The Black Dahlia Leslie Dillon/Dr. Paul De River Fiasco– A Week of LAPD Fubar* (Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition)

September 24, 2017
Los Angeles, California
According to a few inquiries from my readers, I am informed that a new Black Dahlia book reportedly to be published on October 10, 2017 (George Hodel’s Birthday) is claiming “a new solution to the Black Dahlia Murder.”  The U.K. press  has indicated that a British author is  claiming a “coverup” and has named “the real killer as, Leslie Dillion,” the once “prime suspect” of Dr. Paul DeRiver, the discredited and fired LAPD “psychiatrist.” DeRiver after offering his services for free then created and self-appointed himself head and of the Department’s, “Sexual Offense Bureau.”
According to transcribed testimony from the 1949 DA Files and Grand Jury questioning some of Dr. DeRiver’s circumstantial evidence that led him to believe Leslie Dillon was the killer was (according to Dr. DeRiver) based on his own findings as follows:
*  The fact that when Dillion and DeRiver dined together at a restaurant,  Dillion claimed the meat served to him “was too rare and he couldn’t eat it”, which to DeRiver’s mind showed proof of a guilty conscience because it reminded him of the raw carnage of his crime and demonstrated a consciousness of guilt.)
* When DeRiver interrogated Dillon with detectives in his hotel room he asked Dillon to take down his pants and shorts. Dillion complied and DeRiver observed he had “an infantile penis”, more along the size of a teenager rather than a man’s,  which  in DeRiver’s mind would “make him more inclined to be a rapist or sexual deviant.”
*Dillon provided Dr. DeRiver with a hand-drawn sketch of the man he met and believed might be the Dahlia killer, identifying him as “Jeff Conner”, residing in San Francisco.  Dr. DeRiver informed detectives that this individual would not exist as he was nothing more than “Dillon’s alter ego” created as a cover to deflect suspicion away from Dillon.
There are many more examples from the official police files, demonstrating Dr. Deriver’s psycho-babble, but you get the idea. I’ll leave it at that.
I briefly addressed the DeRiver/Dillon Black Dahlia Fiasco in my third book as follows:
Excerpt from Black Dahlia Avenger II Chapter 20, (pages 312-313):

If asked what detective originally led the Black Dahlia murder investigation, most cops and reporters would say, it was Sgt. Harry Hansen. Wrong answer. Another myth.
The real lead detective was Sgt. Finis A. Brown, brother of LAPD’s Chief of Detectives Thad Brown.
By all accounts, Brown did most of the legwork and pretty much all of the thinking in the important first three years of the Dahlia investigation.
                         Black Dahlia victim, Elizabeth Short, and lead detective                                                               Finis Brown shared the same birthday–July 29
In December 1949, the grand jury subpoenaed a number of LAPD detectives to testify about the original investigation. Among them was, Finis Brown and Lt. William Burns, the former commander of LAPD’s Gangster Squad who had loaned some of his men to the Dahlia case. Unfortunately, Gangster Squad detectives were mostly untrained in homicide investigations; they tended to be loose cannons who made messes.
At the behest of the LAPD’s “department psychiatrist,” Dr. J. Paul DeRiver, the Gangster Squad was persuaded to pursue the doctor’s red-herring suspect, Leslie Dillon, who (much to his later regret) had originally contacted Dr. DeRiver from Florida with “some thoughts” on the case.
In January 1949, two years after the murder, Dr. DeRiver and a couple of Gangster Squad detectives lured Dillon to California “to meet and discuss his theories.” After holding him “incommunicado” at various hotels for three days, they arrested him as Elizabeth Short’s killer.
It made headlines after the “three-day detainee” dropped a note out of his downtown L.A. hotel window, begging someone to contact famed criminal defense attorney Jerry Giesler to rescue him.
Dillon was released several days after his arrest, although the Gangster Squad and Dr. DeRiver remained convinced that he was the actual Black Dahlia killer. For the rest of 1949, they continued to build a case against him.
In October 1949, at the request of Lt. Jemison, Sgt. Finis Brown went to San Francisco and was able to verify Leslie Dillon’s alibi that he was in that city in the days before and after Elizabeth Short’s murder.
The entire affair was a huge embarrassment to LAPD Homicide. Both Lt. Burns and Dr. DeRiver were called on the carpet. Burns was taken out of the Gangster Squad and Dr. DeRiver left his position as LAPD’s department psychiatrist six months after the Dillon debacle.


