Graysmith's Solution to the 340-cipher Message Board: Ciphers: Graysmith's Solution to the 340-cipher

By Glen Claston ( - on Sunday, August 20, 2000 - 07:10 pm:

Robert Graysmith's published decipherment is as follows, from page 243 of his book "Zodiac":

(profanity has been modified to pass board filters!)






There is another submission that may be found in the FOIA files that parrallels this text very closely. The author's name is of course crossed out, so we are left to speculate as to who submitted this version (right!)

Herb Caen: I give them Hell too
To deed Hell is a clue.
There some see a name below
a killer's game is pills, parole
Me. Cops met to talk to me.
Such time. These fools helpd me.
Mad killer places a mask
Bull S.

Alone, pleasured I'd like to kill.
Scared I eat a pill.
Assh-le I plan to harm, phone, ask.
CB sells slaves because all
collection either pleased to lie in Hell.
He's me. Toschi the pig leads me.
Collects eighth, some mail K.T.

By Ken ( - on Sunday, August 20, 2000 - 08:41 pm:

I read Graysmith's book a long time ago, but I did not remember this "solution". Guess I need to read it again! Thanks for posting it.


By Glen Claston ( - on Sunday, August 20, 2000 - 09:17 pm:

I ran up the stats on both of the above submissions after correlating them with their equivalent alphabets, then tried to arrive at the same conclusions on my own, just as a test. The bottom line of any scientific discovery is independent experimentational reproducibility, and this ain't it!

(and everybody wonders why I don't have time to work on the 340-cipher. I'm too busy playing 30 year catch-up!)

By Ed N. ( - on Monday, August 21, 2000 - 06:22 pm:

I redeciphered the 340-symbol cipher in 1993, using the hints Graysmith mentioned in his book, and it turns out that what he wrote is not exactly what he deciphered (surprise, surprise). Here is what his version actually says:


I left the "solution" at 17 characters per line (except where the "null character," the backwards "C," occurred, so 10 lines have only 16 characters), which is why some words are hyphenated. Graysmith noted that Z used triple-L combinations to throw off cryptanalysts, but in one case, his solution indicates a quadruple-L combination. Also, the "PLSDUL" in lines 10-11 might actually spell "SPULLD," that is, "SHULLD" ("SHOULD?"), based on Z's presumed mispelling of "SHALL" as "SPALL" in line 17.

Based on what Glen (among others) have said, Graysmith's solution is probably not correct, so this is basically FYI. It does kinda make sense in a wacky sort of way, however, and if Z did use drugs, it's not surprising that it doesn't sound coherent.

By Glen Claston ( - on Monday, August 21, 2000 - 07:44 pm:

Ah! Someone else with the patience to wade through R.G.'s dribble and try to work it out. I did not try to find Graysmith's decipherment in the otherwise meaningless character strings. I instead tried to duplicate his work based on his instructions and using his own decipherment to establish "rules of conduct", which unfortunately didn't exist.

The second submission published above has much more structure than R.G.'s work, as Tom has noted. The unknown author even tries to keep the anagramming to a minimum and limited to a word at a time, unlike Graysmith's decipherment, which anagrams entire lines at a time in some cases. While it is indeed a much a better construct, it still has too many holes to be considered a valid decipherment.

The second cipher submission also fails to incorporate all the characters, omitting letters here and there to make sense of things. I'd have to go back and check the date of the cipher submission, but my memory says it was after Graysmith's book came out. What makes me question authorship and suspect it to be a submission by Graysmith is the use of two special characters that I haven't found in any other transcription but Graysmith's. It makes me wonder.

In the 3-part cipher there is evidence that Z "faded" near the end, yet his message was still quite coherent. It also dawns on me that Z might have been more willing to send "incoherent" letters while he was on drugs, but there is no evidence of this. Taking my observations from the standing evidence, I consider it unlikely Z would have composed and sent an incoherent letter, much less an incoherent cipher.

This is just my opinion, of course.

By Hurley (Hurley) ( - on Tuesday, November 07, 2000 - 12:42 pm:

How could someone so strung-out create such an elaborate cipher?

By Hurley (Hurley) ( - on Sunday, November 19, 2000 - 08:14 pm:

What has been deciphered seems to match the style of the poem found written on the desk in the library (RCC). Also in one version it says CB (sells slaves..) Who is CB? Bates?...?

