Zodiac Killer’s name decrypted: Joe Bevilacqua #2

4. Qua-nam

The last part of ACQUA is QUA. A connection with NAM is to be found out.

[Click here for the first part]

Between QUA and NAM there could be a logical link similar to LAC and the symbols of the seal of Harappa and “cerous”. If so, QUA and NAM would have a correlation with the underlying phrase, “as to how”.

Consulting a Latin dictionary, you may find the existence of the entry QUA-NAM, which corresponds to the union of the last part of the cipher text and the possible solution[28].
The dictionary quotes a sentence from the Naturalis Historia by Pliny.

“It is a mystery as to how dolphins can hear”[29]

QUA-NAM, therefore, is a Latin word that means “how” and is the translation of “as to how”, that is the phrase underlying the last part of Zodiac’s name.
It seems to be the correct solution.

Pliny’s sentence about dolphins, present in almost all the Latin dictionaries in which “quanam” is found (not reported here for brevity), is only the last of the many references to water encountered during the decryption, purposely colored in blue. Below is the complete list:

  1. ANETHEKE, inscription in a temple of Poseidon, god of the Sea
  2. The diving watch Zodiac Sea Wolf
  3. The word ICE
  4. The song “Aquarius-Let the sunshine in”
  5. Pliny’s sentence on dolphins’ hearing

It was seen that the letter contains two other references to water in clear text: “Blue Meanies”, who are the Beatles antagonists in the movie “Yellow Submarine”, and the phrase: “I was swamped out by the rain”.
That “flood” of citations is consistent with a surname ending with ACQUA.

Furthermore, as for the “almost 8” of Harappa, also the part of the decryption of Zodiac’s name relating to the word “acqua” is compatible with the solution of the riddle of the Halloween card.
In the next image, you can see the “death wheel” depicted on the cover of “Tim Holt” #30 (top, left) from which Zodiac almost entirely copied the inscriptions on the last page of the Halloween card (right).
It is possible to glimpse a fifth sentence on the wheel, not copied by Zodiac, partially hidden by the head of the comic’s protagonist, Redmask.
The sentence is “death by water”.
Is “by water” Zodiac’s real signature?

Redmask, main character of Tim Holt comics, is condemned to deaths “by rope” and “by water” in the number with the cover that inspired Zodiac in the Halloween card

The references to water must have been very important to Zodiac. In his last attributed letter postmarked January 29, 1974, instead of signing himself with his nickname, he enigmatically, Zodiac quoted a passage about a drowning taken from “The Mikado” by Arthur S. Sullivan and William S. Gilbert[30]:


To know more about the “water theory”, click here.

5. Bekim

At this point of the decryption:

  1. Five letters, E, ILAC and one keyword, ICE, were identified;
  2. Through a search in the data of the 2010 US census, a list of only eight surnames with the sequence ILAC was identified;
  3. It turned out that only two of those surnames, BEVILACQUA and ILACQUA ended with the word ACQUA, compatible with the number of symbols available and whose meaning was immediately linked to the underlying keyword ICE and to the decryption method based on the hit song of the 1969 by Fifth Dimension, “Aquarius-Let the sunshine in”. This solution is also consistent with the “water theory”;
  4. Clearly more common between the two surnames and also compatible with the position of the remaining decrypted letter, the E, is BEVILACQUA, which, if the decryption so far is correct, has a 90 percent probability of being Zodiac’s surname.

It is noted that the origin of the M in the cipher is not yet known.

Four sources of the Zodiac code have been identified, the symbol 8 of the musical Hair, the inscription ANETHEKE, the Bhrami symbols MI and YA in a reproduction of a seal of Harappa and the Latin word QUA-NAM.
Sources indicate that the Zodiac had a passion for ancient civilizations and archeology. The publications from which he drew the ancient words, in fact, are not popular, but niche products. They can be found in the dustiest sectors of old libraries.
On the other hand, the murderer also follows the cultural events of his time, at least in the newspapers, as evidenced by the references to Hair and the Fifth Dimension, as well as the clipping of the address of the postcard of 5 October 1970, taken from the cultural insert of the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, Datebook (image below).

