“What’s In A Name?” – A Search for the Identity of Black Dahlia Serial Killer George Hodel’s First Born Child (Updated 7.28.22)

July 12, 2022
Birch Bay, Washington
Happy Birthday, Mike!
(Today would have been my older brother Michael’s 83rd birthday)
Just a few days ago I made the discovery of a half-sister that neither I nor any other family member (to my knowledge) was aware of. A girl child born to my father and Emilia in San Francisco on November 12, 1929. Her name was Zoe Francesca Hodel,  and she died just three days after being born.
Having learned this has sparked me to explore and hopefully discover the truths of another unknown and unspoken of half-sister.
Today I have decided to reveal another name in hopes of learning more about another child’s name.  Information that I have kept secret for some twenty-five years.
I do this in hopes of discovering the true identity of this long-lost family relative. She would have been my half-sister and my father’s firstborn child-Folly.

Background:

Excerpt from Black Dahlia Avenger (2003) Epilogue Pgs 403-404:
Throughout my investigation, as the linkage was made from victim to
victim, I asked myself the same question—Why? What was the trigger?
Then I recalled the story of Folly.
For more than fifty years Folly’s existence had been a whispered family
rumor. Mother had told me bits and pieces of the story when I was in my
twenties: a vague reference to Father having had an early affair as a teenager, which resulted in the birth of a child; somewhere out there another
Hodel, a half-sister, predating Father’s acknowledged firstborn son Duncan born in 1928.
In the summer of 1997, Father and June visited me in Bellingham for
a three-day tour of the San Juan Islands. We had returned from our ferry
crossing, having filled our day with spectacular vistas, and an early dinner
on Orcas Island. The three of us sat in my bay-front apartment as the sun
began to set late in the evening. I had noticed that Father was especially
mellow and the three of us, sated with the beauty around us, felt close and
comfortable. He reminisced about how quickly time had passed, remarking that he was just months away from his ninetieth birthday!
It was then I broached the subject of the family rumor and Folly. “Was
it true, Father? Is there a Folly out there? A sister I’ve never met?” He
paused, and I could almost see him turn back the pages of time in his mind.
“The rumor is true,” he said. “I was very young, a boy of fifteen, and very
much in love.” As I listened intently, Father told the story of Folly.
In Los Angeles, while attending Cal Tech, he had had an affair with
a much older married woman. Her husband discovered the infidelity and
they separated. She moved to the East Coast and gave birth to the child,
a girl whom she christened Folly. “I followed her east,” Father continued,
“found where she was living in a small town, and told her I wanted to
marry her and raise the child. She wouldn’t have it. She laughed at me and
Black Dahlia Avenger.indd 403 2/10/15 12:07 PM
404 BLACK DAHLIA AVENGER
said, ‘You’re just a child yourself. Go away, George. This has all been a terrible mistake. Just go away from me. I never want to see you again.’” Father
said he remained in the East and tried to convince her that they should be
together, but to no avail. In the end, he left, returned to Los Angeles, and
never again attempted to make contact with mother or daughter.
As follow-up to his story, and by way of demonstrating the new computer software I had recently purchased for searching and locating witnesses and individuals nationwide, I suggested we check to see if Folly was “in the system.” He provided me with the mother’s last name, and the
name of the small town in the East where she was last known to be living, some seven decades past. I input the information and pressed “enter.”
Incredibly, there she was! First initial “F,” same last name, with her address
and telephone number. Gazing at the screen in disbelief, Father paled. I
suggested that maybe it was now time to make contact. Wouldn’t he like to
see and meet a daughter he had never met? For the third time in my life, I
saw him visibly shaken. In a firm voice that bordered on anger, he said to
me, “No! You must destroy this information. She must never know. There
must never be any contact. Do you understand?” I didn’t, but I said I did.
Those were the last words ever spoken about Father’s “Folly.
Here now, for the first time I am making this information public in hopes of discovering more hidden truths related to my father’s early years.
In 1997 as reported in BDA (above) the name my father gave me to search for was PULSIFER, the city, WORCESTER, MA. My search back then showed numerous listings under the last name Pulsifer.
So, it is believed my half-sister’s name was Folly Pulsifer residing in Worcester.
I am no longer sure, but I believe dad told me Folly’s mother’s name was Roberta.
However, Folly’s mother may have resumed using her maiden family name, which is unknown.
This introduces a new possibility into our investigation.
As stated it was my belief that Folly’s mother was “a professor’s wife at CalTech” and the pregnancy caused her divorce from her husband and her move to the East.
With the discovery of my father’s magazine, FANTASIA, it would appear that the truth may be slightly different than originally believed.

