New York Times Bestselling Author Steve Hodel

Root of Evil – Eight-Part (Audio Only) True Story Podcast Series To Air After Fictionalized TNT Dramatization – “I Am The Night”

December 18, 2018
Los Angeles, California

TNT and Cadence13, a leading podcast media company, today announced an eight-part podcast documentary series, Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family and the Black Dahlia – a companion to TNT’s six-episode suspense drama I Am the Night. (Clip on below photo to read the full article in Eclipse Magazine posted yesterday, 12.17.18)

I have received numerous inquiries from readers asking for information on the upcoming television miniseries, “I Am The Night.”
Questions range from: Is it your Black Dahlia Avenger investigation?  Are you a consultant and involved in the making of the series? Is it a true crime documentary?
The answer to all of those questions is–NO.
Regarding the TNT dramatized fictional miniseries.
I have not been contacted by anyone connected with the TNT “I Am The Night” miniseries, which is scheduled to air in late January.  I have no “inside information” on it other than they claim it is “based on a true story” from the book written by my half-sister’s daughter, Fauna Hodel. (Fauna, my niece, died from cancer on September 30, 2017, at age 66.)
So, like you, “I Am In The Dark” about where they are going with the dramatization, other than the glimpses offered by way of the promo/trailers. I have had no contact with TNT, nor have I been contacted by Fauna’s children who are standing in on the TNT promotion for their mother after her unexpected passing last year.
We will just have to wait and see where they go with it come late January.
That said, this previous summer, I was contacted by Zak Levitt, an Emmy Award-winning director-producer-documentarian, hired to create a “companion piece” (audio only) as a follow-up to the, “I Am The Night” dramatization.
Zak Levitt, Executive Producer of Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family and the Black Dahlia, an eight-part podcast to air beginning February 13, 2019
I initially “passed” on Zak’s invitation to be part of it because having investigated and written five true crime books over the past seventeen-years, documenting my father’s life and serial crimes, I did not want to be involved or associated in any way with a fictionalized version of the truth.
Levitt recontacted me and explained that though TNT had partnered with Cadence 13, that his podcast would be produced as an eight-part true-crime podcast and would be independent and tell “the true story of the Hodel Family.”  Zak informed me that the podcast would “mostly involve interviews with Hodel family members and stress and examine the varying impacts  the Black Dahlia findings had on each of your separate lives, and the damage to the family left behind by George Hodel.”
After multiple conversations, which included his assurance that his production would only focus on the facts, I reluctantly agreed to be interviewed.
Like many requests for audio interviews over the past eighteen years, it is a “Catch 22”.
If I don’t participate and involve myself in it, then the truth is lost. The public will continue to be led by fiction and the Dahlia Myth and Legends remain in place.
This point is made crystal clear at the end of John Ford’s classic film, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” starring John Wayne and James Stewart.
Senator Ransom Stoddard (actor James Stewart) who has become famous for killing a notorious outlaw, Liberty Valence (Lee Marvin) returns decades later to “tell the truth” but the editor of the local newspaper opts to keep the legend alive and pass on the truth. (Play 15 second video below.)

 My point and position are 180′ opposite and I would have it,

 “This is the West Sir. When the legend is replaced with fact, print the fact.”

Consequently, with Levitt’s assurance that he would remain true to the facts as presented, I agreed to participate in the audio podcast.
After conducting several days of audio interviews, I came away highly impressed with Zak’s personal research, backgrounding and knowledge of not only the Hodel Family but also on the related Dahlia investigation (no easy task) and believe and trust that his “Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family” podcast will result in an honest examination of the facts and provide an important window for the public as a balance to the many preconceived Dahlia Myths and Legends.
I quote Zak Levitt from yesterday’s “Root of Evil” announcement:
“This is a story more than 70 years in the making. The Black Dahlia has generated incredible interest and attention through the years, but nothing has gotten to the heart of the incredibly painful, and ultimately triumphant story of the family that has had to carry the Hodel name – a name synonymous with the most brutal unsolved murder in American history,” said Zak Levitt, EVP of Documentary Content at Cadence13. “Through fresh interviews with the Hodel family and a trove of never-before-heard archival audio, we hope Root of Evil will be the most three-dimensional Black Dahlia story yet.” 

