Black Dahlia Avenger/Zodiac New Handwriting Linkage/ George Hodel Uses Jack the Ripper's "Bleeding Knife Drawing" As One of His Black Dahlia Avenger-Zodiac Crime Signatures

December 14, 2017
Los Angeles, California
                        “After comparing his handwriting to the original documents, we 
are unable to eliminate Dr. George Hill Hodel as the author of the Zodiac letters.
We would like you to provide us with additional samples of his lowercase cursive handwriting. “
Qualified Handwriting Expert
California Department of Justice
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

Based on my recent examination (I was unaware that this letter existed until one week ago. (2012)
I believe this letter was 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 easier 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.)

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:


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.
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.

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.
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.
Based on all of the above exhibits it is my belief that this San Francisco Examiner Letter of 12.16.69 is genuine and was 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 cab driver 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 terrorist and Zodiac, a serial killer and urban terrorist both left crudely drawn “childlike “notes of knives is by itself highly unusual and certainly qualifies as a unique crime signatures.
In recent days, I have discovered that the linkage is much stronger than I originally reported. 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 relates to the Zodiac drawing some two decades later.
In reviewing my investigation I discovered an earlier Avenger note, which I had forgotten about, which also was not 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:
Compare to Zodiac’s 1969 drawing of a crude drawing of a dagger dripping blood:
When it comes to signature linkage in criminal investigations– 
Why a crude drawing of a knife dripping blood
I expect this was just another example (among many) of George Hodel, the Ripperologist, first as the Black Dahlia Avenger, then as Zodiac, wanting to demonstrate his erudite knowledge of Jack the Ripper by copying that serial killer’s MO.
Jack the Ripper 1888 Boss Letter with bleeding knife compared to Zodiac 1969 Letter with the bleeding knife.
SKH Note- JtR used red ink to simulate blood in his taunting letters to the police and press and frequently used misspelled words and the term “Ha Ha.” George Hodel as the Black Dahlia Avenger used red colored medical Mercurochrome to simulate blood in his taunting letters to the police and press, and though highly educated feigned being illiterate and used the term “Ha Ha” in his taunts.



  1. Derek Andrews on December 15, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Hi Steve

    Seasonal greetings to you and your family.

    Just been reading this and note that your fathers writing instrument of choice was a felt-tipped pen. Do we know what type of implement was used to write the “message” on the Kharman-Ghia car at Lake Berryessa? Felt tip or marker pen I would guess.

    On a similar tack do we know what type of pen experts think was used to write the proven letters (and codes) from Zodiac? Again the thickish strokes suggest a felt tipped pen or similar “blunt” implement.

    Am currently watching the History Channel programme Zodiac Killer; Case closed? ( I think the US is a week ahead of the UK) and to be honest I am not impressed, though I have to say Ross Sullivan does look like the police poster image of Z.

    Still, worth watching to see my good friend Misty Johanssen sharing her knowledge !!


    Derek Andrews

  2. Steve Hodel on December 15, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Hi Derek: Greetings and Happy Holidays back at you.

    Yes, the writing on the Kharman Ghia was felt tip pen. Likewise, many of Zodiac’s letters were written using a similar instrument, probably felt tip pen.

    I have not watched the History Channel “Hunt for Zodiac” episodes yet, but have recorded them. I simply cannot abide commercials, so will wait until the final episode is complete, then take a look at them. These shows are frequently so overdramatized and hyped, that it gets my blood up just watching them, so I have to force myself to watch them in hopes of finding some really “new evidence.”

    As far as the composite is concerned that is a major red herring as evidenced by my reportage in Most Evil II. There are actually three separate composites, so it depends on which one you are viewing? Most viewers are unaware of this fact and go with the younger looking one believing Zodiac was maybe 25 to 30 years of age. In fact, the original teens and officer Fouke put him as much older “35-45 years” with officer Fouke in a television interview stating he was “at the high end of that” meaning more like 45 years. (GHH was 60, but could easily pass for mid-Forties back then.) If you look at Composites 2 and 3, of course, they are picture perfect for George Hodel.

    A reader just emailed me about the show indicating that apparently, they are now in the last episode suggesting that the evidence is pointing to the possibility that “Zodiac is a copycat serial killer to the infamous Black Dahlia murderer from 1947.” (Groan)

    Bottom line it’s going to all come down to confirmed DNA. So, maybe if they’ve been allowed to do retesting that can happen. Once they get confirmed DNA, like I’ve been saying for a decade, I will provide my father’s full DNA profile which |I now have and he’s either IN or Out.

