LAPD Police Museum "New Evidence" May Hold Key to DNA Solution to Black Dahlia Murder: Chief Charlie Beck Declines Request for One-Hour Meet with Detectives to Discuss New Findings
February 18, 2018
Los Angeles, California
“…I must respectfully decline that request. (one hour meet with detectives to discuss new DNA evidence)
Given the fiscal constraints facing the City, and the impact on investigations assigned to my command,
I do not believe it prudent that we pursue the Black Dahlia investigation at this time. …I believe that
Robbery-Homicide Division Detectives should expend their valuable skills on more contemporary investigations.”
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck
(Excerpt from response letter to author dated July 26, 2012)
There have been some recent website comments related to the “Dahlia Killer Letter” which was discussed in detail in Black Dahlia Avenger II (2014 ed.)
Since many of my blog site readers may be unaware of this important “new evidence” (well new as of 2014) I will here present a short review as well as attach the complete Chapter 23 summary as a PDF for those who are interested in a more in-depth look.
In a 2012 “Black Dahlia Exhibit” the LA Police Museum put on display some never before shown photos and letters from the original Black Dahlia investigation. The display contained two never previously publicly shown letters that the Department assumed were “crank Dahlia letters” mailed to the police and sheriff’s departments in 1950.
In my opinion, these letters were/are legitimate “Black Dahlia Avenger” mailings sent by George Hill Hodel as additional “clews” just as he prepared to permanently leave the U.S. in the fall of 1950. “Goodbye taunts” if you will.
It is my belief that not only is the handwriting on the letters that of my father, Dr. George Hodel, but that were the flaps and stamps on both letters tested and DNA obtained from them, it would likely match that of a full DNA profile of George Hodel, which I have in my possession.
See PDF summary attached for a full description of GHH’s unique handwriting above. Note the letter C in the word OFFIeE which appears to be a letter e.
This same unique and rare characteristic is seen in his 1946 Chicago Lipstick Murder message, “eatch Me Before I Kill More. I eannot eontrol myself.” And, is seen in his handprinting on my “echinese chicken, mountains, Sun” drawing in 1948. Also of special interest in the postmark date the suspect mailed the letter to “The Office of the Sheriff” which is October 10, 1950, just days before GHH left the country and more importantly is GEORGE HODEL’S BIRTHDAY, another “eatch me if you ean elue.”
My 2012 letter to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and his response are fully included in the attached chapter.
My request back then was to simply meet with Robbery-Homicides detectives for one hour so that I might present and detail the “new evidence” and why and how it strongly relates again to George Hill Hodel and the likelihood that his DNA would be found on one or both letters in their custody. After more than a month I received Chief Beck’s response that his detectives were unable to meet for an hour to discuss as stated below.
GHH Unique Letter C Handwriting Samples
HERE IS THE COMPLETE CHAPTER FROM BLACK DAHLIA AVENGER II (2014)
BDA II Chap 23 New Evid 2014ed.
April 2013 KMEX “La Dahlia Noir” Interview Hodel/Roberts
l actually agree with you, I think he [Hodel] has made a very compelling theory. I think there’s a lot of things that looks like it and his dad could actually be responsible for the murder of the Black Dahlia.”
LAPD Detective II Mitzi Roberts
KMEX, La Dahlia Negra interview, April 2013
The currently assigned “Black Dahlia detective” from LAPD Cold Case Unit is Detective Mitzi Roberts. In a 2013 television interview she conducted with KMEX on the Black Dahlia investigation she made minor reference to the “department making some attempt to analyze DNA evidence, in her words, “just recently and also years ago, but none was obtained” and that “Steve Hodel was aware of this, or should have been.” This is inaccurate as no member of the LAPD has had any contact with me for any reason related to the Black Dahlia investigation or any DNA testing, since my original briefing to the Department with Head DDA Steve Kay back in 2004. Further, since the department passed on meeting and discussing potential evidence, they would not know which items/letters I was referring to unless they conducted follow-up after the book was updated with Chapter 23 in 2014.
Chapter Handwriting Exhibits:
Hi Steve, Do you think your Dad was the artist who drew the man in the note saying “Look this man up” or could it have been someone else? I guess the LAPD is just not going to cooperate in granting interviews or looking into DNA evidence. It’s really sad, however your research is the best in putting closure on the Black Dahlia case and many others.
