Black Dahlia: Dr. George Hodel, Here We Go Again


The latest on Steve Hodel’s allegations, in the Guardian.

There are several thousand things I would rather do that poke holes in Steve Hodel’s “theories” once again. As long-time readers know, I have been fact-checking Steve Hodel’s “case” against his father for years. I even published the entire transcription of surveillance recordings of his father, in 37 parts, from the Los Angeles County district attorney’s files.

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 | Part 23 | Part 24 | Part 25 | Part 26 | Part 27 | Part 28 | Part 29 | Part 30 | Part 31 | Part 32 | Part 33 | Part 34 | Part 35 | Part 36 | Part 37

But with every generation comes new and gullible reporters who cannot imagine the magnitude of fabrication and falsehoods surrounding the Black Dahlia case. And in the interest of full disclosure, I was contacted by the reporter for the Guardian, Alexis Sobel Fitts, to whom I gave a lengthy interview and outlined the weaknesses in Steve Hodel’s case. Fitts opted not to use a word of the interview, which was her prerogative, but she then had the nerve to say:

As the record shows, I have proved Steve Hodel wrong countless times.

I have demolished his claims that photos found in his father’s belongings are of Elizabeth Short. And provided a statement by Elizabeth Short’s family that the photos are of two other women. In fact, one of the women came forward and identified her as Marya Marco.

I have also demolished Steve Hodel’s claims that his father was a surgeon. Dr. George Hodel never practiced surgery in Southern California. Never. Every medical directory of the era fails to list any surgical practice.

In addition, I have demolished Steve Hodel’s claims of any contact between Dr. George Hodel and Elizabeth Short. There is nothing – zero – to show that they ever met.

I even spent months waiting for results from soil testing at the Sowden House of possible evidence of human remains. The conclusion:


In other words:


Steve Hodel and I exchanged comments on the Guardian’s website and I’ll repost them here:

Steve Hodel said (minus the embedded links):

For the Record
Generally, I try not to engage myself in on-line pisxx*g contests with trolls and flamers. I’ve found there is little to gain in mud wrestling, other than to get covered with it.

That said, it does get my blood up when someone who knows better deliberately misrepresents the facts, because of his own personal agendas.

Readers to Ms. Fitts excellent article should be aware that the individual identifying himself as “Larry Harnisch” (14 comments to this article in the first ten hours) is an L.A. Times retired copy-editor, who bills himself as “The Leading Expert on the Black Dahlia Murder” and has been a critic/naysayer of my investigation for the past thirteen years. Why? Because he has been writing and hoping to publish his own book on “whodunit.” He claims his “soon to publish book” (now in its nineteenth years in the writing) will reveal all. Harnisch identifies the killer as an elderly physician, Dr. Walter Bayley, who lived on the same street, just 300 yards south of where the body was posed. The first Black Dahlia witness, Mrs. Betty Bersinger, who was taking her young daughter to the market, after seeing the body, posed in the vacant lot near the sidewalk, then hurried south and stopped at the Bayley home and used their phone to call and inform the police. Harnisch goes on to claim in a radio interview that Dr. Bayley, (who died in 1948, less than a year after the murder) actual motive for killing Elizabeth Short was “repressed rage and anger because his young son had been killed in an unrelated traffic accident some twenty years prior.”

The secret DA Hodel/Black Dahlia Files locked in a DA’s vault for more than fifty years reveal that not only was Dr. George Hodel the named prime suspect, but a joint task-force consisting of 18 detectives from the LAPD and DA offices conducted a live stakeout of his Hollywood residence 24/7 for six weeks. Electronic surveillance tape recorded live conversations (not phone taps) wherein George Hodel confessed to killing his private secretary (forced overdose by pills, the death was investigated as a suspected murder by LAPD in 1945, until he fled the country to China.) On the third day of the stakeout police recorded Hodel and an accomplice assaulting a woman with a pipe in the basement of the residence which was either a serious felony assault or actual murder. (Police took no action to make a rescue.) Later during the stakeout, he was taped admitting to police payoffs (“This is the best payoff I’ve ever seen between law enforcement agencies”) performing abortions, and killing Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short. He fled the country leaving LE still staked out on his residence. Press coverage at the time acknowledged police were just days away from making his arrest.

Articles like the one that Ms. Fitts has written, though three-thousand words in length can at best only provide readers with a light dusting of the facts. My full ongoing investigation, now in its thirteenth year, has required four books to present all of the evidence. One suspect, twenty-five victims and a thirty-year crime spree. (1940-1970).

Fact: All the top original Law Enforcement investigators acknowledged that the Black Dahlia Murder “was solved” and the killer was identified as, Dr. George Hill Hodel. All separately corroborated each other’s statements in the decades following the murder. See video link here.

