Journalist/Author Dolores Kennedy: The True Hero in the Seventy-Five Year Struggle to Establish the Wrongful Conviction of William Heirens aka “The Chicago Lipstick Killer”

March 26, 2021
Los Angeles, California
I want to introduce you to a real-life hero. Author/Journalist  Dolores Kennedy.
Dolores convinced that seventeen-year-old, William “Bill” Heirens was wrongfully convicted in 1946,  began fighting for justice decades ago.  After compiling the many facts pointing to his innocence she published them in her book, William Heirens: His Day In Court (Bonus Books Inc. 1991)

“This book represents the long-overdue defense of Bill Heirens. You shall be the jury he never had. I think it’s time Bill Heirens had his day in court.”
Dolores Kennedy
(From Prologue, William Heirens: His Day In Court Bonus Books 1991)



My own separate Black Dahlia and LA Lone Woman Murders investigations back in 2003 pointed to a potential connection to my own father having possibly committed the three 1945-6 “Chicago Lipstick Murders.”  But, initially, I discovered their killer had been arrested and “confessed” to all three crimes.  End of story, or so I thought until discovering Dolores Kennedy’s book.  I read it in two days and based on her evidence was convinced that a “wrongful conviction” was a very real possibility and that seventeen-year-old Bill Heirens could have been innocent. At that time Heirens was in prison serving his 57th year for three crimes he very well may have not committed.
In 2003, I contacted Dolores Kennedy, flew East, and met with her and the Innocence Team defending Bill Heirens. Then Dolores and I together traveled to the prison and I had an opportunity to meet and speak with Bill in person.
My own separate investigation and linkage of my father to the Chicago Lipstick Murders is summarized in my second book, Most Evil:  Avenger, Zodiac and The Further Serial Murders of Dr. George Hill Hodel (Dutton 2009).
My own discoveries added to Dolores’s already strong compelling case leaves no doubt that Bill Heiren’s did not and could not have committed the three “Lipstick Murders” and that Dr. George Hill Hodel very likely was the actual killer. (An hour Documentary, MOST EVIL was made and aired in 2008 in which Dr. Michael Stone of Columbia University, that independently supported our findings and likelihood that Heiren’s may have been wrongfully convicted and that Dr. George Hill Hodel fit the profile of the killer.)
While Dolores Kennedy never stopped fighting to “Free Bill” sadly, he passed away on March 5, 2012, while serving his 66th year in prison.
Dolores is the true unsung hero in the telling of the Bill Heirens Story. She fought for him for over nearly thirty years and was still petitioning for his release when he passed.
Thank you Dolores for your Strength, Service, Love, and Sacrifice in the name of Truth.
See details on Bill Heiren’s passing in  2012 post JUSTICE DENIED. 
Photos from Dolores book:  William Heirens His Day In Court:

Below page from my book, Most Evil describing my initial involvement and a photo of Bill taken when Dolores and I met with him in 2003.


UPDATE: March 28  Below is a link to the “Most Evil” documentary where Dr. Michael Stone of Columbia University interviews and profiles Bill Heirens and examines my follow-up investigation.


  1. Luigi Warren on March 27, 2021 at 1:13 am


    Do you think the postcards featuring the 17 y.o. Armand Robles in the Dahlia case were some kind of taunting reference to the conviction of Heirens for the Lipstick murders? And another “hint,” perhaps…

    Best regards,


    • Steve Hodel on March 27, 2021 at 8:22 am

      No, I think it was more likely a taunting clue to Surrealism and Man Ray’s “Juliet with stocking mask” photo” where she is also wearing a stocking mask over her face.
      Some amazing linkage keeps turning up in “The Early Years” so stay tuned buddy, since you know that era so well I think you will be blown away. Looks like we are starting production very soon now on the miniseries.

