SIGNATURE CRIME: noun-
:any of two or more crimes that involve the use of a method, plan, or modus operandi so distinctive that it logically follows that the crimes must have been committed by the same person
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law
M.O. is a very broad term and it is oftentimes mentioned in very general non-specific terms when it comes to criminal investigations. The roll call sergeant when reading off crimes from the previous week might say, “The suspect is a hot prowl burglar and his M.O. is to enter upscale private residences during daytime hours.”
That said, there are signature crimes and signature acts within those crimes that are so specific that they become extremely important in attempting to link serial crimes and serial killers.
In my MOST EVIL investigation, there are many such acts that I believe not only link the suspect from crime to crime, but from city to city. Today we will examine what I consider to be one of George Hodel’s most significant SIGNATURE ACTS:
The bringing to and use of pre-cut clothesline to either strangle or bind his victims.
Chicago’s, ”Lipstick Killer”; Los Angeles’ ”Black Dahlia Avenger”; Manila’s, “Jigsaw Killer” and San Francisco’s, “Zodiac” EACH BROUGHT AND USED CLOTHESLINE IN CONNECTION WITH ONE OR MORE OF THEIR CRIMES
(SKH Note- In the 1967 Manila, Philippines surgical bisection murder of victim Lucila Lalu the suspect used that country’s version of clothesline rope. He used “abaca” commonly known as Manila hemp. The photo seen above is a depiction and not the actual rope used in the Lalu crime. The other three photos do show the actual rope used in the crimes.)
“LIPSTICK KILLER” UPDATE-
Attempted rape victim/witness confirms Lipstick Killer description as:
”Tall, thin, with black hair” used clothesline rope to bind her.”
In a recent review of 1945 newspaper articles related to Chicago’s “Lipstick Killer” (specifically the June 5, 1945 murder of victim, Josephine Alice Ross) I discovered an interesting and hitherto unknown witness/victim account (buried and forgotten) which should have had an important bearing on the later investigation. This is a new post-publication discovery and therefore was not discussed in my book.
On the same day as the Josephine Ross murder, just a short time earlier and only five blocks away, Mrs. Eileen Huffman, age-34 was accosted in her apartment house basement by a suspect who was armed with a handgun. Described as “tall and thin with black hair” he tied the victim’s hands with clothesline and attempted to rape her, but fled when she screamed out. Shortly after this assault, the first “Lipstick Killer” victim, Josephine Ross was attacked and murdered in her home. (See below diagram for victim locations.) In the later, December, 1945 murder of victim Frances Brown, the killer would use both a gun and knife on his victim, stabbing her through the neck and shooting her twice.
It is my opinion that the killer’s M.O. of bringing precut lengths of clothesline with him is so unique that it definitely qualifies as a SIGNATURE ACT. But this is only ONE OF MANY that can be found and identified in George Hodel’s unique serial signage. Stay tuned. Lot more to come.
With the forensic advancement of ”Touch DNA” the potential of obtaining suspect DNA off of the ligatures is very good. That is if they still exist? We know that the Zodiac clothesline rope is still in evidence. I cannot speak for the Chicago, L.A., or Manila samples. In BDA, I listed two LASD crimes, Geneva Ellroy and Bobbie Long as “possibles” based on a number of factors, including the fact that the suspect brought with him and used clothesline to strangle both victims. Victims, Marian Newton (San Diego 1947) and Louise Springer (L.A. 1949) were also both strangled with clothesline and included as possibles in my 2003 BDA investigation. If any of these ligatures still remain in evidence they could potentially yield suspect DNA connecting the crimes to each other and possibly resulting in locating and identifying a suspect in the CA or National DNA data bases. (CODIS)