Zodiac Uses His Real Name To Sign 1970 Cipher Message- Animation Reveals Killer's True Identity M. Yves Person, a Paris High School Teacher Cracks Ancient Celtic Ogham "Tree Alphabet"

March 26, 2016
Los Angeles, California

Original 1970 Zodiac Halloween “You Ache To Know My Name” Card
Mailed to San Francisco Chronicle

Zodiac my name card

This video presents the decryption and solving of the mysterious cipher included in the authenticated mailing by the serial killer known as “Zodiac” to the San Francisco Chronicle in 1970. The cipher was deciphered in 2015 by M. Yves Person, an educator, who teaches Literature at a high school in the suburbs of Paris, France. Complete details of the investigation and findings are presented in my sequel, Most Evil II: Presenting the Follow-up Investigation and Decryption of the 1970 Zodiac Cipher in which the San Francisco Serial Killer Reveals His True Identity (Rare Bird Books) published in 2015.

As seen in the above original Zodiac card “You Ache To Know My Name, And So I’ll Clue You In.. ” the serial killer promises a clue to his name. Law Enforcement at the time speculated that “the clue” might be the writing on the back of the card which read: “By Fire, By Gun, By Knife, By Rope…” They guessed it might be written in the shape of  a possible monogram for his name in the form of the letter “H”.  (Ultimately, they would be proven correct. H as in HODEL, but ironically, it would also serve as a red-herring. They had no idea, that the real clue and solution to the crimes could be found on both the envelopes return address and at the bottom of the card as Zodiac’s signatory and a signed confession using his real name signed in an ancient 4th Century Ogham “Tree Alphabet.” )

10.8Zodiac’s signatures at bottom of 1970 “You Ache To Know My Name” Halloween Card

Links to related earlier blogs:

15 September 2015 “Open Letter to my Readers”

15 December Black Dahlia Avenger/Zodiac Inspector Clouseau Awards


  1. Kathy G. on April 18, 2016 at 3:24 am

    Dear Steve,
    When I read this in your book Most Evil II it really cinched it for me that your father, Dr. George H. Hodel, was the serial killer Zodiac also. All the other evidence amassed over the years proves it also. Your work is at such a high level. I don’t understand the nay sayers other than the solving of these horrendous murders blows their own pet theories right out of the water.

    Best Wishes Always!
    Kathy G.

    • Steve Hodel on April 18, 2016 at 10:40 am

      Hi Kathy: Yes, the naysayers silence on this is deafening. There is no way to legitimately refute the evidence so all they can do is try to ignore it and say, “No, no, the world is flat.” M. Yves Person’s cracking of the Zodiac cipher is George Hodel’s signed confession as Zodiac. Period.

    • Jon doe on October 3, 2016 at 7:13 am

      How was the man so into codes where’d the prior knowledge come from 4th century language imitation game(+) it looks like a scope and the man must have been a genius or belonged to some sort of enigma

      • Steve Hodel on October 3, 2016 at 8:21 am

        JD: The source of his discovering the ancient language is explained in Most Evil II. Like most of his crimes, he discovered the ancient Ogham language from a modern surrealist artist’s works. His “inspiration” taken again from “Murder as a Fine Art.”

  2. stimmviech on June 20, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Hello Steve, most people are conformists, they don’t even dare to think out of the zeitgeist or authority frame. So it simply needs time until later generations- zeitgeist people concerning their actual world, too- without doubt know and believe what their ancestors denied against the already then known state of facts.I experience this in my own writings about forensic psychiatry, having fun picturing myself giving later generations a ” time machine window”to an otherwise lost world.
    Being far from goodsaying your fathers deeds, I assume the ignoring attitude and ” dumbness” of his environment might have been part of his motives acting out his anger of feeling lonely in a world of ignorers and simple minds.
    Thanks for all your work, Greetings Thomas

    • Steve Hodel on June 20, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      Thomas: Yes, I’m sure his rejection by his peers as being a “super nerd” triggered some major anger. Agreed, I’ve never known a lonelier man. Sad. Regards, Steve

  3. luigi warren on July 1, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    The victims-become-slaves-in-paradise idea is brought up by M. de Sade in Philosophy in the Bedroom: “the inhabitants of Borneo believe that all those they put to death will serve them when they themselves depart life.” Apparently it’s also mentioned in Juliette. So, looks like Zodiac was into M. de Sade, Gilbert & Sullivan, and Tim Holt comics. Kind of narrows the field. -LW

    • Steve Hodel on July 1, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      GHH was definitely a Sade scholar, but I was unaware of the slave references in Sade’s works. Thank you. I assumed his “source” on that was from his decades of living in the Philippines along with the fact that he shared ownership with his wife in a large sugar plantation in Southern Negros, where they also have the slave afterlife beliefs as referenced in ME I. And, Borneo/Indonesia just a few paddles south of Negros.

  4. luigi warren on July 1, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    Came across a 2002 posting from Tom Voigt with a quote re Borneo from Juliette: “It is an article of faith on the island of Borneo that all those persons a man kills will be his slaves in the next world; and as a result, the better a man wishes to be served after his death, the more he kills during life.” Google “de Sade +Borneo” and you can find the other quote from Philosophy in the Bedroom. So, de Sade mentioned this obscure fact at least twice in his work. -LW

  5. luigi warren on July 1, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    The Wikipedia article on Headhunting is of interest here, too — the “slaves in the afterlife” idea seems to be linked generally to headhunter tribes in South Asia. Headhunting persisted in the Philippines into the 1930s. -LW

  6. luigi warren on July 2, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Did anyone ever trace the source of the greeting card? A long shot, admittedly, but the only reference I can find to GHH’s co-editor on Fantasia, one G. Bishop Pulsifier, is in the bibliography of a book on the greeting card industry. -LW

    • Steve Hodel on July 2, 2016 at 2:21 pm

      LW: No, but there is a forty-five-year gap in his Fantasia Magazine and the sending of the card, so doubt any connection to with the old co-editor. No indication they were connected after the mid-Twenties. skh

      • Terry Skinner on December 11, 2020 at 9:55 pm

        Just revealed today… the Zodiac 340 cipher has been cracked… AND it contains the sentence, “ “I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me. … I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradise all the sooner because I now have enough slaves to work for me,”
        Sounds like someone believes in the same belief as do tribes in Borneo… that slaves can be slaughtered and stored for use in the afterlife.

