First Photos of Dr. George Hill Hodel’s L.A. Lone Woman Murder Victim Ruth Spaulding Found

October 10, 2020
Los Angeles, California
( George Hill Hodel’s 113th birthday)
Here’s another example of the seemingly non-stop “synchronicities” that keep presenting themselves to me in this ongoing investigation. (This one on GHH’s birthday, October 10th.)
My good friend and forensic expert and retired Jacksonville Sheriff’s detective, Karen Smith sent me the below “first photograph” of Ruth Spaulding. (As of this date I had been unable to locate any actual photograph of that victim.) Huge THANK YOU Karen.
Ruth Frances Spaulding was the 1940s former girlfriend/clinic secretary of Dr. George Hill Hodel whom he murdered by giving her a forced overdose of “Seconal” in her LA residence apartment in May 1945. (He then called our mother, Dorero to come to the apt and while Ruth lay unconscious but still alive, gave her the damning written evidence Ruth had documented and ordered her to “burn it” which mother did.)
LAPD acknowledged suspecting and investigating GHH for the “possible overdosing of Spaulding” but he then joined UNRRA and was billeted overseas in China, effectively ending their investigation back in 1945. His admission to committing this crime was electronically recorded during the six-week “electronic surveillance” of his home as documented in the 1950 Hodel/Black Dahlia DA transcripts.
Here then are the only known photographs of Ruth Spaulding from her 1934 L.A. High School yearbook.  Ruth would have been 16 or 17 years old in these photographs and was murdered (to keep her from revealing his criminality) by Dr. George Hill Hodel on May 8, 1945, at age 27.

Ruth Frances Spaulding

Ruth in white dress third from the right front row 

Los Angeles High School Yearbook   1934





  1. Karen L Smith on October 11, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    Always good to put a face with a name. Hugs to you!

    • Steve Hodel on October 12, 2020 at 2:02 pm

      Yes, there is a whole chapter on her death investigation in my book, Black Dahlia Avenger. Too much to go into here, but all covered in my books. Coroner made the Death Report a “suicide” but LAPD began investigating as a suspected forced overdose with George Hodel her former boyfriend/boss the suspect. Insufficient to prove he did it, but he would confess on secret recordings to committing the crime five years later in 1950. And YES, Karen has read and knows the story.

      • jv on October 12, 2020 at 2:32 pm

        Steve…George never admitted killing his secretary on the tapes. Only acknowledged that she was dead and dead a year or so before Elizabeth Short, at that. He never says HE killed her only that nobody can talk to her because she’s dead. Right?

        • Steve Hodel on October 12, 2020 at 4:11 pm

          Excerpted from the DA Secret Hodel/Black Dahlia Transcripts:

          Feb 18, 1950, 7:35 pm (Hodel Speaking to Baron Harringa)

          “This is the best payoff I’ve seen between Law Enforcement Agencies.
          You don’t have the right connections made. I’d like to get a connection made at the DA’s Office.”
          …Any imperfections will be found. They will have to be made perfect. Don’t confess ever. Two and two is not four. (Much laughter) We’re just a couple of smart boys.”
          … “Supposin I did kill the Black Dahlia. They couldn’t prove it now. They can’t talk to my secretary (Ruth Spaulding) anymore because she’s dead.

          Realize there was nothing I could do. Put a pillow over her (Ruth Spaulding’s) head and covered her with a blanket. Get a taxi. Called Georgia Street Receiving Hospital right away. Expired at 12:39. (Ruth Spaulding) They thought there was something fishy. Anyway, now they may have figured it out. Killed her. Maybe I did kill my secretary.” (Ruth Spaulding)

          These statements came just two weeks after he subdued and rendered witness Lillian Lenorak unconscious and then superficially cut her wrists and claimed she “attempted suicide”. This to discredit her after she had threatened him she was going to the police and DA to “tell the truth” about his crimes. (See Officer Mary Unkefer Letter to DA dated Jan 30, 1950 as presented in full in BDA.)

          Also, these statements came just minutes after he and the Baron went downstairs to the basement on Feb 18, 1950, and bludgeoned and murdered an unidentified woman. That crime or at the very minimum a serious felony assault was never reported and the victim never identified. All just recorded on the surveillance tape.

          • Will on February 4, 2024 at 8:40 pm

            Excuse me sir but I’m a little bit confused. In what blog is the murder of a woman on Feb 18 1950 mentioned? Could you please link it?
            Thank you in advance!

      • Oregon Apple on October 28, 2023 at 10:14 am

        Yeah I’m buying that book today. Just listened to the Root of Evil podcast. Absolutely mind blowing! Thanks Steve!

        • Steve Hodel on October 28, 2023 at 11:15 am

          Oregon A:
          Thanks. Best Regards,

  2. Patricia O’Neill on October 12, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    Steve, explains a lot about the trauma(s) your mother must have experienced throughout her married life to your father. She may have experienced “dissociative states” repeatedly even after divorcing GHH. The enormity of his crimes toward women is hard to comprehend! Hopefully “The Early Years” will somewhat explain how & why a brilliant mind could deteriorate to such a frightening level. Stay well! 😷

    • Steve Hodel on October 12, 2020 at 12:36 pm

      Patricia O:

      Yes. I don’t believe I have ever seen or known as “tragic” a life as the one lived by Dorothy Harvey Huston Hodel. Brilliant and Beautiful but frail and so vulnerable.
      In BDA I likened her to the delicate birdlike forest woman, Rima, in Hudson’s “Green Mansions.”
      “Dorero” was blessed with high intelligence and beauty, but was also cursed with her own separate and self-created demons. Her own dark forces began to stir with the swizzle sticks at cocktail hour and gained strength and power in an attempt at self defense.
      Very complicated. It is becoming a little clearer as I continue to investigate and present “The Early Years” but I doubt we will ever be able to get “the full picture.”

  3. Jess Waid on October 14, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    Jess Waid

    Steve, an interesting addition to the horrific tale of your father’s evil deeds. A profile story of “Dorero” also would be interesting, me thinks.

  4. Joyce Payton on December 6, 2020 at 11:19 pm

    Your father’s childhood would be very interesting. If only there was someone or something that could give us a window to that time. What little you have told us of his parent’s personalities it would be just like with Hitler’s home situation it would warp a child’s mind. But with your father’s high intelligence I think it would be even more critical. He never had anything near a “normal” life always expected to excel and to perform at a level that his emotional side could not handle. I would think he learned to close his inner world off and build up a hard shell to protect himself until he learned to manipulate the adults around him to get what he wanted. No wonder he lived in his own world and bent the will and minds of the women in his life. Looking forward to your new book.

  5. Joyce Payton on December 6, 2020 at 11:21 pm

    Oh, I was wondering if you ever got to watch the movie I suggested “Hannibal Rising”? Hope you did and would love to know what you thought about it.

    • Steve Hodel on December 7, 2020 at 11:33 am

      Joyce P: No, haven’t seen it yet.

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