L.A. Times Investigative Reporter/Columnist Steve”Watchdog For The People” Lopez’s Investigative Persistence Pays Off–Helps Confirm LAPD’s Earlier Suspicions Dr. George Hodel Killed His Personal Secretary and the “Black Dahlia”

    Graphic by Robert J. Sadler

March 17, 2019
Los Angeles, California

My previous personal KUDOS to LA Times Journalist Steve Lopez  need to be refreshed,  restated and updated for “new readers.”

First, let’s start with a photo of Steve along with a short bio provided to the IMDb (International Movie Data Base)  by his employer, The Los Angeles Times.

LA Times “Points West” Columnist Steve Lopez

“Columnist Steve Lopez joined the staff of the Los Angeles Times in May 2001 after four years at Time Inc., where he wrote for Time, Sports Illustrated, Life, and Entertainment Weekly. Prior to Time Inc., Lopez was a columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Oakland Tribune. His work has won numerous national journalism awards for column writing and magazine reporting. A California native, Lopez is the author of three novels, Third and Indiana, The Sunday Macaroni Club, and In the Clear, and a book of non-fiction, The Soloist: A Lost Dream, An Unlikely Friendship, and The Redemptive Power of Music. That book is based on columns Lopez wrote for The Times about his friendship with Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless, Juilliart-educated Los Angeles musician. There is a film version of The Soloist, starring Jamie Foxx as Ayers and Robert Downey Jr. as Lopez. Steve Lopez is married and has two sons and a daughter. ”
– IMDb Mini Biography By:  The Los Angeles Times

Reposting and update from a six-year-old post (February 2013)  I wrote on Steve Lopez original titled, “Los Angeles Times Columnist Steve Lopez’s 2003 Black Dahlia Source Provides a Fourth Link to “Something Buried at the Hodel Home.”


Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Time

“… 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
Los Angeles Times, 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’s “Suicide” Death Investigation was a suspected forced overdose by Dr. Hodel.”

I was in the following months after the Lopez articles,  able to identify dad’s secretary as Ruth Spaulding. and obtained her Coroner’s reports and learn that 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 electronic surveillance tape-recordings.

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 recorded statement “they can’t talk to her now, because she’s dead” 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”.

Here are some ON POINT excerpts from Steve Lopez POINTS WEST second article published in the LA Times on April 13, 2003


But who was the secretary? And who was the woman whose screams were recorded on the transcript after Dr. Hodel made that remark?

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.

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.

The diary perhaps?

…It’s not clear from the record, according to my source, whatever came of the allegation that Hodel had killed his secretary.

That brings us back to Hodel’s, “Supposin’ I did kill the Black Dahlia,” and the remark about his dead secretary.

Lopez goes on in the article to relate his interview with Tamar and her account of a story told to her by George Hodel’s wife, Dorothy Hodel.

“The story was about the dead employee. Tamar remembered her to be a nurse, but Hodel ran a VD clinic in downtown L.A., so it’s possible the employee performed clerical and medical duties

According to Tamar, her stepmother [Dorothy Hodel] said George Hodel urgently summoned her to an apartment late one night, and the stepmother found the doctor with a woman he claimed had overdosed. Tamar says that by her mother’s account, the doctor handed her some books the woman had written (diaries?), and told her to destroy them.

The woman died a short while later, and the diaries never surfaced.

Did Dr. George Hodel kill his secretary, the Black Dahlia, and a total of up to 20 women in the 1940s and 1950s?

I leave you with one last excerpt I dug up from the 1950 bugging transcripts. On the same night that George Hodel said, “Supposin I did kill the Black Dahlia,” he said this to the unknown man with the German accent who was accompanying him:

“Any imperfections will be found. They will have to be made perfect. Don’t confess ever. Two and two is not four.” Much laughter [police notation]. “We’re just a couple of smart boys.” More laughter.

Lopez full article Dance with LA’s Black Dahlia Case as PDF.


In 2000, almost four years prior to reporter Steve Lopez’s discovery of the LADA Secret Hodel/Black Dahlia Secret Files here is what/how Tamar told me the story during an early interview of her. At that time she had no idea I was investigating the Black Dahlia Murder and believed all I wanted was information on our father and was also working on a book about my career with the LAPD. After describing her abortion she went on to tell me the following.

Black Dahlia Avenger (2003) Chapter- “TAMAR, JOE BARRETT, AND DUNCAN HODEL page 203:


Here is a “Top of the Morning” updated partial summary of what we now know, as of March 17, 2019.

Keep in mind this information is the direct result of reporter Steve Lopez’s investigative sleuthing.

