Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat of Crime Junkie Podcast Take a Dive into the Troubled Waters of William Heiren’s Lipstick Killer Investigation

April  6, 2020
Los Angeles, California

Just finished listening to this morning’s “Crime Junkie” podcast in which Ashley Flowers with her co-host Brit Prawat present their examination into the investigation and arrest of 17-year-old, William Heiren’s as the purported 1945-6, Chicago “Lipstick Killer.”
Kudos to their 48-minute podcast which I highly recommend as it gives an excellent summary of the overall investigation and a quick look at many of the fabricated pieces of evidence that forced the teenager to “confess” to save his life, (under threat of execution) only to recant it immediately after being transferred to prison. It is important to note that prior to William Heiren’s being sent to prison for life that there was never any evidence presented.  No witnesses. No testimony. No evidence introduced. No trial.  Just his “OK, I did it.” and off to prison where on March 5, 2012, in his sixty-sixth year of incarceration, he died while still in custody.

Crime Junkie Podcast on Lipstick Murder  HERE

*Double kudos for Ashley’s documenting her research on her website with links to articles substantiating her findings. (Scroll down under photos to find more than two dozen links to various articles referenced in the podcast.
For those interested in a deeper dive into the William Heiren’s Lipstick Killer Investigation,  here are some previous blogs I have presented over the years. (Also, my main summary of my Heiren’s investigation can be found in “Most Evil: Avenger, Zodiac and the Further Serial Murders of Dr. George Hill Hodel (Dutton 2009). 

1947 Top U.S. & British Journalists Condemn Chicago Newspapers Reportage In Heirens "Lipstick Killer" Case

Black Dahlia Update: New Clue Further Links Dr. George Hill Hodel to 1947 Jeanne French "Red Lipstick" LA Lone Woman Murder


JUSTICE DENIED- William Heirens Dies in Prison While Serving 66th Year for Crimes HE DID NOT COMMIT



  1. Whitman Ward on April 7, 2020 at 7:53 am

    Just saw Chinatown for the first time in a long time. With the information we have now, it is absolutely chilling to watch John Huston, when talking about his incest, say “Most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place they are capable of doing almost anything.” However, he was a brilliant film producer and director.

    • Steve Hodel on April 7, 2020 at 10:43 am

      Yes, I like actor Gregory Peck’s description of Huston a lot. Peck said, “He was a monster and a genius.” Pretty much nailed it. But, after I discovered the “Huston Letters” written to him and filed in his folder at the Margaret Herrick Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences I changed my thinking about John. The Letters (published in updated BDA ed.) reveal he was regularly sending money to our mother during our “Gypsy Years” when we were broke and mom was mostly “down and almost out.” So, a big heart and his generosity go a long way in my book.

    • Steve Hodel on April 7, 2020 at 10:34 pm

      Whitman W: Yes, and check out his verbatim description of what “a friend” would be. Very telling. In my book, that is a definite “thoughtprint” coming directly from John Huston referencing his old friend, GHH.

  2. Douglas Freedman on April 7, 2020 at 10:05 pm

    Hi. Steve. Just listened to the crime junkie episode (I am a fan of the podcast) and I like that they point to GHH as a possible suspect, but wish they had focussed even more on the Hollywood and Degnan street names angle. This particular “signature game” with killing/placing/posing/ his victims at specific, referential streets is consistent throughout his murderous history. Do you believe it to be some cryptic method to pay homage to something specific or an “original” game he liked to play with investigators given his extensive knowledge of different cities’ geography? To your knowledge, has anyone else ever observed this “street name game” theory in any other context?

