21st Century Biometric Facial Recognition Analysis of Black Dahlia Murder Photos Yields Surprising Results

dr frischholz comares all

Known photos of Elizabeth Short compared to Jane Doe Photo No. 2 in George Hodel album

Facial Recognition Software –an application that can be used to automatically identify or verify individuals from video frame or digital images. Some facial recognition software uses algorithms that analyze specific facial features, such as the relative position, size and shape of a person’s nose, eyes, jaw and cheekbones.” —Techopedia

       Dr. Robert Frischholz- 2001 International Scientist of the Year


Dr. Frischholz is considered one of the world’s leading biometric experts specializing in the field of facial recognition and in 2001 was named International Scientist of the Year.

“State-of-the-art AFR (Automatic Facial Recognition) computer rates the positive match between the known image of Elizabeth Short and the “Jane Doe” photo in Dr. George Hodel’s photo album as being reliable between 90% and 95%”

Dr. Robert Frischholz, April, 2014

Black Dahlia Avenger II  (Thoughtprint Press May, 2014)

Chapter 27 – Biometrics: New Photo Forensics

In Chapter 5 of this book, Scene of the Crime, I briefly re-examined Photo No. 2 (seen above) and presented some visual comparisons to several photographs of murder victim, Jean Spangler  who, as we know, disappeared two days after Dr. George Hodel’s October 6, 1949, posting of bail on his arrest for incest and child molestation.

Since writing that chapter, I have been presented with the new evidence confirming that in both K9 Buster and expert witness Dr. Arpad Vass’ opinion that “human decomposition is or was present in or near the grounds of the Sowden/Hodel residence.”

Based on the new findings in Chapter 24, The Smell of Death, along with the discovery of the additional circumstances pointing to the possibility that she might well be the “10th Dahlia victim,” I decided to see if I could pursue some photo comparison possibilities.

To that end, I conducted some online research and made contact with Dr. Robert Frischholz, in Nurenberg, Germany. Dr. Frischholz is the chief technology officer for BioID, a firm specializing in state-of-the-art facial recognition and identification.  Dr. Frischholz has been honored by Marquis Who’s Who since 1998 and IBC for his outstanding contributions to science in the fields of image processing motion analysis and biometircs. With numerous publications and patents, he is considered one of the world’s leading biometric experts specializing in the field of facial recognition and in 2001 was named International Scientist of the Year.

Attached as PDF below is the  complete chapter (five pages) along with Dr. Frischholz’s surprising findings:

Biometric New Photo Forensics BDA II  PDF


Biometric New Photo Forensics BDA II










  1. Kelly on August 26, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Could not open the PDF either on Facebook or on this site.

  2. George on August 26, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Worked fine for me. Next time just right-click, “save target as”.

  3. J.R. Neumiller on August 27, 2014 at 2:48 am

    Okay, so this is very solid. Your expert’s comment that he had never seen photos like this rate so highly is VERY telling. Very similar to your QDE Hannah McFarland saying “Highly probable” in regards to your father’s handwriting being the same as on the BDA and Zodiac letters.

    Well, I’m willing to accept this as proof that the photo is of ES. (Who else could it be as being in the possession of GHH?)

    But here’s the rub I keep running into – even though serial killers like to keep trophies and mementos of their deeds, it would seem highly unlikely that he would have kept this photo of ES all the while under investigation for his incest charge and eventual BD inquiries. He said he thought he’d destroyed all the incriminating evidence, (Mattie Comfort photo.) Why hang onto this one?

    Unless he was pretty confident no one could ID the photo conclusively, (the same issue we’ve been having since it was discovered.) That would make it highly likely he used the heavy lipstick in the first place – to obscure and obfuscate the actual identification of the woman. (This would make a lot of sense.)

    In that light, the photo definitely looks like a woman asleep or drugged, with her hair up, lying on the floor, and a heavy application of lipstick. Not possible to say what she is doing, but decidedly somnambulant. A truly hidden subject.

    Therefore, only this photo would allow him to retain it, which is perhaps why he took it as he did. Before he got to work.

    • charlie on December 14, 2014 at 11:14 pm

      Or, George Hodel had influential friends, and was certain that the investigation would only proceed to a certain point. It appears that Hodel not only lead a charmed life, he had the ability to protect himself, as well….

      • Steve Hodel on December 15, 2014 at 12:23 am

        Charlie: Exactly so. All of the above. steve

  4. Deborah Murphy on August 27, 2014 at 8:28 am

    When I first saw this unknown woman’s photo in your first book, I made enlarged photocopies of all the pictures I had of ES and compared them to an enlargement of Jane Doe #3, as she is referred to here. Though by no means scientific, I found that there seemed to be enough similarities in the comparison for me to think this was a photo of ES. I also emailed you a collage of Jean Spangler photos 3 years ago, speculating that she was quite similar in appearance to Jane Doe #3 as well. I found the facial recognition results to be a vindication of your investigations into this case, and just another item of many you have gathered, connecting your father to the Black Dahlia murder.

