Posted in: Crime

Black Dahlia Murder: Retired Detective Tries To Prove His Dad Was The Killer [Video]

The investigation into the grisly murder of Elizabeth Short, called the Black Dahlia, is ongoing thanks to the efforts of Steve Hodel

In 1947, the body of Elizabeth Short was found in an empty park. She had been severed in two by what appeared to be a surgeon’s hand. She gained the name “Black Dahlia,” and has since been notarized as the oldest cold case in the history of the Los Angeles Police Department.

But retired detective Steve Hodel cannot let the case go; he wants to gather enough evidence to see the case declared closed. While he received accolades for his work on the case a decade ago — and even published a book with the contents of his findings — he has a personal vendetta against the killer.

The suspected murdered is Dr. George Hodel, Steve’s father.

Steve Hodel recently received the opportunity to return to the Hollywood mansion where he believes the murder took place. He was accompanied by Paul Dostie and Dostie’s search dog, Buster.

The body of Elizabeth Short, 22, had been severed in two with surgical skill, leading early investigators to conclude that the killer had some sort of medical training. Yet there was no trace of blood in the empty Leimert Park lot where the body was found. Detectives believed she must have been killed elsewhere.

Hodel concluded that she was killed in his childhood home, a distinct Hollywood mansion designed by the famous architect Lloyd Wright. The Sowden House was where Dr. Holden had made his family’s home. Steve Hodel concluded early on that he and his siblings were away with their mother at the time of the grisly murder.

While the District Attorney General agreed to re-open the case due to Steve’s evidence, Steve doesn’t just want to case re-opened. He wants it closed. At the top of the decades-old files was a picture of Dr. Hodel. He had been the prinicpal suspect in the case, but abandoned his family and relocated to Asia before he could be charged.

Hodel knew from early police reports that a woman’s screams had been heard coming from the house’s unfinished basement. When Hodel and Dostie arrived at the house last November, the floor of the basement was still dirt.

While Dostie let Buster wander, the dog picked up traces of human remains in four areas. While it is possible that the ground could have shifted over time — meaning, the murder could have taken place in a field out behind the house.

Steven Hodel is still waiting on lab results to find the exact location of the young woman’s untimely murder.

In 2011, the popular American Horror Story wove the Black Dahlia story through its popular episodes. While the show’s version of the Black Dahlia dies during an ill-fated dental procedure, the real-life Short ultimately died from blood lost from horrific facial lacerations. Short was also wrongly accused of bringing her death upon herself, labeled by the media at the time as a promiscuous “bad girl.” Her family and friends, however, claimed that the young aspiring actress did not drink, smoke, swear, or readily date.

Do you think that the Black Dahlia case is better left cold, or is Steve Hodel’s venture to officially close the case a worthy one?

[Image via Shutterstock]

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40 Responses to “Black Dahlia Murder: Retired Detective Tries To Prove His Dad Was The Killer [Video]”

  1. Larissa Adriazola

    I wonder if there were more murders like that around that time. This isolated murder was way too produced to be just a one-time event.

  2. Larissa Adriazola

    I wonder if there were more murders similar to that aound that time. This murder was way too produced just to be a one-time event.

  3. Teresa Garcia

    A murder is murder, everyone deserves to have their case closed. She was a person, someone's daughter and friend. If we have scientist's spend so damn much money finding reasons of why a dinosaur died, she deserves to have closure.

  4. Geraldine Romano Westfall

    There were several other murders of woman made by Dr. Hodel, in the time period, The Dahlia was the most brutal and most publicized, also a murders in the Midwest, and Asia, where Dr. Hodel was. Read the Books, excellently done

  5. Geraldine Romano Westfall

    She was his GYN patient and Lover, Jealously, rage, betrayal was motive, Dr. Hodel was a true Psychopathic Genius, with a high IQ, gifted as a child, but he choose the evil ways

  6. Heather Ann Beres

    Apparently not. I remember reading all about this because I was fascinated and supposedly after this occurred there have not been any more murders that were similar to this, like how her body was severed in half and had a carved smile into her face.

  7. Dinorah Yvette N. Perez

    keep the case open, althought is a mistery her killing.

  8. Rick Michael

    thank you. I once worked in mental health and was always surprised with the high IQ of the mentally ill. Some felt they were superior to the world around them. Explains a lot about him.

  9. Christopher Brosnahan

    I read the book, "Most Evil", Evidently Steve Hodel's dad, George, was a serial killer who truly enjoyed what he did…Steve Hodels lays out the evidence (circumstancial to be sure) that his father was also the notorious Zodiac Killer – nowhere in this article no I see THAT mentioned. Thus the title of "Most Evil" – you must read the book to appreciate the entire story.
    CB in FL.

