New found documents from the original 1950 Hodel-DA File reveal that DA investigators in 1950 were actively conducting a follow-up investigation to what they suspected may have been an actual “murder-in-progress” committed by George Hodel and Baron Harringa on the evening of February 18, 1950.
The DA transcripts for that 24-hour period clearly establish that an unidentified “sobbing” woman was “interrogated” by George Hodel as to what she knew about his incest trial, and his abortionist friend, Charles Smith. She is given drinks and there is mention by Hodel of “having an affair.” Detectives describe hearing “a crashing sound” and “objects falling to the floor.”
Later that afternoon a “crying woman” attempts to call the operator several times. At 8:20 P.M. Hodel and Harringa go to the basement and digging sounds are heard. A woman screams. Hitting sounds are heard. Woman screams again. Detectives describe sound of “a pipe being hit.” Woman goes silent. Hodel or Harringa overheard saying, “Not a trace.”
(For original surveillance transcript pages of 2/18/50- Click Here- DA Transcript 2.18.50.pdf)
As noted in prior summaries, inexplicably, no action or response was taken by the stakeout detectives (DA investigator James McGrath and LAPD detective Crowley) as the assault was in progress.
However, the below DA document (one of several received by me in 2009 which I apparently missed during my original 2003 review) establishes that the DA’s office, after the fact, took the Feb.18th actions very seriously and five days later, Lt. Jemison assigned his investigators James McGrath and Walter Morgan to follow Dr. Hodel’s movements to and from the residence. Here is the new document which is McGrath’s summary for Feb. 23, 1950:
Scan of original McGrath & Morgan Surveillance Log on George Hodel for 2/23/50
Diagram showing DA Investigators McGrath & Morgan’s movements in surveillance tail of Dr. Hodel in his 1936 black Packard sedan on February 23, 1950
1. 5121 Franklin Ave, George Hodel’s residence
2. Western & Franklin Ave
3. Western & 6th St.
4. 3rd St & Union
5. Hollywood Bl., & Sycamore Ave
6. Wilshire & La Cienega Bl.
7. Wilshire & Camden Dr.
8. Wilshire & Beverly Glen (terminated vehicle surveillance at 5:40 p.m.)
DA MCGRATH CHECKS FOR POSSIBLE BURIED BODY AT HODEL RESIDENCE
This second DA document shows that the DA investigators took the February 18th assault of the unidentified woman seriously and went so far as to attempt to determine if a freshly dug grave had been seen in Dr. Hodel’s basement. As evidenced in the report, apparently a day or two after the Feb. 18 assault, George Hodel called a plumber to the residence to unclog a plugged drain. McGrath located the plumber (Mr. Stokes, an employee of Sonntag Co. 5156 Hollywood Blvd) and questioned him as to whether he had seen any evidence of fresh digging or anything unusual in the basement? The plumber responded that he had been in the basement, unclogged the drain, but really hadn’t looked or paid any attention other than to simply perform his work. While McGrath wrote both of these reports in late March, 1950 the investigations obviously occurred in the days following the suspected “foul play.” (McGrath’s surveillance log is dated Feb. 23.)
(SKH Note- For those thinking “forensics”, in 2002 prior to the publication of BDA, during major renovations of the Franklin House, much of the basement floor area was cemented over and a home office was constructed.)