Full Circle-Coming Home: Reuniting with Old Friends and a New Beginning Back in the Great Northwest

January 2, 2022
Birch Bay, Washington
“I’m hoping to come back to the beauty and tranquility of Bellingham.”
                                                                                            Steve Hodel
Bellingham Herald Interview
April 12, 2003
Bellingham Herald April 12, 2003
(Suggest going back in time and reading the below article written 19-years ago before proceeding.)


I wanted my first blog for ’22 to be reflective.
To examine the truly amazing journey I have been on these past 22-years.
Let me put that journey in perspective.
When the above article was published (April 2003), Emily Weiner (who, incidentally, wrote an incredibly accurate reporting of the facts) was a news reporter for the Bellingham Herald. According to her LinkedIn resume, she is now (2022) “Director of Foundation Relations at Western Washington University in Bellingham.” 

My first book, Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder (hardcopy) at Emily’s writing was just days away from publication.
The first television documentary (about seven more would follow over the next decade), DATELINE, produced and directed by David Browning, was just hours away from airing.
Then, I was unaware that the secret DA Hodel/Black Dahlia Files and tape-recorded transcripts of my father’s confessions existed. (They would be revealed and published in full for the first time in the HarperCollins paperback edition in June 2004.)
In April 2003,  my total “victim count,” as indicated in the article, was “seven definites and nine probables.” (A total of 16 murders spanning a period from 1943-1949).
In the years following, the doors kept opening up.  NEW WITNESSES KEPT COMING FORWARD after BDA became a NYT bestseller both in the U.S. and in Europe (France). Readers from the U.S. and abroad discovered new evidence, some that I had missed, as well as new connections.
Then I discovered the “Murder As a Fine Art” crime signature/MO and how it connected to my father’s surrealist friends, especially our family photographer and Dadaist, Man Ray. How each surrealist, ex-post-facto, paid their individual “tribute” to George Hodel in each of their separate works of art.
Then came the hard physical evidence establishing our Sowden/Franklin House as the actual original crime scene. Buster, the cadaver dog, and his handler, Sgt. Paul Dosti establishes “alerts to human remains,” and Dr. Arpad Vass confirms their findings through physical soil analysis.
This was followed by discovering the bloody cement and manure sacks used to transport Elizabeth’s body from the residence to the “dumpsite.” The bags were connected with original dated receipts showing work performed using the items at the Hodel house through architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s records at UCLA archives.
The years flew by more serial crime discoveries in Chicago, and Manila Philippines, just a few blocks from George Hodel’s then residence. Young kidnap/murder victim Lucila Lalu’s naked and posed surgically bisected body parts left for public display on a vacant lot.
Two more books, Most Evil I and II, investigating and further linking George Hodel to the Chicago Lipstick Murders and the San Francisco Bay Area and Riverside killing as “Zodiac.”
Those followed by the standalone publication, IN THE MESQUITE, presenting George Hodel’s double homicide of  Hazel and Nancy Frome near El Paso, Texas, in 1938.
Finally, my just-published two set volumes, “THE EARLY YEARS, presenting his serial crimes believed committed in the 1920s and 1930s, that completed my investigations, raising my father’s total victim count to forty-nine (49) in fifty (50) years of unrestrained savagery.

Closing the Circle:

What I thought would be a return to Whatcom County sometime in the spring or summer of 2022 was escalated thanks to the Herculean efforts of my editor on “The Early Years,” author and retired Dallas police officer Robert Sadler. Robert did all the graphics for both books, and together we finished the writing and published it on my 80th birthday in early November 2021.
Anxious to be closer to my two sons and two grandchildren (Michael and family in Seattle and Matthew in Bellingham), I contacted my good friend attorney Dennis Murphy (yes, the same Bellingham attorney interviewed in the 2003 Bellingham Herald article) and Marsha Brown, a highly respected professional real estate agent specializing in residential homes in Whatcom County.
Incredibly, within just a few weeks of “looking,” they found me the perfect home, located just twenty minutes north of Bellingham city limits in Birch Bay.
Despite five separate simultaneous offers, Marsha Brown was able to get the winning bid in and a quick thirty-day escrow, and HERE I AM.
The moving van and my possessions are still in CA (expected to arrive in about ten days or so?) but, I’m in the new home with a coffee pot, a bed, and a desk with a computer.
I was able to spend an overnight and Christmas Eve day in Seattle (just a short ninety-minute drive from my new home) with my son Michael and his wife Joyce and my beautiful two grandchildren, Tucker and Ella, and then Christmas Day and dinner with my son Matthew here in my new digs.
Great to be back FULL CIRCLE and close to family and friends.
Checking my bucket list, the only two things left for this coming spring/summer are:
A  one or two-year-old dog from the rescue shelter (I’ll skip the puppy-stage thanks) and a barbeque.  LIFE IS GOOD.
 Author’s Note- 
For those thinking I’m going into retirement and pulling out the rocking chair- Think again! Excited for what 2022 holds in store. I will be maintaining my blog, and adding new findings as well as going full bore into the docu miniseries which resumes filming in Feb/March. A great team onboard for that production. Award-winning documentarinan Robb Bindler (Hands on a Hard Body) will produce/direct and T Bone Burnett will provide music along with Nic Pizzolatto (True Detectives I, II, III) who both will serve as exec producers along with Jordan Wynn, at Boardwalk Productions.


