LAPD Chief Thad Brown, The Black Dahlia, and “Thoughtprints”- Modus Operandi (M.O.) in the 21st Century

June 8, 2017
Los Angeles, California
Thoughtprint:  The motive within a thought.  The ridges, loops, and whorls of the mind, which like the “points” found in a fingerprint, contain the potential to link an individual to a specific time, place, crime, or victim.
                                                                       Steve Hodel
(Term originally coined by author in his first book, Black Dahlia Avenger (2003)
Photo was taken in 1966 in front of LAPD Parker Center “The Glass House.”

Officer Steve Hodel        Chief Thad Brown
The above photograph was taken in 1966, in front of what was then known as the LAPD’s, PAB (Police Administration Building). Shortly after this photo was taken, it was renamed Parker Center in honor of Chief William H. Parker. Immediately after Parker’s death in 1966, then Chief of Detectives, Thad Brown was named as Los Angeles’ interim chief of police. (This was standard for a high-ranking officer to be selected and assume temporary command, while other staff officers prepared to compete for the exam, orals and permanent selection.)
In 1966, with only three years on the job, I was a rookie officer working Hollywood Patrol and was sent, along with a dozen other officers from Hollywood Division, to attend Thad Brown’s swearing in ceremony in the police auditorium.
Immediately after the ceremony, a photographer approached me in the lobby as I was walking out the front door and asked, “Officer, Would you like to have your picture taken with the new chief?”  Surprised and honored I readily agreed, and Chief Brown smiled as we walked out in front of the building where this photograph was taken. About three weeks later, I received this copy through the Inter-Department mails. I threw it in a box and forgot about it
The photo had no real meaning or significance to me, other than the obvious honor of being with the chief. However, we now know it had tremendous meaning and import to Thad Brown. He knew then, what I would not discover for another 35-years. Thad Brown KNEW I was the son of the Black Dahlia killer, and he just could not resist the “photo-op.”
It would not be until after the completion of my investigation and the publication of my first book om 2003 that we would learn from an LAPD reserve officer, about the conversation between Thad Brown and actor Jack Webb, his close friend who played, LAPD’s Sgt. Joe Friday. In that confidential conversation, Thad Brown disclosed to Jack Webb, “We know who killed the Black Dahlia. The case was solved. It was a doctor in Hollywood, who lived on Franklin Avenue.”  
Chief Brown’s statement made to his friend and drinking buddy; Jack Webb was his independent and separate confirmation of what we discovered locked away in the secret D.A. DAHLIA/HODEL Files, which identified Dr. George Hill Hodel, living in Hollywood at 5121 Franklin Avenue,  as the killer.
Those files opened in 2003 as a result of my investigation, named Dr. George Hodel as the Black Dahlia killer and contained his tape-recorded confession (146-pages of transcripts) to the murder of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short, as well as the murder of his personal secretary, Ruth Spaulding. (LAPD admitted they had investigated him in 1945 for her suspected murder, as a possible “forced overdose,” but were unable to obtain sufficient evidence for prosecution and the investigation remained listed as a “suicide” by pills.)
The secret tapes also contained Dr. Hodel’s admissions to “payoffs to Law Enforcement” and to performing illegal abortions at his clinic, as well as the real-time recording of a felony assault and or murder of an identified woman in the basement of the Franklin House residence.
In addition to LAPD Chief Thad Brown, three other high-ranking law enforcement officers connected to the original 1947 investigation would independently confirm in private conversations with friends and relatives that the case was “solved.”










Click Link below to PDF to read full definition of “Thoughtprints” which I provided to  Dr. Richard Walton in 2005 for his textbook, “Cold Case Homicides”
Link to PDF for thoughtprints Dr. Walton book


  1. I remember two brothers Mike and Matt Hodel who used to play at The Northeast YMCA in Eagle Rock after school in the early 80’s and their Dad picking them up in his LAPD car. Could that be you? If so, hope all is wel with them

  2. Lou Gable says:

    Hi Steve,

    Loved your book on the Black Dahlia. Was just thinking about the case yesterday after seeing Natalie Wood’s death is in the news again. Today I go to read the news and see your father’s house was sold. The secrets that place must hold.

    • Hi Lou: Thanks. Glad you liked the read. Yes, lot more focus on the Franklin/Sowden House as the actual Crime Scene in BDA II (Thoughtprint Press 2014 ed.) Will be updating that book with ten new chapters in a few months. Best, Steve

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