Governor of Hawaii Provides 1953 Letter of Recommendation Requesting Asian/Far East Countries Assist Psychiatrist/Serial Killer Dr. George Hill Hodel in His Mental Illness Crimes Studies

September 1, 2017
Los Angeles, California
Once again, place the following in your “YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP” file.
The below letter was written in September 1953 by then Hawaiian Territorial Governor,  Samuel Wilder King.  It is a letter of introduction and recommendation of Hawaiin based psychiatrist, Dr. George Hill Hodel. The “To Whom It May Concern” refers to all Asian and Far East countries, colleges, hospitals, research centers etc.   I will let Governor King speak for himself and his esteemed researcher. (The letter was given to me, by June Hodel, along with other personal effects, just a few days after my father’s death in May 1999.)

Obviously, unbeknownst to the Governor, he has just requested all doors and cooperation be provided to his mental health/crime expert. A man with not only major “book learning” but who brings with him decades of on “hands on experience.” At this stage in his “dual career” George Hodel, working nights and pulling double duty as a serial killer has committed a  minimum sixteen sadistic murders and is well on his way to double that number before completing his “research” at age ninety-one. (This victim count only takes into consideration his crimes from 1943-1950, and omits “The Early Years” and  those that followed in the 1960s.)


  1. Luigi Warren on September 1, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    Steve: Like having the Great Rhadini investigate the scourge of fake psychics who prey upon the gullible and the naive, for example the notorious Dr. Zodiac. -LW

    • Steve Hodel on September 2, 2017 at 12:00 am

      LW: Exactly so. I mean hard to imagine a more bizarre scene than Dr. George Hodel sitting across from and listening and counseling one of his prison serial killer psychopaths. Takes us way beyond the fictional, “Silence of the Lambs.” skh

      • Luigi Warren on June 24, 2018 at 2:06 pm

        Steve: Thinking that Milton Cades, chair of the “Mental Health Month” committee, might have facilitated the intro to Governor King. I notice that Cades, a socially-prominent attorney into psychiatry, modern architecture, classical music and fine art, took over presidency of the Hawaiian Historical Society from Samuel Wilder King in 1947. Then again, there’s still the question of how GHH ended up as a psychiatrist without doing a conventional multi-year psychiatric residency. Maybe the connection was even the other way around. Regardless, it shows again how GHH sought out and obtained access at the highest levels of society wherever he went, and shamelessly leveraged it to the hilt. -LW

        • Steve Hodel on June 24, 2018 at 2:55 pm

          LW: Yes, GHH was a master of slipping and sliding his way through con jobs thanks to his credentials as an M.D. Reminiscent of The Great Imposter, Ferdinand Waldo Demara who could pretty much assume/play any role and get away with it. When I see how easy it was for Dr. Paul DeRiver to simply assume the job as “LAPD psychiatrist” and simply invent the Department’s SOB (Sexual Offense Bureau) all by volunteering to do it without pay. It gives us some insight into how little regulated and seemingly easy it was to just assume the title and fake it.

          • Luigi Warren on December 24, 2018 at 2:38 pm

            Steve: Just to correct something in my previous comment, GHH’s original position at the Territorial Hospital was psychiatric resident, as is clear from several sources (p. 145 & p. 152 of BDA III and his entry in the 1962 APA Biographical Directory). So he did do a residency, albeit an atypical one. -LW

  2. Luigi Warren on September 6, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Steve: Interesting that, immediately on getting out of Dodge to evade the Black Dahlia probe, GHH finds himself recapitulating plot points from SPELLBOUND (1945), casting himself in the Gregory Peck role.

    Normally, we associate the “Life is But a Dream” idea espoused by GHH (remarks to the DA in 1949 and 1980 “Parable of the Sparrows” letter) with the inmates of mental institutions rather than the staff.

    Reading up on the Territorial Hospital, this was a pretty hardcore, mostly custodial facility, opened in 1930 to replace the overcrowded Oahu Insane Asylum. It also seems to have been overburdened, with over 600 deceased, indigent patients summarily cremated and stashed in the basement between 1930 and 1960. A fancy new Goddard Treatment Center opened there around the time GHH arrived, heralding a shift in emphasis towards remediation. However, the remediation on offer in the early fifties relied heavily on then-fashionable quack treatments including wet packs, insulin shock, electroconvulsive therapy and psychosurgery (lobotomy).

    Perhaps when Zodiac (“I AM NOT SICK. I AM INSANE.”) referred to THE EXORCIST as the “best saterical comidy that I have ever seen” he had in mind the sequence showing Regan’s futile visits to a neuropsychiatric ward and ending with the “witch doctor” referral.

