Psychiatrist Dr. George Hill Hodel – A Cinderella Psychopath: Meets His Victims at a Ballroom Dance then Murders them; Then As Chief Psychiatrist in Hawaii Introduces Ballroom Dancing Program for Murderers to Regain Mental Health

July 29, 2023
Birch Bay, Washington
99th Birthday of murder victim Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short
Date: Summer 1950
Location: Los Angele, California
Time: Time to get out of Dodge
Dr. George Hill Hodel is literally days away from being arrested by LA DA Lt. Frank Jemison. Jemison is about to seek two felony counts against George Hodel for the murders of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short and for GHH’s secretary, Ruth Spaulding. He’s tipped by insiders and splits, initially going to either Mexico or the then territory of Hawaii. Lt. Jemison is then “pulled off the cases” and ordered to return all the files and secret taped confession and surveillance tapes to LAPD and ordered to “hand deliver them to Chief of Detectives, Thad Brown.” He follows orders but secretly locks a second copy of the taped transcripts in the DA files. (Discovered by my investigation 53 years later.)
Dr. George Hodel sometime in the summer of 1950 accepts and moves to Hawaii where he assumes his new triple role positions as (1) “Psychiatrist of the staff of the Territorial Hospital in Kaneohe in charge of the rehabilitation program, and (2) Chief psychiatrist and the clinic at Oahu prison and (3) staff instructor and lecturer at the University of Hawaii.”
Below are two separate articles related to Dr. George Hill Hodel published on the same day in the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper. The first article (on the “Society” page ) announces his marriage to Hortensia Laguda Lopez and the second in the regular section announces his “initiating a unique rehabilitation program of ballroom dancing at the Kaneohe Mental Hospital.” I’ll let the article tell the story, but as you read his “new program” keep in mind that at least two of his serial crimes involved his meeting his victim at a Dance Hall, then ballroom dancing with his victim prior to inviting them out to “see the town” and murdering them. (Ora Murray 1943 and Marian Newton 1947). I keep repeating this same catchline, “You can’t make this shi* up”, but there it is.


The Honolulu Advertiser
August 24, 1952
Society Page


“The acts that I am accused of are unclear to me, they are like a dream. I can’t figure out whether someone is hypnotizing me or I am hypnotizing someone. If I’m really here then these things (incest with his fourteen-year-old daughter) must have happened. I would like to call my psychiatrist, but he might think I’m crazy.”
Dr. George Hill Hodel, Oct 6, 1949
(statements made to arresting officers at the police station
after being arrested for incest with his teen daughter.)
“But are there only three of us? The birds, the glass, and we? Or is there a fourth? Who is standing behind our glass, invisible to us, incommunicable to us, gravely watching our brave attacks against the walls we cannot see? Is there a fifth presence, watching all the others? And a sixth, and others, hidden in mysteries beyond our dreams?”
     Dr. George Hill Hodel
(Letter to his son Steven in 1980
“One of the advantages of dancing as therapy is that it gives patients a chance to function as a group. Most of them …It takes a while to break through the wall of fantasy and daydreams that many of the patients build around themselves.
Dr. George Hill Hodel
(Interview with Honolulu Advertiser, August 1952
The Honolulu Advertiser 
August 24, 1952

Last Thursday on Oahu a murderer, a man who can’t remember the first half of his life, a combat pilot, and a commercial artist got together to learn the tango.
They are members of probably the most unusual dancing class ever held in Hawaii for the students are inmates at the Kaneohe Territorial Hospital who are dancing to regain their mental health.
THE CLASS MEETS for about an hour and a half every week and is directed by two professional instructors from a downtown studio who contribute their services. Between 30 and 60 patients at the hospital turn out for every session.
Dr. George Hill Hodel, psychiatrist at the hospital, is convinced the foxtrot is good medicine for his patients.
“Most of these people have failed in personal relationships,” he said. “More than half are withdrawn, reclusive, and poorly related to the outside world. What we’re trying to do here is make them realize other people exist.”
“I KNOW OF NOTHING that does it more vividly than social dancing.”
At the beginning of the session, the men lined up in a row on one side of the room and the women on the other. Their ages range from 24 to 60. First, the instructors put the patients through basic steps and then the students are paired off to try out what they’ve learned.
The patients attend the sessions eagerly enough, Dr. Hodel said, but getting them to step out on the floor is more difficult. Even then, a student will simply up and leave his partner every once in a while to go back to his chair and stare at the floor.
“IT’S JUST TOO MUCH for some of them,” the doctor explained. “But they come back.”
The class represents as strange an assortment of professions and talents as you’ll find anywhere. There was a good-looking man in a crisp white shirt and brown slacks who can’t remember the early part of his life. Some time ago, he was able to remember the early part but not the last half.
Now the doctors are trying to put his life back together, Dr. Hodel said.
ANOTHER MAN who is getting a little bald and walks with a slouch was a combat flyer during World War II with 266 combat missions and a whole string of medals.
One of the girls, dressed in a neat, colorful, Holeka, broke down after she had a baby. Her parents would not let her marry the father. The girl now refuses to admit she had a child.
Dr. Hodel pointed out a tall man in an aloha shirt as a commercial artist and author of a book on drawing.
ANOTHER HARMLESS-looking little man who was dancing with one of the instructors killed a man with a knife, Dr. Hode said, because voices told him the man was going to kill him first.
By the time the session was over, the patients danced much more freely than at first. The doctor said it takes a while to break through the wall of fantasy and daydreams that many of the patients build around themselves.
One of the advantages of dancing as therapy, he said, is that it gives patients a chance to function as a group. Most of them have fallen down in these relationships, he added, especially with the other sex.
“RELATIONSHIPS with the other sex are fraught with hidden fears for these people,” he explained. “Here the sexes can mix openly in a healthy atmosphere.”
Below are more than two dozen newspaper articles featuring Dr. George Hill Hodel during his three-four year stay in Hawaii from 1950-1953 or 54, prior to relocating with his wife to Manila, Philippines.