    Best Regards, Steve

  3. Luigi Warren on December 15, 2017 at 7:43 pm


    Just watched the History Channel series in its entirety on Amazon. Comments:

    1. Tremendous amounts of fluffery and puffery, exactly as you anticipated, and some bits that look suspiciously like “fake news” (although I can’t be sure).

    2. I have a feeling their two wonderful lead suspects will evaporate away on close examination just like Graysmith’s apparently equally wonderful suspect, and for similar reasons.

    3. If the partial solution they present to the Z340 cipher is correct, it is compelling evidence that GHH is the Zodiac, even though they don’t draw that inference.

    4. Their claim that the seldom-discussed Albany letter is a real Zodiac letter (based on handwriting analysis) is interesting.

    5. If there is exciting new Zodiac DNA data, as this documentary claims, then publishing the 23andMe-style ancestry analysis for the Zodiac would probably narrow down the suspect pool considerably even without a direct DNA comparison. If Zodiac is indeed one of the handful of widely-discussed suspects it might well narrow down the pool to one.


    • Steve Hodel on December 15, 2017 at 8:54 pm

      LW: Guess I’ll have to force myself to watch it. I have taped it, so maybe next week I’ll take a look. Might be something hidden in there, but if you watched the whole series and didn’t see anything jump out, along with others I highly respect, doubt I will see anything other than the potential for new and more extensive DNA. Happy Holidays to you and yours. skh

      • Luigi Warren on December 16, 2017 at 11:46 am

        Sad to see so much money and effort wasted on so much inanity. Still and all, when you strip away the reality TV stuff, the BS & the sci-fi theatrics, the single novel, substantial, credible and striking finding in this documentary — the intro to the Z340 cipher — points to the “Zodiac” and the “Black Dahlia Avenger” being one and the same person. Surprise! -LW

        • robert j cook on December 21, 2017 at 1:32 am

          They can not be ignorant to Steve’s theory. It is so compelling that any serious investigator should have to study it and prove it is not true. I think they are bound to figure out the Halloween card and the name Hodel plainly there.

        • Luigi Warren on December 22, 2017 at 10:35 pm


          I see Dr. Bauer’s solution is getting a lot of flak from commentators, who argue mostly that the number of errors and “reverse homophones” it admits makes the proposed decoding too arbitrary. Guess we’ll have to see how that debate plays out. In a Powerpoint explaining his reasoning, Bauer notes “BDA may have been Zodiac’s primary inspiration” and concludes that “I may have ended up with a couple of incorrect words, but I don’t believe I am off by more than that.”

          Interestingly, Dr. Bauer credits the previously-published solution “ALFREDENEUMAN” for the Z13 (“My Name Is…”) cipher. Like Groucho Marx, the MAD icon seems to fit as a projected, childish alter ego of the serious, learned Dr. Hodel, the “imp of the perverse” under the polished, Rhadini-like exterior.

          Reading up on the Zodiac ciphers I’m intrigued by the suggestion they were initially composed on 8.5″ x 11″ half-inch ruled graph paper, based on the 17-character line width used in both the Z408 and the Z340, and perhaps also their 44-line combined length. Could that paper have been something GHH used in his market research business? Did it belong with the typewriter, fax paper, white-out and set square among the tools and materials of his “old school” office?


          • Steve Hodel on December 22, 2017 at 11:06 pm

            LW: Yes, interesting that while GHH seemingly had little understanding of humor in our general conversations, yet his letters both as BDA and Zodiac were steeped in both ironic and sardonic references. I interpret that as related more to his Sadean nature rather than from Humor. Akin to the way JtR used it 81 years earlier.

            Yes, he had graph paper at his home office. June kept him well stocked with all things stationery. I still find the fact that Zodiac used the exceptionally unique yellow FAX PAPER which would have been cut from a roll from the exact model used by GHH on a DAILY BASIS, almost qualifying as a thoughtprint. Most ignore it, without giving it a second thought, but when I was overseas and observed dad in “action” the hard copy yellow paged faxes were flying back and forth like we would use Emails in today’s world.
            Question: Do you recall if in any of the episodes they indicated they did obtain partial DNA from the Stine gloves at any time?

          • Luigi Warren on December 27, 2017 at 1:09 pm

            Steve: Examining the rationale for the “My name is… ALFREDENEUMAN” decryption of the Z13 cipher of April 1970, it’s pretty convincing. It looks like this was meant to be an easy puzzle to solve. I find it interesting that the image of Neuman in a tire swing on the cover of the April 1970 edition of MAD has an “Alphabet for Adults”-style resemblance to the Zodiac symbol. Another possible mental association or trigger might have been the then-recent death of the celebrated film composer Alfred Newman (March 17, 1901 – February 17, 1970), whose name was adapted for the MAD mascot. Newman lived in Hollywood in the forties, was of Russian-Jewish descent, and was a child piano virtuoso, so there might be a deliberate allusion there. “New-Man” could also be a play on GHH’s genius for re-invention, of course. -LW

      • Luigi Warren on December 16, 2017 at 2:28 pm

        Steve: At every level, this is about separating the wheat from the chaff. I’m liking the Z340 decoding. Their expert, Craig Bauer, has good credentials, and they’ve got decent endorsements for his solution. Bauer seemed almost apologetic about the linkage to the BDA mailings. I can buy Bauer’s theory that the lower part of the Z340 is mostly deliberate noise, there to tantalize and make the decoding difficult — a symbol salad with a few bits of meaning consciously or unconsciously tossed in. The two “reflected” symbol patterns they call out argue in favor of that notion, as does the unencrypted “ZODAIK” in the last line. Incidentally, the use of the greek symbol delta for the “D” in ZODAIK recalls William Hickman’s letters, and would be a natural for Caltech-er. Along the same lines as “ZODIAK,” but more ambiguous, I notice “ZROF” (Zaroff?) in line 9, and “FLW” in line 17, suggestive of “Frank Lloyd Wright” and of the cryptic return address symbol on the Halloween Card. -LW

      • Luigi Warren on December 17, 2017 at 3:12 pm

        Steve: I wonder if “NIGHT AND DAY” in the decoding could be a period reference. The song came out in 1932, and the Cole Porter biopic of the same name was a hit in the summer of ’46. As a tune, it is technically quite sophisticated and there is an obsessive/melancholy quality about it. -LW

      • robert j cook on December 21, 2017 at 1:50 am

        Steve watch the show episode 5 is very interesting. I see much that could be related to your Dad.

      • Luigi Warren on December 22, 2017 at 11:54 pm


        Episode 5 includes an interview with the Chief of the Forensic Services Division of Contra Costa County, Pamela Hofsass, who says she has recovered a male DNA profile from the inside of the gloves. Also, Hofsass states that the gloves had Paul Stine’s blood on the outside, strengthening the presumption they were left by the killer and were not simply left there by a previous passenger.

        I suppose the gloves could still be a “fake clew.” It’s odd that the Zodiac would have left his own gloves there. Per the Bus Bomb letter detailing the murder: “I was leaving fake clews for the police to run all over town with, as one might say, I gave the cops som bussy work to do to keep them happy.” Have you ever verified GHH wore size 7 gloves? (I am a bit skeptical — my impression is those are pretty small gloves.)


        • Steve Hodel on December 23, 2017 at 1:09 am

          LW: Thanks for that information. I am glad to hear they have at least a possible DNA. I don’t buy his “fake clues” scenario. I think the DNA has a better than even chance of being Zodiac’s. Still remains inclusionary only. A negative match still could not exclude GHH or any other suspect until they get confirmed Zodiac DNA. But, if it did match, depending on how much they have, and what proportion of the male population it would exclude, then results could be dynamite. ie. odds of there being a similar match are “1: 10000 or 1:1000000” could be decisive, with all the rest of the linkage.

          I discuss the size 7 men’s gloves in ME I. I couldn’t get a decent response from a qualified glove expert in the U.S. so I contacted a top leather Shoppe in London. She told me that a “size 7 men’s glove is very unusual and it would belong to a man with long, slender fingers, such as a concert pianist.” Her words, not mine. Ironic that of all the professions to suggest, she picks the one that fit GHH like a glove. (pun intended.)
          Thanks for the info. Good to know. Happy Holidays. skh

          • Luigi Warren on January 15, 2018 at 11:25 am

            Steve: Tom Voigt is just now reporting that *two* distinct, unknown male DNA profiles have been recovered from inside the gloves. -LW

          • Luigi Warren on January 15, 2018 at 8:57 pm

            I, for one, am v-v-very interested to see w-w-what’s going to happen next… Place your bets, gentlemen! You’re playing for REDMASK! -LW

  4. Steve Hodel on December 16, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    LW: I still haven’t watched it, but also, if they have obtained DNA from inside the Stine gloves, that also could be valuable evidence. I always believed that was the best source for identifying Zodiac DNA. (Recall there was only two weeks between the Lake Berryessa and Paul Stine murders, and Zodiac was wearing gloves on both, so had to have contained his DNA. Hands sweat. ) When I met with DOJ agents back in 2010 they told me “the Stine gloves have disappeared from the property room and they were trying to find them to test them and would get back to me when if they located the missing gloves.” Its only been seven years, so I guess they are still searching? I don’t know if the gloves were tested by the woman criminalist before or after my 2010 meeting with DOJ agents?

