July 31, 1969 Letter - Post 2

Discussion of the confirmed Zodiac letters

July 31, 1969 Letter - Post 2

Postby Soze » Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:38 pm

On July 31, 1969, a man, who would later call himself the Zodiac, mailed three letters addressed to the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner and the Vallejo Times-Herald. The envelopes the letters were mailed in each contained 6-cent Franklin Delano Roosevelt stamps in various quantities. Each letter sent was predominately the same letter with slight variations in sentence structure and all contained multiple uses of the word “cipher”. The San Francisco Chronicle letter was the only letter to include the phrase “In this cipher is my idenity”. All three letters mailed included 1/3 of a cipher.

When I first started reading up on the Zodiac letters there were four things that initially bugged me concerning the communications dated July 31, 1969:

1. The quantity of stamps used for mailing each letter, specifically, the letter addressed to the Vallejo Times-Herald.
2. The exclusion of the word “Herald” from the company name “Vallejo Times-Herald” found in the San Francisco Chronicle letter.
3. The inclusion of the phrase “In this cipher is my idenity” found in the San Francisco Chronicle letter.
4. The inclusion of the phrase “near the golf course in Vallejo” found in the San Francisco Chronicle letter.

With regards to item three above, the inclusion of the phrase “In this cipher is my idenity”, I offer the following:

In early August of 1969 the newspapers reported the crimes, the three letters and the cipher pieces. It was visually clear that the Zodiac had a hidden message within the cipher pieces. People viewing the cipher pieces would become naturally curious and would want answers to the unknown. The public would have worked the cipher pieces to uncover the message hidden and would have done so without the phrase included.

So why add the phrase?

It is my belief that the Zodiac was not content with just a simple curiosity. He knows that the public, without the added phrase, would have had multiple theories as to what the message would contain prior to a solution. By including the phrase and, using the word identity, he intentionally reduces all interpretations down to a 50-50 split: a name and a version of self-perception.

In August of 1969 Donald Harden cracks the 408 cipher. The gist of the solution was unmistakably a version of self-perception. One would think that the 50% who believed in an actual name being part of the solution would have slapped their head, said “Oh. So that’s which definition he meant” and, moved on. One would think that, in the end, 100% of the public would have been on the bandwagon of a version of self-perception. That’s not quite what took place though.
Instead we see in the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle dated August 10, 1969 that Vallejo Detective Sergeant John Lynch was “disappointed that the mystery man failed to give his name in the three coded pieces sent the Examiner, Chronicle and the Vallejo Times-Herald as he had earlier promised.”

The Zodiac never made that promise.

We also see that on, August 12, 1969, the San Francisco Chronicle reported the public was contacting Vallejo Detective Sergeant John Lynch with their decipherment of the last 18 characters of the original cipher still unsolved. The public’s suggestion was that the last 18 characters were an anagram for “Robert Emmet the hippie”.

The public was still expecting and looking for a name despite the obvious.

Even today, when we have hindsight, when we are able to see everything the Zodiac did in subsequent letters, we still have people who dissect the whole deciphered solution as well as the last 18 characters looking for a name. Why?

Why does the public become so insistent that the Zodiac meant a name?

The obvious answer is that the public took the Zodiac’s phrase “I will not give you my name”, found inside the solution of the 408, as an indication that the Zodiac had meant a name all along. However, given the competing definitions for the word identity, I have to wonder why no one questions the reason behind the Zodiac even making the statement at all; “I will not give you my name”? The Zodiac seems to make an assumption that the bulk of public interpretation for the word “identity” would lean towards a name, even before, he mails the letter. This assumption he made was really an odd thing for him to do given the initial 50% split in definition.

I quit researching the Zodiac letters at this point and started digging into the area of cognitive psychology. I wanted to know what made people tick in terms of how they thought one thing even after another was presented. When I went digging into cognitive psychology I came across an article on a subject called “The Decoy Effect”.

