Given that the Zodiac Killer’s first big cipher (the Z408) got cracked so quickly, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that he used a slightly different system for his second big cipher (the Z340). What is (arguably) surprising is that whatever change he made to it has not been figured out since then.

But what was he thinking? What did he want from a cipher? And how might his needs have changed between Z408 and Z340?

The Z408

Ciphers are normally made to be as strong as practically possible, given the technological, time, and resource constraints that apply to both sender and receiver: and with the two main driving needs being privacy and secrecy. Note that these aren’t always the same thing: the way I usually describe it is that while sex with your husband is private, sex with your tennis coach is secret. 😉

And so the first thing I find cryptographically interesting about the Zodiac Killer is that he was creating a cipher from a slightly angle from either of these: and he certainly wasn’t trying to communicate in any normal sense of the word.

Rather, I think that the point of Z408 was to be taunting, and to demonstrate to the police that he was in control, not them.

So imagine the Zodiac’s probable fury, then, when little more than a week after his three Z408 cryptograms appeared in local newspapers (the Vallejo Times-Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle), Donald and Bettye Harden were all over the front pages explaining how they had cracked them.

Didn’t they know who was supposed to be in control here?

What was worse, the Hardens hadn’t used cryptological hardware or even high-powered cryptological smarts. They’d just used the Zodiac’s egoism (they guessed the first letter was “I”) and his psychopathic bragging (they guessed he would use the word KILL multiple times) as keys to his cryptographic front door: and then marched straight in.

I think it’s fairly safe to expect that the Zodiac was pretty pissed off by this.

Note that the Hardens carried on trying to crack the Z340 for many years afterwards: according to their daughter, her “mother wrote poetry and was as absorbed in her writing as she became with the Zodiac codes. She worked on the second code on and off for the rest of her life.

The Z340

Comparing the overall style of the Z340 with that of the Z408, there seems to be plenty of reasons to think that the two are, at heart, not wildly different from each other. And yet (as is widely known) all the big-brained homophonic solvers written since haven’t made any impact on the Z340 at all.

All the same, I think the second interesting thing to note is that the changes to the Z340 system were surely not made to defend against computer-assisted codebreaking (because that hadn’t yet happened), but rather to make the updated system Harden-hardened, so to speak.

What does this mean? Well, we can probably infer that the first letter of the Z340 is almost certainly not I (not that that helps us a great deal) and the Zodiac Killer must have done something to conceal or remove the KILL weakness.

But, in my opinion, that latter change would surely not have been a theoretically-motivated cryptographic adaptation (he was without much doubt an amateur cryptographer), but rather something pragmatic and empirical, perhaps along the lines of:
* adding a repeat-the-last-letter token
* add an LL token
* add an ILL token
* add nulls inside tell-tale words
* etc

But there’s a problem with all of these. In fact, there are several problems. 🙁

The Problems

The first problem is that I don’t currently believe any of the above changes are disruptive enough to explain what we see in the Z340.

The basic stats of the four main Zxxx ciphers are:
Z408: 408 symbols, from a set of 54 unique symbols. (Note: E has 7 homophones, AST have 6 each, IO have 5 each, N has 4, FLR have 3 each, DHW have 2 each, everything else has 1).
Z340: 340 symbols, from a set of 63. [Hence symbols/textsize is 18.5%, a fair bit higher than the Z408’s 13.3%]
Z32: 32 symbols, from a set of 30.
Z13: 13 symbols, from a set of 8.

It would be very tempting to suspect (as many people have) that the Z340 is ‘therefore’ just the same as Z408 but with 39% more homophones. Yet a problem with this popular hypothesis is that it should be well within range of automated homophone solvers, and to date they haven’t managed to make any impact.

A second problem is that the kind of homophone cycles that so characterized the Z408 seem to be largely absent in the Z340: and yet because the Zodiac Killer would not have had any clue that these were a technical weakness of his system, it seems unlikely to me that he would have adjusted his system to work around a weakness that he didn’t actually know was a weakness.

A third problem is that the Z340 has a fair number of asymmetries that don’t fit the it’s-a-straight-homophonic-cipher model. For example, lines 1-3 and 11-13 have (as Dan Olson pointed out some years ago) almost no character repeats.

There are yet other asymmetries: for example, while 63 different symbols appear in the top ten lines, only 60 appear in the bottom ten lines. And there’s the mysterious ‘-‘ shape at the start and end of line 10: and the odd-looking “ZODAIK” sequence on line 20.

One final asymmetry: the ‘+’ shape seems to function differently in the top and bottom halves – it is often preceded by ‘M’ in the top half, but never preceded by ‘M’ in the bottom half.

How does assuming the Z340 is a pure homophonic cipher explain any of these behaviours, let alone all of them?