    • Steve Hodel on April 7, 2020 at 10:28 pm

      Douglas F: Hi Douglas. Yes, there were a lot of linkage points to GHH, but with only 48min podcast she is limited in what she can present and I think did a very good job of pointing out many of the flaws or deliberate false “evidence” that contributed to his wrongful conviction. To my knowledge GHH’s “street name linkage” is totally original to and as you may know was modified in his later crimes as Zodiac and became his “Land Art” and “inches and radians” on his SF map mailed to the press and police. I’ve never seen the “street name game” mentioned by anyone else and I came to it slowly. Missing some for years such as my recent discovery of the “Mountain View St” posing of the Jeanne French “Red Lipstick Murder” to connect with the earlier burial location of Elizabeth Short’s body at “Mountain View Cemetary” as a “catch me if you can” “clew”.

  3. Douglas Freedman on April 8, 2020 at 12:42 am

    I agree about the time limitations of Crime Junkie. I just always want the hosts to go deeper whenever you and your research is mentioned on any of these podcasts! It’s interesting that GHH would have an original game when so much of his M.O. is derivative. Thank you for responding!

    • Steve Hodel on April 8, 2020 at 1:14 am

      Douglas F:

      You are correct in your point re. “derivative.” It is my belief he took at least as part of his “inspiration” for his “positioning” victims from the 1934 crime film, “The Mystery of Mr. X” starring Robert Montgomery. The serial killer plans/positions his victims throughout London killing them at precise locations to form an X. The police figure out his geographical pattern on a map of London. Likely, at least a partial source for GHH who, as we know, used other films of that era for inspiration and part of his “MO” and crime signature.

      See my 2016 blog reference on it below:

  4. Douglas Freedman on April 12, 2020 at 2:25 am

    Ah yes. This connection makes a lot of sense. I wasn’t familiar with the “Mr. X” angle until now. Seems entirely fitting.

  5. Douglas Freedman on April 12, 2020 at 4:24 am

    One last thing! This is a little off topic, but since we have been discussing movies, did you ever see or do you have any thoughts on David Finchers’ Zodiac movie? I know that Robert Graysmith’s theories obviously don’t align with yours and have no mention of GHH, but I was curious if there was anything you might have thought they got right in the film? Zodiac pondered the making of a movie “about him” and who would “play him”, but GHH didn’t live to see the release. I would assume he would have obtained a copy of and read Graysmith’s 1986 Zodiac book though? One could also speculate that he would have seen the original “Dirty Harry” movie which was loosely based on if not inspired by the real life Zodiac and David Toschi and would have at least had an opinion. I apologize if I’m being a pest. There’s just so many layers to this story and references to it in popular culture, it makes my head spin. Any thoughts?

    • Steve Hodel on April 12, 2020 at 11:21 am

      Douglas F:

      To be honest, I haven’t read either of Graysmith’s books, Zodiac published in 1987 and Zodiac Unmasked published in 2002 cover to cover. Just skimmed them.

      I expect GHH may well have read the first book, but if I am correct a suspect is not actually named just the overall MO and then in the later book Graysmith claims that Arthur Leigh Allen (who died in 1992) is “unmasked” by him. And, of course, GHH died in 1999, three years before “Unmasked” was published.

      I expect the odds are good that GHH read the first book published a dozen years before his death, but cannot say for certainty. As I’ve written elsewhere, I believe there is a fairly strong possibility that he wrote the “Scorpion Remember Me? Letters” that were sent to John Walsh as threats and cryptograms in 1990, the very year he returned to the U.S. and relocated to San Francisco. (I think DNA tests of those letters could rule him IN or OUT.)

      As I’ve written in Most Evil II, I believe GHH’s original inspiration for his Zodiac MO came from the 1952 film, “The Sniper” which presents a San Francisco serial killer, a misogynist, gone amuck and shooting random victim’s in the city streets and parks of San Francisco.

      I did see Fincher’s Zodiac film in 2007 back when it first released more than a dozen years ago, but found it mainly to be a psychological study on the various “players” both civilian and police (Graysmith, Insp Toschi, Ins. Armstrong, reporter Paul Avery, etc.) and the impact the crimes had on their lives, rather than its attempts to solve the crime. I’ll leave it at that.

  6. Douglas Freedman on April 12, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    Thank you.

Leave a Comment