The Decoy Effect is used in the field of marketing and is defined as:

“The phenomenon whereby consumers will tend to have a specific change in preference between two options when also presented with a third option that is asymmetrically dominated. An option is asymmetrically dominated when it is inferior in all respects to one option; but, in comparison to the other option, it is inferior in some respects and superior in others.” ~Wikipedia

An example of the Decoy Effect, as found at Wikipedia, goes like this:

Two MP3 players are put on the market. The first MP3 player (Option 1) has 30 GB of storage and a price of $400.00. The second MP3 player, (Option 2), has 20 GB of storage and a price of $300.00. There is a difference between the two of 10 GB and $100.00.

MP3 Player Option 1 30 GB Storage $400.00
MP3 Player Option 2 20 GB Storage $300.00

50% of the population viewing these items will want (Option 1) because it has the highest storage capacity of the two. The other half of the population will want (Option 2) for the $100.00 difference in price.

Now suppose a third MP3 player (Option 3) is introduced. It is more expensive than both options 1 and 2 at a price of $450.00. Its storage capacity is 25 GB and so it has less storage than option 1 but more storage than option 2.

MP3 Player Option 1 30 GB Storage $400.00
MP3 Player Option 2 20 GB Storage $300.00
MP3 Player Option 3 25 GB Storage $450.00

Option 3 would pretty much be a no sale. The 50% interested in the amount of storage would not be interested in paying $50.00 more for an item with 5 fewer GB of storage and the 50% interested in price would not be interested in spending $150.00 more for something that will only net them an increase of 5 GB of storage.

Option 3 is a marketing decoy. It’s inclusion into the mix breaks up the even split between option 1 and option 2 with the sole purpose of making option 1 appear more attractive to consumers. Those previously interested in option 1 for the amount of storage will stay with option 1. Those previously interested in option 2 will now be swayed to option 1 after comparing option 1 with option 3.

How it relates to the Zodiac:

As stated previously, because of the included phrase “In this cipher is my identity”, there was even split right down the middle in public opinion. Half the population believed that a name would be found in the solution and, the other half, believed in a version of self-perception.

Options 1 and 2, as it relates to the Decoy Effect, are the definitions for the word “Identity”. Option 1 equals a name and option 2 equals a version of self-perception.

Identity Option 1 A name 50%
Identity Option 2 A version of self-perception 50%

When the cipher is solved we see a pretty straightforward talk of self-perception but, with the added phrase of, “I will not give you my name”. The added phrase is a marketing decoy, a third option put in place to break up the even split and, sway the public.

Option 1 A name
Option 2 A version of self-perception
Option 3 “I will not give you my name”

Option 3’s inclusion into the mix makes option 2 (a version of self-perception) look inferior to option 1 (a name) because of its use of the word “name” and reinforces option 1 (a name) as being the dominate factor in what the Zodiac wanted people to expect in the solution of the 408 all along.

For what purpose though did the Zodiac have?

I think the manipulation of the public to a name causes another 50-50 split to occur. Here, half the population will believe the Zodiac to be a liar because a name was never given and the other half will believe he is truthful with a name still to be found. We see that to be the case with Vallejo Detective Sergeant John Lynch and his belief that the Zodiac failed to give his name as promised (he viewed the Zodiac to be a liar) and the public’s anagramming of the last 18 characters still unsolved (they appeared to think he was truthful).

Those that reach a conclusion that the Zodiac was a liar, will never trust anything he may say or do in the future. They will ultimately find themselves questioning every single thing he does and failing to recognize any pattern because one can’t think beyond him being nothing more than a liar.

Those who believe he is truthful, that the cipher will reveal his identity in some fashion, will waste their days and nights pouring over a cipher that’s already been solved looking for little patterns that point to a name. When the future 340 cipher appears they will continue this pattern of wasting days and nights believing that, because it hasn’t been solved, he made it harder so that he could hide his name.

With this being said, no one ever considers that his inclusion of the phrase “In this cipher is my idenity” and then, providing a cryptographic cipher, may have been nothing more than a misdirection to avoid capture. A win-win for the Zodiac if true.

