On the morning of February 15, 1950 the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office investigators interviewed Dr. George Hill Hodel at their downtown office in the Hall of Justice. He was detained and questioned at length. Simultaneous to his detention, a team of electronic experts from both the DA and LAPD had secretly entered (burgled) and were installing several microphones in the walls of his private residence, “The Sowden/Franklin House.” The officers then ran a phone line from the residence to the basement of Hollywood Police Station where they would monitor and tape-record the conversations.
These were live microphones (not a phone tap) and were meant to listen to and record live conversations coming from both his home office and bedroom. The surveillance consisted of a joint taskforce of 18 detectives from LAPD and the DA’s office. In charge was, Lt. Frank B. Jemison, who had been assigned by the 1949 Grand Jury to reinvestigate the then two-year-old unsolved Black Dahlia Murder. (For the grand jury to give such an order was unheard of and to my knowledge this is the only time in the history of L.A. law-enforcement that such an action has ever occurred.)
The surveillance (both physical and electronic) of George Hodel as “the prime suspect” lasted 40 days and involved over 40 wire recordings, which contained over 1000 man hours of surveillance. (LAPD has recently announced that all of the DA tapes have “disappeared.) What remains are the DA Hodel transcripts, consisting of 146-typed-pages, which are the officers’ verbatim entries during their stakeout in the basement of Hollywood Police Station, where they monitored and recorded the conversations.
I am here providing the actual detectives entries as they appear on the transcripts with no editing so their misspellings and phonetic entries (“Baron Herringer”instead of Harringa etc.) are as they appear in the original pages. Separate to and below the actual conversations I have annotated the transcripts with explanations and identification of persons, when pertinent.
The 146-pages of transcript are here reduced to 15-pages of what I consider to be the most important conversations. I here provide them in PDF format for your review. Keep in mind that these are the detectives’ entries and represent only a brief description of what was actually spoken in the conversations, which naturally would have been a much lengthier discussions. (For example, in one of the later conversations the officer merely writes, “Hodel talking about the Black Dahlia,” leaving the details of what was said, to be listened to at a later time.)
BDA II Chap 6 DA transcripts (6 MB file – please be patient while the transcripts download)