        • Steve Hodel on December 12, 2020 at 7:35 am

          Terry S. Yes, even back in 1969 social scientists identified this belief system as originating from Occidental Negroes in the same area of the Southern Philippines as where my father and stepmother, Hortesia Starke Hodel owned and operated a large sugar plantation. George Hodel would have been well area of the local lore and beliefs for sure.

  7. luigi warren on July 11, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Steve, Perhaps the white lettering inscribed asymmetrically around the whorl of the peek-a-boo tree alludes to the original Peek-a-Boo Girl, 1940s femme fatale and star of The Blue Dahlia, Veronica Lake. Just a thought. -LW

  8. luigi warren on July 11, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    Addendum: In Rene Clair’s “I Married a Witch,” Veronica Lake’s spirit is entrapped in an oak tree after she’s romantically rebuffed by a Puritan and burned at the stake. “Bad girl” Jennifer gets her revenge by putting a curse on the Puritan’s family, dooming all his descendents to marry the wrong women. Is that Veronica peaking out of the tree? I wonder if your father liked or ever mentioned this movie. -LW

  9. luigi warren on July 11, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    To sum up the case on this point: Here we have a curse-issuing spirit labeled “PEEK-A-BOO” haunting a tree, drawn by an individual who professedly revenges himself on young lovers to assuage anger over romantic rejection, and it looks like this spirit may have long blond hair worn asymmetrically with a “peek-a-boo” bang that covers the right eye. If Zodiac had stuck a cut-out picture of Veronica Lake on the tree we know what connection would have been quickly made, and which list of suspects would have been pulled from the files, and maybe that’s exactly why he didn’t do that. -LW

  10. luigi warren on July 12, 2016 at 1:03 am

    BTW, in 1924 Rene Clair (director of I Married a Witch) made a celebrated Dadaist film called Entr’Acte, starring Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. Inevitable Man Ray would get in there somewhere. -LW

  11. luigi warren on July 12, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    Witches and Halloween go together like a horse and carriage, of course. What is telling here is the choice of witch. -LW

  12. luigi warren on July 13, 2016 at 2:02 am

    More thoughts on the card: 1. Helpful to think about the content holistically. Makes sense that the signature of a tree spirit would be in Ogham, the “tree alphabet.” 2. Interpretation of the text around the tree whorl as a pictorial element (compare posters for “I Married a Witch”) is precedented by “Alphabet for Adults” and by Guilluame Apollinaire’s Calligrammes. 3. The truth of the matter is it’s the author of the card who aches to reveal his name. -LW

  13. luigi warren on July 13, 2016 at 3:29 pm


    Apollinaire’s 1918 book “Calligrammes: Poems of Peace and War 1913-1916” can be viewed in it’s entirety at the Public Domain Review website. Within its pages are interesting points of reference on the following:

    1. The evolution of GHH’s literary style from the conventional anti-war poem he wrote as a 9-year old, reproduced in the Los Angeles Evening Herald of July 14, 1917, to the morbid adolescent poem “Inference” he published as “Vernon Morel” in Fantasia, 1925. The latter might even be classified as a calligramme.

    2. Both the “PEEK-A-BOO” tree spirit and the “PARADICE SLAVES” letter H monogram from the Halloween card.

    3. (Possibly) The BDA letters.

    From the Wikipedia article “Surrealist techniques:”

    A calligramme is a text or poem of a type developed by Guillaume Apollinaire in which the words or letters make up a shape, particularly a shape connected to the subject of the text or poem.”

    From the Wikipedia article on your father’s childhood hero, the master criminal “Fantomas:”

    Guillaume Apollinaire said that “from the imaginative standpoint Fantômas is one of the richest works that exist.”

    You know what they say — great minds think alike!

  14. Steve Hodel on July 13, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    LW: I was not aware of Guillaume Apollinaire and his pre-Dada influences are perfect food for GHH’s young mind in the late Teens and early to mid-Twenties. I am certain that Fantomas was a very strong influence on young Georgie’s early desire to grow up to become a “Master criminal.” Very likely that Apollinaire introduced GHH to his hero, the Marquis de Sade, “the freest thinker.” I also agree that in GHH’s mind, his Slaves monogram letter “H” would certainly qualify as a modified calligramme. Wikipedia also credits Apollinaire for creating and publicly using the term “surrealism” some three years before “The Movement” adopted it. Thanks for the input.

  15. luigi warren on July 13, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    Yes, also from Wikipedia: “Apollinaire’s status as a literary critic is most famous and influential in his recognition of the Marquis de Sade.” Looks like paydirt all the way. I would say there are at least three calligrammes in the card: the “H” for HODEL monogram, “I Married a Witch” (Peek-a-Boo it’s the Blue Dhalia!) and “Sorry No Cipher” (but here’s a reference to Lady Doom’s Wheel of Death from a Tim Holt comic book). I’ve little doubt Apollinaire’s Calligrammes was one of Zodiac most treasured possessions. -LW

  16. luigi warren on July 13, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    For reference, here is that poem by the 17-year old GHH, written not long after his traumatic rejection by the woman who bore his child. Note that “incarnadin” (meaning either pinkish red like flesh, or blood red) barely exists as an adjective in English and even then is spelled with an “e.” “Incarnadin” is a French spelling (masculine form) — the word seems to crop up quite a bit in Verlaine, one of the poets mentioned as GHH’s preferred reading in “The Clouded Past of a Poet” newspaper article of 1925. Obviously and unsurprisingly he was reading the French poets in the original. The juxtaposition of “incarnadin” and “phantasmal wraith” here is of interest in relation to Zodiac’s renaming himself the “Red Phantom” in 1974.