By Twagner129 (Twagner129) ( - on Wednesday, November 29, 2000 - 12:32 am:

Well if this is the deciphered message it's not much of a message deciphered. Sounds like ramblings of a person on drugs to me; or after the deciphering, the words need to rearranged to make at least some sense. I was impressed in the book "Zodiac" how the school teacher deciphered the original message. That message was at least coherent. Those that are familar with the Jack the Ripper letters will notice the same thing, one coherent letter and another from a madman.

By ZK (Zander_Kite) ( - on Saturday, April 21, 2001 - 06:55 pm:

Here is another possible reading: First of all Jack the Ripper wrote: From Hell. Mr. Lusk. So Zodiac writes: Herb Caen, I give them hell too. Below killers film, sleuth should see a name. A pills game leads to eighth soel slain. Pardon me agcept to blast me. Bullshie, I shall hell slash Tocshi..... the pig stalls.
So stare I ate a pill assh---. I plan to harm, please ask Lundblad soel. Late tea at Lake pleasure. Phone Lake B slaves because DAVE will stolen either. Blast these lies, these fools shall meet killer.

By Sandy (Sandy) ( - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 10:32 am:

Zk, wasn't a movie made starring Jane Fonda, called Sleuth? It was about a killer, I wonder if the clue is at the end of that movie? I think she won best actress for it.

By ZK (Zander_Kite) ( - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 02:12 pm:

I don't know about the movie , I'll have to look into it. But i'm also wondering about this Dave guy. Maybe there is a movie before 1970 about a killer that has a similar name to Zodiacs real name ??

By Peter_H (Peter_H) ( on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 02:16 pm:

JF won her Oscar (does anyone know what happened to our Oscar?) for "Klute", which was about her character and a homicide detective played by Donald Sutherland.

"Sleuth" was about a would-be killer, with Lord Olivier and Michael Caine, who disguies himself as a homicide detective, terrorizes Olivier and frames him.

Hmmm . . . "Sutherland" a SoCal reference, perhaps a Riverside connection? And "Caine"? I'm sure there's something here . . .

By Peter_H (Peter_H) ( on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 02:21 pm:

P.S. Of course! How could I miss it? That's LAURENCE Olivier and Michael CAINE>

By ZK (Zander_Kite) ( - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 07:58 pm:

Lawrence Kane again. This is gold. That's the name below killeers film. As the credits run down.

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 08:10 pm:

Klute was out in 1971.The cipher was out in 1969!

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 08:16 pm:

Too bad "Sleuth" was not released until 1972.

By ZK (Zander_Kite) ( - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 08:16 pm:

I had asked for a movie before 1970. I've been led astray. I guess it's just more zynchronicity. Oh well, I think it's Ted anyway.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 08:19 pm:

Why don't you look yourself? It took me about five seconds at

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 09:26 pm:

Tom, I say it was 1971-let's start a thread!

By ZK (Zander_Kite) ( - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 07:00 am:

I really think Zodiac was being sarcastic about the " should see a name below killers film". If someone thinks that may be a clue to a real movie, its possible. But i'm not gonna buzz around the computer verifying all that is written.

By Sharkey (Sharkey) ( - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 09:00 am:

I agree with Glen Classton in that Graysmiths solution is totally bunk. I wouldn't put too much time into trying to find any links or clues using Graysmiths solution. BTW, are you still around Glen? Just curious.

By Sharkey (Sharkey) ( - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 09:08 am:

BTW - this 340 cipher can go a lot of different directions. I am giving myself a month to work on it, just to see what I can get. The direction I am taking with it gives me some of the following words "it is at, goodbye, it is at, could,killing cabbies, the bomb, anytime, killing". This cipher is a beast to solve, not only due to the brevity but also misspellings and Zodiacs lack of cipher knowledge and the discipline. Is anyone besides Glen still working on this? And what happened to Glen?

