Hodel as Zodiac – One More Time


After yesterday’s post, I was pointed to a book. It was called Most Evil and the author is Steve Hodel. It’s in this book that he postulates and provides his evidence for his father, George Hill Hodel being Zodiac. I’m a fast reader and Hoople & Overdrive are loaded on my phone (Support Your Local Library). I also have some time on my hands, as Oh My Wizard has been gone through by 2 editors and is now just waiting for betas and publication. So I grabbed the ebook Most Evil.

Now, I love Sherlock Holmes as much as the next person. And I can forgive Sir Conan Doyle for the incredible leaps of logic Holmes makes to solve crimes. Unfortunately, Sherlock Holmes is fiction and he can get away with it as a result. Steve Hodel is supposed to be writing true crime, he can’t get away with it. But, that’s how I felt about the book. It was like reading Sherlock Holmes… sometimes, his evidence makes sense and sometimes, I feel like he pulled a conclusion out of thin air and decided to make the evidence fit the theory. At other times, Hodel just flat out ignored it.

I won’t lie and say I went into it with an open mind. I didn’t. Every time I’ve heard this theory during the last couple of years, I’ve scoffed at it. And then the book dropped a bombshell on me as Hodel accused his father of being the Chicago Lipstick Murderer. Here’s the deal, Elizabeth Short and Lucile Lalu are probables. However, the driving psychology (or profile) of Zodiac and The Chicago Lipstick Murderer are very, very different than that of the murderer of Elizabeth Short and I’m a huge fan of the idea that killer’s change MO, signature, and methodology.

The Lipstick murders were three murders committed between 1945 and 1946. The first two victims were women in their 30s who were shot and stabbed and mutilated. At the second scene, the killer scrawled a message on the wall in the victim’s lipstick. The final victim was a 6-year-old girl who was strangled and then dismembered. A few profilers have questioned whether the third victim was connected to the first two. And Degnan (the six year old) was killed January 6, 1946. It’s no surprise then that when Elizabeth Short was found murdered and bisected January 15, 1947 there were comparisons drawn between Short and Degnan’s murders. Even if they did happen thousands of miles apart… which they did… as the Lipstick Murders took place in Chicago.

Hodel claims his father was working in Chicago at the time of the Lipstick murders and he might have been. I can’t tell you about GHH’s locales before 1947, when he became a person of interest in the Short murder. Now, the Lipstick Murders were theoretically solved. But it’s one of those solves that leaves a bad taste in the mouth. William Heirens was arrested and convicted of the murders. However, there were three other viable suspects in the case that weren’t Heirens or Hodel. The most probable of these was Richard Russell Thomas. Thomas had been convicted of molesting one of his daughters in Arizona. He also had a history of spousal abuse and burglary. Most interestingly, he confessed and his handwriting was compared to a ransom note written in the Degnan abduction and murder. The conclusion was that his handwriting was very close to the writing in the note.

The point of that being, Richard Russell Thomas is a far better suspect in the Lipstick Murders than George Hill Hodel. And as I typed that, I realized Steve Hodel, is picking and choosing the cases to associate with his father, quite well. Yes, the Lipstick Murders were “solved”… But not really. Yes, Heirens was arrested, convicted and died in prison at 83. However, today, the chances of getting Heirens convicted based on the evidence the Chicago PD had at the time is basically nil. And most investigators agree that Heirens was probably innocent of the crimes.

Meaning you have the murder of Elizabeth Short (unsolved, GHH was a person of interest in the case in 1947-1948), the Lipstick Murders, solved, but not solved, and The Zodiac murders, unsolved. And then came the coup d’etat. There is a sketch of “Zodiac” next to a picture of George Hill Hodel. I put Zodiac in quotes there, because I had a lot of problems with the sketch. Yes, it resembles all the other Zodiac sketches, I’ve seen, but there was something off about it. I’ve looked at the Zodiac sketches for hundreds of hours (I’m fascinated by the peculiarities of the Zodiac killer). After staring at the side by side of GHH and Zodiac for several minutes, I went back to the original sketch. And it dawned on me why Steve Hodel’s side by side bothered me. It’s not a sketch of Zodiac. Yes, there are similarities, but it’s not any of the original police sketches.

Furthermore, I once found a side by side of Zodiac and Michael Keaton. Michael Keaton looks like Zodiac. And horrifyingly, he looked more like Zodiac than George Hill Hodel. Unless you go by the sketch provided in the book by Steve Hodel, which I’ve decided is a sketch of George Hill Hodel, with some of the features of the original Zodiac sketches imposed on GHH’s sketched face. I’ve linked to it and an original sketch (note the original sketch is signed and dated by the police sketch artist that drew it) so you can see what I mean, because this bothers the hell out of me.

There are two things, I’m certain of after reading Most Evil. George Hill Hodel must have been a horrible father for Steve Hodel to accuse him of the Zodiac and Lipstick murders. The second thing I’m sure of; George Hill Hodel is neither the Zodiac nor the Lipstick Killer.

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