Note the names of the Editors- George Hill Hodel and G. Bishop Pulsifer.
Based on the timing this cannot be a coincidence.  The co-editor of FANTASIA very likely was the cuckold husband and his wife (possible first name-Roberta) became impregnated with George’s child.
Could G. Bishop Pulsifer also have attended CalTech? Possible, but regardless, I am confident that based on this connection and the year (1925) this would have been the husband of the woman dad had an affair with and who birthed his child.
A quick check of Ancestry.com shows George Bishop Pulsifer born in Maine, in 1901, making him just six years George Hodel’s senior. Could this be the same G. Bishop Pulsifer? Possible, but???
As I initially indicated in this post, today is my older brother’s birthday.
On his popular radio show, “HOUR-25” Mike used to talk about “The Group Mind” and how it could usually answer any question put to the audience within a half hour or so.
I am reminded of that concept and here offer a challenge to “The Group Mind.”
Who was Folly Pulsifer?  Can you identify her or her mother with the possible first name of Roberta? (not certain). Or, in the alternative can we identify mother and child through a link to G. Bishop Pulsifer, co-editor of the 1925 Fantasia Magazine
The first person to positively identify her will receive a free signed copy of the original hardback edition of Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder (Arcade Pub. 2003)
Email results to me at: [email protected]
Good Hunting!
UPDATE  7.12.22 5:15pm
This just in from my good friend Dr. Luigi Warren- a first thoughtprint that seems to confirm we have identified the correct G. Bishop Pulsifer! Has to be him. See below article found by LW showing he like dad, he was a journalist for the LA RECORD newspaper. Pretty colorful bio. Also, like Fred Sexton, and John Huston he studied under artist S. MacDonald Wright. By 1932, the below article shows him to be an award-winning landscape photographer in Maine.
The Lewiston Daily 2.1.32
(Found by Dr. Luigi Warren)
Update 7.18.22
I have decided to reproduce the above article so readers may get a true sense of the man that was G. Bishop Pulsifer in his own words–clearly an intellectual and artist extraordinaire.
Reproduction of above article 2.1.1932 in full
G. BISHOP PULSIFER PICTURE HUNTER
“STALKING LIGHT” WITH A CAMERA
Tell How He Secured the Remarkable Collection of Nature
Photographs Displayed at the Auburn Public Library–
Pays Tribute to Picturesque Minot Corner