By ZK (Zander_Kite) ( - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 09:50 am:

The solution presented in Graysmiths book is mainly correct. It's just a matter of wading thru false letters and whether one symbol could equal 2 or more letters. And then you must put the scrambled words back in order. So it can be difficult. And possibly there is something there that no one has noticed yet, considering the nature of the code. Zodiacs first code was solved and so he made this one more difficult. You see how the first sentence is unscrambled, you see the deliberate attempts to confuse, multiple l's, and false letters in the middle and end of code.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 12:07 pm:

ZK wrote,
"The solution presented in Graysmiths book is mainly correct."

And how would you know that?

"i'm not gonna buzz around the computer verifying all that is written."

You're going to have plenty of time to "buzz around" if you don't start taking this board more seriously.

By ZK (Zander_Kite) ( - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 12:54 pm:

It has to be. Using graysmiths key, you find herb caen , I give them hell too ( Jack Ripper influence ). Blast these lies, sleuth, killer, Lunblad, "it"lake"it, thesefoolshallsee"mt" -obvious attempt to confuse, Toshi the pig, eighth soel slain, 2 swears, alot of the words are used twice. Now i'm not gonna fall off my seat if Zodiac is not Ted , but this is fact that the solution is essentially correct. Theres loose ends here in determining what's false, if the symbols could be used for more than one letter, and unscrambling letters into words. But it's impossible to reality that Graysmiths key is incorrect. ZK

By Sandy (Sandy) ( - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 01:24 pm:

Oops! I am sorry I tend to write what ever pops into my head. I have to leave, so I don't have the time to see if the movie Sleuth came from a book that was written a few years before. How about the May 8th 74 letter? Oddly enough May 8th was Darlenes ex's B- day 7-4 her death date. Also the letters referring to Herb "Caen" . On page 144 in the Z book -"My name Kaen". The Dear Melvin letter of 69 Happy Chrimass, was the writer about to write Happy Hanukkah? If it was Kane with his brain damage, maybe he caught himself leaving too much of a clue, and wrote Christmass(sic)? Kane is Jewish. Didn't Hanukkah start on Dec. 10th, the day Leona Roberts was taken? Then the killer kept her alive until the 20th the anniversary of Jensen Faraday shooting.Was the 10th another clue to the killer?

By Brian D (Brian) ( - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 02:27 pm:

Greetings, Are we certain the first three characters in the 340 character cipher (H E R)
Correspond to H, E and R in our alphabet. Have definite values been assigned to these characters as well as the seemingly "Tohsci" string near the bottom? The killer may have different values in mind and simply used these letters to complicate the solution that much more.
Debate on the board seems to accept these values as a given.

By ZK (Zander_Kite) ( - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 06:05 pm:

Yes, the HER and TSH =HER and TSH. They do consistently. You've made me realize by looking at the code that the only letters that equal themselves are the HERTSIOAKU- all letters in the name of a suspect-THEOR ASKI. U is an exception. But Arthur is there too. Now look at what the name equals by the code. THEODORE KACZYNSKI= THEOTORE KAAEAAHSKI. All remain the same within the name. *K= K or S. Even JOHN applies= SOHH. Arthur Leigh Allen= ARTHUR EEIHH AEEEH-- works too, perfect first name, even has a pattern to it. BRUCE DAVIS= LRUAE TABIS.

By Brian D (Brian) ( - on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 07:00 pm:

TK, There must be a consistent methodology to solving this puzzle. It says some specific thing but you can bend and manipulate it into meaning anything you want but Davis, Kaczynski and Allen
ALL can't be the Zodiac...
What is needed is a logical methodology to determine what it does say.
Brian D.
P.S. (post script, not Paul Stine) when you spell check Kaczynski, your first correction option is Krazy...

By ZK (Zander_Kite) ( - on Friday, April 27, 2001 - 05:57 am:

The code is already solved more or less. HRTSK and AEIOU all equal themselves.Z=E G=H +=L, etc. I can supply the whole key if you'd like ? Since the code has mispellings, potentially false sections and require encirclement and unscrambling, it is debatable to the exact text. There may be something yet undiscovered here but the bulk of the key has to be correct.
Brian did you know the first line undecoded has the letters THEODORPLVGDK while the last has KAZiNSKIMDHO. You're right my first option out of THEODORE KACZYNSKI could be KRAZY. My second might be THE ZODIAC.

By Ed N (Ed_N) ( - on Friday, April 27, 2001 - 08:27 pm:

I have to wonder how many more-or-less intelligible "solutions" can be extracted from a single cipher? More than one, I bet.