But one has to ask what he is misdirecting from?

Well when I sat and thought about this letter, the priming and manipulation, and then dug into what a cipher really was, I came to realize that there was something more to the phrase “In this cipher is my idenity”.

In July of 1969 the Zodiac mailed three letters, to three newspapers and included, one third of a cipher to each. Each letter was filled with multiple uses of the word “cipher”. In the letter to, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Zodiac stated “in this cipher is my idenity”. Everyone, including the Hardens, interpreted the cipher to mean the cryptographic 408 cipher of symbols and substitution.

Why wouldn’t they? There it was, in black and white, provided by the Zodiac for decryption.

A few days later the Zodiac is writing again and, this time, asks the following question:

“By the way, are the police having a good time with the code?”

Again, everyone interprets the code to mean, the cryptographic 408 cipher of symbols for substitution.

Why wouldn’t they? There it was, in black and white, provided by the Zodiac for decryption.

Ask the average person what a cipher is and in almost every instance, cryptic symbols characteristic of the 408, will dance in their head. Ask the same question regarding code and you will receive the same response. People who are not avid followers of cryptography, who know very little to nothing about the subject outside of puzzles found in books, magazines and newspapers, have a tendency to group cipher and code into one great big pile and use the words interchangeably. It’s really all the average person knows.

We all know what would have happened differently had the Zodiac left the phrase “In this cipher is my idenity” out of his letter. Absolutely nothing. The public would have still worked feverishly, as the Hardens had done, to uncover the 408’s hidden message. Curious minds want answers to the unknown. But what if the Zodiac had just sent one letter to three papers, simply stated “In this cipher is my identity” and, never provided the three cipher pieces? What then? The average person, if presented with just such a situation, would have been like “Ok. Is this a practical joke? Where’s the cipher?

What the average person does not know is that cryptography, as a whole, is defined as secret writing and comes in two forms: Cryptography Proper (Overt) and Steganography (Covert).

Cryptography proper hides a message in plain sight (overt) by masking its message with symbols that replace the actual text of the message. Two main tricks are transposition and substitution. Substitution has two subcategories: Cipher and Code.

A transposition cipher, in its simplest form, is a type of cipher that rearranges the order of the plaintext according to some predetermined method. The plaintext (without transformation to symbol) will be laid out within a predetermined grid size (without punctuation and spacing) and then read in some predetermined fashion to produce a ciphertext.

A cipher is defined as a secret or disguised way of writing. Ciphers work at the level of individual letters or small groups of letters and operate on syntax. A message could be concealed by replacing or scrambling the letters of a word with other letters, symbols, or numbers. Small groups of letters like “ci”, “ph”, and “er” in the word “cipher”, for example, could be substituted for the letter Q, a triangle, and the number 12 respectively. With regards to individual letters, the letter “T”, “H”, and “E” in the word “the” could be represented by the letter L, symbol theta, and E, respectively. This latter example describes how the Zodiac converted his plaintext into ciphertext for the 408 cipher.

A code is defined as a system of words, letters, figures, or other symbols substituted for other words, letters, figures or other symbols for the purpose of secrecy. A code works at the level of semantics. Words, phrases, sentences and symbols are typically described as being compiled in a code book and accompanied by code words or code numbers that replace the plaintext. Two examples, both I believe are from Khan, are described below:

Plaintext Code word

Employ DVBO
Enable DVDM
Enabled DVEL

Within a code book, if the code words were laid out alphabetically, then this would imply that the code book was not only used to encode but could be used to decode. This is called a one part code. If the order of the code words were out of order then this would signify that two code books were needed to crack the code; one for looking up plaintext to find code words for encoding and the other to lookup code words to find the plaintext for decoding. This is called a two part code.

Plaintext Code Word

Cannot sail by steamer you name. Accessory
Can you send me letter of introduction to ____. Accosted
Come at once. Do not delay. Accountant

In the above example, each plaintext sentence is mapped to a single, code word. Just as in the previous example a codebook would be needed to keep track of plaintext mapping to code words.

