Listener discretion is advised, this episode features graphic discussions of murder, violence and child sexual abuse that may be upsetting. We advise extreme caution for listeners under 13. Since childhood, most of us have heard tall tales detailing battles between good and evil. It's a running theme in books, movies and television shows. Wicked wrongdoers have their day, but eventually justice prevails. Unfortunately, in the real world, that's not always true. In fact, some people commit heinous crimes and get away scot free, like, for instance, Dr.
George Hodel, a cruel man with a mind as powerful as Einstein's. But rather than use his smarts to solve the mysteries of the universe, many suspect Hodel channeled his talents into murder. And eventually he became a real life example of the undefeated villain, proving that not all stories have happy endings. This is Medical Murders, a Spotify original from podcast, every year, thousands of medical students take the Hippocratic Oath. It boils down to do no harm.
But a closer look reveals a phrase much more interesting. I must not play it God. However, some doctors break that oath. They choose to play God with their patients, deciding who lives and who dies each week on medical murders. We'll investigate these doctors, nurses and medical professionals. We'll explore the specifics of how medical killers operate not just on their patients but within their own minds, examining the psychology and neurology behind heartless medical killers. I'm Alastair Murden and I'm joined by Dr.
David Kipa, M.D..
Hello, everyone. I'm Dr. Kiffer. And here to assist Allaster with medical insight into our final episode of Dr. George Hodel, a physician, a self-proclaimed artist and perhaps the most sadistic killer that ever graduated medical school, you can find episodes of medical murders and all other PARCA shows for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts to stream medical murders for free on Spotify.
Just open the app and type medical murders in the search bar. This is our second episode on Dr. George Hodel. Last week we explored his journey from child prodigy to powerful L.A. doctor, which led him to a life of sadism and corruption. We also covered the night he allegedly killed his secretary with a forced overdose.
Today, we'll examine how hotels darker proclivities escalated, turning his capacity for murder into a deadly pastime. All this and more coming up. Stay with us.
In the fall of 1945, George Hodel seemed to be a man on the run after allegations had spread through L.A. that he had murdered his secretary, Ruth Spalding, George promptly applied to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration there.
He was hired as a medical officer for postwar relief, and he spent the next year of his life overseeing sick nationalist and communist soldiers in China.
His strategy to leave behind his former life until police stop sniffing around had worked. And in September 1946, he suddenly requested termination. His reasoning for leaving was unclear, but his son Steve suspects he suffered a heart attack. Whatever the case, Georgias status as a public servant in the war aided him as he returned from China and reacclimated to his life in L.A..
Women swooned over his former military status, and George wasn't one to let that go to waste. Humanised his way through Hollywood and resumed work at his medical practice. He likely performed abortions as a side hustle as he had before. It seemed not even his recent close call with the LAPD could deter him from his darker pursuit. In fact, it's possible getting away with Ruth Spalding's murder made him more confident in his criminal capacities because just months later, he may have committed one of the most infamous murders in American history.
It was a cold, damp morning in Los Angeles on January 15th, 1947, Betty Bazinga was on her way to a shoe repair shop near her home in Leimert Park. She watched with amusement as her three year old daughter ran about peering into vacant lots destined to become suburban homes as she walked down North Avenue, something caught her eye. There was an odd looking figure in the grass some 30 feet away. At first, Betty thought it was a mannequin, but it seemed too real.
So she considered that perhaps a drunk young woman had fallen asleep naked in the grass. But as Betty got a closer look, a wave of nausea hit. Her realization set in the body was real and it was cut in half at the waist. Betty snatched up her daughter and ran to the nearest house, she banged on the door, begged her way in and phoned the police, then she revealed that she'd seen a corpse still in a panic. However, Betty hung up before even providing her name.
The officers down at the station didn't believe her story, but a call went out over the police radio that a woman had passed out drunk. Two reporters for the Los Angeles Examiner were listening, and they were the first to confirm the woman's story. They were shocked to find the most brutalized corpse they'd ever seen. The killer had placed the woman's legs inches below her torso, slightly to one side. Her arms were raised over her head. Tissue from one of her breasts was gone and a gruesome joker smile was carved into her cheeks.
