On December 12, 2020, the Cryptanalysis and
Racketeering Records Unit of the FBI declared
that "private citizens" had solved the Z340 cipher.
The private citizens in question are:
David Oranchak, Sam Blake and Jarl Van Eycke.
In this article, I will put my case forward as to why
the proposed solution by Oranchak, Blake and Van Eycke is false.
Despite working on this since 2006, Oranchak did not solve the Z340 cipher.
In order to arrive at his translation,
Oranchak had to completely rearrange the characters
of the original cipher.
The cipher he creates bears no resemblance to the Z340.
From the outset, this is the hallmark of a false proposal.
Oranchak could not solve the original cipher, so instead, he created his own cipher.
By creating his own cipher, he avoids having to solve the Z340.
This is like an interviewee in a job interview,
who tries to hide their ignorance by not answering the question,
and proceeding to answer a question of their own making,
that is unrelated to the original.
The story given by Blake and Oranchak,
is that they used Spartan to look at 650 000 different transpositions,
before they stumbled on the fragment:
I do not believe this story.
On October 22, 1969, a man claiming to be the Zodiac killer
calls attorney Melvin Belli on a KGO-TV morning talk show.
Jim Dunbar was the host.
During the show, Dunbar says to the caller:
Left: Jim Dunbar and Right: Melvin Belli
To quote the transcript:
CALLER: I don’t want to be hurt.
BELLI: You’re not going to be hurt. You’re not going to be hurt if you talk to me.
DUNBAR: You’re not going to the gas chamber."
The caller was not Zodiac.
Bryan Hartnell, who had heard the voice of Zodiac,
confirmed that the caller's voice did not match.
A scene from this talk show is shown on:
Very Scary People - Zodiac Killer: I Am the Zodiac, Part 2.
Oranchak made an appearance on this episode
to briefly discuss the Z340.
Oranchak was well aware of the “gas chamber” reference.
Oranchak knew that to make his proposal sound convincing,
he would need to make reference to something historical
that occurred just before the release of the Z340.
The caller aired on television on October 22, 1969.
Zodiac sent the Z340 cipher to the San Francisco Chronicle on November 8, 1969.
This is how he came up with idea of putting the “gas chamber” into his translation.
He was unable to force this solution with the Z340,
so with the help of Blake,
he rearranged the characters in a way that would allow him to do this.
This is a clever form of deception.
But it does not solve the Z340.
The diagonal pattern deserves further attention.
So why choose to transpose the cipher in such a way?
The one, two step pattern is not a coincidence.
Once again, we know that this did not come about by some chance encounter with Spartan.
The real origin lies with Daikon.
On Wed Aug 5, 2015 at 1:22 am, Daikon wrote:
has to do with a spike in the bigram IoC at the period of 19 (or step, or distance).
Bigram IoC (index of coincidence) is just another way to measure bigram repeats,
but it is more "sensitive" to multiple repeats."
Daikon then provides the data:
Transposition test (encode), bigram IoC:
1: bic=1.997 |————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
2: bic=1.515 |—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
3: bic=1.791 |————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
4: bic=1.997 |————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
5: bic=2.135 |——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
6: bic=1.515 |—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
7: bic=1.446 |——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
8: bic=1.240 |——————————————————————————————————————————————————
9: bic=1.515 |—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
10: bic=1.860 |———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
11: bic=1.240 |——————————————————————————————————————————————————
12: bic=1.102 |—————————————————————————————————————————————
13: bic=1.240 |——————————————————————————————————————————————————
14: bic=1.240 |——————————————————————————————————————————————————
15: bic=1.515 |—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
16: bic=2.066 |———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
17: bic=1.997 |————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
18: bic=1.377 |————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
19: bic=3.099 |————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
20: bic=1.309 |—————————————————————————————————————————————————————
21: bic=1.997 |————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
22: bic=1.309 |—————————————————————————————————————————————————————
As you can see, period 19 shows a spike that increases the bigram IoC by over 50%.
The next highest spike is only 7%, and the rest are equal or lower than the original."
For the full discussion by Daikon, see:
Daikon - Period of 19 - Zodiac Killer Site
Nick Pelling points out this origin in September 23, 2017:
Nick Pelling - Cipher Mysteries
Sam Blake admits that his diagonal method is based on the period of 19.
To quote Sam Blake:
"I recognised that a period 19 is very similar to a one, two diagonal reading through the cipher."
Take a look at this image:
Diagonal Step Pattern Created by Sam Blake and David Oranchak,
based on Daikon's period of 19
In the image above, the transposed cipher is broken into three parts.
Part one contains the first nine rows.
This begins as an exact replica of Daikon's period of 19.
Start with the first character, then count 19 times left to right
for the second one, and so on.
Keep doing this until you come to the end of line 9.
It is noteworthy, that Oranchak and Blake stop the period of nineteen pattern at the end of line 9.
From line 10 onwards, the transposition does not conform to Daikon's diagonals.
Part One has a high IoC (Index of Coincidence).
