Episode 541: The Unsolved Murder of Georgette Bauerdorf

Morbid

Feb 26 2024 • 52 mins

On the morning of October 12, 1944, Lulu Atwood arrived at the El Palacio Apartments in West Hollywood, where she worked cleaning apartments for wealthy and celebrity clients. When Lulu reached the apartment of twenty-year-old Georgette Bauerdorf, she called out and when she got no reply, she entered the apartment to begin her work. Inside, Lulu could hear the water running in the bathtub upstairs, and when she made her way to the second-floor bathroom, she found the dead body of Georgette Bauerdorf half-submerged in the water.

As a well-known socialite and the prominent daughter of a wealthy oil tycoon, Georgette’s untimely death surprised the Los Angeles society circles in which she moved. But when her death was officially labeled a murder, and one with sexual overtones, their surprise turned to shock and dismay—who would have wanted to kill Georgette Bauerdorf and why?

As a member of Hollywood’s elite class, Georgette Bauerdorf’s murder dominated the headlines of Los Angeles papers for weeks, but when the leads dried up just a few weeks later and no new suspects were identified, the case went cold and by the end of the year the investigation was essentially shelved. Once considered alongside the Black Dahlia as one of Los Angeles’ most notorious unsolved murders, today the story of Georgette Bauerdorf has now all but faded from public memory, making it unlikely the mystery will ever be solved.

Thank you to David White, of The Bring Me the Axe Podcast, for research!

References

Buffalo Evening News. 1944. "Murder theory studied in death of wealthy girl." Buffalo Evening News, October 13: 1.

Dowd, Katie. 2021. "A California oil heiress was strangled in her apartment. Who got away with murder?" SF Gate, November 28.

Foster, Ernest. 1944. "Heiress found dead in bathtub mystery." Daily News, October 13: 224.

Los Angeles Times. 1944. "Evidence shows heiress waged terrific fight." Los Angeles Times, October 15: 3.

—. 1944. "Ex-soldiers tale of killing heiress here discounted." Los Angeles Times, December 29: 6.

—. 1944. "Girl mystery death laid to attacker." Los Angeles Times, October 14: 1.

—. 1944. "Girl mystery death laid to attacker." Los Angeles Times, October 14: 1.

—. 1945. "Note professing Bauerdorf girl slaying knowledge pondered." Los Angeles Times, September 21: 2.

—. 1944. "Oil heiress death clues valueless, deputies say." Los Angeles Times, October 17: 5.

—. 1945. "Self-appointed sleuth held in heiress' death." Los Angeles Times, September 25: 2.

—. 1944. "Tale of killing heiress here false, ex-soldier concedes." Los Angeles Times, December 30: 11.

New York Times. 1944. "Miss Bauerdorf, oil man's daughter, slain by strangler in her Hollywood apartment." New York Times, October 14: 15.

San Francisco Examiner . 1944. "Heiress' generosity believed to have led to her murder ." San Francisco Examiner , October 15: 3.

San Francisco Examiner. 1944. "Hollywood girl believed strangled far from home." San Francisco Examiner, October 20: 3.

—. 1944. "New theory in girl slaying." San Francisco Examiner, October 27: 15.

—. 1944. "Police reject confession." San Francisco Examiner, December 30: 24.

—. 1944. "Slaying of Oil Heiress in Hollywood confessed." San Francisco Examiner, December 29: 3.

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