The History Channel’s new Karga Seven-produced series “The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer” has just started: it features top Zodiac Killer researcher Dave Oranchak, Copiale Cipher cracker (and Voynich Manuscript fanboy) Kevin Knight, long-time Zodiac researcher (and University of North Texas CompSci professor) Ryan Garlick, Cryptologia editor (and author of “Unsolved!”) Craig Bauer, and a Google engineer guy called Sujith Razi who I’ve never heard of. But I’m sure is a lovely bloke.
The film makers also have a retired homicide cop and a cold case searcher both talking to people on the ground and raking over hitherto unseen archives. Overall, the televisual conceit they try to sustain is that the whole process is unfolding right before our eyes in sort-of real time, which is a decent enough fiction to structure this kind of thing by.
The first episode tries to link the Zodiac Killer with the unsolved 1966 Riverside murder of 18-year-old Cheri Jo Bates, a connection that has been floated (yet also denied) many times. The suspect they quickly move to is a certain Ross Sullivan, who was a student who also worked in the library where Bates was studying the evening of her death: Sullivan took a cryptography class, wore army boots, disappeared the day after Bates’ death, came back with fresh clothes a few weeks later, etc etc etc.
The programme alludes to DNA comparisons, to reconstructing faces purely from DNA, and to cracking some part of one the Zodiac Killer’s ciphers in the following episodes, but we’ll have to see which of these promises they keep. If all they ultimately serve up on their delightful silver platter is Craig Bauer’s ALFREDENEUMAN hopeful crack of the Z13 cipher (whose first three cipher letters are also “AEN”), I’m not 100% certain the cryptological ticker tape and marching elephants parade will be on duty that day. But, as always, we shall see.
Incidentally, my personal favourite of the homophonic solutions for the Z13 listed by Dave Oranchak are “Sarah The Horse”, “All Banana Alan”, and “Trove Behemoth”. Ever since I read that, I’ve been deeply distrustful of anyone called Sarah The Horse: I therefore advise all Cipher Mysteries readers to keep some sugar cubes in a convenient pocket, just in case this particular worst-case scenario is correct. What, me worry?
The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer
Anyway, I’m not sure how long the following embedded video will stay live for, but it’s courtesy of well-known site Tagtélé: