“Roll Call. Kuster, O’Steen, Manocchia, Souza, Jones, Everheart, …..”
As an occupation, nothing tops police work. Never routine. Every day brings something new and exciting. Working Homicide you’re guaranteed there will always be a new whodunit just around the corner. Maybe tonight, tomorrow, or next week. You don’t know when, but you do know it’s coming. (I think my old partner and I still hold the record at Hollywood. We were called in and investigated three separate unrelated murders on one weekend standby.)
It’s especially good when you’re teamed up with a savvy, street-smart partner! During my career, I was luckier than most and had more than my share of “the best.”
Since publication of BDA, I’ve learned that you don’t have to wear a gun or carry a badge to be a good detective. In the past ten-years, thanks to the power of the Internet, I’ve heard from scores of “arm chair detectives.” Their real day jobs? Secretary, librarian, bus driver, history professor, medical doctor, electrician. John and Jane Q. Citizens all. Many of these men and women possess an uncanny ability to think like a veteran detective and have provided invaluable insights into my ongoing investigations. Here is just one more example, an e-mail from Tom Davis, a patent-illustrator with a keen eye and photographic memory. Tom’s original e-mail was received in December, 2008, after I posted my initial findings in FAQ 75, on “Lloyd Wright and the Cement Sacks.”
December 5, 2008
A photo I have seen clearly shows yet another type of empty bag at the body site.
The bag says BANDINI which is a brand of fertilizer. It is just possible that a bit of garden and lawn repair was done to the Franklin property in addition to any architectural work, and this empty bag was discarded on 39th street along with the cement bags.
Tom goes on to say:
And there is yet another little mystery this fertilizer bag may clear up. The autopsy of Elizabeth’s body noted a mysterious “green granular material” inside her stomach. Could this stuff have been left over steer manure that she was forced to eat as part of an act of sado-humiliation? It’s my personal hunch. Such an ordeal may also have been meant to add a bit of surrealist wit to her death. It was a message: “This woman is was full of bullshit.”
As a former art student I learned that the surrealists sometimes expressed visual puns and this would have been a perfect example.
(Tom’s information resulted in me researching and summarizing my findings in FAQ 76, which focused on and confirmed his observation that BANDINI paper sacks were also found at the Elizabeth Short crime-scene. I will re-present most of that original information along with photographs and updated material here in this blog.)
After reading my recent blog post (Architect Lloyd Wright Letters at UCLA Links Dr. Hodel to Dahlia Crime Scene, June 11, 2009) Tom sent me a new e-mail (June 12, 2009) which in addition to complimenting me on my newly designed website, pointed to what he believed was an important error on my part, having to do with one specific paper-bag. I quote verbatim from Tom’s recent email:
“I also found one new exciting detail. On your website you show an enlarged portion of a photograph that you call a cement bag. In fact, if you study this blow-up very carefully you can just make out the letters “URE” as in “MANURE”. If I’m correct, and this bag is indeed a FERTILIZER bag, then you now have ABSOLUTE PROOF that BOTH cement AND fertilizer bags were used in the transport of Bette Short’s body to the dump site. Please look into this as I think it is of extreme importance. No longer can ANYONE pass the existence of these two types of bags at the scene as coincidence. Taken along with your own research into renovations at the Sowden House, it STRONGLY points to Hodel driving directly from the Sowden House to the dump site.”
Let’s reexamine several of the original crime-scene photographs in light of what Tom Davis has pointed out. First, in the upper left photo (below) we see what appear to be three separate paper sacks. The one on the extreme left is enlarged and does appear to read “URE” as in MANURE. This is the sack I labeled in my previous blog as Lt. Haskin’s “cement sack” which appears to have watery blood stains on it. Based on the evidence before us, I now believe Tom is correct and this bag contained manure, not cement.
Now let’s examine the picture on the right. Obviously this photo was taken earlier than the one on the left and from a different angle. This photo most probably is Lt. Haskin’s “cement bag” left by the suspect just inches from the body. Clearly in the pictures on the left the bag has been moved away from its original position, “A”. It may be the bag seen in position “B” or it could be moved out of view.
“URE” (MANURE?) Reporter Will Fowler (lower left) Det. Hansen (upper left) and unidentified criminalist at right.
More Crime Scene Photos
Now let’s examine a second set of crime scene photos in which I was able to compare and confirm Tom’s original December, 2008 suspicion of seeing a “Bandini paper bag at the crime scene.
Wide view of crime-scene. Red arrows point to multiple paper sacks both cement and manure
Photo below shows area to right of driveway enlarged. Clearly visible are the photographer’s equipment box and an empty paper bag which appears to read, “BANDINI.” (Rotated in lower photo for clearer picture) I have also inserted in the photo an L.A. Times display showing a 1947 bag of “Bandini Fertilite.”
Bandini Fertilite 1945 Bandini Steer Manure 1947
Above display ads are copied from the Los Angeles Times newspaper and show pictures of Bandini fertilizer sacks as they appeared in the mid-1940s. The Bandini lettering on side of bag corresponds to product label on the bag seen at crime-scene.