Based on the descriptions for the subsets of cryptography proper, we can see that the 408 cipher meets the substitution subcategory of cipher. On the surface it would appear that the public was justified in their belief that the 408 was in fact THE cipher the Zodiac spoke of in his letter. However, the Zodiac’s mention of the word code, the definition for the word code and what we know or think to be the cipher don’t match up. In this letter it would appear the Zodiac was either misinformed as to what constitutes a cipher and code or was deceptive in semantics.

The question: Was he misinformed or was he deceptive?

Given that there are two parts to cryptography and that, the words “cipher” and “cryptography” mean the same thing, secret writing, I believe the Zodiac was deceptive and used the word cipher rather loosely and manipulatively to mean cryptography as a whole. As I said, most people knew nothing of cryptography, would not know that there were two parts, would collectively group cipher and code and, upon reading every instance of the word cipher, would immediately think and refer back to the 408. The fact of the matter is that there are two forms of cryptography, one being the cryptography proper that I previously spoke of and the other being, steganography.

Steganography, Greek for “concealed writing”, is the oldest trick for concealing secret messages and predates both cipher and code. The sole purpose of Steganography is not to muddle the message with cryptic symbols like cryptography proper but, to completely hide the very existence of one, in its entirety (covert).

There are two main tricks to steganography: Data and Linguistic. Data steganography hides a secret message in carriers such as an image, audio file or even video. Data steganography applies to today’s usage and would not be something that the Zodiac would have had knowledge of. Linguistic steganography hides a secret message within the use of a carrier by using, language, such as words, phrases, symbols or any other creative form of expression for manipulation. A carrier can be anything that promotes communication. In the case of the Zodiac, the carrier would be, the letter(s) it’s-self.

Linguistic steganography can be further broken down into two subsets: Semagrams and Open Code.

A semagram hides information by using symbols. Two subcategories are visual and text.

A visual semagram will use innocent looking items to convey meaning. Three examples, as it would relate to the letters, are the stamps the Zodiac used for mailing (already shown in my first post), the diagram for his bus bomb and the symbols found at the bottom of the letter dated January 29, 1974.

A text semagram hides a message by modifying the appearance of the text within the carrier. The modifications can be a reduction/increase in font size, the reduction/increase of spacing between letters in words and between words, the improper use of capitalization, the bolding of text and also, the reduction/increase of letters in words. Does this all sound familiar? If not it should. All of the modifications I have just listed for a text semagram are apparent in the three letters dated July 31, 1969 and outlined in my first post regarding typography.

Now in cryptography a text semagram, to my understanding, is associated with, how should I say, a technique for revealing a secret message. What I mean here is that a reduction of text for example, collected and placed together, could reveal the hidden message. While, this may be the case for some steganographic (is that even a word) text, I do not believe the Zodiac operated in this fashion. I believe the Zodiac operated entirely at the level of semantics through and through.

Now to read this after I just stated that all of the modifications listed for a text semagram are apparent in his letters may seem a bit confusing. While the modifications in his letters appear to be a text semagram based on definition, his use of it I believe, would fall under the visual semagram side. In this case it’s not what we did but what the actions mean. And in this case it would be the Zodiac intentionally revealing a little something about him-self. Not enough to identify him but just a little something to say this is what I do. The field of typography and in the case of the decoy effect, marketing, is huge. You would actually need more than that to find him.

An open code is a selection of words or phrases that are made to appear innocent in the surrounding text. This, in my opinion, is really the epitome of what linguistic steganography is as a whole. You could stand in front of two people using sign language and, unless you know what sign language is and how it is used, you won’t have the foggiest idea what they are doing or even what they are saying. The same is true for written communication. Unless you know that there are words or phrases being used that have a meaning other than how it is being used then, the written text just looks and reads like what it looks and reads like and, nothing more.