      • Luigi Warren on March 27, 2021 at 1:14 pm


  2. Patricia ONeill on March 27, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    Steve… remember reading about Suzanne Degnan in Most Evil & the “most evil” outcome for Bill Heirens😓. How many innocent victims lay in the wake of GHH’s lustful wanderings. Because he had the financial freedom to satisfy his deviant lusts, no place (literally on earth!) was safe from him. There could be little or no tracing or notice of antecedent behaviors leading up to each murder. He was “free as a bird” to do whatever he wanted! This is why your “family” history of him is so important. “The Early Years” & the miniseries will fill in many blank pages of this murderous history. I quote John Stuart Mill: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look and do nothing!” We do not have enough Steve Hodels or Delores Kennedys😓! Carry on!💪

    • Steve Hodel on March 27, 2021 at 9:21 pm

      Patricia O:
      Thanks as always Patricia. Yes, I have so much respect for Dolores Kennedy and her three decades struggle to try and bring justice to Bill.
      And, you are right about George Hodel. He thought and acted like a God with total impunity and immunity. (I’m sure that he in fact considered himself as a God.)
      And, you are correct there will be some major California shockwaves (7.5 or more) coming from the Early Years George Hodel Fault. I won’t be rewriting history, just rediscovering it, as it was, and presenting it for the readers to decide. Best, Steve.

  3. Amber on March 29, 2021 at 2:41 am

    I hope there’s is a real movie or documentary of Elizabeth short, and how she became mix up with George hotel,not anything like that terrible black dahlia 2006 movie. Elizabeth short case is so big and there’s no real life movie on her

    • Steve Hodel on March 29, 2021 at 8:48 am

      I didn’t see the fictional movie, Black Dahlia, but rest assured this production will
      be dealing with facts not fiction. Dr. George Hill Hodel’s serial crimes will be presented
      along with all the linking evidence and none of it will be “made up.” This series will be fact far stranger than any fiction.

  4. Joakim on April 9, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    A dapper man in a fairytale restaged a myth about romance in a place with no sun (not Orpheus & Eurydice). The Pale & Shadowy One was chosen as actress. He would play the main character, offstage. “-To think that my gift is given to the hoi polloi to gawk at, what folly!” he suddenly exclaimed. For him the play satisfied different needs, some high & some low. It was also a wedding, he admitted this to himself. “-Sometimes true love is not obvious” he murmured near the end.

  5. Laura on April 10, 2021 at 12:42 pm

    Steve, I’ve just finished reading MOST EVIL, and am convinced that GHH could well have been the notorious Chicago “lipstick killer”, and the murderer of little Suzanne Degnan. The evidence you present in the book, though circumstantial, is very convincing, especially when viewed beside the circumstances of the killings in Los Angeles and Manila.

    However, he had to have at least one local accomplice who had a long-time local’s knowledge of Chicago, for I still can’t imagine how a Los Angeles man who visited this city only occasionally, for short lengths of time, would know Suzanne Degnan’s family well enough to know and target their child, and abduct her from her bedroom in the middle of a cold Chicago winter night, or know that an obscure apartment building a block away on Winthrop, would be a good place to dismember the body. Still less can I imagine Dr. Hodel hanging out at working class bars on the far south side of the city, or even knowing they existed, on 63rd St and Cottage Grove Ave, 18 miles south of the murder sites in Edgewater, the bars the anonymous caller claimed the killer could be found in.

    I imagine your dad stayed at the super-fashionable Edgewater Beach Hotel, in the 5400 block N Sheridan, a few blocks south of the Degnan home in the 5900 block of N Kenmore, around the corner from the courtyard building, still extant, at 6035 N Winthrop, where Suzanne’s corpse was dismembered. There were a number of other good tourist hotels in the area where he could have put up, too, right down the street from the Degnan’s home. Your dad must have known a number of people who operated and worked in medical laboratories here, from which the ear sent to poor Mrs. Degnan, was stolen, and it seems very likely to me, that one of these people was an accomplice of his. He might also have had two accomplices, a man and a woman.