Fact: DA secret Hodel/Black Dahlia Files contain written documentation that Dr. George Hodel knew and dated Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short in the months/years preceding the murder. See video link here.

Fact: Dr. Hodel was responsible for separate murders in Chicago, Manila, and the San Francisco Bay Area. See Introductory video here.

For those interested, more than ten years of accumulated investigation on the Black Dahlia and other L.A. Lone Murders and my follow-up investigations relating to out of city and country crimes can be found on my website: My eight-year blog is
My FAQ with over eight years of related research can be found here.

Best Regards,
Steve Hodel
LAPD Hollywood Homicide Detective III (ret.)

To which I responded:

Since my research has been called into question, let me address a few of Steve’s comments.

“DA secret Hodel/Black Dahlia Files contain written documentation that Dr. George Hodel knew and dated Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short in the months/years preceding the murder.”

This is utterly untrue. As it so happens, I have copies of the entire district attorney’s files on the Elizabeth Short case in my possession. And there is absolutely nothing in them to indicate that Dr. George Hodel knew Elizabeth Short. Speaking as a journalist of 44 years (that was a typo actually a mere 34 years), including half a dozen Pulitzer-winning projects, if there was, I would be the first to say so. There is nothing.

And this: “He fled the country leaving LE still staked out on his residence. Press coverage at the time acknowledged police were just days away from making his arrest.”

Again, this is demonstrably false. Here’s the final page of the Dr. George Hodel transcripts: “All Quiet. Good night.” The police packed up their surveillance equipment and left because there was no case.

As for universal support by law enforcement that the case is “solved,” here’s an analysis by Gary Ingemunson, attorney for the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing Los Angeles police officers, faulting Steve Hodel’s allegations.

I should also note the comment by LAPD Homicide Detective Brian Carr, who was assigned to the Elizabeth Short case until he retired: “If I went in with a case like that [meaning allegations by Steve Hodel and Stephen Kay] I would be laughed out of court.”

Steve, if this is true: “That said, it does get my blood up when someone who knows better deliberately misrepresents the facts, because of his own personal agendas.”

Then take a good look in the 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.

8 Responses to Black Dahlia: Dr. George Hodel, Here We Go Again

  1. maedez says:

    This man and his ridiculous story just showed up on my Facebook feed (again), from otherwise pretty reputable sources. It’s extremely frustrating that he has any legitimate traction anywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LC says:

    The other day I saw a photo of the Sowden House and the were actually advertising it as the house where the Black Dahlia was murdered!


  3. mandymarie20 says:

    What is this Hodel’s issue? Why is he so hell bent on proving his father is a famous murderer? I actually think he may have had a traumatic life and this is a result. There is a recipe for research. You can’t have to be very careful with conclusions. If you want an answer and only look at evidence to support this conclusion, naturally you will get the answer you want.


  4. McDee says:

    Steve has his mind made up. Facts will not change it.


  5. Dan Bazarian says:

    Years ago when I was a young man of around 10 years old I was looking at my Dad’s scrap book. I found a clipping from a newspaper of a lady named Black Dahlia. I asked my Dad why do you have her picture of her in your scrapbook? He said a friend of his dated the black dahlia. I asked who, but he did not tell me the name. Skip to 50 years later as I was reading Steve Hodel’s book, a name stood out to me. Billy Pearson (who happened to be my Dad’s schoolmate). The famous race horse jockey. Could that be a connection between George Hodel and the Black Dahlia ??


    • lmharnisch says:

      I believe there were references to a jockey in some of the later news stories. I would have to check my clippings to determine the name.

      Update: One newspaper referred to a jockey named John Jiroudek.

      There is nothing — NADA — to establish any connection between Elizabeth Short and Dr. George Hodel. Steve Hodel’s most recent comments about the district attorney’s files showing that Elizabeth Short and Dr. George Hodel dated are utter nonsense. I have copies of all the district attorney’s files on the Black Dahlia case and there is nothing in them to show any connection whatsoever. N O T H I N G.


      • Dan Bazarian says:

        The connection I was suggesting was Billy Pearson/Black Dahlia//John Huston/George Hodel. Bully Pearson won the $64,000 question quiz show. He was an Art collector, race horse jockey, and friends with Actor John Huston. Although, my Dad never revealed his friends name.


      • lmharnisch says:

        This may be a difficult idea to accept for people who have gone off the deep end with the Dr. George Hodel scenario, but there isn’t any evidence whatsoever that he knew Elizabeth Short.

        There is no connection other than Steve Hodel’s deeply held resolve to make it true. There is nothing. Really. All the conjecture, all the speculation, all the mumbo jumbo about the photographs that Steve Hodel found in his father’s belongings. It’s all fiction. None of it is true. There is no connection and wishful thinking cannot make any of it true.

        Liked by 1 person

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