(Back to zodiackillerciphers.com)

Contents:


Annotated solution to the 408 cipher, based on the Harden worksheets

(Sources: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]). Word divisions are marked. Annotations appear as red numbers - click on them to view more details. Colored boxes indicate cipher symbols that violate the rule that a cipher symbol can only represent a single plain text letter.
Part 1, mailed to Vallejo Times - Herald on July 31, 1969
row 1:
ILIKEKILLINGPEOPL
row 2:
EBECAUSEITISSOMUC1
row 3:
HF2UNITIS3M4OR5EFUNTH
row 4:
ANKILLINGWILDGAME
row 5:
INTHEFORREST6BECA7U
row 6:
SEMANISTHEMOSTDAN
row 7:
GEROUS8ANIMALOFALL
row 8:
TOKILLSOMETHINGGI
Part 2, mailed to San Francisco Examiner on July 31, 1969
row 9:
VESMETHEMOST9THRIL
row 10:
LINGEXPERENCE10ITIS
row 11:
EVENBETTERTHANGET
row 12:
TINGYOURROCKSOFF11W
row 13:
ITHAGIRL12THEBESTPA
row 14:
RTOFITISTHAT13WHENI
row 15:
DIEIWILLBEREBORNI
row 16:
NPARADICE14A15NDALLTH
Part 3, mailed to San Francisco Chronicle on July 31, 1969
row 17:
E16IHAVEKILLEDWILLB
row 18:
ECOMEMYSLAVESIWIL
row 19:
LNOTGIVEYOUMYNAME
row 20:
BECAUSEYOUWILLTRY17
row 21:
TOSLOW18DOWNORSTOPM
row 22:
YCOLLECTINGOFSLAV
row 23:
ESFORMYAFTERLIFEE
row 24:
BEORIETEMETHHPITI19


Notes:



Harden Key (cipher to plaintext):

Boxed symbols indicate polyphones

W 8
L 12
N 6
E 8
S 1 8
S 6
A 7
T 8
T 10
O 1 8
F 6
S 5
T 8
H 8
E 5 13
T 1
N 7
I 11
F 5
G 12
A 6
O 7
I 10
B 9
E 9
O 9
U 10
E 8
V 6
O 6
C 10
D 3
O 5
X 1
I 9
P 7
A 5
E 6
M 16
R 7
R 7
N 6
T 8
E 8
N 4
D 4
H 8
A 1 15
S 2
A 4 7
I 1
S 3
I 13 18
W 1
L 10
S 6
Y 8
L 11
K 6
R 5
E 8

Harden Key (plaintext to cipher):

Divisions between each of the three parts are indicated with
Symbols that occur in the last 18 cipher text positions are shown after this icon:

Letter Count Symbols Full Sequence
A 23

Note: If we retain the misspelling "ANAMAL", the sequence in Part 1 becomes:

This preserves the cycle until it is interrupted in Part 2 of the cipher.
B 9
C 10
D 7
E 52


Note: The cycle is not broken until Part 3 of the cipher.
F 11
Note: The cycle is not broken until Part 3 of the cipher.
G 12
H 16
Note: The cycle repeats perfectly throughout the entire cipher.
I 44


Note: If we retain the misspelling "ANAMAL", then the cycle remains unbroken until Part 3 of the cipher.
J 0
K 6
L 33
M 16
N 23

Note: The cycle remains unbroken until Part 3 of the cipher.
O 28

Note: If we replace the mistaken symbol with , then the cycle remains unbroken until Part 3 of the cipher.
P 7
Q 0
R 19
Note: The cycle remains unbroken until Part 3 of the cipher.
S 23

Note: If we replace with , and the mistaken symbol with , then the cycle is not broken until Part 3 of the cipher.
T 35

Note: If we replace the mistaken symbol with , then the cycle is not broken until Part 3 of the cipher.
U 10
V 6
W 9
X 1
Y 8
Z 0

Homophone cycles:

In the following image of the cipher text, all symbols that participate in unbroken homophone cycles are displayed in black. Symbols that do not follow a cycle pattern are displayed in gray. Cycles are considered after applying the transcription corrections analyzed above.

You can see how the cycle patterns mostly break down in Part 3 of the cipher. You can also see that the symbols intended to represent "L" often occur together, such as in the words "KILL", "THRILL", "WILL", "ALL", and "COLLECTING". If the killer had used predictable homophone cycles for "L", the meaning of those symbols would probably have been even more obvious. Nevertheless, the bigram still occurs six times, which was a great clue for the Hardens to follow.

Differences between Harden Key and Concerned Citizen Key:


Interpretation of FBI cryptanalysis of Concerned Citizen key:

FBI cryptanalysis results:



Interpretation: