Zodiac Killer Crimes Examined on “Very Scary People” Parts I & II- My Short Review of the Case: Status “The Good and Bad” as of 2019- Program Eliminates “The Usual Suspects” (Allen, Van Best Jr., Kane, and Kaczynski)

April 15, 2019
Los Angeles, California

Hosted by actor Donnie Wahlberg


I watched the two-hour opening episodes (Part I & II) of HLN’s “Very Scary People” which featured a review of the “Zodiac” serial crimes that occurred in the San Francisco Bay Area back in 1968 and 1969.

HLN Trailer for “Very Scary People”

Here’s my brief review of the show and its interpretation of the case status as of 2019.

The Bad

They seem to still be stuck on the original composite drawing which not only is only slightly better than any ten-year-old’s rendition, (my apologies to all ten-year-olds) but provides a misleading physical description from later revisions from better eye-witnesses. (Suspect much older, thinner.)

They did follow-up with alternate descriptions, but pretty much left it up to the viewer to decide was the above composite accurate or the later Stine composite?

Barros Composite

Stine Teenagers/Fouke Composite

The show completely omitted the best DNA evidence,  from the Stine Gloves found in the back seat of the cab and the fact that those gloves have been tested and revealed Stine’s DNA on the outside (from the blood splatter) and contain unknown stranger DNA on the inside of the gloves. Highly probable this “stranger DNA” belongs to Zodiac. (SKH Note- It has never to my knowledge been addressed or revealed whether the gloves were ever tested for GSR? (Gunshot Residue)

No mention of Dr. George Hodel as a suspect or my investigation and a complete omission of the Neal Adams composite also obtained from witness statements and drawn in 1974 as a composite and was actually a merging of the Stine and Barros composites and presented on the true crime book, “Great Crimes of San Francisco” (Ballantine Books 1974)


Neal Adams 1974 Zodiac drawing compared to Dr. George Hill Hodel


The Good

To their credit, the show did address the question of whether Officer Donald Fouke and his Partner Eric Zelms (who was shot and killed just a few months later in an unrelated police response to a business burglary) actually stopped and talked to Zodiac.

The show reported the fact that the two officers DID STOP and speak with  Zodiac (supposedly believing Zodiac was a “Male Black” and the Male White suspect told them “Yes, he had a gun and he went thataway.” (As we know, to this day, Officer Fouke maintains he and his partner Zelms did not stop the man. Fouke never reported this “suspect” until one month later, when the killer mentioned it in his letter to the press.  Fouke was forced to “fess up” and in a memo, to detectives, he claimed he and his partner  “just drove by fast” and provided a detailed description in his month-late “Memo” along with assisting in a revised composite of the suspect. (This, of course, contradicts his partner Zelms private claim to his wife that “we did stop and talk to the man.”  Also, later the stop was confirmed by the lead Detective Toschi who admitted they (SFPD)  initially kept it secret and protected officer Fouke from embarrassment. According to Detective Toschi, officer Fouke said to him, “God, Dave, he could have killed me.”

Officer Donald Fouke Memo (below) given one month later as, a “Male White 35-45 years (“closer to the high end of 45 yrs”) 5-10 180-200…glasses, possible Welsh ancestry.”  (Now that we KNOW the officers talked to the suspect it is my belief Foukes claim of “Welsh ancestry” came not from his appearance, but rather his speech. George Hodel, had  very much of a Richard Burton (Welsh) sounding rather cultured voice.)

SFPD Officer Donald Fouke Memo

Overall the crime scene reenactments were seemingly accurate and they included additional “possible Zodiac related crimes.”

The program updated the fact that some of the law enforcement agencies were attempting to obtain further confirmed DNA that potentially can be searched using both CODIS and civilian databank DNA sources.  They also verified that NO CONFIRMED ZODIAC DNA EXISTS AS OF THIS TIME.

In concluding the program the show basically publicly eliminated all of the top “favorite suspects” from being ZODIAC. These included: Arthur Leigh Allen    Lawrence Kane  Earl Van Best Jr.  Ted Kaczynski.



