A Death In the Family – "There's Mischief Afoot?"

In physical appearance, I favor my mother’s side of the family.  The Harvey’s (U.K.) and the Boyles (Cork County, Ireland) from whom I also inherited my thirsty Irish genes.

From my boyhood, I remember my grandfather, Charles Eugene Harvey as a bear of a man, with snow white hair and a big smile, but that’s about all.

Mostly, I remember my mother’s stories about him. Her father was born in Pittsburg, PA. He was one of six brothers, four of whom worked in the coal mines. Mother would frequently retell us three sons the story of how at the turn of the century, these six brothers, all over six-feet tall, would walk into a bar-room, order “sarsaparilla” (a non-alcoholic precursor to “Root Beer”) and look around the room just daring anyone make a snide remark or  snicker. Tough, coalminers all.

Mother was born in 1906, in New York’s Central Park West. Three-years later, the family moved west to Los Angeles. Grandfather, got a job with the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper as a linotype operator, where he worked until retirement. His second career began after his divorce from grandmother, when he started teaching printing at Hollywood High School. At age 62, he washed his hands of the printer’s ink, and in semi-retirement, donned the uniform of a doorman, complete with gold buttons and epaulets, at one of  Hollywood’s fancy hotels. 

Mother had a tremendous love for her father. She spoke proudly of the chess-playing atheist who was a voracious reader, a liberal, a thinker and a scholar.  She affectionately described him as a lover of people and life.  

My favorite anecdote about grandfather was the story mother told us about when he was a hotel doorman in Hollywood.  At the hotel he met a woman, who was staying as a long-term guest.  Everyday grandfather would be there to open the door for her as she came and went. The woman was a writer, and being kindred spirits–naturally, they became friends.

One day, she checked out of the hotel and returned to the East. During her stay at the hotel, she had written a play. In November, 1944, it premiered on Broadway. It was a smash hit and ran for nearly five-years. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1945. The name of the playwright? Mary Chase. Her play? HARVEY. Based on her friendship and affection for grandfather, the friendly hotel doorman, she honored him by naming her pooka, the invisible 6-6″ rabbit, after him! 

It would be nice to end our story about Grandfather Harvey here on this high-note. However, like most twist and turns in my ongoing investigation, it seems there is always something MORE….








In the past ten-years, strangely enough, I had never done any research into my grandfather’s life. A few months ago, I decided to order his death certificate. Here’s what I discovered:


 The facts surrounding my grandfather’s death appeared clear and simple.  Apparently, on a cold winter morning in December, 1949, he suffered a heart attack at his residence, The Vine Manor Hotel, 1814 N. Vine St., in Hollywood. From there, he was rushed to a nearby medical facility where he died, two hours later. His attending physician,arrived and indicated he had last seen his patient some two-weeks prior on Dec. 9th. The doctor noted a ten-year medical history of “arteriosclerotic heart disease.” Obviously, the death was from “natural causes” and the doctor when filling out the death certificate checked off “no autopsy to be performed.” My grandfather’s body was cremated three days later without further ceremony. End of story.  Well, not quite.

“I fear this means that there is some mischief afoot.”                                                  

                               Sherlock Holmes in, The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

When I first saw my grandfather’s death certificate my eyes were instantly drawn to the distinctive hand-printed block lettering entered by the doctor in the Cause of Death section. I believed I recognized the handwriting. From there, my eyes flashed to the bottom signature line for confirmation– “G. Hill Hodel M.D.”

So, from the death certificate we learn that not only was George Hodel claiming to be Charles Harvey’s “attending physician” and was at the medical facility soon after grandfather’s initial heart attack but, he also instantly took charge of the body and ordered, ” no autopsy to be conducted,” insuring cremation without any examination or lab tests.


