Black Dahlia: The Non-Smoking Gun – George Hodel Files Part 23


March 12, 1950: Another day of absolutely nothing at the purported Murder HQ of Dr. George “Evil Genius” Hodel.

And yes, I know this is boring and tedious. That’s the point: There is absolutely nothing in these transcripts to show that George Hodel killed the Black Dahlia or anybody else. It is possible, I suppose, to cherry-pick a statement or two out of context and try to make it into something incriminating, but when the transcripts are taken in their entirety they are as boring and dull as a bucket of rocks.

The George Hodel files Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20 | Part 21 |Part 22

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1947, 1950, Black Dahlia, Cold Cases, Hollywood, LAPD and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Black Dahlia: The Non-Smoking Gun – George Hodel Files Part 23

  1. Eve says:

    It does show why someone eventually invented the answering machine!


  2. You’re so right, Larry. The numbing avalanche of banality in the Dr. Hodel transcripts reminds me of a comedy sketch from Monty Python’s “Matching Tie and Handkerchief” album, called “The Adventures of Ralph Mellish,” a man to whom, Michael Palin tells us–after a crescendo of tremolo vioins–nothing happened!

    “Scarcely able to believe his eyes, Ralph Mellish looked down,” Palin continues, to mysterioso music, “but one glance confirmed his suspicions. Behind a bush, on the side of the road, there was no severed arm. No dismembered trunk of a man in his late fifties. No head in a bag. Nothing!” (Cue dramatic trombones.)

    MontyPythonRadio has this hilariously fitting audio clip on their Youtube channel. (Key “The Adventures of Ralph Mellish” into the search field.)

    The best criminal profiler is still John Douglas, and his simple checklist usually turns out to correct in the vast majority of such cases where the criminal is caught. Dr. Hodel may have been many things, including a manipulative egoist and a cad, but he didn’t kill Elizabeth Short. He was a highly intelligent, self-possessed man who was always in control of himself. Whoever killed The Black Dahlia was entirely the opposite. The appalling mutilations inflicted on Elizabeth Short were the product of a diseased, highly disorganized mind. The messy, incomprehensible nature of the murder is the sort of thing one usually sees in cases of paranoid schizophrenia, where the killer has lost all touch with reality.

    I suppose we have Thomas Harris to thank for creating the irresistible image of the charming, urbane, sophisticated doctor who secretly murders people and “does things” with their bodies for kicks (like eating their livers with fava beans and a nice chianti), however in reality, the Hannibal Lecter archetype is a myth. In the long, colorful history of criminal depravity, there have been a scant *handful* of cases where an actual doctor turned out to be a diabolical monster. Doctors Cream and Mudgett come to mind. But such cases are so incredibly rare as to be statistically insignificant. Murderous “mad doctors” are like airline disasters. They’re extremely rare, but when they happen, they get a lot of press.

    With all of his faults, there is nothing about Dr. Hodel’s actions or lifestyle, or personal history, that is remotely consistent with the kind of individual capable of the Black Dahlia killing. Whoever killed Elizabeth Short was mad as a baboon, and probably had difficulties functioning in normal society. The killer was mentally ill, he was not a criminal mastermind. Many people have made the mistake of attempting to read some kind of diabolical “logic” into the Black Dahlia murder, but the truth is, there was no logic or rationality to it. Elizabeth Short was murdered by an insane individual for whom her body had essentially become a grotesque plaything. Daniel Charles Gerould (“Guillotine: It’s Legend and Lore”) refers to this phenomenon as “playing with heads.” Think of a child pulling the wings off of a fly, or the legs off of a spider.

    Dr. Bayley’s brain damage and mental illness, coupled with his knowledge of anatomy, and his astonishing proximity to Elizabeth’s body, makes him by far the likeliest suspect. Elizabeth’s killer clearly had no thought of trying to hide her body, which suggests a certain level of insanity. He was just getting it out of the house, before it started stinking the place up. Like taking out the trash. The kick in the pants is that Bayley probably dumped Elizabeth’s body in the vacant lot a block from his house and calmly walked back home without giving a second thought to whether anyone saw him. He could have been that divorced from reality. And by the merest accident of fortune, nobody saw him.

    It could have been that simple. It probably was.


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