    Inference (1925)

    I was conceived
    In sin
    On a mad night
    And incarnadin

    And then was the incense rising
    In the temple of Cybele curling
    And in phantasmal wraiths writhing

    Then the night waned
    And the thin spectral moon paled
    And the lurid somber skies darkened dismally
    And I was born

  17. luigi warren on July 15, 2016 at 3:18 am

    There have been a few “Red Phantom” characters over the years, and there is also another “Red Mask,” a Fantômas-like criminal genius featured in a series of French crime novels called “Le Secret du Masque Rouge” published around 1911-1912. This Red Mask looks a better fit to the GHH/Zodiac persona than the goody two-shoes Tim Holt character. We probably need to cast the net wider to include French sources to decode all of Zodiac’s references. My guess is this stew of references is all just the product of GHH free-associating — either on his psychiatrist’s couch, or relaxing in the first-class cabin of a Pan Am 747 on the way from Manila to San Francisco. -LW

    • Steve Hodel on July 15, 2016 at 10:36 am

      LW: Well, what “seals the deal” for me on the Tim Holt comic “Red Mask” is primarily the “By Gun, By Knife, By Rope, By Fire” death wheel. Don’t think we will find that specific reference anywhere else but there. Add to that the zero degrees of separation between Tim Holt, Carol Foreman and GHH and BINGO.

    • Lucas Pickford on August 11, 2019 at 8:51 am

      Luigi I have to say it again. You are good. Very good. Wow.

  18. luigi warren on July 15, 2016 at 12:37 pm


    Le Masque Rouge was a knockoff of Fantômas. Zodiac was a knockoff of them all, Zaroff, Dr. Zodiac, the Phantom of the Opera (he even picked up a victim at The Mikado!), Le Spectre Rouge, etc. And there’s some transference of guilt going on here, to the women who did him wrong (GHH’s mother and the Caltech prof’s wife and the Sorceress Jennifer and Lady Doom).

    BTW, you mention in BDA that GHH ran a rare books shop in downtown LA in the twenties — an appropriately noirish line of business. Did you ever find out more about the store, e.g., did it focus on any particular kind of rare books? Might be interesting.


  19. luigi warren on July 16, 2016 at 1:45 am

    On the rare book shop question, I notice that “PARADICE” seems to have been quite common as an alternative spelling for “PARADISE” in 17th and 18th century texts, e.g., you’ll find references to Milton’s “Paradice Lost” in works from that era. Just maybe, as with Zodiac’s use of “clew,” that spelling gives away something about the author. -LW

  20. luigi warren on July 17, 2016 at 12:18 am


    One more hint that “I Married a Witch” is referenced in the Halloween card: those Dali-style eyes, as you have pointed out, are a reference to Hitchcock’s “Spellbound,” clueing us in that “YOU ARE DOOMED” is a spell and that the one-eyed face in the tree is a witch.

    So, to recap the story so far, Lady Doom from the Tim Holt Comic is here mashed with the tree-haunting witch from Rene Clair’s movie, who revenges herself on the man who scorned her by casting a spell dooming his family to romantic unhapiness, only now that curse is effected through old-time criminal genius “Red Mask” based on the dictates of the original Lady Doom’s Death Wheel. And the double-H monogram and “SORRY NO CIPHER!” wheel are there to clue in the cogniscenti that the “PEEK-A-BOO” script is not just text but a calligramme (a text-picture), underscoring the identity of the witch (1940s femme fatale and star of “The Blue Dahlia” Veronica Lake). In so doing, we are reminded of the famous crime which the real culprit, who here signs his name encrypted in a “tree alphabet” and was once actually booked by the LAPD and tried for incest with his 4-TEEN year old daughter, is just dying to tell everyone about. Only he can’t tell us because then he’d be arrested and wouldn’t be able to harvest any more of those PARADICE SLAVES he read about in “Philosophy in the Bedroom” and was reminded about again back home in the Philippines. Perfect dream logic.


    • Steve Hodel on July 17, 2016 at 9:47 am

      LW: Convoluted, but so was GHH’s extremely twisted mind. Lot there to mull over. Thanks for the input/analysis.

      • Luigi Warren on April 13, 2017 at 7:10 pm


        Looking more closely at the “Double H” monogram, it actually comprises a Christian cross (the bold central lines made up of the words PARADICE & SLAVES) modified (one might say “perverted”) by a letter “H,” which is delineated by the four means of killing appropriated from the LADY DOOM comic book. If we examine proven and likely Zodiac communications, we notice a subtle undercurrent of mocking references to Christianity — aside from this figure, we have his allusions to THE EXORCIST and to Pat Boone’s “theocratic crap,” as well as the “St. Donna & Guardian of the Pines” greeting card. It’s not front-and-center and it doesn’t seem to represent a major anti-theist hobbyhorse of the killer, but it is there. And that’s exactly what we find in GHH’s crime reporting from the 1920s: subtly mocking references to Margaret Donovan’s piety and her prayer book, to Teresa Mors clutching ladykiller Kid McCoy’s photo to her breast like a rosary while satyr-figures in the surrounding artwork leer on (subtext: sex > religion), and the “Teresa Mors” joke (very possibly a reference to Felicien’s Rop’s sacriligious artwork “Agony” aka “Santa Teresa Mors et Vita”). The irreverent attitude of the Zodiac and of the teenage crime reporter closely mirror that of known GHH literary/philosophical influences, especially de Gourmont and de Sade. A bit of a giveaway, I think.


