The Case of the Stolen 1400-Year-Old Chinese Sacrificial Tablet – Did George Hodel Use the Item During the Sowden House Torture Murder of Elizabeth "Black Dahlia" Short?

tablet china Han dynasty

Chinese Sacrificial Tablet
HAN DYNASTY (206 B.C. – A.D. 220

Photo from THE MET museum believed similar in appearance to stone tablet taken in 1947 burglary from Sowden/Hodel residence described as being: “11”x6″x31/2″ bearing about 50 Chinese characters carved on a dark gray stone.”



March 2, 2016
Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles Times headline on November 20, 1947, read:


Below is the full article in which my father, Dr. George Hill Hodel reported that an art-object he owned, a 1400-hundred-year-old Chinese tablet originally used in human sacrifice and valued at $25,000 ($275,000 in today’s dollars) was stolen in a daytime burglary from his Sowden House residence.

Los Angeles Times
November 20, 1947




Chinese human sacrificial tablet stolen from George Hodel residence, 5121 Franklin Ave., Hollywood. (Residence in photo left.)


Too bad the fictional downtown Los Angeles insurance investigator Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) wasn’t assigned to Dr. HodeL’s– THE CASE OF THE STOLEN SACRIFICIAL TABLET, back in 1947. (At year’s end, 1944, Ace investigator Keyes had just completed figuring out whodunit in the film noir classic–DOUBLE INDEMNITY, a murder-for-hire scheme involving Mrs. Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) and her lover, Keyes fellow insurance agent, Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray). Double_indemnity

After that convoluted caper, I’m sure Investigator Keyes would have found the challenge of solving my father’s 1947 insurance rip-off as easy as—shooting fish in a barrel.








Keyes and Neff, two LA insurance claims investigators (seen above) trying to “crack the case” in the 1944 whodunit,  “Double Indemnity.”  The screenplay was written by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler, based on a novel by famed mystery writer, James M. Cain.  (Cain’s novel, Mildred Pierce was also made into a film the following year, starring actress Joan Crawford. That 1945 film was nominated for six Academy Awards, and Ms. Crawford won for Best Actress.)


Barbara Stanwyck wearing a “bad wig to give her extra sleaze” plays, Phyllis,  the unfaithful wife and  Femme Fatale seen here in a scene from Double Indemnity with Fred MacMurray.

Based on the Los Angeles Times article, we know that the Chinese human sacrificial stone tablet was removed from the residence less than a year after the victim Elizabeth Short was abducted and taken to the Hodel home where she was bound, beaten, tortured and slain.

Due to the fact that this murder stands out in the annals of crime as one of the most fiendishly sadistic Lust murders ever committed, and we have documentation that her killer, Dr. George Hodel, less than a year later, publicly confirmed that the stolen sacrificial stone tablet was at his residence at the time of the crime: we cannot ignore the very real possibility that the “art object” was used for its original intent.  This time in a modern-day human sacrifice during the actual commission of the Black Dahlia lust torture murder.

(SKH Note- Because of the smallness of the tablet (not any bigger than a very small cutting board) it would be barely large enough to support the size of a human head. Therefore,  likely it’s function should be considered more along the lines of ritualistic and ceremonial, rather than “practical”.

Further, based on the recovery of the later, 1950 DA Hodel Black Dahlia Files, we have tape-recorded evidence that Dr. George Hodel committed insurance and tax fraud by submitting false claims to the government and or his insurance company.

Fast forward to February 26, 1950. The DA and LAPD have the electronic surveillance well in place and are beginning their second week of what will be a six-week bugging stakeout at the Franklin House. The officers are recording the conversations and capture the following on the wire recording. (See below copy of original DA transcription) Hodel in conversation admits to fraudulently insuring an item “a trinket worth $750.00 for $104,000.”

DA Hodel Black Dahlia File Bugging Transcript Page 54 
February 26, 1950, 10:20 AM (Day 10 of electronic stakeout)

10:30 pm- Talking about insuring something, value- $76,000.

If you want to sell it, you would get $750.00 Trinkets. Hodel had it insured for $104,000

transcript Insurance Scam

As relates to the stolen “sacrificial tablet” what we do not know is whether George Hodel was reimbursed for this in real dollars, or claimed it as a loss on his taxes. Either way, it is fraud and grand theft.

Below is a photograph of one of the many Chinese art objects that my father smuggled home from China in 1946 using his United Nations “Diplomatic Immunity” status. He shipped home hundreds of Chinese statues and art objects in multiple crates. The below large tapestry (40″ W and 9′ T) purchased by GHH in China in June 1946, was given as a wedding present to his father who remarried Alice Hodel, a lab technician at the First Street Clinic in 1949. 

Next to the tapestry photo below is a document prepared by my father entitled, “TWO WORLDS FOUNDATION, Collection of Dr. George Hill Hodel.”  He goes on to list the “Division” as Oriental Art and Antiquities, Category: Chinese Tapestries, and claims the item is from “The Ming Dynasty [1369-1644] The appraisal in 1948 is for “$300.” He further identifies it as  a “Gift to George and Alice Hodel, 5, February 1949.”

After my grandfather’s passing Alice gave the tapestry to me in the late 1970s and I had it appraised ($600.00) and insured.

Author circa 1979 with Chinese tapestry gifted to him from Alice Hodel.

chinese tapestry skh 1982

GHH chinese tapestry appra











Below, a 1950 photograph showing GHH in living room at the desk and partial display (approximately fifty items) of his Chinese art collection seen on the shelves on the north wall.

Again, we learn from the 1950 DA Hodel/Black Dahlia Transcripts that most if not all of these art objects were sold by GHH in the days just before his fleeing the country.

ghh sowden library - Copy


  1. kimberly on March 22, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    Steve, what is your theory about this chinese artifact? How did it get to the Met?

    • Steve Hodel on March 22, 2016 at 11:25 pm

      Kimberly: The Chinese Tablet artifact pictured as being in the Met is NOT connected to my father. It is merely presented as a sample of what my father’s tablet would have resembled both in size and shape. So, no link other than to give the reader an idea of what my father’s sacrificial tablet would have looked like. Steve

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