The crime scene images were so disturbing that they had to be heavily censored before being published in the papers, it seemed the LAPD had a monster on their hands and they were eager to figure out who it was. But first they needed to determine who the poor victim had been. The police ran her fingerprints and came back with a match. Elizabeth Short, an aspiring actress from Boston, because of her dark hair and pale skin, her friends reportedly called her the Black Dahlia that Monica, along with her beauty and her dark and quickly filled news columns throughout America.
Of course, the tabloids and papers weren't providing any answers in the investigation, so officers turned their scrutiny to Elizabeth's friends. Unfortunately, this proved unfruitful. None of them seemed viable suspects. All in all, they revealed that Elizabeth was hot tempered and flirtatious. But as far as they knew, she had no enemies. The closest they came to a lead was mentioned that Elizabeth had a secret boyfriend.
On January 12th, the mysterious man had rented a hotel room for Elizabeth but refused to sign in with his real name. Two days later, Elizabeth allegedly ran up to a policewoman named Mel McBride and begged for help. Elizabeth told Officer McBride that her lover, a former serviceman, had threatened to kill her for cheating. A day after that, she was dead. The police never revealed the identity of the man, but decades later, former LAPD homicide detective Steve Hodel learned that man might have been his own father.
Dr. George Hodel.
Steve's investigation has turned up many clues, pointing to his father's guilt in Elizabeth's murder. For one, the killer presumably sent haunting letters to the press with handwriting that matched George's. But some other details proved peculiar to police later found a military style wristwatch near the site of Elizabeth's body, the same kind that George supposedly lost shortly after the murder during his own research. Steve Hodel found evidence suggesting that this watch was originally placed inside Elizabeth's body. Bags of cement used to transport the body to the crime scene match those George reportedly purchased days before her death.
Detail after detail drew an ever tightening circle around George Hodel. And one of the most revealing pieces of evidence was the crime itself after Elizabeth was dead.
The killer performed two surgical procedures, a hysterectomy and a chemical corporate.
To me, these are fairly complicated surgical procedures that require specific knowledge. A hysterectomy is an operation where the entire uterus is removed. One reason for having this procedure is to remove large fibroids, non-cancerous and painful growths that have not responded to less invasive treatments. Women may also elect to have this surgery if they suffer from pelvic pain caused by an dimitrios, which is a disorder that causes it's lining tissue to grow outside the uterus. Women may also elect to have their uterus removed if they are suffering symptoms from their menopause, cancer or infection.
Whatever the reasons behind this treatment may be, it's a major abdominal operation that can even entail, in some cases, removing the ovaries, fallopian tubes and cervix. You also mentioned a Hemi corporate ectomy, Allaster, which is a very complex surgery that involves amputating the body below the waist, cutting across the lower part of the spine. Not only does this operation remove the legs completely, but also the external and internal genitalia and rectum.
This may be necessary if a patient has cancer in the pelvic organs, skin or bones or serious infections or abscesses in the pelvis.
These surgeries are very complicated to perform, have multiple meticulous steps and require several specialists working together. It's not like anybody could just figure out how to do these operations. One would have to be a pretty skilled surgeon.
Dr. Newbauer, the chief autopsy surgeon, agreed Elizabeth Short's knife job was the work of someone who knew what they were doing, and George wasn't just an exceptional surgeon in medical school. He'd been regularly performing abortions at his clinic on 1st Street for years. This puts his level of expertise on par with the murderer, but his motive was less clear. George may have resented Elizabeth for breaking up with him, or perhaps he felt disrespected by something she said. Whatever the case, it's clear he'd been angry.
Her killer tortured her before finally taking her life and then kept going. Her corpse was mutilated and the most humiliating and degrading way imaginable.
And that wasn't even the whole story.
Elizabeth wasn't just murdered. She was posed.
If he killed her, George also carefully positioned her arms and legs as if she were a model.
The wristwatch supposedly placed inside her abdomen wasn't dropped there by accident. It was a message.
He took a living, breathing person and transformed her into a gruesome piece of surrealist art with one of his belongings left as his own twisted signature.
George's fascination with the visual layout of the corpse may have stemmed from his love of surrealism.
After World War Two, the artistic and literary movement rose to prominence, rejecting rationality and embracing the subconscious. Surrealist artists like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali created dreamlike images that combined realistic objects with fantasy and imagination melting clocks, alien landscapes, nude women and phallic objects, decorated canvases offering dreamy erotic symbolism. A notable master of this style was Man Ray, who used naked female forms and everyday objects to produce shocking photos. In one of his famous images, he depicts an enormous pair of lips floating above the horizon, eerily reminiscent of Elizabeth Short's grotesque Glasgow smile.
