George Hill Hodel

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George Hill Hodel, Jr. (October 10, 1907 – May 16, 1999) was an American physician. He was a suspect during the murder investigation of Elizabeth Short, which became known as the "Black Dahlia" murder.


George Hill Hodel, Jr. was born on October 10, 1907, and raised in Pasadena, California. His parents, George Hodel, Sr. and Esther Hodel, were of Russian Jewish ancestry.[1] Their only son, he was well educated and bright (scoring 186 on an early IQ test). He was also a musical prodigy, playing solo piano concerts at Los Angeles's Shrine Auditorium. Composer Sergei Rachmaninoff traveled to his grandparents' house to hear the boy play. Hodel moved in affluent Los Angeles society, and was friends of people such as photographer Man Ray and film director John Huston.

In late 1949, Hodel's teenaged daughter Tamar accused him of sexual abuse. He was acquitted after a widely publicized trial.[2]

Hodel moved from America in 1950. In 1990, Hodel, Jr. and his fourth wife, June, returned to the U.S. from Manila. He died at age ninety-one of heart failure.

Black Dahlia suspect[edit]

After Hodel died, his son Steve, a former LAPD homicide detective, wanted to learn more about his father. In the process he uncovered information that led him to believe his father was Elizabeth Short's killer. During Steve Hodel's investigation, he learned that his father may have killed more than once. George Hodel was suspected of being the Lipstick killer and the Zodiac Killer, and may have been responsible for other murders.

After reviewing the information presented in Steve Hodel's book, Head Deputy D.A. Stephen Kay proclaimed the case solved, but others have noted that Kay, who has since retired, formed this conclusion by treating Steve Hodel's many disputed assertions as established fact. Detective Brian Carr, the LAPD officer in charge of the Black Dahlia case at the time of Steve Hodel's briefing, said in a televised interview that he was baffled by Kay's response, adding that if he ever took a case as weak as Steve Hodel's to a prosecutor he would be "laughed out of the office." In a September 2006 television interview with Cold Case Files host Bill Kurtis, Carr added, "I don't have the time to either prove or disprove Hodel's investigation. I am too busy working on active cases."[3]

In 2004, a "George Hodel- Black Dahlia File" was discovered in the vault at the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office. The file revealed that in 1950, Hodel was the prime suspect on the Dahlia murder and his private Hollywood residence was electronically bugged by an 18-man DA/LAPD Task Force during the period 18 February to 27 March 1950. The DA transcripts contained Hodel's references to performing abortions, payoffs to law enforcement officials, and to his possible involvement in the deaths of his secretary and Elizabeth Short. The DA tapes recorded him saying, "Supposin' I did kill the Black Dahlia. They can't prove it now. They can't talk to my secretary anymore because she's dead." In 2004 the LAPD acknowledged that Hodel was originally investigated for the suspected murder (forced overdose by pills) of his secretary, Ruth Spaulding in 1945, but fled to China, which terminated the original investigation. Just before he was to be arrested in April 1950 for the Black Dahlia murder, Hodel left the country again. He remained in Asia for the next forty years.[4]

In the years following Hodel's leaving the country, investigators from both the LAPD and the District Attorney office privately confirmed that the Black Dahlia case was "solved" and that Hodel was the killer. Specific quotes from the top brass include the following: Chief of Detectives Thad Brown, "The Black Dahlia Case was solved. He was a doctor who lived on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood." LAPD Chief of Police William H. Parker, "We identified the Black Dahlia suspect. He was a doctor." LASD undersheriff James Downey, "The Black Dahlia Case was solved, but it will never come out. It was a doctor they all knew in Hollywood involved in abortions." DA Lt. Frank Jemison, "We know who the Black Dahlia killer was. He was a doctor but we didn't have enough to put him away." The DA Files confirmed that the doctor referred to was George Hill Hodel. The Black Dahlia Case after being reviewed by active Head Deputy DA Steve Kay who provided a legal opinion that "the case was solved" then presented it to then active LAPD Chief of Detectives, James McMurray in 2004. Chief McMurray after reviewing the investigation gave the following order to the Robbery/Homicide detectives under his command: "Unless you can find some major holes in [Steve] Hodel's investigation, go ahead and clear the Black Dahlia Murder." In 2014, Detective II Mitzi Roberts, the currently assigned LAPD Black Dahlia Case detective, stated in an interview with KMEX Univision television newsman Leon Krauze, "I actually agree with you. I think he [Steve Hodel] has made a very compelling theory. I think there is a lot of things that look like it, and his dad could actually be responsible for the murder of the Black Dahlia."[5]

