An amateur codebreaker in Massachusetts claims to have cracked a mysterious cipher used by the infamous "Zodiac Killer," possibly revealing the name of the serial killer whose true identity has remained unknown for more than 40 years.
Corey Starliper, of Tewksbury, Mass., told Patch.com that he has deciphered a previously indecipherable encrypted letter to the San Francisco Chronicle by the Zodiac Killer, a serial killer who took the lives of at least five victims in Northern California between 1968 and 1970. The police named Arthur Leigh Allen, who died in 1992 at age 58, as a suspect, but he was never charged.
The media gave the killer the "Zodiac" title because he sent several encoded messages to San Francisco-area newspapers taking credit for the murders. The first correspondence was a three-part, 408-character cipher that was cracked and published in the Chronicle on Aug. 2 and Aug. 3, 1969.
The killer's most famous message, a 340-character cipher sent on Nov. 8, 1969, has never been decrypted. That's where Starliper comes in.
"The first time I saw this code was a couple of years ago, and I knew that it could be cracked," Starliper, who became consumed by the mystery after watching the 2007 Hollywood thriller "Zodiac," told Patch. "It was just instinct, I had a gut feeling that it could be cracked. Any code created by man can be cracked by man."
Starliper said the result of his cryptograph sleuthing, which took nine hours in total, yielded this message: KILL SLF DR HELP ME KILL MYSELF GAS CHAMBER AEIOUR DAYS QUESTIONSABLE EVERYY WAKING MOMENT IM ALIVE MY PRIDE LOST I CANT GO ON LIVING IN THIS WAY KILLING PEOPLE I HAV KILLD SO MANY PEOPLE CANT HELP MYSELF IM SO ANGRY I COULD DO MY THING IM ALONE IN THIS WORLD MY WHOLE LIFE FUL O LIES IM UNABLE TO STOP BY THE TIME YOU SOLVE THIS I WILL HAV KILLD ELEVEN PEOPLE PLEASE HELP ME STOP KILLING PEOPLE PLEASE."
The message, Starliper said, ends with, "My name is Leigh Allen."
Of his codebreaking, Starliper said, "It was a high. One of the best highs I had ever experienced was cracking something that nobody else had cracked in over 40 years."
Starliper has contacted police units in the San Francisco counties where the Zodiac killings occurred, but has received little response.
Starliper still holds out hope that his decrypted cipher will bring solace to the victims' families.
"What I really mean to do by cracking these codes … my main goal, is to figure out, for one, exactly who did it, and to bring peace to the families of at least some of Zodiac's suspected victims," Starliper said.
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