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The Best Known Solved “Unsolved” Murders

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A cottage industry has cropped up aimed at armchair detectives, tempted to solve great criminal cases that have stumped the world’s detectives.  Thousands of theories have been floated about hundreds of different arch-criminals.  At the same time, two of the most famous “unsolved” murders were actually long ago solved.  The facts of these cases prove how important basic police work is and, sadly, highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the long arm of the law when unable to fully reach or, in the latter case, wrenched behind the public’s collective back.

Jack-the-Ripper-shawl-3Aaron Kosminski aka “Jack the Ripper”

We’ve all heard of the recent DNA testing proving that Aaron Kosminski, a Polish-born immigrant, was Jack the Ripper.  The only problem is that London police knew that all the while.  The only door left open for the armchairs was created by the police’s inability to prove their case.  Instead, he was essentially backed into a corner and forced into commitment at an asylum, after which the murders ended.  Great police work, totally unrecognized, but doing what had to be done — protect the public.  Jack the Ripper was caught and caged.  We know his name but, sadly, few of the names of the brave people who contributed to his caging.

hodel_mugDr. George Hill Hodel, serial murderer of Elizabeth Short (“the Black Dahlia”) and many other people

Everyone knew Hodel had done it.  Everyone.  The police.  A lot of Hodel’s friends.  A lot of people.  A Los Angeles deputy DA has said if Hodel were alive,  he would file first degree murder charges against him.  Why didn’t they in the 40s?  For the same reason so many crimes go unsolved — Hodel was too powerful.  He ran the LA VD clinic and was a surgeon who performed abortions.  He had performed abortions of the mistresses of countless politicians, entertainers, police officials, and the like.  He knew Elizabeth Short — in fact, Hodel was responsible for numerous murders in what they then called a chain killing spree (this was before the term “serial killer” existed).  The Black Dahlia Murder was solved.  Also solved were a number of connected killings even police of the time recognized as having the same “father.”

Probably the best evidence against Hodel (outside transcripts of wiretaps the police made) was the fact that, when he was forced to flee the country to the Philippines, the “Black Dahlia Copycat” murder happened in Manilla.  Hodel did not stop his slaughter — he just moved his offices.

The policeman who finally tipped us all off?  A retired LAPD homicide detective, who happened to be Hodel’s own son, Steve.  Another son of George Hodel (Steve’s brother) was legendary science fiction radio show host, Mike Hodel, of KPFK fame.  Both men brought great honor to the Hodel name.  Sadly, Steve would have to reveal to the world the crimes of his own father.  His work is extremely important, not only because of the justice finally done the women who were butchered, but also because he may have solved another serial killing spree.

hodelbackOn the left, is George Hill Hodel in the 1970s.  On the right, is a witness description drawing of the Zodiac Killer.

Less extensively documented but just as persuasive is Steve Hodel’s assertion that his father was also the Zodiac.  On its face, the idea sounds outlandish at best, until one starts looking at the evidence.  And frankly, I’d rather assume there was only one sick fuck responsible for murders of this magnitude.  In all earnestness, I do think Steve has solved this mystery, too.

So let us hear it for the REAL detectives — the nameless heroes who spend their lives, often uncelebrated, keeping the streets safer for the rest of us — at least when powerful people allow them to do their jobs.

Melody’s own fictional detective, Professor Shamus Bead, is hunting down another killer in Victorian England in her latest steampunk mystery, “Shamus Bead and the Cure for What Kills You” (coming soon)


Written by melodyclarkbooks

October 18, 2014 at 2:25 pm

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