The premise behind all this is that
the more times a character appears in a cipher,
the less likely it is to be a coincidence.
By the same logic, the more repeats there are
of a character, the more likely it is be meaningful.
From this, they then argue that the diagonal pattern is proof of the correctness of their transposition.
Yet, the diagonal pattern of the first section
does not prove that Zodiac ever intended the Z340 to be rewritten and read in such a way.
There are multiple different ways a cipher can be rearranged to form various patterns of one kind or another.
There is simply no reason to believe that Zodiac ever intended his cipher to be rearranged at all,
let alone in the exact manner described by Oranchak and Blake.
It is true that sometimes, repetition represents meaning.
Yet this is not always the case.
Their attempt to reduce meaning to a quantity, overlooks quality.
If we take this to an extreme, we can see that more repetition can devalue meaning.
Take the string:
The chance of such a string occurring randomly is slight.
Yet, simply repeating the letter 'a' does not make it meaningful.
"This string has meaning"
has less repetition, but more meaning.
Clearly, there is more to meaning than repetition.
So what makes meaning?
We humans are the only animals to create language.
Other animals make sense of the world through their perception.
Sight, sound and touch.
These are the signs that make meaning.
A wild bird in the forest sees a man moving.
The bird flies away.
For the bird does not need language to know there is danger.
The bird sees the image, and interprets the man to be a predator.
The sun rises to signify the day.
Night is known by the sun set.
Signs signify sense in the here and now.
To see beyond the present, we need language.
So what is language?
Language is more than just signs.
A system of signifiers.
The signifier is a symbol that can signify a signified.
The signified can be something in the past, present or future.
We can signify something in our space, or another country.
It can be something real, or a concept that exists only in the mind.
With language, there are two types of meaning
1. The relationship between the signifier and the signified.
That is to say, between the word and the meaning.
2. The relationship between the signifier and other signifiers.
Between the word and other words.
In a way, all language is code.
There is only one difference between cryptic code and language.
For language, there are many people who
share the same system of signifiers.
These people agree upon the meaning of these signifiers.
For code, there is only a small society of people
who know what it means.
On occassion, it may be only one.
The code writer.
So who makes meaning?
For a message to have meaning,
someone has to interpret.
You need a sender and a receiver.
The code writer knows what he means.
He can act as sender and receiver.
But for the code to become a language, he needs
Codes mean nothing on their own.
Without the sender and the receiver,
codes are just marks on paper,
or ones and zeros on a computer.
This is why the receiver has a much better chance
of decoding a cipher, if they know something
about the encoder.
Who was he?
Why did he write the code?
Where did he live?
What did he do for a living?
What were his past times?
What did he know?
Who did he know?
What was his education?
What was his motive?
Who and what was happening in his life at the time?
What was his name?
Who was the intended audience?
What other cipher/s has he written?
What techniques did he use in those other cipher/s?
What style of language did he use?
Such questions are not merely incidental.
They give vital clues.
Clues to understanding who the encoder was
and what type of encoding techniques he was likely to employ.
Clues about what value might be hidden behind each key.
Context that could reveal the underlying message.
This narrows down the possibilities.
Let us answer:
Who was he? What was his name?
The evidence shows that the most likely suspect to be Zodiac
is Ross Mercer Stephen Sullivan.
The translation by Bauer and myself for the Z340 reveals Z's true name.
My translation of the last line of the Z408, with the help of
the Hardens, shows part of his name.
Oranchak's transposition and translation of the Z340
fails to reveal any name,
let alone the true name of Zodiac.
Why did he write the code?
Dr DCB Marsh was President of the American Cryptogram Association.
Marsh dared Zodiac to write a cipher to contain his true name.
The Z340 was Zodiac's answer.
Where did he live?
July 28, 1941;
Sullivan was born in Seracuse, New York.
He went to Glendale High School.
Sullivan studied at Riverside City College in 1966.
What did he do for a living?
In 1966, Sullivan worked as a library assisant
at Riverside City College Library.
What were his past times?
Apart from torturing and killing people,
Sullivan liked to write dark poetry, paint pictures and act in a film.
Ross also liked to experiment with words and handwriting styles.
What did he know? What was his education?
Ross: "...did research on cryptography and wrote an English paper on it;
he researched types of printing.” (David Peterson)
Jo Ann Bailey: "...he (Ross) liked to enroll in the literary and psychology type courses...".
Sullivan had an arts and social sciences background at college.
His focus was on literature, art and psychology.
The primary focus of social science is qualitative.
Quantification is still used, but it is secondary.
Sullivan's training was mostly linguistic, not mathematical.
This is wy it is unlikely that Sullivan(aka Zodiac)
would have used the period of 19 pattern to transpose his own cipher.
The diagonal pattern is a quantitative method, that is alien to the Z340
and the Z408.
Oranchak's choice of transposition says everything about Oranchak,
and nothing about Zodiac.
This is where Oranchak ultimately comes undone.
His failure to grasp the true nature and method of the encoder.