G. BISHOP PULSIFER–A MONOGRAPH

 G. Bishop Pulsifer, writer and photographer born in Lewiston in 1901, and attended Jordan high. Traveled in the Black Republics of Haiti and Sano Domingo, where Columbus was imprisoned and buried; explored the Morro Castle and San Juan, Porto Rico, and photographed the coast of Santo Domingo, explored the pirates’ rendezvous in Old Pana City, witnessed bull fights and gambling for high stakes in Tia Juana, Mexico, America’s wickedest city; vagabonded through the painted desert and petrified forests of New Mexico and Arizona, studied liberal arts and journalism for three years at the University of Southern California, worked for two years on the editorial staff of the Los Angeles Record and the Los Angeles Herald; studied art in the life class of S. MacDonald Wright; studied drama and stage technique as a member of the Garret club; dog team trip from Minot, to Boston, and Albany with letters from Governor Brewster to Governor “Al” Smith and later from Lewiston to Montreal and return; tramped more than 2000 miles of Maine trails to historic shrines; winner of first prize in “Old Home Week” photographic contest in Auburn 1931; contributes feature stories to Boston Post, Portland Press Herald and Lewiston Journal, and articles to sport and trade journals. In photography specializes in Maine landscape, child portraits, and character studies.
There is a popular belief that photography is a mechanical process. The advertising and instructions given out by camera companies is responsible for the prevalent idea that all you have to do is “press the button” and the picture is complete.
The first thing that a tyro learns on being introduced to the mysteries of photography is that it is an extremely supple medium, bending itself to all sorts of expression, providing the photographer is a capable man and is content to spend several years in acquiring a technique, as is the case with the man who wishes to work with oil, crayon or chisel.
Photography, in fact, is the least mechanical of all the arts, because it deals with the least palpable material. You can grasp and get a good hold on paints and pastels and marble. But what can you do with light–the most elusive quality of all. And it is light in all its various shading and tones that the photographer works.
You know, objects in themselves have no particular appearance. They are always changing according to the light that strikes them. They change constantly in form, color, importance, and even texture–according to the manner in which they are lighted. It is up to the photographer to get the lighting he wants to express a certain idea of mood. That is what I attempt to do–to draw with light!
When I came upon a certain secluded spot on the banks of the Little Androscoggin, I felt that I was suddenly transported to another world–one that awakened a feeling of eerie romanticism and a vision of Poe’s mysterious country of Psyche. I tried to reproduce the elements that aroused that emotion in the picture I now call “–down by the dank tarn of Auber, in the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.”
White Birches
Everybody loves the pristine loveliness of white birches. I found three beauties near “Indian Dump,” near Haskell’s corner. It is the sort o picture that Wallace Nutting revels in. Although there is little of originality in this picture, it has its many admirers.
Sometime I hope the world will realize what a beautiful spot Minot Corner is. The view down the river from the bridge is unsurpassed for rustic tranquility. In the summer, visiting artists rave about it, with its shaded banks and sleepy waters, broken by a gentle waterfall. You can’t see it from the new road. You’ll have to get off the beaten path and take the old road down the hill. It is worth it. No less than a half dozen pictures were made in this one spot of those on exhibit. But I have made a hundred or more within a quarter of a mile, of reeds and rocks and rippling water. When the soft slanting light of late afternoon steals under the leaf-laden boughs and softens the masses of shimmering shadows into luminous patches of light and shade–you’d love it.
“Sunlight thru the Maples” is striking because of its graceful lines and luminous foilage. The trembling shadows of the slender trunks, drawn on the rippling surface give interest within the heavy mass at the bottom of the picture.

Sunset at Range Pond

“Sunset” was made at Range Pond. It is a lonesome picture, with swaying reeds, the last rays of a sinking sun, black brood pines in the distance, and dark ominous clouds.
“Moss Covered Fence” is a favorite of mine. I like it because I was fortunate to catch more qualities than in most pictures. There is a strong illusion of the third dimension, with at least six receding planes, through foreground, middle distance, and background. The atmospheric quality adds to the sense of aerial perspective–that is, distance or depth.
In another “Androscoggin Scene” I attempted to balance large masses of light and shade into a harmonious composition in the Japanese manner.
“The Watering Place” was one of those places that naturally called for a picture, showing the strong sun shining down through the leaves and branches. The cows come to the tub to drink. The bucket hangs on a sapling.
“Summer Skies” was made of a little pool of lazy water at Steven’s Mills. The water plants claim attention in the foreground, while the billows of clouds give a feeling of summer richness and peace.

Update 7/28/22

 

Hi Steve,
I am (name deleted for privacy.)  Someone from Ancestry.com emailed me your latest blog regarding the search for your possible half sister “Folly”.  George Bishop Pulsifer was my paternal grandfather.  Unfortunately I never got to meet or know him.  Five years ago, at the age of 62, I found out the man that brought me up was not my biological father!  My mom is living today and had confessed to this affair with George Bishop Pulsifer’s son (name deleted) back in 1953.  My biological father (name deleted) was murdered at the age of forty and George died in 1967 and his wife (my paternal grandmother) passed in 1997.  So, my chances of meeting my biological parents and grandparents were lost.

