Family Twist Episode 19: Searching for My Father and Finding the Zodiac Killer
Our guest Gary L. Stewart is the author of the best-selling book, “The Most Dangerous Animal of All,” which was the basis for the docuseries of the same name on FX (now on Hulu). The book and series details Gary’s years of research searching for his birth father, who may be the Zodiac killer. (We use the subtitle of the book as this episode’s title.) In this episode, Corey and Kendall talk with Gary about one of our ongoing themes, nature versus nurture with adoption. We also touch on Gary’s disappointment with the final episodes of the docuseries, and we talk about his wonderful relationship with his birth mother.
Explaining adoption to children
Gary: I came from a family where I was actually the third child that was adopted. So for us as infants and then the younger children, we didn’t understand, it was another word that we didn’t know the definition to my parents. My adoptive parents say that all of us books and read about adoption and the reasons why these things happen at a very early.
I guess the thing that affected me most, my entire life, because of that was an insecurity complex. Always having to deal with being different. On top of that, as a young kid, I had red hair, freckles, and I certainly wasn’t the epitome of tall, dark and handsome. So you’re dealing with all these things and yeah, the psychological fun house that goes with that. I guess I could write a book just about that.
Can’t deny genetics
There’s so many things that I’ve discovered about my biological mother. Things I’ve heard and was told about my biological father, that you can’t deny those genetics. Everyone else in my family and the Stewart family would probably not choose to search out their true identity.
Not the Hollywood ending
I’ll touch on the documentary lightly. If you’re a newcomer to Hollywood, I could write a cautionary tale about how to approach and how to trust. Unfortunately, being raised in old south Baton Rouge, in part of the Bible belt, you trust everybody.
I was told the world wants to hear your story, and I promised my mother that if we did this series together, that it would be our story. Hollywood needed a more dramatic ending because the bottom line is my book is one story in the docuseries, turns out to be something else. Even during the filming of the docuseries, we discovered new evidence about my father that further seals in my mind that he was absolutely the only suspect.
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[00:00:00] Cory and Kendall: Welcome to family twist a podcast about relatively unusual stories of long lost families, adoption and lots of drama. I'm Corey and I'm Kendall, and we've been partners for over 16 years.
[00:00:17] Thanks for joining us on family twist today. We're very pleased to have Gary L. Stewart as our guest. Gary is the author of the best selling book, the most dangerous animal of all.
[00:00:28] Which became a docu-series for FX. It's now streaming on Hulu, Kendall, and I just, , refreshed ourselves last night with the docu-series, but it details Gary's years of research searching for his birth father, who may be the Zodiac killer. Welcome to the show, Gary,
[00:00:47] Gary Stewart: thank you very much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.
[00:00:50] So I wanted to give
[00:00:51] Cory and Kendall: you a little bit of background of why we're doing this podcast in the first place. So Kendall was in a closed adoption in Arkansas in [00:01:00] 1970. And so didn't know anything about his birth family for a long time. And I got him an ancestry kit back in 2017 and he immediately matched with his half-brother who lives here on the east coast.
[00:01:18] And we soon discovered that, Kendall. Father and sister on that side were still alive. And then soon after that found out that his mother was still alive and, , has got siblings on that side too. So it was, it's kind of a whirlwind. And after visiting his father's family here on the east coast, just for a weekend, we decided on the way back that we just had to move here.
[00:01:42] And so we uprooted our lives, listen from San Francisco and, and moved here. And we've been here ever since. So. It's funny because for some reason, San Francisco just keeps popping up in people that we interview for this podcast. I don't know if it's just like the center of the [00:02:00] universe or what, but you know, here we are gonna be soon talking to you about Zodiac killer.
[00:02:07] Which goes right back to San Francisco. So
[00:02:10] Gary Stewart: yeah. San Francisco is like the epicenter of all things curious and all things unknown, right? Yeah. And not, not just from serial killers’ perspective, but any, anything and everything. So yeah. What, what an interesting connection and there's good for you. The Kindle that you, you did your DNA test that you've found to your two biological parents still alive.
[00:02:35] Gotta be something because like me, I was born in 63, a little earlier. One of my parents had already is already deceased, fortunate enough to have my mother, but of course. The thing that led my search was because I wanted to meet my father. Right, right. And I never had the opportunity to do that. One of the things I wanted
[00:02:52] Cory and Kendall: to talk about to start this episode is adoption and, and what children of adoption feel.
