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In the Circle of the Zodiac: In Search of the Identity of a Mysterious Murderer

Dark pages of the past..

By Amelia TurekPublished 8 months ago 3 min read
In the Circle of the Zodiac: In Search of the Identity of a Mysterious Murderer
Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

Zodiac, also known as the Zodiac Killer, is a true serial killer that operated between 1960 and 1970 in California, USA.

Zodiac is primarily known for its harassing media policy and police investigations. He hid his identity and constantly sent coded letters to local newspapers and television stations. The letters contained riddles, checkerboard codes, and signs, which only added to the mystery.

Its victims were mainly young couples who were attacked in cars in secluded places. Zodiac used a variety of weapons to make his attacks, from pistols to knives. Many victims did not survive, but a few people miraculously escaped from their tormentor. The story of Zodiac begins in 1968, when the first murder was committed in the town of Benicia. A young couple, David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen, were shot dead in a parking lot. Other victims include Darlene Ferrin and her boyfriend, Michael Mageau, who were attacked by a man in a park.

Later in 1969, the Zodiac Killer perpetrated one of the most notorious attacks in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bryan Hartnell and Cecilia Shepard were attacked on Lake Berryessa beach. Before their attack, he wrote a message on a tree containing his distinctive zodiac signs. He stabbed them to death, but they both survived.

Then that same year, the Zodiac Killer murdered Paul Stine, a taxi driver in San Francisco. Following this murder, the Zodiac Killer sent a series of ciphertexts and letters to the media that contained riddles and cryptic messages intended to reveal his identity.

Nevertheless, despite intensive investigations and suspicions against various individuals, the identity of the Zodiac Killer remains unknown to this day. Although the Zodiac investigation is still open, numerous theories and speculations have been made about his identity, none of which have been confirmed.

The story of the Zodiac Killer remains one of the most mysterious and unsolved serial murder cases in forensic history. His actions left a permanent mark on pop culture and still fascinate researchers and true crime enthusiasts.

and his code...

His most famous code, called the "Zodiac Code" or "Zodiac Cipher", was posted to the San Francisco Chronicle in 1969.

The first letter with the code was sent on August 1, 1969 and contained 408 characters. The zodiac stated that it contained its identity in this code. A few days later, he published another letter in which he announced that if the newspaper did not publish the first code on the front page, he would have "the joy of murder" and would kill random people. In response to these threats, the newspaper published the code on its front page.

Despite the efforts of many people, including cryptographers and amateur codebreakers, over the years it has not been possible to solve this puzzling code. However, in 1969, an amateur couple from Steps, California - Donald and Bettye Harden - finally discovered a partial solution. They managed to discover the combination of letters in some words, but the full decipherment of the text was still impossible.

In 1970, Zodiac sent another letter in which he included another code, this time containing 340 characters. This code turned out to be a bit easier to solve. Within days of the letter being published, its contents were deciphered by a school teacher and his wife, Horace and Linda Torncraft. However, despite solving this code, it did not help in identifying the killer.

The Zodiac Killer Code remains one of the most famous unsolved codes in forensic history. There are many theories about his identity, but until now his identity remains a mystery.

The sign with which the Zodiac signed his letters

If you're keen on true crime stories, be sure to read about:

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