The 1945-6 Chicago Lipstick Killer Murders; The Teen William Heirens Letters and the George Hodel Timeline

January 26, 2024
Birch Bay, Washington

Note to Readers providing questions/responses in my Comment section.

Since the inception of my blogging (2005) I have always welcomed and encouraged questions, comments, and constructive criticisms (“feedback method that provides specific actionable suggestions for improvement”) from readers. That said, of late, I have been receiving several rude and profane responses from several of the “Don’t Mess with My Myths” followers. the “Dr. Walter Bayley Did It”  Club, and the MAGA-(Murder Ain’t a Game for Amateurs) groupies.
As I understand it, WordPress does not permit individual blocking by name, consequently, to keep my COMMENTS section open to readers, I have to remove the profane messages as they are received. This I will continue to do.
In today’s blog, I want to present some personal letters written by young William Heirens (age 17), arrested for a daytime burglary and six months later, charged as the “Chicago Lipstick Murderer” and forced to “confess” to three horrific crimes HE DID NOT COMMIT. * These letters, written to his mother while in custody, were unbeknownst to young Heirens “intercepted” by the Chicago PD and leaked to the public and two years later, in 1948,  reprinted in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 38, Issue 4, “Psychiatric Study of William Heirens.” (Complete PDF attached)
* Numerous other “suspects” (at least six to my knowledge) had been arrested, brutalized and wrongfully accused of being “The Lipstick Murderer” by Chicago PD in the six months preceding young Heirens arrest. One of the arrestees sued the police department and was eventually awarded a large dollar settlement for his injuries and false arrest. 
 The Heirens letters will be followed by my Dr. George Hill Hodel’s Timeline, as some of the recent naysayers wrongfully claim it was “not possible for Dr. Hodel to commit the crimes as he was in China.” I will include excerpts from a copy from the book, The China Letter (Thoughtprint Press 2020) published three years ago, where I document my father’s movements in 1945-1946.
But first, let’s take a bullet point reality check and examine some of the facts surrounding William Heiren’s arrest and so-called “conviction.” (SKH Note- The teenager William Heirens, was never “convicted” of any crime. There was no trial, just his forced “confession” and sentencing to prison where he spent the next sixty-five years incarcerated and died on March 12, 2012, at age 83.

William Heirens a few years before his death 2012

  • William Heirens was a 17-year-old teenager and small-time opportunist burglar who did not drive and had no car and took the bus to the north side of Chicago to commit his daytime burglaries. He had a prior record, with no violence, and was on juvenile probation and attending college at Chicago University.
  • On the muggy afternoon of June 26, 1946, more than six months after the Degnan murder, Bill Heirens walked into the Wayne Manor Apartments on the north side and took an elevator to the third floor. In his pocket was a small pistol he’d nabbed during a previous burglary. Seeing an open apartment door, he entered and removed a single dollar bill from a wallet he saw in the living room. As he exited, a neighbor yelled out. A call was quickly made to the police. Detective Tiffin Constant and his partner, who were in the area, cornered Heirens in the rear stairway of a nearby building. According to Detective Constant, Heirens pointed the handgun at him and pulled the trigger. When the gun didn’t go off, Constant responded with three quick shots that missed. Bill Heirens threw his gun at Constant, then leaped down the steps onto the detective. An off-duty policeman named Abner Cunningham was returning from the beach in his bathing suit when he heard the commotion. He subdued the teenager by breaking three empty flowerpots over his head. Suffering from a possible skull fracture, Bill Heirens was taken to nearby Edgewater Emergency Hospital, then to the Bridewell Jail Hospital where he was booked.
    17-year-old William Heirens booking June 26, 1946