    It is a great mystery to me that the CPD did not pursue the leads they had more energetically, especially that severed ear sent to the girl’s mother. You would think that they would have grilled everyone associated with every medical lab in the area and searched all of their offices and homes in pursuit of the sender. But I suppose a young delinquent apprehended burgling an apartment just made things too easy for them. They could bray that they’d “solved” the grisly crimes, and put the whole thing behind them, and neither they nor the politicians and news media moguls were burdened by any moral scruples, or concern for the truth.

    I’m greatly impressed with the work you’ve done in piecing together GHHs sordid secret career, and am looking forward to reading IN THE MESQUITE, which I have on order.

    • Steve Hodel on April 10, 2021 at 2:14 pm

      Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated.
      There is so much that we do not know about the “Chicago connections” for sure.
      No question there were accomplices, “a man and a woman” as in many of his other crimes.
      The neighbors overhearing the woman say, “This is the best-looking building in the neighborhood, and the best looking couple.” Shows both familiarity and unfamiliarity with the location. Clearly, she/they have seen the parents at some point, but only a casual familiarity?
      As you say, Chicago PD just wanted the public pressure off of them and the Department. After five or six wrongful arrests with young Bill Heirens they “had their man” and could end the city’s nightmare. “See, he confessed.”
      It will become much more evident once I publish my investigation into “The Early Years” so stay tuned. Lot more to come.
      Here’s the suggested reading order link on the additional crimes published to date. Best, Steve

  6. Luigi Warren on April 11, 2021 at 8:56 am

    Steve: If GHH made trips to DC in the mid-forties, would he have travelled by rail or by plane? By train, at least, LA-Chicago-DC with a rest stop in Chicago seems to make sense, the LA-Chicago leg taking about 40 hours. Maybe Chicago was no more than a stopover and this followed the same model as the later Zodiac murders — GHH exploiting his business travels and respectability to perpetrate shocking crimes and vanish like a “will o’ the wisp​.” -LW

    • Steve Hodel on April 11, 2021 at 11:17 am

      Yes, Luigi, that’s how I see it too. Chicago being a layover en route to D.C.

      And to bastardize the lyrics,
      “Well, he might take a train
      He might take a plane
      But if he has to walk
      He’s going there just the same
      He’s going to Chicago City
      Chicago City, here he comes

      Man Ray’s Chicago art exhibit ran from May to July 1945, so the Josephine Ross murder in June of that year may have possibly also been a, “well, since I’m here seeing my good friends exhibit, I might as well…” as indicated in my earlier post:

      I also see it as a possible attempt to mimic and or outdo the Lindbergh baby kidnap, MO. Abduction of a child using a ladder, ransom note, etc. Sure to gain national headlines, which was always a part of GHH’s main goal.
      The “two men and a woman” also adds to his crime MO.
      My guess that his choice of travel would more likely have been air. In his later years, he ONLY traveled by air, but then he had free passage worldwide from all the major airlines as part of his Market Research INTRAMAR annual survey.

    • Laura on April 11, 2021 at 4:15 pm

      If indeed Chicago was only a “stopover”, I’d rule Dr Hodel out completely, because the two airports were either Miegs Field, which was downtown and 12 miles south , or the new O’Hare, which was far west, about 10 miles, of the murder sites, which are on the far north lake front (in my own neighborhood).. It would have taken a lot of time to travel from any of these terminals to the murder sites.

      It seems more likely that the doctor was attending one of the many national medical or scientific conferences that took place in Chicago, which has been a major convention city for a long time.. He also stayed an fashionable hotels, I’m sure, and the one that was walking distance from the murder sites was the legendary Edgewater Beach Resort. on N Sheridan Road. It’s too bad the great old place was demolished in 1968, and any records of guests long gone.

