Black Dahlia: Steve Hodel’s Many Lies About His Father, Dr. George Hodel

Your Theory Is Junk in cutout lettersSomeone asked me to write a one-paragraph rebuttal to Steve Hodel’s claims about his father, Dr. George Hodel. My reply:

Steve Hodel has been lying about his father and the Black Dahlia for nearly 20 years, so it’s impossible to put a rebuttal into one paragraph, but here goes.

Six Reasons George Hodel Didn’t Kill Elizabeth Short.

Woman's photo and text 'Definitely Not Betty'
“Retired homicide detective discovers dead dad is serial killer” is a great elevator pitch. But it’s a lie. All of it. All of it? Yes. All. Of. It. The slew of books and updates, the TV interviews, the magazine articles, the talks, the blog. And the podcasts. All of it is a lie. It is a massive, massive lie — almost 20 years in the making.  Lie upon lie upon lie. The average person who knows nothing of the Black Dahlia case cannot imagine the magnitude of Steve Hodel’s lies. You wouldn’t think someone would be capable of fabricating so many falsehoods.

His claim, in essence, is this: Multiple law enforcement agencies in an investigation involving hundreds of officers and detectives covered up a terrible murder and in fact allowed a known serial killer to continue murdering because:

He. Knew. Who. Had. VD.

So VD is worse than murder, right?

Understand: You have to be a good liar to be a cop: You have to lie to witnesses to make them think you know more than you do. You have to lie to suspects to make them think you have more evidence than you’ve got and obtain a confession. You may have to lie or misrepresent to a judge to get a search warrant (ever read a Harry Bosch book?). Being a good liar is an essential part of the cop’s toolbox. Steve Hodel lies confidently, he lies with self-assurance and he lies with impunity, because that’s how a cop lies.

Wikipedia statistics on George Hodel Page
Steve Hodel has contributed 23% of George Hodel’s Wikipedia page.

Where Steve Hodel goes wrong is that he lies all the time and he lies about everything involving his dad being a killer. Take George Hodel’s Wikipedia page. Who is one of the top authors? Steve Hodel. Who has edited it the most? Steve Hodel. Is that against Wikipedia’s rules? Of course. Has he been warned? Of course. Does he do it anyway? Of course. Welcome to the world of Steve Hodel’s lies.

Wikipedia’s warning to Steve Hodel about potential conflict of interest – ignored, of course.

Start with George Hodel’s supposed photos of Elizabeth Short — they’re not her. Who says so? Her family. Without those photos Steve Hodel has nothing, which is why he keeps dredging up more “related” cases  and continues to find “new evidence” based on technobabble about “thoughtprints.” The foundation of his case is a lie. He will try to talk his way around the photos and say they don’t matter. Because that’s how cops lie when they are confronted with hard, cold evidence. The photos aren’t her and without them he has nothing.

Dr. George Hill Hodel had no connection to Elizabeth Short. None.

Did George Hodel say “supposin’ I killed the Black Dahlia?” Of course he did. He was a smart guy and he was baiting the cops who had installed bugging equipment in his house a few hours before. Make an absolutely absurd, outlandish claim to see if they will react. And they did nothing — because they knew he was baiting them.

Wikipedia statistics on George Hodel Page
Steve Hodel is the top editor of his father’s Wikipedia page. Conflict of interest much?

What are Steve Hodel’s other lies? Let me catalog some of them: His dad wasn’t rich. His dad wasn’t influential. His dad had no admitting privileges at any hospital, he wasn’t an accredited surgeon (meaning no hospital would let him operate) and in fact had the minimum surgical training to graduate from medical school. (Note: The “hemicorporectomy” surgery that Steve Hodel claims his dad was taught in medical school didn’t exist then. Another lie).

Was George Hodel friends with Ben Hecht? The Hecht archive hasn’t a word about him. Was his murder buddies with Man Ray? There’s nothing in the Man Ray archives to indicate anything more than a superficial business relationship.

The John Huston letters tell a much different story than the one Steve Hodel paints by distorting and manipulating the correspondence between Huston and Steve’s mother. The Herrick Library’s rules forbid posting the letters (which I have) online, which allows Steve Hodel to manipulate the texts in whatever way he wants — a typical Steve Hodel ploy. He exploits uninformed, gullible readers.

Ruth Spaulding, Dr. George Hodel’s secretary, committed suicide. But Steve Hodel has concocted a bizarre scenario in which George Hodel “forced her to commit suicide” with an overdose of sleeping pills. All because she “knew about billing irregularities.” All a lie. All. Of. It.

