68th Anniversary of the Murder of Elizabeth "Black Dahlia" Short- Exposing the Three Major Dahlia Myths

January 15, 2015
Los Angeles

Today is the 68th anniversary of the murder of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short.

It also marks the 12th anniversary of the day I called my step-mother, June Hirano Hodel and informed her that I had just completed a nearly three-year sub-rosa criminal investigation.

During that three-hour conversation I informed my father’s widow that my investigation had been submitted to then active L.A. Head Deputy DA, Stephen Kay, former Charles Manson prosecutor, who after reviewing all of my evidence,  provided a legal opinion that it was  his belief that my father, “Dr. George Hill Hodel, was in fact responsible for the 1947 torture-murder of Elizabeth Short. Further, that he had, some three weeks later, also, committed the sadistic stomping murder of Mrs. Jeanne French (1947 “Red Lipstick Murder”) whose semi-nude body had been posed on a vacant lot some six miles west of the Dahlia crime scene.”

Sadly, that was the last communication I have had with June, who after hearing all the evidence said, “This is not possible. Your father was a scholar and a physician.”

Black Dahlia Avenger (Arcade 2003) published in April, 2003.

The original evidence was strong and compelling enough for Head DDA Steve Kay to opine that he was confident he “could win a conviction on both counts of murder, were Dr. Hodel still alive and the witnesses available to testify.”

A year later, with the publication of BDA (HarperCollins paperback 2004) a new chapter containing the secret DA Hodel/Black Dahlia Files was published along with new witness statements and official police reports connecting the victim Elizabeth Short with George Hodel as “acquaintances before her murder.” (This fact rendered moot any question of whether the photographs found in George Hodel’s album were or were not Elizabeth Short. Law Enforcement here independently documented “they knew each other and were acquainted.” )

The secret files also recorded George Hodel admitting to multiple murders including the Black Dahlia and that of his secretary, Ruth Spaulding, which LAPD acknowledged they had investigated as a “suspected forced overdose” some eighteen months prior to the Elizabeth Short murder. (Based on this updated edition, then LAPD Chief of Detectives James McMurray ordered his Robbery Homicide detectives to “clear the Black Dahlia case, unless you find some major holes in Hodel’s investigation.” To date, some eleven years later, detectives claim they have not had a chance to review my investigation.)

Two years later, (2006) a second new chapter was added to the HarperCollins paperback with additional forensics and linkage, along with extensive documentation of George Hodel’s skill as a surgeon documenting over 740 hours of surgery in medical school, and the fact that he was the sole practicing surgeon at a logging camp in Arizona/New Mexico in 1937-1938.

In 2012, I published Black Dahlia Avenger II, and updated it in 2014 with five new chapters which examined all new evidence obtained from 2006-2014.  This included hard physical evidence connecting items found next to the victim’s body, at the vacant lot (body dump location) and tracing and tying them back (through original receipts) to having been at the Hodel Franklin/Sowden House just four days prior to the body being found.

With the new chapters added in 2014, there is too much new linkage to attempt to summarize here, (see below table of contents for additional chapters),however, to honor Elizabeth Short’s anniversary, I am here making available the three major myth chapters from BDA II.

One of the most famous quotes (and one of my favorites) is the oft-repeated line from John Ford’s 1962, classic western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  It is the closing scene.

Senator Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) has just finished telling editor/publisher, Mr. Maxwell Scott (Carleton Young) of the Shinbone Star newspaper the “true story” of “who shot Liberty Valance.”

Liberty Valance quote fnl
















“… When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

That is exactly what has happened with the Black Dahlia Legend.

For over fifty years, opportunists, hack writers and sensationalists have been making up and printing “the Dahlia Legend,” fictional  accounts as books, and in film and television, replaced  the original facts and the long forgotten truths—lost to history, replaced with hucksters and hoaxsters selling their snake-oil lies, turning the victim into a “virgin tramp,” “a back alley low-life prostitute” and worse.

As we have discovered in recent years, many of those truths (The Hodel Black Dahlia Transcripts) were deliberately kept locked away in Law Enforcement vaults, hidden from the public until the L.A. Times first revealed some of the information post-publication of BDA in 2003. I later, partially included in my BDA 2004 update, additional pages, which were followed by my complete, unabridged publication of the 146-page transcripts in 2014.

The Three Greatest Black Dahlia Myths

Black Dahlia Avenger II (Thoughtprint Press May 2014) 564 pages

bda contents fnl










In BDA II, I present separate chapters (11,12, and 13), each dealing with one of the three major Dahlia Myths.

Chapter 11- Myth No. 1—“A standalone Murder” The myth claims, “The Black Dahlia murder was a stand-alone. Her killer never committed a crime before nor after her brutal murder.”

Chapter 12- Myth No. 2—“The Missing Week”  The myth claims, “On the evening of January 9, 19447, Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia, walked out of the Olive Street entrance f the Biltmore Hotel, turned right, and was last seen walking south on the sidewalk. She was never seen again until her nude, bisected body was found six days later, on January 15, posed the vacant lot.”

Chap 13- Myth No. 3—“Black Dahlia Murder Never Solved” The myth claims, “Since 1947, hundreds of suspects were questioned by LAPD detectives, but the killer of the Black Dahlia was never identified. The case was never solved.”

To honor the memory of Elizabeth Short and to continue to  “set the record straight” and replace those three major myths (there are many more)  with the truths, as we now know them, I am attaching those three chapters, in their entirety, as they appear in the 2014 BDA II edition.  Click on below PDFs.