Lines 1-3 and 11-13, revisited

I keep coming back to the 1-3 and 11-13 property as mentioned here. I think it’s important to say that Dan Olson’s conclusion (that “lines 1-3 and 11-13 contain valid ciphertext whereas lines 4-6 and 14-16 may be fake”) seems likely to be landing a little bit wide of the mark.

To me, this same property of these lines implies (a) that the homophonic versions for each letter were probably used in pure sequence here, but also (b) the homophone cycles were somehow ‘reset’ after ten lines (i.e. the homophone cycles all started again at the start of line eleven). And perhaps also that any characters repeated in the first three lines are rarer characters, rather than the homophone-friendly ETAOINSHRDLU etc.

It might even be that the Zodiac Killer kept on adding homophones as he constructed the cipher UNTIL he had three lines’ worth of essentially unique homophones: that is to say, that the three line blocks in 1-3 and 11-13 are how his system made the choice of the number of homophones, rather than as a consequence of the number of homophones he chose. Nobody has yet (to my knowledge) satisfactorily explained where he came up with his homophonic allocation for Z408: certainly, searching for this in crypto books hasn’t yielded any likely candidates.

Could it be that the Zodiac Killer worked backwards from his actual Z408 ciphertext to determine the number of homophones, rather than worked forward from the number of homophones to the ciphertext?

Update: I received the following off-line comment from David Oranchak, but thought it better to update it within the post itself…

Nick, there are a few other seemingly rare phenomena that can be observed in Z340. I’m curious what you think of them.

The first is the pivots:

http://zodiackillerciphers.com/wiki/index.php?title=Encyclopedia_of_observations#The_.22Pivots.22

Those kinds of patterns are difficult to arise by chance, so they are suspected to be some sort of feature of the encoding scheme.

Z408 is littered with repeating bigrams but Z340 seems to have fewer than would be expected via normal homophonic encipherment of a plaintext in a normal reading direction. However, the bigrams show up again if you consider a periodic operation on the cipher text:

http://zodiackillerciphers.com/wiki/index.php?title=Encyclopedia_of_observations#Periodic_ngram_bias

The count of 25 repeating bigrams jumps to 37 or 41 or even higher, depending on the periodic operation applied to the cipher text. Here is a tool that illustrates the various operations:

http://zodiackillerciphers.com/period-19-bigrams/

You’ve already identified the seemingly rare phenomenon of rows that lack repeating symbols. There are 9 such rows. In 1,000,000 random shuffles of Z340, none had that many rows. In fact, the best that was found was 8 rows which occurred in only 12 of the shuffles.

Your “M+” asymmetry observation seems to fit in with the general observation that repeating bigrams are phobic of certain regions of the text. The lower left, for instance, seems to hate bigrams: http://zodiackillerciphers.com/images/z340-repeating-bigrams.png

Another really strange observation is the distribution of non-repeating string lengths. For each position of Z340, measure how far you can read forward without encountering a repeating symbol. You end up with a string with unique sequences of length L. Jarlve found that for Z340, there is a peak of 26 occurrences of unique sequences of length 17 (which happens to be the width of Z340). It is really interesting that in random shuffles, this phenomenon is only observed on the order of one in a billion shuffles.

Finally, I would recommend that anyone interested in this topic should check out this thread on morf’s Zodiac forum: http://zodiackillersite.com/viewtopic.php?f=81&t=3196 Especially the more recent posts on the latter pages. “Jarlve” and “smokie” in particular are doing fantastic work exploring various transcription schemes that could explain the various curious features of Z340 (in particular, the relationships between periodic bigrams and transposition schemes).

53 thoughts on “Inside the Zodiac Killer’s (cryptographic) head…

  1. Anton Alipov on February 19, 2017 at 8:38 pm said:

    What’s specifically mysterious in the ”-” shape? He is apparently mirroring letters, and what can’t be mirrored (like T or V) he turns upside down. Now, “I” can’t be turned upside down neither, so he turnes it 90 degs instead.

  2. bdid1dr on February 19, 2017 at 9:42 pm said:

    @ Nick and friends: Several years ago, the Zodiac was found dead on a street in New York City. His daughter retrieved his remains and buried him in a cemetery not far from her home. I know this because I am acquainted with his ex-wife and their daughter.
    He was miserable and murderous at a young age. He and his friend Kenny Brown used to do wheelies on their motorcycles on the shore of Lake Herman. Instead of a lovers lane, Lake Herman was ‘lovers lake’. The Zodiac’s first murder occured there.

  3. Davidsch on February 20, 2017 at 11:56 am said:

    could you give me the number of you tennis coach?

