More than 50 years later, the famous cypher sent to the San Francisco Chronicle by the man collectively known as the "Zodiac Killer" has finally been cracked.
The code in the message was finally broken by three experts in the field: Sam Blake, from Australia, David Oranchak, from the US and Jarl Van Eycke, from Belgium.
According to the Chronicle themselves, the code sent by the killer, known as the "340 cypher", was originally sent to them in 1969, two weeks after a man claiming to be the killer started calling in to San Francisco's then popular "Jim Dunbar Show".
The original cypher as received is the following, including the three times the word "paradise" is mis-spelled:
I HOPE YOU ARE HAVING LOTS OF FUN IN TRYING TO CATCH ME
THAT WASN’T ME ON THE TV SHOW WHICH BRINGS UP A POINT ABOUT ME
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.
Oranchak, who has been working with his colleagues on this particular cypher for the past 14-plus years, said:
"It was a big shock, I never really thought we’d find anything because I had grown so used to failure. 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."
The killer was responsible for the deaths of at least five people in and close to San Francisco.
The San Francisco branch of the FBI released the following comment:
"The FBI is aware that a cipher attributed to the Zodiac Killer was recently solved by private citizens. The Zodiac Killer case remains an ongoing investigation for the FBI San Francisco division and our local law enforcement partners. The Zodiac Killer terrorized multiple communities across Northern California and even though decades have gone by, we continue to seek justice for the victims of these brutal crimes. 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."