Oranchak merely makes his own cipher,
and then fabricates his own translation.
Oranchak does not care who Zodiac was.
He does not even care about solving the Z340.
As long as he gets recognition from the FBI for solving the Z340.
That is all that matters to him.
Sullivan liked to kill and to say the word.
In the Z408:
The word: "killing" appears twice.
"Kill" occurs once.
"Killed" occurs once as well.
The Zodiac letters uses the word kill and other synonyms like "sla" as in slay or kill.
Oranchak's translation does not have the word kill or any synonym either.
This is a telling absence.
An absence which echoes the fakeness and hollowness
of Oranchak's transposition and translation.
What other cipher/s has he written?
Z408 is the other cipher that has been solved.
What techniques did he use in those other cipher?
A homophone uses multipe keys to equal the same value.
Z = E, W = E, N =E, E = E, q = E, + = E, dot circle = E.
This is where the key is the same as the value.
E = E
A polyphone is where one key equal multiple values.
E = E and E = S.
What style of language did he use?
In the Zodiac letters,
- Fluent language,
punctuated by deliberate spelling errors.
Most of the Z408 is translated in correct spelling,
except for the last line.
As I have demonstrated on my home page of my site:
my translation of the last line,
reveals deliberate misspellings by Zodiac.
This is one of the reasons,
the last line went unsolved for so long.
Bauer made the breakthrough with the Z340.
He noticed that in the Z340,
Zodiac expanded upon his one off use of self-representation
in the Z408.
In the Z408, E is the only key to equal itself.
Bauer revealed that multiple letters in the Z340
The Z340 also shows Zodiac's willingness to expand
his use of deliberate misspellings.
It is only the last line of the Z408 that contains
Whereas, misspellings are interspersed throughout the Z340.
My breakthrough in the Z408 came when I noticed the polyphone
of E = E and E = S, and then applied E = S on the last line.
Like the Z408, the Z340 is a substitution cipher.
Bauer and I have solved the Z340, without the need for transposition.
The end result Oranchak comes up is not the voice of Zodiac.
It sounds more like someone with knowledge of Zodiac writing,
who is imitating some of the words and themes of Zodiac in the Z408.
The Oranchak translation does contain a taunt,
but it lacks any of the originality, sophistication and dark humour,
that are the hallmarks of the Zodiac ciphers, letters and correspondence.
This is the Oranchak Translation:
I HOPE YOU ARE HAVING LOTS OF FUN IN TRYING TO CATCH ME
THAT WASNT ME ON THE TV SHOW
WHICH BRINGS UP A POINT ABOUT ME
I AM NOT AFRAID OF THE GAS CHAMBER
BECAUSE IT WILL SEND ME TO PARADICE ALL THE SOONER
BECAUSE I NOW HAVE ENOUGH SLAVES TO WORK FOR ME
WHERE EVERYONE ELSE HAS NOTHING WHEN THEY REACH PARADICE
SO THEY ARE AFRAID OF DEATH
I AM NOT AFRAID BECAUSE I KNOW THAT MY NEW LIFE IS
LIFE WILL BE AN EASY ONE IN PARADICE DEATH
The Oranchak translation reminds me of the fraudulent Zodiac letter of 1978,
most likely written by Dave Toschi.
In 1976, Toschi sent anonymous letters to Armistead Maupin.
At the time, Maupin was a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Toschi's letters admired his own efforts, under the guise of anonymity.
On April 24, 1978, a letter purporting to be from Zodiac
was sent to the San Francisco Chronicle.
This letter contained the phrase:
"That city pig Toschi is good..."
Maupin noticed the similarity between the self-complimentary nature
of Toschi's 1976 letters and the 1978 fake Zodiac letter.
Toschi later admitted that he wrote the 1976 letters to seek attention.
No doubt he also wrote the 1978 fake Zodiac letter for the same reason.
The real Zodiac - Ross Sullivan died on September 29, 1977.
In a way, Toschi and Oranchak are similar characters.
By 1978, Toschi was more focused on being famous than we was on solving the Zodiac case.
Likewise, by 2020, Oranchak was more concerned about being the centre of attention,
than we was about solving the Z340.
1978 Forged Zodiac Letter
This raises an important question.
Given that the Oranchak proposal is so weak,
why did the FBI declare his 'solution' as the right one?
The answer lies with Daniel Olson.
Olson is the Cryptanalyst Forensic Examiner for the FBI’s Racketeering Records Analysis Unit in Washington.
It was his decision to announce the Blake transposition and Oranchak translation as the definitive solution.
According to the Roanoke Times:
"And on Dec. 5, Oranchak sent an email to the FBI’s Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit in Quantico.
He had a professional relationship with the unit because of some work he’d done for them in his day job — so they knew he wasn’t a kook."
Roanoke Times Article by Dan Casey Dec 21, 2020
In other words, Oranchak and Olson have an alliance.
One that Oranchak used to influence Olson through politics, not merit.
As the saying goes:
It is not what you know, it is who you know.