  4. Davidsch: I’ll take that as a back-handed compliment. 😉

  5. Davidsch on February 20, 2017 at 12:28 pm said:

    Yes, that is no secret

  6. bdid1dr on February 20, 2017 at 9:35 pm said:

    Eventually, one of my friends told me that my ex-husband (the Zodiac Killer) had tracked me down. So, once more my sons and I had to ‘hit the road’. We stayed with friends for a short while. Not long after our return to the Bay Area, the killer struck again (near his favorite place: Mount Tamalpais ) .

    BTW: To validate my comment in re Key West : I worked for Valladares’ Book Store. The treasure divers would buy books and the Miami and New York Sunday newspapers. Gold coins on gold chains — Mel Fisher’s discovery of the treasure ship . Mel’s son, and daughter-in- law drowned while sleeping in the dredge boat.

    To beat all, tragedy or not, the Treasurer of the State of Florida imposed a huge tax on Mel (30 percent? or more?) — regardless of the recent deaths of his heirs.
    bd

  7. milongal on February 20, 2017 at 10:22 pm said:

    1-3 with no repetition + 11-13 with no repetition + the emphasised 10th line (with ‘-‘ – although I do take the point above that it looks more like a sideways ‘I’ than anything else, and as a symbol does appear elsewhere in the code) + the modified behaviour of the ‘+’, and (as I think you imply) we are looking at starting over with new symbol allocations after 10 lines (perhaps when he realised the first and last character of the line repeated).
    So I sort of agree with the supposition that the first 51 characters in each was establishing the cipher (that is, he quite consciously tried to make the first three lines unique and assumed that anything after that would distribute randomly enough (I’m tempted to say the reason for 3 lines isn’t arbitrary and is based on the fact that 51 is almost 2 * 26, and/or just over 50….but I won’t). Then having done this, he occasionally still encountered letters he’d not yet assigned – that is, of the 63 symbols in the top half, 12 of them represent characters (I was going to say letters, but let’s not dismiss numbers and punctuation for now) that didn’t occur in the first 51 characters (and I’ll go out on a wing and say he didn’t think to give them multiple symbols (which is kind of nice for the ‘-‘ frequency after line 3)). Similarly, in the 2nd cipher he needed 9 characters that had not appeared in the first 3 lines. (I hope I looked properly) It’s sort of interesting that there are 3 other lines ( 7, 15, 20) that have non repeating letters, and then there’s other lines that have repeated consecutive letters (and given those letters first appear in the first 51 it suggests that we’re not cycling through homophones there or have a letter that was quite uncommon in the first 51, but is more common later (this isn’t impossible, if you look at 408 there’s a lot of ‘I’ and ‘L’ when he starts off about ‘I like killing….wild…’, but they taper off a bit as his soliloquy on the afterlife begins (as his random rant begins)).

    But based on that, it would be interesting to work out HOW he decided the order of symbols to use – it’s very hard to randomly assign the next symbol, so it almost feels there should be some pattern in the next 51 then….
    I might be imagining it (and/or it might mean nothing), but it looks like +, -, | as well as circled equivalents of them often appear in sequence.

  8. Davidsch on February 21, 2017 at 11:12 am said:

    The whole point of the letter is to “publish something” isn’t it. Did he not leave clues anywhere ?

    What is most intriguing in the Z408 is why the cycles diminished towards the 3rd part. Is there a theory on that. Preferably a pattern of course. If that last line can be solved…

    I guess that the Z340 holds some symbols that have the same plaintext as in Z408.
    Candidates are letters that are uncommon as plaintext. For example the Q. and X.
    But there are more. Then parts of the text could be guessed and function as a starting point.

  9. bdid1dr: was that Kenneth B. Burns, b. 02 Oct 1949, d. 25 Sep 2016, who served in the US Navy from 02 Mar 1968 to 07 Oct 1969?

  10. Oh my goodness, Nick, you are so correct, The only excuse I can offer is that I had no idea that Kenny joined the military at about the same time as Lee. Several years ago I told you (online) that Kenny and Lee often did ‘donuts’ at Lake Herman, when they were not standing on the pegs of their motorcycles and sliding straight down the mountain (Mt. Tamalpais) switch-backs.
    I hope it is Milongal who has been doing some investigating with you.

    My sons both resent my discussing their (now dead) father. Only one of my sons (the younger) visited with me and their half-sister (and her mother) — Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. It was all about Susan and the constant abuse she endured — right up to the last fight when their daughter tried to intervene — and suffered a broken arm

    My younger son’s wife quotes him as saying I abused him. (All seventy pounds of me — give me a break ! ) It was his older brother who treated him badly.

    My older son is living in Taiwan with his third wife. Like his father, he speaks four languages fluently. Like his father, he has a serious mood disorder.

    The best four years of my life were living in Key West.
    @Nick: If this is tedious, just delete to your heart’s content !!!

  11. Bumpkin on February 23, 2017 at 7:39 pm said:

    So, bdid1dr, does your ex husband, whom you claim was the zodiac killer, have a name?