[00:02:59] So when we were [00:03:00] watching the series last night, there were themes of like abandonment and nature and nurture. And those are things that we've talked about on this show in the past. But I kind of, Gary, I would love to hear your perspective on discovering that you were adopted and, and what
[00:03:13] Gary Stewart: that did to you.
[00:03:15] It's a very good deep question. I came from a family where I was actually the third child that was adopted. So for us as infants and then the younger children, we didn't understand, it was another word that we didn't know the definition to my parents. My adoptive parents say that all of us books and read about adoption and the reasons why these things happen at a very early.
[00:03:44] It had to be early because I don't remember ever these stories, but I know there are some adoption books, some baby books for adopted kids that mom and dad had for all three of us adopted kids. Then three years after I was born and [00:04:00] adopted, they. Got pregnant and I had their own biological child. So I guess that presented a challenge for them to raise all three kids.
[00:04:11] The older adopted sister was killed in the early part of the story and in a tragic car accident. So I was the third adopted child with this second surviving adopted child. And so raising three children, two are adopted and one biological must have had its challenges in. Late fifties, mid-sixties. I do know that the curiosities I found early were at things like at church, the church membership, the adults knew that two of the three Stewart kids were adopted.
[00:04:46] So they always kind of looked at you in a different light. I mean, I don't know if it's a stare or curious, stare is a good adjective or description, but. I [00:05:00] always felt special, treated a little better, maybe unfairly to everybody else. But at, at times it was uncomfortable too, because their curiosity fueled curiosity in me.
[00:05:12] And, and I wanted to know, so why do you look at me that way? And not the two guys sitting next to me. Right. Do you know something? I don't know. Maybe they did because Baton Rouge is a small town and it's, it's connected. And my, my abandonment. Made headlines. So a lot of people knew about that time that there was an infant that was discarded in Baton Rouge.
[00:05:33] So, , as it turned out, my biological, my adoptive dad worked at the same company as the lady who found me abandoned in her stairwell. Wow. Did, did they ever know that? Did they ever talk about that? Probably. Because Kendall knows that closed adoptions, they get no information, neither side gets information.
[00:05:55] So trying to make a shorter story outta the long answer I just gave you, I guess the thing that affected [00:06:00] me most, my entire life, because of that was an insecurity complex. Always having to deal with being different. On top of that, as a young kid, I had red. Freckles. And I certainly wasn't the epitome of tall dark enhancement so you're dealing with all these things and yeah, the psychological fun house that goes with that is just something I, I guess I could write a book just about that.
[00:06:29] and what age did you start
[00:06:30] Cory and Kendall: to get inquisitive about who your birth family
[00:06:34] Gary Stewart: could be? I was probably. In high school before I voiced a desire to know anymore. And I got to where one of my coaches, when you do the physical play sports at a public school, you had to bring a copy of your birth certificate.
[00:06:52] And one of the first unexpected identity crisis I faced was when he read my birth [00:07:00] certificate out loud. And for all the other 20 guys standing in line to be examined by the doctor. He says Stuart you're here in Baton Rouge at a high school, but your birth certificate says you was born. You were born in New Orleans.
[00:07:13] I never thought of that. I didn't even read the birth certificate early on. So I just responded and told my mom and dad were on vacation when they had me like New Orleans, if there's a whole 47 miles from Baton Rouge. So they couldn't get to the hospital. I guess at that point, I started becoming more curious, but one thing that went along with having red hair, and I don't know if this's the adoption thing you get picked on a lot.
[00:07:41] I know I did. My mom tells a story when we were, when I was five years old, we were about to move to a new neighborhood. And , she said, one afternoon I came inside just all down and, and with a worried look on my face and her and dad recognize something's wrong. I've been playing out [00:08:00] front with the boys in the neighborhood and out in the front yard.
[00:08:03] And she said, I asked her, and I told her Johnny and Jeff just told me that my real mother didn't love me. So she gave me away. She didn't love me enough. My mom says we were sitting at the dinner table and my dad just started kicking her under the table. Like be careful with this answer because he's five.
[00:08:31] And she came back with something like, no, honey, the truth is your real mother gave you away because she loved you so much. She knew she couldn't care for you. And that we would give you the best. Where God wanted you. The story goes, I, I was happy. I ate my, all my food and got dessert. Everything was lovely.
[00:09:05] Cory and Kendall: How much of that do you think was the fact that your adoptive parents ended
[00:09:09] Gary Stewart: up having a birth? So I was only three years old when my younger sister was born. So probably for the first 6, 7, 8 years of her life, I wasn't even aware that I was any different.