Allen                              Kane                 Van Best Jr.            Kaczynski






  1. Luigi Warren on April 19, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    Steve: Regarding suspect’s appearance, Bryan Hartnell, who saw Zodiac in daylight (mostly but not entirely while hooded), reported he had “dark brown” hair (statement to Sgt. Robertson). Fouke, describing what suspect looked like just two weeks later after 10m under street lamps reports “light colored hair possibly greying in rear (May have been lighting that caused this effect.)” Wanted poster released after Stine murder says “brown hair, possibly with a red tint.” GHH was 62 when these two crimes occurred. From later photos, looks like GHH went grey on top earlier than on the sides. Descriptions sound consistent with someone with dark, partially grey hair, dying out the grey (hence reddish tint), viewed under different lighting conditions. -LW

  2. Steve Hodel on April 19, 2019 at 8:00 pm

    LG: Yes, the physical descriptions are oftentimes the weakest part of an investigation. Sometimes they are RIGHT ON and others they are WAY OFF. Obviously, the Neal Adams composite is the most impressive and when you compare it to the earlier police sketches one is forced to say, HUH? I often think about the professor who conducted the experiment in a law class where he had “several suspects” run into the room during class feign a strong arm robbery of a victim and run out. He then had the whole class write down and submit as complete a description of the two suspects as they could. Of the forty or so class members they were all over the radar screen on age, height, weight, clothing, facial hair, no facial hair, etc. Just goes to show.

  3. Edward on April 25, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Just who ruled out the suspects? Tom Voight? I don’t see Richard Gaikowski in that list of names. Honestly I have to wonder if some influence any opinions of law enforcement. Tom has been given inside info and was told who was ruled out. I have a suspicion because he tells them he is with the zodiac task force. He didn’t deny one of those person you named could not be ruled out with 5 genetic markers that were obtained.

    • Steve Hodel on April 25, 2019 at 4:42 pm

      Edward: What I indicated in the blog was the producers generally indicated that the suspects mentioned were eliminated. The fact is NO ONE can be eliminated or ruled out based on the existing evidence. You can’t eliminate them based on unknown fingerprints or unconfirmed DNA. As I’ve pointed out in MOST EVIL the DNA they have could belong to anybody. Ditto fingerprints. skh

  4. Cecilia Brown on April 29, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    You hit the nail on the head for me: I’ve wondered for years about the statement that the officers thought the guy on the street was “Welsh”. That’s a pretty tiny, specific conclusion and I could never get my head around it. SPEECH must have been the determination.
    Just for the heck of it, can you really imagine your father writing that semi literate letter that was sent after the Stine murder, that stated ” while you guys were running road races in the park to see who had the loudest motorcicles etc etc I was hiding in the bushes until you went away”, or something similar. Strikes me a a crude thinker.

    • Steve Hodel on April 29, 2019 at 4:48 pm

      Cecilia B:
      Oh yes, he wrote it. That and many more examples were all part of his “Game”. Let the police and public think he was crude and illiterate. Problem is, he misspelled easy words and correctly spelled difficult words much of the time. But, it’s the same “voice” in his Kern Letter as ‘Black Dahlia Avenger’ and in Cheri Jo Bates and in the SF Chronicle letters. Many of the cops thought they were dealing with an ignorant, illiterate, suspect. Others saw through it and clearly said so. Steve

      • Cecilia Brown on May 2, 2019 at 2:45 pm

        Right, Steve. One of the first things I noticed about the Z. letters to police and press were that easy words were sometimes garbled the way a drunk would speak but difficult words were not a challenge, so I knew the misspelings were a fake. So your dad can’t be placed anywhere else when all the Z. murders took place?

  5. Tressa on May 14, 2019 at 3:47 am

    Have there been any other Suspects Tom..? I heard maybe someone solved it thru the grapevine… Is that true.? Someone in Washington state. It’s suppose to all be coming to light here real soon. But..?

    • Steve Hodel on May 14, 2019 at 11:39 am

      Tressa: A Whole lot of grapes on that vine, but most/all are soured and rotted. Every three months you will a “Zodiac Solved” rumor. Only definitive solution will come through confirmed DNA which they have yet to develop.

  6. Tressa on January 3, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    It’s been nearly 3 years since the Zodiacs DNA was sent in with another envelope. What was in the second envelope do you know? Obviosly a comparison other then the Zodiac killers. Wonder who’s? I keep hearing about Washington. State and possibly his Daughter. Its been said she is the spitting image of Darlene Ferrin. But ? I heard she was kept unaware of who she truely is for over 50 years from what I was told. Pretty interesting stuff. If the shoe fits…..

    • Steve Hodel on January 3, 2020 at 2:29 pm

      I have no idea other than they still have no confirmed Zodiac DNA as of 2020.

  7. Luigi Warren on April 25, 2023 at 1:16 am


    Slightly random “FWIW” observation prompted by your likening of GHH’s voice to Richard Burton… Just rewatched a 1978 Exorcist/Omen-style thriller starring Burton, “The Medusa Touch.” Struck me there were some very GHH-ish things in there, including a clifftop boyhood murder. I checked the San Francisco papers, and that movie was showing in downtown San Francisco at the time of the April 24th, 1978 “I am still with you … who will play me?” letter to the Chronicle. Triggered, perhaps?


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