My next surprise was when I read the actual date of death – December 23, 1949.  A date already familiar to me from my own investigation. Why? Because that is the very day that Dr. George Hill Hodel was acquitted by a jury of felony child molestation and incest, charges that, for most who knew him and had followed the trial, were convinced would be sending him to prison for a very long time. (Even my father believed he would be convicted. In a conversation with house-roomer, Joe Barrett just days before the verdict, dad reflected on prison life, saying to Joe, “It won’t be so bad. I’ll be able to read and perhaps work in the hospital.”)



 Some will say these set of facts are nothing more than “coinicidence.”   That may well be the case.

But, let us consider several more known facts.  1) According to both my grandmother and mother, Charles Harvey hated George Hodel. He hated my father because of how dad physically and psychologically abused his daughter, Dorothy. That being the case, he certainly would not have allowed George to be his personal physician. 2) Mother knew the truth of father’s crimes, and most probably had related them to the man she loved most- her father. Grandfather knew some if not all of the details and very likely was aware that Elizabeth Short had been to the Franklin House and had dated George. Despite the jury “not guilty” verdict that very morning, Charles Harvey was still a danger and threat to George. Perhaps, hearing the unjust verdict, grandfather became enraged and threatened to go to the police with what he knew? 3) As we well know, George Hodel had a history of silencing those who threatened his freedom. How?  By drugging them! There was Ruth Spaulding in ’45, where LAPD was convinced he overdosed her, but couldn’t prove it. Then Lillian Lenorak in ’50, drugged unconscious and a staged “attempted suicide.” I’m also convinced that Elizabeth Short and others were drugged before he killed them. But, back to grandfather. How easy would it have been for George  to have given him a “hot shot” say, amphetamine, which with his bad heart would have readily induced a  “cerebral hemorrhage”, coma and death. This followed-up by George claiming that grandfather was his patient and within hours of the death, his  filling out the death certificate as “by natural causes- no autopsy.”  George as usual,  was in complete control.

The really “perfect crimes” are those that are never detected. This could well be such a case.

We will never really know. But, certainly based on what we now know about my father’s M.O., we certainly must, at the very least–consider the possibility.





  1. Kelly on June 2, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Steve- I remember a story mom told me about how she and he were traveling and encountered a champion chess player who challenged Grandpa Harvey to a chess game. Although he looked like a chess player, according to mom, he did not play chess at all. However, he told the chess champ, he never played with amateurs but if he played his daughter and won, he would consider playing him. He played mom and she won, leaving the champ with an undying appreciation of Grandpa’s chess prowess.

  2. Steve Hodel on June 2, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Thanks bro! I’ll pass it on to my readers.
    (Attn. Readers- Above comment is from “Kelly” (Kelvin) my full brother, who also lives in L.A.)

  3. Kathy on June 4, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    What a chilling discovery… Such an incredible number of facets to this story!

  4. Donna /Pesty on June 14, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Hi there Steve!
    Man, I have said it before and I’ll say it again, you are incredible and awesome!!!
    I can hardly wait for Book No.2, also the “real” movie!
    Keep on “stunning” everyone.

  5. Steve Hodel on June 14, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Back at you Donna! Thanks for the great book on weight loss. Much appreciated. I sauteed it in garlic butter, slow roasted it at 325′ for four hours and ate it for dinner. Delicious! To paraphrase Orson Welles, “My doctor has insisted I stop having these fancy dinners for four, unless I invite three others to attend.”

  6. Debra Kaufman on January 19, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Hi Steve – I don’t know if this interests you, but my grandparents owned the Vine Manor Hotel on Vine where your grandfather lived.
    Let me know if you want more info about the hotel, which has been demolished.
    Debra Kaufman

  7. Steve Hodel on January 25, 2010 at 1:13 am

    Thanks for the email info. Interesting bits of history. I’ll try and post your follow-up info for readers soonest.

  8. Yolanda Kissinger on August 13, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Mr. Hodel – Did you ever do any research to see if your father continued killing after he left the United States?