  10. Samie Sealynn

    Holy shit. Please re-open this case. I want to see it closed :D And who actually did it! Everyone deserves their actual peace of mind and justice.. The distant family both dead/alive deserve closure.

  11. Christopher Brosnahan

    Don't know if my original post went through. Steve Hodel's book is more about identifyuing his father, George as the notorious Zodiac Killer, AS WELL AS the killer of the Black Dahlia, thius the title, "Most Evil". I read the book about two years ago…rather than try to reconstruct it rfrom memory, just rent the book from your library – or download it (my theory is that within a generation, no one will know what a library is or WAS). Dr George Hodel, according to his son,( a retired LA homicide detective), truly MOST EVIL….READ the BOOK!

    CB in FL.

  12. Raevyn Raelynn

    In his book, Hodel lists a dozen or so other murders that took place at around the same time and that he believes may be connected.

  13. Anonymous

    I agree…in respect to her and her family, this case needs closure. If they believe they have REAL evidence proving his father did this, it needs to be brought out. But if his motivation is ONLY to get books published and make money, then I say let her be…

  14. Anonymous

    Murder is murder I don't care the time frame. This young woman deserves all chances that her murder could be solved. She could possibly still have a living relative who remembers her and needs the closure. No one deserves what happened to her, the terror of knowing she was going to die, hopefully and mercifully she was dead before the mutilation.

  15. Kevin Smith

    It has been stated that genius borders on insanity. I believe that in Dr. Hodel's case, it crossed the border and kept on going.

  16. Larissa Adriazola

    So, sooo creepy. I wonder how can a person be so evil? Just to go through all that work with the sole purpose to cause pain.

  17. Greg Zimmerman

    his son, Steve Hodel, the L.A. detective that wants this brought out into the open and known. the title of the book is: Most Evil. some think dr. Hodel is both the Zodiac killer and killer of the Black Dahlia.

  18. Emily Pansy Chick

    She did not ultimately die from horrific facial lacerations. Her body was cut in half, her breasts mutilated, a chunk of her flesh from her leg was placed inside of her and her face had more damage than just the lacerations. There was much more going on there besides that gruesome Glasgow smile….just do a Google pictures search.

  19. Sandra Esposito

    If he truly believes this and evidence proves it then yes it should be closed. But in the end all things point back to the dr. I don't see a son wanting to prove his father commited murder unless he did. If there is a body count that is not just a coincidence. Think about it if he had not taken off to Asia he would have been arrested and tried. At this point the thing is to give closure to the family. Chances are his father is deceased. And it is a matter of finality They actually had a picture of what was done to her naked for all to see. I think in the end it is wrong to do so because there should be a law that protects their memory and they can die with decency.