Another of his portraits called The Minuto, shows a woman from the waist up with her arms raised over her shoulders, man Ray used darkroom techniques to edit out her head, creating the illusion of an antlered beast. The photo was the stuff of dreams, but it modeled the way Elizabeth Short's body was found.
These would seem like coincidences, except for one fact man, Ray was one of George Hotel's closest friends, the two of them shared a passion for the popular absurdist style.
In addition to some disturbing philosophies like George Man, Ray was deeply interested in the father of sadism, Marquis de Sade. They had the same contempt for women and the same love of hedonistic pleasures. Surrealism allowed for a socially accepted expression of that. In George's mind, man, Ray's violent sexual imagery was a way of owning his true values without having to explain himself. And his method was simple. Ray would stage his female models like dolls, then dissect them with his camera.
But George's tool of choice wasn't a camera.
His capacity to manipulate his subject was greater than man Ray's had ever been. And as George carefully arranged the pieces of Elizabeth's body, he probably thought his friend would be pleased. In a sick and twisted way, he'd created a surrealist masterpiece. The rush of sensation may have intrigued George in the days following the murder and increased as news of the gruesome discovery hit the public, but the investigation that followed soon caught some progress that had George on the edge of his seat.
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New episodes, Air Weekly every Wednesday. Now back to the story. If Dr. George Hodel did kill Elizabeth Short, he may have acted from his grandiose desire to be a great artist. The dismembered pieces of Elizabeth Short's body were mere props in his surrealist collage, revealing he likely felt no remorse. In fact, if anything, George seemed amused by the crime.
His daughter Tamar recalled that in early 1947, shortly after the murder, she asked him to name her doll with a grin.
He told her to name the doll Elizabeth. And many years later, Tammar learned that the Black Dahlia's full name was Elizabeth Ann Short.
For an entire month, the Black Dahlia murder was front page news in every Los Angeles paper, something that George probably relished but more than the publicity. George loved proving how untouchable he was.
The killer was so confident no one would suspect him that on January 25th, he sent a package of Elizabeth's personal belongings to the Los Angeles Examiner. He followed the package with postcards, calling himself the Black Dahlia Avenger. The letters taunted the police in one of them. He promised to surrender in exchange for leniency in another. He threatened to kill a different girl, closing with the words, Catch us if you can.
George was having too much fun to stop the newspapers and police trying to flush him out by leaking word that a certain Corporal Dumais had confessed to the crime. They hoped the real killer would turn himself in to prevent Diamé from stealing the credit. They were dead wrong shortly after Dimmeys confession was revealed to be a hoax in February 1947. George may have beaten another young woman who was found slain dead from a broken rib that punctured her heart. Investigations quickly revealed the victim was Jean French.
Her mouth had been cut just like Elizabeth's, and a message had been scrawled onto her body in lipstick. Had George committed this murder, it's possible this was his way of telling them that the Black Dahlia Avenger still roamed the streets unchecked. The police responded with another rigorous investigation. They interviewed suspects and collected evidence from the second brutal crime scene. More and more, it was looking like the work of a serial killer, but their investigations were hampered by politics.
The lead investigator, Captain Jack Donahoe, stated that Jean and Elizabeth were likely killed by the same person a few days later, he was taken off the case and transferred to another division by Thad Brown, the chief of detectives. Why Chief Brown did this remains a mystery. It's possible that one of George's friends in the department played a role when Donahoe's seemed too close to discovering the truth. Whatever the reason, the department quickly reversed its position, declaring that the two murders were unrelated.
George's son, former detective Steve Hodel, would call that a bad take. The murders of Elizabeth Short and Jean French bad. Too many similarities to be the work of two different killers. In addition, Steve believes he can identify his father's handiwork in several similarly brutal slayings from the 1940s. Detectives in other jurisdictions might have noticed the same if the LAPD hadn't been so territorial. They refused to share any dallier related information with other police departments because they wanted sole credit for the killer's arrest.
Unfortunately, that arrest never came for the Black Dahlia murder or that of Ruth Spalding. Weeks turned into years, and George grew more confident of his own invincibility. But on October 1st, 1949, all that changed when his 14 year old daughter Tamar ran away from home.