  12. Sure ! His name was Lee Erwin Shackelford. The California State Police had him in their records. Not long after the Zodiac killings and strange notes stopped, my older son, Lee ERRiN Shackelford moved to Taiwan. Apparently, father and son spent several months visiting gambling resorts. Eventually Lee Sr. came back to the US — and was derelict (in hiding) — and eventually was found dead in New York City.

    Strangest thing, of all these years, is my younger son’s wife, accusing me of abusing him ! It gets goofier every year.

    Nick will probably recall my brief comment as far as his sometimes-appearing sign-off being the same as my younger son’s sign-off : = : — o

    bdid1dr

  13. ps:

    Read that sign-off as =:-o Mr. Rabbit

    beady-eyed-wonder-er

  14. Way-out-west on February 23, 2017 at 11:46 pm said:

    bdid1dr, I am confused. If the Zodiac and Kenny were the ones who did donuts at Lake Berryessa Herman, and now you say Kenny and Lee were the ones who did donuts at Lake Berryessa Herman, this logically suggests that Lee was your ex-husband.

    Or were there three buddies who roamed the shores of Lake Berryessa Herman on motorcycles?

    I also wonder, have you ever been to the authorities and told them about your ex-husband? Were they interested? Did your ex ever harass you with nuisance calls? Did he at any time leave cryptic or menacing objects and notes on your doorstep when you have been away?

  15. Anyone still hoping that William Shackelford (Lee Erwin Shackelford’s father) was the Somerton Man, look away now: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/229624262 – he was still alive in 1950, and living in Temple, Texas.

  16. Way-out-west on February 24, 2017 at 10:10 am said:

    December 3, 1974
    Daily Independent Journal from San Rafael, California · Page 11

    “The San Rafael City Council also: CLAIM — Denied a $502,780 claim by Lee E Shackelford of San Francisco, who is balking at his arrest by San Rafael police on suspicion of vehicle embezzlement.”

    I guess this must be the same Lee E Shackelford who 4 years earlier was reported to be living at Stinson Beach, San Francisco?

  17. Way-out-west on February 24, 2017 at 10:14 am said:

    http://ciphermysteries.com/2015/05/13/logbooks-for-the-s-s-era-the-other-risdon-ship

    “Misca on June 3, 2015 at 4:31 am said:
    On ancestry there is a record of a Normaleen May Shackelford travelling from Brisbane to San Francisco with her son Lee Ervin/Erwin. The name of the friend/relative she states she is visiting is William Shackelford, 835 Oaklette Avenue, Norfolk, Virginia. A 1940 census document shows two William J Shackelfords living on Oaklette. One is 39 and the other is 17. Father and son. Further research shows the son as having been in the US Airforce in WW II. He is William Jesse Shackelford. He married three times. First wife unknown but I suspect it may have been Normaleen. Second wife (married in 1957) Leila Barnes Stewart (who seems to have died), third wife Catherine Anne Garrett.

    Most interesting – Have you seen some of the latest information DA posted regarding president Jefferson’s tree? He shows a possible 2nd – 3rd cousin connection between the “putative child of SM” and Isham Randolph in Virginia. There is a branch of Shackelfords (from Virginia) who are also connected to Thomas Jefferson’s family tree.”

  18. Donald Vaughn on February 24, 2017 at 10:49 pm said:

    I think I must have missed something. The Somerton man and the zodiac are related? unless I am misunderstanding this discussion it seems a bit far fetched and unlikely

  19. Way-out-west on February 24, 2017 at 11:31 pm said:

    And suddenly a million people around the world are all trying to make Lee Erwin Shackelford or LESHACKELFORD (yes that fits!) the “My Name Is_” cipher!

    Anagrams accepted of course!! 🙂

  20. bdid1dr on February 25, 2017 at 6:50 pm said:

    @ wayoutwest:

    Several years ago, when Nick and friends were trying to identify the ‘Somerton Man,” I mentioned that the dead person looked very much like my first husband’s father. Turns out that Somerton man was not Shackelford.

    But, in more recent years, I referred Nick and friends ( Misca and Milongal ) to the Zodiac Killer’s father and mother and their other children.

    So, where did you get the reference to Lake Berryessa ? Maybe you were involved, in some way ? Misca and Milongal did discover Grandpa Shackelford, who outlived his children and grandchildren. Grandpa was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The reason “Grandpa” is buried at Arlington is that he taught his son the mathematics involved in creating the nuclear weapon. Grampa’s son worked at White Sands, New Mexico.
    Grampa’s son was taught the mathematics involved in creating
    “The Bomb”
    Shortly after the tests Grampa’s son’s wife Normaleen divorced him. Their last born child Mark, was born @ White Sands. For a short while she and her sons stayed, as guests, with her sister and husband John Murray…..Murray Lane — near Mount Tamalpais (the favorite ‘hang-out’) for the Zodiac killer.

