Josh Mankiewicz 2004 Court TV Clip with Joe Barrett wherein He Describes Disarming of Witness Waiting to Shoot Dr. Hodel for Killing Black Dahlia

Los Angeles, California
May 15, 2016

Have received multiple requests for documentation on witness Joe Barrett’s original statements related to the fact that Lillian Lenorak knew Elizabeth Short and his direct involvement in disarming Lillian at the Sowden/Franklin House. Barrett found her in Dr. Hodel’s bedroom armed with Hodel’s rifle and waiting to shoot the doctor because “he has to pay for the murder.” (Elizabeth Short)

See original Barrett statement clip from Court TV interview in 2004

See full Santa Barbara police officer Mary Unkefer’s Letter to LADA containing Lillian Lenorak’s full statement of the incident here.



  1. Heinz Kampel on December 19, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    Dear Mr. Hodel, I am a writer of film history from Austria and have been following your publications closely. Having read all your books (safe Black Dahlia Avenger III, which is not available yet) I congratulate you on your tenacity and most of all your candidness about your father`s dark side. It would have beeen easy to join the band wagon of cover- , hush and shut-ups. Would you please care to comment though, why you are very lenient (to say the least) on Joe Barrett`s involvement in the BD case? He (pardon the appropriate expression) “ratted” your sister Tamar out at the trial of George Hodel. While he went free, her life never was the same. Joe disarmed Lillian Lenorak, told your father all about it, which resulted in a staged suicide attempt and ultimately in her untimely death. But what concerns me the most, is that his was the murder weapon of Gladys Kern, which links him to the crime directly as a possible suspect. His explanation that the knife was stolen from him by your brother Mike must be seen as a protection assertion, which in turn shifts suspicion right to your next of kin! Thank you for getting back to me and keep the good work up. Greetings from Vienna, Heinz (Lock, stock and Errol Flynn)

    • Steve Hodel on December 19, 2018 at 2:30 pm

      Hi Heinz K: Greetings back to you from Los Angeles. Thank you for the kind words on my books and investigation. Much appreciated. As to your questions/observations. As to our former roomer/resident Joe Barrett, then mid-Twenties and recently discharged from the U.S. Navy. I was able to spent a fair amount of time with him after I relocated back to LA and began my full-time investigation. He was a gentle soul and to my mind, rather naive, especially when it came to sizing up my father, George Hodel. I do believe his informing me of the knife story and my brother Mike stealing it and then dad finding and taking it from him was true. Joe had no idea that it related to or was possibly involved in the Gladys Kern murder. (If in fact it was the same knife? I have mixed feelings that it was, but since the knife is “missing” from LAPD property, we will never know the truth of it.) I don’t believe Joe ever testified at the trial, and new information would seem to indicate that not only did he have sex with Tamar, but apparently was the one who actually got her pregnant. (Per the NY Times article) I do question Joe’s accounting of “taking the rifle away from Lillian and calming her down.” In fact, he omitted the whole drugging and my father’s cutting of her wrists to fake an “attempted suicide” story and the Unkefer statements. I have to believe he was aware of what occurred, though he may not have been a participant? But, clearly, he did omit the whole officer Unkefer story until after I discovered it in the DA Files. So, clearly untruthful and I expect he was feeling some major guilt on how it all unfolded, but an actual accomplice to the crimes–highly doubtful. At least that’s my read on it for now. Best Regards, Steve.

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