George named Tammar after a poem about a woman who became pregnant with her brother's child from her very birth. George had dark desires for his child's future. George groomed her to be receptive to his advances, telling the little girl that sex was simply how he showed his love when Tammar wandered into his erotic parties. He encouraged her to join in.
Child sexual abuse causes severe lasting damage, and we can measure it biologically when we're anxious or feel we're in danger. Cortisol is produced or the stress hormone, which releases glucose into the bloodstream, fueling and preparing us for that fight or flight response.
As such, when someone experiences emotional trauma, their stress causes a spike in cortisol, prolonged elevations, cortisol hormones, promote high blood pressure and increase the risk for stroke, diabetes and impaired immunity and impact all chronic illnesses, high cortisol production in children can affect their brain development as a child.
Neuronal connections and new brain cells are being formed, which help develop things like verbal ability, emotional regulation and other higher cognitive functioning. This is especially true with sexual abuse in childhood, which has even been associated with irritable bowel syndrome and a lack of responsiveness to antidepressant drugs. Tammar situation must have been incredibly damaging. The impact of Georgia's abuse undoubtably left deep scars that she carried for the rest of her life. But in 1949, at only 14 years old, Tammar sought asylum out of her father's reach and ran away on October 3rd.
The police found Tamar and she told them a story they could hardly believe not only had her father raped her, he'd gotten her pregnant. One of George's friends then performed an abortion, which in that time would have meant the doctor pushed a sterile tube through the cervix into the uterus, then he inserted a wire into the tubing to puncture the amniotic sac where the fetus was. This induced a miscarriage and led to dangerous blood loss.
Abortions today are fairly safe, but back then carried a good deal of risk, especially for a young girl during puberty. Using a wire to puncture the amniotic sac is very dangerous and can easily result in a number of serious problems if it damaged any internal organs like the uterus, bladder or bowel. This could lead to life threatening infection, massive blood loss, scarring and long term organ damage.
An abortion like this would also be very painful as the uterus is constructed of sensitive, smooth muscle. The procedure would cause this smooth muscle to spasm, which causes immense pain.
It's also a risky operation for a young girl who's going through developmental changes in her pelvic organs. The potential mutilation to her reproductive organs could cause them to develop abnormally and even leave her sterile. There's tremendous psychological trauma that can be associated with this kind of abortion as well. Even a successful operation can be traumatic for an adult. I can't imagine what it must have been like for a 14 year old like Tammar.
On October six, after hearing about Tamás traumatic experiences, the LAPD arrested George Hodel, the lurid scandal made front page news and Los Angeles.
The case against George was overwhelming. Three separate witnesses were in the room when it happened, and they agreed to testify in exchange for immunity. Even George initially didn't deny it, saying the events were unclear. Like a dream, L.A. journalist gleefully dragged his precious reputation through the mud. But the real battle was just beginning. On December 8th. Nineteen forty nine, the court selected a jury of eight women and four men. The prosecutor called Tammar to the stand, and she recounted her assault in horrible detail.
Another quick warning. The next section discusses sexual assault of a minor.
On the night of July 1st, Tammar came home from a date and encountered her father with his friend Fred Sexton and two women encouraged by George. Fred undressed Tammar and three of the adults performed oral sex on her. Then George, in the presence of his friends, assaulted and impregnated his daughter. But George was not about to let this child get the best of him. His two lawyers, Jerry Kessler and Robert Nebe, were the best defense attorneys that money could buy.
For days, they tore into Tamás life story, calling her a pathological and psychopathic liar to prove their point. They asked Tammar if she had ever claimed her father was the Black Dahlia killer, even though she denied saying it. The press immediately began running headlines claiming that Tamás whole story was a fantasy. They painted her as a deceitful imbecile who might as well have called George Santa Claus, and they didn't stop there. Georgia's high paid lawyers trotted out witness after witness to testify to Tamás supposed mental illness, including her own mother, in a testament to Georgia's hypnotic power.
Dorothy Anthony remained strangely devoted to him. As for the people who admitted being in the room on July 1st, attorney Robert Nebe instructed the jury to ignore them.
Since they were present, they were obviously accomplices and therefore the jury couldn't trust what they said in the end it was Tamás word against George's. After four hours of deliberation, the jury cleared George of all charges.
