A Meeting with Baron von Harringa

                                                          “The Baron”

 Baron Ernst von Harringa circa 1940s

baron Ernst Von Harringa family photo.jpg

                                 (photo courtesy of grandson, Baron von Harringa)                          

 Baron von Harringa (his given name) is the grandson of Ernst von Harringa. Baron is a handsome young man of just 18-years. He too is looking for answers.   

We met for breakfast in mid-January at my favorite deli in Studio City. Both of us were there with the same hope. Baron wanting to learn more about his mysterious grandfather and I wanting to discover additional background on my father’s old friend, confidant, and possibly his accessory to murder!

Our talk lasted nearly two-hours, but unfortunately provided little new “hard” information for either of us. Here is what I learned from the grandson:

1.  Von Harringa family rumors have it that his grandfather, Ernst von Harringa, aka Ernst Meyer, may have been related to nobility in Germany, but nothing to support the information and no actual names.

2. Ernst von Harringa apparently returned to the U.S. (possibly from India) in the mid-1950s and supposedly died in Los Angeles circa 1960. (I have yet to find a death certificate or obituary as documentation.) 

3. He (the grandson) met his grandmother Alene Valla Von Harringa) several times before she died in 2001 and he had heard that her family (Valla) had owned large land parcels in Orange County in the early days. (Turn of the century?) 

4. Baron gave me the above photograph of his grandfather, believed taken sometime in the 1940s or possibly early 50s?


Was Baron Ernst Harringa an accessory to murder? The 1950 Franklin House Tapes-

baron Herringa 1.jpg 


baron harringa 2.jpg 

Two days after above taped conversation (2.20.50) DA investigator McGrath locates and interviews Dr. Hodel’s residence plumber attempting to determine if a body might have been recently buried in the Hodel basement.  McGrath asks the plumber if he had seen “signs of fresh digging?” Dr. Hodel is placed under physical surveillance and his vehicle is followed by investigators Walter Morgan & James McGrath.

basement digging inv.jpg 

DA Black Dahlia File, March 1950 handwritten notes made by DA Lt. Jemison show he has decided to reinvestigate the 1945 murder of Dr. Hodel’s secretary, Ruth Spaulding with plans to reinterview all of the original witnesses.

George Hodel flees Franklin House in March, 1950 relocating to the Territory of Hawaii.




  1. skh@stevehodel.com on February 10, 2010 at 3:17 am

    Hi Steve,
    I tried to comment on your recent entry, but I don’t think it went through.
    Have you tried looking in the California Death Index for his information?
    I tried soundex instead of exact and it shows a Ernst F. Von Harringa
    born 3-4-99 and died on 9-22-61. He died in Los Angeles (70). I hope this
    helps in your search. The index is on the Rootsweb site.

  2. Steve Hodel on February 10, 2010 at 3:20 am

    Above message rec’d from Yvonne via email.Thanks for the information on Baron Harringa’s death. The birthdate is correct so I’m sure it is the right person. Much appreciated.
    steve h.

  3. Eve on February 16, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Dear Mr. Hodel:
    I am a junior enrolled in college Forensics. We are required to give a detailed book report on a true crime book that has forensic information. I chose your book ‘Black Dahlia Avenger’ and read most of it in one night. I now have a case of writers block on my book report however, as it seems that most of the forensic evidence in the book is alluded to or considered missing now. There are the photocopies of the letters which are of probitive value. Where would you suggest I start with this? And does anyone know what became of the original forensic evidence, has any of it be located, and has new evidence come to light. For instance, I find your blog and the info on the Baron very compelling, but so far I have not found that in the book. Also, what peeked my interest in this case was a forensic show you were featured on TV. In that show you speculated about the connection between the Black Dahlia case and the case in Chicago of a murdered little girl who was murdered very much the same way. There was some kind of connection between the little girl’s last name and the name of one of the cross streets where beth short was left. Do you recall what i am referring to? i appereciate any and all tips, advice, direction and help you could offer me and will be waiting to hear back from you. God Bless, Eve