  21. Way-out-west on February 25, 2017 at 10:47 pm said:

    Sorry for the confusion bdid1dr, I misread your first posts and wrote “Lake Berryessa” by mistake, then immediately noticed my mistake and asked to have the post edited. This resulted in the crossed out Lake Berryessa replaced by Lake Herman that you see in my post above.

    bdid1dr, you must forgive my initial skepticism, but I trust you can understand that a great many people have come forward over the years claiming to have known the identity of the Zodiac, and in all cases the claims have been proven to be false. You seem sincere in what you say and are convinced that your ex-husband was the Zodiac. I must ask:

    Do you have any material proof to support this? I note that you have an interest in complex ciphers and wonder if your ex-husband did as well? Perhaps this is what first brought you together all those years ago? But did he leave behind any clues which prove conclusively his identity as the Zodiac? I can only presume he may have left behind samples of the 340 and 408 ciphers, and his handwriting is an exact match for the Zodiac’s. Again please forgive any skepticism, but, as is always the case, some form of proof is absolutely essential.

  22. bdid1dr on February 26, 2017 at 4:10 am said:

    @ W-O-W : Material support ? How about scarred eyebrows? How about broken teeth and broken nose? He wore a Navy ring. Just about anything could set-off a violent temper tantrum.
    If you are able to visit California’s State Police and their archives, you may get to see some of the files which were never solved. I think the archive includes the files of the City of San Francisco’s Police Detective — who died a disappointed man — he was very close to solving the the Zodiac.

    I only got the news long afterward — because my sons and I had gone into hiding.

    @ Nick : If you are as tired as I am, please let me know. I am very grateful to you and Misca and Milongal. I was hoping that my earlier comments would clear up some of the mystery murderer’s actions — and maybe the State will close the files . Do you remember that I gave clues to his being a code messenger/receiever/transmitter on the ship “Ticonderoga” during the battle of Tonkin Bay ? Though things weren’t going well for him, he did receive an honorable discharge.
    bd

  23. milongal on February 26, 2017 at 9:39 pm said:

    @Nick – very disappointed he wasn’t SM. I don’t think Pavel whatshisface was either, to be honest…not least because most of the idea is built on “since we haven’t any evidence to the contrary” – now I always thought that sort of evidence is “circumstantial”…but of course I’m not a seasoned defective.

  24. milongal on February 26, 2017 at 9:45 pm said:

    @bd – flattered you think I had any input, but either you’re confusing me with someone else or my anonymous identity has been hijacked – because I don’t recall having any useful input into Zodiac (and some would likely argue any input I’ve had elsewhere on this site isn’t useful either).

    I was so on top of this one, that when you said Lee I assumed you were talking Arthur Leigh Allen….

  25. bdid1dr on February 26, 2017 at 9:54 pm said:

    What basically was wrong with him was that he had a brilliant mind; and did speak at least three languages besides English: Spanish, Latin. Taiwanese, Mandarin, and ‘businessman’s language ( Sabir) ? . Howsomever, he was a terrible speller !
    He was not much of a conversationalist, nor did he write letters to me.
    Before you ask : No, I have not a single note or letter from him. He sent one photo: of a ‘bar-girl’ – strip tease performer wearing what appeared to be a very short “hula skirt’ .

    I’m pretty sure my daughter-in-law would be mortifed by her accusations of me supposedly abusing my sons.

    Perhaps Loan might like to revise her accusations. So, Rob, you might want to bring your wife up-to-date with my recent posts. You might like to contact your brother, and let him know what has been going on. Contact both of your half-sisters — and let me know if your wife is still interfering with any correspondence.
    I’m 74 years old and Alzheimer’s is impending.
    Mom

  26. Way-out-west on February 26, 2017 at 10:36 pm said:

    Sadly I’ve been down this dimly lit road with people many times before, especially on “anonymous” social media. If an accusation cannot be proven, then it has no validity or, at the least, very poor validity. Personal testimony as a witness does of course possess some validity, but it still requires the careful scrutiny of someone in the real world – a police investigator for instance. In the absence of material evidence, testimony has about as much validity as mere gossip and rumour. I am sorry if this offends anyone, but from an investigative standpoint I am only being honest. For this reason I now summarily dismiss all claims about the Zodiac that lack any verifiable material evidence.

  27. Milongal: it was in the context of whether William Shackelford might have disappeared from Australia at the same time as the Somerton Man (he did, but only by moving to Temple, Texas).

  28. NP: Now if we’re referring to USAF Bill, then of course he couldn’t have been SM, afterall he was only about 22 when he left Oz and although there appears to have been a Bill Snr. of about the right vintage and who lived to a ripe old age according to bdid1dr, he does not appear to have left Virginia so I guess you didn’t mean him.

