Another George Hodel "Thoughtprint": Seeing Things As they Are, Not As They Appear to Be

December 16, 2016
Los Angeles, California

Another Family Anecdote 

“Know all things to be like this: As a magician makes illusions of horses, oxen, carts and other things, nothing is as it appears.” ~The Buddha, from the Samadhirajasutra
As I recall, it was sometime in the summer of 1995.  I had traveled south from my home in Bellingham, Washington to spend several days visiting with my father and his wife, June in San Francisco.
Dad wanted the three of us to make some day trips. Day 1 included an afternoon visit to the beautiful Muir Woods. The following morning we made an early visit to the car museum across the Oakland Bay Bridge, then back for a leisurely ocean view brunch at the Point Lobos Cliff House.
We returned to their 39th-floor penthouse suite on Bush Street, by mid afternoon.  A kiss on the cheek to June, a hug to dad, and I was off to the airport to catch my return flight to Bellingham.
As I turned to leave father raised his hand. “Oh, just one second. I have a small gift for you.” He walked the few steps to his home office removed a paper sack from his desktop and returned to the door. “Here, a little present for you.”
I opened the bag and removed the contents (shown below). It was a pair of large silver scissors sheathed in a black leather case. They were of a modern attractive design accompanied by a silver ruler which fit neatly inside the leather casing.

“Thank you, father. Very nice.” I smiled at June, who’s eyes were averted downward. They walked me to the elevator, thanked me for the short visit and I headed home.
Other than initially thinking that my father’s gift of a pair of scissors was a bit odd, I never really gave it another thought. I threw them in a desk drawer and forgot about them.
Fast forward to May 1999. My father had just suffered his heart attack, collapsed and died in their apartment.  I was down helping June deal with her loss and all that is required with the passing of one’s father.
We had just returned from shopping at a street market, and June was in the kitchen, preparing a salad.  I had purchased a newly baked loaf of San Francisco sourdough bread. “June, do you have a bread knife so that I can slice this loaf?
She looked at me and shook her head, indicating, “No.”
“Well, it doesn’t have to be a bread knife. Any large knife will do.”
Again, June shook her head. I wasn’t comprehending her. “You don’t have a knife to cut the bread June?”
“No, I only have a small paring knife. I have a phobia of knives and your father did not allow any in the house.”
At that moment I thought to myself– “How strange.” But, I accepted it at face value and like the gifted scissors, gave it no further thought.
That was then.
But, today, some seventeen years later, we now know that my father was responsible for the serial murders of at least twenty-five victims. We also know that at least five of those female victims were savagely stabbed to death by his using a long bladed knife and a sixth with a smaller pocket knife.
In a mad, uncontrolled rage George Hodel as “Avenger” stabbed Los Angeles victim Gladys Kern multiple times in the back. Los Angeles teenage victim Lillian Dominguez was stabbed to death with one thrust to the heart using a “long thin-bladed stiletto type knife.”  In Chicago, he stabbed victim  Frances Brown through the neck with her own bread knife and slew Josephine Ross by severing her jugular vein.  Victim Cheri Jo Bates in Riverside was stabbed a dozen times and had her throat cut, nearly decapitating her. As Zodiac in his 1969 Lake Berryessa attack, he tied up his victims, Cecelia Shepard and Bryan Hartnell then used a long bladed knife to stab both of them. (Cecelia died from her wounds, Bryan survived.)






Are the gifted scissors a George Hodel “Thoughtprint”?

Yes, I believe they are.
I can no longer take my stepmother, June’s words, “I have a phobia for knives” at face value, as I did back in 1999. I now believe the reason there were no large knives in my father’s home was because there likely had been “an incident.” Either something happened, or was about to happen. I suspect my father feared he might “lose control” and by gifting me the 9″ scissors was taking preemptive-preventive measures.
Let us recall what George Hodel as “Zodiac” said in the plea for help letter he mailed to famed criminal defense attorney, Melvin Belli. (Shown in its entirety below)
…I am finding it extremely difficult to hold it [the monster inside him] in check. I am afraid I will loose control again and take my nineth & posibly tenth victom. …Please help me I can not remain in control for much longer.