[00:09:23] In fact, she had red hair, so my older sister who was a brunette, we picked on her, said, you're the adopt I'm, we're the real deal here. I don't know if it had anything to do with it, , because we were absolutely, , treat. Equal all things in all things. So we talk about
[00:09:43] Cory and Kendall: nature versus nurture on this podcast quite a bit.
[00:09:45] And Kendall's gone into detail about his upbringing with his adoptive parents and sort of the personality traits and the convictions and stuff that came from there. But then once we met his birth family, I mean, you instantly see some things that [00:10:00] come from nature. So, , where do you land on that today?
[00:10:04] Gary Stewart: versus nurture thing. Oh, so the, the journey to tell my story, , was long from, from the time I met my biological mother in 2002 until the publication of the book was 12 years and I started docenting every discovery. Within six months of meeting my biological mother, because you know, it's the San Francisco thing.
[00:10:30] You can't make this stuff up. I mean, I, I felt. The more newspaper articles are read about the ice cream romance and my parents being an Elit affair. I I'm like I would tell my mom and dad, Lloyd Leon Stewart, I'd say you're not gonna believe what I discovered in the San Francisco Chronicle in my dad's life.
[00:10:47] You have to start writing a book about this. Nobody's gonna believe this stuff. You're a living cartoon character and that's. Kinda what I felt, but if it hadn't been for the, , [00:11:00] character and I guess hility, personality, faith, , manners, everything values, everything that you get from the people who surround you as a child and all the way up until you graduate from wherever and go off and start your, the steward's preparation of me to be able to handle.
[00:11:22] Life's , uncertainties. Certainly the only reason I was able to get through this, not without complication, not, not without, it's just a smooth sailing because I had, it was a difficult journey. But on the other hand, there's so many things that I've discovered about my biological mother. Things I've heard and was told about my biological father, that you can't deny those genetics and you know, everyone else in my family and the Stewart family would probably not choose to search out their true [00:12:00] identity.
[00:12:00] My older sister who's adopted, she, she literally fell out of her chair whenever. My parents told me that a lady in San Francisco had contacted them claiming to be my birth mother. She so wanted our past to be our past and sealed right. Forever closed. And you know, the good news is, , 16 years later, she's, she's also who her biological siblings, the parents are deceased, but, and it was one of the most liberating things that she ever did.
[00:12:35] And they too. Or for Arkansas. Very, very great story there. I'm so happy she did it, but she didn't like me for a while. She would, she would often say, hey, who's this Earl guy, this guy named Earl, you know, thinks your dad, whatever. But yeah, it's, you're, you're part of both, right? I guess DNA from a DNA standpoint, genetically I'm half of my mother and half of my father, but from a belief system, a value system, a [00:13:00] behavior system.
[00:13:01] I hope that I am. At least 90% Lloyd Leon Stewart, because that's what I would wanna be. Right, right. Yeah.
[00:13:13] Cory and Kendall: Were there things when you first met with your biological mom, though, that you noticed right away, like, wow, there's wild similarities.
[00:13:21] Gary Stewart: Here's her hands, her ears, her, her face, her hair, , both her arms, her legs.
[00:13:31] , she set the Stewart. Picture of herself. And I knew right then that said, you, you know, you can't deny the genetics there that's my mom. But even sometimes having been raised, not, not more than a few days, , with her before my, my father abandoned me when I was 28 days old. , so I only, I only got a few weeks with them.
[00:13:55] Thank God. Even our mannerisms is like, we [00:14:00] it's strange. We can finish, finish each other's sentences. You know, my mother not, I, I bet Kendall, I bet you you've gotten some of those same kind of, , quirks going on. Oh, it's bizarre. It, the brother that Corey first mentioned is my brother here in new England and watching him, I see my own mannerisms.
[00:14:25] By watching him and his wife notices that too. She says, oh my gosh. She said, it's weird to her because the other sibling that's local is our sister. And he, and she don't, it's different. Right. Cuz it's a, a man or a woman with him and me. It's just a, a surprisingly similar
[00:14:45] Cory and Kendall: and Gary to see bundle and his father together, his birth father, it's just, it's so surreal.
[00:14:51] We've had him over multiple times to stay the night with us and we'll barbecue. Have some beer and sit around and sing songs, things like that. And it's just [00:15:00] so wild to see these two together. It's like, I can't imagine them not knowing each other, even though it's been a few years,
[00:15:06] Gary Stewart: it's just been really wild.
