Dec. 18—"This is the Zodiac speaking," begins a letter sent to The Day newsroom, similar to letters sent to newsrooms in the late 1960s as a serial killer known by the moniker "Zodiac Killer" terrorized northern California.
Zodiac, as he came to be known, killed at least five people in the 1960s and claimed to have killed nearly 40.
In a letter dated Oct. 18, a person who claims to be "The Chinese Zodiac Killer" outlines a series of threats, including plans to kill two men and a woman, "wipe out" a school bus driver and enslave people in a "macabre paradice." The writer even used the same misspellings as the Zodiac Killer.
A cipher, like the Zodiac Killer's trademark method of puzzling communication, was included with the letter sent to the New London newspaper. The FBI in Albany is investigating a series of similar letters received by newsrooms across New York, according to a statement issued by the field office.
In the letter to The Day, the author claims to be "a sexual predator and a killer. A prowler running wild in your reality. Incarnated back into your world. I bring terror. I bring fear. I bring horror."
The person claims to have been stalking children and watching women at a mall. "I have been very patient. The time has come to kill," the person threatens, adding that he or she has been "lurking in the dark."
The original Zodiac Killer's ciphers stumped investigators for decades. A year ago, the FBI announced that a group of international private sleuths decoded a 340-character cipher that was mailed to The San Francisco Chronicle in 1969, according to a report by The New York Times. But the cipher did not reveal the identity of the serial killer, who was never caught.
In a note at the end of the letter sent to The Day, the writer says "p.s. my cipher contains my identity let's see if you can crack it."
The cipher is similar in appearance to those sent to the Chronicle decades ago — it includes dozens of characters and letters, such as infinity symbols, plus signs and punctuation marks. Unlike most original Zodiac ciphers, it also contains repeating words including "mountain," "devil" and "spider."
It does not bear the infamous signature of the Zodiac Killer: a circle with one vertical line and one horizontal line running through its center, similar to a crosshair.
The letter instead is signed, "yours truley the chinese zodiac killer."
In the letter, the author writes that he or she has tried to warn news outlets about returning: "For four months you have hid knowledge of me from the public."
In the 1960s, the Zodiac Killer threatened to shoot people if newspapers did not publish the details of the killer's letters.
The Day turned over the letter and cipher to the New London Police Department. Capt. Matt Galante said Friday that the investigation is ongoing and the department is working with local, state and federal law enforcement officials.
In its statement, the FBI Albany Field Office said, "our office received reports media outlets were receiving letters from someone claiming to be the Chinese zodiac killer. We advised all local media outlets to make (police) aware and requested to be contacted if they received similar letters."
The office said the FBI does not think people should be alarmed by the letters. "There is no threat to the community, and we will continue to gather and review the facts," its statement said.
Anyone with further information is asked to contact the field office at (518) 465-7551 or local police.