Dubbed the “340 cipher,” the message was unraveled by a trio of code breakers — David Oranchak, a software developer in Virginia, Jarl Van Eycke, a Belgian computer programmer, and Sam Blake, an Australian mathematician.
Decoding the cipher revealed the following message. It was sent in all capital letters without punctuation and included the misspelling of paradise:
I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradice all the sooner
Because I now have enough slaves to work for me where 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 will be an easy one in paradice death.”
The TV show the message refers to is “The Jim Dunbar Show,” a Bay Area television talk show. The cipher was sent two weeks after a person claiming to be the Zodiac Killer called into the show.
“It was incredible. It was a big shock, I never really thought we’d find anything because I had grown so used to failure,” Oranchak, who’s been working on solving the killer’s messages since 2006, told CNN.
“When I first started, I used to get excited when I would see some words come through — they were like false positives, phantoms. I had grown used to that. It was a long shot — we didn’t even really know if there was a message,” he said.
The trio took their findings to the FBI a week ago, but didn’t reveal their breakthrough until the FBI’s confirmed cleared by the authorities, they said.
Bloody bits of clothing were included with his letters as proof of his actions. He claims he killed as many as 37 people.
“Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, and out of respect for the victims and their families, we will not be providing further comment at this time,” the statement read.
The San Francisco Police Department has also been made aware of the solved cipher, and said the information has been sent to the department’s cold case homicide investigators.
“We got really lucky and found one that had part of the answer, but it wasn’t obvious,” Oranchak said, explaining that they then had to handpick their way through to decipher the rest of the message.
The only disappointing part, Oranchak said, is that the missive contained no personally identifying information.
Oranchak holds out no hope for solving the two remaining ciphers. He described the mission as “almost hopeless,” as both are very short, with thousands of different names and phrases that could fit.