The Black Dahlia Avenger’s –  “Soft Sly Voice”

“I believe he is an egomaniac who deliberately planned the murder to prove to himself that he was a superman who could outwit and outthink the whole world… He would be one against the world, the perpetrator of the perfect crime… I am convinced that his mad ego will cause him to commit another crime and in the same manner….Every time I put the receiver to my ear I hope that I will hear that same soft sly voice that I heard that day that I talked with the killer of the Black Dahlia.”

                     James Richardson, City Editor, Los Angeles Examiner  

James Richardson speaking with “Black Dahlia Avenger” Jan. 23, 1947

(Photo reenacted for his book cover, For the Life of Me: Memoirs of a City Editor) 

james richardson tel.jpg


Voice of George Hill Hodel M.D. – “The Black Dahlia Avenger”

Here, presented for the first time publicly, are several samples of my father’s voice. Two of them were recorded in Manila, circa 1959, some twelve-years after the murder of Elizabeth Short. George is reading bedtime poems to my four half-brothers and sisters in Manila. (The children’s ages then ranged from approximately 3-8 years.)  The piano heard in the background is being played by his then wife, Hortensia, who was an accomplished pianist. 

George Hodel circa 1959 reading:


George Hodel circa 1959 reading:”
GHH Where GoThe Boats MPS final

This third sample below was recorded in San Francisco circa 1997. The “Avenger” is now 89 years-old and living with his wife June in their 39th floor penthouse suite on Bush Street, in the Financial District. IS THIS THE ZODIAC SPEAKING?

George Hodel circa 1997, San Francisco – 
GHH SF 1997 mps.mp3


Additional samples of George Hodel’s speaking voice can be heard on the just posted YouTube video- (Click below)

 Beyond the Black Dahlia 




“THE VOICE” – City Editor Richardson’s Conversation with the Killer-


From Black Dahlia Avenger, Chapter 12 – The LAPD and the Press: The Joint Investigation 

Page 163:

  On the afternoon of January 23, Los Angeles Examiner city editor James Richardson received a phone call from a man identifying himself as the Black Dahlia killer. In Richardson’s autobiography, For the Life of Me: Memoirs of a City Editor; he describes the eerie call and the killer’s follow-up. Richardson explained that he never published the story in the paper at the time because he wanted to keep the evidence confidential, even though there was a feeding frenzy among crime reporters for any stray piece of information on the case.

His revelation of the phone call became an important piece of evidence for me, primarily because of his verbatim description of his brief conversation with the killer and his impressions of the suspect. That this call came from the real killer is not in doubt. During their conversation he promised Richardson to send him “a few of her [Elizabeth’s] belongings.” As Richardson described the conversation:

The story dwindled to a few paragraphs and was about to fade out altogether when one day I answered the phone and heard the voice I’ll never forget.

“Is this the city editor?” it asked.


“What is your name, please?”


“Well, Mr. Richardson, I must congratulate you on what the Examiner has done in the Black Dahlia case.”

“Thank you,” I said, and there was a slight pause before the voice spoke again.

“You seem to have run out of material,” it said.

“That’s right.”

A soft laugh sounded in the earpiece.

“Maybe I can be of some assistance,” the voice said.

There was something in the way he said it that sent a shiver up my spine.

“We need it,” I said and there was that soft laugh again.

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” the voice said. “I’ll send you some of the things she had with her when she, shall we say, disappeared?”

It was difficult for me to control my voice. I began scribbling on a sheet of paper the words: “Trace this call.”

“What kind of things?” I asked as I tossed the paper to my assistant on the desk. I could see him read and start jiggling the receiver arm on his phone to get the attention of the switchboard girl.

“Oh say, her address book and her birth certificate and a few other things she had in her handbag.”

“When will I get them?” I asked, and I could hear my assistant telling Mae Northern the switchboard girl to trace my call.

“Oh, within the next day or so. See how far you can get with them. And now I must say goodbye. You may be trying to trace this call.”

“Wait a minute,” I said but I heard the click and the phone was dead. 

Richard concluded his book with some observations and reflections about the caller/killer he had spoken with seven years earlier. He was, Richardson was convinced, an egomaniac who planned the murder to show the world he was a superman, someone who could “outwit and outthink the whole world.” He also stated–and again he was right–that the killer had placed the body where it would be quickly found, and mutilated it so horribly to attract the greatest attention on the part of the police and public. “He would be one against the world,” he wrote, “the perpetrator of the perfect crime.”

            Richardson was also certain the killer would strike again, and in the same manner, but that ultimately he would make a mistake that would result in his capture. Richardson hoped that the Dahlia killer would again pick up the phone, dial the city desk and ask for him. He revealed that his switchboard operators had developed a sixth sense and screened the “nuts and crackpots,” but every now and then did put through a call to him, which invariably was important. He said he still believed that one day he would pick up the receiver and “again hear that soft, sly voice.”


City Editor Richardson receives Elizabeth Short’s personal belongings mailed by killer, “To the Los Angeles Examiner and Other L.A. Papers.”  

Richardson FNL.jpg

Author’s Signed Copy of City Editor Richardson’s Memoirs

Early on in my investigation and research in 2000, I was fortunate to obtain a first edition, signed copy of James Richardson’s 1954 memoirs. The copy I found was exceptionally COOL as the Front Page, Old School editor had inscribed the book to the legendary film director, John Ford.  Richardson’s inscription reads:

“For John Ford

      Cagney says you like good reading.

So, here you are . And if thats boasting – make the most of it.

