New Evidence In 1949 Suspected Black Dahlia Murder of Victim Lucille Hodges-“Hannibal Lector Meets LA Confidential in Chinatown”

February 13, 2023
Birch Bay, WA
The Mirror, Tuesday Oct 25, 1949
Murder loomed as a possibility today in the death of an auburn-haired ex-showgirl whose nude body was found in an East Third St. hotel on a tip to The Mirror that the Black Dahlia killer had struck again.
The woman was tentatively identified as Lucille Bowen, former Folies dancer also known as Lucille Hodges.
…A man who gave the name of James Johnson when he registered at the hotel with the showgirl earlier in the night was sought after a preliminary examination showed she apparently had been beaten about the face.
There were deep bruises around the left eye and extending down into the cheek. There was also an abrasion in the skin below the lower lip and a bruise on the left shoulder.
Meanwhile, possession by the woman of courtesy cards from two former vice squad officers was under investigation.
The body was discovered by Mirror reporters after a man who refused to give his name telephoned at 4:06 a.m. that the “Black Dahlia killer” had slain again.
The man with whom the woman had registered several hours earlier had vanished when investigators arrived.
The suspect signed in with the victim as “Mr.&Mrs. James Johnson”

Courtesy cards found in the woman’s purse were those of Officer C.O. Smith, formerly of Central vice squad, and R.E. Myers, formerly of the administrative vice squad. Smith’s card bore the message, “Introducing Lucille Bowen, a good friend of mine. Any courtesy extended her will be appreciated.” Myers’ card had similar wording.

Mirror reporters investigating the anonymous tip found the woman, auburn-haired and about 35 years old, sprawled under covers on a bed in Room 206 of the St. George Hotel, 115 E. Third St.
… The face bore bruises, indicating she had been struck heavily at least twice.
Desk clerk Ralph Myers, 46, told police the woman and a man he described as short, slim, partly bald, and about 40, had appeared at the hotel shortly before midnight without luggage. The man, he said, signed the register, “Mr. and Mrs. James Johnson.” They went up to the room immediately. Myers said, and he did not see the man leave.
… Among papers in the purse was a certificate from a physician with offices in the Stack Bldg., 228 W. Fourth St., dated May 12, and saying, “Lucille Bowen has been found free of infectious disease.”

Scrawled on scraps of paper in the purse were the names and addresses of a half dozen men.
Downtown Los Angeles 1949

On October 25, 1949, the date Martin writes his letter accusing George Hodel of the murders of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short and Louise Springer and the body of victim Lucille Bowen (Hodges)  is found at the St. George Hotel, GHH is in court and on trial at the Hall of Justice. As the above map shows, GHH’s First Street Clinic and the St. George Hotel and the trial court are just short blocks from each other.
The suspect:
 Naysayers can easily jump on this one’s “an easy elimination of Dr. George Hill Hodel. ”  I mean handwriting doesn’t even look close and the description, of “Mr. Johnson was, ” short, slim, partly bald, and about 40. Other than the age (GHH had just turned 42) nothing fits. ” “If the man don’t fit you must acquit.”
Not quite so fast.
I found this article printed in the Los Angeles Times a day later.
It is basically a rehash of information printed in the Mirror article the day prior, but with a few additional pieces of information:
1. “Police identified her fingerprints as those of a dancer, Rena Lucille Hodge, who was arrested at 337 S. Main St. in December 1944, with nine others on charges of contributing to delinquency of minors by presenting a lewd show. Police records indicate she was a striking beauty at that time, coming here from Oklahoma City to enter motion pictures.”
2. Autopy by Dr. Newbarr “death due to liver ailment induced by heavy drinking. Heavy bruises about the head and face, but Newbarr stated, “She had not been injured fatally.”
(I can hear the LAPD homicide detectives now.  An LA Confidential conversation by the homicide detectives at the autopsy goes something like this. “Come on Doc. Give us a break. It’s borderline huh? We got a rummy dead whore in a flophouse who was busted a few years back for showing her tush to some kids. A down-and-out loser and the Department can’t take another “Black Dahlia” suspected murder. The press is all over our ass now. New Chief is transferring us all over the city. Cut us some slack. She died from the booze right?”)
3.   The article goes on to say,She had registered at the hotel at 115 E 3rd St. the night before with an unidentified man, according to Ralph Myers, room clerk.” 
It was very likely “Lucille’ was prostituting, and took the” short balding trick” to the room and showed him her medical record, “Dr. say’s I’m free from disease” (found in her purse} and “Mr. Johson” was literally “in and out”- probably gone in 30 minutes max. An attractive prostitute, once she has a room, will more often than not have multiple tricks (2 or 3) prior to “check out” time.
The fact that she registered “the night before” gives her plenty of time to meet a second or third trick, “Mr. Wrong” and become another “Lone Woman Murder Victim.”
The suspect attacks and kills her, and phones the police “at 4:06 am”, just as he had phoned James Richardson, the Editor of the Los Angeles Examiner saying, “This is the Black Dahlia killer” and promising to send him “some of her personal belongings. (Which he did.)
One of the most curious pieces of information, for the most part, ignored, was a statement attributed to the victim in the October 25, 1949,  Mirror article that read:
“Friends said the onetime showgirl often had voiced a premonition that she would meet the fate of Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia, whose mutilated body was found in January 1947, and whose murder never has been solved.”
(Ironically, an adjacent article describes LAPD officer Audre Davis in Charles Stoker/Brenda Allen Scandal quitting job ‘for personal reasons.”
So, while the information is minimal and became a “case closed” within just several days with the Coroner’s calling it a “natural death” one has to be concerned.
A very attractive woman, dancer, wannabe actress, possibly a confidential informant to LAPD Vice, concerned she will be killed just like the “Black Dahlia.” Found with heavy trauma to the body in a DTLA hotel room and mentioned in and by a known LAPD confidential informant W. Glenn Martin in his written letter identifying his personal acquaintance Dr. George Hill Hodel as the killer of the Black Dahlia and a second Lone Woman Murder victim, Louise Springer, also known to both Hodel and himself.
“Hannibal Lector Meets LA Confidential in Chinatown”