  20. Beth Nelson

    THE FOLLOWING IS HORRIBLY GRAPHIC, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED: I don't so much remember Hodel saying his Dad was also the Zodiac killer, but he DID maintain that his father was also the Lipstick Killer, who mutiliated some of his victims and wrote taunting messages on some of them in lipstick. The handwriting had significant similarities to the writing on the notes from the "Black Dahlia Avenger", who sent in her purse, driver's license and other items to police after. Writing matched George Hodel's, as well. ALSO (more graphic spoilers from book here, beware), the body of a ten year old girl was found in the sewer in New York, tortured, exsanguinated, and bisected in the same manor prior to Elizabeth Short's murder. I forget how long before, but George Hodel traveled extensively and was proven to be in New York at the same time as the girl's murder. Beth Short's body was displayed on a corner a block away from a street with this little girl's name. I think Steve suggested that George may have meant to leave Short there, but made a mistake in the pre-dawn darkness.
    I heard George Hodel interviewed on Coast to Coast AM, years ago. His presentation was thorough, facinating, and every point was backed up with evidence he had collected from places from home pictures to what was left of police evidence, which isn't much, all DNA and other key evidence vanished long ago. Dr. George Hodel treated police officials, local government officials and other famous and powerful people in the LA area for STDs, abortions, and other medical problems that in that era would have ruined them if word got out. He literally had who knows how many powerful people by the short hairs. He was a true genuis and had the power to get away with anything, and he did. There was a large photo book published around the same time as Steve Hodel's book, comparing the Surrealist Art at the time and the influence of the Surrealist movement to Short's murder and what was done to her body, pre and post mortem. WARNING! FOLLOWING IS VERY GRAPHIC, SICKENING AND HORRIBLE: This poor dreamchaser Beth Short was tortured beyond belief, including feces and her pubic hair found in her stomach and vaginal canal, and breast cut off. Autopsy photos suggest that more mutilation was done after her death in an attempt to turn her into a "work of surrealist art", but what appears to have been done while she was still alive is the worst in my opinion. From looking at the short messy cuts that severed her breast, it appears that it was mostly cut off while she struggled, as torture for amusement, then an efficient straight cut at the base to finish removal when the body was still. It also appears that after her pubic hair was removed, a scalpel or similar sharp instrument was used to "draw" the hair back into the skin. This is my opinion as the cuts look like decoration or illustration similar again to some Surrealist drawings, rather than random shredding…although they could have been done while she was alive for the fun of torture as well. I can almost imagine him raving to her about becoming his masterpiece while torturing her, before bashing her in the head again. Much of this suggests that someone else may have held her while he worked on her, or the pre-mortem lacerations should have been much more jagged and messy from struggle, much like the breast which was cut while she was alive and vertical. There were geometric shapes carved out of the meat of her body to further imitate known Surrealist sculptures and paintings. George was friends with Surrealist Artists and obsessed with being seen as a Surrealist of the highest order. She was not a human being to her killer, she was "clay", an art medium…after he could receive no more pleasure from torturing her, which was art to him as well. This man was so far beyond monstrous…a Ted Bundy with almost limitless power and money…he fled to China and served as Doctor to those in power there…I shudder to think of the "deconstruction", experiments, torture and slaughter on children and woment that he got away with there, that will never be outed. Mengele probably would have worshipped this guy, and this guy was obviously a follower of De Sade's most depraved writings. I identify with Elizabeth Short in so many ways, including sharing almost the same name, although her face was more striking and beautiful. I only wish they could bring George Hodel back to life and do the same thing to him that he did to his victims, most likely while soaring on cocaine and booze and in the highest state of power and ecstacy. But even that would not make a monster like him empathize, or undo the horror and grief he left as his legacy. Good job, Steve Hodel! May you receive some peace at last, and somehow have some joy in your life. May this sort of EVIL be destroyed forever one day, somehow…although I do believe it originates from a place far deeper and worse than just the Human Heart, from a Consiousness that would unmake all that is good. Beth Short, wherever your dreamchasing spirit is now, I pray you are happy and free, and more beautiful than ever. Amen.

  21. Beth Nelson

    I respect your opinion but I disagree. The body was a shell, the decomposing blood, organs and other fluids would leave much more decomposition evidence than the body, which would not have decayed but would have been somewhat preserved by the removal of insides, at least some of the insides. True, not all insides were removed. This was done by the Egyptians to preserve mummies as well. I agree that not all of Steve's evidence is hard, some of it is too much of a reach, but just the history of his father is monstrous on its own, he was a horrible person….and the other bits of suspicious activity sure pile up high after awhile. The timeline of his whereabouts is fascinating. Steve Hodel has not gotten rich from this, sure he made some money but if you just watch the guy you can see that's not his reason for the book. He looks like the more he digs into his father's past, the more it has dug into him. I have read Severed although it's been a while, will check out Black Dahlia Files. The Black Dahlia case and Ted Bundy's horrific activity both hint at a fascination and idealization of the writings of the Marquis de Sade. What is called S&M now would most likely be laughable to de Sade. "120 Days of Sodom" is a window into true Sadism, sick and horrific beyond belief…be warned if you try to read it: 70% poop party, 30% Ted Bundy Instruction manual. Nothing erotic here except to a coprophiliac, misogynist or serial killer. I commented above on a Photo Book released (I think before) around the same time as Steve Hodel's book, "Exquisite Corpse: Surrealism and the Black Dahlia Murder [Mark Nelson, Sarah Hudson Bayliss] " It is amazing. When I was a kid, I got into being a horror fan, and it all still fascinates me, fact and fiction, but all this, and a movie from France called IRREVERSABLE, are the borders where, for me, my examination of the darkness seems to see something looking back and laughing, and about the limit of what I can take. And sad and monstrous. Poor poor woman. Peace.

  22. Beth Nelson

    If this had happened to me, I would want the world to see and anything and everything exposed in the effort to dig out the killer, and perhaps contribute to a database on predators of this sort, to track them recognize them, and STOP THEM. True, most look out of curiosity, I'm not innocent of that. I was drawn to many things horrific at a young age because I had an insane home situation, and as a child, it comforted me in some strange way…I would say as a child to myself, "See, how much more scary and awful things could be?" But I don't watch Sybil or Mommy Dearest or stuff along those lines anymore, I get obsessed with wanting them to end differently. Having to live in terror makes terror familiar and almost comforting in a way. "the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know", something like that, but I think of all the times in my 20s that I went out alone and was just perfect prey if the right REAL monster came around, and it makes me shudder…not in a fun way. I don't know if I will, but I'd like to show these books to my teenage-college age nieces to MAKE SURE they understand what dangers are always around, now more than ever. Stay safe, but enjoy life and live triumphantly.