Had Steve not pursued this with DA Cooley and discovered the DA Hodel/Black Dahlia Secret Files locked in the vault, we would not know or have confirmed these facts independent of my own investigation.

We would not know that Dr. George Hill Hodel was the LAPD/DA’s prime suspect all along and had confessed to multiple murders and police payoffs and performing abortions ON WIRE RECORDINGS some fifty-years prior to my initiating my own investigation.

  1.   The unidentified secretary was Ruth Spaulding. Her death occurred at Georgia Street Receiving Hospital on May 9, 1945, eighteen months prior to the Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” murder. GHH admits in the recordings to taking her to the hospital and “putting a pillow over her head” and killing her. “I think they figured it out. Maybe I did kill my secretary.” Had Ruth still been alive she could have placed GHH and Elizabeth Short together both as a patient/doctor and boyfriend/girlfriend.
  2.    The unidentified “Jane Doe” who reporter Lopez describes in his article “screaming in the basement” was very likely drugged, taken to the basement and later struck and likely murdered.  GHH heard to say, “Don’t leave a trace.”
  3. GHH’s drugging and staging of a fake “attempted suicide” in January 1950, of another of his girlfriend’s, Lillian Lenorak, (identical to that of his private secretary, Ruth Spaulding) revealed in the secret DA police officer, “Mary Unkefer Letter” to the DA.
  4. Confirmation of detailed description of trauma to victim Short’s body on official police reports in the file.
  5. Confirmation of the fact that GHH and Elizabeth Short knew and dated each other prior to her murder.
  6. Witness interviews and subsequent positive ID of GHH photo by former DA investigator Jack Egger as person impersonating himself as a “Chicago Police Officer” and being with ES in line for a Jack Carson, Hollywood Radio Show. (SKH Note- As documented in BDA, this GHH ID was made by Jack Egger in 2004. Jack was then Head of Security at Warner Brothers Studio and we met and he positively identified the below  1950 photograph as the same “Chicago Police Officer” with Elizabeth Short. After the man “badged him” Egger, then the head usher, and as was the courtesy, escorted both out of line and took them directly to Studio A for the show.)The below photo was positively identified  by  Chief of Security Jack Egger in 2004 as “the man that was with Elizabeth Short and who showed me his Chicago Police badge while they were standing in line in 1947 to attend the radio show.”

A HUGE THANK YOU to Steve Lopez, of the Los Angeles Times who through persistence to get to the truth, literally opened the door to the secret documents in the DA’s locked safe.

Steve Lopez like Frank Jemison is one of the “Good Guys” and definitely, like Lt. Jemison, gets to wear a BIG WHITE HAT.

Lt. Frank Jemison                                               LA Times Columnist Steve Lopez

Stay tuned, a lot more to come.









  1. Mike Osborne on March 18, 2019 at 3:32 am

    The photograph of GHH and ES waiting for the radio show is in this DA file? Steve Lopez has seen it? Have you? This is incredible

    • Steve Hodel on March 18, 2019 at 9:46 am

      Mike O: No, the Secret DA Files did not contain a photograph of GHH and Elizabeth Short. They contained a transcript of an interview given back in 1947 by then Radio City Usher Jack Egger. (who became a DA investigator and actually worked on the Hodel stakeout as part of the team). Once I discovered the transcript and his description of the incident I contacted him. (He was then long retired and in 2004, the Head of Security at Warner Brothers studios. At that meeting, he positively identified a 1950 photograph of Dr. George Hodel as “being the man posing as a Chicago Police officer in line with Elizabeth Short.” This incident occurred in January 1947 just ten or so days before the murder. I can see how this would be confusing so have revised and clarified the information in the original blog. Thanks and Regards, Steve

      • Victoria on May 20, 2023 at 6:32 am

        Did Tamar’s daughter fight off your dad, or is that just fiction in the miniseries? What was it like growing up with him, your dad? Did he abuse any of your siblings/half siblings? How old were you when you found out about your dad and Tamar, and the black Dalia? What was your initial feelings about all of this?I’ve always been intrigued by the black Dalia. I’m definitely going to read your books.

        • Steve Hodel on July 29, 2023 at 10:28 pm

          Best to read BDA I the Skyhorse updated. Will answer all your questions. No Tamar did not fight off our father. She was a willing, enamoured 14-year old participating in group sex.

  2. Emily on March 18, 2019 at 7:16 am

    I got “black dahlia avenger 3” yesterday and I am riveted! Stayed up late reading. I was just thinking about how, to me, one of the biggest breaks in your investigation in recent years was Buster’s work, and how I wish the homeowner would allow an investigation. And here is yet more confirmation that GH did bury someone in the yard. Wow.

    Seriously, how much evidence do you have to have to convince LE to follow up on your investigation?