That’s how a producer (whose name I forget) who read my book Black Dahlia Avenger back in 2003 described it. How right he was!  Here’s the kicker to today’s blog. How I missed in my writing of the Afterword Chapter – “Out Of The Past” in Black Dahlia Avenger III  pages 241-293 (Rare Bird Books 2018) beats the hell out of me, but I did. Only in reviewing these newly discovered articles did the lightbulb go on.
 W. Glenn Martin’s handwritten letter was written the day victim Rena Lucille Hodge body was found in the DTLA hotel (October 25-6, 1949) and sealed, with instructions only to be opened in case of the death of either of his daughters. His letter was never discovered until opened by his granddaughter Sandi Nichols some sixty-nine years later. (Sandi contacted me and sent me the original letter and envelope, which remains in my custody. Martin’s full three-page letter is reproduced in BDA III.)

                                                                                                                              W. Glenn Martin 1954
In addition to naming “GH” as the Black Dahlia killer as well as naming him as the killer of  Louise Springer, murdered just six months earlier on June 13, 1049, who both Hodel and Martin knew as an acquaintance.
Martin in his letter then (re. victim Bowen/Hodges) goes on to say:
“I have friends in Coroners office who in talking next AM Let me see the body, as do a lot of those known on jury there, see. I near came sick at sight. …The papers in Coroner’s office name police officers present in case. Of course People from Okl. Were sent word of a Lucille Bowen. (Hodges) death.
Incredibly, we now discover that not only did LAPD Confidential Undercover Informant W. Glenn Martin, name his friend Dr. George Hodel “GH” in multiple killings, and implicate LAPD officers in protecting and covering up for Hodel,  but also had enough “juice” to be able to actually go and view victim Lucille Bowen Hodges body at the Hall of Justice and “became sick at the sight.”

The perceptive film producer back in 2003 nailed it for sure- “Hannibal Lector Meets LA Confidential in Chinatown”

Rest In Peace, Rena Lucille Hodge. 

Update on Police Informant W. Glenn Martin Letter – Los Angeles Times Article Suggests Letter Written on October 26, 1949 – Lucille Bowen in Martin Letter a New Murder Victim or Natural Death? – Judge for Yourself

The Mirror article in full  October 25, 1949


  1. Vivian Jennings on February 15, 2023 at 2:28 pm

    Thank you for all the investigating. I have your books. The proof just keeps on coming! And Im from Okla city. So this was very interesting to me.

  2. Anne Campagna on February 15, 2023 at 2:39 pm

    It really seems that all the pieces of the puzzle always make the same image: George Hodel.

  3. Patricia ONeill on February 15, 2023 at 5:10 pm

    Steve: After reading this, strongly feel that Lucille Bowen was likely a target of GHH long bfor she died! IMO Lucille Bowen was in his site and murder was well planned, These thoughts jumped out to me as I read.
    1. Did detectives on the case check out the handwriting on the notes on the two detective business cards in her possession?
    2. Given the number of hours before police called (about 4:30 am) and her body discovered……. did the detectives have a time of death? Since she checked in w/her john the night before she could have laid there 4-6 hours or less if killed in a.m. hours..
    3. The description of her john is definitely not GHH…….also a part of the plan?
    4. Were the heavy bruises on face and upper body of Lucille Bowen before or after death? Could such a beating go on unheard in the St. George Hotel?
    5. How could the investigators point to the cause of death as the existing liver disease in the face of such a beating and when she was described as a seemingly healthy, good looking woman checking in to the hotel with her john?
    6. Given her strong feelings of ending up the same way as Elizabeth Short, did she know either ES or GHH or both over the years of bar hopping, partying etc? And no further investigating?

    Case closed, liver disease death?…….…not by a long shot!! 🤨🌵

    • Steve Hodel on February 15, 2023 at 5:47 pm

      Patricia O:
      Yes, all good questions/thoughts.
      1. “Courtesy cards” were quite common before and in my beginnings years (1963) and as a patrol officer I frequently was handed one at the stop of a ticket violation and expected to let the driver off with a warning. We, “the new breed” were admonished not to honor those cards per Chief Bill Parker.
      6. I think there was a better than-even chance she knew GHH from the past. He LOVED the follies and girlie reviews and went to many in DTLA and as described she was a real “looker” so even if she had lost some of her attraction due to heavy drinking, at the relatively young age of 39 she still would have been very attractive for sure.

      • Karen on February 15, 2023 at 6:03 pm

        Didn’t the title quote originate with Johnny Depp?

        • Steve Hodel on February 15, 2023 at 6:07 pm

          Don’t think so. Not aware of that.
          Only quote I’ve ever seen from Johnny Depp was on the original
          publication in 2003 of BDA he said, “Fascinating!”

      • Yolanda Camacho on February 18, 2023 at 10:28 am

        Steve, our Healing CIRCLE sends a cleansing, centering breath and powerful VIBRATIONS for ancestral healing. Ancestral healing heals the wounds of the past and connects us to our lines of forefathers and foreMothers in an endless chain. You have wise ancestors in your lineage waiting for your connection.

        Peace always!
        Yolie 💎

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