LAPD Chief Thad Brown, The Black Dahlia, and "Thoughtprints"- Modus Operandi (M.O.) in the 21st Century

June 8, 2017
Los Angeles, California
Thoughtprint:  The motive within a thought.  The ridges, loops, and whorls of the mind, which like the “points” found in a fingerprint, contain the potential to link an individual to a specific time, place, crime, or victim.
                                                                       Steve Hodel
(Term originally coined by author in his first book, Black Dahlia Avenger (2003)
Photo was taken in 1966 in front of LAPD Parker Center “The Glass House.”

Officer Steve Hodel        Chief Thad Brown
The above photograph was taken in 1966, in front of what was then known as the LAPD’s, PAB (Police Administration Building). Shortly after this photo was taken, it was renamed Parker Center in honor of Chief William H. Parker. Immediately after Parker’s death in 1966, then Chief of Detectives, Thad Brown was named as Los Angeles’ interim chief of police. (This was standard for a high-ranking officer to be selected and assume temporary command, while other staff officers prepared to compete for the exam, orals and permanent selection.)
In 1966, with only three years on the job, I was a rookie officer working Hollywood Patrol and was sent, along with a dozen other officers from Hollywood Division, to attend Thad Brown’s swearing in ceremony in the police auditorium.
Immediately after the ceremony, a photographer approached me in the lobby as I was walking out the front door and asked, “Officer, Would you like to have your picture taken with the new chief?”  Surprised and honored I readily agreed, and Chief Brown smiled as we walked out in front of the building where this photograph was taken. About three weeks later, I received this copy through the Inter-Department mails. I threw it in a box and forgot about it
The photo had no real meaning or significance to me, other than the obvious honor of being with the chief. However, we now know it had tremendous meaning and import to Thad Brown. He knew then, what I would not discover for another 35-years. Thad Brown KNEW I was the son of the Black Dahlia killer, and he just could not resist the “photo-op.”
It would not be until after the completion of my investigation and the publication of my first book om 2003 that we would learn from an LAPD reserve officer, about the conversation between Thad Brown and actor Jack Webb, his close friend who played, LAPD’s Sgt. Joe Friday. In that confidential conversation, Thad Brown disclosed to Jack Webb, “We know who killed the Black Dahlia. The case was solved. It was a doctor in Hollywood, who lived on Franklin Avenue.”  
Chief Brown’s statement made to his friend and drinking buddy; Jack Webb was his independent and separate confirmation of what we discovered locked away in the secret D.A. DAHLIA/HODEL Files, which identified Dr. George Hill Hodel, living in Hollywood at 5121 Franklin Avenue,  as the killer.
Those files opened in 2003 as a result of my investigation, named Dr. George Hodel as the Black Dahlia killer and contained his tape-recorded confession (146-pages of transcripts) to the murder of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short, as well as the murder of his personal secretary, Ruth Spaulding. (LAPD admitted they had investigated him in 1945 for her suspected murder, as a possible “forced overdose,” but were unable to obtain sufficient evidence for prosecution and the investigation remained listed as a “suicide” by pills.)
The secret tapes also contained Dr. Hodel’s admissions to “payoffs to Law Enforcement” and to performing illegal abortions at his clinic, as well as the real-time recording of a felony assault and or murder of an identified woman in the basement of the Franklin House residence.
In addition to LAPD Chief Thad Brown, three other high-ranking law enforcement officers connected to the original 1947 investigation would independently confirm in private conversations with friends and relatives that the case was “solved.”










Click Link below to PDF to read full definition of “Thoughtprints” which I provided to  Dr. Richard Walton in 2005 for his textbook, “Cold Case Homicides”
Link to PDF for thoughtprints Dr. Walton book


  1. Pat on September 16, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    I remember two brothers Mike and Matt Hodel who used to play at The Northeast YMCA in Eagle Rock after school in the early 80’s and their Dad picking them up in his LAPD car. Could that be you? If so, hope all is wel with them

    • Steve Hodel on September 17, 2017 at 12:12 am

      Yes, that would have been us. We moved up to Bellingham, WA in 1989. Mike and Matt are all grown up now and doing fine. Thanks. Steve

  2. Lou Gable on February 2, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Hi Steve,

    Loved your book on the Black Dahlia. Was just thinking about the case yesterday after seeing Natalie Wood’s death is in the news again. Today I go to read the news and see your father’s house was sold. The secrets that place must hold.