Two subcategories of an open code are Jargon and Covered. Jargon code is language that is understood by one group or geographical class of people but is meaningless to others. One such example of a jargon code would be the Zodiacs phrase “on top of everything else”. A subcategory of Jargon codes is cue codes. Cue codes are prearranged words and phrases that convey meaning. The Zodiac’s letters, not just the July 31, 1969 letter, are filled with these and operate in the same fashion as that of a code book.

Now to go back to the beginning, the Zodiac’s act of including the phrase “in this cipher is my identity” and, providing a working cipher for the masses:
In my opinion and especially given the public’s knowledge, the two coupled together, predisposes the reader to interpret the whole in light of the particulars. The whole was, if you crack this cipher he has provided then, you will have him. The particulars, however, were or are quite different. Not once did the Zodiac ever say, which cipher (in this case cryptography), he referred. All he did was present three letters with three visual and working cues of which the latter was jumped on gladly.

My position is that the Zodiac had a code book with code words mapped to certain words, phrases, symbols and the like. His use of the word “cipher” was misleading to the average and that his intended meaning was cryptography as a whole. A code book filled with mappings is no good unless you have a carrier to transport the codes. In this case the carrier would be the letters its-self, falling under the subset of Steganography known as, linguistics.
My future posts will be a discussion on his codes found within each letter.

Note:

Within the cryptography section I had flow charts, done in word, that show the break down of cryptography proper and steganography. It was lost in translation from word to post.

Where I talk about codes the plaintext and code words run together. Its viewing was lost in translation from word to post.

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Re: July 31, 1969 Letter - Post 2

Postby Marshall » Wed Jun 07, 2017 5:39 pm

Soze wrote:On July 31, 1969, a man, who would later call himself the Zodiac, mailed three letters addressed to the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner and the Vallejo Times-Herald. The envelopes the letters were mailed in each contained 6-cent Franklin Delano Roosevelt stamps in various quantities. Each letter sent was predominately the same letter with slight variations in sentence structure and all contained multiple uses of the word “cipher”. The San Francisco Chronicle letter was the only letter to include the phrase “In this cipher is my idenity”. All three letters mailed included 1/3 of a cipher.

When I first started reading up on the Zodiac letters there were four things that initially bugged me concerning the communications dated July 31, 1969:

1. The quantity of stamps used for mailing each letter, specifically, the letter addressed to the Vallejo Times-Herald.
2. The exclusion of the word “Herald” from the company name “Vallejo Times-Herald” found in the San Francisco Chronicle letter.
3. The inclusion of the phrase “In this cipher is my idenity” found in the San Francisco Chronicle letter.
4. The inclusion of the phrase “near the golf course in Vallejo” found in the San Francisco Chronicle letter.

With regards to item three above, the inclusion of the phrase “In this cipher is my idenity”, I offer the following...:



Almost exactly 11 months earlier, Ross Sullivan's father, Harold, died. So, was the omission of "Herald" in item 2 above the real clue to Z's identity, rather than the code/cipher? Ross, too, was missing a Harold.

It's probably been mentioned, but Harold is interred at King's Highway Cemetery, and two of the closest roads are Ross Street and Cherry Street. Was that why Paul Stine was murdered on Cherry (not Maple?)

Just speculation of course. My point is that these things Soze noticed might have held significance to one particular POI.
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Re: July 31, 1969 Letter - Post 2

Postby up2something » Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:49 am

Regarding this... "2. The exclusion of the word “Herald” from the company name “Vallejo Times-Herald” found in the San Francisco Chronicle letter."

It wasn't in the Examiner letter either. He shortened it to "Vallejo Times" in both.
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Re: July 31, 1969 Letter - Post 2

Postby Soze » Thu Jun 08, 2017 11:26 am

up2something wrote:Regarding this... "2. The exclusion of the word “Herald” from the company name “Vallejo Times-Herald” found in the San Francisco Chronicle letter."

It wasn't in the Examiner letter either. He shortened it to "Vallejo Times" in both.


You are correct. Thank you for the clarification. I will make changes to my notes.

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