LAPD investigators and Black Dahlia murder suspect Leslie Dillon (wearing overcoat, center) take a break from questioning on January 11, 1949. Flanking the suspect are (left to right) J. Paul de River, Detective Lieutenant William Burns, Chief of Police C. B. Horrall and Captain Francis Kearney.




J. Paul de River (left) and exonerated Black Dahlia suspect Leslie Dillon face reporters outside Highland Park jail on January 12, 1949.  (Above photos from

(Left) Two years after the Black Dahlia Murder Leslie  Dillon is arrested for Dahlia murder based on Dr. DeRiver’s “sleuthing.” (It has been speculated that the doctor gave himself the fictitious name “DeRiver” to indicate “one who Derives” ie. a master detective?
(Right)  Within one day of Dillon’s arrest, the real Jeff Connors was located in San Francisco and brought to LA for questioning proving that DeRiver’s theory of an “alter ego” for Dillion was incorrect and Dillion was released from custody. A Later investigation by DA investigators confirmed Dillon’s alibi and established that Dilllon was in fact in San Franciso at the time of the murder of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short (January 15, 1947) and could not have committed the crime. Leslie Dillon would later sue the LAPD and Dr. DeRiver for unlawful detention and false arrest and it is my understanding he won his claim and received monetary damages paid by LA City.
Dr. Paul De River, LAPD S.O.B.
(Sexual Offense Bureau)
SKH Note-Full Disclosure: Let m state out front that I am no fan of Dr. Paul De River (true name, Joseph L. Israel) This is based on seventeen years of research into the history of Los Angeles, and those, including Dr. Paul DeRivers,  involved in its high-profile criminal cases in the Thirties, Forties and Fifties.)
In 1937, offering to work for free, DeRiver approached LAPD informing them “he was a psychiatrist, skilled in criminology” and was accepted (without any background check or questions.) LAPD jumped at the “free service” figuring they had nothing to lose. (Except as later years would prove, their reputation.)
DeRiver declared himself to be the LAPDs self-appointed “sex expert” and he named his assigned office, “The SOB.”  (Sexual Offense Bureau.) He remained in this position for thirteen years until wrongfully accusing one Leslie Dillion of being the Black Dahlia killer. DeRiver did this in secret and in concert with several other Gangster Squad detectives (on loan to homicide to “assist” in the Dahlia investigation.)
Dillon residing in Florida, contacted Dr. DeRiver regarding someone he believed was “a hot suspect” and DeRiver arranged for LAPD to pay for Dillon’s travel from Florida. DeRiver secretly believed that Dillion himself was the killer and lured him to California, ostensibly to help the doctor solve “whodunit. ”  Dr. DeRiver along with a few detectives from the Gangster Squad then unlawfully detained Dillon for more than a week, driving him to various locations throughout Southern California.
In January, 1949, after extensive around the clock interrogations while being held in the downtown LA  Strand Hotel, Dillon secretly dropped a handwritten note out of the hotel window asking for someone “to notify and get him Defense attorney Jerry Giesler, as he was being held unlawfully by the police.” The note was found turned over to LAPD who then promptly booked Dillon for the suspected murder of  Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short.

 Leslie Dillon’s handwritten note dropped out Strand Hotel window addressed to Attorney Jerry Geisler. (sic)
 “I am being held in room 219 & 21 Strand Hotel. Phone Fe 3101 in conversation with Black Dahlia murder by Dr. River as far as I can tell. I would like legal counsel.”
Mr. Leslie Dillon
In June 1950 Dr. DeRiver’s Tried for Drug Charges, found guilty and Fired from LAPD by Chief Worton and Police Commission in August (Chief William H. Parker took over command of LAPD at this same time.)