And wow does he cherry-pick his quotes.

Watch the master liar at work:


Yes, “Had trouble with one spool” becomes “I’m in trouble.” Because no one will ever fact-check retired homicide Detective Steve Hodel.

A total fraud.

George Hodel was never suspected of killing his secretary, who committed suicide. His clients were poor Blacks living in segregated L.A., not the wealthy elite.

He did NOT rape Tamar Hodel. She made up the charges against him and thirteen boys at Hollywood High to get even with George Hodel for being sent to L.A. from the Bay Area.

Why did Tamar want revenge on her father? Because she was an incorrigible teenager; her mom couldn’t handle her any more, mainly because Tamar was lying about men molesting her.

And no, George Hodel didn’t run an abortion ring and was in fact opposed to abortions. Who said so? Tamar Hodel, who was mad at her father because he wouldn’t allow her to get an abortion. I can hear you saying “Wait, that’s not what Steve Hodel says.” Of course not. That’s in the original newspaper coverage, which most people haven’t read.

George Hodel wasn’t Zodiac. That’s a lie. He didn’t kill Suzanne Degnan. That’s a lie. Steve Hodel even lies about the district attorney’s report on the case.


He claims that the investigator, Frank Jemison, was a “white hat” who was ordered to turn over files to the LAPD and kept backup copies for Steve to magically find 50 years later in pristine condition. NOT EVEN REMOTELY TRUE. The D.A.’s final report said the investigation of George Hodel “tend to eliminate this suspect.” Steve will try to talk his way around this and say the investigator “was ordered” to write that and “was ordered” to turn over files. You guessed it. Even more Steve Hodel lies.

But don’t just take my word for it. Who else says George Hodel didn’t do it? The LAPD, which broke its silence on the Black Dahlia case to say that there was nothing to Steve Hodel’s claims or anyone else’s. Of course, Steve has to blame that on the “continuing cover-up” at the LAPD rather than admit that he’s lying.


George Hodel was under surveillance for a little more than five weeks and eliminated as a suspect. Not because he was wealthy. Not because he was influential. But because the investigators determined that he didn’t do it. And Steve Hodel has spent almost 20 years building a massive structure of lies — all based on the foundation of two photographs that he says are Elizabeth Short. And aren’t.

After almost 20 years, Steve Hodel shows no signs of stopping the lies. But really, folks, it is time to stop falling for his nonsense. Be a fact-checkers and gatekeepers, not megaphones for Steve Hodel’s lies.

About lmharnisch

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

10 Responses to Black Dahlia: Steve Hodel’s Many Lies About His Father, Dr. George Hodel

  1. Sylvia E. says:

    Excellent Larry.

    Hope it pops the bubble, finally. At least this reality check is out there.


  2. Eve says:

    Unfortunately, I have found, people will always continue to believe the bright shiny lies: Lupe Velez drowned in her toilet! Cass Elliott choked on a ham sandwich! Marilyn was murdered!


  3. Stephen Powers says:

    The most rough and tumble take down of title pretender Steve Hodel that has ever been written. Hodel has been so thoroughly debunked and exposed that he shall henceforth be known as one of the greatest con men in publishing history.


      • Stephen Powers says:

        This may be hard to believe but Hodel has now pinned 49 murders on his father. New books are out – “The Early Years” (perhaps he thought of “Most Evil: Eviler” but passed) – and apparently he is assisting with the production of a decades-spanning miniseries.


      • lmharnisch says:

        Only 49?

        In my spare time, I’m writing a parody of the Dr. George Hodel franchise. I call it “Wings of Evil” and it’s about “Dr. George Hill Stodel” and his role in the so-called “disappearance” of Amelia Earhart — the ultimate “Solo Female Disappearance.” Case SOLVED!


      • Stephen Powers says:

        Oh I’m sure many of them were solved or attributed to other killers, but the more lurid, the better. I commend you on your parody. There will be some who believe it to be true of course which could be fun as they turn up new connections. The Steve Hodel mythology making machine is becoming so grand that in reference to film theory, it reminds me of the great rush to “solve the true meaning” of Stanley Kubrik’s The Shining. They even say he faked the 1969 Apollo moon landing on a soundstage and The Shining was his apology – in code, of course, but that is is “all there” for those with eyes to see.


      • lmharnisch says:

        Actually, it was George Hodel who faked the moon landing. From his remote base in the Philippines. Case SOLVED!


      • Stephen Powers says:

        Ha! Too much! But then, he was an evil genius.


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