The trial may have been a victory for George, but not all of his witnesses felt good about it. One of them was a woman named Lillian Lanark, who was present during Tamás abortion. At the trial, however, she stated that tomorrow's trip to the doctor was merely a routine appointment. According to Steve Hotel's research, Lillian perjured herself to protect herself, but she couldn't live with her choice. One month later, after the trial had ended, Lillian told George she was going to recant her testimony.
In response, George beat her in front of her three year old son. Then he drugged her and slashed her wrists to make it look like she had attempted suicide. But Lillian lived and she went straight to the police with her son, who confirmed the awful series of events to officers. The resulting police report caught the attention of Lieutenant Frank Jemison, an investigator at the district attorney's office.
It seemed George had been trying to ensure Lillian's loyalty. So Jimmerson followed his instincts and pursued his lead on George Hodel, the newspapers may have laughed at the idea that the man was behind the Black Dahlia killing, but not Jemison. He'd spent the last few years collecting evidence and narrowing the list of suspects in 1950. George was at the top of his list when he interviewed Lillian in early 1950. Lillian detailed George's attack, but she also supplied a new detail.
Murder victim Elizabeth Short had dated George Hodel just before her death. With this information, Lieutenant, Jemison's sprang into action. Weeks later, he detained and questioned George about Elizabeth's death. The doctor, of course, denied any connection, but the interview was just a ploy while George was being interrogated, technicians from the LAPD and DA's office installed listening devices in his house. Jemison's team kept George under 24 hour surveillance until March 27th. And though the original tapes have been lost, Steve Hodel obtained the transcripts and published them in his book, The Black Dahlia Avenger.
They contain damning information mentions of his abortion business and a possible confession. In a conversation with one of his friends, George complained that the district attorney's office was out to get him a few minutes later. He exclaimed, Supposing I did kill the Black Dahlia? They couldn't prove it. Now they can't talk to my secretary anymore because she's dead. George was referring to Ruth Spalding, the woman he allegedly killed in May 1945 after she threatened to expose his fraudulent medical practices, it's likely that Ruth knew about his affair with Elizabeth and would have outed George had she lived in the surveillance transcript.
George made mention of Ruth more than just that once. At one point he said, maybe I did kill my secretary. It was a half confession.
And somehow still that wasn't the worst of it. The recordings may have also caught George committing another murder. The tapes contain the sound of a woman screaming, followed by a thud. It's possible the sound simply came from one of George's sadistic sexual games, but unfortunately, we'll never know. No one was sent to investigate. While it's unclear whether George was aware his phone line was tapped and wanted to taunt policemen by hinting at his crimes. Regardless, the recorded statements were likely enough to put George in prison for a very long time.
And George was no fool. He felt the noose closing around him. So he did what worked before he fled.
Coming up, George tries to escape his dark past with a new beginning. Now back to the story.
Dr. George Hodel felt untouchable. He killed his secretary, Ruth Spalding, and got away with it. He cut Elizabeth short in half and even gave the police clues to his identity. Yet they hadn't put the pieces together even after raping his daughter in front of witnesses. George pulled off a miracle and was acquitted, but his unbroken string of luck was ending. Investigator Frank Jemison was hot on his trail, and George suspected that his phones had been tapped after his interrogation with the LAPD.
His suspicions were confirmed on March 22nd, 1950, when Lieutenant Jemison interviewed George's wife, Doro. She told George that the police were getting close and George panicked by March 27th, just three months after his incest trial. George put his Franklin Avenue house up for sale and fled to Hawaii. Jemison may have wanted to track George down and have law enforcement extradite him to Los Angeles, but suspiciously he was taken off the case. Instead, it seemed that even exiled George Hodel wielded some powerful connections that rendered him untouchable to the corrupted Los Angeles Police Department.
In 1951, Lieutenant Jemison was ordered to turn over all the evidence he'd collected to the LAPD, which was either lost or destroyed, Jemison later even admitted we knew who the Black Dahlia killer was. He was a doctor. We didn't have enough to put him away. It seemed against his strongest suspicions. Not even Jemison was willing to implicate George.
George's son, Steve Hodel later managed to track down statements from four of the LAPD most high ranking officers, all confessing that the case was solved.
Still, no one dared say it publicly, so George slipped away with ease and reinvented himself. Yet again. He abandoned his wife and children and moved to Hawaii, where he became a respected psychiatrist in August 1952. He married a woman named Hortensia Legarda. They moved to the Philippines and had four children together, being chased out of town by the police, probably sober George, but it didn't stop him from his violent ways. On May 30th, 1967, police officers in Manila, Philippines, found the surgically amputated legs of a young woman on a pile of trash.
