The Jigsaw Murder(s)


When I mentioned Dr. George Hill Hodel Jr in an earlier post, I mentioned the Jigsaw Murders in Manila, Philippines in the 1960s.  Dr. Hodel Jr., as the prime suspect in the murder of the Black Dahlia, is an excellent candidate for the murderer.  Especially considering Lucila Lalu was found in almost the exact same condition as Elizabeth Short.

One should understand that Manila during the 1960s was not a great place to live.  Crime was rampant and it wasn’t limited to the poor.  Even the rich and famous members of Philippine society was at risk.  The same year Lucila Lalu was found murdered, a young movie star was taken hostage by 4 members of the upper class, forced into a hotel, where they tortured, raped, and brutalized her.  Thankfully, they left her alive and were all caught and prosecuted for their crimes.

Lucila Lalu was a young woman who was married to a police officer.  She owned a beauty store and a nightclub.  She was living a good life, until she ran afoul of the wrong person.

May 28, 1967 Lucila Lalu went to work and never returned.  Where she was held for the two days she was missing was never discovered (however, we’ll get into some of that).  On May 30, 1967, the lower portion of her body was found near a river.  Later in the day, her upper torso was found in a park near a major intersection.  Her head was never found.

The police seemed to make some blunders during the investigation.  The biggest one was not searching the prime suspect’s apartment when they arrested him.  Instead, they waited, by which time the scene had been contaminated and possible had evidence planted.  Then there was the confession they got, which was most definitely coerced, most likely with brute force and which didn’t hold up when scrutinized.  While the case was never closed, it was widely accepted that the man did it.

Until it wasn’t… While not officially linked to Lucila Lalu’s murder, two other Filipina women were murdered in a much similar manner in the two years before Lalu’s murder.  Finding information on these two women seem nearly impossible.  They may not even exist except outside the mind of one demented journalist.  A news article was published a year after Lalu’s murder attempting to connect the three victims.  Police denied the victims existed and insisted that Lalu’s murder was a single event.

Only now, we know that may not be true, even if the other Pinoi victims are a figment of someone’s imagination.  Lalu’s body was found drained of blood.  She was bisected just above the hips.  And Dr. Hodel Jr. was living in Manila at the time.  All three of these details are important because they mirror the murder of The Black Dahlia, Elizabeth Short.  The only real difference is geography and the missing head.  Lalu was even a very attractive young woman, like Short.

It is very likely that the Short and Lalu cases are linked.  It is also very likely that if the other two victims really existed, they were connected as well.  However, the murder of Lalu, like Elizabeth Short, will go down as unsolved for all time – the Filipina Black Dahlia, so to speak.

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