Truth Lost In Mist and Myths and of the Past
The two major myths surrounding L.A.’s 1947 Black Dahlia murder were: 1) Elizabeth Short’s murder was a standalone. He never killed before or after.
2) “The Missing Week.” Myth has it that Elizabeth Short walked out the Olive Street door of the downtown Biltmore Hotel on January 9, 1947 and was not seen again, until her brutalized body was found six-days later- posed on an empty lot some six miles away at 39th and Norton.
We now know that both of these long-standing myths are factually untrue – We also know that LAPD at the time of their original investigations believed that many of these 1940s, “LONE WOMAN MUDERS” were committed by the same suspect. [The term “serial killer” would not come into the law-enforcement lexicon for another thirty-five years.]
As the publication date (Sept 22) of Book II, Most Evil: The Further Murders of Dr. George Hill Hodel (Dutton, N.Y., 2009) quickly approaches, I would like to here present a quick review of some of the original 1940s documentation proving LAPD knew and were looking for a serial-killer..
L.A. Lone Woman Murders 1943 – 1949
1950 headline featuring seven (7) unsolved L.A. Lone Woman Murders
All of the below crimes occurred within a 1/2 to 9 mile distance from Dr. Hodel’s Franklin House residence. Five (5) of the seven murders (circled in red) involved the suspect writing a taunting note to police. (An M.O., so unique that the 1947 detectives assigned to the investigations would have to have gone back in time some six decades, to London’s, “Jack the Ripper” (1888) to find a similar signature.)
Map showing relationship of Dr. Hodel residence (1) to L.A. Lone Murder victims:
Murray, Bauerdorf, Short, French, Kern, Boomhower and Spangler.
In March, 1947, LAPD informs the public they believe a number of the recent lone woman murders were committed by the same suspect, and release a written “11 Points of Similarity” summary to the daily newspapers in support of their belief. In the below Los Angeles Examiner, March 14, 1947 article they informed the public it was their considered opinion that the murders of Elizabeth Short (Jan. 15), Jeanne French (Feb. 10) and Evelyn Winters (Mar.12) were all committed by the same suspect and went on to publicly list their reasons WHY.
Killer uses same downtown mailbox to post both his Elizabeth Short (Jan.1947) and Gladys Kern (Feb.1948) notes to police. The box he used was across the street from the Biltmore Hotel and just 300 yards from Dr. George Hodel’s private medical practice.
On June 19, 1949, Black Dahlia detective Harry Hansen, after investigating the facts surrounding the brutal kidnap-strangulation murder of victim, Louise Springer, which occurred just two blocks from the Dahlia dump-site, informs the press and public:
“The murders of Elizabeth Short and Louise Springer might be linked. The same man may have committed both crimes.”
LAPD Sgt. Harry Hansen
June 19, 1949
Sgt. Hansen reviewing Dahlia files circa 1951
September 14, 1949
LAPD Chief of Detectives Thad Brown announces to public that out-of-state strangulation-murderer suspect who killed three Ogden, Utah women will be checked out by LAPD to see if he is responsible for the murders of: “Elizabeth Short, Jeanne French, Louise Springer, and Georgette Bauerdorf.”
1950 DA FILES REVEAL ACTIVE INVESTIGATONS ON SERIAL KILLINGS
Documents discovered by me in LADA Lt. Frank Jemison’s 1950 investigative files show that his detectives were actively investigating the following Lone Woman Murders:
Elizabeth Short, Jeanne French, Jean Spangler, Gladys Kern, Ruth Spaulding [George Hodel’s secretary] and the, Feb. 18, 1950, “Jane Doe” suspected assault and or possible murder heard being committed on-tape in the basement of Dr. Hodel’s, Franklin House.
BY THE NUMBERS
As I pointed out in my original 2003 investigation (below link) if one takes the mythological position that none of these 1940s crimes were connected, then statistically, at least half of the Lone Woman Murders should have been solved. How many were? NONE. The reason being they were not committed by 11 different sadistic sexual psychopaths all operating within the same locales and tripping over each other’s bodies. No! The reason none were cleared was because all were committed by the same suspect.
Despite the fact that sixty-years ago, law enforcement did not really think in terms of “serial killings”, LAPD (with a lot of help from the press) still managed to go public with their belief that many or most of these crimes were committed by the same suspect. I have presented only some of that documentation. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department also believed many of their crimes were connected. The fact that the Lone Woman Murders were jurisdictionally divided between the two agencies also was a factor that inhibited the investigations. Back then the two law enforcement agencies simply, DID NOT SHARE INVESTIGATIVE INFORMATION OR LEADS.
[BDA page 425-