  9. Steve Hodel on August 13, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Yolanda: Yes, in my sequel, MOST EVIL (Dutton 2009) I present circumstantial evidence to a “Black Dahlia” copycat crime that I believe he committed in 1967 in Manila, just a few miles from his residence. That victim was also surgically bisected by a skilled surgeon and posed on a vacant lot.
    Rgds, steve

  10. nicole on September 19, 2012 at 12:50 am

    Hi Steve, My name is Nicole, i think im related to you. im trying to find out more about my family history. my grandfather kept his family history very quiet and we never knew too much. he mentioned to my mother about a murder that happened in his family. im 20 years old and i think its time i learn about my family since its such a mystery! i wasnt expecting to learn of such a tragedy and my heart goes out to all the victims.i would love to connect with you more to see if we are related, and to converse more about this subject. maybe you can help me put all the pieces together. regards, nicole

  11. Steve Hodel on September 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Hi Nicole:
    If you want to email me the information you have as to why you think we are related I can look at it and let you know if anything seems to connect. Email me at steve@stevehodel.com All Best, Steve

  12. Lilian M. on October 7, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    dear Mr. Hodel:
    I just read your book “Most Evil”; I have always been interested in criminal forensics ever since I read “Mostly Murder” by Sir Sydney Smith as a child, and I am also a BIG fan of Sherlock Holmes. I would absolutely agree, after studying the evidence you presented,that the evidence tying your father to these horrific crimes is unquestionably damning (I would even go so far as to say “prety much conclusive”), and I hope that at least SOME DNA testing can be brought to bear on it, in order to remove the last molecule of doubt!
    It is ironic in the last degree, of course, that you should have become a top-notch police detective, but it is an observable phenomenon that in the last analysis, a good policeman shares many similarities with the criminals he pursues;the difference being that he uses those traits for “good” instead of “evil”.
    I have one more question: Would you happen to know if G. Hodel was ever involved in “the occult” in any way? The only reference to any such thing was that business about his victims becoming his “slaves” in the afterlife; I would be curious to know if you ever stumbled across any other evidence of ‘occult involvement’ because there were a number of things mentioned in the book that obliquely indicated that G. Hodel might well have been part of such sinister doings. Aleister Crowley, John Whiteside Parsons, and L. Ron Hubbard were all active in that scene in Los Angeles in the thirties and forties.

  13. Steve Hodel on October 7, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Dear Lilian: Thank you for the kind words. Much appreciated. As to your question. I cannot say for sure if he was ever actively involved in the Occult. My personal belief is No, as he was not a “joiner” to any “isms.” In our communications over the many decades it was obvious that he was a man of science. He had no patience for “Eastern Thought, Astrology, Spiritualism, all of which he considered the stuff of charlatans. On the other hand, I could easily see him going to and participating in them strictly for the “fringe benefits.” Such as, meeting women, free and open sex, and meeting and seducing the “true believers.” As we know, he was a hedonist of the First Order. But never have heard of him having any direct contact with Parsons, Hubbard, or Crowley. He may have known them through his Pasadena/Cal Tech connections? I do know a close friend of dad’s, Baron Ernst von Harringa did associate with W.T. Smith who ran the Thelema Church in Pasadena and was a disciple of Crowley. As far as the “owning slaves in Paradice” reference, my guess is that if GHH was Zodiac that he used that simply as a ruse and likely learned of it because he and his Filipina wife owned a sugar plantation in the South Philippines, (Negros, Occidental) which is where authorities claim the belief originated. You might want to check out my website blogs at http://www.stevehodel.com for further references on these matters. Best, Steve

  14. Patricia Kennedy on January 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Steve… Just finished your second book ” Most Evil” and # 3 is on it’s way to me as we speak. I am fascinated by the case & convinced of your father’s guilt .
    Before your first book, I have always been fascinated by the Black Dahlia case ..I grew up hearing my mother talk about it.
    I hope your evidence is one day used to prove who the real murderer was …

  15. Steve Hodel on January 15, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Patricia: Thanks for the comment. Yes, a fascinating case. You will find a lot of new evidence in BDA II. Best, Steve

  16. Carol on January 19, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    I know that your mother testified for your father in the Tamar incest case and then to read about your grandfather’s death in such a suspicious manner…. I am just curious if your mother ever spoke to you about your father? As a mother myself it’s hard to imagine putting a child’s safety second to someone that was abusing them. I can’t say it’s impossible (Lord knows I went through something similar with my own mother). I wish the best for you.