[00:15:08] Yeah. Right. Yeah. I, I get it. I've got, I had had a half-brother. , my mother remarried a former inspector in the San Francisco police department who was. And , they had a child, an only child together. And on, in our first reunion, I met my half-brother chance. And it, it was funny to me because at the reunion grandma's there, right.
[00:15:36] , cousins are there, aunts are there and I'm looking at this, you know, light African American, half-brother of mine. And everybody in the family's like, oh my God, they look a. And I'm thinking what we really don't. I don't see it, but I haven't known you a while. I maybe build a little differently, but my mother's sister has [00:16:00] a daughter.
[00:16:00] My, my first cousin on my mother's side, we could be identical twins that close that close. So it's interesting. All the things that, , that you discover when you, when you choose to take that journey. I know that our, our
[00:16:18] Cory and Kendall: listeners are going to go out and and get the book and watch the docu-series after this, because it is absolutely fascinating.
[00:16:24] Well, let me preface this by saying that like our hearts were with you watching this whole series, like it was it's. I mean, it's emotional, it's an emotional journey and it's just like, wow. But it's great that we get to see your first mother's 18-year journey and fi trying to find you to fruit. But as the episodes go on, there's obviously some friction there.
[00:16:44] You mentioned her second husband who was San Francisco police department when the whole Zodiac thing was going on. And definitely we could sense a lot of friction there. Where are you at today with
[00:16:55] Gary Stewart: your relationship with your birth mom? Hourly touch [00:17:00] on the, the, the docentary lightly because, , you know, if you're a newcomer to Hollywood, , I, I could write a, a, a cautious tale about how to approach and how to trust, you know, unfortunately being raised in old south Baton Rouge, , in part of the Bible belt, , you trust everybody.
[00:17:23] And I, I was, I was told the world wants to hear your story. , and I promise my mother that if we did this series together, that it would be our story. In, in Hollywood needed a, a more dramatic ending because the bottom line is my book has, it is one story in the docu series, turns out to be something else.
[00:17:47] And even during the filming of the docentary, we discovered new evidence, , about my father that further, , seals in my mind that he was absolutely the only. [00:18:00] Him to Zodiacs, , meeting his first girlfriend and talking to her about some of the things he did, , why he was in a mental institution, , when he was 17 years old, turned 18 in a mental institution, what, what he did to make that happen, , you know, they say serial killers can start off by killing animals.
[00:18:26] Well, an animal wasn't his original target that day. It just happened. His girlfriend wasn't there. , we found out so much stuff, but at the end of the day, the DNA evidence is not presented itself. Or the technology is not hide tech enough to be able to positively confirm who the identity or the guy who looked those stamps are may, maybe it will one.
[00:18:53] So knowing after, , several months of filming and, and you're right episode one, [00:19:00] two, and three are great, they start out great. But then I think Hollywood needed a, a great ending and you're not gonna have a great, the ending with an UN unsolved mystery. So they made a decision let's, you know, let's just discredit Gary and everything that, that he did, which is, you know, I could write a second book, but I.
[00:19:21] No worries. I'm not, , after that huge disappointment that we saw for the first time, a couple of months before it aired in, , March of 2020, my mother and I struggled since then, , I am happy to say that we are as close as we've ever been. Now. She is a, a friend and, and never will be a parent for. But she's my mother, right?
[00:19:49] She's my mother. I love her and respect her that way. My, my son went through a terrible vehicle accident a year ago. And you [00:20:00] know, I don't know if this's the DNA nature versus nurture, but she was one of the first people I reached out to. I, I felt if I could get everybody, I knew across the globe praying that that my son would be okay.
[00:20:10] And by the way, he is. We're close now. , I haven't seen her in a long time. I would love to get together again soon. I'm getting close to the end of my career. So we're wrapping up some things and, and hopefully we'll be able to travel a little more, , focus on the other important things in life other than career, , and, and spend a little time together cuz , you.
[00:20:35] Soon to be 60 she's 15 years. She had me when she was 15 years old. So she's, , she'll be 75 in October. We're good. Thanks for asking, but we're good. Good, good. I'm glad to hear that. Yeah. And I
[00:20:48] Cory and Kendall: can relate to your situation. I've heard from several people over the years, I was an entertainment journalist for a long time.
[00:20:54] So I've heard from several people who ended up working in, in the entertainment industry, in the Hollywood [00:21:00] system and stuff. And, and there's definitely some cautionary tales. It's like my ears have always been up a little bit when I've been working on projects because it's like, eh, let's, I mean, that's not to necessarily trust everybody or sometimes you learn the hard way.
