October 3, 2021
Los Angeles, California
Once again my readers have come through with a new “clew” corroborating and linking my father, Dr. George Hill Hodel to the infamous serial killer known as, “Zodiac.” (Though this time it wasn’t an “armchair detective” but a longtime friend and actual “been there, done that” police officer.)
In Most Evil (Dutton 2009) I offered strong circumstantial evidence that my father was taking scenes from various classic films and using them as part of his crime-signature/M.O. Those early films included, Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (1939) where the film had been shot on location at Treasure Island at the same time Dr. George Hodel was actually stationed there and doctoring to the Golden Gate Fair attendees/patients throughout the entire shooting of the film.
Additional films used by GHH as part of his M.O. were taken from Red Dust (1932), The Mystery of Mr. X (1934), Spellbound (1945), and (The Sniper (1952).
After noting these films linkages, I then devoted an entire Chapter 21 connecting GHH’s crime signature to the classic film, The Most Dangerous Game (1932).
Zodiac’s editing of his crimes was not speculative on my part, but, rather came from the mouth of the killer in his taunting letters to the press and police.
As presented in Most Evil, Chapter 21, it becomes clear that GHH assumed the role of The Most Dangerous Game’s book and film’s lead antagonist, General Zaroff. GHH copied him in words, deeds, and even in costume. (In the Lake Berryessa attacks Zodiac appeared in a full costume identical to that of General Zaroff including All black clothing, a long-bladed knife worn at his side in a sheath, hunting boots, and a weapon.)
Excerpts from Chapter 21:
In his mailings, Zodiac left what I believe were three separate references to his “most dangerous game.” The first was pre-Zodiac and found in “the confession” mailed to Riverside police and the press on November 29, 1966. After recounting his murder of Cheri Jo Bates, he wrote:
I AM NOT SICK. I AM INSANE. BUT THAT WILL NOT STOP THE GAME.
On the five-month anniversary of the crime, April 30, 1967, the killer dispatched a sadistic hand-printed note to the victim’s father signed with a simple “Z,” which suggests that the Zodiac persona wasn’t fully realized. Perhaps the killer was paying homage to another hunter and a stalker. A man who, like himself, knew the game and played it with precision: Zaroff, the Minotaur’s alter ego.
The second reference to both the short story and the film arrived three years later, hidden in the Zodiac’s three-part cryptogram mailed to San Francisco newspapers. Deciphered by the high-school teacher Donald Harden and his wife, the excerpted portion reads:
“I LIKE KILLING PEOPLE BECAUSE IT IS SO MUCH FUN IT IS MORE FUN THAN KILLING WILD GAME IN THE FOREST BECAUSE MAN IS THE MOST HONGERTUE ANIMAL OF ALL TO KILL.”
The third and final reference is found in Letter 19, mailed in 1971 and printed in the May 8, 1994, San Francisco Chronicle article “On the Trail of the Zodiac, Part I, “along with a cipher that remains unbroken. Zodiac wrote:
“I’LL DO IT TO BECAUSE I DONE IT 21 TIMES I CANT STOP BECAUSE EACH THAT I KILL MAKES IT WORSE AND I MUST KILL MORE MAN IS THE MOST PRIZED GAME ILL NEVER GIVE MY NAME BECAUSE YOU DONT UNDERSTAND NEXT TIME I WILL SEND A PATCH OF HUMAN SKIN IF THEIR IS SOME LEFT OVER.”
In the 1966 Cheri Jo Bates murder, the killer sent the below letter to: the victim’s father, the police, and to the Riverside Press. Note that he signed it with the singular initial “Z”, which I believe was an added “clew” to his impersonation (at that time) of his antihero, General Zaroff, the “player of the game.” (Again, in his Bates letter he informs authorities, “I am not sick. I am insane. But that will not stop the game.”)
A NEW THOUGHTPRINT
In my past postings, I have referenced by longtime friend and sometime graphic artist, retired Dallas PD officer, Robert J. Sadler. Robert has been helping me with designing many of my graphics for many years now. I have Robert to thank for many of the graphics used in both my later books and in my postings. Robert has an exceptionally thorough knowledge of all of my books and of late, I have come to refer to him as my “Dr. Watson.”
In recent days Robert, after rewatching the 1932 version of The Most Dangerous Game, sent me the below graphic.
There, in plain sight. Another “clew”- another thoughtprint-another purloined letter. (I mean that literally.)
I missed it and to my knowledge so did everyone else.
General Zaroff’s signet ring, prominently displayed showing the letter “Z”!
“Z” for Zaroff and another major link to GHH’s copying and signage of “Z” in his 1966 Cheri Jo Bates letter.
Huge Kudos to Robert for finding this purloined “Z” which we can now add to the bulk of circumstantial evidence connecting Dr. George Hill Hodel to the serial killer known as “Zodiac.”