New Findings confirm Cadaver Dog Buster’s 2013 search and “alert” to human remains at the property as well as the DA/LAPD 1950 Investigative reports that documented detectives original suspicions that a victim might be buried on the residence property.
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA—Dr. Arpad Vass, renowned forensic anthropologist, and the prosecution’s star-witness in the recent Casey Anthony murder trial after analyzing soil samples recovered from the suspected Black Dahlia murder house –property, has concluded:
“Chemical analysis of the irrigation box soil showed numerous markers for a decompositional event. These markers were human specific and indicates that human remains were, or are, present in the vicinity of where the soil was collected.”
Data analysis suggests human remains may have been present at location “in excess of forty-years.”
On September 11, 2013 Dr. Vass, accompanied by former Mammoth Police Department Sgt. Paul Dostie and his police cadaver dog, Buster, a court certified Human Remains Detection Dog, collected a second set of soil samples near where Buster had “alerted” to the smell of human decomposition, at both the front and rear of the property. (Soil samples recovered from an earlier November 12, 2012 interior search of the basement with multiple alerts by Buster, were sent to a San Diego laboratory, and have now been processed, but still await a technician’s interpretation of the data.)
Dr. Vass, one of the world’s leading authorities on human decomposition believes the potential clandestine human burial site and “decompositional event” could be coming from a hillside location, directly to the rear of the former Hodel home, which at the time of the 1947 murder was an open, undeveloped lot. Based on his analysis and the presence of specific chemicals, Dr. Vass believes “human remains have likely been present at the location in excess of forty-years.”
Locating a Possible Grave Site – Is 1947 Actress Jean Spangler’s body buried on 2013 Actress Laura Prepon’s Property at the Rear of Sowden House?
Based on Cadaver dog Buster’s alerts at the base of an up-hill slope found directly to the rear of the Sowden/Hodel Estate, along with their hands-on experience examining chemical distribution and “plume flows” both Dr. Vass and Sgt. Dostie think the most likely location for finding human remains might be a plot of level ground approximately 40-60’ north of the alley. (See Aerial diagram below.)
Aerial view of possible burial site location is seen at the rear of Hollywood Sowden House, the former home of Dr. George Hill Hodel, prime suspect in the 1947 “Black Dahlia” and nine additional 1940s serially connected, L.A. Lone Woman Murders.
In an ironic twist in the investigation, public records show this property is currently owned by celebrity actress, Ms. Laura Prepon, best known for her roles in the television series, That ‘70s Show and Orange Is the New Black. A formal request that Buster and Sgt. Dostie be permitted access to the rear yard of the private property to conduct an additional non-invasive search of the grounds has been declined by Ms. Prepon’s attorney. At the time of the 1949 Spangler murder and disappearance, this uphill slope was open and unobstructed, effectively serving as “the backyard” to the Sowden/Hodel residence.
Soil Analysis Reports Forwarded to LAPD
Four months ago, on October 28, 2013, Dr. Vass’ complete Sowden House Investigation-Soil Headspace Analysis report containing his detailed analysis, results and conclusions, were forwarded and received by the currently assigned Black Dahlia case detectives, Mitzi Roberts and Tim Marcia at LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Cold Case Unit.
In a 2013 interview with Univision/KMEX news anchorman Leon Krauze for his special, La Dahlia Negra, a three-part review of the infamous Cold Case, Detective Roberts in commenting on my investigation, had this to say:
(Excerpts from 2013 interview)
“… I actually agree with you, I think he [Hodel] has made a very compelling theory. I think there’s a lot of things that looks like it and his dad could actually be responsible for the murder of the Black Dahlia
“If we had DNA that would be great. But, even as far as witnesses, a lot of people are deceased. There is just…Hodel’s is a great theory, but… Yes, he [George Hodel] was a suspect at the time, absolutely. But, it’s not with a 100% certainty that I could say, “Yes, it’s Steve Hodel’s father…And we are going to clear one of the most famous cases in Los Angeles’ history based on his compelling theory. Because some of his evidence checked out and some of it was also incorrect.”