[00:21:11] I, I had one big entertainment project that I worked on for five years and I insisted on maintaining control of it completely because I didn't want it to go Souths and then didn't want it to go in somebody else's narrative because I spent so long on it. It's like, I'm not gonna, I'm not about to give this up.
[00:21:29] It probably could have been more successful. Had I let some. Professionals or higher ups kind of take it over, but then I, I would've lost it, and I would've probably
[00:21:37] Gary Stewart: lost that narrative. The narrative. Absolutely. You're exactly right. I, I, I learned the hard way, but before the book was actually published, we had a deal with CBS.
[00:21:48] They wanted to do a, a four-hour, two part mini-series crypted. We even went to casting. They hired this fantastic writer [00:22:00] director. Producer, , from, from Malibu he's he's well known, , Todd Robinson and, and I, I participated every step of the way. And he was gonna tell this, this story, I've still got the man I've still got the scripts for the screenplay for it.
[00:22:16] And, , that's about the time that, , , our, our champion inside of CBS, , chose to exit because there were issues going on with less moon vest. At the time, , the guy who took her place when she was not announced as his successor, , did not believe in the, the, , nonfiction two-part format. And we lost the two primary casting roles, , because they were committed to other project.
[00:22:57] One was, , bull [00:23:00] the, the, , series bull based on loosely on Dr. Phil's life. And the other was designated survivor. They had both just committed. If you look back at the timelines, when those, those programs got green lighted, , it was a time we were, we were shopping for, , for a cast. Got we got. Orphaned, , fortunately, you know, gets picked back up a couple of times.
[00:23:22] We go to, we go to the distance with FX and, and after my buddy Todd saw what they did to me, , in episode four, he called me, said, Gary, don't let it affect you. You're bigger than this. , let it go. And I did. And you know, tho those guys had been around the block a time or two, not me. This is my first and only, and last time they wrote out my executive producer credits so that I couldn't object rewatch the credits.
[00:23:56] I am not an, an, , EP on there. I can
[00:23:58] Cory and Kendall: only what, [00:24:00] like the amount of people. Have reached out to you after the book was published and after the docu-series aired, because it's obviously a case that still fascinates a lot of people. It's one of the most, you know, that's one of those popular unsolved faces of all time.
[00:24:16] What was that like? How did that impact you? The, when the book came out, when the docu-series came out and people started coming outta the woodwork, want me to
[00:24:22] Gary Stewart: talk to you? So one of my greatest hopes in sharing the story, if you've read the book. You know, so many things happened leading up to me being available to be adopted by the stewards.
[00:24:37] Right. I don't believe in coincidences. I, I don't believe in luck. I believe that there's a plan and I was part of that plan to be part of that family. And a lot of things, a lot of the gears had to click together to make this motion start rolling, to get where we were. I always said, if I am not supposed to, to share my story, you know, God, [00:25:00] please shut that door.
[00:25:01] I don't wanna publish something and trash my biological father. Cause what if I'm wrong? I don't wanna publish something that has any errors in it, but if I do publish something that ends, like my story did basically saying, okay, now I know all I need to know about my biological beginning and I can walk away from that and I can go back to being Gary Stewart again, if I can give any other.
[00:25:27] Adopted child person struggling with their identity and their self-word. I can't give you the nbers, but adult suicide by adopted folks is significantly higher than people who never experienced adoption. There's a whole course study on. It's a feeling of worth. It's a feeling of, I was not good enough.
[00:25:51] Why didn't they want me that? Why didn't they love me? So I felt like if I gave a message of hope to anybody, wherever they are, and somebody may reach out one [00:26:00] day and say, thank you for being courageous enough to share your story of hope. I've gotten emails from, from all over the globe, France, Australia, just that same sentiment.
[00:26:11] I get a hundred times more. Of, you know, you're a nutball yo yours, is this just a money grab whatever. Fortunately, my story's kind of, you know, old news and then that's over. But I did, I do have a guy in, , in New Zealand who emails me monthly. He's a believer and he's still trying to get the Vallejo, not San Francisco police, but the Vallejo police department to do the right thing and, and not let this go the way of Jack the.
[00:26:39] I'll tell you guys, I have only done one other show, one other podcast. And I did speak down here in south Louisiana at a HOA gerbo parish public library. They wanted me to discuss how you take a, a book to film, to doxy series. I was happy to do this. So you're the only, the [00:27:00] third conversation I've had since that docentary came out.