  1. Dennis Effle on January 3, 2022 at 1:29 am

    I love hearing the good news about reconnecting with your family. I know the dog and BBQ will come with time. When your Stuff arrives you’ll be in good shape. I’ll add one thing to your bucket list: The video project based on your books. Stay warm. 👍

    • Steve Hodel on January 3, 2022 at 1:40 am

      Dennis E:
      Hi Dennis. Yeh, had to smile. I’m just finishing Michael Connelly’s latest novel, “The Dark Hours” where Harry Bosch, though retired, still partners with Officer Rene Ballard who works Nights at Hollywood Division. Renee has been wanting to adopt a rescue dog for some time, and just “pulled the plug” and got one from Rescue. I have to restrain myself until I can get my new home dog-proofed. Knowing me I will take the first one I see, so have to keep myself out of temptations way, until I get things solid. Best, Steve

  2. Patricia ONeill on January 3, 2022 at 12:08 pm

    👍….sounds like heaven Steve! Don’t be surprised if that first rescue dog leads into a second! The stories of our dogs now gone are treated as family history…..kids still have Ozzie, Diamond, Teddy, Friday & Sunday!! We used to be the “vacation sitters” but that has slowed down as the children’s lives now slow down in Tucson, Houston & Charleston! Grandchildren spreading all over the US in good careers thank God! Our Elle & Jim (group pic from Mother’s Day) now engaged!! You will see yourself as the “Anchor” of an ever-growing clan, Steve! As well it should be……the Hodels carry great genes! After reading The Early Years I see several pitfalls for GHH and perhaps unsurmountable for such a young man with that tremendous IQ! So much of what I learned working with emotionally disabled teen boys in the early ‘90’s came back to me in reading all of your books! And I take great liberty here in saying to you….GHH is helping you now on this path…….(IMO there is no heaven or hell)! He thanks you for making things “right”!! JOB WELL DONE STEVE HODEL!! 👌😎🌵

  3. Jess Waid on January 3, 2022 at 4:20 pm

    Howdy, Steve,

    Hey, you’ve now published two more books than I have. I best get to work on my next onw. Anyway, I wish you the best this new year! Stay busy and life will continue to treat you well, me thinks. Also, I suggest that you “partner” with a non-shedding breed of dog. Although, I greatly enjoyed my female Akita who “blew” her coat twice a year. Now, we have “Chico,” a Schnoodle (Poodle/Schnauzer mix). Take care, mi amigo.

    • Steve Hodel on January 3, 2022 at 4:43 pm

      Jess W.
      Hey Jess:
      Thanks for the non-shed advice, I’ll keep it in mind. The only worry is when I go to Rescue, what if the dog picks me? Won’t be a lark might just have to go with the bark? Long hair, short or medium?
      Always have leaned toward medium to large dogs, but maybe smaller might work best at 80?
      Had to laugh last night almost finishing Michael Connelly’s latest novel, “The Dark Hours” where his unofficial partner, Renee Ballard goes to Rescue to adopt a dog. Speaking of book writing, he puts us both to shame with thirty-five books and counting. Wow. Best to you and yours and Happy New Year.

  4. Eliza Sawyer on January 3, 2022 at 6:02 pm

    Steve I suggest you have a clothing historian look at the photo on page 71 of Part 1. The one you think might possibly be Paris Peace Talks 1920 dinner? The womens hair and clothing suggest 1930s.

    • Steve Hodel on January 3, 2022 at 6:23 pm

      Eliza S:
      Yes, I agree that the photo could well have been taken a decade later in the Thirties.
      As mentioned, GHH Sr. looks considerably older. Have yet to identify what “1500 delegates from the world” met there that would include “the president.” Thanks.

  5. Joan Kelly on January 14, 2022 at 2:02 am

    Hello Mr. Hodel,

    I’ve recently read more online about your books and investigation, and am looking forward to purchasing all of the books you’ve written. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your empathy and respect for the women your father (and others) harmed.

    I don’t know how to describe what it’s like to hear a man speak against misogyny the way you do. Please just know that this aspect of your character is no small thing to me, or to the friends that I’ve been talking to about your books and these cases. Thank you.

    I hope the new year has been going well for you and your family, and again I look forward to reading every one of your books.


    Joan Kelly

  6. Joyce Ralston Payton on February 18, 2022 at 3:08 pm

    Glad your life is bringing you and your family joy and opening new adventures. On the dog adoption issue, my retired policeman husband could not believe how close he became to my corgi, Cary Grant. Always a big dog person he found that Cary was just a German Shepherd with sawed off legs! Lots of fun but in a nice size that isn’t too taxing on these old bones of ours. Hope you took my advice and watched the movie Hannibal Rising which I thought you would greatly enjoy. Unfortunately the outstanding young French actor playing Hannibal died in a skiing accident early this year. Gaspard Thomas Ulliel will be greatly missed both as an artist and as a kind and special man.

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