Datebook, S.F. Sunday Examiner & Chronicle, September 27, 1970. On the right, a slightly enlarged Zodiac postcard

The source of M is therefore expected to belong to one of those two groups. How to know which one? It is a single letter and may have been selected from any code or cultural reference.
The M, however, should also have a specific purpose in the context of this encryption. And that’s what we need to identify. To do this, you need to relate it to the other parts of the code.

After some tests, it can be easily observed that once the symbols have been decrypted, the insertion of the M generates the EKIM sequence.

A search for the term “ekim” in the 1970 newspaper editions on the website newspapers.com[31] resulted in the recurring name “Bekim” of Serbian-Albanian actor Bekim Fehmiu.

Fehmiu had become famous in some European countries thanks to his interpretation of Ulysses in the Italian TV series “Odyssey”, which was broadcast for the first time on the Italian RAI channels in 1968[32].

To learn more about the importance of the figure of Ulysses for the solution of the Zodiac case, click here.

A movie titled “The Adventurers” with Fehmiu as the protagonist, Dax Xenos, and Candice Bergen as his wife[33] was screening at the “Alexandria” cinema and in several other cinemas/drive-in in San Francisco and the Bay Area, before[34], after[35] and during (next image) the sending of the encrypted Zodiac’s message.

The conjunction of the screenings of the film with Fehmiu in San Francisco and the letter from Zodiac and the belonging of BEKIM to one of the two reference groups already identified (ancient civilizations / contemporary cultural events) indicates that it could be the keyword at the origin of M.

Delving into the “Fehmiu” lead, it turns out that the third result of the search term “Bekim” in the 1970 newspaper editions on newspapers.com[36] is an article on page 10 of the San Francisco Examiner signed by Vernon Scott and dating back to three and a half months before the sending of the encrypted name of Zodiac[37].

At the time, $10 million was a big amount for a Hollywood movie

“Yugoslavian actor Bekim Fehmiu in ‘The Adventurers’
He plays a South American playboy in film of Harold Robbins’ novel”

Vernon Scott, San Francisco Examiner, 3 gennaio 1970, p. 10

On the same page (image above, right), in addition to the advertisement for “Hair”, there are ads for successful films such as “I am curious” and “Take the money and run”[38] which together with the title of the article recall (strangely?) the sentence under the cipher.

Now, it is revealed why Zodiac used the name of the interpreter of Ulysses as a keyword, by inserting an M after the part of the cipher corresponding to ANETHEKE.

“Bekim” is obtained by placing a B in place of the solar cross

By replacing the K with a V, the sequence decrypted combined with the underlying phrase generates the sentence “bevi mildly”, ie “drink mildly”.

As predicted with the data from the 2010 census, the surname encrypted by Zodiac is BEVILACQUA, the first one in the United States for number of individuals containing the sequence ILAC and the word ACQUA[39].

The M/L substitution is also present in my decryption of the Mt. Diablo code

6. Take the money and run

ANETHEKE, the Zodiac watch brand, “Hair”, “Aquarius-Let the sunshine in”, BEKIM Fehmiu, a seal of Harappa and QUA-NAM are the sources used by Zodiac for writing the cipher.

One question remains. Why did Zodiac swap the N for the E in the word ANETHEKE?

The sources of the cipher discovered so far have led to the assassin’s surname, of Italian origin, BEVILACQUA. Perhaps by identifying the reason for the exchange between N and E, it will also be possible to identify the meaning of the initial symbols, AEN.

The most common words in an English dictionary that begin with AEN, such as the cipher text of Zodiac, seem to be the Aeneid, the work of the Latin poet Virgil, and its protagonist, Aeneas[40].

In the Oxford Pocket Dictionary (1988), only “Aeneas” and “Aeneid” start with AEN

This observation and a reading of the news dating back to the week in which the Zodiac killed the taxi driver Paul Stine suggests that the swap of N and E may be based on a movie that the serial killer may have already been inspired by.
In early October 1969, a famous comedy that premiered in New York in August[41] and whose main character was called Virgil, like the author of the Aeneid, was screened for the first time in San Francisco[42].
The film ended with this punch line:

“Do you know if it’s raining out?“[43]

It is pronounced by New Jersey criminal Virgil Starkwell played by red and bespectacled Woody Allen in “Take the money and run”[44]. The film, shot entirely in San Francisco, was screened in the city for the first time on October 8, 1969, at the Bridge between Geary and Blake[45], a few blocks from where Stine was found dead a few days later. In the same week, “I am curious” also debuted at the Gateway, while “Hair “was performing at the Geary Theater[46].

