Breaking News-LAPD 1950 Black Dahlia Letter’s Cypher Solved

January 28, 2021
Birch Bay, Washington
1950 Letter on display at LAPD Police Museum as part of the 2012 Black Dahlia Exhibit.
In Black Dahlia Avenger II (Thoughprint Press 2014) I published photographic copies of several letters shown on display at the LAPD Police Museum which were purported by LAPD to be “Crank Letters mailed in on the Black Dahlia investigation.”
LAPD informed the public that the exhibit, open to the public on March 19, 2012, “contains original, never before seen Black Dahlia documents and photographs.”
As documented in Black Dahlia Avenger II (Thoughtprint Press 2014) chapter 23, “LAPD Historical Society: The New Evidence”, pages 370-390, I presented my case that I believed the two letters on display were not crank letters, but legitimate and most probably written and mailed by my father.
Fast forward to yesterday, January 27, 2022.
I was contacted by Mr. Ron Rees, from Montgomery, Illinois.
Ron and I have had numerous contacts through the years and he provided valuable linkage as relates to a GHH (George Hill Hodel initials) hidden in the Zodiac cipher mailed to the press in the 1970 “Halloween Card.” His discovery was included in my earlier publication.
Yesterday’s call had to do with a new discovery and what he believed was the solving of a separate cipher, as presented in the above 1950 letter sent to “The Sheriff, Hall of Justice.”
Ron communicated his findings to me and I asked him if he was willing to communicate them to my good friend, author, and retired Dallas PD Officer Robert J. Sadler? As many of you know, Robert has served as my editor and graphic artist for more than a decade.
Ron agreed and Robert called him, reviewed how Ron came to his conclusions, and then prepared the below PDF showing Ron Rees SOLUTION.
Here then is that remarkable discovery and what I confidently believe is the actual decoding and solution in which the Black Dahlia Killer reveals his true identity.
Click on the below link to PDF.

THE REES KEY rjs 1.28.22

Author Note:  Scroll down to Comments Section to see my SKH Author Note on the post.  Also, I was recently asked by a reader (thanks Frans) if I felt the address “512 Philadelfia St, Whitier” had any significance? George Hodel doctored at Ruth’s Home for Girls which was located in or near “Whitier” and the “512” could be (consciously or not?) a “clew” to our then family residence as they are the first three numerals in the Sowden/Franklin address which was 5121 Franklin Ave.

Letter writer uses the first three numbers of George Hodel’s then residence “512-“


  1. Jackie Fritz on January 28, 2022 at 5:52 pm

    This is s amazing !!!!!

  2. Steve Hodel on January 28, 2022 at 5:59 pm

    Author’s Comment:

    I believe I have expressed in prior communications the fact that my mind does not work particularly well in an attempt to “crack” or break ciphers/cryptograms etc. Others like LW, Ron Rees, Robert Sadler, DCI Sue Wilshire, and Yves Person’s DO. And all have contributed greatly in prior blogs and publications.

    In regards to this Rees Keys “solution” I just received the following from my respected friend, LW (Luigi Warren):

    I’ve looked at it and I don’t buy the “crack.” If there were exactly the same number of letters that appeared two and three times in both names it would be interesting, although still ambiguous. But once you allow two different letters to account for the total three E’s in GHH’s name, it loses significance in my opinion. Looks highly likely that the letter is from GHH but I am not convinced on this analysis.”

    I understand LW’s point here but also would like to emphasize something that has come up many times in the past. That being in my opinion, Ron Rees’ analysis is not the whole ball game. It is several “points” to add to the making of a complete “thoughtprint” which points when added together make the identification.
    In my previous publications on the specific subject of this letter 1) I identified the handwriting as identical to my father’s and pointed to a number of specific alphabet letters within the document that were unique to GHH’s known HW. 2) I pointed to the fact that it was mailed and postmarked ON HIS BIRTHDAY (Oct 10th, 1950) 3) Additionally we have GHH concealing the spelling of his true name in prior and subsequent ciphers sent in on other crimes.

    It is true that Ron Rees begins with the solution and assumes that the thirteen letters are: George Hodel M.D. and his findings are based on that assumption.

    But, it works and to my mind adds tremendous weight when considered with the other “points” of Handwriting and Crime Signature M.O.

    Stay tuned, I’m sure we will be hearing from other “mathematically and cryptology inclined minds out there.
    Steve Hodel #11394, LAPD Hollywood Homicide (Ret.)

    • Eliza Sawyer on January 28, 2022 at 10:12 pm

      I get lost in all the ciphers but I sort of followed this one. It adds weight-even if it does not add proof.

    • Luigi Warren on January 29, 2022 at 2:47 am


      If MANUELLMERINO is an anagram based on a substitution cipher, I think a better starting point than GEORGEHODELMD might be DRGEORGEHODEL. If I have it right, that gives four letters used twice in both the plaintext and the ciphertext (D, R, G O and M, N, L, E.) There’s no obvious reason to pick any particular pairing. Then we are left with 3 x E, H, L in the plaintext to be accounted for by the leftover A, U, R, I, O from the ciphertext. Having multiple cipher symbols map to E is standard in homophonic substitution ciphers, so that “helps” the theory a bit. Not optimistic that anything convincing can be developed, but maybe there is a hint or pattern that would make a solution seem non-arbitrary.



      • Steve Hodel on January 29, 2022 at 9:27 am

        Yes, could well be correct on that. In one of my previous publications, independent of the current subject matter, I noted that both George Hodel MD and Dr. George Hodel contain 13 letters. (I think it was in reference to blank spaces signed by Zodiac, but not finding it now?) At any rate, two NEW points of interest emerge now as we look at the potential connection of the number 13 as a signature for GHH. I’ll blog with graphics in the near future.

        • Karen on January 29, 2022 at 9:46 am

          You discussed blank spaces in a Zodiac letter on page 207 of the paperback edition of “Most Evil.”

          I’m still trying to find others.

          • Steve Hodel on January 29, 2022 at 12:26 pm

            Thank you, Karen. Yes, in the Most Evil (hardback ed.) I mention my father’s signature in reference to LE reportedly mentioning that there were 12 blank letter spaces on the Bates “Confession Letter”. Will address this in the upcoming blog.

  3. Mark Schorr on January 29, 2022 at 11:46 pm

    Fascinating stuff after all these years!

    • Steve Hodel on January 29, 2022 at 11:55 pm

      Hi Marcus:
      Yes, come a long way since you and I first took a peek at it. Hard to believe its been 23 years huh.
      Nice to be back in the great Northwest again. Beautiful country up here. Hope we get to see each other in the near future. Steve

  4. Viktoria on February 18, 2022 at 3:56 am

    Incredible… the links are never ending!

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