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  1. luigi warren on December 17, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Steve: Those appear to be vintage, German-made Kismet Art Deco scissors. FWIW, “Kismet” means “fate” or “destiny,” so perhaps they are a visual pun on your father’s part. In Kenneth Branagh’s 1991 whodunnit “Dead Again,” partly set in 40s Hollywood and featuring nods to Man Ray and Hitchcock’s “Spellbound,” a pair of vintage German scissors is a key clue to the identity of the murderer. Make of that what you will. -LW

    • Steve Hodel on December 17, 2016 at 10:48 pm

      LW: Right you are! (As usual) The scissors have a small brand name “Kismet” and match an identical pair on Ebay with the exception dad’s are stainless silver or forged steel as opposed to the brass ones which also contain an additional letter opener. Interesting on the “Dead Again” film, which I saw back then, but will now have to rewatch based on your added information. I didn’t make the Spellbound connection, so will look for it. (As I’ve mentioned before, Spellbound was one of my father’s favorite films. Dr. Zhivago was also high on his list. I’m sure he identified with the poet/physician.) Thanks again.

      Ebay Kismet Scissors Photo

  2. Teresa on December 18, 2016 at 12:58 am

    Steve; Did your set come with the letter opener? If not curious what happened to it.(any symbolism there?) I think GH/Zodiac wanted to get caught but was conflicted, after all he called in one of the murders in Vallejo.

    Often persons as smart as GHH was have other anomalies as well or compulsions. I have also worked with many doctors who “nutted” up you often don’t hear too much about it but think about it…he performed abortions and some of the pictures from the crime scene(s) in Chicago with body parts strewn around the city look like some of the pictures I have seen of late term abortions. Where is the line drawn? Just a certain set of circumstances or the right amount of stress with everyone having different thresholds and boom..sort of like war veterens that snap.

    • Steve Hodel on December 18, 2016 at 3:18 am

      Teresa: No, no letter opener. Different set, but same company.

  3. Ryan on December 20, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Hi Steve,

    I find it odd that GHH simply didn’t get rid of the scissors the same way he did the knives, and instead gave it to you. Do you think he was purposely giving you a thoughtprint–in the same way he took you on a hot air balloon ride over San Francisco–as if to say “it’s right under your nose but you still can’t see it”?

    • Steve Hodel on December 20, 2016 at 11:33 am

      Hi Ryan: After just rewatching DEAD AGAIN (1991) I DO think it was another GHH twisted thoughtprint to/for me. I will be posting a follow-up blog on it in response to Luigi Warren’s and your comments in the next few hours. Regards, Steve

  4. Patricia O'Neill on December 21, 2016 at 11:18 am

    Steve, George Hodel a monster? Yes, but clearly a conflicted one! Have you ever thought, Steve, that your father regarded you as he approached the end of his life, as the one person who could unravel his mess and do so with the objectivity of your profession. I do not think your father wants sympathy or forgiveness for his crimes. He wants the terrible truths of his actions to be laid bare and the consequences of these deeds showing the effects on multitudes and generations of people. I do think your forthcoming book on the early years will pointedly show this. Your father was a scientist who knew he was out of control. While you may feel he was giving you these “thoughtprints” in a mocking way, I see him reaching out to you in admiration and trust saying “Help me!” Looking forward to your next book!

    • Steve Hodel on December 21, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      Patricia: Thanks you for your comments/observations. What you say is true regarding there definitely was a part of my father that was fully cognizant when as Zodiac he writes, “I am not crazy. I am insane.” And, “I cannot control this thing inside me much longer.” I think he wavered on wanting the truth (who he was and what he did) to come out and be revealed vs. taking the terrible secrets to his grave. In the end, at the last moment, I believe he chose not to reveal himself. (Much like as he had fifty years earlier as Black Dahlia Avenger when he wrote to police, “Turning myself in on Jan 29th, had my fun at police” then two days later wrote, “Have changed my mind. You would not give me a square deal. Going to Mexico.”) To my mind, ordering June to “destroy all of my [George Hodel’s] personal effects” showed, in the end, he did not want the truth to will out. Also, I don’t see giving me the “clews” was a sign of his wanting me to know the truth and reveal it. As I indicated in this blog, it was not personal, he had always done it. It was part of his MO and Crime Signature to taunt with clues, which he was confident could not be solved and ergo made him suprior and the Master Criminal. All Best, Steve

      • Patricia O'Neill on December 24, 2016 at 3:15 pm

        Well boys, (Steve & Lucas) I have to say you’re probably right in the final assessment of George Hodel and unfortunately there are more GH’s out there. As I wrote that several days ago I really felt a positive “flow” about a man like GH and perhaps some power of redemption in him. But truly he is and was a fearsome man who did have at one time the power of choices. In the several days that followed I had busy holiday interactions with my children and grandchildren spread East and West.. Could there be successful, handsome GH’s out there awaiting entry to our family…..have I met GH’s in my life? You bet!! Thank God there were and are the Steve’s and Lucas’s out there to keep us aware & on our guard! Keep up the good work fellas, we need the “wake up calls” every so often. On that note… …Merry Christmas and a very Safe & Happy 2017!