    I wonder if an experiment could be done using a photo of a known woman in the same pose as Jane Doe #3, and have this person and a similar looking woman photographed in the same poses, respectively, as ES’s and JS’s photos used in the above AFR program,.and have these run through the AFR to see the results. It would be interesting to see what Dr. Frischholz’ program came up with in comparison to the results he obtained for you above.

    • Steve Hodel on August 27, 2014 at 11:25 am

      Deborah and J.R.:
      Thank you for your comments. I have to say that the biometric results caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting the results would be as strong as they are in favor of an Elizabeth Short ID. I expected them to be more in the mid-range leaning toward “inconclusive.” That said, Dr. Frischholz in his final report does caution that, “…In your country, N.I.S.T. tests all face recognition engines from time to time and currently suggests the FAR to be set at 0.1%-would mean an AFR needs to have 99.9% reliability for a positive match!” BUT, considering we are using a 67-year-old photograph for comparison that does not have the correct angle (full frontal) no question that the results are very dramatic and certainly can be considered as highly corroborative when all the other factors are considered. (Especially, with the separate numerous witness and police report documentation that “George Hodel and Elizabeth Short knew and were acquainted prior to her murder.”

      • Janet Trimbach on August 28, 2014 at 2:50 pm

        Had you considered sending any of the autopsy photos to be tested as well? Janet

        • Steve Hodel on August 28, 2014 at 8:24 pm

          No, would not be useable due to trauma distortions.

  5. Robert Sadler on August 27, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Great work.
    The preponderance of the evidence just keeps growing and has (long ago) overcome (in my opinion) reasonable doubt.


  6. Francois Houle on August 29, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Congratulations for the new finding. I agree with Robert Sadler

    Now what we need is someone with information to come forward.
    For example June or Laura Prepon or someone in LAPD.

    All this denial or covering of the tracks has to stop.

    Thanks to Mr Frischholz for his work.

    • Steve Hodel on August 30, 2014 at 12:20 am

      Hi Francois. Thanks. Stay tuned. More to come. Best, Steve

  7. Emily p on September 1, 2014 at 9:32 am

    This is indeed compelling evidence for what those who follow your work already know to be true. I am glad you are still speaking out for and remembering these murdered woman.

  8. bud white on September 2, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Two things about the Jane Doe photo have struck me as odd, after spending much time comparing it to ES’s arrest photo. Her lipstick doesn’t seem right, it’s on too thick, as if it was applied to her. It’s subtle but I don’t think a woman would do that…Also, her nose seems to me to be slightly swollen, as if she fell or was hit. I think she’s alive because her skin seems to have color, but she could be drugged.

    • Steve Hodel on September 2, 2014 at 11:07 am

      Hi BW: Yes, in BDA II in the Chapter, “Scene of the Crime” I address the lipstick appearance, showing an enlargement and indicating my belief that it was applied by another, and that she appears as either: drugged, unconscious, feigning sleep, or worse, she is dead. I also offer a photographic exhibit (using a known photo taken in 1950) suggesting her body is propped up against what appears to be one of the several upholstered chairs in the living-room of the Franklin House. Regards, Steve

  9. Laura on September 7, 2014 at 1:38 am

    The biometric test results are interesting, because, when first I saw the two photos in your dad’s collection, I immediately decided that the young woman with the flower in her upswept hair could not possibly be Elizabeth Short, but the reclining woman with the full, soft lips and wavy dark hair, who appeared to be asleep or dead, was very likely Short.

    What jumped out at me were her eyebrow ridges. Elizabeth Short had very distinctive brow ridges, and I have in fact seen their like on only one other person I’ve met, a very attractive woman who happens to be from the same area in MA that Elizabeth Short came from.

    • Steve Hodel on September 7, 2014 at 3:05 am

      Hi Laura: Yes, I eliminated the other photo in my father’s album (woman standing by the horse statue) nine-years ago. There is a chapter on her in BDA II along with my personal interview and identification of her as actress Marya Marco, a personal friend of my father’s back in 1940s. The biometrics on the second photo are fascinating and “state of the art.”

  10. Laura on September 20, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Yes, Steve, I read your posts on Marya Marco, who was photographed frequently by your dad.

