Handwritten Real-World Cryptogram?
February 11, 2006 4:44 AM   Subscribe

Linda Rayburn and her son Michael Berry were brutally murdered by her husband, David Rayburn, on February 3rd, 2004. Rayburn then hanged himself in the basement of their home, leaving behind a handwritten cryptogram.
posted by tranquileye (11 comments total)
Bruce Schneier isn't the type to participate in a hoax, but those comments from the people involved only make it seem more like hoax to me, the way they're acting so defensive about it not being a hoax, and all pretty much in unison despite claims that their friendship has ended over the cries of hoax.

If it means anything, it's almost certainly not a standand newspaper-style crytogram. The letter distribution doesn't match up to the English alphabet at all. And anything more complicated than that is beyond my meager puzzling skills.
posted by scottreynen at 6:05 AM on February 11, 2006

This article summary from around the time of the killings mentions a suicide note, but it's clear it wasn't encrypted. It's possible this cryptogram was found in the home, but I haven't found any news articles mentioning it.
posted by justkevin at 6:31 AM on February 11, 2006

posted by mkultra at 9:38 AM on February 11, 2006

Killing your wife and stepson with a hammer before hanging yourself is definitely a proof that you are mentally sound. Therefore this cryptogram must have a meaning. Surely.
posted by surrendering monkey at 4:37 PM on February 11, 2006

I'm an amateur at this stuff, but the arrangement definitely suggests that this isn't a cryptogram at all. It looks more like personal notes. Think a mathematician idly jotting down numbers as he thinks - his ledger isn't going to be a magical new theorem with references and logical progression. It isn't even going to be comprehensible. It only means something if you already have the context under which it was written.

As for the context? He's crazy.
posted by Simon! at 5:14 PM on February 11, 2006

Why even bother? It just feeds into the cult of macabre celebrity we've seen with Charles Manson and the rest. I'm sure some of the "cryptoanalysts" who posted comments on Schneier's page would scoff at sitting around trying to decipher Beatles lyrics in an attempt to understand Manson's killings. This isn't that different.

Nothing would hurt the self-importance of potential future murderers than just throwing this thing away.

I doubt there will be some long winded justification for murdering one's family in there. Just more "the devil is in my home" nonsense or just a few lines from a typical sociopath.
posted by skallas at 6:20 PM on February 11, 2006

>As for the context? He's crazy.

Hehe. Right. Eight months later:

"I got it, its unicorn tree fish!"

"What's that mean?"

"I don't know. The guy was crazy."
posted by skallas at 6:22 PM on February 11, 2006

It's a list of passwords. The lines are there to make the case of the letters unambiguous.
posted by teppic at 6:29 PM on February 11, 2006

posted by sonofsamiam at 6:40 PM on February 11, 2006

teppic for the win.
posted by quite unimportant at 7:28 PM on February 11, 2006

It looks like he was playing hangman.
posted by dodgygeezer at 3:39 AM on February 12, 2006

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