On October 8, 1969, an article by Stanley Eichelbaum on the San Francisco Examiner read:

Stanley Eichelbaum, San Francisco Examiner, 8 Ottobre 1969

The rain is a disaster for the robber played by Woody Allen. And for Zodiac? What did he say in his letter with the ciphered name?

What was the killer alluding to? Perhaps, once again, to a keyword. And not only.
On the night of October 11, 1969, in Presidio Heights, San Francisco, while Zodiac was about to flee, he was seen by three teenagers who helped the police to make a sketch of him. Here’s how he looked like.

Zodiac sketch compared with Virgil Starkwell (October 1969)

Zodiac, letter, November 9, 1970

“Take the money and run” ads dating back to few days before the Stine murder

“Woody Allen becomes a link in a prison chain gang in his new comedy ‘take the money and run’, opening next at the Bridge. Much of the film was made in the Bay Area.“

S.F. Sunday Examiner and Chronicle, Datebook, October 5, 1969

It seems quite obvious that the disguise Zodiac was referring to was that of Virgil Starkwell. On the other hand, the debut of the film in San Francisco had been widely publicized in the days of the Stine murder, almost as much as “Hair” and the film “I am curious”. At that time, the killer may have participated in the cultural life of the city. We learn it from the fact that, on October 18, 1969, ten days after the debut of “Take the money and run” at the Bridge, “The Mikado” operetta played by the Lamplighters would have debuted at the Presentation Theater[47].
Zodiac cited the play by Gilbert and Sullivan in 1970[48] and 1974, when, as seen, he used a passage as a signature[49].

Passages from “Take the money and run”

Watch the video, clicking here.

The incipit of the movie is this: “In December 1, 1935, Mrs. Williams Starkwell, a wife of a New Jersey handyman gives birth to her first and only child. It is a boy, and they name it Virgil. He is an exceptionally cute baby, with a sweet disposition. Before he is 25 years old, he will be wanted by police in six states, for assault, armed robbery, and illegal possession of a wart”[50].
Virgil (Woody Allen) tries to escape from a prison with a bar of soap looking like a gun but he got caught as soon as it starts to rain and the gun liquefies[51].
He gets away after a vaccine test and met Louise (Janet Margolin). An excerpt from their dialogue follows:

Virgil: “Are you an artist?”
Louise: “No, of course not. I’m not an artist.”
Virgil: “No? Well, what do you do?”
Louise: “I’m a laundress”.
Virgil: “Laundress? Laundry?”
Louise: “Yeah. I wash clothes, in Maryland.”[52]

For other references to “wash” by Zodiac, click here.

Virgil tries to rob a bank but failed to make himself understood by the teller and goes in prison again, where he is put to work in a laundry too. He explains to Louise: “And uh, they got me. I misspelled a note.”
A few days later, he manages to escape taking a taxi.
The film ends with an interview with Virgil in prison while he is carving another bar of soap. As already said, the punchline of the bespectacled, reddish, New Jersey criminal is:

“I’m very skilled with my hands… Do you know if it’s raining out?”[53]

“Take the money and run” did not open in San Francisco until October 8, 1969[54]. However, already on Septemper 27, Zodiac “quoted” the movie when he told the victims a made-up story on his escape from prison[55], tying them with a washing line[56], and calling the police from a phone booth in front of a car wash[57] next to a laundry[58]. He should have been in Los Angeles[59] or outside of California[60] in the previous days for having been able to watch Woody Allen’s movie before the Berryessa attack.

As zodiacciphers.com reports, the phone booth of the Napa Car Wash where Zodiac called the police was next to the “Sam Kee Laundry”[61] at Main and Clinton Street[62] (see Google Maps). That can be added to the allusions to “Take the money and run”.