[00:27:04] I'm not looking to do. I'm doing it when I saw what yours was about and finding family, I'll do that anytime any day. But , I'm not, I'm not out there trying to sell my story and generate more book sales. I hear you. We appreciate
[00:27:18] Cory and Kendall: you are doing that. I had had a friend asked me today. He's like, how do you, aside from the Kendall's family who'd been on there, how do you.
[00:27:24] How do we find your guests? I'm like, well, I mean, I'm an old school journalist. Sometimes you just gotta do a little research and dig in and be legitimate. I feel really strongly about journalism and, and the truth behind investigate reporting. And so it's, it's always been a passion of mine. I mean, I tended to go towards the entertainment side of things, but I still have that conviction that every, anything that I'm putting out there to my knowledge is absolutely a hundred
[00:27:47] Gary Stewart: percent.
[00:27:47] I I'll tell you one other thing. The lady who helped my mother find me Linda was lives in New Orleans. My story was so unique. She asked me to participate in the Louisiana adoption [00:28:00] advocacy board to help push the legislators in the state of Louisiana to release original birth certificates for consenting birth parents and adults 24 and older.
[00:28:13] And. I've gone to the legislature. So many times with our little group and our signs, just begging and giving, you know, testimony to why it's important and how they could help. And don't, you know, just two months ago, we got that bill passed, you know, Louisiana, still the only state in the nation under Napoleonic code.
[00:28:33] Right. We don't change with the tie. We kinda stick our ground with stuck in our. I actually sent in a $15 check just a couple of weeks ago to get a copy of my original birth certificate. So I'm really proud that happened. I always said I'd never see it in my lifetime, but we did that. Yeah, that's awesome.
[00:28:54] It's just a fundamental han right. To be able to have that record. And I've [00:29:00] always thought that, and I will always feel the same way too. So I'm proud of you for doing that for all the people who can now get
[00:29:09] Cory and Kendall: parts of the. Again, we encounter these like small world things with this podcast. So a good chunk of Kendall's birth family is in Louisiana, right?
[00:29:17] that's where they live. Yeah. That's where
[00:29:19] Gary Stewart: my birth mother lives with two of her other three children. They live down in Southern Louisiana. So. It's interesting. Never knew I had that connection. Never knew I had hate Cod east coast connections. It's
[00:29:34] Cory and Kendall: just right. It's just interesting. Right. It's just, yeah.
[00:29:37] Whole thing is, is bizarre that we does seem like every conversation got, there is some tie to some place we've lived or someone we've known.
[00:29:45] Gary Stewart: It's just, yeah. Mm-hmm I, I look forward to going back and hearing your whole story. That sounds fascinating to me. Thank you. Well, thank.
[00:30:02] I don't even think we've mentioned his name yet. Earl van best Jr. Who
[00:30:06] Gary Stewart: may in fact be the Zodiac killer? Yeah, so I, I guess we knew this as part of the discovery for filming. So the information we learned was available to the producers. To share. I know the lady who was his first girlfriend, their mothers were close.
[00:30:24] They were part of their, the Methodist church, the Noe valley in San Francisco. She's the little girl who grew up grade school, high school with my father. And I went to meet her to see if I could get her to, to participate in the docentary. And, you know, everyone that my father knew like his high school best.
[00:30:48] William Lomas. I think his only friend other than his former girlfriend, we're very reluctant to even meet me that that should tell you something right there. [00:31:00] And I don't think it has anything to do with, you know, my father not mentioning that he had a kid, I think it was about who he was. And, , some of the bizarre things that they retold.
[00:31:10] For me, but this lady, her name's Irene, she actually, , showed me a, a little gold cross that he gave her when they were like 12 years old. But she told me after he went, you know, he was all over the news and, and the word around town was that she would see him on a bus getting off a bus every now and then after he got released from prison or wherever.
[00:31:30] And so, you know, the joke around town was that was that fan married, his therapist. And he really did. Edith was a therapist, Vance counselor. And that was far as we know his last wife, his third and last wife. Irene told me that my father came around again. She couldn't tell me when late seventies, but she had kept all of the letters that he had written her from the time they were in grade school until the very end.
[00:31:59] [00:32:00] And, and they agreed to meet for dinner and then walk the labyrinth, the grace cathedral. And she told me, my father told her something that made her blood run cold. She went home, locked. The doors, told her daughter never to answer the phone again and burned all the letters that my father had sent her.
[00:32:25] And, you know, We can only asse because I don't have any more than that. That's the honest truth I didn't ask for anymore. You know, I'd rather respect her honesty with me and what she's willing to offer rather than dig and, and ruin a, a relationship. I can only imagine what that was. You know, he was a very arrogant person.
