A Massachusetts man says he’s cracked the Zodiac killer’s cipher that has befuddled law enforcement agencies for the last 40 years since the enigmatic serial killer went on his Bay Area killing spree. The amateur sleuth says the 340-character code sent to the San Francisco Chronicle declares at the end “My name is Leigh Allen,” one of the principal suspects in the case who died in 1992.
Corey Starliper of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, became obsessed with the Zodiac case and decided he could break the code, according to news reports.
“It was just instinct,” he told the Burlingame Patch. “I have a gut feeling that it could be cracked.”
Not to say it wasn’t a complex process. Starliper did it in two sessions — one that was six hours long and another where he spent three hours on it.
According to the Patch:
According to Robert Graysmith, in “Zodiac” tips received by police after Darlene Ferrin’s murder indicated that the killing was connected to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Starliper believed that the “340″ of the 340 cipher was significant, and had some tie-in with the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was then that he found out that 340 is the area code for a portion of the U.S. Virgin Islands — not an insignificant connection.
“So that’s what I started with,” said Starliper. “I thought, there’s no way … that Zodiac is going to be prosaic enough not to mention the U.S. Virgin Islands in this code. This is where it gets even creepier. 3+4+0=7. Right. So you get 7+0=7. 707… 707 are the area codes for Vallejo, Napa, and Solano. So I figured, why not start this with Caesar code using 3,4.”
We’re no cipher experts, but it Starliper’s result is at least highly readable:
Starliper told the Patch that he’d contacted various Bay Area law enforcement agencies, but has only gotten a tepid response. SFPD Homicide Inspector Kevin Jones told SF Weekly he never heard from Starliper, but would send the code onto the FBI, which has the experts to check Starliper’s method.“There’s people who over the years think they’ve come with answers to the cipher but the FBI hasn’t been able to validate it,” Jones says. Could this be the one?
UPDATE: In October 2002, Allen’s DNA was compared to DNA obtained from a confirmed Zodiac letter. There was no match. In 2003, due to Allen’s alleged habit of having others lick his stamps and envelopes (he claimed the taste of glue made him sick), SFPD obtained a voluntary DNA sample from Don Cheney. The results were negative.
Arthur Leigh Allen was the only suspect in the Zodiac murders to be served search warrants by police. He was never charged with any Zodiac-related crime and his fingerprints did not match those left by the killer of taxi cab driver Paul Stine. In 1991, 22 years after the shootings, survivor Michael Mageau identified Allen as the man who shot him, from a photo lineup of 1968 driver’s licenses. Mageau stated he had never been shown a photo line up prior to that appointment in 1991. Allen, who suffered from diabetes, died on August 26, 1992 from kidney failure.In 2002, SFPD developed a partial DNA profile from the saliva on stamps and envelopes of Zodiac’s letters. SFPD compared this partial DNA to the DNA of Vallejo Police Department’s lead suspect, Arthur Leigh Allen. A DNA comparison was also made with Don Cheney’s DNA, who was Allen’s former close friend and the first person to suggest Allen may be the Zodiac Killer. Since neither test result indicated a match, Allen and Cheney were excluded as the contributors of the DNA, though it cannot be stated definitively that it is DNA from the Zodiac on the envelopes.Additionally in 2002, a partial palm print (called “Writer’s Palm”) was lifted from “The Exorcist” letter and then compared to a palm print of Allen’s. Again, test results showed the palm prints did not match. Even though DNA samples taken from the letters sent by the Zodiac ruled out Allen as the person who handled them, neither the Vallejo nor the San Francisco Police Departments have ruled out Allen as a suspect.