    • luigi warren on August 1, 2016 at 1:09 am


      I’ve been reading up on the subject of cattle branding as Zodiac sleuths have uncovered similarities between his mysterious signature and certain extant brands, e.g., that of Fred Harman, author of the popular “Red Ryder” western comic. I tend to believe Zodiac was familiar with livestock branding and/or the similar log marks used in the lumber business. The tilting, flipping and conjoining of letters is common practice in the generation of new designs. See, for example, the Smithsonian article “Decoding the Range: The Secret Language of Cattle Branding,” or the California and Texas state websites on livestock brand registration. Even without the Ogham decoding, it certainly looks like such letter transformations are applied within the monogram. I see that the iconography of cattle branding has been the subject of occasional articles and magazine spreads in graphic design and art magazines over the years. As a marketing wiz, GHH was also probably aware that livestock branding is historically the origin of the central marketing concept of “brand.” He might well have originally encountered these symbols during his medical internships on the logging camp in AZ or on the Navajo reservation in NM.

      Interestingly, the “Double H” symbol traced out in the Halloween card is a common and well-established motif in cattle brands and log marks. See the sources mentioned above, and also references on Henry Miller, California’s 19th Century “cattle king” and his “Double H” brand. In this case I think we can guess what the two Hs stand for.


  21. luigi warren on July 17, 2016 at 12:42 pm


    I actually think it’s shaping up into coherent psychological narrative, one that is compatible with general nature of the crimes and the suspect’s own jokey confessional remarks in the BDA and Zodiac letters. GHH was never shy to psychoanalyze himself, as in those quite extraordinary statements he made to the Los Angeles DA after the 1949 arrest. An open issue is the relative importance of GHH’s traumatic relationship with his mother versus the affair with the professor’s wife. Probably it was a “two-fer.” A propos of your speculation that GHH may have been the victim of incest, I wonder whether his reading encompassed Apollinaire’s “Les Exploits d’un jeune Don Juan,” a work that features fatherhood at 15 and plenty of incest. In GHH’s case, I wouldn’t take it for granted that “victim” is the right word.

    Paraphrasing Rod Stewart, “every picture tells a story” and “the first cut is the deepest.” The Halloween card is a full confession crafted from GHH’s interests in film, art, poetry, ethnology and psychoanalysis, but subtle enough not to give the game away and lead the police to his door.


    • luigi warren on July 17, 2016 at 10:10 pm

      Postcript: I see that Man Ray, Salvador Dali and René Clair all fled war-torn Europe for New York in the same steamboat during the summer of 1940 (see “Wartime Sites in Paris: 1939-1945” by Steven Lehrer, p. 53). It’s remarkable that all three artists should find themselves quoted, directly or by reference, in the Zodiac killer’s veiled confession thirty years later. Peek-a-boo! Now you see it. Now you don’t. -LW

    • luigi warren on July 18, 2016 at 12:11 pm


      The use of Ogham in the Hodel signature may indicate the suspect’s familiarity with Robert Graves 1948 book, “The White Goddess: a Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth.” This work seems to have been the wellspring for modern interest in the Celtic tree alphabet. The book’s thesis is summed up by one reviewer on Amazon as follows: ‘Robert Graves believed that all “true” poetry was inspired by, and dedicated to, the White Goddess (or to a woman embodying her attributes)–a “Belle Dame sans Merci”–who brought ecstasy, madness, and death to her chosen lovers.’ This White Goddess is also a mother/fertility goddess, and her incarnations include Cybele (namechecked by GHH in his 1925 poem “Inference”). Looks to me like Graves’ work could be a link between the Ogham signature and the “Lady Doom” mythos elaborated in the Halloween card.


      • Steve Hodel on July 23, 2016 at 10:25 pm

        LW: He could have been aware of the Graves book back then, but I lean towards what I think is the more likely link as presented in Most Evil II which focuses on the artist Brian O’Doherty and his NY one man show using/introducing the Ogham letters. The timing on this is just too close along with the proximity to dad’s UNRA office and his love for modernism.

        • luigi warren on July 24, 2016 at 2:28 am

          Steve: I don’t think it’s either-or, but to me the O’Doherty exhibition seems too dry and abstract to be the sole source for the card’s Ogham code on two levels: (1) it doesn’t seem to key into anything else in the GHH psyche or in the Halloween card itself (i.e., there’s no sex or matriarchy) and (2) on its own, without auxiliary, thematic clues, it’s so obscure that’s I don’t sense any danger or thrill in using this code to hide his name. I am reading the Graves’ book and it seems right up GHH’s (and Zodiac’s) alley. It was a widely read work and very influential, not least in generating interest in Ogham, but at the same time it’s very tough going unless you have a deep interest in poetry, mythology and riddles. Poets think very differently from the rest of us — that’s clear reading this book.Ogham is actually introduced by Graves in order to solve a centuries-old poetic riddle, which seems provocative in this context. BTW, it looks like O’Doherty knew Graves and introduced him at readings in New York City on occasion. His interest in the tree alphabet may well have been stimulated by Graves in the first place. -LW

          • Steve Hodel on July 24, 2016 at 3:24 am

            LW: Agreed. Did a little more research and you are correct. Just ordered the 1948 Robert Graves “White Goddess” edition which as you have noted was a major influence on the surrealists, Man Ray et al. Fits in perfectly with GHH’s mindset and love for poetry and myth. Had to have been a strong influence on him and the rest of the “boys.” Expect we will find a Rexroth link too. Thanks for the ongoing heads-up on this. The O’Doherty exhibit coming just weeks before he sends the card could well have been the catalyst for Zodiac, but as you say, highly likely GHH was already well informed on the subject. Interesting that Man Ray’s “Alphabet for Adults” also published in 1948. skh