[00:32:46] He bragged about the things he did in life. So I can imagine him, you know, sharing with her. I did this. I'll never be caught. You need to come with me. We were always meant to. But she also said [00:33:00] that look in his eye was just a blank stare. Like he was a hundred percent pupil and no Iris just looking in the desk door.
[00:33:07] And, and then she told me, you know, I was at a dentist appointment. , we were in high school van came looking for me. He was mad at something and I wasn't home. So he let himself in, destroyed the house and threw my cat out the window. In fact, the reason he ended. Institutionalized that day was because his mother knew that the one person he would talk to was Irene.
[00:33:36] So when she got back from the dentist, she got on the phone and basically taught my father down off the list. The option was, , you go with the police or you go with the doctors and he was 17 at the time. So I can't get access to, to his juvenile record. My mother who tried to help me search because she.
[00:33:57] 13, when she first ran off with my father, [00:34:00] she can't get access to her juvenile record either there's information in those files that have probably long redacted maybe destroyed. I think it just further validates my assptions that that all these things happen together. In point to one guy and one guy along the producers had the opportunity to put.
[00:34:19] In the docentary, but instead they say, you know, hire a detective to say, well, it's possible Gary's father wasn't in the country yet during that murder. Well, it is, it is very likely, he was. So if you make an AC accusation back it up with a piece of paper, a fact, like I did everything I presented in my book has paper binded or otherwise I wouldn't have, I wouldn't have produced it.
[00:34:42] Right. So, so that's all we. Would that have changed anything or everything if it was made public, I think would it have been, it have been more of a cliff hanger. It may have forced the, the new authorities with the, with law enforcement in Napa Vallejo, , [00:35:00] Riverside and San Francisco police to the young blood to be enthusiastic about some new hints, some new clothes, take it and run with it.
[00:35:08] Try to solve it. That that's not the way it went. So I, I can't do anything about that at this point. As far
[00:35:15] Cory and Kendall: as you're concerned, have you closed the door on your own
[00:35:17] Gary Stewart: investigation? I, I am done. Yeah. I am done funny when I visit with people and I do love sharing my story because it is, it's such a big story.
[00:35:27] Sure. I, I get asked particularly the libraries or book function. When is a sequel coming out and I've given an answer over the years, but the last one I did in south Louisiana, I said, okay, the most dangerous animal of all is my life story. You only get one. How do you write a sequel to it? Right. But some wonderful things continue to have some amazing things continue happen in my life.
[00:35:54] And, , my son's recovery from that accident, I started another [00:36:00] story because the Stewart. Story that is titled the most dangerous animal of all began with a, with an automobile accident, , a fatal hangman's fracture of the first adopted 13 year old child in the steward household. She didn't survive. My son experienced the same fracture and he's a lie.
[00:36:25] I think my son's got a story work telling I wrote a Prolog. And, and gave it to him about a month ago and said, this is your choice. You know, he's always said, I'll never write a book. I'm not after what has to happen to you. I remember sharing the four episodes with him before it came out on FX. And all he could say was dad, that was hard to watch and I feel so bad what they did to you.
[00:36:55] So he didn't. Any part of any of that. But he was there with me the [00:37:00] day. My book was released in Baton Rouge and he did a lot, a lot of PR with me when the book first came out and I, I believe everybody's got a story. Mine was, was one. , but the fact that he survived an injury, that what would be his eldest aunt didn't that made room for Gary Stewart in the household.
[00:37:23] You see, they were only gonna adopt. So after the adoption of the second child had Cheryl not passed away in the accident, I wouldn't be in the steward household. Everything happens for a reason, in my opinion, , Zach was given another chance. He, he can share a story that I think could give spinal cord injury victims all over the world.
[00:37:45] Hope my stories, touch people, reach people, whatever his story could change the world for victims. Of, , spinal cord injury and I'm hoping that's what he chooses to do. That's awesome that you've
[00:37:57] Cory and Kendall: given him that prologue and that like [00:38:00] encouragement and tell his story. And I will say like watching the docu-series and I know like those last couple episodes, they try to turn it into something else, but I think anybody who's really paying attention can see through that and, and see your conviction and see your heart through this whole thing.
[00:38:18] It's, it's a story about. Family. And then, then finding family and ultimately there's some wild and crazy turns to it. But I mean, watching it again, it's like, I, I can see the legitimacy of you. One of the themes that we we talk about on this podcast is DNA magic is what we like to call it because I it's still, the whole thing is still very magical to me, like how we found F's family and our adventure over the last five years.
