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San Francisco’s infamous serial killer — the Zodiac Killer — terrorized citizens in the late 1960s. According to ABC7, the FBI confirmed the Zodiac Killer’s code was broken by an Australian mathematician and their team. They confirmed this astonishing news on Dec. 11, 2020.
The Zodiac Killer attacked seven people in 1968 and 1969. He targeted these people in four different locations in Northern California. His main focus was spreading fear throughout the Nation.
He first focused on couples in secluded areas. In those areas, he targeted three couples — two of whom were able to get away from the maniac.
The Zodiac Killer Terrorized Northern California
The Zodiac Killer’s letters, threats, and ciphers frightened everybody near and far. He would send his notes to the public and authorities. According to reports, his last known victim was a taxi driver who was killed on Oct. 11, 1969.
Since the taxi driver’s death, there have been no new cases linked to the Zodiac Killer. Many people feel that he may also be responsible for other crimes. However, no one has been able to officially link the serial killer to them. The only crimes linked to the infamous killer are two attempted murders and five homicides.
In Benicia, California — on Dec. 20, 1968 — the Zodiac Killer shot 16-year-old Betty Lou Jensen and 17-year-old David Faraday. He murdered the couple as they sat parked on lovers’ lane — it was their first date.
Initially, the police had no idea that a serial killer was responsible for the deaths. They began investigating Jensen’s ex-boyfriend and such — standard operation for murders.
According to SF Weekly, Jensen’s best friend told them, “All the detectives thought it had to be because of drugs. They refused to hear anything else.”
In the early morning of July 5, 1969, Mike Mageau, age 19, and Darlene Ferrin, age 22, were shot multiple times as they sat in Ferrin’s car. The vehicle was parked at the Blue Rock Springs Golf Club located in Vallejo, California.
The Zodiac Killer called the Vallejo Police Department to lay claim to both incidents. He reported the murders he committed less than an hour before; ending with “I also killed those kids last year.’
More of the Zodiac Killers Crimes
Cecilia Shepard, age 22, and Bryan Hartnell, were having a picnic at Lake Berryessa in Napa County on Sept. 27, 1969. The couple was approached by a man wearing a hood. On the was a symbol of two intersecting lines in a circle.
The Zodiac Killer threatened the pair and then tied them up. The hooded figure then preceded to stab them. when help arrived both victims were alive. However, Shepard ended up succumbing to her wounds — Hartnell survived.
On Oct. 11, 1969, in San Francisco, the serial killer committed his next crime. The Zodiac Killer entered the cab of 29-year-old Paul Stine. He then shot Stine in the head. This time he committed his crime with people around.
Witnesses called the authorities immediately. When officers arrived at the scene they were able to describe the suspect. They said the Zodiac Killer was white, roughly 25 to 30 years old, wearing glasses. The witnesses further stated the man had a crew cut hairstyle. Of course, witnesses did not know they had actually seen the Zodiac Killer at the time.
Unfortunately, dispatch described the man’s skin color as black. Officers had seen a white man fitting the description and allowed him to leave, due to dispatches incorrect information.
The Zodiac Killer began sending letters to newspapers to claim all of his crimes. His letters always detailed information that only the killer would know. In one letter he claimed the murder of Stine and included a piece of the man’s shirt as proof.
He would leave ciphers for people to decode. Authorities and codebreakers have worked hard to decipher most of the killer’s codes. Some of which have proven to be difficult.
Deciphering the Code
Samuel Blake, a Melbourne mathematician, worked in a team of codebreakers Jarl Van Eycke and David Oranchak to crack the latest enigmatic code. According to Blake, the cipher says that he is “not afraid of the gas chamber.”
The letter goes on to call his victims his “slaves” who will be waiting for him in the afterlife.
EVERYONE ELSE HAS NOTHING WHEN THEY REACH PARADICE SO THEY ARE AFRAID OF DEATH I AM NOT AFRAID BECAUSE I KNOW THAT MY NEW LIFE IS LIFE WILL BE AN EASY ONE IN PARADICE DEATH
Blake further stated that the message does not reveal who the Zodiac Killer actually is. It does however offer new insight into his mindset. Balke is a visiting fellow at the University of Melbourne.
Written by Sheena Robertson
News.com.au: Zodiac serial killer code solved more than 50 years on by team including Aussie mathematician; by Blake Antrobus
ABC7: Zodiac Killer’s ‘340 Cipher’ sent to San Francisco Chronicle 51 years ago reportedly solved by code experts; by Kayla Galloway
Biography: Why the Zodiac Killer Has Never Been Identified; by Sara Kettler
Featured Image by Donaldytong Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License