  1. Dennis Effle on July 30, 2023 at 5:28 pm

    More grist for the mill. It’s fascinating that your continued research keeps yielding these jewels. Keep up the good work. Fact is stranger than fiction. You’re right!

    • Steve Hodel on July 31, 2023 at 10:17 am

      Dennis E:
      Thanks Dennis. Love it up here in the NW corner of the U.S., but do miss our lunches. Steve

    • Yolie💎 on August 5, 2023 at 10:43 am

      Our Healing CIRCLE sends a deep, centering, cleansing breath and powerful VIBRATIONS for ancestral healing. Ancestral HEALING connects us to our forefathers and foremothers. Ancestral healing dispels the negative energy of past generations and replaces it with purest LOVE! Ancestral healing is timeless. The message of ancestral healing never gets old!
      Peace to you!
      Peace to Brother Kel!
      Peace to FaunaElizabeth!
      Peace to powerful Dorero with her sacred WombSpace!
      Peace always!
      Yolie 💎
      Kristel 💎💎
      Rap’cha 💎💎💎

  2. Luigi Warren on July 30, 2023 at 5:55 pm

    Many such hints. Lt. Jemison interview with Red Manley: “Did she ever mention doing any contest ballroom dancing — anything like that? (No) Did she ever mention any dancing partners? (No) Anybody she liked to dance with? (No) And she led you to believe she had never been to Los Angeles before, is that right? (That’s right.) -LW

    • Steve Hodel on July 31, 2023 at 10:19 am

      Forgot or missed those statements. You earn the “Bloodhound Nose” for the month of July. Great sniffing out. skh

  3. Marina on July 30, 2023 at 7:03 pm

    Did you ever discover why your dad was so confident the feds would not arrest him when he moved to Hawaii?
    I’m curious who his psychiatrist was? & the reference to hypnosis.
    Was someone in the federal government protecting him?
    Is the story still in development for TV?

    • Steve Hodel on July 31, 2023 at 10:30 am

      Never got that he felt “connected” to the FBI (Fan Belt Inspectors, as we used to call them in my working days.) We know from the surveillance tapes that he said, “The FBI was out to talk to me last week” but no further info? I seem to recall my mother talking about a female psychiatrist that was a good friend of theirs back around that time, but blanking on her name. She may have been his shrink? “Margaret Stieger” just flashed in my mind. Will have to check it out. Yes, still in “development” the original money backers pulled out, so they are looking for new funding which will hopefully happen SOON. Way too long a process.

      • Luigi Warren on July 31, 2023 at 12:51 pm


        J. Edgar Hoover’s man in LA, Richard B. Hood, set up the social disease conference in ’42 at which GHH spoke. Given GHH’s knack for ingratiating himself with authority figures — e.g., the governor of Hawaii and even a top Anglican churchman in Manila — you have to wonder if he managed to get himself in Hood’s good books. Hood was running a major counter-intelligence operation targeting Hollywood in the war years. Maybe GHH offered to pass on any good gossip that came his way.


        • Steve Hodel on July 31, 2023 at 2:56 pm

          Yes, the behind-the-scenes stuff that we will never know has to be massive.
          Back when he was hanging with the Hood’s of the world he was the VD Czar so he had a fair amount of built-in respect and standing.