      • Steve Hodel on April 11, 2021 at 4:52 pm

        Yes, or as speculated in Most Evil I, he may have been attending the Chinese language course taught at Univ of Chicago in preparation for his imminent trip to Hangkow China in Feb ’46 as a recently hired medical doctor for UNRRA. May well have been staying/residing in Chicago for some weeks or months before going to China. June told me he tried to study Chinese “back East” before going to China, “but never could get the hang of it.” “Back East” from Los Angeles could well have been Chicago.

        • Laura on April 12, 2021 at 12:18 am

          Hmmm… the University of Chicago is on the far SOUTH lake front of the city, the 5700 block south, in the Hyde Park neighborhood. It’s nearly 20 miles from the sites of the Lipstick murders, which took place close together on the city’s NORTH lake front, in the 6000 block north, in Edgewater, nearly 20 miles north of the U of Chicago.

          Calls placed by the killer, or an accomplice, were placed from a drugstore in Rogers Park, the northernmost lake front neighborhood of Chicago, just north of Edgewater. Another call told the police that the caller could be found in two different bars, on on Cottage Grove Ave and one on 63rd St, in the south shore neighborhood a bit south of Hyde Park.

          There definitely had to be a local accomplice or two, for a visitor from another city in town for only a few days, in Chicago’s cold winter no less, could scarcely have tripped over those bars, and still less could he have happened on his victims in Edgewater, who were two women in corridor apartment buildings, and a little girl from a middle class family on Thorndale. Your dad must have gotten to this city frequently to be able to hook up with his accomplices.

  7. Luigi Warren on April 11, 2021 at 1:31 pm


    It’s not clear to me how routine or affordable commercial air travel was ca. 1945 — I’ve seen references to the industry being severely impacted by the war, and it was only in the fifties that plane travel really took off at the expense of rail. There were really fancy trains like the Super Chief running between LA and Chicago in 1945. In the Dahlia transcripts, IIRC there’s a couple of times GHH references possible train trips, to Santa Barbara and to Arizona.

    Another inspiration for staging a sensational kidnap-murder in Chicago might have been the memory of Leopold and Loeb’s botched “Crime of the Century.” There was also the February 1945 broadcast of Robert Bloch’s radio drama, “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper,” in which an eternal JtR, posing as a psychiatrist, stalks the streets of 1940s Chicago. We’ve seen that “re-enactment” MO elsewhere with the 1943 Ora Murray case. -LW

    • Steve Hodel on April 11, 2021 at 2:21 pm

      All true. I was unaware of the “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper,” radio broadcast. Will have to check that out, especially with the link to JtR EAR sent to the Degnan family which is right out of JtR’s letters. A 1945 radio show inspiring his Chicago crimes is text book GHH. Thanks.

      • Luigi Warren on April 11, 2021 at 3:48 pm
        • Steve Hodel on April 11, 2021 at 3:58 pm

          Yes, just listened to it. THANK YOU! No question in my mind it is a major thoughtprint and totally supports my perceived ORA MURRAY “White Rose Murders” crime signature/MO, just two years earlier. First the show then the murder, ditto in Chicago. (Also, in the JtR “Your’s Truly” did you catch the casual mention of “JtR involved in a brawl/stabbing in Hollywood” a few years earlier than the Chicago crime. Very cool. Will have to blog this for sure. Always grateful to readers like YOU as my partners/eyes and ears out there. Steve

          • Luigi Warren on April 11, 2021 at 4:42 pm

            Steve: It’s right up George’s alley, that’s for sure. -LW

  8. Amy on April 27, 2021 at 11:56 am

    Mr Hodel,
    With the widespread frustration as to the LAPD and refusal of access to possible DNA, I wondered if you had submitted GHH DNA to any genetic DNA sources? The possibility of finding other children of GHH could help establish timelines and locations. Also other police departments may be more willing to help with DNA access in other cases where you suspect GHH. The later cases might have evidence still preserved and be more recent than 1947. It wouldn’t solve BD, but it could add even more to the credibility of all your amazing research!

    • Steve Hodel on April 27, 2021 at 12:20 pm

      Yes, working on various potential sources. Thanks.

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