  29. bdid1dr: I’m interested to know a little about Lee’s time in the navy particularly with regard to his participation in the notorious TG non engagement off the Vietnamese coast in 1964 which seems out of wack with his buddy Ken’s years in the service ie ’68/69, in contrast to what you said about them joining about the same time. Also you mentioned on 12/6/15 that a Lee (irving) was married to Noraleen who I thought was his mother, and now you mention that he was infact your husband also, so could you clear this up; and don’t worry if you’ve made a boo boo, we of a certain age can fall upon our own swords and should be exempt from scrutiny, so long as we remain inquisitive and stick to the facts wherever possible.

  30. bdid1dr on February 27, 2017 at 4:22 pm said:

    Lee IRVING Shackelford married Normaleen Park. Their children were Preston, Lee, & Mark.
    Normaleen’s sister married John Murray (Murray Lane, Marin County). Not long after they settled in, Normaleen and her three sons moved to San Anselmo/Fairfax, California. They were our nearest neighbors. Lee and I walked the same road (Forest Avenue) to Sir Francis Drake High School.
    Find a map of the San Francisco Bay Area. Find a map of Sausalito. Find a map of Mount Tamalpais .
    I still grieve for Lee’s younger brother, Mark, who was killed by a hit and run driver (near Marin Junior College).
    Their mother (who changed her name, and married three times) was quite vain, and worked the cosmetics counter at the nearby drugstore. Perhaps the Murrays (if there still any living) may be able to fill in the blanks.

  31. bdid1dr: ohhhhhhh, I see now… thanks for that. 🙂

  32. bdid1dr on February 27, 2017 at 8:02 pm said:

    You’re welcome !

  33. Way-out-west on February 27, 2017 at 10:11 pm said:

    Milongal wrote: “I was so on top of this one, that when you said Lee I assumed you were talking Arthur Leigh Allen….”

    I was similarly confused about this, mixing up the two Lee’s (or at least, Leigh with Lee!)

    But I do wonder, Allen Leigh was also ex-navy, and lived not that far away, and he apparently road a motorcycle around that time. I therefore cannot help but wonder if Allen Leigh was acquainted with Kenny Burns and Lee Erwin Shackelford?

    I guess I remain skeptical, but I also wonder if this possibility could help explain the different faces we see on the police composites for the Lake Berryessa crimes?

  34. bdid1dr: I’ve looked again at all the documentary evidence, and if what you’ve said is correct, I may now know what happened.

    It would seem that there were two Shackelfords in Australia at around the same time: T Sgt William Shackelford (who married Normaleen Park and had three children, one of whom was your ex-husband), and a quite different Lee Irving Shackelford. The former made his way back to the US after WW2 with his young family: while the latter (perhaps the former’s uncle?) seems to have disappeared from the pages of history. However, the two men seem to have been blurred into one in family lore, confusing the issue somewhat. Which one was at White Sands?

    The immediate problem is that I can find no evidence anywhere relating to Lee Irving Shackelford: which isn’t an ideal starting point. Have you ever seen photographs or documents that give his name or date of birth etc?

    http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/17936620 :

    SHACKELFORD (nee Normaleen Park) April 12 [1945], King George V Hospital, Camperdown, semi-private, wife of T. Sgt. W. Shackelford, U.S. Air Corps – a son (both well)

  35. bdid1dr on February 28, 2017 at 6:02 pm said:

    Normaleen’s firstborn child was Preston. I met him only once. The ‘vibes’ were eerie and insinuating. I don’t know anything else about him. Her second child was born in the US: Lee Erwin Shackelford. Her third child was Mark Shackelford (Mark was born at White Sands New Mexico)
    . According to a conversation I had with Normaleen, her husband (supposedly) was posing as a garbage pickup man. He supposedly disappeared shortly after her third son (Mark) was born.

    The name “Shackelford” is / was spelled exactly as I have just spelled it. Normaleen’s second (or third?) husband’s name was “Pexa”. My husband
    (Lee ERWIN Shackelford) took me on a visit to Mr. Pexa’s room in a boarding house in San Francisco. Sad.

  36. Way-out-west on February 28, 2017 at 10:26 pm said:

    I just noticed the local high school near Murray Lane is called Redwood High. bidid1dr, I have three questions that I hope you can answer.

    1) Can you please tell me if that high school (Redwood High) was in existence during your time there?

    2) Also, can you tell me if your ex-husband ever attended this high school?

    3) Where was he living exactly at the time of the Zodiac murders? I can find only one record in a local newspaper, giving Stinson Beach as a place of residence for a Lee Erwin Shackelford in 1970. If this is him, where did he live prior to 1970 and after that?

