1945 Chicago Lipstick Murders: A New Jack The Ripper Thoughtprint Is Found
April 11, 2021
Los Angeles, California
Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper
By Robert Bloch (Orig pub May 1943)
Once again, huge kudos to my longtime reader and online friend, computer scientist, and bacteriologist, Dr. Luigi Warren, aka LW.
LW has regularly contributed his insightful “comments” to many of my “Squad Room Blogs.”
In a recent blog comment, LW happened to mention what he believed was an additional link to the three 1945-6 “Chicago Lipstick Murders” as revealed in the 1945 mystery radio show production of, “Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper” a short story originally written by famed author, Robert Bloch. (Think Hitchcock’s production of Bloch’s story, Psycho)
I was not familiar with either the original short story or its adaption as a radio show two years later, which aired in May 1945.
I have just now finished listening to the original radio show and have just read the original short story as it appeared in 1943. (See PDF link below.)
Yours Truly Jack the Ripper by Bloch (printed short story)
Yours Truly Radio Show Recording (30mins)
Six years ago, in the below-linked blog, I speculated that Dr. George Hill Hodel was “inspired” by a 1943 radio show “The White Rose Murders” adapted from the well-known mystery writer, Cornell Woolrich’s, “The Death Rose” (Baffling Detective Mysteries March 1943.) See original blog HERE.
Fast forward just two years and it appears that GHH again repeated his exact same crime signature. Only instead of in his hometown of Los Angeles, he chose Chicago, Illinois. (He may have been temporarily residing in that city attending the University of Chicago taking a language course to learn Chinese in preparation for his imminent trip to doctor with UNRRA in Hankow, China in Feb 1946.) Additionally, in the summer of 1945, LAPD was actively investigating him for the suspected murder (forced overdose) of his personal secretary, Ruth Spaulding, and his leaving the U.S. effectively stopped any further investigation into that suspected murder.
Thanks to the Eagle-eyed heads up from LW, this new discovery it would appear that once again, within less than a month, George Hodel on June 3, 1945, “follows the radio script” and acting the role of “Jack the Ripper” brutally slashes and stabs to death, Josephine Ross in her Chicago apartment, to be followed shortly afterward by the subsequent “Lipstick Murders” of Frances Brown and Suzanne Degnan. The Chicago Press of that day even followed George Hodel’s playbook by calling the unknown suspect a “Jack The Ripper Murderer.”
To underscore and not leave any doubt in Chicagoans minds, the killer to emphasize he was in fact “reenacting Jack The Ripper crimes” stole a human ear from a medical laboratory and sent it to the Degnan girl’s parents promising “your ear will be next.” This is exactly what the real Jack the Ripper promised he would do in his 1888 “Boss Letter” to the police.
Thanks again to LW and all those that have contributed so much through the use of their comments, thoughts, and observations here or by way of emails.
Here is a timeline copied from Robert Bloch’s biography. It shows that actor Laird Cregar performed a “Coast to Coast” radio show broadcast of Bloch’s “Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper” in 1944. (Laird (below) also that same year played “The Lodger” in Hitchcock’s film, also about JtR.)
In the Zero Degrees of Separation turns out my brother, Mike Hodel, Host of the long-lived Los Angeles-based KPFK radio show, “Hour 25” interviewed mystery writer Robert Bloch on a number of occasions through the decades. I even have a book that Bloch autographed for Mike and my brother gave to me on one of my birthdays way back when. This small world just keeps getting smaller.
Below photos of Robert Bloch (left) and Mike Hodel (right) taken at separate literary functions.
Incredible and fascinating at the same time. Thanks to the World Wide Web the evidence in support of your thesis, Steve, keeps growing and growing. Thanks LW for adding to the body of evidence.