  4. Steve Hodel on February 16, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Suggest you check out my previous blogs on the cement bag linkage. (Just search my website using term “cement bags”) Also, check out my FAQ section under “forensics.”
    There is also the chapter on forensics in the updated BDA. (Hopefully the edition you read was the paperback, HarperCollins 2006, which contains two new chapters.) More evidence can be found under my blogs related to “proof sheet paper.”
    The information related to Elizabeth Short and the Chicago Red Lipstick Murders can be found in my sequel: MOST EVIL, which details all the street name connections and is a follow-up investigation to BDA.
    Good Luck,

  5. Roderick M Long on October 19, 2017 at 9:11 am

    Hi Steve,

    Have you ever managed to find out who the women was when Elizabeth Short was visited at the French abode in San Diego. I believe you said in your book that this person was present with 2males and also the day before her body was found on the 15th January 1947 then accompanied by 2 males also. I am intrigued to know this person could be.
    Roderick Long

    • Steve Hodel on October 19, 2017 at 10:12 am

      Hi Roderick: No, she has not been identified. Only detailed description of her has ever been provided. I am confident that the three “two men and a woman” were the same in both instances. In interviewing retired LAPD officer Meryl McBride who was the last person to see Elizabeth coming out of the bar with the three individuals, she positively ID’d her because she spoke to her and was informed “she was going to meet her father at the Greyhound Bus station”, but McBride could not recall/provide a detailed description of the three adults that were with her. Likely we will never be able to ID that woman at this late stage. Regards, Steve

  6. Steve Brown on September 10, 2021 at 3:14 pm

    Just wondering if there is anything more on Baron Harringa? I find it astonishing that the Baron took such dark secrets (evidently) to the grave… But on the other hand, no doubt many do. It’s also astounding that LAPD would fail to pursue a cold case solution (potentially) that has been handed to them on an easily investigated platter! One can only wonder why? Or, even if the LAPD could just disprove your evidence, to show that the department is at least doing something with such a famous case. And since there is evidence of human remains decomposition at GHH’s former address in Hollywood, it would seem that a failure by the LAPD to investigate is unethical at best, and unlawful at worst; since the evidence of decomposition is quite clear. Regards

    • Steve Hodel on September 10, 2021 at 7:42 pm

      Steve B:
      No, no real developments on Baron Harringa.
      LAPDs inaction is remarkable considering they have the potential of clearing not just their most infamous unsolved, but a dozen more “Lone Woman Murders” from the 1940s. Maybe the upcoming adaption of my books to a miniseries will shake things up, but somehow, I doubt it. Sad but true.

  7. Mark Bujdos on May 7, 2023 at 7:10 pm

    Steve, I’m reading BDA III. Through comments and e-mails just before its release you recommended it to me because I expressed interest in some of the Hollywood film history and LA history of the 1940s surrounding your research–that’s my special interest. Last time we were talking about the connections of Robert Cummings to your work. I’m still interested in this connection.
    BUT I’m writing now about Ernst von Harringa because ever time I read about him in your books I get interested. Reading this thread it sounds like you haven’t unearthed much info as of 2021.
    Question: do you think it’s the same Erst von Harringa that is listed as technical advisor for 20th Cent. Foxes 1944 The Purple Hart directed by Lewis Milestone? Do you know about this? Do you think it’s the same person? I would be surprised if it wern’t. given this credit I think it might be profitable to check the name in the rolls of Masonic lodges in Cal. and Germany.
    I have a B.A. in German from UCLA glad to help if you think it’s worth the trouble.
    I’m loving BDA III. I ordered the Early Years, 1 and 2. Looking very much forward to it. (William Desmond Taylor is a very strong interest of mine.)

    • Steve Hodel on July 29, 2023 at 10:45 pm

      Mark B:
      No, had no “clew” as to Harringa and “The Purple Hart” thanks. Has to be the same man. (I’m guessing his fluency in German was what his contribution may have been, along with familiarity with the country.) To be honest I never made a “deep dive” into
      Harringa. Just too much other happenings. If you come up with anything additional please email me at steve@stevehodel.com I often miss these “comments” (AS you can see I’m just seeing yours from two months ago.) I think the William Desmond Taylor linkage is quite strong actually. See for yourself. Best, Steve

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