    P.S. Looking at Google street view of Murray Lane, I must say this lane and the house in among the trees instantly gave me the creeps. I recall the Zodiac saying in one his letters that he could not get out of his driveway at one time due to the rain. This lane and the nearby field does look to me to be subject to some inundation after heavy rain. It has perhaps been drained in more recent times due to the obvious signs of encroaching development?
    I also note the proximity to Mt Tamalpais Game Refuge. We all know how the Zodiac said he liked to hunt game in the woods. Despite my ongoing skepticism, I do see glimmers of truth in everything you are telling us so far.
    I can confirm from my research that your son Lee does indeed live in Taiwan, at least up until a few years ago. I suspect he still lives there.

  37. Oranchak (et al.) Proved 340 Not Palindrome - Oh, Joy! on March 1, 2017 at 7:48 pm said:

    WHAT A NUTHOUSE! Go back to Voynich and stay there, Nick.

  38. bdid1dr on March 1, 2017 at 8:08 pm said:

    There is much ‘history’ I have lost because I almost died when my room-mate’s husband returned their child (custody issues). Because she was taking final GED exams. Still holding his infant son, he grabbed me by my hair and threw me down a flight of six stairs to the lower landing. Then, with his full weight, and stilling holding on to his infant son, he stomped me in the stomach — and ran off.

    My son, Rob, was about three years old, but understood my whisper for him to bring the phone to me and dial operator for emergency. The police ambulance arrived about 7 or 8 minutes later, where Rob was able to get the door partly
    open for the police ambulance crew. While they were loading me into the ambulance, and Rob was being taken to our babysitter, next door (Bouey), my mother charged into the room and tried to push past the officers who were trying to listen to my whispered query ; ‘purse’ .

    So, the ambulance crew were sure that my mother would follow the ambulance to the hospital. She didn’t. Her excuse: her neighbors were pet-sitting her dog; and she had promised to be back at a specific time. Oh well. Most persons who have been grieviously injured, have a relative or good friend/room mate to follow up on who, what, when, where, which hospital ………
    I still never got an answer from Carol.
    A year or so later, Carol had re -married, and gained permanent custody of her first child — and had joined Mrs. Bouey’s “Child-care”.

    In the meantime, my older son , Lee Errin was released from the county’s adoptive program and returned to me. His very first day, after school, with Mrs. Bouey, things were still haywire. Mr. Bouey walked into the house, with his daily newspaper still rolled under his arm, My son, Lee, has pinned his younger brother, Robert, face down into the carpet, and is sitting on him. Mr. Bouey’s immediate action saved Rob’s life.

    Not long after this mess, my two sons and I moved to Key West Florida. Things got a little better. Rob hung out with the Keys fishermen either at the main dock, or Boca Chica.

    With maybe his wife’s permission, he will be allowed to tell his/and his wife’s story. It could be that Rob has his brother’s brother’s email. We’ll see ! Maybe just faint hope ?

    bd

  39. bdid1dr on March 1, 2017 at 9:00 pm said:

    pardon the repeats. One more item: one of FKCC’s nursing student’s casually mentioned to me that her former boyfriend Lee Shakelford (her spelling) had been looking for his ex-wife (just a month or so before our arrival). I almost bought Greyhound bus tickets ! I still wonder if it was more of our Teacher’s conniving to displace me and get her favorite student into the displaced ‘honor student’s position.
    Smaller the island, the more competition/rivalry for just about everything. So, in between slow tourism/activities, I was a lifeguard and swimming teacher. Forty years later, I still teach people of all ages and nationalities how to do the
    survival float : even ninety-year old grandmothers ! Also works in ‘wild’ water.

    The most important part of the “Survival Float” is that you float on your back ! Also, do NOT crane your head up and out — it will cause your legs to sink — and you will drown . Much more comfortable and fun, and still on your back, is the “backfloat aquatic dancing”. The side-float becomes easily learned also.
    It did not take long for Granny to teach her daughters and their children the ‘safety float’.

  40. Curiouser & curiouser…Pray tell us Alice why we blunder, Is it by design? I wonder.

  41. Bdid1dr: Can you tell us anything about Paul Murray, Eileen’s first born, and what more can you remember about ‘the angry rabbit’, as in Lee’s sign off.

  42. Way-out-west on March 1, 2017 at 10:26 pm said:

    Okay…. I am now well and truly lost!

    What am I missing? I thought we were talking about the Zodiac?

  43. Way-out-west on March 2, 2017 at 1:07 am said:

    Rabbit holes? *groan* I have that sinking feeling of deja vu once again.

  44. bdid1dr on March 2, 2017 at 1:35 am said:

    Nope, I can’t think of anything more — except I have been often been out of step during the recent forest fires and loss of habitat of some quarter-million acres of prime forest habitat.

  45. WOW: Cross hares (sic). Sorry, just monkeying around, must be catching.

  46. Way-out-west on March 2, 2017 at 9:18 am said:

    john sanders: Oh, cross hares. LOL! Now that is funny.