For those interested on a deeper dive background of Dr. Paul De Rivers check out the below link:

 As a P.S. sideline to Sgt. Finis Brown’s testimony to the Grand Jury in 1949 we discover additional information on the “Unknown Elizabeth Short Downtown Doctor” suspect, which is consistent with George Hodel’s actions/crime signatures  in his murders in: Chicago, LA, Riverside, and San Francisco Bay Area.
From BDA II:

My review of the DA files included Sgt. Finis Brown’s testimony before the 1949 grand jury. The transcript covered various aspects of his then three-year-old investigation; however, what I found most revealing were several questions asked of him by the grand jury foreman, Mr. Harry Lawson. These were made in the presence of Deputy District Attorney Arthur Veitch and Lt. Frank Jemison.
Here is the verbatim excerpt:
Testimony of LAPD Sgt. Finis Brown Date: December 6, 1949
Questioned by: DDA Arthur L. Veitch and GJ
Present: 1949 grand jury members and DA investigator Lt. Frank B. Jemison
(Excerpt from page 30 of 1949 Secret Grand Jury Transcript):
Grand Jury Foreman, Mr. Harry Lawson asks Sgt. Brown
Q: Do you care to express an opinion to this Jury as to who you think killed Elizabeth Short?
Sgt. Finis Brown:
A: I can’t express an opinion. I don’t know. I can this: That there is over 100 pages of names cut out of this address book; also, it is known that she was in care of some doctor. We don’t know who that doctor is yet. We have never been able to find out. We do know this; that on two or three occasions a doctor identifying himself as a doctor, but refusing to give his name called the Hollywood Station and gave some information of where the information—some information might be picked up on her around Hollywood Boulevard.
























  1. Lucas Pickford on September 24, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Wow. That is really unbelievable. And this UK author is basing his entire book on that nonsense? You know Steve, telling the truth about things can really be a thankless endeavor. “Dr.” De River? Really? Ugh. What a miserable individual he was with his “penetrating insights” like spotting Dillion’s “infantile penis” blah, blah.. What drivel. Reminds me of John Douglas’ “work”. Never mind that you completely and thoroughly broke down every aspect of the Dillon/De River hoax, these Black Dahlia “sleuths” just keep coming. As if revealing that your own father was a muderous psychopath was, ya know, no big deal. I don’t get it. Well as far a the murder of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short goes, it’s case SOLVED. PERIOD. THE END. FINÉ. Keep doing what you’re doing, finish “The Early Years”, and we’ll (your readers who get it) do our best to ignore the the static. – LJP

  2. steve hodel on September 24, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Lucas: Thanks again for the ongoing support. As I said, normally, I just ignore these “new revelations” which are always some form of “old myths resensationalized.” And, I hear the author of the new book is an attorney and she wants to right the wrongs against Eliz Short. Best, Steve

  3. Robert Sadler on September 24, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Steve: As usual, well said, and thus a well documented refutation of the belief that Leslie Dillon could be the murderer of Elizabeth Short, notwithstanding the determination that Dillon was in San Francisco and unable to have killed Short in LA.

    Even if Dillon were, as reputed, a mortician’s assistant in the 1940s, nowhere, that I am aware of, is there an example offered of Dillon’s being a person with the surgical capability, (the quantified understanding, at the time, that only a skilled surgeon, i.e., an experience surgical doctor, could perform a flawless hemicorporectomy, as reported), to have performed such an operation on Elizabeth Short’s body. Even Dillon, under the duress of days of interrogation, signs his ‘get me Geisler’ post card, ostensibly thrown from the police enforced sequestration of his hotel room, as “Mr. Leslie Dillon”. If Dillion neither had the means (a surgeon’s knowledge and practiced skill) or the opportunity (was in S.F. not L.A.) it would seem a stretch to suppose an LAPD cover-up would have successfully falsified or manipulated both of those issues. rjs

    • Steve Hodel on September 24, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      Hi Robert: Yes, and I think that Dillon’s reported work as a “mortician” lasted all of three weeks, which allowed him enough time to learn how to unlock the wheels on the gurney, but not much more than that. Best, Steve

  4. Jerry Lentz on September 25, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Reading all your books, and even rereading… Steve, what causes so many “$leuths” to feel the need to create an area in the case that is theirs and theirs alone, without any regard to facts? I’m sorry, but does this in any way help or honor the victims and real detectives? I don’t have a problem if they are writing some sorta “alternative history” as fiction, but to blatantly pick a moment that you have fully covered and torn apart with facts… Ugh. Sorry for the rant.