My story is long but, because of DNA through Ancestry.com and tests for an ill sister, I finally get some answers.  Anyhow, getting back to your search, I know through two genealogy websites I subscribe to, the free genealogy site FamilySearch.org and a couple newspaper websites, I have found biological cousins and lots of information to fill in some gaps regarding my family.  I found on FamilySearch.org a marriage license for a George B. Pulsifer age 21 from Maine and living in Los Angeles to a Hazel Rosetta Stevens age 23 also from Maine and residing in Los Angeles dated March 24, 1923.  I know my grandfather was in Los Angeles attending school and working as a photographer after his Navy service around 1921 and came back to Maine in 1925.  I asked my newly found paternal cousins if George had been married before my grandmother ___ and no one seemed to be able to answer me.  There are other George B. Pulsifer’s out there but not with the same middle name “Bishop”.  In my discoveries, there were two George B. Pulsifer’s in Maine and two in the Boston area. My grandfather moved from Maine to Norwood, Massachusetts in 1950’s.  I’ve had to really scrutinize any information I’ve found.  I actually thought I might have had another aunt or uncle out there through George Bishop Pulsifer.  If your theory is correct, that changes everything.

I’ve researched Hazel Rosetta Stevens and she did indeed move back to Maine and remarried.  I can dig out that information for you later if you wish.  Maybe “Roberta” is actually “Rosetta”?  My family was visiting and staying with me these last few weeks and I watch my grandkids today.  I’m willing to help out in anyway possible in your search.  I can surely relate to how you feel regarding this matter. I’ll attach a screenshot of this Marriage License I found in a separate email.

Happy Searching,
(name deleted)
_________________________________________________________

 Thank you so much _____for the above information!
So, was teenager George Hodel’s “fling” with the “older woman” in fact Hazel Rosetta Stevens? (As ____ points out “Rosetta instead of Roberta”?)
Unquestionably, a lot of the pieces appear to fit. She was not a professor’s wife, but rather the wife of his good friend and co-editor on George’s home, Fantasia Magazine.  As seven years his senior, Hazel was definitely, “an older woman.” Assuming the “affair” occurred during her courtship, or after her marriage to G.Bishop Pulsifer (Married in Los Angeles on March 24, 1923) then Hazel would have been age 23 and George just 16.
Was the pregnancy the reason that broke up her marriage and caused her to go East and have the child?
This age difference would definitely qualify in her attributed statement, when George sought her out back East,  “Go away George. This has been a terrible mistake. You’re just a child. Get out of my life.”
1923 Los Angeles Marriage Certificate G. Bishop Pulsifer to Hazel Rosetta Stevens

Stay tuned. I’m sure there will be more to come. 

18 Comments

  1. Dennis Effle on July 13, 2022 at 4:04 am

    Absolutely riveting story. Your brother Mike’s reference to the group mind sounds much like the collective consciousness taught by some psychologists and practiced in some oriental religions. It’s a very big cosmos. This concept’s practical application seems to have produced results rather quickly. Once again it’s the intrepid Luigi Warren that is first to contribute additional facts. Luigi’s been featured before in your blogs as a continuing contributor to the ongoing investigations into all matters Dr. George Hill Hodel related. The expected “twist” is the co-editor of “Fantasia” being, G. Bishop Pulsifer. We now have George’s co-publisher tied to him through employment at the LA Record, and that GPB was also a fellow art student of two of George’s closest friends, John Huston, and possible accomplice, Fred Sexton studying with S MacDonald White. What a twist! But it’s to be expected as standard with George Hodel’s story. That’s three connections to GPB whether he was a teacher at MIT or not. Folly’s story is coming to light now due to your diligent and persistent efforts and the additional help of others like Luigi. Looking forward to updates on this aspect of the investigation and the release of your mini documentary. Keep on keeping on!

