July 24, 2011

Massachusetts Man Says He's Cracked Zodiac Killer Code: Corey Starliper believes he has solved the 41-year-old "340" cipher and has identified the legendary serial killer who terrorized northern California. (Brandon Schillemat, July 21, 2011, Belmont Patch)

A 2007 movie entitled "Zodiac" was what sparked interest in Starliper about the case.

"I saw the movie first, and when I saw the movie, (I had) instant interest in it," he said, snapping his fingers. "When I read the book, I was ... just hungry for more when the book ended."

Starliper describes the Zodiac serial killer case as "extraordinarily consuming."

"I became absolutely obsessed with the case, to the point that I'd look up from Graysmith's books ... and realize that I'd actually forgotten to eat."

Starliper said that after becoming interested in the code, he abandoned it for some time, but after that, an idea for breaking the code came to him almost by "accident."

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 US Virgin Islands. It was then that he found out that 340 is the area code for a portion of the US 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."

Caesar code is a substitution type cipher where an encoder has "simply replaced each letter in a message with the letter that is three places further down the alphabet," according tohttp://www.simonsingh.net/The_Black_Chamber/caesar.html.

This doesn't mean the 340 is such an easy task to decode, considering the fact that the original 340 cipher is full of symbols: >, +, and ▲ being just a few of the signs found in the code. To combat this problem, Starliper extracted symbols and changed them to letters they could correspond with. For example, a ^ or < symbol could be interpreted as inverted or sideways "V"s.

"I first went in there and I did that," he said. After everything symbolic had been interpreted alphabetically, he started applying reverse Caesar shifts. He found the first two letters to be "K" and "I".

"What are the next two going to be? right? I figure, what's the first word he's going to throw in there? Kill," said Starliper. "And I was able to keep going from there." For the first few lines, the pattern remained constant, but it changed beyond that. He said he was able to figure out the non-patterned series that by finding "similarities in the numerical sequence."

Starliper split his work into two sessions of 6 hours and 3 hours. When he was done, he had decoded the following text: KILL/SLF/DR/HELP/ME/KILL/MYSELF/GAS/CHAMBER/AEIOUR/DAYS/QUESTIONSABLE/EVERYY/WAKING/MOMENT/IM/ALIVE/MY/PRIDE/LOST/I/CANT/GO/ON/LIVING/IN/THIS/WAY/KILLING/PEOPLE/I/HAV/KILLD/SO/MANY/PEOPLE/CANT/HELP/MYSELF/IM/SO/ANGRY/I/COULD/DO/MY/THING/IM/ALONE/IN/THIS/WORLD/MY/WHOLE/LIFE/FUL/O/LIES/IM/UNABLE/TO/STOP/BY/THE/TIME/YOU/SOLVE/THIS/I/WILL/HAV/KILLD/ELEVEN/PEOPLE/PLEASE/HELP/ME/STOP/KILLING/PEOPLE/PLEASE/MY/NAME/IS/LEIGH/ALLEN/

Arthur Leigh Allen was a prime suspect during the Zodiac investigation. When Sherwood Morrill, a handwriting expert, examined Allen's writing, he told investigators that the writing was "similar, but not the Zodiac killer's", according to "Zodiac Unmasked" by Robert Graysmith. Allen also passed a polygraph exam during the investigation.

These facts don't bother Starliper.

"Leigh Allen in that situation was forcing his handwriting to look different from the way that he normally wrote," said Starliper, referencing the work of detectives.

Allen died in 1992 at age 58.

The discovery of a solution to the code wasn't "disturbing", as Starliper said he had heard it described, but invigorating.


Posted by at July 24, 2011 7:14 AM
  

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