Yesterday’s episode of Riverdale, a contemporary reimagining of characters and settings from the old Archie comics, features a killer operating as a copycat of the Zodiac Killer.

Known as the “Black Hood” killer, the character mails taunting letters, and in yesterday’s episode included a cryptogram that he said would give the location of his next attack.

Characters in the show even namedropped Robert Graysmith’s books as the “definitive” sources of Zodiac information.

The episode features many scenes involving the Black Hood’s cipher, including characters’ attempts to break it. They do end up solving it but don’t get into any details about the specifics. Though I did like the “spitballing” scene where they toss around ideas such as common letter pairs, doubles, and trying out words like “KILL”.

Here’s a video I put together of the cipher-related scenes (WARNING: SPOILERS)

He even says, “This is the Black Hood speaking!” (Side note: The symbols in the cipher remind me a lot of the Albany cipher)

This latest entry into popular culture really continues to demonstrate how effective Zodiac was with creating notoriety for himself via his letter and cipher writing campaign. This case will resonate for many years to come.

Karga 7, the production company behind the upcoming History channel documentary about the Zodiac Killer, posted a new title card for the show:

The ciphers are featured quite prominently in this series. Tune in to the History Channel this November 14th at 10PM to watch us on the code team dig into clues in the ciphers while working together with seasoned field investigators Sal LaBarbera and Ken Mains, as they chase the many clues in the Zodiac case.

Former FBI task force member and cold case detective Ken Mains (left), and retired LAPD homicide detective Sal LaBarbera (right)

The “Code Team”. Left to right: University of North Texas computer science professor Ryan Garlick, Google staff research scientist Sujith Ravi (seated), University of Southern California research director and computer science professor Kevin Knight (and the Code Team’s fearless leader), and York University math and cryptology professor Craig Bauer. I’m unfortunately out of frame in this shot. 🙂

The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer - First episode

The first episode of the upcoming documentary “The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer” is now listed on the official schedule on

Who is the new suspect?

History Channel just posted this teaser for the upcoming Zodiac Killer documentary:

Here is the talk I gave at the 2017 Symposium on Cryptologic History in Laurel, MD, in the “Ciphers and Crime” panel which was moderated by retired historian Dave Cooley.

The presentation is about 23 minutes long, followed by about 16 minutes of questions and answers with me and fellow panelist Craig Bauer who gave a fascinating presentation about the Paul Rubin case, a man who was found dead with an enciphered message taped to his stomach. Check out Craig Bauer’s book “Unsolved” which details that case and many others:

I’ve added some more visuals to the main presentation as well as to the Q&A portion.

Also check out my 2015 talk at the same venue:

Catch me and Craig in the upcoming documentary, “The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer”, premiering on the History Channel on November 14, 2017.

I was also recently featured in an episode of the Criminology podcast about the Zodiac Killer:

This is the UK promo for the upcoming Zodiac Killer documentary on the History Channel:

It airs in the UK on November 22nd and in the USA on November 14th.

A new documentary about the Zodiac Killer is airing on the History Channel starting November 14th:

History Premieres Limited Series THE HUNT FOR THE ZODIAC KILLER, 11/14

Premiering on Tuesday, November 14 at 10PM ET/PT, this five-part limited series, features a team of top investigators and code-breakers, working in tandem with a super-computer, known as CARMEL, the first of its kind programmed to think like a killer. This team believes they may have broken a significant portion of the diabolically complicated code, Z340, and have been granted unprecedented access to police files, new witnesses, new clues, and the cooperation of representatives of the CIA and FBI.

I was privileged to be a part of the cast of this show, working with and learning from some very talented codebreakers and cryptology experts. Looking forward to seeing how it turned out.

Check out “Criminology”, a fantastic podcast about the Zodiac Killer. I’m honored to be featured in Episode 11, in which we dissect the ciphers in more detail:

Thanks, Morf and Mike Ferguson for inviting me to be a part of it. The entire series is very good. Over the course of Season One, they have given a very well-researched and factual account of many of the details of the case. I learned a lot of things about the case that I didn’t know before!

A friend of mine teaches a Network Security course at a local community college and he invited me to give a talk about criminal codes and ciphers. Here is the video of the talk:

Topics include the Unabomber, BTK Killer, prison gangs, spies, the Zodiac Killer, and more.

Tom Voigt managed to gain access to the evidence room (presumably at SFPD) to have a closer look one of the three parts of the original Z408 cipher:

He says that inspecting the back of the paper reveals Zodiac used a second pen of a different color. Click the above link to see his short video of the experience. I look forward to hearing more about his visit.