    I note that she always had her husband with her at these sessions, which was very wise of her. Perhaps she sensed that your dad was dangerous, but his reputation at that time, even before he became a murder suspect, would have been enough to make a woman who knew the local gossip proceed cautiously, if only out of consideration for her reputation, unlike the extremely young naifs who’d blown in from distant places……. like Elizabeth Short.

  11. Jess on September 29, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Hello Steve,
    please refresh my memory: what is the location and date of the bottom three photographs of Elizabeth Short? And what is their provenance? It seems to me that these photos are some of the most contemporary to the date of the murder, but I can’t quite place ’em…
    thank you,

    • Steve Hodel on September 30, 2014 at 1:38 am

      Jess: Photos were taken on the steps of Marshall High School in East Hollywood in Sept or Oct 1946 by a male friend who turned them over to the LAPD after reading about the murder. Same photos were also found in the DA Secret Files from 1950.

  12. tim eakin on December 6, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Steve, just finished reading your 2003 book today and discovered your website. I think you now have a second book so I’ll need to catch up on the latest.
    My one question that I’m wondering about if you have the time to comment.

    Your fathers most distinguishing feature in his facial appearance is his mustache( to me its almost Hitleresque in its style).
    Yet the number of people who witnessed and attempted to describe your father around people who were killed never seem to identify this most distinguishing facial feature.

    Did you ever consider or wonder why this omission from witnesses? Your book is the best book I ever read; I couldn’t put it down. Thank you, Tim Eakin

    • Steve Hodel on December 6, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      Tim: Yes, BDA II is an investigative update covering 2006-2014. You will want the updated 2014 version of BDA II which has five new chapters just added to it in May 2014. I also have a second book out, MOST EVIL (Dutton 2009) which deals with other serial crimes outside of the L.A. area. Thanks for the kind words re. BDA, glad you enjoyed the read.

      As to you question. Assuming that there were NOT times in my father’s life that he chose not to wear a mustache, then depending on the circumstances, it is not all that unusual that it was omitted in a description. If there were multiple witnesses and one said they saw a mustache and another said, no clean shaven, then oftentimes the police will go with none, or with the witness they feel is the best? Eye witness descriptions frequently vary a great deal in age/height/facial hair/clothing. Five witnesses will generally give you five different descriptions. Then factor in environment, lighting, distance, and it becomes a real mixed bag. This is why Head DDA Steve Kay said he would “rather prosecute a case on strong circumstantial evidence rather than direct testimony(eye-witnesses).” Too many different descriptions from percipient witnesses oftentimes only confuse and cast doubt on any “ID.”
      Regards, Steve

      • tim eakin on December 6, 2014 at 5:25 pm

        Thank you Steve for your ultra fast reply to my question.

        One more. Have you ever had any interest from Hollywood on a movie of your book?
        Its such an incredible mysterious story compared to what is produced by Hollywood these days.

        Thanks, Tim

        • Steve Hodel on December 7, 2014 at 11:15 am

          Tim: Yes, BDA was optioned by NEW LINE back in 2005, but then Hollywood made the fictional version of Black Dahlia instead, which pretty much bombed at the box office, so…….. Been recent interest in seeing the true story told possibly as a television series, and am looking at those possibilities at present. You never know with HOLLYWOOD. Best, Steve

          • Drew Wright on October 9, 2016 at 8:11 am

            A few years ago I watched season 1 of “American Horror Story”. Was very surprised to see that it was absolutely a “retelling” or extrapolation of George and his deeds. Invariably, the season goes off into some other crazy directions as it winds its way, but the backstory is of a famous designer home in Pasadena of a doctor in the 40s that performed illegal abortions and murdered women in the basement.

            I haven’t ever seen it mentioned here before, so I thought I’d mention it now, due to your comment on having it optioned for production.

          • Steve Hodel on October 9, 2016 at 10:20 am

            Drew: I didn’t see the “American Horror Story” episode you mention, but several readers have mentioned it. Yes, a number of various spinoffs have been done, including a U.K. series called, “The Red Dahlia” which had a modern day serial killer committing crimes ala Dr. George Hodel. BDA was optioned for a film way back in 2004, but the rights reverted back to me in 2006 when Ellroy’s fictional “Black Dahlia” was made instead. There is currently strong interest in possibly adapting my non-fiction investigation into a series,so will see what unfolds? Best, Steve H.

  13. tim eakin on December 22, 2014 at 2:25 pm


    In looking at a pictorial book at the library titled “Wilshire Boulevard” by Kevin Roderick (2005) there is a group picture of the Academy Awards on Feb.29, 1940 at the Cocoanut Grove Ambassador Hotel.

    Your parents are in the picture seated at the second table from the left at the far end of the table.
    This is the awards ceremony where “Gone with the Wind” won most of the awards.

