The strange story of Bruno Borges

The Brazilian Bruno Borges disappeared without a trace in 2017, left behind numerous encrypted texts, and then suddenly reappeared. What should we make of this case from today’s perspective?

Deutsche Version

An unsolved criminal case in which an unsolved encryption plays a role – this combination repeatedly ensures high access numbers on Cipherbrain. Major examples include the Zodiac killer, Ricky McCormick’s notes, and the YOGTZE case, to name a few.

A crime also appeared to be at hand when Brazilian Bruno Borges disappeared in 2017 – and later resurfaced. He left behind a larger volume of coded texts. The articles I published about this story in 2017 were among the most read of the year.

In the meantime, four years have passed. High time, then, to take another look at this still puzzling story.


The facts

Bruno Borges, a 24-year-old psychology student from Rio Branco in Brazil, was known among his friends as an alien enthusiast. According to his own statements, he was working on a project about which he did not want to reveal anything, but for which he asked several relatives for financial support.


Quelle/Source: Facebook

On Monday, April 3, 2017, Borges disappeared without a trace. The reasons for his disappearance remained unclear. Afterwards, a video circulated on the Internet showing his room (he was still living with his parents). No furniture was found in this room, but a statue of the philosopher Giordano Bruno was.

Borges had covered the walls of his room with coded notes. In addition, the disappeared man left behind further coded notes and a total of 14 books written by him. One of these works was published by a publishing house and became a bestseller despite negative reviews. This success was probably mainly due to the fact that the media reported extensively on the mysterious disappearance and thus also on the book.


Quelle/Source: TAC


A PR stunt?

On August 11, a good four months later, Borges suddenly reappeared. He appeared distraught and apparently had health problems. He did not reveal where he had spent the time he had been missing. However, it indicated that it had been a voluntary action and that he had not been the victim of a crime.

By now, at the latest, many assumed that the whole affair was nothing more than a PR stunt intended to promote sales of the book. Borges, however, denied this.

Those who want to know more about this story should read the blog article by Merzmensch, a Cipherbrain reader.

The ciphers

The encryption method Borges used for most of his cryptograms has long been known. It is a letter substitution. Here is an example of a ciphertext:

Quelle/Source: Reddit

You can decrypt this ciphertext with the following table:


Quelle/Source: Reddit

Here is the beginning of the plaintext (Portuguese):

Caminho Difícil
Por milhares de anos o ser humano vem tentando encontrar respostas para perguntas como “qual o sentido da vida”? A filosofia que ao que tudo indica, parece ter se iniciado com Tales de Mileto em meados de 700 a.C. visa encontrar vestígios de perguntas sem respostas. A pesquisa profunda pela verdade absoluta advém da filosofia, e quando falamos a respeito de caminhos fáceis ou difíceis estamos nos referindo a esse tipo de teorema.

Thomas Bosbach has produced the following translation in English:

The Hard Way
For thousands of years the human being has been trying to find answers to questions like “what is the meaning of life”? The philosophy that seems to have begun with Tales of Miletus in the middle of 700 BC seems to find traces of unanswered questions. The deep search for absolute truth comes from philosophy, and when we talk about easy or difficult paths we are referring to this type of theorem.


Unresolved Encryptions

However, there is still at least one passage of Borges’ text that is encrypted using a different method. To my knowledge, it is still unsolved. Here is the first part:


Quelle/Source: Reddit

Here is the second part:


Quelle/Source: Reddit

If any reader can crack this encryption or if the solution is already known, I would be interested.


Open questions

In recent years, the press has hardly reported on Bruno Borges. Presumably, the disappearance of the young Brazilian was really nothing more than a PR stunt. Nevertheless, I would like to know if the above cryptogram can be deciphered.

In addition, there were apparently other encryption methods that Borges used. There is talk of this on Wikipedia, for example. Can a reader say something about this?

And finally, I would be interested to know if there is any current information on Bruno Borges. Please write any relevant information in the comment field.

If you want to add a comment, you need to add it to the German version here.

Further reading: An encrypted notebook that waits to be solved


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