By ZK (Zander_Kite) ( - on Friday, April 27, 2001 - 09:25 pm:

In the 13 or 32 symbols more than one, with possibly one standing out as the best solution. In a 340 symbol code, only one solution key can be valid. Though exact text is disputable, and there may be some form of hidden clues within it, the validity of the majority if not all of the solution key is undeniable. People searching for hidden clues should use this key in their efforts. The status of this code should be changed to "Solved, but exact text is debatable" in my opinement. Thank You ZK

By Ed N (Ed_N) ( - on Friday, April 27, 2001 - 10:22 pm:

ZK: While there is only one correct solution, others may be found also. Check out the first and fourth posts in this thread above. There you will find two other "solutions" to the 340-cipher, both of which make sense in a wacky sort of way. Are they valid? No. But, who's to say that your "solution" is the correct one? Is it valid? I'll not decide that issue until and when a professional/credentialed cryptographer says so. Either way, I await your "solution" with curiosity.

By ZK (Zander_Kite) ( - on Saturday, April 28, 2001 - 07:54 am:

Anyone with a solution key (H=H, +=L, ETC.) that is more than slightly different than Graysmiths, please post it and I guarantee I can prove it wrong. You need only to be an expert in reality to realize this. I concede there are different ways of encircling and scrambling letters and you can even try switching words etc. The decoding with" To deed Hell is a clue" is flawed. " These fools shall meet killer" is a plain as can be. You can even see how it is written to deceive-"These fool shall see "(end of line) Then "mtilkler". Since the Hell Deed decoding doesn't contain this or even the word "shall" , I'd have to consider it some form of embellishment on Graysmiths solution.
You misunderstand me when I say there is only one solution. For example NFSSZ YNBT. "merry Xmas" would appear to be the best answer here. But "sorry Esau" would also fit. You can't play this game with a 340 letter code. It's just not possible. Its as simple as 2+2=4, so 2+2 can't equal 5. Please someone else who understands why I'm right, please post.

By Sandy (Sandy) ( - on Saturday, April 28, 2001 - 10:13 pm:

Zodiac got his ideas from books and movies. The movie that I believe he got the idea of sending the four codes, was called "Secret Weapon" a Sherlock Holme's movie. The last code, although looked like the others, could only be solved by holding it in front of a mirror! The / that was the letter K in reverse, becomes a R in the mirror. The 13 symbols on page 144 not only comes out to "my name kane", but I got R. Hernandez. I wonder if this is the name of the man in Mexico, who brought gifts to Darlene from her ex husband?

By Dragonov (Dragonov) ( - on Sunday, January 13, 2002 - 05:29 pm:

Possible clues in Graysmith's solution:
1.) Killers film: There are two films called the Killers, 1964 and 1946.
2.)A pill's game: Pill is synonym for a ball, someone very boring, or a cigarette.

By Warren (Warren) ( - on Wednesday, November 13, 2002 - 12:58 pm:

Blowing cobwebs off an old thread. Graysmith's version, and Ed N's version of the 340 cipher seems to be within the realm of possibilty. If the phrase "Sleuth should see a name below Killer's film" (cleaned up)is actually there, then I note from looking at a book on old movie posters that several posters from Hitchcock's "Psycho" have the name Janet Leigh on them. Usually, the Janet is in small letters and the Leigh in very big letters. It really jumps out at you.

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) ( - on Wednesday, November 13, 2002 - 01:36 pm:


By Warren (Warren) ( - on Wednesday, November 13, 2002 - 02:44 pm:

For a poster, please see
The "Psycho" poster I saw was one where Alfred Hitchcock is pointing to his watch and saying "No one will be seated after the movie begins." In that one, the Leigh is at the bottom. Most of the others are on the side.

By Len (Len) ( - on Thursday, November 14, 2002 - 07:43 am:

The thing to keep in mind concerning any solution to the 340 is this: Unless the whole thing is jibberish (a distinct possibility), we have to assume that the author of the cipher created a message first, then translated it using a key. Therefore, I would say that any solution that is any less cogent than the solution to the three-part cipher (it might sound like it was written by Renfield on crack, but it consists entirely of sensible, complete sentences) must be held suspect. Graysmith's solution never crosses the line past lunatic ravings, and it took tremendous verbal gymnastics on his part to get it that close.