  4. Karyl on July 30, 2023 at 8:00 pm

    I knew GHH and worked with him for many years during the time he was living in Manila. I can honestly say I never once detected that the man had the slightest bit of paranoia about his situation with respect to the law in the US. He must have assumed (correctly) that living halfway around the world basically made him immune. During that time, he commuted freely in and out of the US, eventually settling in San Francisco with his Japanese wife, June. For some reason, the man was teflon.

    • Steve Hodel on July 31, 2023 at 10:34 am

      Yes, teflon is right on for GHH. His closest work associates like his longtime VP in Hong Kong, Leo Murray never had a clue or suspected anything. I know his wife of five years, Hortensia knew and experienced his “Darkside” but how much she knew?? Yes, he made regular multiple short trips to the U.S. every year or so and we became a lot closer when he and his wife June relocated to San Francisco in 1990.

  5. George A on July 31, 2023 at 9:51 am

    Detective Hodel
    In BLACK DAHLIA AVENGER II Chapter 8 you quote a letter dated August 27, 1950 from your mother to John Huston. In the letter your mother states that she, yourself and your bothers are living at the Franklin House with your father Dr. George Hodel.

    This would establish that your father was not in Hawaii at that time. Correct?

    George A.

    • Steve Hodel on July 31, 2023 at 10:53 am

      George A:
      Yes, his whereabouts between from say April to about August 1950 are impossible to track. My sense is that he split (at least temporarily) after being warned by Dorero of Lt. Jemison’s interview with her at the Santa Monica pier. Then Lt. Jemison’s pending arrest/filing are leaked to the press. Lt. Jemison is called in by the DA and Chief of DA Detectives H. Leo Stanley and “taken off the case and it is shut down and he is ordered to return all materials to LAPD Chief of Detectives Thad Brown and Lt. Jemison and Det. Walter Morgan are out of it. Morgan in a television interview flat out says’s “it was covered up and we were taken off the case.” Appears GHH was possibly informed that “things are cool for the moment” and he returns to the Franklin House, gets things in order to sell the house, gets the job in Hawaii, and leaves the country probably in the fall of 1950. Hard to figure exact timing but he’s working in Hawaii in January 1951 for sure.

      • Patricia ONeill on July 31, 2023 at 1:14 pm

        Steve: A “must watch” for you: JFK: THE SMOKING GUN on Amazon Prime. If you will recall my telling you about Francis X. ONeill’s visit to my home in Tucson (circa late 70’s) the above presentation explains his rather bizarre behaviors on his visit. Watching the above presentation shows how far some govt., LE agencies can and do go to cover up their heinous acts! And the “dance therapy” sessions initiated by GHH in the Kaneohe Hospital in Hawaii are replicas of my story about GHH (or Fred Sexton as you suggested) and the Ali Baba Ballroom in San Francisco (circa ‘56-‘57). That is where he met our unfortunate family friend, the woman who took my mom’s place accompanying our cousin to the then popular Ballroom. Our friend never fully recovered. While I “saved” my widowed mom from a killer’s clutches, our family friend was left for dead in the Piedmont Hills that night😞. I wrote recently to you quoting Joe Brown as he sings “And That’s the Way it Goes”…..unfortunately so true! Keep outing & plugging for the truth to be admitted & made very public, Steve….it needs to be done!! 👍💪🌵

        • Steve Hodel on July 31, 2023 at 2:59 pm

          Patricia O:
          Thanks will definitely check it out. I think you’re going to like BDA IV. Getting close now. Something different and the same. It was actually fun to write this, which likely will be the cherry on top of what has gone before.
          Best, Steve

          • Patricia ONeill on July 31, 2023 at 6:16 pm

            Looking forward to it👍! 🤗🌵 Just watched it. Thanks for the referral. Very compelling for sure. And, very much in the “line of duty” of the SS guys back then. Right out of the LAPD Coverup playbook for sure.. Very well done doc.

          • Patricia ONeill on August 2, 2023 at 12:12 pm

            PS: Will it be on Kindle? Either way, send notification when available👍😎!

          • Steve Hodel on August 2, 2023 at 12:28 pm

            Patricia O:
            It will be available as an ebook yes, just not sure if it will be ready at the time of the release of print and audiobook. I’ll give a “heads-up” to all, well in advance.

        • marjorie on October 2, 2023 at 1:33 am

          hi patricia,

          i came across your post. i am so curious about your family friend and what happened to them as i was raised in Piedmont. i take it they were murdered and George is suspected? sorry to just pop in and ask these personal questions and i hope that it’s not offensive for me to ask. i am so curious about this story and have read steve’s book and listened to the podcast. when i saw the connection to piedmont i had to ask.

