Did Dr. George Hodel Sign His "Surreal Masterpiece" by Cutting an Artist's Crosshatching Marks into Elizabeth "Black Dahlia" Short's Body Parts?

Los Angeles, California

In a new chapter, A
Surrealist Signature
written in Black
Dahlia Avenger II
, I review the previously stated links and include several
new findings supporting my belief that the carnage performed on and carved into
Elizabeth Short’s body was my father’s deliberate signature as a “surreal

 In 2002, I wrote:

                        The killer had to make her death extraordinary both in planning and in         execution.In
his role as a surreal artist, he determined that his work would be a
masterpiece of the macabre, a crime so shocking and horrible it would endure,
be immortalized through the annals of crime lore.
 As Avenger, he would use her body as his
canvas, and his surgeon’s scalpel as his paintbrush.

In the past decade, much new evidence has been discovered to
support my original hypothesis and can be found in my own and other writer’s
books on the subject. ( See the Mark Nelson and Sarah Hudson Bayliss book, Exquisite Corpse: Surrealism and the Black Dahlia Murder).(Bulfinch Press, Hachette Group 2006)  I will not here attempt to restate those many references
and links which most of my readers are probably already quite familiar with.However, here is a new observation that has previously gone
unnoticed and offered here for the first time.


Signed by her killer?

             Elizabeth “Black Dahlia”
Short right hip
             (Enlarged showing “crosshatching”

SKH Note: I am in possession
of another original autopsy photograph (not shown) revealing that similar
crosshatching incisions were performed on the victim’s pubic area.  Additionally, 
the autopsy surgeon describes a third crisscross pattern cut into the
surface of the piece of flesh which was removed from the  left thigh and then inserted into the victim’s
vagina and discovered during the postmortem examination. Here are the Coroner’s
original 1947 notations referencing and describing the trauma to all three locations:

is a square pattern of superficial criss-cross lacerations in the skin of the
right hip. … There are multiple criss-cross lacerations in the suprapubic area.
Which extend through the skin and soft tissue. ….Within the vagina and higher
up there is lying loose a piece of skin with fat and subcutaneous tissues
attached. On this piece of loose skin there are several criss-crossing
lacerations. ( SKH- As an unrelated side note on this same page the coroner
states, “The uterus is small and no
pregnancy is apparent.”)

 Below shows a page 4 scan of the original Elizabeth Short autopsy summary copied by me from the DA Investigative File in 2004 which references the three separate “crisscross incisions” and “no pregnancy.” 



Below is a 2013 Email message I received from Steve Lamb in
which he states his belief that Elizabeth Short’s killer “signed his work with
crosshatching”, an art term I was not familiar with until his recent communication.

Steve- The Autopsy lists “Tick Tac Toe”
marks. I looked at the photos. That’s not what those are. Those are
CROSSHATCHING. It’s how pencil and engravings are traditionally shaded. Every
artist develops his own and it’s more difficult to forge by far than a
signature or most other technique. For an art appraiser or critic the
crosshatching is AS GOOD AS A SIGNATURE. Elizabeth Short was signed by her

Sample of crosshatching from YouTube
explanation of Crosshatching for Beginners


crosshatching video.JPG


Local Altadena architect Steven Lamb, originally contacted me back in 2011 and
provided a fascinating and significant contribution and corroboration to my
ongoing investigation by way of a chance conversation he (Lamb) had with famed
Hollywood Surrealist photographer, Edmund Teske back in the
late 1970s.  (Edmund Teske was a   friend
to both my father, George Hodel and Man Ray during our residency at the Sowden/Franklin House,

Teske, along with Man Ray, had also taken several Hodel family
photographs during his frequent visits. Teske at that time he maintained a friendship with George Hodel was residing at the Aline
Barnsdall Hollyhock
(Studio B) which had been designed and built by, Frank Lloyd Wright,
father to Lloyd Wright, who built the Sowden/Hodel House in 1926.) 

Steve Lamb’s account of his meeting and conversation with
Edmund Teske is reported in full in Black
Dahlia Avenger II
in the Chapter, “Hollywood Roomers.”

Below is a copy of
Steve Lamb’s letter, “Meeting Ed Teske“,
which he sent to me, and is reproduced in my 2012 edition of BDA II:


lamb ltr page 1.jpg













Lamb Ltr page 2.jpg

Hodel Boy’s photo by Edmund Teske circa 1948. 
Taken inside Soweden/Hodel House courtyard.

boys teske photo sowden house.JPG

                          Steve                    Michael               Kelvin

Below photo by Edmund Teske taken from inside the living room
on the same day
Note how different the inner courtyard appeared circa 1948 than it does today. 

teske hodel boys.JPG





  1. John Ayers on May 18, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    I’ve been hesitant to mention this, but I’ve noticed during the Jodi Arias trial her attempts to attract attention to herself, even at the expense of saving her skin. She killed her victim three times over, which made me wonder if there was some artistic intent or personal statement behind it. She has also used social media through a friend to make sure everyone knows how she feels about the reporters and pundits that are talking about her. She is also trying to sell art.
    I think your dad was a lot smarter because he would listen to his lawyers. But I wonder if Jodi is another frustrated person who at heart is an artist.