The Sowden House, a historic landmark, originally designed and built by Lloyd Wright (son of Frank Lloyd Wright) in 1926. It is named for its original owner, John Sowden. The dramatic Mayan temple, located in the heart of Hollywood, has been used as a film location for such films as Martin Scorsese’s Aviator, and director Curtis Hanson’s, L.A. Confidential.
Dr. George Hill Hodel, then Head Venereal Disease Control Officer for Los Angeles County Health Department, purchased the Sowden House in 1945 and resided there until 1950 when he fled the U.S. to avoid arrest.
1950 DA Investigators Electronic Surveillance of Sowden House
In February, 1950, Dr. Hodel became the DA and LAPD’s prime-suspect in a series of ten Los Angeles, Lone Woman Murders all of which followed in quick succession, the sadistic torture-murder of 22-year-old, Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short on January 15, 1947.
In February, 1950, DA investigators in conjunction with LAPD secretly installed microphones inside the Sowden/Hodel home and conducted a six-week surveillance and monitoring and recorded live-conversations between Dr. Hodel and his house guests.
The Hodel/Black Dahlia DA recorded transcripts, consisting of over 146-typed pages of conversations, were secreted in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office vault for fifty-five years.
Those documents contain Hodel’s admissions to performing abortions (a felony in 1950 which would result in a five-year prison sentence). Also included were Dr. Hodel’s mention of payoffs to police and law enforcement and his admission to having committed both the Black Dahlia murder and that of his clinic-secretary, Miss Ruth Spaulding in 1945.
In May, 1945, some nineteen-months prior to the Dahlia murder, LAPD investigated Dr. Hodel as a suspect in suspicious death of his secretary/lover, Ruth Spaulding. Her death was a suspected forced-overdose, however, at the peak of the investigation, Dr. Hodel left the country for China and detectives were unable to proceed and establish sufficient evidence to prove foul play and her suspicious death was ultimately listed as a “suicide.” (On the later 1950 DA surveillance tapes Dr. Hodel is overheard admitting to this earlier crime.)
Excerpts from the six-week secret transcripts capture Dr. Hodel making the following statements and admissions:
…They [LAPD] thought there was something fishy. Anyway, now they may have figured it out. Killed her. Maybe I did kill my secretary. [Ruth Spaulding]
“Supposing I did kill the Black Dahlia. They couldn’t prove it now. They can’t talk to my secretary [Ruth Spaulding] anymore because she’s dead. Don’t confess ever. Two and two is not four. This is the best payoff I’ve seen between law enforcement agencies. You don’t have the right connections made. I’d like to get a connection made in the DA’s office.
…I’m the only one who knows how all of these things fit together.
Police have a photo of me and that girl…I thought I’d destroyed all of them.
On another recording, Hodel is overhead speaking with a woman who tells him of having undergone an abortion in 1944. Hodel responds by informing her that he owns the First Street Clinic downtown and that he has “performed lots of them.”[Abortions]
On February 18, 1950, the detectives’ electronic surveillance recorded what may have been an actual “murder in progress” at the Hodel residence. The transcripts show that Dr. Hodel accompanied by an accomplice, one Baron Ernst Harringa, went downstairs to the basement area and sounds of a pipe hitting an object were heard. “A woman screamed.” More beating. “A woman screamed again.” Though the officers were just two miles away, monitoring the crime at the Hollywood Police Station, they took no action.
Additional documents showed that detectives, just days after the crime occurred, conducted a follow-up in attempts to determine if any digging or a gravesite were seen by a plumber who was called in by Dr. Hodel to unclog a drain two days after the taped assault. However, detectives in their follow-up, made no physical examination of the actual premise.
On March 27, 1950, just days before his expected arrest by LADA Bureau of Investigations Lieutenant Frank Jemison, Dr. Hodel again, fled the country and remained abroad for the next forty-years.
The recordings and Dr. Hodel’s name were never made public, and the tape-recorded admissions and transcripts disappeared from the LAPD files. The DA Files in Lieutenant Jemison’s investigative follow-up report confirmed the fact that Dr. Hodel and Elizabeth Short were acquainted and were associated with each other prior to her murder with multiple witnesses placing her at the Sowden/Hodel residence prior to the murder.
