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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Zodiac Killer: The Real Life Riddler


The Batman 2021 trailer revealed a stark departure of the comic book villain Riddler. Instead of seeing a campy comic book villain donning a green attire riddled with question marks, we see an enigmatic figure leaving clues and codes to the caped crusader. This portrayal of Riddler echoes a real-life serial killer that was never caught, he is the enigmatic Zodiac Killer. 

Riddler, Batman 2021, Zodiac Killer
                                           Image: Redditor: u/VanderLinde6000

His story still fascinates people around the globe. His web of lies, clues, codes, and conspiracies let him get away with his crimes. Up to this day, his identity remains a mystery. Who is the Zodiac Killer?


If we say the word serial killer the first people who will come to our minds were Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, and many other popular named serial killers, but the case of The Zodiac Killer is different, up to this day he isn't named or caught unlike BTK(Bind-Torture-Kill), a similar killer who left cryptic messages, codes, and ciphers, Dennis Rader was caught decades after his crimes and was sentenced for 175 years in prison.

Zodiac Killer, Suspects, Zodiac (2007)
Image: Bill Warner Investigations Sarasota

There are several suspects who the authorities believe to be the Zodiac Killer. But no one was caught or tried for the alleged 37 murders that the Zodiac Killer himself claimed to have perpetuated. He repeatedly taunted the San Francisco Bay Area press and policemen by sending them a series of ciphers and codes that either declare his murders or plans to kill again. These letters were sparsely sent between 1969 up to 1974. 


There are several books that chronicled the exploits of the Zodiac killer. Robert Graysmith wrote the most famous of these books. These books are Zodiac published in 1986 and Zodiac Unmasked: The Identity of America's Most Elusive Serial Killer Revealed released in 2002. These books were the source material of the acclaimed film titled Zodiac(2007) directed by David Fincher. The film was often criticized for adding fictitious elements, and they depicted Arthur Leigh Allen as the prime suspect.

 
Riddler, Batman 2021, Zodiac Killer
Image:  Redditor u/alkis88

The most notable suspects behind the killings were Arthur Leigh Allen, Ross Sullivan, and Lawrence Kane. Authorities and investigators say these men had trouble with the law and were beset by psychological turmoils throughout their life. Among these suspects, the most interested in cryptography is Lawrence Kane. Lawrence was a US Navy reservist and had a vehicular accident that led to a serious brain injury. There was a sudden change in behavior such as night prowling, authorities arrested him in 1968 because of one of these incidents. Lawrence Kane had expertise in code-breaking because of his naval background. That is why he became a prime suspect. The charges were dropped because his DNA did not match the ones found in the crime scene. These circumstances made it impossible for the authorities to formally identify the Zodiac Killer and tried for multiple counts of murder. 

The Zodiac Killer is the real-life Riddler from the Batman franchise. But unlike the common depiction of Riddler, who often leads a criminal underground, the Zodiac Killer acted alone. And what they had in common is leaving clues for people to decipher. The shadow of the Zodiac Killer still lingers not only on his victims but also on people who tried to uncover his identity.  

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