[00:38:46] So. Technology is improving daily and it's who knows what we're going to find out about the Zodiac killer in the, the days, months, weeks, years to come, who knows? There may be an expanded edition, maybe not a sequel, [00:39:00] maybe an expanded edition to your book someday.
[00:39:03] Gary Stewart: Yeah. Well, I appreciate you saying that and, and as you might suspect anyone that knows me, anyone that ha has had any, , dealing with me in, in.
[00:39:16] Nearly 60 years will say that that is not the Gary Stewart. And we know, in fact, the, I don't know how long it was because I, I haven't watched the docentary since it came out. I watched it one time and I, I walk away from it, but I don't know if the, the segment towards the end was with me. , when I was ambushed, I say was something that was totally inaccurate.
[00:39:40] And was it five minutes? Of me saying, what are you talking about? You know, tell me what you're, what you're cueing me of. I don't know if that was five minutes or whether it was the whole 45 minute episode. But what I do know is me that that whole filming took [00:40:00] three hours. You may have seen four minutes of it.
[00:40:03] That was three hours. And the, the secular me wants to say, you know what, pull the microphone off, walk away. I'm done. But I didn't. I said, you know, I committed to this. I'm gonna tell my story until the very end. And when, when they couldn't get me to answer and admit to doing something that I didn't do, we got to the end and it kind of just went blocked.
[00:40:27] It just kind of fizzled out the firework that just doesn't go off. And, and I said, are we through now? He said, yes, you can. And that's it. I took off my microphone. I packed my suitcase of all the changes of outfits. I had carried with me for all this time and I got me an Uber and I left and, and that was it.
[00:40:49] I didn't speak to, to those folks at all. You know, , one of the, one of the things I learned going all the way back to 2000 to 2003 [00:41:00] with John Kenis and the ABC prime time, , special in the Zodiac where Dr. Sidney. Ran the first ever, , DNA off of one of the letter stamps or envelopes, I was told way back then, even by my mother, that the Zodiac was such a, a thing back then that the police officers who had access to the Zodiac letters in the unlocked files in.
[00:41:34] Would literally take those, some of those letters home and let their children take 'em to school for show and tell. Yeah. And, and, and you know what, I I've always laughed that if my mother handled one of those letters, bro, one of those letter RO brings her husband, brings a couple letters home, say, Hey, chance has got a show and tell day tomorrow, let him take a Zodiac letter because his dad is a homicide [00:42:00] inspector.
[00:42:00] , that's working on the Zodiac taste. You know, I think if my mother touched that letter, then in addition to the, all the 20 other kiddies in Chance's class, my DNA could be on there. If my mother touched the letter. So there's gotta be something that will supersede chain of custody. There's gotta be a point to where maybe technology supersedes chain of custody and gets us final answered.
[00:42:26] Right. Right. And that could be centered than we.
[00:42:32] Cory and Kendall: Yeah,
[00:42:32] Gary Stewart: we
[00:42:32] Cory and Kendall: so appreciate you taking some time to, you know, revisit your
[00:42:36] Gary Stewart: story. And we love getting
[00:42:39] Cory and Kendall: into the, the whole nature versus nurture adoption thing. You've been very generous with your answers and your time, and
[00:42:45] Gary Stewart: we thank you so much. I, I always, , am fascinated to meet someone else, , in the adoption reunion.
[00:42:55] Triad and, , love to hear those stories. You know, everybody says, yeah, I got [00:43:00] a story. It's nothing like yours, not true. You know, it doesn't have to have all that to be a incredible, like my sister, my sister's story is huge. And, and I, we sit around, talk about it and we do all the time. So I'm looking forward, , Kindle to, to find out more about yours and, , you know, , I I'm honored.
[00:43:20] Who have been asked to participate in this show. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And yeah.
[00:43:26] Cory and Kendall: , share the, , podcast with your sister too, cuz we'd love to have her on .
[00:43:30] Gary Stewart: I definitely will. I definitely will. Yeah. All right, Gary, will you take care? Enjoy your
[00:43:34] Cory and Kendall: time down in
[00:43:35] Gary Stewart: bill shores. Thank you guys. Take care.
[00:43:40] Cory and Kendall: This
[00:43:41] Gary Stewart: is the family twists podcast hosted by Kendall and Corey STS with original music by cosmic, afterthoughts, and produced by outpost productions and presented by SWA fair marketing communications. Have a story you want to share. Visit family twist, podcast.com. All our social [00:44:00] media links are there as well.