Hodel had purchased and resided in the famous Sowden House in Hollywood from 1945 to 1950. The structure, built in 1926 by Lloyd Wright (son of the noted American architect Frank Lloyd Wright), is now a registered Los Angeles Historic Landmark. Based on information developed in 2010-2014 (physical evidence, cement sacks) used to transport the body from the residence to the vacant lot where Elizabeth Short's body was found, the Sowden House is believed to be where the victim was tortured, slain and her body surgically bisected. A police cadaver dog and subsequent soil analysis tests conducted in 2014 by forensic anthropologist, Dr. Arpad Vass, confirmed that soil samples from the rear of the residence were "specific for human remains." The segment was filmed for the television program "Ghost Hunters" but did not air. It was made available via the show's website.

Dr. George Hill Hodel Black Dahlia Avenger-Zodiac Linkage

In 2009, Most Evil: Avenger, Zodiac and the Further Serial Murders of Dr. George Hill Hodel (Dutton 2009) was published. The follow-up investigation examined the possibility that Hodel had also committed crimes outside of Los Angeles in: Chicago (Lipstick Murders), Manila, Philippines (The Jigsaw Murder) and in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1968-69, possibly reinventing and calling himself, "Zodiac." Thirty-one compelling MO and Crime Signatures were presented along with a Questioned Document Expert's (QDE) testimony that "the George Hodel and Zodiac handwriting samples were written by one and the same person." California Department of Justic (DOJ) conducted their own independent handwriting examination and while the results were not 100% positive, their QDE expert stated, "I am unable to eliminate George Hodel as Zodiac. I would request additional samples of his lowercase handwriting." (Currently lowercase handwriting samples are non-existent.)[6]

The investigative sequel while not claiming "case solved" did request that law-enforcement obtain and compare DNA samples. To date (October 15, 2015) no confirmed Zodiac DNA exists that can be compared with Hodel's known DNA.

In September, 2015, a six-year follow-up, MOST EVIL II: Presenting the Follow-up Investigation and Decryption of the 1970 Zodiac Cipher in Which the San Francisco Serial Killer Reveals His True Identity (Rare Bird Books 2015) was published. [7]

The new investigation further linked George Hodel to the San Francisco Bay Area "Zodiac" murders, and presented evidence that Hodel was in fact, the writer of the legitimate 1970 Zodiac coded cipher mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper and turned over to SFPD. The solution and "cracking of the cipher" was performed by M. Yves Person, a high-school teacher in Paris, France. George Hodel, using Ogham, an ancient Celtic "tree alphabet" signed his real name, H O D E L, placing it both as the return address on the envelope and as a signatory inside the card which read, "You Ache to Know My Name...I'll Clue you in..." The code had remained undeciphered for forty-five years. (1970-2015)[8][9]


  1. ^ Weller, Sheila (2015). "The Sins of the Father," DuJour.
  2. ^ Nelson, Mark; Sarah Hudson Bayliss (2006). Exquisite Corpse: Surrealism and the Black Dahlia Murder. New York: Bulfinch Press. Pg 26. ISBN 0-8212-5819-2
  3. ^ Black Dahlia suspects#George Hodel
  4. ^ Black Dahlia Avenger (HarperCollins 2006) by Steve Hodel
  5. ^ Black Dahlia Avenger II-2014 (Thoughtprint Press) by Steve Hodel
  6. ^ Hodel, Steve, Black Dahlia Avenger II, (Thoughtprint Press 2014) ISBN 978098307443-4 Chapter 18, Handwriting Update
  7. ^ Hodel, Steve, Most Evil II, Rare Bird Books 2015 ISBN 9781942600459
  8. ^ Rudd, Matt, The Sunday Times UK, "Crime Scenes: Case no. 8, The Zodiac murders part 2, Oct 4, 2015
  9. ^ Hodel, Steve, Most Evil II, Rare Bird Books 2015, ISBN 9781942600459

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