  2. Patricia ONeill on July 14, 2022 at 1:26 pm

    Little did I know back in early ‘90’s that my work in student interventions would be so influential as I read your books some 30 years later, Steve! Yes, do think it very important that you do try to find Folly (Hodel) Pulsifer. She may or may not need your help or background info, but well worth your efforts! Plus it’s always enlightening and maybe joyful to meet a half sibling! The heartbreaking account of GHH following “Roberta” all the way East to profess his love & concern at the tender age of 15-17 shows IMO the real GHH. Roberta’s harsh refusal of your father’s love was unfortunately the first nail in his emotional coffin😞! Having one son & 5 grandsons I’ve witnessed the emotions, hopes, fears young boys go thru to reach manhood….. I do think it’s a harder road than that for young girls, who have much more freedom to express their emotions…….both happiness & sadness. Having 2 daughters & 2 granddaughters they are more easily given emotional support thru tough times. For young boys it is always “be a man!” Was not able to read LW’s article due to hazy print, but from your writings both in blogs & your books, GHH desperately needed parental love & guidance. Perhaps he found a haven of acceptance in art groups, men like Man Ray, Fred Sexton! Yes, his exceptional IQ and musical, literary talents were acknowledged & applauded by family that put George’s “feathers” in their caps, George’s “jewels” in their crowns!! Totally used George for their own aggrandizement😡. George was (unfortunately) able to use his talents/IQ to spot the weaknesses in others & manipulate others to express his extreme anger. Don’t know about the laws back when GHH was 15 but the severe sexual & emotional abuse he suffered as a child & young teen by adults (both thru family & thru education…..professional & streetwise) set him on his murderous path! Both Harry’s say “Kudos, Steve, in your relentless pursuit of exposing so many murders & their coverups!!” It ain’t over!😉👍🌵

    • Steve Hodel on July 18, 2022 at 12:12 pm

      Patricia O:
      I have reproduced the article in full to show what a remarkable intellectual/artist/adventurer G. Bishop Pulsifer appears to have been. And, yes, hoping to discover the mystery of “Folly” with the opening of this old/new information.

      • Patricia ONeill on July 18, 2022 at 6:53 pm

        Thanks Steve……will research GBP’s photography for sure! Sitting here waiting for my varnish to dry on a painting while listening to “Concert for George” . For sure photographers ARE artists……think Matt with his pooch portraits!! God wish he were here to catch the expressions on our Ozzie, Teddy, Rusty, Diamond! Commenting now on a comment as I read and seeing
        “making money” off reporting murders etc. I’m sure not meant to you as an insult……..no, as I have learned over many years……they just don’t “see”.🫤 I am sure there was not a moment’s hesitation as you furiously wrote your books acknowledging with a feeling of accomplishment every fact & clue! That’s what you’re made of, Steve!✌️ Funny, right now Billy Preston is singing “Isn’t It A Pity”! If you got your discs listen carefully to so many of the songs…….apply to your life too? If we could sing………but I am sometmes playing my bongo drums along with the music🤗! Phil plays the guitar..,,,hmm, time to get us a gig🤣! Well, if you ever get to Tucson we’d all have a helluva good time!! Stay well, stay safe, Steve😎🌵.

        • Steve Hodel on July 18, 2022 at 7:36 pm

          Patricia O:
          Just got a notice that mine were just delivered from EBay. Must be in the mailbox. Great. Will have an evening concert tonight and take your suggestions.

          • Patricia ONeill on July 18, 2022 at 9:52 pm

            👍🤗……you’re gonna 💞 that music…..so much more meaning now than when we were young!!



    • Steve Hodel on July 21, 2022 at 3:54 pm

      Patricia O:
      Yes, the connection to Daly City was because Duncan Hodel and wife Georgina lived there for over fifty years. Bought a home there way back when and added onto it and Emilia moved into the add on when she became elderly then passed away. Maybe June stayed with them for a bit before returning to Japan? She saw Duncan frequently with George in SF through the years and became friends.

  3. Barry Guerrero on July 14, 2022 at 1:55 pm

    Great comments here. Pulsifer is hardly a common name, so this nearly has to be correct. I’m generally not a fan of ‘group think’, as it always leads me to ponder back upon that great 1930’s Fritz Lang movie “M” (Peter Lorre). And even though they did have the right suspect in the film, the mob rule scenes were frightening. I digress – it doesn’t really apply here. It’s just that I prefer following the hard clues under the inspector’s magnifying glass. In modern terms, that can mean combing the computerized data bases, as in this case. Good job. I can only imagine the emotional pressures GHH put himself through, with no outside intervention or help.

