Winter Solstice 2023 Black Dahlia Avenger IV, Editor and Author’s Audio End Notes

December 21, 2023
Birch Bay, Washington
Winter Solstice, 2023
As we enter this Winter Solstice, 2023, I would like to wish you all a safe and happy holiday and best wishes for the New Year. Let us pray that in 2024 we can find some Peace on Earth and some much-needed goodwill towards our fellow man.

I wanted to close this year out with the end notes message from my good friend, editor, and mystery writer, Robert J. Sadler along with my own acknowledgments and end notes on my recently published Black Dahlia Avenger IV. This short five-minute audio clip is read by the narrator of BDA IV, Malcolm Hillgartner.

Robert J. Sadler and Steve Hodel’s Acknowledgements and End Notes to Black Dahlia Avenger IV
Read by Malcolm Hillgartner
(5 minutes)



  1. Luigi Warren on December 24, 2023 at 2:24 pm


    My Christmas gift to you is a possible solution to the Zodiac’s Pines Card which has come together for me over the last few weeks. I argue on my Substack that the unsolved 1962 kidnap-murder of Donna Frislie provides a perfect solution to what the Pines Card is really about. Itโ€™s not about the Tahoe case of Donna Lass, which I propose is a head fake (or “Fool’s Gold” — think TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE), but about the case of a lass named Donna โ€œdown thereโ€ in LA. It establishes a perfect bridge between George Hodel, LA area serial killer of lone women, and George Hodel, the Bay Area’s Zodiac Killer. While there is always going to be ambiguity, I feel “quietly confident” that my solution is correct.

    My full argument is at Here’s food for thought that provides some motivation for my interpretation:

    1. The old suspicion that the Halloween Card pays homage to SPELLBOUND’s dream interpretation sequence implies Zodiac was already thinking about the SF Chronicle’s “Lake Tahoe Mystery” story on Donna Lass in October 1970.

    2. The Zodiac deliberately teased his “LA area lone woman murderer” backstory with the Halloween Card. The fellow who tipped Avery on the Riverside link explicitly mentioned the Halloween connection as the clue prompting him to reach out after having no luck interesting the RPD (Graysmith’s ZODIAC, p. 160-162).

    3. The setup of the Pines Card coming a week after the LA Times letter and being itself cc-ed to the LA Times suggests that the phrase “down there” should inform our efforts to solve the puzzle.

    4. While the LA Times letter’s praise to the paper for its front-page coverage might simply refer to their 11/16/70 story on the Riverside link, it feels like it could be a hint at something more interesting than that.

    5. One possible interpretation of “pass LAKE TAHOE areas” is that it means exactly what it says.

    6. The “Sierra Club” label on the row of as yet unconstructed Incline Village condos in the drawing has no viable concrete interpretation. Therefore, this hint likely has an abstract interpretation (e.g., visual analogy, metaphor, or dream-correspondence).

    7. The Sierra Club is strongly associated with the Sierra Nevada mountains, which were its raison d’etre and which extend from Tahoe south almost to LA county, just north of the Mojave.

    8. One possible interpretation of the upside-down “around in the snow” hint in the context of “down there,” “pass LAKE TAHOE areas,” and “Sierra Club” is to go “down there” by first heading north and then looping around Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada.

    9. If we “peek through the pines” in the Incline Village drawing we see what appears to be a path leading from the punch hole to human figures in an open area in the foreground.

    10. The punch hole converts the Zodiac symbol on the address side of the card into the standard symbol used in flight navigation for a cartographic waypoint.

    11. The Zodiac’s other major “buried treasure” puzzle, the “Mt. Diablo Code,” is a waypoint navigation puzzle (like the puzzle in its inspiration, THE GOLD-BUG), and a modified Zodiac symbol is used to mark the named waypoint. That puzzle also uses other flight navigation concepts (polar coordinates, Magnetic North). Of note, the Mt. Diablo puzzle is not about what it appears to be about since there was no bus bomb “death machine.” It’s about something else, presumably a big secret relevant to Zodiac’s identity.

    12. The only place named in the Pines Card is Lake Tahoe, which we are told to pass — thus, we are given navigation hints relative to Lake Tahoe as a waypoint.

    13. The figures in the foreground of the Incline Village drawing include one who appears to be digging, which obviously could be significant given the puzzle seems to tease the location of a buried body.

    14. The kidnapping of Donna Frislie occurred in Lancaster just off the Sierra Highway, the old road that runs from Tahoe to LA. Her grave was found in the Mojave Desert to the southeast of that location. The case received massive publicity including being the top story on the LA Times front page on at least four occasions. The prime suspect, never identified, was a well-dressed, 50-ish airline passenger observed making strange notes on an LA Times front-page story about the missing girl during a flight out of LAX. To me, his described appearance, manner, and behavior strongly recall George Hodel. The last LA Times front-page story on the case featured a photo of the burial site at the desert crime scene captioned “SEEKING MURDER CLUES” — a scene which seems oddly reminiscent of the Pines Card. I infer that the Pines Card is a response to that front page, teasing a long-forgotten crime that would be even more revealing of Zodiacโ€™s true identity than the link to the murder in Riverside.

    All the best,


    • Luigi Warren on December 28, 2023 at 8:29 pm


      In case you did not already see it, there was an announcement on December 27 that a skull found in Placer County in 1986 has been positively identified as that of Donna Lass, long the presumed subject of the Pines Card. The location of the find appear to be 40+ miles west of Incline Village.

      Again, my belief is that GHH read the “Tahoe Mystery” piece that came out in the SF Chronicle after the Lass disappearance and this gave him the idea for another brainteaser hinting at his identity. I doubt he had anything to do with Donna Lass’s death.


      • Steve Hodel on December 28, 2023 at 9:00 pm

        Thanks. No I didn’t see the discovery of the skull. While I have never jumped down the Rabbit Hole that is Donna Lass, on a gut level I am about 50/50 that George did it. Mainly the sending in the taunting cards and the fact he did know the area well. 1971 was two years after he met June so maybe he was still “tapering off”? Hard to know. I do think you are correct on the Donna Frislie crime. If only we could place him on the flight that would be huge. Happy New Year. Correction she went missing Sept 1970 and was a casino nurse. GHH could well have been on his own on a trip to U.S. then and “did his thing.”

        • Luigi Warren on January 2, 2024 at 11:01 am

          Happy New Year, Steve!

          Could be GHH killed Lass, but my gut feeling at this point is the Pines Card was always about “down there,” i.e., Palmdale-Lancaster, and the SF Chronicle’s “Tahoe Mystery” was simply the hook for another puzzle allowing George to air his superiority complex. It’s got word play, visual puns, conceptual art, Poe, Hitchcock, Hecht, Dali and Freud — all the angles.

          Incidentally, a Palmdale-Lancaster crime scene features in a fine “True Detective”-style drama that came out in 2021, THE LITTLE THINGS. Pretty spooky movie.


  2. Yolie ๐Ÿ’Ž on December 25, 2023 at 9:47 am

    Kristel, Rap’cha and I, the Sisters of the Sacred WombSpace unite to send you a cleansing, centering breath and powerful VIBRATIONS for ancestral HEALING. That is our Christmas gift to you!
    Rap’cha ๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿ’Ž
    Peace always!

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