Based on the photographic evidence we can now confirm that both large cement and Bandini Steer Manure paper sacks were found at the crime-scene. (By my count, at least four separate sacks, possibly more?)
From my June 11th blog we know the importance of the cement bag as it connects to George Hodel and the Franklin House. But, what has that got to do with the Bandini fertilizer bags? Why are they important?
A Second Paper Trail
The answer again points us back to the Franklin House, to more Lloyd Wright-George Hodel work receipts– this time for “Gardening and Landscaping.”
Included in the UCLA Lloyd Wright-George Hodel Papers were additional receipts for renovation work completed between 1945-1947. Below we find an itemized billing list which includes, “Gardening – $230” and “Flower Box & bank planting- $60.00.” (Nearly, $300, just for landscaping, a sizable amount equal to approximately $3,000. in today’s dollars.)
Granted, unlike the cement bag receipts, which connected the cement work to the exact time of Elizabeth Short’s murder, the below receipts were presented a year earlier, in December, 1945. However, the gardening needs would have been ongoing and the receipts establish that there existed a large demand for fertilizer due to the extensive landscaping.
To fully understand the relevancy that in addition to the cement sack(s), George Hodel may have also used empty bags of “Bandini” steer manure in transporting the body parts from the Franklin House we must venture into the absolute horror of this crime.
“L.A’S MOST HORRIFIC MURDER EVER”–The Signature of a Master Sadist
The murder of 22-year-old, Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short lives in infamy because IT WAS A TORTURE-MURDER OF THE HIGHEST ORDER. HER KILLER WAS A SOPHISTICATED SADIST WHO WENT TO EXTREMES TO MAKE SURE THE PUBLIC WOULD BE HORRIFIED AND OUTRAGED. HER KILLER WANTED TO INSURE THAT HIS CRIME WOULD BE FOREVER REMEMBERED AS A MASTERPIECE OF HORROR.
Below is a summary of what we KNOW occurred during the killer’s drawn-out ritualistic torture-slaying of Elizabeth Short in the early morning hours of January 15, 1947. These specific acts of sadism are so extreme and the signatures so unique that they set this killer totally apart from your “average sexual psychopath.” Included in his acts were:
The most shocking act of sadism is found in the transcripts of Chief Autopsy Surgeon, Dr. Frederick Newbarr’s testimony before the Coroner’s Inquest where he establishes that the victim was forced to ingest feces. I quote from his testimony of January 22, 1947:
“The stomach was filled with greenish brown granular material, mostly feces and other particles which could not be identified.”
(SKH Note- Some self professed “Dahlia experts” have claimed that the feces in the stomach was there due to natural digestion and as a result of her being bisected.)
On this point I went to Dr. Doug Lyle M.D., a recognized forensic expert and put the question to him. His response:
“True feces is produced in the lower portions of the bowel. And the bowel doesn’t move stuff backwards so there is no way feces can get from the colon to the stomach–unless some connection between the two was made at the time of the bisection, but that would be obvious. If the stomach was found intact with feces inside it got there some other way.”
Bottom Line: Elizabeth Short during her extended torture was made to swallow feces.
Having reviewed the many acts of known torture, it takes very little imagination to speculatively add to that list, the forced feeding of Bandini Steer Manure or Bandini Fertilite from a nearly empty bag of fertilizer–perhaps recently used by the gardener in his inner-courtyard landscaping at the Franklin House. Certainly this fertilizer would match the coroner’s description of the, “greenish-brown granular material, mostly feces and other particles which could not be identified.”
Based on all the previous evidence which is supported by the crime scene photographs and the Lloyd Wright documents and receipts, it is my firm belief that Dr. George Hill Hodel, in the hours before her death, drugged and held Elizabeth Short captive at the Franklin House. (DA Files from 2004 establish father was alone at the house as my mother and we three sons were temporarily staying with her brother, our Uncle Gene.) She was bound and trussed with rope, tortured with non-lethal scalpel cuts to the body, sexually assaulted and then subjected to the ultimate sadistic humiliation- force-fed steer-manure. She was eventually slain, the “hemicorpectomy” bisection performed and the body scrubbed and washed clean. Her killer likely towel-dried the body halves and placed them on large empty paper sacks leftover and readily at hand from the construction and landscaping work. The bags and victim’s body parts were carried from the master bathtub, through the house to the rear garage and placed in George Hodel’s black sedan. Additional sacks were likely used to cover his butchery. A quick fifteen minute early morning drive south to the vacant lot, where the sadist transferred both sacks and body parts from the car, removed them from atop the paper sacks and carefully posed his “masterpiece.” The rest is as they say, “HISTORY”.
SKH Author Note:
Many of the photo exhibits did not transfer when these older FAQs were transferred to the new server some years back. See two separate PDFs below that contain photo exhibits on the Cement bags.