The next day, they found her torso. Like the Black Dahlia, the so-called jigsaw murder could only have been done by someone with extensive medical training. Both victims were tied up and beaten, their bodies were washed clean, and they were drained of blood after their murders and their limbs were amputated and arranged by the killer for maximum shock value. This sort of dismemberment was no rookie work. Training a body of blood is no small task, and a person would have to know where to cut a blood vessel in order to drain it most efficiently.
The cleanest and most effective way to drain it. And the way morticians do it is to insert a tube into the jugular vein located in the neck. As this is happening, embalming fluid gets pumped through the arteries, which displaces the blood through this large vein while the body gets massaged with a soapy, wet sponge to increase drainage. This process usually takes about 30 minutes to completely drain a human body, which on average contains about five liters of blood.
The killer or killers here apparently blood these bodies out through amputation. Cutting a limb off of a body is a surefire way to do this because major arteries and veins run through them.
Severing more than one limb would obviously speed this bleeding along. If someone's arm or leg was lopped off, they would quickly die from massive blood loss without treatment. To stop the hemorrhaging, pressure would have to be immediately applied to the wound, along with stitching up the major blood vessels. Nonetheless, amputating limbs cleanly and precisely takes a certain amount of skill. It shows that whoever killed these people had some medical knowledge.
But there were other details that alluded to the fact that George was the jigsaw murderer at the time, he was living less than a mile away from where the killing happened. Steve Hodel believes the only plausible culprit is his father, but that's not all he suspects his dad left in his legacy. Steve has uncovered evidence that George may have actually been the infamous Zodiac killer.
On October 30th, 1966, an 18 year old college student named Cheri Jo Bates was beaten and stabbed to death in Riverside, California, one month later. The killer mailed a confession to the police and promised more would follow.
The letter was riddled with deliberate spelling mistakes and taunts, just like the ones George is thought to have mailed after allegedly killing Elizabeth Short. The police found hair and fingerprints belonging to Sherry Jo's attacker but couldn't match them with any suspects. Then, in December 1968, a young couple was gunned down in their car outside of San Francisco. Six months after that, in July 1969, another couple was shot in Vallejo.
The killer called the police on a pay phone to report the murders.
The police got their first real lead on July 31st, when the murderer mailed another confession to the San Francisco Chronicle. It had the same deliberate misspellings as the letter about Sherry Joe, along with a cryptogram and a cross shaped symbol that became the Zodiac calling card.
Zodiac claimed to have killed 37 people, although only five have been confirmed. He sent numerous coded messages to the police and newspapers, but his identity remains a mystery, although the M.O. was different. There are several connections between the Zodiac murders and the Black Dahlia. Steve Hodel has combed through every Zodiac letter and found obscure references and phrases his father tended to use.
An independent analyst also matched the handwriting with George's from the taunting messages to the fact that both killers mailed their confessions using an extra stamp. The murderers could very well be one and the same. And a police sketch provided by survivors shows a Caucasian male with glasses who resembles none other than George Hodel.
This would have meant that George flew back to California for his later murders, which isn't so hard to fathom considering he still had friends in L.A. If this theory is true, George was one of America's most prolific serial killers.
He butchered women with impunity and reveled in the incompetence of the police. For him, murder was all a marvelous cat and mouse game, and it remains unclear at what point he truly stopped. George Hodel eventually gave up his medical work and in the 1960s built a very successful marketing company with offices in Manila, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore. It's possible he used his consequent business trips to claim even more lives. But not all the victims of Georgia's evils were dead.
His family saw the worst of his ways, he'd banished his daughter Tamar and forbid anyone to mention her, but somehow he maintained a strange connection to her. Over the years, despite everything that happened, Tamar still wanted a relationship. In 1969, 62 year old George visited Tammar, who was now 34, in Los Angeles. Like when she was little, Tamar found herself agreeing to whatever he asked the next day. George took his 13 year old granddaughter, Deborah, out to lunch.
It took many years for Deborah to share what happened that day as she finally admitted George gave her a drink laced with drugs. She awoke later in his hotel room, undressed while her grandfather snapped photos of her. The experience left Deborah with recurring nightmares for George. It was just a bit of fun. Around that time, George hired a 23 year old woman named Jun Hirano, who would later become his wife. In 1990, the two moved to San Francisco for a comfortable retirement.