    • Steve Hodel on September 26, 2017 at 7:51 am

      Jerry L: Agreed. All about $ensationalism and as you say cherry picking away at “old news” and rumors. But, the Brits are new to “The Game” and not that informed on our local legend. Best, steve

  5. Kathy G. on September 27, 2017 at 3:15 am

    Steve I viewed a documentary series about the Black Dahlia from a British perspective and they said that “The Black Dahlia was ‘sawed in half'” and went on to run down Elizabeth Short’s reputation. This is what started me in reading your books. The UK guy is going on rumors and “stuff and nonsense”. You solved the case using facts! That is what makes your books so interesting and your step-by-step detective work just blows away all the fiction out there. It’s really sad all the way around in so many ways and levels. Thank you so much for all your good and hard work.

    • steve hodel on September 27, 2017 at 9:16 am

      Hi Kathy: Yes, tabloid sensationalism often “rules the day.” The “Don’t Mess with my Myth” crowd usually yells the loudest. But most serious readers are intelligent and able to separate fact from fiction. Thanks. Steve

  6. Luigi Warren on October 1, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Steve: If I’m understanding King correctly, the Dahlia probe devolved into a political grudge match between two equally corrupt, malfeasant camps, represented by the LAPD’s on-the-take Gangster Squad detectives and its resident quack psychiatrist/criminal profiler, Paul de River. Also, Dr. de River temporarily and opportunistically ended up on the side of the angels (the DA) before your father split town and the whole thing went into the round file. Hard to see how GHH could not have been fully cognizant of Dr. de River, given his own position, background and connections (LA County’s top VD doc, consultant to the LAPD vice squad, former vice/crime reporter, murder suspect, self-styled fixer and criminal mastermind, etc.). He was perhaps the only one who could see how the pieces fitted together. Have to wonder if GHH’s reinvention as a psychiatrist and “expert” on psychopathology in Hawaii wasn’t directly inspired by observation of de River’s racket with the LAPD. -LW

    • Steve Hodel on October 1, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      LW: Correct, but not sure “grudge match” is quite right, but close. DeRiver, and a police captain (blanking on his name right now) were convinced that Leslie Dillon was “their man.” They jumped on their horses and rode off in all directions attempting to solve the case. They did their week of meet and detain him I think on the QT, without letting the Homicide Detail known anything about it. Until the last few days when it blew up in their faces with the “Get Me Giesler” Note dropped out the window.

      Without getting into the weeds of it (too confusing now) actually it wasn’t the Gangster Squad that was “on the take” like I originally thought. It was the Homicide Abortion Team, a unit assigned within Homicide that was “on the take” and corrupt. The “Bill Ball and Joe Small” (Sgt. Charles Stoker’s bad guys) in BDA that I thought were on the Gangster Squad, actually turned out to be assigned to Homicide/Abortion investigations. They were on the take and the ones that told Sgt. Stoker to “shut it down and leave abortion investigations to them.” (I actually identified these two cops (partners) and one of them, a long retired captain) became a strong advocate against my book, trying to persuade the powers that be that there was no truth to it. He tried his best to discredit my findings by going to LAPD, the DA, and came to some of my public talks trying to convince attendees not to listen. Turns out he was Stoker’s “Joe Small.” Unquestioningly he fell into the “He protesteth too much” catagory.

