The following is an attempt to clarify the meaning of the Z 63 cipher translation.
The author of the cryptogram named it "CELEBRITY CYPHER" [sic]. Based on the postmark, the card has been sent from Oakland, California in the vicinity of the 20 year anniversary of the disappearance of possible Zodiac Killer victim Donna Lass. The card’s stamp is a reference to a poet.
On the premise that the Celebrity Cipher card is indeed an authentic Zodiac Killer communication, and the correctness of the cipher’s decryption, we came to the following conclusions:
The cipher translation contains the word “DIRGE” with a set of other words, written in the format of a poem. The word “dirge” means a somber funeral song, expressing mourning and grief, a musical lament for the dead. Therefore, the poem either refers to a person actually deceased or considered as dead.
The text “SETUPRED” can be broken down in the words “SETUP” and “RED”, with “SETUP” standing for something that has been arranged or prepared, and the color “RED”, the color of blood. The mentioning of the color red is consistent with other communications attributed to the Zodiac Killer, namely the Riverside “Desktop Poem” with the text “cut. clean. if red clean” and “… it was red anyway” as well as the so called “Red Phantom” letter “(red with rage)”.
We interpret the title “DIRGE SETUP RED” as “a somber funeral song arranged in red” or even “a somber funeral song setup in blood”, perhaps comparable with the title of the instrumental song “Waltz in Black” from the 1981 Stranglers album “The Gospel According To The Meninblack”.
The words “EXPERIENCE RIPENED” apparently refer to events longer time ago. If it was the Zodiac Killer that authored the cipher, then indeed he must have gained more experience, “ripened through experience” so to say in the meantime.
The following words “I OPT FOR PLEA” suggest that the author believes having different options of how to plead. Typically, people accused in court plead as “guilty” or “not guilty”. In our case, the cipher’s author pleads “AS DEAD”.
It could be that the cipher’s author felt emotionless, felt dead inside, either before or when he committed his crimes, and/or when he wrote the cipher (cp. “sick of living / unwilling to die” Riverside Desktop Poem 1963).
The Celebrity Cipher poem closes similar to how it started with the words “EX DIRGE SET UP RED”. We interpret the word “EX” in this connection as a synonym for the word “from”, i.e. we believe that the author commemorated the 20 years anniversary of the presumed abduction and suspected following murder of Donna Ann Lass in September 1970 with a “DIRGE”. We consider it as a good possibility that the Celebrity Card cipher has been written during or in direct connection with the author’s dirge-like funeral rite as ceremonial recapitulation and morbid celebration of the crime.
We did not research old media publications yet but remember having seen various references where people speculated that the Zodiac Killer was actually dead, because there had been no communications anymore for long. We consider as not unlikely that the Zodiac Killer responded to a newspaper article or similar publication that speculated that he must have had died in the meantime, shortly before the Celebrity Card cipher date of September 1990. If you have knowledge of such publication, please share it with us.
It might be even more probable that the crimes of Zodiac Killer copycat Heriberto Seda in 1990 and related news and articles triggered new communications from the real Zodiac Killer, after long years of silence. At the same time, this would be a very convincing and compelling explanation why a Christmas card had been sent to the Chronicle from Eureka, California in December 1990.
We consider it as very likely that the reasons why the Celebrity Cipher has been sent were an amalgamation of all of the above, combined with the 20 years anniversary of the presumed abduction and suspected following murder of Donna Ann Lass in September 1970.
We believe that also the Celebrity Card bears different direct and indirect references that will elaborated under Z 63 Celebrity Card References co-authored by Zodiac researcher Clinton Muehlenbrock.