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • In the days following his booking, the terrified teenager was grilled around the clock, deprived of sleep and food, prevented from seeing his parents, had ether poured onto his testicles, and. was injected with sodium pentothal. When these failed to elicit a confession, he was subjected to very painful spinal taps without anesthesia and given a polygraph exam without consent.
  • The analysis of Bill Heirens’s 1946 polygraph exam was kept secret until 1953 when it was obtained by polygraph experts. In their opinion, Heirens showed a truthful response about not killing Suzanne Degnan. This was a great puzzlement to the experts since they had been told “his guilt had been established with absolute certainty.”
  • Also of special interest in the Degnan ransom note was the symbol that appears to represent an ampersand sign. Closer examination shows it to the musical notation known as a treble clef (also called a G clef) written backward. During William Heirens’s confession, Chicago police ordered him to rewrite the note. Heirens, who had no musical training, didn’t know what the treble clef was and was unable to reproduce it. This comes through clearly in the confession transcript of Bill Heirens being questioned by State’s Attorney William Tuohy and his assistant Wilbert Crowley, which reveals the suspect clumsily responding to questions about the symbol despite the questioner’s attempt to lead him through this difficult spot.
    (Excerpt from the transcript):
    Q: Do you remember discussing with Mr. Tuohy the fact that you did not know how to make the character “&”?
    A: That is right.
    Q: You do know how to make that character, don’t you~
    A: Made a “5” but I did not know how to make that. I never made
    that character before in my life.
    Q: Before you did make that character on that ransom note?
    A: Yes.
    Q: That is a photostat. No, that is a photograph of the ransom note
    that was written, that is exactly how you wrote it, isn’t it?
    A: Yes.
    Q: Can you see that?
    A: Yes.
    Q: That is how you made it, isn’t it?
    A: Yes.
SKH Note- George Hodel, on the other hand, had been a musical prodigy since age seven. Not only had he seen the treble clef symbol daily throughout his childhood, but he would have handwritten the symbol hundreds of times while scoring his own compositions.

Backward G Clef was written by “Lipstick Killer” on Degnan Note which Heirens was unable to reproduce for attorneys.
G Clef
  • The below map shows the location of the “Murder Room” and the distribution of Suzanne Degnan’s body parts. It is inconceivable that a teenage boy, alone on foot without a car, could with a surgeon’s skill, in a darkened basement, using a hunting knife, perform a hemicorporectomy then carry and distribute the body parts and hide them in the sewers as far as three blocks away from the crime secene as shown below?
  • After the Chicago coroner examined the assembled pieces of Suzanne Degnan’s body parts, he concluded: “It was a very clean job with absolutely no signs of hacking as would be evident if a dull tool was used.” Dr. Jerry Kearns, the coroner’s expert, added: “The killer had to be an expert. … Not even the average doctor could be so skillful.”
    SKH Note- The Chicago Coroner’s report determined that a surgical procedure known as a “hemicorporectomy”  had been performed on the Degan child’s body. Her killer divided the body by cutting through the 2nd and 3rd lumbar vertebrae, identical to the procedure performed on Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short one year later. (Short’s body was posed off a street named DEGNAN, the name of the child murdered in Chicago a year earlier.)  William Heriens, a teenager with no surgical training would not have been able to perform this operation as he claimed he did, “in a darkened basement using a hunting knife.”
  • There were four taunting notes written by “Chicago’s Lipstick Killer” as shown below. On January 31, 1946, the killer stole a human ear from a Chicago Medical Laboratory and mailed it in a cardboard box to the Degnan residence threatening to “cut off Mrs. Degan’s ear next.” (I would postulate this action (obtain a human ear from a medical lab) while easily accessible and attributable to a psychopathic medical doctor; is much more difficult to conceive being attributed to the actions of a teenage student.)
   
Degnan Jan 7, 1946,      Frances Brown, Dec. 10, 1945, Degnan   Jan 7, 1946, Degnan human ear sent to her mother Jan 31, 1946
Here we see that in the Frances Brown and Suzanne Degnan murders the killer, used red lipstick to write his messages, just as he did on the L.A. Lone Woman Murder victim, Jeanne French just over one year later. In those crimes, the killer wrote on a wall, a post, and in the L.A. murder on the victim’s body.
Also, note that the killer writes, “Catch Me Before I Kill More, I Cannot Control Myself” just as “Zodiac” in 1969 wrote in his handwritten messages:
                  ” …I will loose control again..”                                          ” …I will loose all control of my self..”