  6. Brian W on July 31, 2023 at 11:16 pm

    That picture of your pop is one of the only ones that might have captured the “Mr Hyde”and not the suave Doctor Hodel. Very maniacal…

    • Steve Hodel on August 1, 2023 at 1:06 am

      Brian W:
      Yep. Pretty dark and lecherous for sure. There’s one more where he is looking at his secretary in Hawaii that is also right there.

  7. Carol Kehrley on August 1, 2023 at 7:50 pm

    Now this is a new incite into the life of George Hodel. From what I have learned about him in your books, I can’t even imagine him being a dancer!
    Wonders never cease!

    • Steve Hodel on August 1, 2023 at 8:59 pm

      Carol K:
      Oh yes. Mother always marveled to us boys how dad was a topnotch ballroom dancer. Like, instructor quality. That good.

      • George A on August 2, 2023 at 9:38 am

        Detective Hodel:
        Do you ever wonder why your mother told you to such detail about your father but not about him and the Black Dahlia, but told Tamara everything and not you?
        George A

        • Steve Hodel on August 2, 2023 at 10:43 am

          George A:
          My mother never told my half/sister anything directly about our father being the Black Dahlia killer to my knowledge. Only after the incest did she warn Tamar that she was in danger from George telling her about the Ruth Spaulding forced overdose. That caused Tamar to run away. It was the police officers that took her back and forth to court during the October incest trial that told her they “believed her father killed the Black Dahlia.” She never “volunteered” anything that the officers told her. It was the defense counsel, Robert Neeb that brought it up in court and asked her if she said those things to the house roomer/tenant Joe Barret. Her response was “No.” (True, as it was the officers that told her, but she never volunteered that information.) Then of course the press attributed Neeb’s statements to Tamar in print as if they were fact.

  8. Anne Campagna on September 4, 2023 at 9:00 pm

    Your father was the devil on earth.

    • Steve Hodel on September 4, 2023 at 9:30 pm

      Anne C:
      Sadly, you are correct. Pure Evil disguised as a “healer” of the mind and body. Stay tuned for BDA IV, which is soon to be published.

  9. Mark S. on September 30, 2023 at 5:01 am

    Hi Steve:

    I just finished listening to the Root of Evil podcast, and had a few questions for you. First, in addition to providing new information, will BDA IV summarize your other books? Second, my understanding is that serial killers will almost always keep mementos or trophies. Did your father not do that? Third, what would be your psychiatric analysis of your father? The quotes above suggest a dissociated mental state to me. And fourth, didn’t you feel that the long-buried clues you uncovered were, in fact, “waiting” for you? That beyond your initial desire to clear your father’s name, and then dedication to (or obsession with) uncovering the truth, that this was always your path?

    Best regards,

    Mark S.

    • Steve Hodel on September 30, 2023 at 7:32 am

      Mark S.
      As to your questions:
      Yes, Black Dahlia Avenger IV will present a summary of my previous investigations.
      Secondly Well, if I am correct about the posed nude photo in his album being Elizabeth Short (and according to all the linkage, it is she), then that is certainly a “trophy.” Also, the victim’s right breast was never found and could well have been the “trophy” claimed by some informant to police as “something buried at the Sowden house..” He could well have kept something from her purse, too, before mailing items to the police. I’ll pass on the psychiatric diagnosis and leave it to experts other than to say he was a psychotic serial killer, misogynist, and sadist of the highest order. Finally, Did I believe the uncovering of clues was “always my path?” No. I thought my “uncovering days” were over with my retirement from LAPD some fourteen years before my father’s death and ended with my retirement in 1986. I never had any sense of what lay ahead of me beginning in 1999 with my father’s death and the opening of door after door for the past 23 years which became nine books as one ongoing investigation. Regards, Steve

  10. Keely on December 8, 2023 at 6:14 pm

    If what I have read is accurate, and E.S. was force fed feces before her death and had various hair/skin found inserted in her body post mortem then you need a consultant who has seen this. If that was part of a ritual, the same should hold true for other killings that you may feel are associated. I am listening to your pod cast via Audible and am about half into it. Have you reviewed your father’s papers or published work in these years? If they are available to you that is.

  11. Steve Hodel on December 8, 2023 at 7:06 pm

    The force fed feces is accurate and was the Coroner’s testimony at the autopsy hearing. Ditto the body parts and hair insertions. GHH’s crimes were all over the map as far as crime signatures and M.O. The most consistent was the strangulation and cut clothesline ropes and half a dozen of the victim’s crime scenes. That with sexual assualt, overkill and blunt force trauma to the head in many of the crimes. Not real “ritualistic indeications” other than Elizabeth Short which I detail as “Murder As a Fine Art”.

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