Dr. Hodel’s identity as the “prime suspect” in the Black Dahlia murder was only made public in 2004, when Lieutenant Jemison’s “second set of books” along with the 1950 transcripts were found secreted in the LADA vault.
Is One or More of the L.A. Victims Buried “at or near the property”?
The burial site, if found, could possibly contain the body of 1949 murder victims: (1) Actress Jean Spangler or (2) Beverly Hills matron Mimi Boomhower or (3) “Jane Doe” victim assaulted and suspected by police of being slain in the basement of the Hodel on February 18, 1950.
All three L.A. Lone Woman Murder victims were slain in the six-month period (Aug 1949-Feb 1950) before prime-suspect, Dr. George Hill Hodel, fled the United States. The victims’ bodies were never found
Original Press and LAPD Suspected Additional 1949 Murders “Dahlia Related” Ninth Victim Mimi Boomhower, “The Merry Widow”- Body Never Found
On August 18, 1949, Mrs. Mimi Boomhower, a “prominent heiress” was abducted from her Bel Air estate while showing it to an unidentified male posing as a prospective home buyer.
Days later Boomhower’s purse was found in a telephone booth in Beverly Hills with a taunting message, written in block printing similar to previous “Black Dahlia Avenger” messages signed by the killer.
The note read, “Police Dept. We found this at Beach Thursday Night.” Mrs. Boomhower’s body was never found, and the case remains an LAPD unsolved.
1949 press article linked the Mimi Boomhower murder to earlier Dahlia suspected crime victim, Mrs. Gladys Kern, who was slain in Hollywood on February 14, 1948, and like Boomhower was also showing a home to a prospective buyer. The Kern murder occurred just two miles from the Hodel home. NOTE- The killer in the still unsolved Gladys Kern murder mailed a taunting note to the police from the same downtown Los Angeles mailbox used by the 1947 Black Dahlia Avenger. That mailbox, used by the same suspect, was located just three blocks from the then medical practice of Dr. George Hill Hodel.
Film Actress Jean Spangler 1949 Hollywood Abduction Believed Black Dahlia Killer’s Tenth Victim—Her Last Known Movements and Found Evidence Point Circumstantially to Self-Professed Hollywood Abortionist, Dr. George Hill Hodel
On October 7 1949, just seven weeks after the kidnap/murder of Mrs. Boomhower, the tenth victim, film actress and former showgirl, Jean Spangler, age 26, was abducted off the streets of Hollywood.. Based on witness statements police determined that Miss Spangler was last seen in the early morning hours of October 8, 1949 accompanied by a man fitting the description of Dr. George Hodel.
According to police and press reports from that day, at 2:00 a.m. that same morning (Oct. 8, 1949) Miss Spangler had been seen arguing with a man while seated at a table at the Cheese Box Restaurant, a popular eatery on the Sunset Strip.
Shortly after leaving the restaurant the couple was seen again at a nearby gas station. The male, driving a convertible, pulled into the station and told the attendant to “Fill the gas tank, we are going to Fresno.”
The attendant, Art Rodgers, in a later conversation with the police, identified Miss Spangler as the woman he saw slumped down in the front passenger seat. As the car pulled away, Spangler yelled to the attendant, “Get our license plate and call the police.”
The witness immediately summoned a patrol unit to the location, but the police were unable to locate the suspect or his car.
On Sunday morning, October 9th, Miss Spangler’s purse and identification were found at Fern Dell Park, a distance of just ¼ mile from the home of Dr. Hodel. Her purse had a torn strap leading police to believe that a violent struggle had occurred.
A handwritten note found inside the purse, identified as being written by the victim, read:
“Kirk, Can’t wait any longer. Going to see Dr. Scott.
It will work best this way while mother is away.”
Based on the message, police speculated the victim may have been pregnant and was possibly in the process of attempting to obtain an abortion.
Over two-hundred police officers along with 60 mounted horsemen conducted a thorough search of the Fern Dell Park area, however, Miss Spangler’s body was never found and like the previous eight Dahlia related L.A. Lone Woman murders—to this day, some six-decades later, remains an LAPD unsolved.
