A long-unsolved puzzle sent by the Zodiac Killer to the San Francisco Chronicle has finally been cracked by a team of coding experts — revealing a taunting message in which the murderer scoffed that he wasn’t scared of being executed if caught, the paper said Friday.
“I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me,” the killer wrote in the bizarre coded message — sent to the paper in 1969. “I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradise all the sooner because I now have enough slaves to work for me.”
The so-called ” 340 cipher”— a jumble of letters, numbers and symbols — doesn’t reveal the name of the still-unidentified killer, who terrorized northern California in the 1960s and 1970s.
But coding experts were thrilled to demystify the missive — in the hopes it could help authorities uncover new insights into the mind of the prolific murderer, who claimed to have slaughtered at least 37 people.
“Last weekend, a team I’m on solved the 340 and submitted it to the FBI,” coding expert David Oranchak told the Chronicle on Friday. “They have confirmed the solution. No joke! This is the real deal.”
A spokeswoman for the FBI’s San Francisco office confirmed the message had been figured out, saying investigators were “aware that a cipher attributed to the Zodiac Killer was recently solved by private citizens.”
The Zodiac Killer targeted young couples, along with a male cab driver, and delighted in taunting police and media — sending letters and puzzles — about his unsolved cases.
In those letters, he gave himself the name the Zodiac Killer, signing off with the moniker and a cross inside a circle —the same symbol printed on Zodiac brand watches at the time of his killing spree.
In 1969, another one of his cypher puzzles was cracked by a school teacher from Salinas, Calif., and his wife.
It said, “I like killing because it is so much fun.”
It is unclear if the killer is still alive but based on a description of him, he would likely be an elderly man by now. Still, the FBI hasn’t given up hunting for him.
“The Zodiac Killer case remains an ongoing investigation,” the agency spokeswoman said. “We continue to seek justice for the victims of these brutal crimes.”