This is from a real-life murder-mystery. In 2009 Edward Wayne Edwards was arrested and convicted of five murders, following a tip-off from his daughter April. Former detective John A. Cameron investigated Edwards, and believes he was responsible for many other murders, in particular that he was the "Zodiac Killer", and murdered Laci Peterson. Part of the theory is that Edwards left many puzzles encoding his identity.

One of the messages left by the Zodiac killer was this

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This is the first puzzle. Is this is the signature of Edwards?

Another of the many cryptic messages left by the Zodiac Killer was the "408-symbol cipher":

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On August 8, 1969, Donald and Bettye Harden of Salinas, California, cracked part of this cryptogram. This is the second puzzle. However, 18 symbols could not be decoded at that time ( the last symbol of the penultimate line, and the last line of the part to the Chronicle, starting ⊙ V E X ). This is the third puzzle - again, the puzzle is whether this was left by Edwards.

The fourth puzzle was left on a message board by someone using the name "I Killed Laci Peterson".

  1. Mon Oct 10, 2005 2:19 pm Fore here is a clue for who remain on my list. 28527 - 8240 - 791 - 94 - 7 tho is smart who deciphers this.

Again, the puzzle is whether this was left by Edwards. I have many more of these puzzles possibly left by Edwards, but I think that is enough to be going on for the moment! I believe I have a solution to puzzle four, which I found myself several years ago. I am no puzzler, so this is perhaps the easiest puzzle, once you have the solution to puzzle three. Here's a link to a possible solution of puzzles one and three, for those who wish to tackle puzzle four on it's own, as I did.

P.S. Last August I was contacted by a woman who says she met Edwards in 1971. This is not needed to solve the puzzles above, but may be interesting extra background.

Update: this is not a solution to puzzle four, but a couple of interesting "extras" ( I suspect Edwards liked to include multiple clues in his puzzles, a bit like the way a cryptic crossword clue gives the answer in two different ways ). Firstly the code ends "1947". I think this was deliberate, and a pointer to a "key murder" in 1947, which he confessed to the woman I mentioned above.

Secondly, the digits are grouped 5-4-3-2-1. I think 5-4 may stand for "ED" ( simply as the number positions of his initials in the alphabet ). He told the woman that 5 stood for him in another puzzle ( the Zodiac Halloween card ). There was also an interesting letter previously sent to the Modesto Bee, a local newspaper, dated 5-4-03, shown below. The interpretation of the rest of this letter is also interesting, but I won't go into that further here.

This still leaves the meaning of the remaining digits unsolved though, which is the puzzle. As a clue, I believe digits correspond to letters in his name ( but not using the scheme E=5, D=4 ).

Modesto Bee Letter Page 1 Page 1 Modesto Bee Letter Page 2 Page 2

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ It's probably not helping with the solution of the 408 cypher, but an other encoded message of the Zodiac killer, the 340, has been just solved yesterday, after 51 years! - youtube.com/watch?v=-1oQLPRE21o $\endgroup$
    – Annosz
    Dec 12, 2020 at 8:29


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