Yes, amazing the research and connections that can be made with our own modern-day Alexandria Library on steroids. Stay well. The project is about to launch any day now. Steve
Interesting info on Bloch’s story and its long afterlife here:
Looks like GHH could have caught the first radio version in January 1944 on the Kate Smith Hour, if that played in LA — I can’t find local listings — or in February 1945 on Mystery Playhouse, which definitely played in the LA market. However, another possibility is that he heard the version in Bloch’s own “Stay Tuned for Terror” series of radio adaptions which was local to Chicago and started in May 1945. In fact, I see a Chicago listing for the series (the particular story unidentified) on June 4, the day before Josephine Ross’s body was found.
ADDENDUM: Bloch recorded 39 15-minute radio adaptations of his stories in Chicago in 1945, almost all now lost. His own adaptation of “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” was episode #20. There is conflicting information about the air dates. Some sources indicate that the shows were broadcast in Chicago over May to August, which is consistent with listings I find using newspapers.com. However, I found a couple of other sources that give “assigned” weekly air dates in Chicago spanning January to October with #20 going out on June 4, the day before the Ross murder. -LW
After reading some more OTR scholarship on the “Terror” show, I think it most likely the “assigned” episode air dates were abandoned and that Bloch’s JtR episode went out perhaps towards the end of June 1945. So, the assigned 6/4/45 air date is probably just a coincidence.
I think the most likely direct “trigger” for GHH’s JtR role-play fantasy in Chicago was the February 27 Mystery Playhouse adaptation with the spooky Peter Lorre intro.
Also of interest, Man Ray travelled to Chicago for the opening of his Art Institute exhibit (Chicago Tribune, April 27 & May 6, 1945.) Interestingly, we have the Cheri Jo Bates murder in 1966 taking place the same day as the LA Times did a big Sunday spread on the artist’s LACMA retrospective. Maybe some competition for attention going on there.
Steve, IMO (& purely armchair detecting!) I am sure GHH found major relaxation in reading crime novels. But then when the novel ended, he began to plan real-life renditions of what he read! He was truly addicted (like an alcoholic/drug addict) to the feeling of relief that revenge could bring him. There was also the feeling of superiority…..getting away with it….that the real-life crimes gave him! Believe me, regardless of his high IQ, his mocking swagger, GHH had very low self esteem (or maybe non-existent)! The Early Years when published & your miniseries will hopefully transmit to readers & viewers the horrendous damage(s) of child abuse (physical, sexual, emotional) not only to the child, but to the whole of human society, affecting many generations! I have always thought Jack the Ripper could have been of “royal blood” (again IMO all life itself is “royal”!). And relating that to GHH, his crimes were well hidden, lest they topple the bigwigs of major law enforcement agencies!
Ok, I’m off my soapbox🤣!
Wow, your brother looked quite a bit like your dad (eye browns, eyes, forehead, hairline).
You must take after your mom’s side.
Amazing continued work and connections w/ the JtR radio play connections, I just recently watched “The Lodger” and got those spooky vibes (Merle Oberon was quite breath taking though).
Yes, I favor my mother’s side of the family. The Harveys, English/Irish roots.
Especially your Grandfather Harvey!
Jack the Ripper was the British physician (as well as world- famous writer) Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle who was trained to vivisect human bodies and who knew how London police works.
Dr. George Hill Hodel became a master-surgeon by training as well as became a deep enthusiast of Surrealism (i.e., a form of artistic application of female bodies dead or alive), who also very well knew how Los Angeles police works.
Without the Tamar Hodel incest-case, the LAPD and the LA County DA did not prosecute Dr. George Hill Hodel for anything.
British physician Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle had the means and the motivation to act as Jack the Ripper.
Yes, and as far as the Tamar Incest trial, I definitely believe that would never have been prosecuted except for the fact that the arrest was made by Juvenile Detectives and it was a
a situation where “the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing.” By that I mean Juvenile detectives had/have no connection with the Homicide Unit, so the juvenile detectives just went ahead and filed their case with the DA and it was a “done deal” before anyone of GHH’s friendlies downtown could do anything. Once filed, the Juvenile officers proceeded “as usual” and it had to play out in the courts.