Fred Sexton’s Macabre Painting, “Death of Monalita” Revisited- A Footprint-Thoughtprint?

September 26, 2019
Los Angeles, California
Once again, like so many times in the past, a reader comes through with some excellent sleuthing.
Fred Sexton’s “The Death of Monalita” (1955)

Above  graphic showing highlighted blue shoe created by my good friend, mystery writer and retired Dallas Police Officer Robert J. Sadler

Fred Sexton c. 1946
The following comment received on my blog site on September 24, from “Bob L.”:

My response to Bob L on that same day:

An additional  “Shoeprint-Thoughtprint”?

“The toe of the shoe is at the left and the heel of the shoe appears to be superimposed on the woman’s vulva area.”
Bob L.
 Bob L. reminds us of the LA Hotel Incident circa 1969 (Fauna II was at the hotel with her grandfather, where she was drugged and photographed naked in his room but, that occurred the following day after the Tamar and George “foot stomping incident)
See attached PDF excerpt from Black Dahlia Avenger which details Tamar’s description of that event.

Click Below for excerpt as originally described in BDA:

The Los Angeles Hotel GHH/Tamar
SKH Note- To my mind, it is doubtful that Fred Sexton would have been aware of this occurrence since it was just between George Hodel and his daughter Tamar, but as Bob L. points out it does reveal a distinct M.O. that was used by both George and Fred on other crimes.
Here are just three known examples:
  1. 1938 West Texas double homicide of Hazel and Nancy Frome in which the two suspects tortured victims in the remote desert and then foot stomped on the partially nude body of Nancy Frome prior to executing both victims with handguns.
  2. 1947 Murder of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short. Believed killer(s) likely stomped on her body at some time during earlier extended torture, or more probably at the vacnt lot after posing body, as a bloody footprint was found and photographed at the vacant lot on or near the sidewalk.
  3. 1947 LA Lone Woman Murder of Jeanne French (Dahlia connected three weeks after Elizabeth Short murder.)  In this crime two males were seen with victim at a restaurant some hours prior to her actual murder. (Witness/waitress believed they were arguing over which one would go with French.) George Hodel later dined at a separate restaurant with victim and drove her to an isolated lot where he (possibly Sexton joining him?) beat victim to death with tire iron and stomped her leaving a heelprint on body. Cause of death foot stomping which resulted in a rib piercing the heart.
Finally, as Bob L. has correctly pointed out, the positioning of the footprint superimposed over what appears to be a woman’s private parts, would support Sexton’s intent to reveal both extreme misogyny and sadism consistent with Sexton’s known crime signatures.
Thank you Bob L. for adding your excellent observations which add much to our attempts to ferret out the hidden meanings in this macabre 1955 Fred Sexton painting.
For previously discussed connections see earlier blog:

Fred Sexton’s Modernist Painting “Death of Monalita” Becomes Fourth Post Black Dahlia Artwork Believed Linked to 1947 Murder- A Sexton Confession On Canvas?


  1. Bob L. on September 26, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    Hi Steve:

    You discussed the perfect follow-up to my observation. After I sent you the e-mail, I realized that I forgot to mention the ‘foot stomping’ MO that was characteristic of the LA Lone Woman Murders and the double homicide of the Fromes. The painting is evidence that Sexton was aware of this MO and very likely a participant alongside GHH.
    GHH couldn’t escape his obsession with sadism and two decades after these murders he relived and reveled in his sadism by sharing his obsession with his granddaughter by stomping on a perceived pattern he saw in the carpet at the San Francisco hotel. The granddaughter must have been completely astounded by her grandfather’s behavior not knowing she was given a clew into his past.

    Bob L.

  2. Bob L. on September 26, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    Hi Steve:

    I stand corrected on the location of the hotel and who was involved in the foot stomping incident. It was in LA, not San Francisco and involved his daughter Tamar, not his granddaughter, Fauna II.

    Bob L.

    • Steve Hodel on September 26, 2019 at 6:05 pm

      Bob L.
      Yes, you are correct, it was my half-sister, Tamar, his daughter in the LA Hotel 1969.
      As, indicated, I do see it as a “confession on canvas” perhaps at some time we will be able to connect the name “Monalita” to a separate crime or it simply could be a play on words to the enigmatic “Mona Lisa.” But, I expect the title is much more likely specific in some way. Thanks again for making the excellent observation and comment.

  3. John Groszewski on October 11, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Physically, how big was Dr. Hodel? From his pictures, he doesn’t look like a stout, imposing figure. Some of the hellion girls I know would have perhaps turned the tables on him and kicked his behind.

    • Steve Hodel on October 11, 2019 at 10:14 am

      John G:

      GHH was 6′ thin in his youth 160 pounds or so. Most of his later life his average weight was around 180. In the last decade (age 80-91) he lost nearly 5″ in height due to impacted disks and at 6-2 I can be seen towering over him in family photographs, which made him appear quite small. Very powerful man well into his Seventies.

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