Fayçal Ziraoui caused an online uproar after saying he had cracked unsolved ciphers attributed to the Zodiac killer in California and identified him, potentially ending a 50-year-old quest.
ARGENTEUIL, France — Fayçal Ziraoui loves a good challenge. As a teenager, he designed 3-D animations. In 2018, he completed an Ironman race. More recently, he developed virtual reality software that allows people to experience life in a space capsule.
“I’ve never set limits on what I can learn,” Mr. Ziraoui, a 38-year-old French-Moroccan business consultant, said in an interview at his home in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil.
And so, when Mr. Ziraoui stumbled across an article in a French magazine in December saying that no one had ever solved two ciphers attributed to the Zodiac killer, who terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s and ’70s, he thought, “Why not me?”
The ciphers had long baffled cryptographers, law enforcement agents and amateur sleuths obsessed with the unidentified serial killer with a penchant for ciphers. Half a century of unsuccessful research had led many to believe that the identity of the Zodiac killer would forever remain a mystery. Numerous sleuths have claimed to have figured out the mystery through various techniques over the decades, but have had their theories debunked.