1245 Main Street, Napa. The phone booth where Zodiac called the police was located to the right of the building.
Photo by G. J. Golik – 1972

Two further links between Woody Allen’s work and Zodiac’s encryption

On September 21, 1969, not even a week before the attack at Lake Berryessa, the Woody Allen Show saw the participation of Candice Bergen, Bekim Fehmiu’s wife in “The Adventurers”[63], and the Fifth Dimension[64].

21.00 – 5 – Special: ‘Woody Allen Show’. The rev. Billy Graham joins Woody in a question and answer period with the audience. Candice Bergen performs with Woody in an off Broadway rehearsal of a scene to be costumed in the nude, in a silent movie spoof, and as a dumb dame with an aged tutor. The Fifth Dimensions group sings.

San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, September 21, 1969

How come Zodiac should have mentioned Woody Allen? Perhaps for esteem. Or perhaps because Allen’s first play on Broadway was titled: “Don’t drink the water”[65].
The movie based on that work premiered at the cinema “Alexandria” in San Francisco (the same as “The Adventurers”) in November 1969[66].

An incredibly witless movie has been made of Woody Allen’s stage comedy. ‘Don’t drink the water,’ which was flimsier than a pastry puff but did at least contain a measure of frightfully funny humor.

Stanley Eichelbaum, San Francisco Examiner, November 20, 1969

7. Joe

Having ascertained that Zodiac may have decided to replace ANE with AEN in ANETHEKE for the reference to the name Virgil, we can proceed to examine, in a much more prosaic way, English names with three letters that have an N as second letter or end in E.
The swap, in fact, may have been decided simply for that reason. According to nameberry.com, there are only two classic English male names with an N as the second letter: Eno and Enu. Conversely, many names end with E[67].

The swap N/E may indicates that N replaces a E.

The underlying phrase of this part of the cipher message “I am” coupled with AEN and the decrypted E forms the horseshoe-shaped phrase: “I am Enea” (note: in the 340 cipher decrypted in December 2020, Zodiac used a transposition system based on the knight move in chess that approached the structure of this sentence). Enea is the translation of Aeneas into Italian[68].

Two more letters have to be decrypted

The final part of the decryption is suggested by Zodiac at the end of the second page of the letter, where he placed the last “I” above the equal sign in the equation: solar cross = I0 (image below)[69]. The word “I” translates “Io” into Italian[70].

10 o “Io”?

I am Joe – Io sono Joe

The J decodes the A in correspondence with the word “I”, io.
Zodiac’s name is JOE.
The O/J and I/O replacements in my decryption of the Mt. Diablo cipher support this conclusion.
If you have taken a look at the water theory, you will also remember that the phone booth from which Zodiac first called the police was located at the Joe’s Union gas station in Vallejo[71].

The term “I”, the Italian “io”, was also the first encrypted word in the first Zodiac’s cipher[72], as Bettye Harden, one of the two solvers, had guessed, tells Robert Graysmith in “Zodiac”[73].

Robert Graysmith, Zodiac, p. 53

San Francisco Examiner, 10 agosto 1969

My name is Joe Bevilacqua



Endnotes part 2

[28] Harper’s Latin dictionary founded on the translation of Freund’s Latin-German lexicon, American Book Company, p. 1505.

[29] Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, Liber XI, paragrafo 137, la.wikisource.org/wiki/Naturalis_Historia/Liber_XI.

[30] Zodiac, letter to the San Francisco Chronicle, January 29, 1974.

[31] newspapers.com/search/#query=EKIM&dr_year=1970-1970.

[32] en.wikipedia.org/Bekim_Fehmiu.

[33] “Three films open this week”, San Francisco Examiner, March 23, 1970, p. 40. Source: newspapers.com.

[34] San Francisco Examiner, March 24, 1970, p.24. Source: newspapers.com.

[35] San Francisco Examiner, April 21, 1970, p.28. Source: newspapers.com.

[36] newspapers.com/search/#query=BEKIM&dr_year=1970-1970.

[37] Vernon Scott, “10 Million risked on an unknown”, San Francisco Examiner, January 3, 1970, p. 10. Source: newspapers.com.

[38] Ibidem. Source: newspapers.com.

[39] U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2010, surnames occurring at least 100 times, FILE B.