    Side note – I’ve been eagerly awaiting the new season of Bosch and re-reading all of the Bosch books. I agree that Michael Connelly is the best at police procedurals! I had no idea you and Bosch had so many characteristics in common. That was fun to read.

    Now I am off to look for the video of ES on V-day.

    Hope I’m not posting on here too much – I’m just excited about the recent interest in this case and your work.

    • Steve Hodel on March 18, 2019 at 9:30 am

      Emily: I too am looking forward to the new Bosch Season. Connelley really knows his stuff and being in charge of adapting his books to television really makes all the difference in keeping the story true to form. Titus Welliver is doing a great job of capturing the real Bosch. (Not easy) Glad you’re enjoying BDA III. Again, very grateful to another “white hat” citizen, Sandi Nichols, who made it happen as you will discover in the Afterword Chapter. Best, Steve

  3. Mike on March 21, 2019 at 9:32 am

    I just finished listening to episode 6 of the Root of Evil podcast. I’m very angry with the LAPD’s apparent lack of cooperation with you and the DNA evidence that you have. Don’t give up!

    • Steve Hodel on March 21, 2019 at 10:29 am

      Mike W:

      Thanks Mike. I don’t plan to give up anytime soon. Best to you and yours.

  4. Rosie G. on March 22, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    I have been following the podcast i had heard about the case but never paid attention or looked in to reading about it until this podcast and the limited series came out there is so much to this case not only the murder itself but the family so admire your tenacity and i am obsessed now with everything that has to do with this case you should if have not wright about all the these people personalities that wur as crazy as him and involved in his life and the case i think that would also make a great book you have so much material ..How is it possible that all you need is a simple DNA test and the DA wont give it to you i think a few of these people involved in the pay offs and the cover up are still alive And the letter from the undercover guy ..there are a few thing that wur not mentioned in the podcast like how did GH ans ES get to know each other.I am also confused about the timeline in regards to the abortion and when she got pregnant …dont give up ever

    • Steve Hodel on March 22, 2019 at 1:26 pm

      Rosie G: Thanks. It is all pretty much explained in my books. At least as much as we now know. The miniseries “I Am the Night” was 95% fiction. But, the Root of Evil podcast is 99% accurate. Best, Steve

  5. Enid on March 23, 2019 at 9:54 am

    The podcast has left me wondering about George’s parents and other people in his childhood. The extent of his violence and sexual abuse of others suggests bad things happening to him in his formative years, as these things usually go, anyway. Do you know anything about trauma or abuse George may have experienced?

    • Steve Hodel on March 23, 2019 at 10:15 am

      Enid: Yes, I examine what I believe are a number of “triggers” in his early childhood that helped nuture and nature come together to help form the perfect storm that would factor into my father becoming a classic sadist, and misanthrope. No hard proof but I believe he too was the victim of incest, likely his mother, or another close friend or family member? My books try to examine a number of potential causes. skh

  6. Jeannie on March 25, 2019 at 7:14 am

    Steve: I have listened to all the currently released episodes of the podcast and am wondering about your dad’s life during his years in Asia. Were you able to maintain a relationship with him for the 40 years he was overseas? And I wonder if he continued his terrible crimes and treatment of women while there? I am also curious if you considered yourself close to him when you were a child, and also as an adult? I recall your saying that when you first learned of the accusation that he was the Black Dahlia Killer, that it was your goal to vindicate him because you did not think it were possible. This puzzles me that he could so thoroughly fool his family and present himself as a loving father and as a person incapable of murder.

    For the victims who have no voice, I want to thank you for everything you have done to bring them justice. I have no doubt the entire experience has taken a toll on you. These days when I look at the world and reflect on the abuse I suffered at the hands of my father, and I read news reports of the horrors perpetrated by men (priests raping children, priests raping nuns and forcing them to have abortions, bad cops who rape innocent women, I could go on and on); I see very few good guys. I am heartened to know you are out there. Keep on keeping on, Steve!

    • Steve Hodel on March 25, 2019 at 7:39 am

      Jeannie: Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. I cover your questions in my books for the most part. My father was never a “warm fuzzy” but that was more in keeping with the Old School fathering of the time. (1940s) I and my brothers loved our father, but it was more out of respect and pride for what to us boys was his “towering persona.” I did find a copycat Black Dahlia crime I detail that I believe he committed in Manila in 1966. Victim was Lucila Lalu, her body professionally surgically bisected and posed on a vacant lot two miles from his home.
      Thanks, I definitely will keep on keeping on. At least one more book to write, “The Early Years.” Best, Steve

  7. Jeannie on March 25, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks for your reply, Steve! I will look for your books to learn more. Glad you have another one in the works!

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