appears to be something like


    “Truly” is erroneously enciphered as “truiy”, and the first letter of “tho” is not clear. Resembles the P in “speaking”.

  9. #9 Narga
    25. Dezember 2017

    I found that in the “sleep my little dead” code, the author stayed very close to the “international code flags” alphabet. It seems the flags were only somehow doubled in some cases by “mirroring them to the right”. Therefore, I think it’s only a regular substitution (not homophonic) and there were simply a few errors made. I get PHOMASTERY instead of THOMASTERS.

  10. #10 Alex Ulyanenkov
    27. Dezember 2017

    1) By the way:
    “Sleep my little dead how we loathe them” – is the distorted phrase of Edgar Allan Poe poetry. The origin one is: “Sleep, those little slices of death — how I loathe them”.
    Poe was very well known cryptologist – in 1839 he started his cryptocolumn in “Alexander’s Weekly Messenger” and in “Graham’s Magazine”. In May 1840 Poe offered the crypto-competition for anyone interested in ciphered texts and promissed to solve any cipher he receives. Finally he solved approx about 100 ciphered texts, but it is a fact that he recieved 2 messages signed by W.B. Tyler – which were solved in 2000’s only. Mr. Tyler (some people beleives that Poe used that nickname) used a polialphabetic ciphering.

    2) The woman on the stamp on another message is POET (and celebrity, like Poe) Marianne Moore – looks like a hint…

  11. #11 Alex Ulyanenkov
    28. Dezember 2017

    So… Here is a solution for the postcard of 25th of September 1990 (celebrity cipher):

    1) description – https://alex-ulyanenkov.livejournal.com/

    2) So the text of PART I:

    Text of PART II:

    ” YU MUST
    KNOW I

    3) I’ve applied codes to another ciphered Zodiac letter of July 1969 – at list the last word of that message is “CHIPPING” or may be “CHIPPED”.

  12. #12 Thomas Ernst
    29. Dezember 2017

    @ Narga: thank you for confirmation of OAKLA/END, CA. If the second, open triangle stands for “E” in an intentionally mispelled “OAKLEND”, we may find that “I” and “U” are represented by triangles, too. – Since it is doubtful that every “Y” stand for a “K”, it may also stand for “CK”, or even “C”. However, “Y” = “K”, together with the “O” fits cipher-line 6: “KNOW”. Which took me to the first name in cipher lines 1 and 9: A random list of American first names (!!), middle an “O”, no letters repeated, yielded: Adolf, Alois, Bjorn, Brock, Brody, Brown, Cloyd, Enoch, Floyd – wasn’t Floyd the bartender in “The Shining” -, Grove (???), Raoul. – This choice of first names lets me assume that the sender did not use his real name. Probably some American Adolf-joke. Unless Floyd it is. Then I “need corrected” …

  13. #13 Klaus Schmeh
    6. Januar 2018

    Richard Jessop via Facebook:
    those california newspapers must love it. a mad killer chooses to only communicate with a failing newspaper. boosting its ratings and sales. i wonder why the mad killer only communicates with a failing newspaper that needs increased publicity. this is sarcasm for you americans.

  14. #14 Bill
    28. April 2018

    The alphabet of the Celebrity Cypher cryptogram looks pretty much the same as the one the real Zodiac Killer used because it was the real zodiac or at least it looks a lot like it to me the second one not so much but the top on which I believe is referred to as the celebrity cypher I believe could be the real deal. Right above the address at the bottom on the one side I believe is Oakland Ca on the other side three words down I believe it says my name is and then same as the top on the other side. I do believe the sleep now my dead cypher was also done by the new York copycat ? could be wrong but swear I read it was credited to him some how. The first one though to me looks a lot like the original zodiacs writing and style. Another thing I noticed in the second one is he starts it off by saying this is the zodiac speaking here. Originals he said this is the Zodiac speaking the here was not in there, What are those totem pole things supposed to be in the second cypher ?

  15. #15 James
    30. April 2018


    Celebrity cypher

    Used N for upward arrow symbol as i couldint find letters connected to the right and left Arrow symbols. This is also the same result as someone has gotten before I do believe in the actual care and message some of the letters stand for themselfs.

  16. #16 Ian
    19. Juli 2018

    Celebrity Cipher was solved long ago. Easy and makes sense, once you know it. The cipher was apparently intended as a poor taste joke. It was parodying the remark made by Paul Avery that the Zodiac was a “closet homosexual” and the Zodiac reacted by sending him an intimidating card.

    IZKZDCIAOZ (anagram for “Zodiac iz KZ”)


    Seems to be something extra under the stamp (perhaps the full translation is something like “In his room I am too”, or possibly that stroke is just an errant mark.).

  17. #17 Ian
    19. Juli 2018

    Of course the address on the card is just OAKLAND, CA

  18. #18 Breaker
    12. April 2019

    Celebrity Cypher is made to directly target Celebrities

    The ciphertext delivers three distinct solutions, all which are used to describe the events behind a death of an entertainer and members of their families.

    1) Line for Line ciphertext read:
    This is a basic alignment game, taking one line from the left half and the next from the right half, reading it as it lays. This cipher begins to describe Nirvana’s inner circle and drama:

    2) Simple Alphabetical Substitution provides a sort of Dirge :
    This is the section targeting Ron Goldman, OJ Simpson, and his ex-wife, Nicole Simpson. This was a sort of Dirge repeating at the end, hinting at something hiding in the repetition of words.

    3) The Shift – Using the Ciphertext stacked over the Plaintext, a shift of the Plaintext is made to the right to the 3rd letter.
    The words Celebrity Cypher and Herold in the address are aligned to show the count of the shifts, the repeating words to look for with the key to “Her Old Cipher”, using the Z340 Ciphertext. Take the results in the same way as the first solve is read and see that the new segment continues the Dirge to the chorus.


    The cipher that was used to set up the publicized illusions behind the Celebrity Cypher, and the attempts to ruin Courtney Love, Nirvana, and OJ Simpson’s careers with murders of their family members and associates. Tying them into the media drama that founded endless reenactments and documentaries, becoming the most sensationalized cases in the history of the country.

  19. #19 Breaker
    12. April 2019
  20. #20 Breaker
    12. April 2019

    This is a brief discussion on Reddit
    This is the raw side by side comparison of the 3 ciphers.

  21. #21 Breaker
    12. April 2019

    The Sleep My Little Letter was also used as part of the same era of media and Celebrity attacks, and was used to plant an agent in the CBS Studios as a Master Control Operator.

    To make their operations as viral and scare as many as possible, leading the investigations they wanted someone that could be the eyes and ears of the industry to push the “official narratives”

    This one was deciphered by an individual providing the key [IMG]https://i67.tinypic.com/20ppi6r.jpg[/IMG]

    I placed them into a grid and voila, a crossword of phrases about the people that they were targeting in the Industry….even spelling out IATSE HIDING SINEAD RAPE, I AM CONTROL MASTER


  22. #22 anonymous
    Ciphers arent ciphers.
    22. Januar 2023

    Every single one of the zodiac ciphers are translations of other languages. The parent language is Turk, he uses a branch of the parent language. However, one line on the Marianne Moore card says “translate foreign language to mother language. Mother language is Arabic. You can break any in minutes. There ARE NO CIPHERS.