1969 Zodiac Letter Mailed To San Francisco Examiner Newspaper- Is It Genuine? Does It Contain Zodiac's DNA?- UPDATE 2012- MORE SIGNATURE LINKS

I  originally published the below blog in September, 2010. I am republishing it now with important updated information,  which I believe adds great weight to my original premise that the 1947 Black Dahlia and 1968-9 Zodiac crimes are SIGNATURE LINKED.  

Two-page Zodiac Letter Mailed to  newspaper on
Dec 16, 1969

Filed and Forgotten for Forty-Years.  Is It legitimate? 


Page 1  Zodiac Letter 


1 sfe.jpg

Based on my recent examination (I was unaware that this letter existed until one week ago) 

I believe this letter was most probably written by Zodiac.

Further, based on the contents and characteristics included in this letter, I believe it adds important additional corroboration to my investigation pointing to the possibility that my father, in addition to being L.A.’s 1947 “Black Dahlia Avenger” did in fact, reinvent himself two decades later as San Francisco Bay Area’s, ZODIAC.

The following  new exhibits are offered in support of that conclusion.

If I am correct, then the importance of the San Francisco Examiner mailing is not simply to add one more letter to the pile of known Zodiac writings.

Rather, I believe this new lead justifies having a criminalist examine, swab and analyze the San Francisco Examiner letter flap and stamp (if one exists?) for potential saliva which could aid law enforcement in obtaining a full DNA profile on Zodiac.

 San Francisco Letter page 1 typed by author for easy readability:




Page 2



1947 Black Dahlia Avenger – Crude Knife Drawing Signature No. 1

Below is a scanned excerpt from my 2003 book, Black Dahlia Avenger, pages 196-197.It details a February 11, 1947 incident where the Black Dahlia killer leaves a message and crudely drawn picture of a knife and pistol inside the glove compartment of a taxi cab with the message to immediately deliver the demand and drawings to the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper. (To my knowledge, the actual drawing of the knife along with the handprinted text were never published in the newspaper. Only a verbatim quote of what the killer wrote as shown below.)


bda crude knife fnl.jpg 

 Black Dahlia Avenger- Zodiac Signature No. 2- The Arrows, Exclamation Marks and “Ha! Ha!”

We know from our investigation that George Hodel as the Black Dahlia Avenger used the term “ha ha” coupled with exclamation marks on a  letter he sent  to the Los Angeles press. He also marked his messages with arrows. So did Zodiac. 

Below are several samples of the 1947 handprinted “BLACK DAHLIA AVENGER” messages he mailed to the press using similar wording and arrows as seen in the San Francisco Examiner Letter.



The below exhibit shows some additional ZODIAC mailings where he has used arrows in his messages.

The bottom photograph was taken of my father and some of his business associates in Manila, Philippines- circa 1986. Note that he has marked the photo referencing “Man Ray” using a red felt tip pen. (Note- My father’s writing instrument of choice when not typing was very frequently a felt tipped pen) The arrow points to an object on the wall which is a Man Ray sculpture created and given to George Hodel by his artist friend in Hollywood in 1948. 



 Zodiac unique cursive style “looped” lower case “d”

Perhaps this unusual handwritten lowercase cursive looped “d” has been referenced elsewhere in the various Zodiac investigations and research, but if it has, I haven’t seen it mentioned.

I find it particularly interesting because my sense is that it was a totally unconscious handwriting action. What makes it so unique is that Zodiac in the below handwriting samples has printed all of his letters with only  one exception- the LETTER “d”  which he writes as a cursive using a distinctive loop.  Its absence in his writings is not particularly meaningful, but its presence IS.

Take a look at the two KNOWN and VERIFIED Zodiac handwriting samples below. Many of his letters contain BOTH types of lowercase “d”. He seems to use both styles with equal frequency, but is consistent about not mixing both types in the same letter. (Due to the massive amount of Zodiac samples, I may have missed an example of this? Please correct me if I’m wrong on this point.)



  Below we see this unique letter “d” used in Zodiac’s 1971 mailing to the L.A. Times:

zodiac la times 1971.jpg


And, in the below exhibit the unique characteristic appears again. This time on the April 30, 1967  Bates mailing to the Riverside Police Department. I know the Zodiac community is divided on whether this crime is an actual Zodiac murder, but those of you who have read my book know that I believe the evidence supports the probability that IT IS A ZODIAC CRIME. I think finding this distinctive cursive lower-case “d” increases that probability.


bates looped d  8.5.jpg

Below we see an enlargement of the December 16, 1969 San Francisco Examiner Letter showing what appear to be identically written cursive style looped “d’s.” Keep in mind that this letter was mailed two months after the Stine mailing.