Best Wishes, Kathy G.
Kathy G: Don’t really know if George drew it or maybe Fred Sexton? Just don’t know if my father’s many abilities also included portrait sketches? The only other artwork that comes to mind is the scorpion drawing on the “Scorpion Letters” sent to John Walsh in 1990, which are pretty well done too. Guess we will never know if we can add “artist” to his bucketful of talents?
Yes, very frustrating on the LAPDs refusal to make any serious attempt at obtaining DNA. It’s not like they would have to do any serious investigation. All that’s required is a five-minute phone to the crime lab saying, “Test it.” skh
Perhaps a Dali expert, it looks like a combination of surrealism/realism…
I guess LA does not get any of the prop 69 monies for cold cases?
Hi Steve! Somehow it reminds me of a piece of art on the cover of one of my 78 rpm, 12″ platter record albums – maybe Brahms? I don’t have a picture of it – it resides only in my memory now. Maybe because it was a similar surreal scene with curves, angles, broken columns and the like.
Anyway, I hope things go well for you on the new book. Best wishes always, Kathy G.
I haven’t looked into it…but I’m assuming you know….
why can’t the courts or some authority compel the LAPD to open that case for the DNA?
ANN: Almost impossible. There is a man about to be executed for a crime he very likely did not commit and his lawyers can’t get LE to examine DNA evidence that will very likely show him innocent. Tragic. So, DNA on a 72 year old whodunit? No way. See article here: http://www.blackstarnews.com/us-politics/justice/will-texas-execute-rodney-reed-for-a-love-triangle-killing
Steve: I am awe struck and now on a mission to understand, or at least understand how they get away with this.
I never trusted our legal system, but this, and the above link is beyond anything that I can comprehend… it literally makes no sense to me.
My son is in the FBI… I guess I’ll start my questioning there. In the meantime I will sign the petition for Rodney Reed.
Yeah it’s frustrating alright. But the “coppers” (LAPD & SFPD) will never test the Scorpion Letter or any other letter that has GHH’s DNA on it because of the embarrassment it would bring to their departments for not officially solving those crimes especially the Zodiac murders. To think that GHH was stopped by those two SFPD officers just minutes after he viciously gunned down Paul Stein but easily talked his way out of it is truly maddening and frightening. I know it haunted the older cop for many years. People just don’t want the truth about the Zodiac to be known. You’ve already proven the Black Dahlia case beyond any doubt but the Scorpion Letter DNA would really cause a scene. It would be the death nell for all the Zodiac “myth busters” and they just won’t have that. Blah!! Who cares, you’re doing a epic job that only you can do and history will vindicate your work to be sure. Love ya Steve. Keep giving them hell. ????
Lucas P: Again, my thanks for the kind words. Re. SFPD officer Donald Fouke, to this day he still cannot admit he stopped and talked to Zodiac. His original stop was never reported for a month and only then in response to Zodiac’s calling him out for his “boo boo” in a public mailing to the press. Even then, Fouke claimed he got the very detailed description of Zodiac from his “five-second drive by.” Of course, his partner Zelms (killed in the line of duty in December of that year) admitted to his wife that he and Fouke “stopped and talked to Zodiac” along with the lead Zodiac detectives and another patrol officer at scene confirming “the stop.” The other important DNA source/linkage is the confirmed Zodiac letter sent to the L.A. news network and in possession of LAPD which has never been tested, which is also summarized in BDA II. Hope to have the updated 2018 version out in a few months. Chief Charlie Beck will retire from LAPD this summer, but don’t expect any change in the Department’s, “too busy to take a one-hour meeting” to change. Best, Steve
Beck says they have ‘fiscal’ constraints but can build a shrine for their proudest UNSOLVED cases? ie: elizabeth exhibit
Teresa: Good point.
pps: I came up with a dollar amount for them to meet with me. I think it was about $90.00 to have two detectives listen to and view my exhibits, which could be presented to them in one-hour. skh
I still don’t understand who or what is preventing this at the LAPD. Who is keeping the lid on this matter, still? Is there a secret file cabinet somewhere the chiefs have access to when they assume command, with a file saying, STYMIE THE BD INVESTIGATION NO MATTER WHAT?
