Were the Chicago Red Lipstick Murders of 1944-1945 also the Crimes of a Dadaist Killer?


DADAISM … based on the principles of deliberate irrationality, anarchy, and cynicism and the rejection of laws of beauty and social organization…

Randomness was a key element to all things DADA.

Dada Chance-Randomness- See clip Tristan Tsara: To Make A Dadaist Poem

In my opinion, George Hodel, as a practicing Dadaist and serial killer, was compelled to incorporate “chance and randomness” into his crimes. Though premeditated and well organized, I believe that in many cases the victim was chosen completely at random – BY CHANCE. 

To Make A Dadaist Murder

Chicago, Illinois June 5, 1945

You live and kill in L.A.  On a summer day at the close of WW II you decide you need a change of pace.  You travel East, to conduct a little business in New York. But, all work and no play makes George a dull boy, so you make a stop-over in the hub-city to attend your good friend and family photographer, Man Ray’s artwork, currently on display at the Chicago Art Institute.

Perfect timing. You can take in the show, see your fellow Dadaist’s as well as that of forty of his fellow modernists, all on display at the same gallery.  You arrive chic-late, view the exhibit and share some good wine, crackers, cheese and a little conversation with fellow devotees, impressing all with your erudite knowledge of the art world and all things- surreal.

Inspired from viewing your fellow Dadaists creativity, and with a few hours to kill remaining in the Windy City, before continuing east, you decide to top off your short stay by committing a random murder. A totally unexpected- hit and run. Could anything be more DADA? 

Josephine Ross  “Chicago Bathtub Murder,” – June 5, 1945

On the morning of June 5, 1945, the victim, a 41-year-old divorcee, was accosted inside her residence apartment. Her assailant brutally beat her about the face and head with a blunt object and then slashed her jugular vein with a sharp knife. He then placed the body in the bathtub, and used a douche bag to wash it clean, and after toweling it dry carried it to the bed. He tied a woman’s silk stocking tightly around her neck and then “doctored to her” by carefully placing some 3″x1/4″ strips of white surgical tape over her facial lacerations. As a final act of posing he covered her head with a red skirt before leaving. A suspect seen exiting the apartment just before the body was discovered fit the description of Dr. George Hill Hodel.  

Because of the close similarity in “M.O.” to the Hollywood Bathtub Murder of victim, Georgette Bauerdorf, which occurred eight-months prior (Oct. 11, 1944) LA Sheriff’s homicide detectives actively investigated the Chicago Ross murder as possibly being connected. They requested fingerprint comparisons and exchanged info with Chicago P.D. (The 1944, Georgette Bauerdorf murder, which occurred just three miles from my father’s, newly purchased Franklin House residence is extensively documented in BDA, where I make the case that it was most probably committed by George Hodel.)

ross murder.jpg 

Man Ray travels from Hollywood for opening of Chicago Exhibition in May, 1945

Man Ray’s artwork was on exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute at the time of the Ross Murder. The exhibit opened in late April and ran through early July, 1945. The show featured 41 prominent artists, most of them from Europe. A May 5, 1945 article from the Chicago Tribune prominently featured references to Man Ray’s attendance and participation at the show, calling him, “the first American Dadaist.” 

Click below for full article on Man Ray and 1945 exhibit:

manray chicago 1945.pdf

1945 Chicago Art Institue Exhibit

Chicago Art Institute exhibit 1945.jpg

Man Ray’s 1945 artwork on display

Chicago ManRay work on exhibit.JPG


Man Ray, at the time of the exhibit was good friends with George and Dorothy Hodel and was living in Hollywood. In 1944-45 as our family photographer, he had taken a number of carefully posed photographs of Dorothy. Some alone and some with his then fiancee and soon to be wife, Juliet Browner. 

 In addition to Man Ray, the Chicago exhibit displayed works by many noted artists including: Herbert Bayer, Fernand Leger, Henry Moore, Miguel Covarrubias and many others. (SKH Note- Miguel Covarrubias had become good friends with John and Dorothy Huston during the few years they lived in NY. Covarrubias had illustrated all of the drawings for Huston’s book, Frankie and Johnny, published in 1929 and dedicated to my mother, who was married to John and that time. (Their marriage lasted seven years, from 1926-1933) 

See an interesting article written by Michael Guillen,  John Huston & Miguel Covarrubias: A Friendship: here.

Did the wannabe friend and  fellow Dadaist,  George Hodel decide in June, 1945,  that while his works may not be on view and  hanging next to his fellow surrealists  inside the gallery, nevermind, he would create his own special kind of “art” and let the newspapers herald it along with pictures on the front pages of their very public  “gallery.”

Was Chicago’s Josephine Ross bathtub murder a repetition of George Hodel’s Hollywood Bauerdorf bathtub murder? Were  the two Chicago “Lipstick Murders” to follow, (Frances Brown in  December, 1945 and  Suzanne Degnan, January 1946) also precursors to his most famous surreal masterpiece – 1947 Black Dahlia Murder- Murder As a Fine Art? 


Why I Give: Steve Hodel
Retired Homicide Detective, Los Angeles Police Department
Los Angeles, CA

Hodel During more than two decades as a homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department, I personally conducted over 300 murder investigations. After retiring, I became a licensed private investigator and criminal defense investigator. I have seen firsthand that our criminal justice system works most of the time — but not always. Wrongful prosecutions occur. Innocent people are convicted.

Once an individual is arrested and logged into the system, a lot can go wrong. An overzealous detective or prosecutor confronted with public pressure will often pursue a weak or borderline case when cooler heads should prevail and the case be continued for further investigation. If a criminal complaint is formally charged, there is rarely any turning back. Professional reputations are on the line, and in the more serious cases of rape, armed robbery and murder — politics get in the way.

That is why I support the Innocence Project. They have become the court of last resort. Thanks to the Innocence Project’s tireless efforts, more convictions are overturned each year and more actual innocents go free. Many of these individuals have been imprisoned for decades, some of them on death row for crimes they did not commit.

I urge you to join me in supporting the Innocence Project’s cause — which is simply to ensure due process and prevent wrongful convictions.







  1. security Van on May 5, 2017 at 8:38 am

    i feel so sad

  2. Wendy car on May 10, 2017 at 7:36 am

    It was good!!

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