        • luigi warren on July 24, 2016 at 9:50 am

          Steve: I’d add that there looks to be a through-line running from the 16 year old GHH’s “Words of Death” newspaper article (“Yes, death is feminine”) to the “Lady Doom” shtick in the Zodiac letter. It evolves into an intellectual cover story: “I’ve been a bad boy, but Mommy made me do it.” Similarly, he has the whole “life is but a dream” / solipsist excuse, and the idea, expressed in the parable of the birds, that everything would look different viewed from a higher dimension — maybe slicing up women in the family tub would take on a more benevolent aspect from that perspective. These were the stories he told himself. -LW

        • luigi warren on July 27, 2016 at 10:47 am

          Steve: I see William Copley and Robert Graves corresponded in the fifties, per the index to the Graves archives at Oxford, although I suspect that this may have been more related to publishing than the ideas in The White Goddess. Nonetheless, there is an obvious similarity between Graves’ treatment of the Ogham alphabet and the Ray/Copley “Alphabet for Adults” project. According to Graves, each letter of the Ogham alphabet evokes a complex array of ideas mediated by the mythopoietic associations of the particular tree for which it was named. From Man Ray’s introduction to Alphabet for Adults:

          “A letter always suggests a word, and a word always suggests a book. There are words that are for every day use and there are words reserved for the more special occasions, for poetry. One may glean from the former those disinherited symbols which by an inadequate association can be divested of their prosaic meaning and finally projected into the domain of greater emotional exclamations. To make a new alphabet of the discarded props of a conversation can lead only to fresh discoveries in language. Concentration is the desired end, as in an anagram whose density is the measure of its destiny.”

          Graves’ concept of “iconotropy” — the deliberate misreading or appropriation of existing cult symbols to fold them into new myths — seems relevant to the interpretation of the Halloween Card and perhaps other Zodiac materials. The Tim Holt good guy “Red Mask” becomes the Phantomas-like criminal genius “Le Masque Rouge” and the Hopi guardian of the underworld “Skeleton Man,” Holt’s “Spider Lady” supervillain girlfriend (Carol Forman) becomes “Lady Doom” spinning the Wheel of Fortune from the Tarot Deck, Navajo earth-mother Spider Woman, Mother of the Gods Cybele, spell-casting, tree-imprisoned witch Jennifer aka the Peek-a-Boo Girl, aka the Blue Dahlia, i.e., the Black Dahlia, etc. The more associations and allusions the better — that is the way poets think, how dreams unfold and how Freudian analysis proceeds. Surrealist art was only one of GHH many interests and I think we need to cast the net wide to unlock more of the hidden clues in the card, his other missives and the criminal acts themselves. -LW

  22. luigi warren on July 18, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Addendum: If the “White Goddess” theory is true the relationship between the “red with rage” Red Mask Zodiac skeleton figure and the vengeful sorceress peeking from the tree is that of the artist to his muse. Paging Camille Paglia! -LW

  23. JJ on September 5, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    I have not read either of the books. I actually stumbled across this page after reading about the Zodiac killer which led me to the Black Dahlia. On one of the web pages, it stated Hodel Jr. was going to be arrested in the 1950s for the Dahlia murder but left and lived in Asia for 40 years. The Zodiac killings took place in the 60s. Without giving too much away because I do plan on purchasing the books, why is it thought that he was the Zodiac killer if he wasn’t in the country at the time?

    • Steve Hodel on September 5, 2016 at 11:55 pm

      JJ: Dr. George Hill Hodel fled the U.S. in 1950 to avoid being arrested by DA investigators for the Black Dahlia murder. He initially went to Hawaii, then a territory, then on to Manila, Philippines, which he used as his “home base” for the next forty years. He became a Market Research expert and opened offices in twenty countries throughout Asia. He traveled the world, and regularly multiple times each year returned to the United States for short trips of a week or two. His normal travel was to San Francisco, LA, New York, then reverse the cities and back to Manila or Tokyo. LE investigating Zodiac believed that he could well have been a military man who “came and went” but didn’t actually reside in the SF Bay Area. Suggested reading order of my four books is: Black Dahlia Avenger (Arcade 2015 ed.), Most Evil I (Dutton hardback ed. 2009), Most Evil II (Thoughtprint Press 2014 ed.) and then the recently published, Most Evil II (Rare Bird Books 2015). Best Regards, Steve.

  24. Kay on December 5, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    I was reading about the Black Dahlia case.. stumbled upon this site..
    I got too many questions as I’m new too this. I read some articles, (not your book sorry), and wikipedia but couldn’t find the answer to the main question:
    “What was the motive behind killing her?”
    Most serial killers do things for sexual gratification or maybe desire to feel important or powerful.
    But I don’t think she (Elizabeth) was sexually abused..or is she?
    Can you clear my doubt regarding this..

    • Steve Hodel on December 5, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      Kay: The motive was most likely to keep her silent. Indications are she discovered some of my father’s crimes during the time she was dating him prior to her death. There are indications she may have let him know her suspicions as he immediately returned from out of country, she began fleeing for her life and within two months was slain.
      As to your second question, yes there was an extremely sadistic and violent sexual attack on her body. She was anally raped and tortured for an estimated four hours. SKH

  25. J. Mori on March 20, 2017 at 1:47 am

    I read Black Dahlia Avenger. Very compelling evidence. Have not read Most Evil yet, but I have no doubt it is equally compelling. I grew up with one of the 1977 Hillside Strangler victims. The LAPD during this case tried to do some geographic mapping of the both where the victims were abducted and where the bodies were dumped. I am wondering if you have had someone like Dr Kim Rossmo run any geographical analysis of both the Dahlia evidence and Zodiac – and anything else your father may have been suspected to be involved with. There has been a lot of work lately on geographical profiling and the visualization of crime patterns.