    • Steve Hodel on February 2, 2018 at 3:25 pm

      Hi Lou: Thanks. Glad you liked the read. Yes, lot more focus on the Franklin/Sowden House as the actual Crime Scene in BDA II (Thoughtprint Press 2014 ed.) Will be updating that book with ten new chapters in a few months. Best, Steve

  3. Don Long on December 5, 2018 at 8:40 pm


    As far as you know did Thad Brown have any other relatives on the job other than his Brother?
    Also, did COP Parker’s aid, Captain James Hamilton, have a son on LAPD in the 1980’s who was a Detective in OCID? I did not get an answer from you.

    Don Long
    Retired D-2 LAPD
    Bend OR

    • Steve Hodel on December 5, 2018 at 9:58 pm

      Don L: I think Thad Brown’s son, was a career officer on LAPD. (James?) Also, another relative, possibly a grandson. Don’t know if Capt. Hamilton had any relatives on the Dept? Regards, Steve H.

    • Ciara Pait on December 25, 2019 at 1:14 am

      That’s so sad, I figured there might have been a missing persons report or something on her. Why do you think would they let him escape over that? I’m very shocked they didn’t do anything.

      • Steve Hodel on December 25, 2019 at 1:31 am

        Ciara P:
        It’s involved. Need to read the full story. Propbably was a Missing Person’s Report made by the husband or relative but never connected to the crime since there was no investigation of her crime, so just became another “missing person” unexplained. Very sad indeed.
        Steve H.

  4. Jane Tobin on November 13, 2019 at 6:57 am

    Hello Steve I enjoyed your first book very much. Back in 1967 I worked for Thad Brown’s brother Ray where he was president of Signal Trucking in Los Angeles. There was no mention of the Black Dahlia murder at that time

    • Steve Hodel on November 13, 2019 at 10:49 am

      Jane T: Hi Jane. Yes and the George Hodel connections would remain secret for another 35 years until the discovery of the secret DA Hodel/Black Dahlia Tapes in 2003. Best, Steve

  5. Ciara Pait on December 25, 2019 at 12:23 am

    Hi Steve, I’m currently reading your first book and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I also listened to the root of evil podcast and I’m just curious as to who the woman was in the basement? Thank you for your service as well as all the research you have done and are continuing to do.
    I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas!

    • Steve Hodel on December 25, 2019 at 12:57 am

      Hi Ciara: Thanks and best holiday wishes to you and yours. The woman in the basement remains a “Jane Doe” and was never named/identified. Sadly, I don’t believe LAPD ever did any follow-up on attempting to identify her? That assault (probable murder) was the primary reason they let George Hodel escape and hid the recordings in the vault. Best, Steve

  6. James H on November 28, 2020 at 3:27 am

    Hey Steve, just wrapping up Black Dahlia Avenger on Audible. Gripping, sad, revealing, shocking. What went through your head when you first noticed a connection with your father and the murders? I can’t imagine I’d be able to sleep again. Thank you for all your hard work, his victims deserved the justice your books have brought. Take care, James -Vallejo CA.

    • Steve Hodel on November 28, 2020 at 2:14 pm

      Hi James:
      Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated.
      Well, initially I said to myself, “No way. I’ll be able to establish he had nothing to do with the Black Dahlia Murder in ten minutes.” Sadly, I did what I was trained to do and “followed the evidence.” That, as you know took me in the exact opposite direction. Hope to proceed on the adaptation of the books to a miniseries in the very near future. Also, will be presenting “The Early Years” down the road a bit. Best, Steve

  7. Nicholas A Pinhey on December 29, 2021 at 11:56 am

    Hello Steve,

    I’m reaching out to you regarding information on Thad Brown. Let me know if there is a way to contact you via email.

    • Steve Hodel on December 29, 2021 at 12:00 pm

      Nicholas P:
      You can reach me at my email address of:

      • Nicholas A Pinhey on December 29, 2021 at 12:02 pm

        Thanks Steve. I really appreciate the help!

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