  4. Christine Heege on July 17, 2022 at 5:33 pm

    Just wanted to say hello. Just picked up all your books and I’m sucked in. Can’t imagine making money off a patents sins. But I think you are very brave.

    • Steve Hodel on July 17, 2022 at 6:18 pm

      Christine H:
      Thanks. But, this has never been about “making money off a parent’s sins.”
      It is something I’ve done all my life and my career with LAPD. Investigating crime and getting to the truth wherever it leads. This case came to me, I didn’t go to it. And, truth be known, if you’re planning to make money, don’t quit your day job. Having a NYT and national bestseller is nice sure, but you need about twenty of them to really “make money”. (Think Michael Connelly and the Harry Bosch series.)

  5. Karen Hoy on July 17, 2022 at 7:32 pm

    George Pulsifer married Helen Donahue in 1929.

    https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Pulsifer-379

    Maybe D. Douglas from the above site has more information on Folly and Roberta?

    • Steve Hodel on July 18, 2022 at 1:44 pm

      Karen Hoy:
      Yes, thanks. We need to try and find out what went earlier. Sometime around 1925. Wife? Sister? Or,not connected to Pulsifer at all, but to an unknown CalTech Professor’s wife? The answer may or may not come to us?

  6. Christian Espinal on July 18, 2022 at 10:54 pm

    a minor correction, my city Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) were i was born and still live is more mixed raced, unlike our neighbor Haiti which indeed is mostly populated by african descendants, i Know is kinda irrelevant but wasnt specting my home town beign mention in one of your posts and i had the desaire of make the comment

    An unrelated thing a wanted to ask you Steve, What happened to June Hodel? reading one of your books a few days ago made me wonder what went of her? i read somewhere on internet a June Hirano Hodel died recently in Daly City, CA…age 76, is she the same June Hodel?

    • Steve Hodel on July 18, 2022 at 11:46 pm

      Christian E:
      If that information is true then YES very likely it is June.
      But, not seeing anything yet on Internet. Can you provide a specific source or link to that information?

  7. Christian Espinal on July 19, 2022 at 1:10 am

    Sure, it doesnt say much though….the web shows she is related to Duncan Hodel and George Hill Hodel so it has to be her, here is the link:
    https://veripages.com/profile/June-Hodel/FCBkEKFB

    Hope you can find something else…
    Greetings from Santo Domingo

    • steve hodel on July 20, 2022 at 2:06 am

      Christian E:
      In checking with various sources it is my belief that June Hirano Hodel HAS NOT PASSED AWAY.
      No record of her death anywhere that I can find including the Coroner’s offices in San Francisco and Daly City. In checking with a close source it is believed she is alive and well and likely living in Japan.

      • Christian Espinal on July 21, 2022 at 12:41 am

        I understand… i hope you are right and she is well.
        Another question i wanted to ask you Steve, during the time you and George spend together in the 1990s or before, did you guys ever talked about the incident 1965 with Kiyo at the Biltmore hotel??

      • Patricia ONeill on July 21, 2022 at 1:41 pm

        Hmm……this reference to June Hodel caught my eye & went to Been Verified…..got the report but stopped short at the $$ charge required to read🫤. What caught my eye tho was not factual but the armchair detective “theories” that popped into my mind. If June Hodel did pass away (her age sounds correct!?) but why (and this was my eye catcher!) in Daly City? Did June have a residence in (IMO) that rather cold, dreary suburb of SF? Was Daly City, so close to Colma, a frequent site George liked to visit? Did it bring back memories (very satisfying memories for GHH) of the demise of Father Heslin? When I read TEY that was the murder (to me) that laid out GHH’s tragic & never ending quest for revenge?! I have known men (professional, family, friendship) and seen the wreckage many “religious” associations wreak on vulnerable children & adults. Powerful😓!! I do hope June Hodel is alive & well in a happy place in Japan. I am sure she, like you were innocent invited “guests” as GHH treated to a “scenic drive, plane ride, excellent seafood dinners & good conversation as he once again surveyed his killing fields. Somebody stop me!!🤣. Back to happier pursuits to find the photography of GBP.

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