New York Times Bestselling Author Steve Hodel

On the High Seas with "Baron Ernst Harringa" Crime Accomplice to George Hodel as told by then 11-year-old Gil Osgood

October 8, 2018
Los Angeles, California

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday Oct 7, 2018 I received the below Message from Gil Osgood, a retired computer programmer at the University of Oregon. It read:

Message
I was working today on a memoir about my sea voyage in 1952 on the freighter Hoegh Silvercrest on which one of the passengers was named von Herringa who was on his way to work on the Bakra Nangal Dam in India. I was just 11 years old but remember that trip well and especially von Herringa. I don’t know if what I know is relevant to your interest in him but I’d be glad to tell you what I remember about him if you are interested.
Gil Osgood

 

Knowing that Baron Ernst von Harringa had in fact left LA in the early 1950s “to help build a dam in India” I was confident that this was the same “Baron Harringa” taped recorded with my father in the basement of our Sowden/Franklin Home on February 18, 1950, and immediately responded back to Gil by email thanking him and requesting any additional information.

He responded the following morning.

Here is Gil Osgood’s fascinating reply giving us a fuller picture (figuratively and literally) of the mysterious “Baron” Harringa just two-years after his assault and or murder (accomplice to my father) of the unidentifed woman in the basement of our Hollywood home. As we recall her beating and screams by the two men were tape recorded during the LAPD/DA stakeout, with detectives just five minutes away, but officers made no response or rescue and the victim was never identified.

Here is Gil’s account of his meeting with “The Baron” as he crossed the high seas as an eleven-year-old boy in 1952.

I have attached a picture of the passengers from the November 52 to January 53 voyage of the Hoegh Silvercrest from San Francisco to Bombay.  Von Harringa is standing on the extreme left next to the Norwegian chief engineer.  I am the kid standing directly in front of my mother.  My father is obscured by a woman traveling to Indonesia to visit her daughter who was married to an Indonesian.  Von Herringa took a immediate dislike to her because he thought she was too sanctimonious.  However, he hit it off with my parents who were American Baptist missionaries, especially my father.  My dad was 50 when this picture was taken, about the same age as von Herringa, and had already spent more than 20 years in India.  Von Herringa told us he had worked in China before the war so he may have felt both of them were old Asia hands.  He was going to work on the Bhakra Nangal Dam, which was one of the first major irrigation and power generation projects undertaken after independence.  I  had always assumed he was an engineer until I started reading your web page.
The other three passengers in the picture are Mr. Frost (standing middle of picture) and Mrs. Frost kneeling in front and Mr. White kneeling in front of von Herringa.  The Frosts said they were traveling around the world to try to save their marriage,  Mr. White was a friend of theirs who was traveling with them for some reason.  They all three claimed to have some connection to the movie industry in Hollywood.  Von Herringa was openly skeptical of this and thought they were using fake names.  Our first three stops were on the island of Java before we docked in Singapore.  Von Herringa had decided that Mr. White bore some resemblance to the actor Clifton Webb who was then at the height of his fame.  He somehow managed to inform some Singapore reporters before we disembarked that Clifton Webb was traveling incognito on our ship.  I can remember peering into the small room on the ship that served as a library and gathering place where Mr. White was trying futilely to convince the reporters he wasn’t Clifton Webb!  During the days we were in Singapore Von Herringa and my dad made one excursion ashore alone to what I remember as some sort of “black market” that von Herringa knew about.
We disembarked at Columbo, Ceylon and von Herringa went on to Bombay.  He was by far the most memorable of the passengers on that voyage and my parents would mention him from time to time in conversation for years afterwards.  In the mid-1980s I encountered an American couple and their adult son who had worked on the Bhakra Nangal dam project in the mid-50s who remembered von Herringa.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think to ask them anything about him but they clearly thought him a memorable character.  That’s about all I know about him but you are welcome to telephone me if you want to at — ——-. I live in a retirement center in Eugene, Oregon so I’m in the same time zone as you.  Late afternoons are a good time for me up until 5PM or so when dinner is served here.
I am delighted to have found your web page and learned more about von Herringa.  I’m now 77 years old and must be the last person alive who was on that voyage.
Gil

Many thanks to Gil Osgood for providing the photo and fascinating additional insights into “The Baron” who was unquestionably one of the most enigmatic men of my father’s “inner circle”.

SKH Note-  In Gil’s photograph above I have added the names and ages, identifying “The Baron” and Gil and added a 1955 photograph of the ship (M.S. Hoegh Silvercrest, docked at Vancouver B.C. ) in which they crossed the high seas together on their respective disembarkations at  Ceylon and Bombay.

Here is a link to the earlier DA Tapes Chapter that includes information on GHH and Baron Harringa.

BDA II Chapter 6 (6MB allow for loading)

8 Comments

  1. Dennis Effle on October 9, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    Another great addition to the ever growing volume that is the Black Daliah Avenger case.

  2. Dani on October 9, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    Harringa worked in China before the war? Maybe that’s how he met GHH, and shared adventures and proved his “reliability” there.

    • Steve Hodel on October 9, 2018 at 7:29 pm

      Dani: Actually, I believe they met in LA shortly after Harringa’s arrival in 1925. Or, sometime later in LA.
      Baron Harringa’s “China Years” were much earlier before coming to the U.S. in 1925. He wrote an article about them
      in the LA Times in 1933. GHH didn’t leave for China until post-WWII in February 1946 and returned in Sept that same year. Regards, Steve

  3. Jim Rodrigues on October 9, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    More great stuff from Steve Hodel, that’s a great story. Thank you!

  4. Luigi Warren on October 10, 2018 at 11:50 am

    Steve: Like your father, the Baron recalls Uncle Charlie, the Merry Widow killer in Hitchcock’s SHADOW OF A DOUBT. Charming, worldly, “just in business, you know, the way men are,” always moving on… -LW

    • Steve Hodel on October 10, 2018 at 12:16 pm

      LW: Yes. Saw the film recently and yes, very much “Uncle Charlie”. Stay tuned, some very cool “breaking news” just around the corner.

  5. Kathy Hsu on October 23, 2018 at 5:43 am

    Hi, Steve,

    Are you going to be at the a Pasadena Library in November? If so, do you have a specific lecture in mind?

    Thanks,
    Kathy

    • Steve Hodel on October 23, 2018 at 9:54 am

      Hi Kathy: Yes, I am giving a PowerPoint talk at the South Pasadena Library (Community Room) on Thursday, NOV 1, 2018 at 7 PM. I will be discussing my new book, Black Dahlia Avenger III along with some dramatic NEW INVESTIGATIVE FINDINGS. Best, Steve

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