25 Comments

  1. Robert Sadler on December 19, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    Steve:

    Well said. I hope Mr. Levitt is true to his word and that after a 360 degree tour of the facts his piece will fairly represent your detailed, exhaustive investigative conclusions.

    RJS

    • Steve Hodel on December 20, 2018 at 10:22 am

      RJS- Thanks for your ongoing support Robert. Much appreciated.

      • Sean P. on January 28, 2019 at 9:03 pm

        Steve,

        I just saw the pilot episode of the I Am the Night series, and it got me interested in re-examining GHH and Dahlia connections etc. I’m hoping you can clear something up for me. There’s a lot of falsehood out there concerning Fauna’s parentage, so set me straight on the truth:
        When Tamar was pregnant with Fauna, she had previously had too many sexual partners to have any certainty with regard to who the child’s father was. (Father was definitely caucasian?) There is conflicting information out there as to whether Fauna was actually of mixed race.

        Just to let you know: Wikipedia erroneously claims Fauna is GHH’s child.

        • Steve Hodel on January 31, 2019 at 5:05 pm

          Sean P: You are correct. Fauna’s mother, my half-sister Tamar has always been very clear on who Fauna’s father. He was a White, Italian Male in San Francisco. Fauna’s father was not Black and was not as some suggest, her grandfather, George Hodel. My father, was out of the country and could not have been Fauna’s parent. Thanks, Steve

          • Kathy P. on February 13, 2019 at 2:11 pm

            Steve,

            Thank you for clearing that up. I have been watching the I am the Night Series and have looked online for information about Fauna’s father and was also confused. Thank you, also, for all of your investigative work and honesty about your father.

            Kathy



      • Rebecca Zamora on February 12, 2019 at 10:30 pm

        I agree. Print the Fact.

  2. Luigi Warren on December 28, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Steve:

    FWIW, I offer a few recent observations on the GHH case:

    1. Watching KISMET (’55 version) strengthened my suspicion that GHH’s gift of antique scissors was in part an allusion to this work, and that the wily poet, would-be wizard and murderer Hajj is just another of his alter egos in the mold of Ko-Ko, Zaroff and Zodiac.

    2. Found a 1980 SF Examiner profile of Count Marco with an anecdote that suggests the ’62 letter foreshadowing the “Red Phantom” letter referenced Marco’s sneaking up on accused murderess Carole Tregoff during her trial at LA City Hall the previous year. The Finch-Tregoff trial was a press sensation and featured a homicidal, socially-prominent sex-addict doctor and GHH’s old defense team of Giesler and Neeb.

    3. Noticed an interesting parallel between the unreleased “Faithful Savant” letter to Count Marco quoted by Graysmith, concerning a belated Christmas gift of aromatic tea, and GHH’s spiel about J. P. Morgan gifting his friends with Lapsang Souchong tea at Christmas in his “Fifth Dynasty Tea” promotion.

    4. Ran across a 1979 “Birth of Venus” lithograph by Salvador Dali in which Venus has a hemicorpectomy and is crawling with ants, a Dalian symbol for decay and putrescence.

    5. Noticed that the original logo of the Civilian Conservation Corps (the “Tree Army”) depicts a “peek through the pines.” Without too much imagination, one might also discern the letters CCC on the tree in the Halloween Card (perhaps along with the numbers 5121 in the lower half of the card).

    Best wishes for 2019.

