This Week In History News, Dec. 13 – 19

Published December 18, 2020

Zodiac Killer's cipher solved, doomed Arctic explorer's fate revealed, new clues about Roswell UFO incident uncovered.

Infamous Cipher Written By The Zodiac Killer Solved After 50 Years

Zodiac Killer 340 Cipher

Wikimedia CommonsThe “340 cipher” that the Zodiac Killer sent to the San Francisco Chronicle on Nov. 8, 1969.

Between 1968 and 1969, the Zodiac Killer murdered at least five people in the San Francisco Bay Area before vanishing into the fog of history, leaving only a few ciphers behind. One such coded message arrived at the offices of the San Francisco Chronicle on Nov. 8, 1969.

In the 50 years since, no one was ever able to solve it. But just this week, three amateur codebreakers announced that they’d cracked the code that stumped the world for a half-century.

See what they found here.

Smudge In Polar Explorer’s Diary Reveals He Burned His Feces In An Attempt To Survive

Jørgen Brønlund And Team

Wikimedia CommonsMembers of the Denmark Expedition to the Northeast Coast of Greenland around 1902-1904: Jørgen Brønlund, Alfred Bertelsen, Ludvig Mylius-Erichsen, Knud Rasmussen, and Harald Moltke.

The death of Inuit explorer Jørgen Brønlund was anything but peaceful. The third to perish during a grueling three-man expedition in his native Greenland, Brønlund’s body was found frozen in a cave in 1907.

He had recorded his final moments in a diary, which contained a black smudge that has baffled experts ever since.

The curious material on the last page of that historic document has finally been identified — providing researchers with unprecedented insight into the explorer’s grim final hours. The smudge was made of “burnt rubber, oils and feces.”

Dig deeper in this report.

Army Officer’s Secret Journal May Hold New Clues About What Really Happened In The Roswell Incident

Jesse Marcel At Roswell

Universal History Archive/UIG/Getty ImagesA diary allegedly belonging to Air Force Intelligence Officer Jesse Marcel could unlock the Roswell UFO mystery.

In 1947, an unidentified craft reportedly crashed not far from the U.S. military base in Roswell, New Mexico. Roswell Army Air Field Intelligence Officer Jesse Marcel was dispatched to the scene to determine what happened.

News of the crash became public and the military issued an initial press release stating they had uncovered a “flying disc,” sparking rumors of an alien encounter. Not long after, the military backtracked its statement and claimed the debris had come from a weather balloon.

But not everyone was convinced.

Learn more here.

All That's Interesting
Established in 2010, All That's Interesting brings together a dedicated staff of digital publishing veterans and subject-level experts in history, true crime, and science. From the lesser-known byways of human history to the uncharted corners of the world, we seek out stories that bring our past, present, and future to life. Privately-owned since its founding, All That's Interesting maintains a commitment to unbiased reporting while taking great care in fact-checking and research to ensure that we meet the highest standards of accuracy.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.