  26. Nick on June 6, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    I thought GHH was in Asia from around the 50s to 1990?

    • Steve Hodel on June 6, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      He was, but he made regular and frequent trips back to the U.S. multiple times every year depending on what Market Research project he was involved in. His itinerary would be to SF then LA then NY and reverse NY to LA to SF. His main clients were Airlines and Hotels, so he traveled First Class and stayed in all the best hotels GRATIS. Regards, skh.

  27. Silke on July 30, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    Is it possible the 1234567 agcgth in mirror writing with an inverted 7 is to say Susan Atkins will go to the opposite of heaven? It is a trivial thing but it has been bugging me when I read about it.
    With the whole duality of Henry Millers writing on the dead and the living the reverse writing could be raken to mean that those who do not play according to the mundane rules will see the opposite happen too, all bad children go to heaven and all good children (tattletales like Susan Atkins) go to hell. Perhaps I am thinking too much into it, but the books have been such a riveting read I could not help but speculate myself.

    P.s. please forgive my bad writing, I am using a tablet for the first time.

    • Steve Hodel on July 30, 2017 at 10:11 pm

      Hard to know for sure on many of GHH’s twisted connections. The synapses of “high genius” don’t work like us mere mortals. What we do know for sure is he is connecting it the reference left on the door as noted and booked into LAPD evidence as noted by Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. Regards, Steve

  28. Doug on October 1, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    So where was Hodel in 1969 and 1970 when the Zodiac murders took place? Has he been compared to the man that the two police officers saw after the Stine killing or to the eyewitnesses that saw the man from across the street after Stine was shot? Was his photograph shown to that woman who claimed that she was kidnapped and driven around (Kathleen Johns)? She was shown a police artist drawing but no photographs. Are any of these people around today……the officers or the woman? Lots of questions and may not ever have answers. Too bad.

    • Steve Hodel on October 1, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      Doug: Neither SFPD or any other SF Bay Area agencies have done any followup on my investigation. Doubt they have even read it. Witness IDs even if obtained at this stage are pointless. Even if they all said, “Yes, that’s him” on photo and or voice. It still wouldn’t fly. Only way now is DNA. No confirmed Zodiac DNA exists. I do have my father’s full DNA profile. So, until they obtain valid DNA, the case can never be officially solved. Like LAPD and the Dahlia investigation, it’s a no-win situation for SFPD. But, most who have read Most Evil I & II “get it.” We now have a signed confession and a picture perfect composite. GHH was in SF multiple times from each year during the Sixties Seventies Eighties. His MO was a continuation of “Murder as a Fine Art.” We now have now have MOM: Motive, Opportunity, and Means, all from a known active serial killer with 32 identical crime signatures of Black Dahlia Avenger to Zodiac. Regards, Steve

  29. Luigi Warren on February 4, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    Steve: In the chapter of BDA on handwriting analysis you mention GHH writing on the back of a 1924 photographic self-portrait, “Merlin gazes at cracked mirrors.” This would presumably date from the time of the Folly affair, or just after. The inscription suggests familiarity with two poems by Tennyson, “Merlin and Vivien” and “The Lady of Shalott.” In the former, Merlin is betrayed by his harlot-mistress, Vivien, the Lady of the Lake. Revealing her true nature, “the bare-grinning skeleton of death” uses a spell to entrap Merlin “lost to life and use and name and fame” within a hollow oak tree. The triumphant Vivien mocks her doomed lover as a fool as she heads off into the forest, and the forest echoes “fool.” In “The Lady of Shalott,” a woman lives chastely under a spell in a tower and has to watch the world in a mirror. One day she catches sight of Sir Lancelot riding by. Smitten and declaring “I’m half-sick of the shadows,” she leaves her tower and takes a boat for Camelot, only she dies on the way as a result of breaking the conditions of her confinement. “A pale, pale corpse she floated by / Deadcold, between the houses high / Dead into tower’d Camelot.” Couple of interesting leitmotifs there… -LW

    • Luigi Warren on February 7, 2018 at 1:36 am

      Steve: Noteworthy that in his five-word inscription GHH manages to allude to two complementary “sex=death”-themed poems without specifying either poem directly. “Cracked mirrors” is only specific to “The Lady of Shalott” when we take the Arthurian hint provided by “Merlin,” and “Merlin” is only specific to “Merlin and Vivien” when we get the Tennyson hint from “The Lady of Shalott.” “Merlin and Vivien” is a prototype for “Lady Doom and Red Mask” while “The Lady of Shalott” is a prototype for “L’Inconnue de la Seine,” for Sybil Vane in “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” and for murder victims Peggy Donovan and Teresa Mors in GHH’s own crime reporting of the period. “Concentration is the desired end, as in an anagram whose density is the measure of its destiny.” (Man Ray, “Alphabet for Adults”) -LW

    • Luigi Warren on February 8, 2018 at 2:44 pm

      Steve: I suspect we can add THE LADY IN THE LAKE (1947) to GHH’s list of influences for a whole host of reasons, including: the movie’s release about a week into the Black Dahlia case (1/24/47), the dream-like first-person perspective, the “CLEWS” newspaper headlines, the “Lady of the Lake” / “Idylls of the Kings” references, the GHH-like “Ellay Mort” (“Elle est mort”) joke in the credits, the cynical “anti-Christmas” theme, the body in California mountain lake resort, etc. Even accounts for the games with Paul Avery’s name (Avery – Averly – Laverly). The name “Lavery” occurs repeatedly in the movie soundtrack and appears 139 times in Raymond Chandler’s original novel — it’s a real “stick-in-the-head.” -LW

      • Steve Hodel on February 8, 2018 at 4:16 pm

        LW: Yes, all good points. The “CLEWS” is a real tell on GHH’s newspaper crime reportage days as that spelling was the rule rather than the exception in all the dailies. Hadn’t realized the “Averly/Laverly” comparison. More to come on this association down the road, so stay tuned.