  17. Steve Hodel on January 19, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Carol: Thank your for the email and comment. No our mother never spoke regarding any of the events from the past surrounding the trial. As far as I know she never actually testified at the incest trial as a witness for either the prosecution or defense. (Possible, but I’ve never seen her name on any court documents related to the incest trial.) As we know, she did give an interview to Lt. Jemison three months later, but pretty much stonewalled him on his questions and outright lied to him about father’s ability and skill as a surgeon, claiming he was just in “administration” which was his current position. She never spoke to us of any criminality on our father’s part, taking all she knew, to the grave. Thanks for your email and kind words.

  18. sea on March 4, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Hello Steve: I believe I might be a new fan/follower. Several months ago, I stumbled upon a YouTube short of a round table discussion regarding new evidence in the Black Dahlia case, I’m guessing you were among the men in attendance. I was born in the early 50’s in Los Angeles, but heard very little regarding her murder. Soon after my viewing the short film, I did a brief web search and discovered more details regarding Ms Shorts death, viewing the photographs of her remains and learning the location where she was found. I was a little alarmed to learn that the location was a street I frequented throughout my life up until a few years ago, having relocated to the east coast. Her story needled at me for sometime to the point I spoke aloud as if speaking to Miss Short, “go to the light and find peace.” I like to mention here, normally I do not go around talking to thin air and I think I’m pretty well adjusted mentally, however, I do believe we are spirits. Anyway, a couple of weeks later and a couple of weeks ago there was a brief article on yahoo news regarding the investigation and discussion of new evidence or theories. Ok, this is not too unusual right, ?. Well, three days ago, I began writing a brief autobiography which is part of a university admissions application. I thought I mentioned the dance troupes I studied under as a child in the late 50′ thru mid 60′. I could not remember the correct name spelling of one of my dance teacher, so I googled what I thought was the correct spelling. Not only did I get the correct spelling, but learned that she was Karoon Tootikian, the dancer who had been mentioned in the police/eye witness report. This is all a strange change of events for me. She lived on Highland, about mid-point between Franklin House and the location off of Crenshaw. Karoon passed away a decade or so ago. She was an excellent dancer and had made a name for herself in the dance world. Ms. Short’s death and the investigation around it is alluring. Because of how the story has come to my awareness in several ways I will be buying your books. I hope you will share what you know of Karoon with me. Thank you

  19. Steve Hodel on March 4, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Yes, small world.
    Probably best since you’re planning on reading the books, to see how it all
    unfolds through the investigation.
    Suggest you read Black Dahlia Avenger, HarperCollins paperback of July 2006
    first. That is updated and has two additional chapters, including the
    connection/mention of Karoon Tootikian, who was a good friend to Lillian
    Lenorak, and mentioned in the section re. officer Mary Unkefer and events
    that occurred at the Sowden/Franklin House in January, 1950.
    Lillian also was a dancer and studied with Karron in Hollywood.
    Once you finish the first book, you can read BDA II, which was published in
    2012 and adds six more years of investigation to the story. (The second
    book, MOST EVIL, relates to other crimes outside LA, so not necessary to
    read unless you want to after finishing the two BDA books. No mention in
    that book of Karron T.)
    You can also find a lot of information here at my website blogs and the FAQ section here.
    Lot to digest, so good luck with all of it. Steve

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