      Yes, I think there was a strong probability that Dr. DeRiver knew George both professionally and maybe even from an “on the job” interview of him in regards to the Incest arrest of Tamar in ’49. That would have been required interview as the “head of the Sexual Offense Bureau.” However, dad bailed out in a day, so probably not a chance. Doubt he would have approached him post bailing to talk about it. Nor would have dad’s attorney let him talk.

      Yes, I think that GHH, as one con man to another, might well have been “inspired” by Dr. DeRiver’s hocus pocus and knew he could pull it off much better even though he had no training.


      • Luigi Warren on October 1, 2017 at 6:16 pm

        Steve: King’s article notes that, when the topic of his lack of qualifications came up, “de River pointed out that to be a psychiatrist all one really needed was a medical degree and some mental health experience.” An MD, a snappy wardrobe and an air of self-importance goes a long way. -LW

  7. Bob Holley on December 11, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    I have read Black Dahlia Red Rose, as well as three books of yours, as you well know. I try to read books with an open mind, not thinking pro or con until the ending and I have given them some thought. It is nice to see that you relate to Doctor DeRiver, and that I have read that his name was a phony, to put that together with what you have said about him being found to not be completely true, was in fact an eye opener.
    Having said that, I still have questions in my mind concerning what has been put forth in your books as well as the other. It is truly a shame that Elizabeth Short has made fame in this way.

  8. Bob Holley on December 12, 2017 at 12:25 am

    One other comment, will you ever write a book that compiles, in order, the things you consider facts that lead you to your conclusion? No story telling, explanations of course, but otherwise just the facts. THAT I would truly be interested in reading.

  9. Shawn Colton on January 2, 2018 at 5:20 pm


    Do you believe the Aster Motel (Cabin 3) was the place where Elizabeth Short was mutilated and drained of blood? The discovery of this on the day her body was found is remarkable.

    • Steve Hodel on January 2, 2018 at 5:42 pm

      Shawn C: No. More legend and myth.

      • Detective. on February 5, 2019 at 3:05 am

        Where do you think it happened?

        • Steve Hodel on February 5, 2019 at 8:42 am

          Detective: In chapter 5 of Black Dahlia Avenger II (Thoughtprint Press 2014 ed.) I present what I believe is compelling evidence connecting the actual murder and surgical bisection to our then residence, the Sowden/Franklin House. (DA Hodel/Black Dahlia Files establish that our mother, Dorothy and we three boys were staying with her brother, our uncle three miles away for a three week period during the time of the actual murder, so George Hodel had the residence to himself.) I believe the “operation, a hemicorpectomy” was performed in the master bathtub and the torture and cuttings to the body likely done in the center courtyard. (While I cannot rule it out, I am not a proponent that the crime occurred in the basement. Knowing the physical layout back in 1947, difficult for me to conceive of a location in the basement that would allow enough room to accomplish the torture/murder.)

  10. Kim R. on May 24, 2020 at 11:57 pm

    Steve, why do u claim that the Aster motel story is a myth? The interviews done by LAPD tell a pretty convincing tale about the carnage found in cabin 3. And Short was seen at the motel days before her death… Ron Hansen as well. Dillon, I have no idea about. And wasn’t your father’s office downtown, close to there? Could he have some connection w Ron Hansen regarding, at least, being the primary Doctor Hansen’s girls might go to, if they needed an abortion? Is it possible that G.H.H. may have been called in to perform an operation and then something went wrong? Hansen, then, just deciding to get rid of her? Or even G.H.H. if she threatened to blab?
    One thing for sure, somebody got killed in that room. And the owner of the motel, being an ex-con, never reported it and cleaned it all up to avoid entanglements with the LAPD, who surely would have tried to connect him with the murder. The dump scene on Norton was fairly close to there as well. Any possibilities?

    • Steve Hodel on May 25, 2020 at 12:03 am

      Kim R:
      The whole motel story and witnesses fall apart after reinterviews by DA investigators.
      Mark Hansen “ID” was retracted by witnesses who were later reinterviewed and admitted that Hansen not the man they thought. Ditto on the “vast amounts of blood”. All a red herring. Too much to try and layout but all falls apart after being reexamined by DA cops.

Leave a Comment