9sfe fnl.jpg 

Sample of Dr. George Hodel’s handwritten cursive looped letter d

As I have indicated previously, very few samples of my father’s cursive writing exist. He normally either typed or wrote using upper case block letters. Below is a rare example of his cursive. Due to space limitations in his typed 1980 letter to me, which he mailed from the Philippines, he was forced to write using small cursives. Take a look at his lower case letter “d” which I have enlarged for easier viewability.

GHH cursive letter D.jpg


 FBI Handwriting Analysis Receipt for separate Possible Zodiac Letters

 In their official report the FBI cannot eliminate the San Francisco Examiner Letter as being authentic and written by ZODIAC.


11 fnl.jpg 

Based on all of the above exhibits it is my belief that this San Francisco Examiner Letter of 12.16.69 may well be genuine and was most probably written by ZODIAC. Further, I believe that there exists a strong likelihood that if the envelope still exists and is tested it could well yield ZODIAC’s full profile DNA which could then be entered into the CODIS system and potentially SOLVE THE CASE.

 I would like to acknowledge the following A&E Community Link which first brought to my attention the new information related to the Zodiac/San Francisco Examiner Letter. Added thanks to TV and Seagull for sending me their separate hi-res copies of materials. 


UPDATE FEB 20, 2010-  Black Dahlia Avenger “Bleeding Knife Drawing”

In my original summary as detailed above I referenced the February 11, 1947 Los Angeles incident where the Black Dahlia Avenger left “a crude drawing of a knife and pistol” inside the taxi and ordered the cabdriver to “take it to the Examiner” newspaper informing the driver “I’ve got the number of your cab.”   


The fact that both George Hodel as the Black Dahlia Avenger, a serial killer and urban terroist and Zodiac, a serial killer and urban terrorist  both left crudely drawn “childlike”notes of knives is  highly unusual and certainly both qualify as unique signatures.

In recent days, I have discovered that the linkage is much stronger than I originally resported. Here’s why:

The February 11, 1947 newspaper account of the Avenger Note was reported as containing a “crudely drawn knife and pistol.” But, without seeing the actual drawing (not published by the newspaper) it still remained a bit generic.as relates to the Zodiac drawing some two decades later. 

In reviewing my investigation I discovered an earlier Avenger note, which I had forgotten about, and which also had  not been published in the newspapers. .This one was mailed by the Black Dahlia Avenger to the Los Angeles Examiner  on January 28, 1947. While the press speculated it could have been a possible “child’s crank” the homicide detective who received it, forwarded the note to the LAPD crime-lab for analysis.

Here is the original LA TIMES article:



Knife Letter LAT Jan 28 47.jpg 


Compare to Zodiac’s 1969 drawing of a crude drawing of a dagger dripping blood:



When it comes to signature linkage in criminal investigations– 





  1. Greg Glover on September 16, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    I have been following both cases since I was a kid. This is the first time I seen the writings of both the BDA and zodiac side by side. I see (my unprofessional opinion) that the author/s of both these writings are writing with there left hand; both authors are right hand dominate. I have also noticed that depending on the writing instrument; ball point pen or felt tip pen (possibly pencil as well) the writing takes on a different font style but clearly all writings are from a right hander, writing with their left hand.

  2. Christy on September 29, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Steve- I am far from an expert and thought (before I read your last book) that connecting these two was a stretch, but after reading the book, you have a believer in me. I just wonder why law enforcement won’t at least take a look? I believe you have solved the BD case & wonder if folks don’t want the case to be solved because in a sick way, it will take the mystery or noir out of her death? I believe she deserves better!

  3. Steve Hodel on September 29, 2010 at 9:52 am

    I agree Elizabeth and the rest of the “Lone Woman Murder victims” deserve better. There is something to what you say about some not wanting it solved because they feel it will detract from the story. Like the original newspaper reporter, Will Fowler. who really got my blood up by saying he hoped it was never solved and likening the unsolved Black Dahlia murder to “an unopened present” and “a wonderous thing.” But, law enforcement has no excuses not to do DNA.
    Best, Steve

  4. Kat Kathleen McLaughlin on May 23, 2011 at 5:40 am

    I heard that typing personal letters was verboten. This seems contrary to GHH’s endeavour to be the epitome of class. There has to be a reason for this. Was he hiding his distinct style of writing so it would not be connected to the BDA and Zodiac letters. Did you find that he typed more than he wrote? Just found it a curious contradition from such an outwardly refined man.

  5. Steve Hodel on May 23, 2011 at 9:36 am

    I can never recall when my father actually handwrote a personal letter to me, or to any other family member. They were always typed. I don’t think typing his communications to me was in anyway an attempt to hide his writing. Rather, it just was his preference and manner. Businees-like and time effective.

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