    • Lisa on December 22, 2017 at 6:27 pm

      Someone correct me if I am wrong, but the only DNA I remember them extracting was from Cheri Bates’ pants. — ? I do not think they tested the gloves providing they even found them.

      And Mr. Cook is right, they did not start from scratch; they were pursuing the previously-developed Ross Sullivan and Lawrence Kane (is that his name?) theories — so why not GHH? Four books are a harder sort than going through umpteen bankers’ boxes from detective’s and reporter’s garages? What ego; what territory? Oh wait, I remember: LE does not like reading. How unfortunate.

      HOWEVER, it appeared they were heading in the GHH direction with the Gilbert and Sullivan and the comic book references. Did AI computer Carmel — and Steve before that — beat them to it?
      And all coincidentally within the five limited-season episodes allotted? Evidently we will never know.

      The good news is, it is only five episodes long! *spoiler alert* But that is also the bad news. This case is too big for just five episodes. I am not watching this or any other investigative documentary for the gore of seeing poor Cheri Bates mercilessly discarded in an alley; I would love justice, but I really want a conclusion — even if it is hypothetical.

      If after five hours the best answer they can offer is:”‘Since it considers the case an ongoing investigation, the FBI declined to comment.’ THE END”, then no thanks. I can get that from watching the daily news.

      They should have just read Steve’s books.

      Would love to hear your thoughts, Detective.

  5. Steve Hodel on December 22, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Lisa: Thanks for your observations and comments. If the thirty-two unique crime signatures that I list as common to both Black Dahlia Avenger and Zodiac can’t get their attention, then nothing will. Usually, three or four are enough for an experienced investigator to force he or she to at least, “take a look”, but, THIRTY-TWO?
    Still haven’t watched any of the episodes, so still unable to critique it. Guess I will have to force myself to watch them. Someone mentioned they obtained partial DNA from the Stine gloves? Was hoping that was true as that to my mind would be one of the best sources, but?
    Regards, Steve.

    • robert j cook on December 23, 2017 at 6:30 am

      Steve it feels right. I just cant imagine they have not found your books in a google search of Zodiac. The damn Halloween card is so solid. And they surmise from a taxi that the killer got in around the theatre district. Wouldnt your father have been a patron of the arts? I can imagine his cultured ass going to plays everywhere his travels took him.

  6. Steve Hodel on December 23, 2017 at 10:00 am

    It was documented as I have it in Most Evil I that taxi driver Paul Stine dropped a fare at Ninth Street and reportedly eye-witnesses saw a man in dark clothing get in his cab at Powell and Geary. Stine wrote down the fare’s requested destination as “Washington and Maple” which is 3.1 miles from where the suspect is believed to have entered his cab in downtown SF. Yes, George Hodel always stayed in one of the flagship hotels in or near downtown on his regular trips to the U.S. during that time.

  7. T. Martinez on December 26, 2017 at 12:56 am

    No one has mentioned the Lunar Calendar and the day of the week that all the crimes were committed ‘Dali’ day on the Lunar Calendar. It made me think instantly about GHH and his ‘friends’. What minds.
    You got to watch at least episode 3. They do go to all the scenes of the crimes though which I like because you ‘have to be there’ or know a little about the area to solve a crime I believe.
    Another thing that popped into mind was GHH’s exposure to language and especially Navajo as in the Navajo code writers (or NA languages anyway) And Cheri Jo living in Riverside where there’s a lot of Indian Services and Reservations for which GHH had previously worked on Reservations.

    • Steve Hodel on December 26, 2017 at 1:24 am

      Well GHH certainly knew the area around SF Bay with eight years of schooling there. Four at premed at UC Berkeley in Oakland, then four more in SF at UCSF for his M.D. Add to that newspaper columnist for the SF Chronicle and Yellow Cab taxi driver in SF.
      I think the Riverside connection may have had to do with his going to get a copy of his original FANTASIA MAGAZINE which he had lost in a monsoon in Manila which took the roof off his penthouse suite and destroyed his papers. The only copy was at UC Riverside though he may have had other connections to that community from earlier times?

  8. Dave Mori on December 29, 2017 at 4:01 am

    I watched the History Channel episodes as well. What I found very ironic 14 minutes into Episode 5 is that the cracked Z340 code message starts out “HERE IT IS”, and they even point out that this is how BDA started out his famous taunting letters to the LAPD. Seems to me that this would lend a lot of credence to your conclusions about GHH, Steve. The investigators seem to be very fixated on their own suspects. Hard to tell because TV and Hollywood like to edit both fiction and reality TV shows too much, but the pattern reminds me of oversights in evidence review made in the Hillside Strangler cases and other cases. Yes, you have to narrow down the number of suspects and rule them out, but you always have to be open to adding a suspect to your list and remain open to other interpretations.

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