    You can correct me, but I think your mother would have been pregnant with your brother Michael when this picture was taken.
    Your father is looking straight at the camera, but your mother is slightly blocked by the man next to her. Check on this book at your library and confirm my find and do you recognize who the couple is next to your mom. Merry Christmas, Tim

    • Steve Hodel on December 22, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      Hi Tim: Will have to check out the book.
      As far as the timing, no my older brother Michael was born July 12, 1939. (They didn’t marry until Dec 1940)
      I was born on November 6, 1941 so she would not have been pregnant during the time the photo was taken if it was February, 1940. Thanks for the heads up on it. Steve


  14. tim eakin on December 22, 2014 at 2:30 pm


    Sorry I forgot its on page 59.

  15. msX on June 29, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    i realize this is 5 years later. But i have to say something. Jane Doe Photo No. 2 looks much like people i have seen who were quite drugged ( heroin users) and sleepy or passed out and taken advantage of with oral sex. I mean a lot of it. so thier lips puffed up. It really reminds me of that. So it could be a woman with thinner lips but had been mistreated in such a way. These people look very different from when they are sober and awake and active and not doing that stuff.

    • Steve Hodel on June 29, 2019 at 1:01 pm


      Yes, I address this in BDA II and believe that this photo was taken at the Sowden/Franklin House and that she is either drugged unconscious and or dead. See that chapter for full deatails.

  16. Bryan Williams on July 18, 2019 at 11:08 am

    Steve, hope you’re doing well. The Jane Doe photo 2 in your father’s album has intrigued me since I first saw it. I’ve just finished BDA I, and one (of a million questions) that struck me was “were ES’s ears pierced?” In the initial LAPD investigative summary it says no. And in her autopsy photos they don’t appear to be. If they weren’t, then photo number 1 (as you refer to it in BDA) is not ES, unless they are clip-on earrings. If they are clip-ons, then I don’t think they would fit inside her ear as you suggest in the “New Investigation “ chapter.

    That being said, the shape of the ear appears to me (as a completely untrained armchair detective) to be exactly the same, and I absolutely believe that it is a photo of ES.

    I thoroughly enjoyed BDA I, and am looking forward to reading the rest of them, as well as the Exquisite Corpse book you suggested to me. For some reason this case fascinates me, even though you have clearly solved it. Thank you so much!

    • Steve Hodel on July 18, 2019 at 12:08 pm

      Bryan W: Yes, the earings are confusing and may or may not be as I believed back in 2003? Hard to tell? Just as the Kern Jungle knife may or may not be Joe Barrett’s knife. Hard to determine since the LAPD evidence knife has “gone missing.” The newspaper photo of the knife appears “handmade” but unless we had the original unable to determine is same or not. I agree with the shape of the ear and the “no lobe” is distinctive too. Add to that the BioTech Facial Recognition at “95%” has to give additional evidence that it is likely ES. (Though a “99.8% is required for a positive ID.) Best, Steve.

      • Alison on September 17, 2019 at 12:49 am

        Hi Steve… i have listened to the root of evil podcast and have read about the vlack dahlia crime a bit. Firstly. I want to applaud you on your amazing extensive research, you are an incredible detective and your work is thorough and objective. Secondly, i hope that through this you have healed and come to a good place. Not much is mentioned how much you and your brother went through with your father, it seems Tamar was mostly affected. What was life like living with him? Thirdly, i agree this was not him alone but rather a conspiracy and all names should be brought to justice. Fourth, when was the Jane Doe photo allegedly taken? Could ES have been attending drunken orgies at the house previously? How did they “choose” her? Fifth, what is GHH’s ancestry? Lastly, has the cultish side been examined? This looks almost like SDA? Fracture and harm children, the minotaur, sexual abuse, sacrifice? Tamar certainly has had her personality fractured. And this WAS a time of psychoanalysis and experimentation, but also a time new thought and dark fantasy. have you ever seen SDA cases similar to this?

        Sorrt about all tge quearions, tgis is most intriguing. Digging i to the depths if the dark human psyche, what humans are capable of. Really disturbing! My heart breaks for what your family has been through and i feel sad for Fauna 2 as i think she has been scarred the most, but that is not to undermine anyone elses trauma in this. May you all find peace.

        Ps. One more thing…. you are amazing to keep up with all the messages and questions

        • Steve Hodel on September 19, 2019 at 12:36 am

          Alison: Thanks again for the kind words. Much appreciated. Most of your questions are addressed in BDA. Family members are doing OK with the sunshine comes healing. My full brothers Michael and Kelvin and I were less affected than others, especially Tamar and by consequence, her children. Much more to be revealed in “The Early Years” but much is revealed about our father’s twisted psyche in the current now six published books. Best, Steve

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