Black Dahlia: 1949 Letter Proves Nothing About Dr. George Hodel

South Pasadenan, 2018
Sorry, no.

If you are familiar with Steve Hodel’s elevator pitch (“retired LAPD homicide cop discovers evil genius dad was maniacal serial killer”) you can skip all of this in the South Pasadenan. It’s more of the same old exaggerated claims, distorted details and suppressed facts that don’t fit with the predetermined narrative. And lots of rambling about surrealism.

But for those who are new to the ever-expanding Dr. George Hodel “evil genius” franchise, you might want to read on. I’m not going to rehash all of the George Hodel material I have done over the years (there is a lot of it) but here are some selected links.

Executive summary: Dr. George Hodel was never “the prime suspect” in the Black Dahlia case. That dubious title would be reserved for Robert M. “Red” Manley, Joseph Dumais and Leslie Dillon. Dr. Hodel was investigated for a while, his house was bugged for about a month and a half and that’s it.


Black Dahlia: George Hodel — Soil Samples at the Sowden House: FAIL
Black Dahlia: The Non-Smoking Gun – George Hodel Files (37 parts)
Black Dahlia: Can You Identify the Black Dahlia? (Updated)

Steve Hodel is in the news because a woman living in Indianapolis found an old letter in her late mother’s belongings, went to Google and here we are.

The letter is dated Oct. 25, 1949, and was apparently written by W. Glenn Martin, whom Steve Hodel identifies as a police informant.

South Pasadenan, 2018

South Pasadenan, 2018

Notice that the letter refers to a “G.H.”

South Pasadenan, 2018
To Steve Hodel, this is unquestionably “George Hodel,” to which I can only say that Mr. Martin could have made life easier for everyone if he had, you know, made it “Dr. G.H.” Because it could have been George Haas (1512 N. Pennsylvania Ave.) or Gerald Hall (342 1/2 N. Sierra Bonita) or Gilbert Harper (6620 Bonsallo Ave.) or hundreds of other men with the initials “G.H.” in the 1948 Los Angeles phone book.

There are several names in the letter who are identified in the South Pasadenan story, but the person who isn’t explained (showing a surprising lack of curiosity, I must say) is Lucille Bowen, who was found dead in the St. George Hotel (Note: Another “G.H.”), at 115 E. Third, on Oct. 25, 1949, the same day Martin apparently wrote his letter.

South Pasadenan, 2018

South Pasadenan, 2018

Here’s the Los Angeles Times story, published the next day:

And it says the LAPD got a bogus tip that former burlesque dancer Lucille Bowen had been killed by the same man who murdered Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia. But according to medical examiner Dr. Frederick Newbarr, Rena Lucille Hodge, alias Lucille Bowen, 40, died of the effects of acute alcoholism. Her death wasn’t related in any way to the Black Dahlia.


L.A. Times, 1947

This case is an interesting one because it touches on the use of police courtesy cards. In fact, Joan Renner and I have each written about it.

The letter offers a few more things that could be explored, but I’m not sure it’s worth my time. Did Glenn Martin and Dr. George Hodel eat together all that often? Was George Hodel really grilled in the Louise Springer killing (a.k.a. the Green Twig Murder), which occurred June 16, 1949? BEFORE he was accused of molesting Tamar Hodel (Oct. 7, 1949)? Did Dr. George Hodel really have lots of connections in Oklahoma City?

I’ll let someone else look into all of that.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Books and Authors, Cold Cases, LAPD and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Black Dahlia: 1949 Letter Proves Nothing About Dr. George Hodel

  1. JAMES says:

    I saw this in the news yesterday and was waiting to see what you would say. Even if this informant claims Hodel did it it’s only his opinion. It would take more than this to convince anyone. And he only says “G.H.” which is suspicious but doesn’t nail it. We need to know more about who this informant was and what did he know.


  2. JAMES says:

    By the way, Larry, there is a video on youtube claiming to be the only known film footage of Elizabeth Short. It’s that color film from V-J day showing people in Hollywood celebrating. There is a girl that looks like Elizabeth. I think you have said before it’s not her and she wasn’t even in Hollywood at that time.


  3. David says:

    Thank you for the updates. It is difficult to imagine anyone actually believing Steve at this point. I will forward you an e-book of black dahlia avenger III for the holidays! Keep up the hard work.


  4. Jeanne Marie Spicuzza says:

    Well done!


  5. Joe Bleau says:

    So weary and tired of hearing about Steve Hodel. Hope your book comes out soon Larry and sets the record straight.

    Liked by 1 person

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