  2. Kathy on May 20, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    There are cross hatching marks on the body. I fail to see how this refers to your father, Steve? I mean do you have any examples of your father putting cross hatching on something else? A letter? A piece of random art or something? Please bear in mind that I do believe your father, Dr. Hodel, is the one who murdered Elizabeth Short.

  3. Steve Hodel on May 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Kathy: The references to crosshatching goes directly to the point to underscore my belief that Elizabeth Short’s body was my father’s “art masterpiece” her body being his canvas. If the marks on the body are in fact meant to be an artist’s crosshatches, then it shows that he did in fact consider the murder as “art” and signed his work like any other artist would do. This adds to the many other points in earlier chapters that point to the same “signature”, MURDER AS A FINE ART.

  4. TA Scott on August 24, 2013 at 8:34 am

    I wonder how many surreal appearances are involved in this case, two dozen, more? With this latest Man Ray association, one wonders how many surrealist thought-prints remain undiscovered. How many are required before mere coincidence can be ruled out?

  5. TA Scott on August 24, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Regarding the uncertainty produced by the criminal (or criminals) involved in this crime:
    The bewilderment produced by the surrealist thought-prints in this case knows no bound, mystifying all involved before, during and after the murder.
    These surreal signatures are designed to create confusion, to destabilize the untrained eye, to conceal an inside reference or pun that only the inner circle of surrealists could fully understand.
    Although implanted surreal messages were often intellectual or even humorous in nature, this murder represents a homicidal instance of surreal appearance, a brutal, psychopathic act for history to witness in bafflement.

  6. JT on September 20, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    This is interesting to hear about the tic tack toe marks on the square piece of flesh on her thigh. I read articles saying it was either a rose or heart tatoo on her thigh that was cut out . But the tic tac toe pattern makes more sense.

    • Steve Hodel on September 20, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      JT: Actually, the rose tattoo was cut out from her left thigh area. This is separate trauma carved on her right hip area which in my updated investigation is now linked to a geometric symbol drawn by GHH’s friend Man Ray in a 1943 painting known as, L’Equivoque. New chapter on that is presented in BDA II. (May 2014)

  7. Harrikarri on January 11, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    I spent a lot of time studying art. Commercial art, art as my major at university and other courses. I do of course know about crosshatching, but have never heard of it used as a signature. I think it’s more likely that the marks on the thigh are taken from the Man Ray piece.

    • Steve Hodel on January 11, 2020 at 7:36 pm

      Harri K: I agree. The discovery of the “L’Equivoque Man Ray painting came shortly after the “crosshatching” mention and all things considered is definitely more in line with the Murder as a Fine Art crime signature.

  8. Nicole on November 26, 2022 at 7:13 pm

    It’s not like a tattoo you would get like if you finished a race and wanted a symbol printed on your skin to symbolize the race like the number 26..2 for a marathon. A serial killer signature is an unconscious imprint left behind at the scene when they are deliberately acting out the images and fantasies in their mind. So he would not just day let me sign my name here. He leaves a signature behind through the cuts on her body. as in the mutilation is symbolic In that it somehow gave him psychological gratification. His personality is reflected and he left his own unique mark on her..

    • Steve Hodel on November 26, 2022 at 7:20 pm

      There is nothing “unconscious” in George Hodel’s crime signature cuttings.. These are deliberate “clews and taunts” related to preexisting surrealist artworks as a “catch me if you can; I am smarter than all of you dumb cops” taunts.

      • Nicole on November 26, 2022 at 8:43 pm

        A lot of serial killers do it subconsciously even though the act is deliberate. The BTK serial killer came up with a “signature” for himself. He would leave the letters BTK at the crime scene.. many serial killers don’t do that. They don’t think serial killers are supposed to have a signature so I need to create one for myself. The actions are very deliberate but they unconsciously leave their personal imprint by acting out part of a fantasy., When they refer to a signature crime they mean the imprint left behind unique to the killer which can be seen in the unique markings on the body or at the scene. . The markings as well as the crime scene convey a psychological imprint of the offender. So it’s possible he wanted to mark Elizabeth in a way that he was leaving his own sign on her like this is my art work so let me leave some cross hatch marks to show how I feel this is a masterpiece.. Like with Ted Bundy he said murder for him was about possession. So the bite mark he left on victims can be symbolic of possession or ownership that’s why he did that. So yes I get what your saying. . I’m not sure if I’m totally on board with the copying of the art work but I do think the killer felt he had to leave his own personal imprint on her and thought of it as a masterpiece.

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