        • Luigi Warren on February 10, 2018 at 4:44 pm

          Steve: The name “Paul Avery” contains a hint of “Paul Verlaine,” just as “George Morel” has a hint of “George Hodel.” The phonetic link gets a bit stronger when the name is changed to “Paul Averly.” That association could be in play, too. -LW

        • Luigi Warren on February 11, 2018 at 1:23 pm

          Steve: Finding that much has been written about Raymond Chandler’s use of Arthurian allusions in the Philip Marlowe stories. The Chris Lavery character in the novel and movie versions of “The Lady in the Lake” was named Lancelot Goodwin in the short story on which they are based. Probably the name was changed to make the cribs less obvious. Agatha Christie’s 1962 novel, “A Mirror Crack’d,” was inspired by “The Lady of Shalott.” Her novel is based closely on well-publicized events in the life of film noir star Gene Tierney (of LAURA and LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN) — a history which involves the Hollywood Canteen, the LA Dept of Public Health, rubella (which causes a red rash on the face), and the Menninger Clinic. Some interesting coincidences in there. -LW

        • Luigi Warren on February 12, 2018 at 11:49 am


          To sum up the Avery-Lavery theory:

          Paul Avery enters the picture when he links Zodiac to a murder in Riverside, prompting Zodiac to claim “there are a hell of a lot more down there.” Subsequently Zodiac addresses two communications directly to Avery, the Halloween Card and the Pines Card. Both appear to contain cryptic references to the disappearance of Donna Lass in Lake Tahoe, which Zodiac may or may not have been involved in. Both misspell Avery as Averly. On the Halloween Card there’s some quirky underlining to make you read the name as “Laverly.” LADY IN THE LAKE revolves around the disappearance of Crystal Kingsby (“Ellay Mort”) from Little Fawn Lake, a thinly-disguised version of Big Bear Lake, a ski resort near LA. The prime suspect is Chris Lavery (Lancelot Goodwin in Chandler’s original BLACK MASK short story), a gigolo who may have taken Crystal down to Mexico or perhaps murdered her. GHH saw himself in Arthurian terms as both Merlin (the wizard) and Lancelot (the ladykiller), implicit in the titling of his 1924 self-portrait, “Merlin gazes at cracked mirrors.” It would seem that, as with the Count Marco letter, the gag here is really all about George.


          • Luigi Warren on February 15, 2018 at 12:48 am

            Steve: More thoughts… ChriS LAVERY is a very Zodiac-friendly name, isn’t it? Another Lancelot-Lavery character in this saga is Kid McCoy. WORDS OF DEATH should probably be Exhibit A in the case against George Hodel, I think. For a Merlin avatar, how about Fred Rhadini from CHARLIE CHAN AT TREASURE ISLAND? -LW

        • Luigi Warren on July 28, 2018 at 1:48 pm

          Steve: Interesting that Tamar’s middle name was “Nais,” in that Nais was one of the Naiads (water nymphs) of Greek myth. GHH was probably familiar with Sir Walter Scott’s “The Lady of the Lake,” both directly and through the Schubert song cycle based on this epic poem. In Scott’s poem the eponymous Lady is a Scottish lass living on an island in Loch Katrine, who is introduced to us as “the guardian naiad of the strand.” -LW

          • Steve Hodel on July 28, 2018 at 3:04 pm

            Yes, and what was the name of the boat that carried June holding George’s ashes out to sea to Point Bonita, just beyond the Golden Gate bridge? Answer- THE NAIAD.
            A double irony as the date she scattered his ashes in the sea was June 2, 1999, the birthday of none other than GHH’s hero, the Marquis de Sade. The Gods must have been laughing so loud, it probably shook the Golden Gate Bridge as they passed under it.

        • Luigi Warren on November 2, 2018 at 8:27 pm

          Steve: Enjoyed the talk last night and have already read BLACK DAHLIA AVENGER III. I found the Tamar interview particularly illuminating. Just to round out this earlier train of thought based on material in the new book, in 1947 we have Ben Hecht (SPELLBOUND) and Steve Fisher (LADY IN THE LAKE) hinting they know the identity of the Black Dahlia Avenger in the press and offering on-point observations regarding his egomaniacal psychology and “symbolizing rage.” By 1970, we apparently have George winding down his flashy Zodiac-branded killing spree and, having resumed his baseline MO with the abduction/murder of Donna Lass in Lake Tahoe, offering up a valedictory trail of clues about the Zodiac’s identity featuring multiple references to SPELLBOUND and LADY IN THE LAKE. I can see why he called it “the Game.” -LW

          • Steve Hodel on November 2, 2018 at 10:51 pm

            LW: Yes, quite right. Great to see/meet you in person last night. Appreciate you coming to the talk. Really like the SoPas Library Community room Built the same year as GHH-1907, Imagine how many hours he must have spent at that library as a boy growing up just a few miles away and as a student as SoPas HS. Best, Steve

          • Luigi Warren on November 4, 2018 at 12:22 pm

            Steve: Wasn’t familiar with Fisher but there’s a good article about him, “Steve Fisher, Black Mask, and the Noir Revolution” at Black Mask Magazine. Puts him up there with bigger names like John Huston in establishing the Noir aesthetic. -LW

