On September 25th 1990 somebody mailed the celebrity cypher to the Vallejo Times-Herald, approximately three months before the 1990 'Eureka' card, often associated with the Zodiac Killer. Bearing in mind the 408 cipher mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner and Vallejo Times-Herald on July 31st 1969, many have pondered whether this postcard was mailed by the Bay Area murderer. There is little to prove this notion one way or another, but if somebody was mimicking the Zodiac Killer, one might expect the wording on the card to equally mimic previous correspondence, in particular, phrases he used with respect to his codes and ciphers.
Many people have put forward solutions to the celebrity cypher, including the website Zodiologists.com and Rubislaw32 (a regular contributor to this site). Some of these solutions can be found on Ricardo Gomez's Project MK-Zodiac site. But here, I am not going to tackle the celebrity cypher from the angle of cryptology, because not only do I have a basic knowledge of ciphers, but also, the mere fact that so many people of greater ability than me have come to wildly different conclusions, is evidence of a code that is malleable. In other words, this code is open to subjective interpretation and no solution, despite the belief of the code-cracker, has been universally accepted. Of course, nobody knows, or could know with certainty, who the author of this postcard is. However, if the author mailed a cipher to the Vallejo Times-Herald in an attempt to pass this communication off under the guise of Zodiac-style correspondence, could it be argued that the sender is also a murderer? One attempted solution caught my eye on the Zodiac Killer Site forum - and this is the path I will follow, despite the pitfall of characters being hidden behind the stamp. Here is the card, on which I have added some notations which will be explained later.
The first thing to notice is that the author likely places his name and address on the upper left hand side of the celebrity cypher, and also signs off the card with his name. Often a sender will provide a return address on the left side of a postcard or envelope. This is backed up by the identical thirteen characters beginning and ending the correspondence. Then we have to predict what the preceding text is before the author signs off with their name. On the left is the '13 Symbol' cipher mailed by the Zodiac Killer on April 20th 1970. He precedes the code or name with My name is.
In the Luis Campos example at the top of the page, the final line is reserved for the name. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the Zodiac Killer or somebody imitating him, would write My name is before signing off with their name. This may be preceded by a question, such as "Do you know me", in view of the Bay Area murderer having committed his crimes just under 21 years ago. A variation of do you remember me? Even if the author wasn't the Zodiac Killer, they may have been projecting the idea that they were.
The next thing to look at is the return address. It has 10 characters followed by seven, then two. Many on the Zodiac Killer forum have deduced that the bottom line of the return address to be Oakland, CA - so I will run with this idea. The postcard was postmarked Oakland, so it's reasonable to conclude the return address would be Oakland too. This being the case, the 10 characters above must represent the area within Oakland. Now comes the simple task of finding a potential murderer who possibly authored this postcard. Somebody who knew of the Zodiac Killer, lived in an area of Oakland (comprised of 10 letters), and was eventually caught and convicted of murder. Surprisingly, if you type into Google search "Oakland, murderer, 1990" a possible answer is served up on a plate. Somebody who certainly lived in Oakland up to 1992, murdered two women in Oakland Hills that year, and lived with his grandparents near to Skyline Road and Golf Links Road, the deposition site of the two murdered women. Where exactly his grandparents lived, I have yet to ascertain, but there is a 10-letter neighborhood in East Oakland called Castlemont. It is less than a mile from Golf Links Road. His name was Monte Crawford, exactly fitting the 5 and 8 characters at the foot of the celebrity cypher.
Monte Crawford, a military veteran, was sentenced on Friday, August 1st 2014 to 40 years to life for the 1992 double murder of Tredis Penny (26) and Shirley Wynn (38), both strangled and sexually assaulted, before being dumped in the Oakland Hills. I have no idea whatsoever if Monte Crawford was responsible for the celebrity cypher, but he did live in Oakland, in or near Castlemont, both of which fit the code, and he was capable of murder as he showed just one and a half years later, if he wasn't already a killer at this juncture.