As far as the "Psycho" connection goes, my question is this: Why refer to the poster from a 1961 movie in 1969? Did ALA own one of these posters? Were any of the 2500 other suspects named Perkins or Balsam or Hitchcock?

Now, don't get me wrong, Warren. I've read a number of your posts and find them interesting and intelligent, but is there any reason to believe this to be anything more than coincidence?

By Warren (Warren) ( - on Thursday, November 14, 2002 - 09:43 am:

Len - Thank you for your kind response. I'm glad I heard from someone after Det. Baker's post, was beginning to think the Pacific coast was hit by an earthquake. It probably is just a coincidence, as is 90% of the chronicled events on this board. I wasn't even thinking of Z when I was flipping through the book - it just stood out like a sore thumb, like the the cab number in "Bullitt". Perhaps it would have been better under the Zynchronicity (TM) thread.

I personally do not believe the ciphers reveal any clue as to the identity of the murderer(s) (excepting DNA and fingerprints, if any, and linkage). Solving any of the ciphers is not going to tell you who committed these crimes. They might, at best, offer some form of corroboration in hindsight after an arrest. I think everyone will admit that the author of these grandiose missives, whoever he or she may be, is a liar and did not want to get caught. I do enjoy the intellectual stimulation of trying to solve them, as I did with Rubik's cube (I hope that SP is correct; I threw it so far away), but in and of themselves, the ciphers won't crack this case. I think the whole mindset of this despicable author is set out in the "My name is ___________" cipher, and I would make a large wager that Tom is correct in suggesting Alfred E. Newman.

By Len (Len) ( - on Thursday, November 14, 2002 - 10:10 am:

Warren: I agree with you completely. In fact, I think the whole key to reading Z's letters is by assuming that he is lying unless he provides some compelling reason to believe he isn't.

BTW, back in '69, I was generally known as Lenny and my last name has eight letters, so, in theory, that could be my name in the cipher. Of course, I was only 10 at the time--a pretty tenuous alibi, but one that I'm sticking to.

By Zander Kite (Zk) ( - on Monday, November 18, 2002 - 03:34 pm:

Also mentioned in the 340 is {{Mr. A.H}}. Warren, I like your idea on "Psycho", it's not my suspect, but I'm an honest person. Although, let me remind you that, by Graysmiths solution, "sleuth should see a name ...below killers film" isn't plainly read. It's taken from "LUEHSTHEOLHSSEEANAME......BELOW KILLLERS FILM". Warren, you wrote ((I personally do not believe the ciphers reveal any clue as to the identity of the murderer)). By saying this you do realize that you are also saying that Arthur Allen was not The Zodiac because ALLEN is easily seen in the first 4 symbols of the 13-code. That would definitely qualify as a clue. It's kinda funny but if you hold to the idea that Zodiac was bluffing about giving clues to his name in his ciphers and also believe that ALA was Zodiac: then obviously that person needs to rethink their position. The amazing thing about the 13-code, is that the real Zodiac appears to have cleared 3 suspects with one line of symbols. Breaking down the Z-symbol leaves AENLLOK :or: AENTOK :or: AENZK. That clears Allen, Kane, and Lake(Len), because clearly anyone with those names would have to be a total basket-case to design the code, in a way that their name is so easily seen right after :my name is..... (especially if they know they're on the suspect list).

By Warren (Warren) ( - on Tuesday, November 19, 2002 - 10:09 am:

Zander - I appreciate your insight. I find this board greatly entertaining and insightful. I lean toward ALA but exclude no one. Really, all I can contribute to this board are minor, and I hope, fresh observations, free from unintentional plagerism and untainted by bias. From such meager contributions I'll let those more knowledgeble about the events add or discard such crumbs as they see fit.
Its funny how the passage of time changes a viewpoint. When I first read "Zodiac" many years ago, I was awed by Graysmith's brilliance in solving the 340 cipher. Yesterday, thumbing through the book for the first time in a decade, his passage on the decipherment, whether correct or not, seems silly and egotistical, especially the self-solicited plaudits from the recognized codebreakers. Now the whole book seems sullied; I no longer can recognize truth from apocrypha.