THE HEIRENS LETTERS:

Here are the letters the teenager wrote to his mother while in jail in the months after his arrest and before he was sent to prison. Judge for yourself if these are the words of a highly skilled serial killer or those of a frightened teenager who has recently been subjected to police brutality and threatened with “confess or die.” (That is not in question. The newspapers of the day printed the fact that “Heiren’s attorney is advising him to plead guilty and “take the State’s offer of life in prison to avoid execution.” Heirens did so, but then immediately recanted his “confession” claiming he was coerced and that he did not commit any of the murders.

 

The Heirens Letters to his mother were unknowingly “intercepted” by Chicago PD in the months shortly after his arrest on June 26, 1946.

 

This article was published on Herien’s sentencing date on September 6, 1946. His defense attorneys are publicly rewarded and congratulated for “switching sides” and helping the prosecutors convict their client.  Just reading the article leaves one GOBSMACKED!

The Daily Calumet September 6, 1946

Heirens day of sentencing      age  17                                   Heirens mid-Seventies

 Dr. George Hill Hodel’s TIMELINE which I recreated and published in his “The China Letter” book, in 2020.

Attached below is the “psychiatric study” published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Vol. 38, Issue 4 in 1948. The “study” was conducted by three psychiatrists, Drs. Kennedy/Hoffman/Haines, which to my reading comes off mostly as “psychobabble.” They ask extremely leading questions as if they have already predetermined that he the teenager is a sexual psychopath. Much to their dismay, Heiren’s response to their questions is surprisingly normal. (He admits making up an alternate ego named “George” (hows that for coincidence) which just happens also to be his middle name.) Again, judge for yourself.

Psychiatric Study of William Heirens

 

 

 

14 Comments

  1. Dennis Effle on January 26, 2024 at 7:11 pm

    This more detailed and exhaustive investigation on your part leads us closer to the truth and further from the myth. Too bad your investigation didn’t call me earlier. Your work could have freed an innocent man. Your work is thorough and ultimatley convincing. Excellent work, Detective.

  2. Yolie💎 on January 27, 2024 at 10:54 am

    Steve!
    Steve!
    Steve!
    The Sisters of the Sacred WombSpace, Kristel, Rap’cha and I, send you a cleansing, centering breath and powerful VIBRATIONS for ancestral HEALING! The calmness and serenity of Ancestral HEALING banishes the negative energy of past generations and replaces it with purest LOVE 💖💖 It is the LOVE of our forefathers and foreMOTHERS. They are eager to give you their purest LOVE💖💖💖. Let this be the year of your ancestral HEALING!
    Peace to you!💖
    Peace to Brother Kel!💖
    Peace to FaunaElizabeth!💖
    Peace to powerful Dorero of the Sacred WombSpace!💖
    Peace to noble Rima, earthly Guardian of Steve!💖
    Peace always!💖
    Will we see you in Whittier?
    Yolie 💎
    Kristel💎
    Rap’cha💎

  3. Steven Uanna on January 28, 2024 at 3:11 pm

    Steve, I’ve read that Elizabeth was in Chicago, supposedly investigating Suzanne Degnan’s murder.
    I find that very strange.
    Did she go to Chicago?
    Where was she before she went to Chicago? Hollywood or Boston or Miami? .
    How did she get there and then did she go to Hollywood?
    Did her trip to Chicago involve an investigation?
    And wasn’t she seen at a nightclub/restaurant with a “policeman” from Chicago?
    It’s pretty well accepted that she was not really trying to get into the movies.
    She was all over the place but everyone that knew her said she was a nice person.
    Did she have an interest in the Suzanne Degnan murder.?
    Steven

    • Steve Hodel on January 28, 2024 at 6:16 pm

      Steve U:
      Its ALL been covered in my books BDA and Most Evil I and earlier blogs.
      GHH committed the “Chicago Lipstick Murders” and all your questions are answered in my writings.

