In the late 1960s, a serial killer entered the American consciousness. The Zodiac killed at least 5 people, attempted to kill several more, and boasted of ending the life of yet more victims. He has been called, “the American Jack the Ripper,” and he enjoyed taunted police in more than 2 dozen letters. As part of his on-going game with authorities, he authored four ciphers, three of which have not yet been satisfactorily decoded.
The clues in the case are numerous, but the decades have taken their toll on the lives and memories of witnesses and investigators. Myths have clouded facts; speculation and rumor have run rampant. Researchers have been overwhelmed by the sheer size of the investigation and the vast and ever-increasing quantity of associated documentation: the publically-released FBI files alone, for example, now available through the Freedom of Information Act, are more than 1100 pages long! Despite having crime-scene fingerprint evidence and partial DNA profiles, authorities have arrested no one for the murders. Many suspects have been identified, but none have provided police with the proverbial smoking gun.
Bio Mark Hewitt, Editor
Mark is the Editor of Radians & Inches: in search of the Zodiac – The Zodiac Journal, is scholarly, peer-reviewed Journal dedicated to the search for the Zodiac.
Lathers, 74, a retired mechanical engineer who used to work in Rochester.
Gloversville man claims he’s solved Zodiac’s puzzle
One Gloversville resident, however, claims he’s solved the Zodiac Killer’s code. Daryll Lathers created a chart that he says can be used to translate the characters and symbols in one of the killer’s cryptograms.
Lathers is so confident in his work, he purchased display advertisements in the San Francisco Chronicle to promote his solution.
“Zodiac’s 340 symbol code solved,” the ad states. “Copies available! Call Daryll Lathers (518) 773-3263.”
“You have to be very careful how you translate,” said Lathers, 74, a retired mechanical engineer who used to work in Rochester.
Lathers claims the Zodiac Killer was a paranoid schizophrenic, making his 340-character code difficult to decipher.
The code, Lathers says, is made up of a series of letters in the English alphabet, Greek symbols, backward letters and shapes.
“If the guy is nuts, you have to think like he thinks,” said Lathers, who added that having knowledge of the San Francisco area helps crack the code. Lathers claims many of the messages include references to local landmarks.
Lathers said since a single code could have multiple meanings, he sifted through the messages to determine what was junk and what was part of the real message.
According to Lathers, the Zodiac’s messages include a threat to kill seven women.
Lathers also claims the 1930s film “The Most Dangerous Game” is a central piece of evidence to the case. He claims the Zodiac was inspired by the film.
Lathers said in 2008, he was walking through a store when he saw DVDs about the Zodiac Killer on sale. He bought them and became interested in the code. He then began to try to translate it.
“I did a sloppy job of it four years ago,” he admitted, saying he had little success at the beginning. Around last September, he tried again and made sense of the code bit by bit, he said.
He said he put a lot of time into the effort.
“A person who is working would have a very hard time to do it,” Lathers said jokingly.
According to Lathers, he submitted several pieces of his code and how he broke it to the Vallejo Police Department in California but never received a response.
John C. Linn, who lives in San Bruno, Calif., worked with Lathers on breaking the code, assisting him over the phone.