1949-50 Black Dahlia Witness Lillian Lenorak Hamilton Slain in Unrelated 1959 Palm Springs Murder –Her Killer Tord O. Zeppenfield Arrested

August 18, 2018
Los Angeles, California
November 12, 1959 UPI Photo

Those familiar with my investigation will recognize the name Lillian Lenorak Hamilton, who played a key role as a defense witness in both Dr. George Hodel’s 1949 Incest Trial and again in the January 1950 Abortion trial of Dr. Francis Ballard and his “assistant” Charles Smith.

Lillian testified in both trials as to having been present when my half-sister, Tamar was “examined” by Dr. Ballard, but testilied that “no abortion was performed.” Both Drs. Hodel and Ballard were acquitted based in part on Lillian’s testimony at both trials.

In late January 1950, after providing earlier false testimony at the December Hodel trial  (under duress and threats from Dr. Hodel) she again, for a second time repeated her perjury at the separate Dr. Ballard trial,

Lillian then went to the Sowden/Franklin home of Dr. Hodel, obtained his rifle from the bedroom closet and awaited his return to the home with the stated intent of “shooting him because she knew he had killed  Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short and he had to pay for it.” At this time, Lillian also threatened GHH that she was going to “recant her testimony and tell the DA investigators the truth that she lied.”

Upon George Hodel’s return home that afternoon, Lillian was disarmed, beaten, drugged and while unconscious, Hodel superficially cut both her wrists and then bandaged them, staging what he later described as “her attempted suicide.”

Santa Barbara policewoman Mary Unkefer (at the request of Lillian’s mother, Mrs. Hamilton) was summoned to the Hodel residence and transported Lillian to Santa Barbara where due to her “emotionally distraught condition” she was admitted to Camarillo State Hospital for observation after her mother, Mrs. Hamilton refused to take custody of her daughter.

Officer Unkefer would then write a detailed letter to the LADA’s Office describing the events and statements which became critical evidence connecting GHH to the Black Dahlia crime. However, this information was never made public and became part of the secret DA Hodel/Black Dahlia Files until finally discovered and revealed in my investigation in 2003.

See detailed summary in Chapter-4-Lillian-Lenorak

Lillian Lenorak Hamilton, aside from her day job as a film editor for General Studios, was an actress with thirteen film credits to her name in the 1940s-1950s. See her IMDB credits HERE.

One of her top roles was in the Ida Lupino groundbreaking film, OUTRAGE (1950) which was one of the first films to deal with the controversial and sensitive subject of RAPE and its far-reaching effects on the victim and her family.

The film starred Mala Powers as the rape victim and Lillian Hamilton played the role of her mother. (Seen standing below)


The following year actress Mala Powers (seen above) would go on to co-star as Roxanne in the classic film, Cyrano De Bergerac with Jose Ferrer. 

Jose Ferrer won the 1951 Oscar for “Best Actor” in his role as Cyrano.
Mala Powers seen above as his heartthrob, Roxanne.





Lillian’s tragic murder (completely unrelated to any Dr. Hodel connection) occurred in November 1959 while she was on a weekend date with a then-boyfriend in Palm Springs, California. The couple argued in his car, she demanded he pull over and she got out and walked away.

Lillian was confronted by a stranger, who abducted and beat her to death with the butt of his rifle.  Quickly identified as Tord Zeppenfield, age 21, he was arrested, tried and convicted of her murder.








  1. Kathy Hsu says:

    The second date listed August 18, 1918.
    Hope you are going well,
    *Please remove this commrnt)

  2. Bill Schmidt says:

    Do you know whatever happened to the guy who murdered her? Was he executed? Keep up the incredible work Sir!
    Bill Schmidt

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