Los Angeles Times Columnist Steve Lopez's 2003 Black Dahlia Source Provides a Fourth Link to "Something Buried at Hodel Home"


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Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times


“… Dr. Hodel was involved in a noted case in 1947 and had poisoned his secretary shortly thereafter because she knew of the crime. The caller claimed Hodel had buried something in the yard of his Los Feliz home.” [SKH-emphasis mine]


                                               Steve Lopez. Columnist

                                               Another Dance With L.A.’s Black Dahlia Case

                                               Los Angeles Times f,April 13, 2003


I had totally forgotten about the above quote from Times reporter Steve Lopez’s article until being reminded by one of my readers, “Bud White.” Thanks Bud!


A week prior to the publication of my first book, Black Dahlia Avenger [now almost a decade past] I approached L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez and presented him with an advance copy of my book.  I felt it was only appropriate that a Los Angeles reporter break the story, and I have always admired Lopez for his objective, watchdog, For The People kind of reporting.


Lopez drove up to my then home in Lake Arrowhead and conducted an afternoon interview followed by interviews with LAPD detectives and District Attorney Steve Cooley. He then wrote two lengthy back to back articles in his L.A. Times column, Points West on April 11 and 13, 2003.


His first article, A Startling Take on Black Dahlia Case was published in the Times on April 11, 2003 and was published simultaneous to my press release at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.


            Here is an excerpt from that original article that carried little meaning back then, but with the subsequent discoveries from the DA Files along with the recent news of Buster, the Wonder Dog’s forensic search and “alerts” this month,  Lopez’s “source” statements take on new weight and meaning. From his original article:


I can’t explain the screams just yet. But as for the secretary, I’ve learned that the LAPD investigated a report that George Hodel might have poisoned a secretary who was writing about him in her diary. The secretary whose name my source refused to divulge, died late in 1947 of an apparent poisoning, several months after the Black Dahlia murder.


According to my contact, an anonymous caller told police “Dr. Hodel was involved in a noted case in 1947 and had poisoned his secretary shortly thereafter because she knew of the crime.” The caller claimed Hodel had buried something in the yard of his Los Feliz home.

 SKH Note-


 In my original BDA investigation, I summarized the then known facts surrounding the suspected murder of George Hodel’s secretary who at the time of my writing was identified only as his “Jane Doe Secretary.” Also, the year and  date of her death were unknown.

Subsequent to Lopez’s article and the independent confirmation by LAPD that his secretary was a suspected forced overdose I was able to identify her as Ruth Spaulding.  According to the coroner’s reports, her death occurred on May 9, 1945, some eighteen months prior to the Black Dahlia murder. 


Based on George Hodel’s 1950 tape recorded conversation in which he provides information on how he killed her and admits to her murder, we now know that this is the same victim he is referring to on the 1950 DA tape-recording. His statement, “Supposin I did kill the Black Dahlia they can’t prove it now because my secretary is dead,” obviously referred to the fact that as indicated in Lt. Jemison’s reports, “George Hodel and Elizabeth Short were acquainted.”  Dr. Hodel’s statement relates to the fact that if his secretary, Ruth Spaulding had  still  been alive some twenty months later (January, 1947) she could and as a woman scorned most certainly would  have been able to confirm the connection between George and Elizabeth, which most likely was both a professional and personal relationship.  (As my readers are aware, it is my belief that George Hodel and Lt. Jemison’s “unidentified doctor” were one and the same individual. However, separate from this speculation on my part, Lt. Jemison does connect the two of them “as being acquainted” through multiple sources  and says so in his police report.


But, what is important here (again thanks to Bud White’s excellent recall) is Lopez’s independent reference to something being buried at the Sowden/Hodel house.  This statement made in 2003 corroborates the DA/LAPDs 1950 suspicions as noted in their tape recorded crime, and their follow-up to determine if any digging or graves were seen by George Hodel’s plumber and as recently corroborated by Buster’s search and “alerts” in the basement in November, 2012.


Steve Lopez April 11, 2003 “A Startling Take on the Black Dahlia Case”

full text of article 


Lopez Apr 11 2003 Startling Take on BD Case.pdf 

Steve Lopez April 13, 2003 “Another Dance With L.A.’s Black Dahlia Case
full text of article

Lopez Another Dance article.pdf

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