             Best Wishes,  J.H. Richardson


Richardson Book For the Life of Me.jpg  For The Life Of Me; Memoirs Of A City Editor RICHARDSON, James Hugh Putnam’s New York 1954




  1. Yvonne on January 3, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Do you think your dad was capable of killing even in the 1990’s? I ask this because when I was living in Carson in the early 90’s, I read in the Daily Breeze that 2 women had been found on 190th St in the LA strip area cut up and left on the side of the street. Drivers had thought they were mannequins. I remember thinking that it was like the Black Dahlia case, but I thought that by the 90’s, the murderer must be dead.

  2. Steve Hodel on January 4, 2010 at 12:08 am

    No, highly doubtful he could have continued killing into the 1990s. In fact, I think that it is very likely that his last victim was San Francisco cab driver, Paul Stine. That crime occurred on Oct 11, 1969 – one day after my father’s 62nd birthday. It’s possible he continued into the early to mid-1970s, but my research/investigation hasn’t found anything- so far.

  3. Amber on February 8, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    I believe your Father was responsible for the Black Dahlia Murder and the Lipstick Murders. Actually, before I watched or read anything related to the evidence you’d already found, when I had been reading an article which listed the Dr. as one of the suspects, I said to myself, ‘he was probably the murderer, he meets all of the criteria, they have the wrong man in Prison’. I’m curious though, of why you believe your Father was also responsible for the Zoidac killings? Other than the antagonizing letters, I don’t see much correlation between the two. Is there other evidence you’ve come accross to make you believe it was him?

  4. Steve Hodel on February 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Hi Amber:
    In my second book, MOST EVIL I document all the linkage that I believe connects my father to not only the Chicago Lipstick Murders, a Black Dahlia copycat murder in the Philippines, and then to the San Francisco Bay area murders by “Zodiac.” In these later crimes I’m not saying, “solved” but that he needs to go to the top of the list and they need to obtain confirmed DNA and compare it to George Hodel’s. Suggest you check out the book for all the reasons why I believe he is linked to the 1960s crimes. All my best, Steve

  5. Hooday on April 27, 2012 at 12:02 am

    Just watch the 2007 Zodiac documentary, interviewing a lot of the original personnel in the investigation. I DID NOT KNOW two of the survivors were still alive at that time, (as well as the Vellijo dispatcher, who took the killer’s call.)
    Both Hartnell and this dispatcher heard the killer distinctively. (Hartnell had an extended conversation with him.) Have you tried to contact them and let them hear your father’s voice recordings? Could be some interest.

  6. Steve Hodel on April 27, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Hi Hooday:
    During my investigative stage prior to publication of MOST EVIL I did write to Hartnell requesting he listen to “The Voice” but he never responded. The problem with a voice ID is the same as a photo ID. Especially from forty-years past. A witness inclusion or exclusion is basically meaningless at this stage. Half will believe the witness and the other half won’t. As I keep saying, the only way the Zodiac case will ever be solved/cleared is through confirmed DNA. That’s why I emphasized it in detail in my “Touch DNA” chapter in BDA II.
    Best, Steve

  7. Jasmine Hodel on June 22, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    I fully believe that George Hill Hodel was the Black Dahlia Killer, Lipstick Killer, and Zodiac, along with a few other murders. I do not believe I share any relation to him, but I was born with the same last name. I researched the Zodiac since I was 11, and only became convinced of the true killer when I read Most Evil.

  8. Steve Hodel on June 22, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Hi Jasmine: (pretty name)
    Yes, as author of both books, I’ve found that the biggest hurdle is getting the public to read the second book. Initial reaction is, “This cannot be.” (That was my own reaction when I began looking at the possibility.) But, once they have read MOST EVIL they realize that a compelling case exits and the probability that George Hodel reinvented himself as ZODIAC is very high.. As you know, in MOST EVIL I’m not saying, “case solved” rather I’m saying, “Let’s do the DNA and rule him in or out.” All my best, Steve

  9. Carol McNeill on November 13, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Steve, I read your book The Black Dahlia many years ago. Great book…amazing at every turn!

    Am I remembering correctly that your dad was friends with John Ford, the director, and that they were involved in many kinky sexual parties etc?

    This came up in conversation lately, and I am curious.

    Thanks for any info you can shed. Cheers!! Carol

    • Steve Hodel on November 13, 2017 at 3:23 pm

      Hi Carol M. Thanks, glad you enjoyed BDA.
      I think you are confusing director John Ford, with my dad’s good and longtime friend, director John Huston. (Maltese Falcon, African Queen, Treasure of Sierra Madre etc.) Huston and my dad were close friends and my mother, Dorothy Huston Hodel had been married to John seven years, before divorcing him and marrying my father in 1940. Best, Steve.

  10. Jana on April 4, 2019 at 1:00 am

    Hello Steve,

    I’ve been trying to listen to the MP4 that you posted regarding your father’s voice but it says error?

    • Steve Hodel on April 5, 2019 at 1:18 am

      Jana: Try it now. Should work. Steve

  11. John on August 10, 2019 at 11:19 pm

    Hello, Mr. Hodel,
    I absolutely love your books, true master piece your father was a very fasinating guy. Its ashame such a talented handsome genius can have such madness in his surreal dream like desires. I do have couple of questions, I listened to your fathers voice but has your father ever been filmed( such as home video / proffessional)? And have you considered on making a movie about your Father? Thanks John

    • Steve Hodel on August 10, 2019 at 11:45 pm

      Hi John: Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. Yes, he had the potential and the brain power to cure cancer or almost anything and it all went to the Darkside. Tragic. Dad’s wife, June took a lot of video/film of him, but none of that will ever be available. I have a few videos of the two of them from visits in WA State, trips to Orcas Island etc. We hare hoping to make a six or eight-part miniseries documentary in the near future. Top pros are going to pitch it to studios soon, so hopefully we can tell the full story on film. Best, Steve

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