    The Zodiac makes pretty clear reference to SPELLBOUND in his Halloween Card artwork, and there are possibly further allusions in the subsequent “Peek through the pines” and “Guardian of the pines” cards. Recalling that the floating eyes represent the guards of Green Manors according to the dream interpretation given in the movie, it’s worth re-reading the Sparrows letter with GHH’s tenure at the Hospital and the Halloween Card in mind. He describes humans observing the birds pecking at their reflections in their plastic cage as “like the gods, watching all and knowing all, knowing that the battle is fore-ordained.” Meanwhile, we as humans are no better off: “Who is standing behind our glass, invisible to us, incommunicable to us, gravely watching our brave attacks against the walls we cannot see?” Basically, GHH seems to be saying we must accept insanity as our natural state. He certainly seems to have lived by that philosophy. -LW

    • Steve Hodel on September 6, 2017 at 10:41 am

      LW: Yes, all excellent points. No question the “Parable of the Sparrows” letter was our best reveal into some of his thought processes. A rare unguarded moment and peek through the pines at his own psyche. skh

      • Luigi Warren on September 8, 2017 at 11:13 am

        Steve: I hadn’t closely read GHH’s Sparrows letter since getting up to speed on the Zodiac case. With it’s talk of “the watchers,” and of “this paradise of beautiful young birds who await them, who tempt them” (the word “paradise” used four times in one paragraph), it’s entirely believable the same emotionally-disturbed individual who produced the Bates “Confession” and the Halloween Card is here waxing philosophical on one of his “good” days. “Paradise awaits the brave, the strong, the pure in heart, they say.” -LW

      • Luigi Warren on October 22, 2017 at 2:05 pm

        Steve: The language in GHH’s Sparrows letter recalls the Zodiac’s running “Paradice Slaves” mythos, apparently filched by a close reader from the writings of the Marquis de Sade. Judging by the “St. Donna” card, the Zodiac seems to be one of the very few serial killers who analogizes the fate of his victims to the agonies and martyrdom of the female saints in the Catholic canon — just as GHH did in his 1920s crime reporting (possibly riffing on Gourmont’s “Women Saints of Paradise”). The “1-2-3-4-5-6-7 All Good Children (Go To Heaven?)” reference hidden in the return address of the 1978 Los Angeles Channel 9 letter looks like a “fake clew” jokingly casting suspicion on the Manson Family, based on a keen-eyed reading of Bugliosi’s “Helter Skelter” (as you point out in ME II). There’s also a “Judas” reference in the Channel 9 letter. There was some mocking, Christianity-parodying “Judas” talk in William Hickman’s letters back in the 1920s. Ayn Rand, who apparently attended Hickman’s trial, described the Fox’s “strange letters” as “a little theatrically melodramatic, but so boastful and self-confident” (Journals of Ayn Rand, Ed. by David Harriman), which obviously could be applied to the Zodiac letters forty years on. The giant hint offered in the Channel 9 letter’s punchline — “Remember – whoever plays me has his work cut out for him. See you in the News!” — seems obvious in retrospect. -LW

  3. Lucas on September 16, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    GHH’s work at a hospital for the criminally insane brings to mind another infamous psychopath who had unfettered access to and control of another hospital for the criminally insane……Jimmy Savile and Broadmoore Hospital in the UK. I’m not comparing what Savile actually did (see link below) to GHH only pointing out the absurdity (and horror in Savile’s case) of murderous/pedophile psychopaths “evaluating” their own.

    Savile Link

  4. Leanna on September 18, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Is there any chance of a movie being made from your books?? I know you had earlier hoped that would be the case. I hope so, as well.

    • steve hodel on September 18, 2017 at 9:54 pm

      Hi Leanna: I’m working on several potentials. To date nothing “solid”, but am pushing for either a Big Screen film and or a multi-episodes documentary, which would allow the public to get the full story. Hollywood tends to move at a glacial pace, so????????? Best, Steve

  5. Leanna on September 19, 2017 at 9:32 am

    That would be wonderful!! I’ll keep my fingers crossed!! 🙂 L

  6. Wannabe Sherlock on October 19, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Steven, have you considered the case of Pamela Werner in Beijing, China? From what I recall your father went there. Pamela Werner was murdered and her organs were removed by someone with advanced knowledge of surgical skills, and she was killed by blows to the head and mutilated, very similar to how he killed Short. It took place in 1937-this Murder, what year was your father in China?

    I would suggest a documentary. I’ve read your books multiple times and love them. It’s inspired me to do my own investigating.

    • Steve Hodel on October 19, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      WS: Not familiar with the Pamela Werner case in China, but GHH was a brand new doctor in AZ/New Mexico from 1936-1938 and no indications he ever left that area. He didn’t go to China until February 1946. But, thanks for the heads up. Best, Steve

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