Seriously. Previously, you had inferred that it was a “departmental” or “territorial” thing, (to which your letter to Beck alludes,) but how could this sustained effort work if it were something personal or ego related?
How are your relationships with the press? Do you have any pull with any of them? Seems like they are the ONLY ONES who have ever been able to shake anything loose from these powers that be. And I can’t imagine anything else but they who can do anything more from here.
Why don’t you make up a generic “To Whom It May Concern” letter, and post it, and let your fanbase distribute it? Surely, some up and coming IR wanting to make his bones can latch on and see where the ride leads. That TV show got something going on in the Zodiac investigation. Isn’t it time to throw caution to the wind and avail yourself of every possible resource?
I’m certainly thinking so.
J.R.: Now, some fourteen-years-later, I no longer see it as a “personal” thing, with LAPD.
Initially, yes that was a factor. The detectives at Robb/Homicide back then were directly involved in a high-profile wrongful prosecution in which I as the defense investigator was able to prove the defendant (Yoshi Okubo) was innocent (1995) and he was released from custody after six-years and multiple appeals, he was finally deemed “not guilty” by the high court in Japan. Several of those same detectives would still be there at Robb/Homicide Division, eight-years later, when I approached the Department with my Black Dahlia investigation.
But, that was then and they are all now retired, so it is no longer a factor. I think today’s “inaction” is simply an ignorance of the facts. Doubtful they have read all four books and are aware of the new evidence and many new links in the case. Expect they are likely still stuck back in the 2003 findings and unaware of the new witness statements and physical evidence (cement sacks) etc.
Several forces are at work that I think may cause the Department with its new chief (whoever he or she might be?; I’m pulling for a SHE, it’s time) to be willing to take a new look and do some DNA testing. As you say, media pressure is the only tool in the box right now, so stay tuned. May happen this year? steve
donors: cover the PD office time/cost. yes, go to the press. a lot
What are your thoughts about Man Ray having been a co-killer of the Black Dahlia? You have alluded to the “surrealist” mind set could lead to the ability to murder as violence, especially toward women is apparent in the work they create. If man ray and your father were exceptionally close could it be that your father would want one of his favorite surrealist artists to partake in the real life homage to one of their famous works? Your father could have talked Man ray into partaking? Maybe man ray made those crisscrossed marks on Elizabeth Short’s hip as a way of “signing the body” like a piece of art? Maybe with your father about to be arrested Man Ray left the country because if your father broke under interrogation he could have confessed to man rays involvement?
Tom B: It’s a difficult question. Originally, back at the first publishing of BDA in 2003, I felt that my father likely performed the crime alone and by himself. Yes, others KNEW, but that was ex-post facto, after the fact. On the morning of the murder, only one suspect was seen at the crime scene disposing of the body.
But, as my investigation continued with the revelation of the DA Secret Hodel Black Dahlia tapes, the conversations with his longtime acquaintance, “Baron Harringa” who clearly was an accomplice to a separate felony assault/and or murder which was tape-recorded by the detectives on stakeout at the Hodel residence. My opinion began to change and I found myself entertaining the possibility that others may have been present “The Night Of” and either witnessed or participated in the crime.
Who? Possibly Fred Sexton and Baron Harringa? Possibly Man Ray? But, I am hesitant to accuse them without any direct evidence. No question they KNEW after the crime, but during? Hard to say. Candidly, my impression of Man Ray is that he would not likely have the spine to involve himself directly in a four-hour torture/murder and then “sign his work” on her body. GHH without question. Fred Sexton, likely. The Baron, probably. Expect we will never know the answer to your question, but in my own mind I have gone from “no way others involved” to now, some fifteen years later and many more facts in hand, I am, “Very possibly others were directly involved.”
For reasons yet to be disclosed, I would put Fred Sexton at the top of the “other suspects” list, followed by Baron Harringa as a close second. Regards, Steve
I have only lately found out about this case and was deeply disturbed by it. I am wondering how it is possible such a large case not yet to be solved today when we have endless possibilities of modern technology.
I was not sure about the following matter: When you came to the “Sowden House” with Mr. Dostie and his dog, did you find any trace which could produce the DNA for testing? Was any DNA testing being conducted to this day?
I think there is only one step to solving this and that is-DNA testing. I see the difficulty is laying in the wish of the police to stay ignorant about it. I agree with J.R. Neumiller that the only way is to include press.
