Black Dahlia: Dr. George Hodel and Soil Test Results … ‘Definitely Not Elizabeth Short’

KNBC-TV Channel 4 has finally updated its story on Buster the Wonder Dog finding … something … at the purported Murder HQ of Dr. George Hodel.

Let’s review the timeline:

On Nov. 9, 2012, the makers of the TV show “Ghost Hunters” taped a segment in which retired LAPD Detective Steve Hodel and retired Sgt. Paul Dostie, formerly of the Mammoth Police Department,  and Dostie’s three-legged cadaver dog, Buster, searched the vicinity of the Sowden House on Franklin Avenue for evidence of human remains. Hodel’s father, Dr. George Hodel, lived in the house in the 1940s and it is Steve Hodel’s contention that his father killed lots of people there — including Elizabeth Short — although there’s not a bit of proof that he ever killed anyone there or anywhere else.

The segment wasn’t included in the TV show, but the outtakes aired on KNBC-TV on Feb. 1, 2013.

In a Feb. 3, 2013, post in the Daily Beast, Christine Pelisek said results were due “next week.”

And then we waited.

And waited.


Finally, on Nov. 5, 2013, Hodel and Dostie were interviewed on a show called “Darkness Radio.” On that show, Dostie said:

At that point we sent the samples off, and unfortunately we’ll probably not get analysis on that. (slight laugh) It’s been almost a year now. And it’s really unfortunate. But we can get some from outside…

Note: The original radio clip has been taken down, but it survives on

The matter of the test results on the soil samples appeared to be closed.

So imagine my surprise when KNBC posted an update today, a year and a half after the soil samples were taken.

The segment has a lot of irrelevant mumbo-jumbo…


… including a clip of Fredric March from “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” …


… before we get to the heart of the matter.

Here we have Arpad Vass, the analyst who apparently performed the long-delayed soil tests. You may recognize his name because he and Dostie were involved in the 2008 dig at Barker Ranch in the search for “evidence” in the Manson family case.  Which found absolutely nothing except a bullet casing.

And what does Vass say?

The soil was actually came up positive for human remains. We know that because there are a number of human-specific markers.

— snippage—

I would say probably between maybe 20 and 100 years.

Narrator Patrick Healy says that whatever was found, it’s “definitely not Elizabeth Short,” noting: “All her remains were accounted for.”

You’ll have to agree that a time frame of “between maybe 20 and 100 years” is so broad as to be meaningless.

But whatever was found, it has nothing to do with the Black Dahlia case, which is what I have been saying since Day 1.

Another good story ruined by the L.A. Daily Mirror.


About lmharnisch

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

7 Responses to Black Dahlia: Dr. George Hodel and Soil Test Results … ‘Definitely Not Elizabeth Short’

  1. Duane Laible says:

    Damn! I thought the case was finally solved.


  2. aryedirect says:

    Must admit that Steve Hodel has created a unique media image for himself and the sheer audacity of his story holds an intriguing twist to the eternal subject of father/son relationships.


  3. JAMES says:

    Even if they di find human remains. Elizabeth was found many miles away. What would this prove?


  4. JJ says:

    Everytime I hear the name Steve Hodel I shake my head in disgust. He has made a mockery of Beth Short’s murder and I can only imagine if he does such a botched investigation in this (to which he seems to have dedicated his life to), what cases he must have botched when he was a detective. Now that is really scary


  5. Stacia says:

    It seems that the people who believe these stories are either those who don’t spend a lot of time reading or thinking about it because it’s not an interest — which is totally understandable — or those who want to believe it so badly they just don’t hear that it’s “definitely not Elizabeth Short” even when it’s told to them.


  6. Piers says:

    Soil samples from 4 separate locations in the basement, indicated by Cadaver Dog, apparently of human origin but not Elizabeth Short? – Does that mean up to four other human beings died in the cellar? or was the house built on a graveyard?


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