The 'Dripping Pen' card and 340 Cipher, comprising of 63 characters, were mailed by the Zodiac Killer to the San Francisco Chronicle on November 8th 1969. Despite countless attempts to decode the Zodiac cipher over the last 47 years, nobody has so far been credited with an authentic decryption by authorities.
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Invariably you will read the claims "The 340 Cipher Solved" or "The Solution to the 340" in Google searches and almost without exception they are solved in the mind of the person proposing the answer. but that is all. The foremost cipher expert regarding the Zodiac is Dave Oranchak, who has some excellent tools on his site Zodiac Killer Ciphers, including the Webtoy, in which you can play around with the two main ciphers. Many solutions have gained notoriety in recent years that began with Robert Graysmith and continued with Corey Starliper and Daryll Lathers, among others. The 'solutions' are usually in tandem with book releases and/or newspaper publications, so I guess that says it all.
Dave Oranchak examines most of these claims, so the best place to visit for the voice of reason is his website. A good start would be his article 'The Most Pattern-Seeking Animal of All' showing the mistakes people fall into when 'designing' solutions with a predetermined goal in mind, such as a suspect who you want to introduce into the cipher. We humans are designed to seek out patterns, even when they don't exist, and the Zodiac community is no different, including articles presented on this site.
Points of interest in the cipher include a similarity to 'Zodiac' on the final line, the two dashes on each side of the 10th line, implying separation, along with two sets of three letter character groupings, firstly on the 5th and 13th lines, and secondly on the 9th and 13th lines. In fact on the 13th line these three letters are meshed together.
The Zodiac accompanies his cipher with a brief message "This is the Zodiac speaking. I though you would nead a good laugh before you hear the bad news. You won't get the news for a while yet. Could you print this new cipher in your frunt page ? I get aufully lonely when I am ignored, so lonely I could do my Thing." This was followed by a running total of seven victims, detailed chronologically, "Des, July, Aug, Sept, Oct = 7". From the beginning of the Zodiac attacks in December, they were followed by further attacks in July, September and October. However, this gives us five victims, possibly six if we we retrospectively include Cheri Jo Bates, murdered outside the Riverside City College Library on October 30th 1966. The August murder/s claim remain unknown.
After the Zodiac's third attack at Lake Berryessa on September 27th 1969, the killer did not send any correspondence bragging about the events that day, leaving some people to question this attack as a Zodiac crime. I suppose, other than his admission on the car door of Bryan Hartnell's Karmann Ghia, the mention of September on the 'Dripping Pen' card was the nearest he would ever come to admitting his involvement in the crime. Then again we have not deciphered the 340 cipher yet.
Two young girls Debra Gaye Furlong (14) and Kathie Ann Snoozy (15) were found murdered on August 3rd 1969 in the Bay Area of San Jose, in what can only be described as a barrage of knife wounds. These murders were eventually found to be at the hand of Karl F Warner, who was also convicted of the Kathy Bilek (18) murder on April 11th 1971.
If the Zodiac was not claiming the Cheri Jo Bates murder at this point and including her in the running total of seven, it is not inconceivable that the Zodiac Killer was claiming the double murder of Furlong and Snoozy, which occurred in August.
Incidentally, the wording on the card "and I can't do a thing with it" was not written by the Zodiac, it was part of the original card.
One and a half months after the 'Dripping Pen' card the Zodiac Killer included another piece of the murdered taxicab driver's shirt, mailed with the 'Melvin Belli' letter on December 20th 1969. In this letter the Zodiac stated his fear of "losing control again and taking his ninth or possibly tenth victim." Number eight has never been identified, if there was ever one at all.
The first 408 cipher was decoded fairly quickly by Donald Gene and Bettye June Harden, after three portions of cipher, forming one whole, were mailed to the Vallejo Times-Herald, San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner just over three months prior to this latest offering.
Zodiac Killer Ciphers, authored by Dave Oranchak, employs various interactive tools so you can investigate the 340 cipher, as well as others.
Dan Olson of the FBI Cryptanalyst Unit believes the 340 cipher is split into two halves, just below where the two dash symbols are situated on the 10th line. He is drawn towards the top three lines on the new formation containing 102 characters, regarding this area as most important. His analysis of the cipher can be viewed on Youtube here, starting at 8m 05s. I have reconstructed the cipher into the NEW 340 FORMATION, explained in the video.
1963 June 4th-The Domingos/Edwards Murders
1966 October 30th-The Cheri Jo Bates Murder
1966 November 29th -The Confession Letter
1966 December- The Riverside Desktop Poem
1967 April 30th- Bates Had to Die Letter
1968 December 20th-The Lake Herman Murders
1969 July 4th-The Blue Rock Springs Attack
1969 July 31st- Vallejo Times Herald Letter and
408 Cipher Page1 (solved)
1969 July 31st- Examiner Letter and
408 Cipher Page 2 (solved)
1969 July 31st - Chronicle Letter and
408 Cipher Page 3 (solved)
1969 July 31st-The Complete 408 Cipher
1969 August 4th- Debut of Zodiac Letter
1969 September 27th- The Lake Berryessa Attack
1969 October 11th-The Presidio Heights Murder
1969 October 13th-The Paul Stine Letters
1969 October 22nd-Call to Chat Show
1969 November 8th-The Dripping Pen Card and
340 Cipher (unsolved)
1969 November 9th-The Bus Bomb Letter
1969 November 28th-The Betsy Aardsma Murder
1969 December 16th-The Fairfield Letter
1969 December 20th-The Melvin Belli Letter
1970 Feb 21st- The Hood and Garcia Murders
1970 March 22nd-The Modesto Attack
1970 April 20th-"My Name is" Letter,
Cipher 3 (unsolved) and Bus Bomb Diagram
1970 April 28th-The Dragon Card
1970 June 26th-The Button Letter
Cipher 4 (unsolved) and Map
1970 July 4th-The Sleeping Bag Murders
1970 July 24th-The Kathleen Johns Letter
1970 July 26th-The Little List Letter
1970 Sept 6th-The Donna Lass Disappearance
1970 October 5th-13 Hole Postcard
1970 October 27th-The Halloween Card
1971 March 13th-The Los Angeles Letter
1971 March 22nd-The Pines Card
1974 January 29th-The Exorcist Letter
1974 February 14th-The SLA Letter
1974 May 8th-The Citizen Card
1974 July 8th-The Red Phantom Letter
1974 December 27th- Christmas Card
1978 April 24th-The 1978 Letter
1987 October 28th- The 1987 Letter
1990 December-American Greetings Card