  5. Lucas Pickford on December 21, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    My opinion is that far from being “conflicted” about anything, psychopathic serial killers like GHH believe they are truly “free” and love nothing more than to gloat, brag, and smirk as they pull the wool over everybody’s eyes. In this case GHH “duping” his big city detective son Steve. Sympathy isn’t what they want, sympathy for what? They are extremely proud of the murders they get away with and can not help but brag about them. In GHH’s case he was extremely bright intellectualy and very clever in his vast use of mythological, avant guardist, literary, and cinephile references. He was also extremely successful in getting away with his crimes and had a prolific “career”. I’m extremely interested in learning about GHH’s early years and especially his first murder. Keep up the great work Steve.

    • Steve Hodel on December 21, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      Lucas P: Agreed. Regards Book V “The Early Years” have been taking a bit of a respite this past six months, but come the New Year will get back into it and try and close Pandora’s Box. Best, Steve

  6. Diana Paradise on December 27, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    I am joining the group, fervently alas. I have just read your first book twice and will send another letter later, But for now, I ask, did Grand Jury 1950 disappear after the detective Jemison (I think) was taken off the case. Do you think that call came from over in LAPD. And did you ever track Folly–I wonder if her mother had dark hair also. (like many victims and like your Hodel grandmother, his mother).

    • Steve Hodel on December 27, 2016 at 8:17 pm

      Hi Diana. Yes, the 1949 Grand Jury was the “rogue jury” that wanted to end corruption, ordered the DA’s office to reinvestigate the Black Dahlia and the other “LA Lone Woman Murders” along with the abortion “pay for play” protection ring, etc. But, their power and authority expired on December 31, 1949. Lt. Jemison was removed from the case in March/April 1950 and by the summer Chief Bill Parker was sworn in and all materials returned to LAPD which completed the coverup and any further real investigation.
      No, I didn’t pursue the Folly information. I included enough information in my book to allow them to come to me if they chose to. Never any contact. That’s one sleeping dog that I guess will just remain asleep? Best, Steve

  7. Luigi Warren on January 31, 2017 at 12:51 am

    Steve: Found a couple more possible thoughtprints. These are from Zodiac’s last missive, the 1990 “Secret Pal” / “Gonna Keep You Guessin” Christmas card mailed to the SF Chronicle a few months after GHH repatriated to the US, leasing a penthouse just minutes from the paper’s office (“always needs to feel superior”). One is that the included photocopy of the mailbox keys is quite reminiscent of Man Ray’s celebrated “rayographs” of the 1920s. Then, there’s the postmark of Eureka, CA, a logging/Gold Rush town located almost 300 miles north of San Francisco. Apart from the obvious connotations, “Eureka” is the name of Edgar Allan Poe’s last book, in which he purports to solve the riddle of existence. Poorly received on publication, some Poe researchers believe it contains hidden messages. Birds of a feather! -LW

    • Steve Hodel on January 31, 2017 at 1:51 am

      LW: The rayograph imitation could well be a “nice little thoughtprint”. I’ll try and blog it in the near future. Thanks. skh

  8. Daniel R. Lackey on March 18, 2017 at 7:55 pm


    I’ve been out of the loop since retiring in Dec. All was quite peaceful until Feb. when my Dad had to call 911 for my Mom. (She has progressed dementia & has become more than Dad can deal with.). I have tried to catch up on your blogs & I see that I have missed a lot. I trust that the floods in Jan/Feb. didn’t damage any of your property. The other day I saw an article online about the “Bundy Dr. Boys” & recalled that one of the guys was Gene Fowler. That brought me back to BD. I have spent some this afternoon reading your latest blog entries & comments. That part about June looking down, when your Dad gave you the scissors, made me wonder if she knows more than she lets on.

    Best Regards,
    Dan Lackey

    • Steve Hodel on March 18, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      Hi Dan:

      So sorry to hear about your mother’s Alzheimer’s. That is a really tough one to deal with and affects so many families. They are making progress in dealing with it, but still along ways off.

      Yes, Gene Fowler must have been to the Franklin House, with so many one degrees of separation, he had to have met GHH at some point. I’m sure his son, Will Fowler was the source of releasing the Dahlia crime scene photos that were out and about to the “inside circle.”

      Re. June, she had to have known a lot more. Maybe not specifics, but certainly about his lack of control and her personal claim to “having a phobia for knives” would have been true, but the source of that fear was George and his potential lack of control. I’m sure she was very relieved to see those scissors leave the apartment. All my Best, Steve

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