  4. Yolie💎 on February 3, 2024 at 10:56 am

    Steve!
    Steve!
    Steve!
    Kristel, Rap’cha and I unite in the Sisterhood of the Sacred WombSpace to send you a cleansing, centering breath and powerful VIBRATIONS of ancestral HEALING! We pray that this is your year to embrace ancestral HEALING! Banish the negative energy of past generations and replace it with purest LOVE 💖 💖💖 Kristel spent the week in silent meditation. One of her thoughts was of ancestral healing for your generational lines. Your forefathers and foreMOTHERS send you wishes for healing and connection in purest LOVE 💖💖💖.
    Peace to you, Steve!
    Peace to Brother Kel!
    Peace to FaunaElizabeth!
    Peace to powerful Dorero of the Sacred WombSpace!
    Peace to noble Rima, earthly Guardian of Steve!
    Peace always!
    We pray that you come to Whittier!
    Yolie💎
    Kristel 💎💎
    Rap’cha 💎💎💎

    • Yolie💎 on February 10, 2024 at 10:42 am

      Steve!
      Steve!
      Steve!
      Kristel, Rap’cha and I unite in the Sisterhood of the Sacred WombSpace to send you a cleansing, centering breath and powerful VIBRATIONS for ancestral HEALING! We pray that this will be your year to heal the wounds of past generations, to dispel the negative energy of past generations and replace it with purest LOVE 💖💖💖 Connect with your forefathers and foreMOTHERS! Feel their LOVE💖💖
      Come to Whittier!
      Peace to you!
      Peace to Brother Kel!
      Peace to FaunaElizabeth!
      Peace to powerful Dorero of the Sacred WombSpace!
      Peace to noble Rima, earthly Guardian of Steve!
      Yolie💎
      Kristel💎
      Rap’cha 💎

  5. Frank Adkins on February 3, 2024 at 12:36 pm

    Steve,
    Wow,what a sad waste of a promising life. I say that cause BH was a really smart kid. I had no idea of his issues surrounding sex n females.I wonder if he was a latent homosexual? Late bloomer? Or sexual deviant. Either way those detectives railroaded a mixed up loner n cost him his life. A very long life of unimaginable deprivation n lost opportunities. Also if the killer wasGHH, their catching the wrong man led to the death of how many others? I’d read bout the burglaries n most of the other info but was clueless about the sexual angle. He got an erection n finished just by climbing through a window? Is that a common thing with burglars?
    The detectives in Chicago were let’s say, a lil heavy handed in obtaining confessions. My grandfather was the chief of detectives n Eden NC. There’s various accounts as to how far he would go to get a confession but I can’t see him going to the lengths these detectives did. .My grandfather was a Quaker n a cop, so go figure?I found an old argument on line he submitted at UNC arguing against the implementation of the Miranda warning/laws.
    Imo GHH is responsible for the Chicago murders the evidence is there. I just wonder why the degnan girl. He went through a lot of trouble to kidnap her. Exposed himself to great risk,getting in the house n getting her out not having his own room or space to “do his thing”n then the has to get rid of the body parts. Why would he change his usual mo n put himself at risk to kill that one lil girl? I know murder makes zero sense but this one’s an outlier?makes ya wonder why or how he targeted her?also do you think with BH’s weirdness around sex n B n E. Ya think he was on his way to later commit a sex offense. I’ve heard that a rapist/murderer often start out as a residential burglar something goes down n those urges pop up,the stars align just right n now he’s a killer.
    I guess I’m asking if you think Heirens would’ve eventually committed some sex crime in the commission of his burglaries. Have you seen the burglary to sex murder scenario In any of your homicides you worked.?
    Also any reason you can think of that George would have targeted Susanne Degnan.?
    Thanks in advance,I own all your books and am currently rereading the early yrs 2. There all great reads. I don’t keep up like I’d like to,any news on the documentary? Thanks for your years of service as a Detective and PI. also thank you for keeping this blog going. It’s endlessly fascinating for the rest of us.Im sure for you painful at times.So thank you for helping us all stay up to date with your investigation.

  6. Ron on February 4, 2024 at 5:21 pm

    It is so sad that Mr. Heirens spent his entire life in prison for something he never did. I suspect that he did suffer from a fractured skull after the off-duty police officer hit him over the head with the flower pots. Such brutality would never go unpunished today.