[40] The Oxford paperback dictionary, 1988, p. 12.

[41] Stanley Eichelbaum, “Woody the failure is a film success”, San Francisco Examiner, October 8, 1969, p. 69. Source: newspapers.com.

[42] S.F. Sunday Examiner and Chronicle, Datebook, October 5-11, 1969, pp. 1 and 13. Source: newspapers.com.

[43] Take the money and run, directed by Woody Allen, ABC, Palomar Pictures International, 1969. Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RZ7vrkj5Xo, min. 8.21.

[44] Ibidem. See also the transcription here: script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/t/take-the-money-and-run-script.html.

[45] S.F. Sunday Examiner and Chronicle, Datebook, October 5-11, 1969, p. 13. Source: newspapers.com.

[46] San Francisco Examiner, 11 ottobre 1969, p. 10, Source: newspapers.com.

[47] S.F. Sunday Examiner and Chronicle, Datebook, October 5-11, 1969, p. 6. Source: newspapers.com.

[48] Zodiac, letter to the San Francisco Chronicle, July 26, 1970.

[49] Zodiac, letter to the San Francisco Chronicle, January 29, 1974. See also FBI Laboratory, Cryptoanalysis on the January 29, 1974, letter, FBI File n. 9-49911, March 1, 1974.

[50] Take the money and run, directed by Woody Allen, ABC, Palomar Pictures International, 1969. Min. 0.10 of the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwNYbWnRlAo.

[51] Ibidem. Min. 1.06 of the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwNYbWnRlAo. “I was swamped out by the rain we had a little back”, wrote Zodiac allusively in his letter postmarked on December 20, 1970.

[52] Ibidem. Min. 2.14 of the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwNYbWnRlAo. See the references by Zodiac to “wash”, and the false story on his escape he told Brian Hartnell and Cecilia Shepard in the chapter “L’acqua”.

[53] Ibidem. Min. 8.24 of the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwNYbWnRlAo.

[54] San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle, Datebook, October 5-11, 1969, p. 13. Source: newspapers.com.

[55] Dave Smith, “Zodiac Killer, portrait of madness”, Los Angeles Times, October 15, 1969, p. 27. Source: newspapers.com.

[56] The Napa Register, October 1, 1969, first page. Source: newspapers.com.

[57] L. Pierce Carson, “Manhunt for crazed killer”, The Napa Register, October 4, 1969, p. 3a. Source: newspapers.com.

[58] Napa National Register of Historic Places. Link: https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/NRHP/74000540_photos.

[59] Los Angeles Times, August 25, 1969, p. 29. Source: newspapers.com.

[60] Daily News, August 18, 1969, p. 57. Source: newspapers.com.

[61] Napa County Sheriff’s Office, Report on the Lake Berryessa attack, October 5, 1969, p. 1. See Google Maps.

[62] Napa National Register of Historic Places. Link: https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/NRHP/74000540_photos.

[63] The Napa Register, October 1, 1969, first page. Source: newspapers.com.

[64] San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle, 21 settembre 1969, p. 5. Source: newspapers.com.

[65] John Chapman, “Woody Allen farce, ‘Don’t drink the water,’ stirs up laughter”, Daily News, November 18, 1966, p. 76. Source: newspapers.com.

[66] Stanley Eichelbaum, “Screen renders ‘Water’ non-potable”, San Francisco Examiner, November 20, 1969, p. 28. Source: newspapers.com.

[67] nameberry.com/baby-names/831/3-letter-boy-names/uniqueameberry.com.

[68] Guglielmo Comelati and John Davenport, Dictionary of the Italian and English Languages, Longman and Co. et al, 1854.

[69] Zodiac, lettera al San Francisco Chronicle, April 20, 1970, p. 2.

[70] Collins Italian College Dictionary, 1991, p. 167.

[71] Vallejo Police Department, criminal report on the attack at Blue Rock Springs, 1969 (p.13).

[72] “Salinas teacher breaks code on Vallejo murders”, San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle, August 10, 1969, p.24. Source: newspapers.com.

[73] Robert Graysmith, Zodiac, Berkley Publishing Group, 1986, edition 2007, p. 53.

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