Together, the apartment George chose had a view overlooking the cemetery where Elizabeth Short was buried. A strange nod to his first true masterpiece. Yet for all his crimes and all the evidence that pointed back to him, George never spent a night in jail. And as a free man, his abuse, neglect and manipulation scarred all of his kids.
His evil spread like a cancer across multiple generations, and his grandchildren say they are still grappling with the damage he caused. He only became close with his son Steve during those final years, when Steve claims age softened his father, he was still a fortress of secrets. But George began to allow Steve brief moments of closeness.
But that deepening relationship was cut short after 91 year old George wrote Steve a goodbye letter on May 9th, 1999. In it, he explained that he was going to the hospital soon for a procedure called cardiac retro version. Due to his heart arrhythmia or abnormal heart rhythm. He had struggled with heart problems earlier and they worsened over time. But the procedure he was going in for was no small event. You're right, Alastair.
No small event at all. Congestive heart failure is a condition where the heart doesn't pump blood as well as it should. The type of procedure George got involves electrically shock in the heart in order to restore its normal rhythm. This is done with two paddles it placed on the chest that each deliver a current of electricity. The shock is administered right when the heart is in the middle of a ventricular contraction or when it's pumping blood out into the rest of the body.
And a shock at this moment in the cardiac cycle can correct an irregular heartbeat.
This was definitely a risky surgery for someone as old as George. Something as minor as getting a tooth pulled at this point in his life would have been risky. So any manipulation of his heart rhythm was definitely a high stakes gamble. At 91, sometimes the best thing a patient with critical heart problems can do is make the most out of the time they have left.
And George was ready to meet his end in his letter to Steve, he explained, if this and other corrective procedures fail, I shall not be saddened. I have been fortunate enough to lead a very full and interesting life.
On May 17th, 1999. George passed away unsentimental to the end.
He wanted no tears shed over him and no mementos kept, perhaps because he never wanted people to know what he'd done. George instructed his wife to destroy all of his belongings after his passing. He relished the fame of his murders. But even more, he loved that he got in a way, with them. It was like one of his little jokes that no one but him was supposed to get.
If Steve Hodel hadn't taken his father's photo album, George's secrets would have stayed buried somewhat.
Nevertheless, George's reputation as a doctor with dark proclivities lives on as a cursory tale of a medical practitioner turned monster.
This case is unique and that George is both a sadist and a surgeon. The illicit side hustles and poor prescription practices aren't totally uncommon in the medical world today. Not many doctors would use their knowledge of anatomy to cut apart and rearrange the human form. In comparison to our last episode, George Hodel is a whole different animal than the lights angels of Death. Not only was his medical knowledge light years ahead of theirs, his pathology was clearly twisted in a very different way, where the angels killed out of simple enjoyment and partially out of convenience.
George Hodel seemed to look at his brutal crimes as works of art, which is really disturbing. He also had the predatory advantage of being a well-respected figure about town, something that provided him with a good deal of cover. On top of this, he was able to use blackmail to protect himself. Another thing the Angels didn't have at their disposal hotel was committing these crimes during a very different time in history. His murders were aided by the fact that he was living in 20th century Hollywood, where women weren't always believed when they claim sexual assault and the LAPD had fewer tools at their disposal.
His gruesome murders would be harder to accomplish in today's era of surveillance cameras and DNA evidence, but not impossible, especially for someone as cunning and well-connected as George. If there is some modern day George Hodel out there. We can only hope he wouldn't go unavenged for a century. That's somewhere between artistic crime scenes and sadistic assaults. Justice would reign. Thanks for listening to medical murders and thanks again to Dr. Kipa for joining me today. Thanks for having me, Alistar.
For more information on George, among the many sources we used, we found The Black Dahlia Avenger by Steve Hodel, extremely helpful to our research.
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Medical Murders is a Spotify original from podcast. It is executive produced by Max Cuddler Sound Design by Trent Williamson with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden, Kristen Acevedo, Jonathan Cohen, Alexandra Trick for Dorthea and Joshua Cohen. This episode of Medical Murders was written by Xander Bernstein with Writing Assistants by Maggie Admi, fact checking by Bennett Logan and research by Chelsea Wood. Medical Murders stars Dr. David Kipa and Alistair Murden.
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