    So can we write this one off now as just another Zodiac “might have been”, of which there are now many?

    We need to face it, if the only witness cannot remember the most critical details, has lost much of the history, and has no evidence to support the contention, this kind of makes it a closed case, don’t you think?

    Unless of course I’m missing something?

  47. Way-out-west on March 2, 2017 at 9:23 am said:

    And to think, first of April is still a month away!

  48. WOW: I concur. But I still wonder what the bastard was doing fifty years ago, say around Ides of March 1967 or for that matter April Fools Day same year. I was certainly not having ‘lots of fun’ and I’ll be having a lot less fun if I can’t get this posted (No 7 attempt) soon.

  49. bdid1dr on March 2, 2017 at 6:16 pm said:

    Don’t worry, guys; I don’t have you in my “cross-hares” . I have never read any of the Zodiac’s non-sense. Several symbols can’t be misunderstood, though. The circle with ‘cross-hairs’ is all about the use of a powerful rifle scope (telescope with cross-hairs) for target accuracy.

    I may have inadvertently sent the killer on his first rampage. My husband and his brother (Preston) and a third person I didn’t recognize, were shooting with a pistol at a large tomato juice can. That was all they were doing — not a shot was hitting the target. So I asked if I could try. They sneered, but handed me the pistol. I took the stance that my NRA instructor told me was for pistol shooting (quite different from rifle stance). I shot at the can (after asking my husband and his brother to move away . The can flipped end over end just once, and created a dust bowl where the men had been sitting.

    No lies. A bystander with a high-power, scoped rifle, asked me if I would like to shoot at a gong 500 yards away. I did tell him that I had crossed vision when I was a child and surgery corrected the double vision. I came close enough to raise dust onto the target. My second shot made the gong ring (tink to my ears) and no dust rose.
    When I turned around, my husband and his companions had disappeared.
    We had a pretty good bus system at that time.

    OK Mr. Sanders, I thank you for your patience (you too, Nick) !

  50. “Comparing the overall style of the Z340 with that of the Z408, there seems to be plenty of reasons to think that the two are, at heart, not wildly different from each other. And yet (as is widely known) all the big-brained homophonic solvers written since haven’t made any impact on the Z340 at all.”

    Your second statement appears to be true, Nick, and I tend to agree with your first; no doubt, Ockham would concur.

    The problem is the humans behind big-brained homophonic solvers seem to be going down everlasting rabbit holes of TRANSPOSITION schemes (e.g., geometric inscription shapes). Exploring those and publishing periodic conclusions is one thing. Posting non-stop hourly updates about digging deeper into said rabbit holes while tossing around experimenter biased qualifiers such as “fruitful” and “fantastic work” is quite another.

    Here is a recent quote from “smokie treats”: “I had an interesting dream about our efforts last night.” Yes, perhaps a tad lower on the T.M.I., but we will be sure to listen out for the F.B.I.’s evaluation of your work, just as your team members so often caution in these endeavours. 😉

  51. Way-out-west on March 3, 2017 at 2:06 am said:

    It is of course possible that the Z408 has no solution. My personal feeling on the matter is this. The Zodiac was so enraged when Donald Harden solved the first cipher very quickly that he decided to send off something that looked like a solvable cipher, but which was perfectly “uncrackable”. The reason why it was perfectly uncrackable is because it was designed to be a nonsense cipher. If there is no solution then it cannot ever be cracked. The Zodiac got off on believing he was superior to the police and the best minds in the FBI. He did not want anybody like another “mere” school teacher claiming victory over his work. He could maintain a sense of infallibility forever and always remain “uncrackable” and therefore “uncatchable”. Remember this was a man who firmly believed he could keep his murdered victims as slaves in the “paradise” of an afterlife. A twisted mind lends itself well to the idea of a twisted cryptographer, who believed the sense of “winning” was the only reward worth living for and far more important even than the “work” required to achieve that aim.

  52. Way-out-west on March 7, 2017 at 2:58 am said:

    Of course I meant Z340 in my previous post. Doh!

    There is an interesting thing about the Z340, which could be important, or is maybe coincidental. If you use the binary sequence repeated “0-1-0-1 etc.” on the first line and then fill in the last line, you find the last line becomes the exact opposite of the top line.

    But if you use a 3 character repeated sequence, starting “0-1-1,0-1-1 etc” on the top line then fill out the bottom line, you find the last line is the same as the first line.

    Why? I really do not know. But it did make me wonder at one stage if this was some kind of binary code, perhaps even based around common Morse code. Any pattern found within the apparent chaos is a pattern that is worth closer scrutiny.

  53. milongal on March 7, 2017 at 10:08 pm said:

    @WoW can you elaborate on what you mean “…use the binary sequence…” – your idea sounds interesting, but I don’t quite get what you mean….

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