    • Luigi Warren on July 25, 2018 at 9:29 pm

      Steve: Finally got around to reading EXQUISITE CORPSE and I notice the authors suggest GHH’s “Merlin Gazes at Cracked Mirrors” title for his 1924 Nikola-Tesla-Meets-Gary-Cooper self-portrait is a reference to DON QUIXOTE. Although a full-text search shows numerous instances of the terms “Merlin” and “mirrors” in that work, I can’t find any incident that fits with GHH’s title. Merlin has a magic looking glass for remote viewing in Spenser’s THE FAERIE QUEENE but, again, I don’t see that much of a fit to the photo. IMO, the contrapuntal Tennyson allusions on the War of the Sexes/Fatal Attraction theme fits the portrait and anticipates the Halloween Card. -LW

  30. Steve Hodel on February 15, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    LW: Yep, the pinball machine mind of GHH lights up with so many books, films, and current events and I haven’t even presented all the linkage from the 20s and 30s that is building in “The Early Years.” (Groan) So much crime, so little time. skh

    • Luigi Warren on February 24, 2018 at 7:21 pm

      Steve: The Arthurian angle meshes with the idea GHH was influenced by “The White Goddess” (with its links to Cybele, Taliesin, Ogham, etc.) It also connects to the language of the Parable of the Sparrows. Compare “Paradise awaits the brave, the strong, the pure” to “My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure” (Tennyson, “Sir Galahad”). The mirror cracked from “The Lady of Shalott” reappears in the Parable (the mirrored screen pecked at by the sparrows), again as a baleful metaphor for sexual attraction. Isn’t the tale of the brave little birds dashing against the silent glass also reminiscent of Don Quixote, Cervantes’ parody of the knight-errant tradition? Which would bring us to the Dragon Card… -LW

      • Luigi Warren on March 4, 2018 at 1:32 pm

        Steve: GHH obviously had a thing for goddesses: Fortuna with her death wheel, Cybele and her demon-seed offspring, the fictive goddess “Dorero,” conceivably also “Cerous” (“I am mildly cerous” — from the Greek goddess of violent death, Cer?) and Vivien/Nimue (the Lady of the Lake). Did he influence the naming of his own illegitimate daughter “Folly?” If the name is a reference, the prime candidate is probably the goddess from “The Praise of Folly” by Erasmus, which is often seen as the main literary precursor to “Don Quixote.” The themes of these two works seem to fit with GHH’s wider interests. -LW

  31. Steve Hodel on March 4, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    LW: No, I don’t think he was involved in her naming. I’m guessing that was the professor’s wife’s choosing. A name to remind her of her own “folly” in having an affair with a teenager that resulted in the breakup of her marriage and her forced return home to the East Coast.
    Don’t know for sure, but feels right to me. skh

  32. George Hrabovsky on March 10, 2019 at 8:28 am

    Dear Steve, I have been studying serial killers for 35 years,. When I first read BDA I was a complete skeptic. I am still not sure that you need all of the psychological scaffolding that you built, but that is simply my opinion. I am convinced that you are correct that your father was the “werewolf” that killed many lone women in the LA area, the Lipstick killer in Chicago, the murder in Manilla, and even the Zodiac. You have my sincere regrets for your personal hell, my respect for presenting the case, and my thanks for connecting the dots. It is too bad that you do not have his passport so that his travels could be checked alongside lists of other murders that occurred around the world where he travelled. I hope the PTSD is manageable, it took me more than ten years to get my own under control—but it never goes away.

    • Steve Hodel on March 10, 2019 at 10:01 am

      George H: Thank you for the kind words. Much appreciated. And for keeping and pursuing an open mind. It is complex, but does eventually all come together. As you know, the five books are really one ongoing, unfolding investigation, with twenty-five victims. (To date) Sadly, more to come. I am working on “The Early Years” which will present his crimes from the 1920s and 1930s. Best Regards, Steve

  33. Sharon on June 29, 2021 at 6:35 pm

    This is not Celtic Ogham. There is a resemblance because it came from the Vikings, Celts, Druids. It is a SIGIL . It describes yourself and only describes YOU. In other countries these are called burkemeyer, here its SIGIL. Read up on on Carl Jung. This one (cant tell you first due to security) 4 eyes, He was always teased about that. And gunner – one gunner. When you are told by FBI WHO he is you will understand it now that you have been told. Yes, we already know more than you think.

  34. sharon on June 29, 2021 at 7:26 pm

    Z was not born till late 40″s

    • Steve Hodel on June 29, 2021 at 7:42 pm

      Well, no question there is cross-pollination in the symbology and it really matters not whether his source was Ogham or not. I would agree it can also be classified as a Sigil and have said so. What is important is what is spells in five letters: H O D E L. That was the writer’s message and signature.

  35. Richard Brake on August 11, 2021 at 6:46 am


    I have not yet read your books, so in fairness to you, I will not offer any critiques to your claims.

    You may have been asked this before; however, my question relates to Sharon’s comment on June 29th about the approximate birthdate of Zodiac. The known victims who survived, witnesses, and police all think Z’s age at the time of the murders was 25-35. GWW was in his early 60s. at this time. I realize GWW looked young for his age, but I do not think he looked 30 years younger. How do you account for this?

  36. Richard Brake on August 11, 2021 at 7:44 pm

    I will read them soon; however, I see what you’re saying here. I’m in my 60s now myself and look forty five. Fifteen years is nothing. Making more sense. now, and the police were probably less stressed than the victims, which may allow for a more accurate description.

  37. Richard Brake on August 11, 2021 at 9:20 pm

    One more thing; I just put my finger over the mustache in the photo of GHH from 1950, and he looks just like the composite sketches of Zodiac….wow.

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