After coming across an article in the OBS announcing that three individuals had managed to crack one of the four enigmas of the Zodiac Killer, unlike the FBI (and this for nearly 50 years), 38-year-old polytechnician and strategy consultant Fayçal Ziraoui, set himself a crazy challenge : combing through everything that has been published about the sinister character, he will decipher the last two coded messages sent to the police by the killer, one of which allegedly containing his identity…
The facts: the Zodiac Killer was active between 1960 and 1978 in the San Francisco area in the United States. Accused of 5 murders, 2 attempted murders and 1 kidnapping, he is also suspected of being the author of about thirty other murders. In addition to his macabre actions and the mystery surrounding his identity, his story thrilled America because of the numerous messages he sent to the press and the police, in which he boasted not only about his crimes, but also about his ability to escape the authorities. To him, it was just a game.
A true crime mastermind…and a number genius
The 4 cryptograms are called Z408 (received in July 1969), Z340 (received in November 1969), Z13 (received in April 20, 1970) and Z32 (received in June 1970) because of their number of characters. The first one was solved in 1969 by a teacher and his wife but did not reveal anything relevant. The second one was (just!) cracked in 2020 by the American David Oranchak, the Australian Sam Blake, and the Belgian Jarl Van Eycke, mathematics and cryptography enthusiasts.
If the last two cryptograms were described as “indecipherable” by the experts, Fayçal Ziraoui was certainly not discouraged. On the contrary, he broke them in just two weeks. He used various methods: he used the key found by the amateur trio to identify frequent words, to find potential word combinations, and thus to link a letter to a sign or a number.
However, putting himself in the shoes of a serial killer and trying to think like him in order to be able to decipher his messages, was a rather terrifying experience for Ziraoui, whose only thoughts during those fifteen days (and nights) were focused on solving this enigma. The most disturbing thing for the young consultant was to realize the reality and horror of the case, which he could sometimes momentarily lose sight of, through these code solving, and mathematical exercises – almost a puzzle game.
The last riddle to solve
After much hard work, the famous message “My name is…” was finally completed: Lawrence Kaye or Kane would be the name of the killer. This name is already known to the police and on the list of suspects, since several clues led to him at the time.
Despite Kaye’s death in 2010, his guilt would be an unprecedented relief to the victims‘ families if proven. The FBI has acknowledged the former polytechnician’s findings, but no confirmation has been made. Indeed, the FBI is still investigating the cold case (even if non priority), which remains one of the most infamous, and therefore cannot make a statement.