Chapter 11         Myth 1-              “A Standalone Murder”

Chapter 12          Myth 2-              “The Missing Week”

Chapter 13         Myth 3-              “The Black Dahlia Murder Never Solved”

         Rest in Peace Elizabeth.

sadler dahlia

                           Dahlia photo courtesy of author/photographer Robert Sadler






  1. Dennis Effle on January 15, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Dear Steve;
    Keep hammering away at the monolith of lies, half-truths and miss-conceptions as you have with this anniversary tribute to “the real” Elizabeth’s memory, though the sky’s may fall!
    Your undaunted work on this investigation has shed the light of truth on the chronological history of the case as well as the cities “authority structure” that manipulated all the elements of a cover-up (Police, city hall and the media).
    Your work has also given some sort of justice to the memory of the woman who was so brutally murdered and then had her memory sullied by rumor and innuendo over the ensuing decades.
    Thank You for choosing the truth over the legend!

    • Steve Hodel on January 15, 2015 at 4:50 pm

      Dennis E: Thanks Dennis. Hard to believe that its been 12 years since my original BDA publication. Thanks to friends and comments here and emails from the public so much new linkage has been forthcoming. Your support is much appreciated. Steve

  2. Elizabeth on January 16, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Dear Steve,

    I read about the 68th anniversary of the unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short. I was only 2 years old when she was killed on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. But, over the years, I have known about this crime. I grew up in Los Feliz Hills and attended Marshall High School (S63). We may have been in the same class! As a former LAPD detective, now private investigator, you are well positioned to solve this case, particularly if your dad is suspected to have committed this crime. Is he still a suspect? I do hope the truth of this horrible crime comes out. Good luck to you,

    • Steve Hodel on January 16, 2015 at 4:07 pm

      Hi Elizabeth: Actually the case was and is solved, at least according to LA Head DDA Steve Kay (now retired) and LAPD Chief of Detectives James McMurray, now also retired. All detailed in my two books, BDA and BDA II. Details and lots of info at my blogsite. I attended Los Feliz Elementary, but went to several different H.S. (Glendale, Van Nuys). All my best, Steve

  3. Deborah Murphy on January 24, 2015 at 10:06 am

    I have read so many different books about Elizabeth Short, and always felt they dishonored her memory. It was as if they were written to say she deserved what she got. It sickened me. When I started reading your books and ‘Exquisite Corpse: Surrealism and the Black Dahlia Murder’, I was pulled into a world of intrigue and such evil that it has haunted my mind to this day. But the thing that has struck me most is the meticulous accumulation of facts that you have worked so hard and long to assemble, and the incredible coming together of such seemingly odd puzzle pieces as art works, movies, a respected doctor, an overwhelmingly evil looking house, Hollywood and artistic elites, and horrifying murder. You have built a stellar and solid case against your father as the serial killer of so many unfortunate souls in such horrendous circumstances. I have no doubt that you have successfully tied him to the Black Dahlia, the Lone Woman Murders, the Chicago Lipstick Murders, the Zodiac, and the Manila Jigsaw Murder, and it has been fascinating and eye opening to follow your detective work and see just how much time, thought, research, and leg work has gone into such an operation. Your story is, to me, the film noir supreme.

    The revelations from the LAPD, LASD, and DA’s Office that the case was indeed solved, and their fear of scandal from publicly naming the murderer involved in these cases, points to more than fear of their secrets being revealed. I think they feared for the safety of their families and themselves after seeing the handiwork of your father. I feel that Dr. George Hodel worked with impunity and felt immune from prosecution because of the information he had on law enforcement, the politicians, and the Hollywood elite. He certainly mingled with these people, and I’m sure they picked up on the power he held over them, and his likely display of menacing lack of hesitation to remove any threats they might pose to him.

    And I thank you for humanizing Elizabeth Short, and making her a real, live person who found herself tangled in the web of the most poisonous spider in the person of Dr. George Hodel. When I read you books, or just see her picture on the covers, I get the strangest feeling that she is present, and expressing gratitude for finally having the true story of her tragic end revealed. I think that you have offered solace and release for the poor victims of your father’s true evil acts.

    I admire you for your dedication to these cases, and I say a pray for you for the torment these investigations must inevitably cause you. Steve, you are a great man of determination and courage in the face of such overwhelming revelations. I can’t even imagine how you have been able to deal with what this case has brought your way. Deborah

    • steve on January 24, 2015 at 11:17 am

      Deborah: Thank you so much for your very kind and very articulate words.
      Clearly, you get “the big picture” and have an excellent understanding of how all the pieces “fit together.”

      Yes, have to agree that it is in your words, “the film noir supreme,” and a real life story that far exceeds any screenwriters ability to “think it up.” The mind just wouldn’t go there, only reality would dare to venture into this kind of darkness. “Truth far stranger than fiction” has never been more apt.

      I hope you are right about the truth bringing some solace to the victims and their families. That has been my goal from the beginning.

      Again, my thanks for your kind thoughts and nothing brings more pleasure to a writer than to see that his readers understand and gain insights from the printed words. Very rewarding.

      Stay tuned, more to come in the near future.

      Best Regards, Steve

  4. Ann Loray Bartels on October 20, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Steve, I have followed your stroy for years. Only today did I become sure your last name is the same family of Hodel that I too am related to. I was born much much later than any of the subject or events of your book occured. However, I did wish to reach out to you I think we may be possible cousins or second cousins.

    Please reach out to me I might have some helpful family information which may or may not be of use to you.

    Ann Loray “Lori” Bartels

Leave a Comment