In the letter to the Chronicle, the author suggested that within the code he had mailed we would discover his identity.
He wrote "Here is part of a cipher the other 2 parts of this cipher are being mailed to the editors of the Vallejo Times and SF Examiner. I want you to print this cipher on the front page of your paper. In this cipher is my idenity. If you do not print this cipher by the afternoon of Fry.1st of Aug 69, I will go on a kill ram-Page Fry. night. I will cruse around all weekend killing lone people in the night then move on to kill again, until I end up with a dozen people over the weekend."
When the cipher was decoded a matter of days later, the code revealed "I like killing people because it is so much fun it is more fun than killing wild game in the forrest because man is the most dangerous animal of all to kill something gives me the most thrilling experence it is even better than getting your rocks off with a girl the best part of it is that when I die I will be reborn in paradice and all the (people) I have killed will become my slaves. I will not give you my name because you will try to slow down or stop my collecting of slaves for my afterlife."
The killer of three assured us that his identity was concealed within the cipher, while all along, knowing the enciphered text would reveal that he was unprepared to give us his name. He was effectively equating his identity with his name, not with his pseudonym or other covert means of identifying him. That is probably because the assailant at Lake Herman Road and Blue Rock Springs was technically not the Zodiac Killer. The "Zodiac Killer" 'only' killed two people under the Zodiac pseudonym, that of Cecelia Shepard and Paul Stine.
As covered in a previous article 'Born on August 3rd,' it was argued that the killer had no "identity" or pseudonym to reveal to us before August 3rd 1969, because he hadn't yet assigned one to himself. Being called the 'code killer' or 'cipher killer' in the newspapers clearly didn't sit well with an ego-driven murderer. He had to give himself a pseudonym worthy of his perceived stature- hence, the "Zodiac Killer" was born.
Four days later however, he would be triggered into action by the lame 'cipher killer' pseudonym designated to him by the public and featured in the San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle of August 3rd 1969- He was in control, and as such, was not going to be labelled by anybody.
It was now a simple task of replacing one word in his introduction, from "This is the murderer" to "This is the Zodiac."
This would have significant implications regarding the Riverside murder of Cheri Jo Bates on October 30th 1966, and in particular the three Bates letters. The idea that the symbol on these letters was an alphabetical Z indicating Zodiac would now be nullified, as the Zodiac pseudonym was 827 days in the making.
Comparing this introduction to the 'near Zodiac' at the foot of the 340 cipher would have left few in doubt this was deliberately placed, and indeed, he had concealed his identity in the cipher.
However, because the 340 cipher was mailed on November 8th 1969, it is often argued that the 'near Zodiac' may have fell out accidentally on his creation of the cipher- something that would likely never have been argued three months earlier.
Therefore, if the Zodiac Killer did belatedly give us his identity or pseudonym in the second cipher, when we already knew it, one could suggest it has a secondary purpose, other than to be deciphered in exactly the same way as the other 334 characters.
There is a growing perception that the 340 cipher is effectively a "bag of puzzles" rather than a continuous uninterrupted message, as many of its features can easily be linked or shown to compare favorably with other correspondences mailed by the Zodiac Killer. This man wasn't a Professor Moriarty style genius- so he either created a method of encryption so illogical, as to make the cipher unsolvable by the logical mind or computer created by logic, he created a mix of puzzles disguised within the cipher, or he created the perfect ghost cipher, to which he would eventually keep his promise by placing his identity within a cipher, but little else.
Without identifying a key and demonstrating which communication it was found, then the '13 Symbol' and '32 Symbol' ciphers are simply too short to ever be proven as solved. In a previous article we highlighted a piece by Dave Oranchak, in which 46 consecutive alphabetical letters from the historical text of Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, can be placed successfully into a portion of the 408 cipher. Dave Oranchak, the foremost expert on the Zodiac ciphers, commented on this "So, only one piece of text, from a vast collection of eleven billion pieces of text, fit into this chunk of cipher text. A one in eleven billion chance seems to suggest some significance. But don’t be fooled by this. Just because this rare event occurred, doesn’t mean it is anything more than a simple coincidence. If we didn’t already know the real solution to the 408, how do we know that this chunk of old and obscure text isn’t the correct solution?"
Therefore, one can easily see the multiple solutions that can be harvested from these inadequately designed ciphers. The Zodiac Killer wasn't a genius, but he certainly wasn't a fool either, and must have known that the variability of the '32 Symbol' cipher, and lack of characters within the '13 Symbol' cipher were open to multiple solutions. This was probably part of the fun.
The man, eventually to become known as the Zodiac Killer, mailed the 408 cipher on July 31st 1969. This was a genuine cipher, decoded by Donald Gene and Bettye June Harden of Salinas, California, who both used homophonic substitution to identify the solution. The "cipher killer" or "code killer" would not have lived up to the name given him by the San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle on August 3rd 1969- the "killer of codes" would have been far more suitable.