    Wasn’t Heirens exonerated after he died? Or am I thinking of another miscarriage of justice from the same period?

    Despite the nay-sayers, many people consider the BD case to be closed and after reading several of your other books, the Lipstick Murders and others should be considered closed as well.

    Thanks for all of you hard work.

    • Steve Hodel on February 4, 2024 at 5:52 pm

      Ron:
      Thanks. Sadly, Bill Heirens was never exonerated. Chicago PD to this day maintains they got the right man. They will never admit to sending an innocent man to prison for 64 years and letting him die there. Regards, Steve

  7. Dan Lackey on February 6, 2024 at 10:02 pm

    Hi. Steve,
    I still keep an eye on your blog. I like to keep up with any new developments.
    BH’s case was always so tragic. The police had to know that a 17 yr old burglar couldn’t have done the surgery that was done on Suzanne Degnan. They likely suspected that the real killer didn’t live in Chicago and was far out of their reach. The public pressure was on and BH fell into the trap.
    Regarding ES, I wonder if she saw some of GHH’s magazines or surrealist material. I’m thinking particularly of any pictures of women sectioned at the waist.. She likely read about the Degnan case & perhaps that sparked her suspicions. Maybe she asked too many questions about what she saw in his materials and he decided she could be a problem. Being the sadist he was, he may even told her it was him and that he was going to do the same to her. Just speculation on my part. I was looking at the Minotaur magazine once online and even though it was discontinued after 1939, I figured GHH probably had some copies tucked away in his office.
    All the Best,
    Dan

  8. Dan Lackey on February 7, 2024 at 10:35 am

    Hi. Steve,
    GHH flashing his Chicago police badge, was another red flag. That show was during ES’s so-called missing week, just days before her death. I can imagine her thinking, “Why does George have a Chicago police badge?”
    I would venture to say he used it to gain entry to into the apartments of the other two Chicago victims. He also could flash it if some innocent bystander came up to him during the Degnan abduction/murder. A police badge could be handy for a serial killer. I understand Ted Bundy used that tactic, other than when he used the fake broken arm ruse.
    All the Best,
    Dan

  9. Yvette + Rasha on February 14, 2024 at 9:38 am

    Happy Valentine’s Day from your favorite nieces!!!
    Love is LOVE!❤️🌈
    Be Kind!!!!!
    Y + R

    • Yolie💎 on February 17, 2024 at 10:17 am

      Steve!
      Steve!
      Steve!
      Kristel, Rap’cha and I unite in the Sisterhood of the Sacred WombSpace to send you a cleansing, centering breath and powerful VIBRATIONS for ancestral HEALING! Ancestral healing is the ancient practice of connecting with our forefathers and foreMOTHERS to dispel the negative energy of past generations and replace it with purest LOVE 💖💖💖💖 Your ancestors are waiting for you to connect with them in the pure light of your love lineage. We pray that this is your year for ancestral HEALING!
      Will you come to Whittier?
      Peace to you!
      Peace to Brother Kel!
      Peace to FaunaElizabeth!
      Peace to powerful Dorero of the Sacred WombSpace!
      Peace to Yvette and Rasha! Join us in the power of the Sacred WombSpace!
      Peace to Rima, earthly Guardian of Steve!
      Peace always!
      Yolie💎
      Kristel💎
      Rap’cha 💎

  10. Cass on February 24, 2024 at 1:32 pm

    Hi Steve,

    I wanted you to be aware of a potential copycat murder of Renée Bergeron in Nov 1993 in Mobile, Alabama. Some of the circumstances are eerily similar. Nude, body exsanguinated and cleaned. Decapitated (though non-expertly), mouth cut from ear to ear. Incision from belly button to pubis, raped with object likely a knife, multiple blows to the head. Not sure how she was positioned.

    I believe this murder becomes solved but I’m at the beginning of the podcast, “Why can’t we talk about Amanda’s mom?”

    Thought you may be interested. I wonder how many copycat killers were spawned from one of the most infamous murder cases in history? The horrible legacy of your father ripples on.

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