LAPD Detective Sgt. Finis Brown suggests "Unknown Hollywood Doctor" may be Dahlia Killer in Secret 1949 Grand Jury Testimony

Deputy Chief Thad Brown’s brother, Sgt. Finis Brown, primary investigator on Black Dahlia case, places “unidentified Hollywood doctor” at top of HIS LIST.

I was recently reviewing some of my papers and transcripts from the DA Files related to the testimony of various witnesses who were called to testify before the 1949 Grand Jury related to the Black Dahlia investigation.

In my initial readings I had missed the below excerpt and thought my readers would find this interesting.

On December 6, 1949,Sgt. Finis Brown, in charge of the Black Dahlia investigation since DAY ONE, was called before the 1949 Grand Jury and testified to various aspects of his ongoing investigation.

Most of his testimony related to his elimination of a year-old-suspect, Leslie Dillion, who had come to the attention of the Gangster Squad by way of the LAPD psychiatrist, Dr. Paul DeRivers. The Gangster Squad, inexperienced in the ways and methods of homicide investigation, had followed a red-herring and ultimately arrested Dillion as a Dahlia suspect on extremely dubious information and he was “unarrested” a few days later and released.

At the close of Sgt. Brown’s testimony, the GJ Foreman, Harry Lawson asked him the following question:

” Do you care to express an opinion to this jury as to who you think killed Elizabeth Short?”

After first acknowledging that he doesn’t know who killed her, Sgt. Brown then follows-up  by providing the grand jury with information that he is attempting to identify her unknown Hollywood doctor and that a person claiming to be a doctor called Hollywood station with taunting information.

I find this information fascinating. Of all the hundreds of potential suspects that Sgt. Brown could have named or offered up as possibles he brings up only one- An unidentified Hollywood doctor, who calls and taunts the police.  See below for complete excerpt as recorded in the official files:




Finis Brown GJ testimony047.jpg


A Signature M.O.

For a suspect to actually call the press or police is extremely unusual. That said, if I am correct in my linkage of George Hodel to the other crimes we know he also did it in:

1. Red Lipstick Murders- Telephoned both family and police.

2. Black Dahlia- Telephoned both press and police.

3. Cheri Bates, Riverside- Telephoned police.

4.Zodiac, San Francisco, Telephoned attorney Belli and police.

Refer to details in Dahlia Telephone call to City Editor, James Richardson here.






  1. micha on December 18, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    I’ve never posted before so I’m not sure if I’m doing this right…Just a comment. Not related to your blog post but to past post(s). One of the letters posted after the Black Dahlia killing started with “that young!…This letter ended up leading to an 18-year-old boy who had been robbed of his wallet and pictures from his wallet appeared on letters sent to the police from the alleged perpetrator of the ES killing. Well, I spent some time trying to sort that note out and I came up with a strange link that may well be worthless but I feel compelled to share. The “that young! element really bothered me and after some (very short time) googling – it came up as a quote from a poem by A E Housman…A poem he had written about Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment around homosexuality. And wouldn’t you know…The photo on that note – the photo stolen from the young man’s wallet – the photo of that young man – well he really looks like Oscar Wilde! Lots and lots to think about here; including the Cleveland Torso guys’ letter about the Charlie the Greeks and Conway Tavern…many connections to be made. I just wanted to poiint these out. They may be red herrings but I wanted to share…

  2. Micha on December 18, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    I recently commented on something about Oscar Wilde and a note written by the BD Avenger. Where did it go???

  3. Micha on December 18, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Armand Robles. Whoever sent the letters with his picture from his wallet – well, I think he was taunting and making fun…Armand Robles in one of the pictures looks like Oscar Wilde…And the letter included a quote “that young!…Just google “that young and within the first two pages you will find a poem written by AE Hausman about Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment for homosexuality and guess what…Armand looks a lot like Oscar!
    This is just my opinion and I wanted to share and I hope that my third attempt at commenting here doesn’t dissapear into oblivion!
    : )

  4. Steve Hodel on December 19, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Thank you for your observations/comments. There is more to the Armand Robles story than meets the eye. It turns out that teenager Robles never reported the inital “robbery” which occurred sometime around Jan 7, 1947. I seriously doubt it was a robbery but rather somekind of verbal physical dispute and he may have dropped or lost his wallet in the altercation, which was recovered by George Hodel. Then several weeks later, he uses the photos in his mailings as the “Avenger.”

  5. Kathy on December 23, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Somehow I had missed or forgotten the connection between Finis and Thad Brown. This case is just endlessly fascinating. Thanks so much for sharing your research and observations!

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