I wish you luck.
Hi Ana: No, no physical evidence was found at the Sowden/Franklin House that could be tested. No search of the basement was conducted. That would have to be done by LAPD with either the owwner’s permission or a warrant. (Plenty of “probable cause” to easily obtain a warrant, but LAPD has chosen not to pursue it.)
The soil samples from the residence as you know, showed positive for human remains, but that is different than yielding individual DNA. Many untested items exist in LAPD Property on the LA Lone Woman Murders that could be tested and yield my father’s DNA, but again, LAPD has chosen not pursue those cases claiming they “are too busy with current case loads.” Regards, Steve
The portrait drawing could offer a lot of evidence. It looks like it was drawn in pencil. The textures are obviously blended without much attention to precision. It’s possible the artist blended with his/her fingertips. There could be prints all over it, maybe even more if the artist sneezed or coughed through the process.
Just crossed my mind because I’ve done pencil and charcoal portraiture, and it’s always a great challenge to keep the paper clean and free of marks and smudges from my hands.
I also worked on drawings over several sessions as opposed to one sitting. I wonder if the paper was moved several times, if it came into contact with different materials that could be identified, etc.
Frustrating that your work isn’t getting attention. I spent some time comparing the handwriting samples, and I’m stunned at the similarities. Also, the habit of writing in all-capitals, and how that’s related to a self-important personality who keeps his true thoughts and feelings close to the chest.
Alina: Yes agree. One really has to read all five books to see how it all fits together. Evidence is now “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
My aunts who are in their 80s now, as well as my mother, grew up in Medford, MA and remember Elizabeth Short well. She was beautiful and glamorous and worked in the theater in the center of downtown. Her mother and sisters were good people. Elizabeth liked warmer climates, I believe she spent time Florida as well as California. She was not a streetwalker the way some portrayed her after her death. She was a young, starry eyed beauty without money or connections and couldn’t catch a breal. Medford has installed a nice memorial to her relatively recently. Her gruesome murder was as upsetting to society as were the Manson Family, and Nicole Brown. I think it is commendable that people are still trying to bring Elizabeth justice.
Aidan F: Hi Aidan. I agree. Elizabeth Short was as you describe her. I have devoted an entire chapter in my book, Black Dahlia Avenger to rehabilitating her character after many hack writers trashed her true personage through the decades. Some, like James Ellroy, who while still using her real name in a novel, fictionalized her as a prostitute and lowlife and a woman of low morals. She was none of those, and he eventually “apologized” but too late. People remember her as portrayed in his an others books. I am familiar with the plaque in Medford and am glad they have chosen to honor her memory. Best Regards, Steve
Wow- The podcast has me shook – what a sincere disappointment in the LAPD. To have the ability to close the case and show complete disrespect is unacceptable. Prayers they change their mind.
Denise B: Thank you much appreciated. Steve
Have you tried the cold case homicide unit? I am sure you have tried this, but I thought I would ask. Many different counties in the surrounding areas of LA are focusing on using DNA to solve decades old cases and have created units for it.. I would try another person.. . I know there is a big push.. Why they wouldn’t test the DNA from the victims to Hodel doesn’t make sense to me. FBI just solved the I 5.
Laura: There are at least a dozen “LA Lone Woman Murder victims” from that time period none of which have been tested. LAPD wants no part of testing any of these victims.
They do not want to confirm same suspect. Better let the public think that a dozen killers were running around LA back then tripping over other killers bodies. steve
I just listened to the pod cast and I was wondering why they wouldn’t have tried to close these cold cases by now or release information on their findings since they opened the cold case unit.. I see you contacted Charlie Beck before and his response. All I can say is I was so frustrated to read his response to you, that I wanted to see if they would revisit it now so I sent a comment in.. Anyway, I enjoyed the show and the podcast. I do hope they revisit it. Thank you. Take care
Hi Steve! Listening to Root of all evil podcast now. Can a petition be made? More action on social media? With everyone listening to this podcast you have so many supporters! We need answers, the DNA needs tested!
Moving forward with a miniseries soon to start production, so I think that will reach many viewers and hopefully show the LAPD and other LE agencies that this is the “real deal.” Also, few other pots on the fire, so stay tuned. Hopefully, see some major movement this New Year.