Saturday, Oct 8.1949-1:30 a.m. Cheese Box Restaurant, 8033 Sunset Blvd. (Sunset Strip) Spangler is seen seated with a man at a front table. Terry Taylor, the owner of the restaurant, and personal friend of Jean’s describes the man with her as, “male, 35 years, tallish, dark-hair, clean-cut.” (George Hodel at that time was 41, but could easily pass for 35, was 6-1, black hair, and had a clean-cut appearance.)
Saturday, Oct. 8, 1949-2:00 a.m. Spangler seated at the same table is seen by entertainer, Al “the Sheik” Lazar, a radio-personality who broadcasts his show live from the Cheese Box. Lazar approached Jean for an interview, and saw she was arguing with two men seated at the table. As he continued to approach, for a celebrity radio interview, one of the men forcefully, “waved him away”, and in the Sheik’s words, “I veered away, and did not attempt to conduct the interview.”
Saturday, Oct 8, 1949- Early morning– 8400 Sunset Blvd. (Sunset Strip) Gas station attendant, Art Rodgers reports servicing a “blue-gray convertible” driven into the station by a male with a woman fitting description of Jean Spangler seated in the front passenger seat. The male ordered him to fill the tank stating, “We’re going to Fresno.” Rodgers went on to report, “The woman shrank down in the right side of the seat, and as the car sped off she cried out to me, ‘Have the police follow this car.’” Rodgers immediately called the police, but the responding patrol units were unable to locate the suspect vehicle.
Saturday, Oct 8, 1949-9:00 a.m. Spangler fails to return home. Sophie Spangler, calls LAPD and makes a “missing report.”
Sunday, Oct. 9, 1949-11:00 a.m. Fern Dell Park employee, Hugh Anger, finds Jean Spangler’s purse in the park. The strap is ripped from the purse, indicating a struggle. Papers and Spangler’s identification are found in the purse, along with a handwritten note.
(Note: Fern Dell Park is one-quarter mile distant (two minutes driving time) from the Sowden/Hodel residence. Police surmise from the note that Jean Spangler may have been pregnant and was possibly seeking an abortion from “Dr. Scott.”
In March, 1950, DA investigators Walter Morgan & Frank Jemison simultaneous to their covert physical and electronic surveillance of Dr. Hodel, conducted a follow-up investigation into the Jean Spangler murder and checked local Hollywood pharmacies for prescriptions written by any and all, “Dr. Scotts.”
In the months preceding her murder, Jean Spangler had bit parts in two Hollywood films. The first was Champagne for Caesar, starring Vincent Price, a personal friend and documented house guest of Dr. George Hodel. The second was, The Petty Girl, starring Robert Cummings, who befriended Jean and was one of the last to speak to her, just days before her murder. Cummings, along with George Hodel was also personal friends and had acted in films with Marya Marco, whom George Hodel had photographed at the Sowden/Franklin House. Both of these movies were filmed on location in Los Angeles and released in 1950, some months after Spangler’s murder. (In a 2006 interview Marya Marco in viewing a photo of Jean Spangler acknowledged recognizing her as a fellow actor at the studio lots, but indicated they were not personally acquainted.)
A Dr. Hodel/Marco/Cummings/Spangler Connection
(Top) Actor Robert Cummings, a good friend to both Jean Spangler and Marya Marco. Inscription to Marco reads: “To my dear friend, Maria, beautiful, exotic, charming, and I mean very. Your friend, Robert Cummings.” Cummings seen kissing Marya in scene from 1948 film, Sleep My Love.
(Middle) Dr. George Hill Hodel, friend of Marya Marco. Below photo of her taken at the Sowden House. Marya credited Dr. Hodel with, “Having started my career in the 1940s when two producers saw my picture on George’s desk at his house.
(Bottom) Cummings and Spangler worked together in the 1949 film, The Petty Girl. (Film was not released until August, 1950, six-months after her murder.).
Spangler tells Cummings just days before her Oct 8, 1949, disappearance that she has, “met a man and am having the time of my life.”