    -LW

    • Luigi Warren on January 7, 2019 at 11:42 am

      Steve: Regarding the “CCC,” GHH might have been familiar with visual plays on this acronym in the output of “Cactus Cartoonist” and long-time CCC booster Reg Manning of the Arizona Republic from his days as surgeon at the CCC logging camp in Arizona. The reference to the “Tree Army” might serve as a hint at the use of Ogham in the mysterious HC symbol, as the notion that one of the tree armies in Taliesin’s “Battle of the Trees” cryptically represents the Ogham alphabet is central to the thesis of Robert Graves’ “The White Goddess.” Incidentally, I see that “The White Goddess” was reviewed prominently in the LA Times in 1948 by one Milton Merlin (a screenwriter). In 1949, Merlin discussed it again at length in his Times review of Graves’ “Watch the Northwind Rise.” Given Graves’ subject matter seems well aligned with GHH mythopoetic interests, it’s entirely plausible that GHH read “The White Goddess” on its initial publication. -LW

      • Steve Hodel on January 7, 2019 at 12:27 pm

        LW: So much of GHH’s later “clues” did come from his personal past experiences. Directly onnected to his own “history.:” As I’ve said many times, “The key to understanding George Hodel is his past.” This will become much more apparent once I complete my investigation/writing of “The Early Years.” (Turning out to be a real challenge, or maybe I’m just slowing down at 77?) Certainly, the LAT article on Robert Graves, “The White Goddess” would have been seen and read by dad and I am confident he would have read the book at that first printing. Everything about it would have had direct appeal to him emotionally and intellectually.

        • Luigi Warren on January 8, 2019 at 1:39 pm

          Steve:

          We are none of us getting any younger but at least we are finding out interesting things.

          Recently came across “The Psychological Testing of Seminarians” (Philippine Studies, 1962), one of the very few, obscure journal articles published by GHH. A distinctly “British” authorial voice is apparent: “Conversely, we find that we seem to have somewhat overrated No. 11. We gave him a rating of 60%, stating at the same time that he needed psychological help.” Compare: “I shall state some facts which only I + the police know… I would like to express my consternation concerning your poor taste… In light of recent events, this kind of murder-glorification can only be deplorable at best… I am mildly cerous as to how much money you have on my head now… Me – 37 SFPD – 0… he has a serious psychological disorder… I suggest you refer him to a shrink.” The article refers to the “House-Tree-Person Drawing Test” (sometimes used to evaluate psychopathic tendencies) which I believe could offer a useful framework for thinking about the Zodiac HC. I’m also struck by GHH’s tendency to spout stats in his various professional guises. A blizzard of metrics purport to document an upsurge in VD in wartime Los Angeles, epidemic alcoholism in Hawaii, Asian enthusiasm for Richard Nixon, market penetration of vacuum cleaners in Japan and fountain pens in Thailand. I find myself wondering how real these numbers are, or whether GHH just plucked them out of thin air like the ever-changing victim tallies in the Zodiac letters.

          -LW

          • Steve Hodel on January 8, 2019 at 3:38 pm

            LW: I agree the chances of GHH just “plucking numbers” could be very real.
            This would/could include his annual flagship INTRAMAR hotel/airlines Market Research studies.

            I haven’t had the time to explore one interesting development that occurred a few years prior to my father’s death in 1999. Don’t recall the exact year, but seems to me it was around 1996? I was visiting George and June in San Francisco on a trip down from Bellingham. He had an appointment with his SF attorney re. the possibility of whether he should pursue and file a civil lawsuit against an individual and newspaper in Mauritius for slander and libel? The short of it is that apparently, the newspaper was claiming that Dr. George Hill Hodel was a total charlatan and that his “market research” conducted on airline passenger satisfaction worldwide was made out of whole cloth and had no real scientific value. After a few weeks dad decided not to pursue it and drop the whole idea.
            This was years before I discovered any connection to criminal activity and the Lone Woman Murders. In retrospect, I am sure the last thing he wanted was any publicity, especially anything that was examining his professional credentials and might open his past to a “can of worms.” He dropped the idea like a hot potato.
            Love to see/find what the Mauritian newspapers had say about GHH, but to date have not pursued it.

            As far as the “British authorial voice” in his writing-yes. This same “voice” also carried through in his actual speaking voice, which you will recall that SFPD officer Fouke described as “Welsh origin”. (Fouke would have us believe that his judgment of ancestry came from a passing glimpse, but we now know it was from his and his partner’s stop and Q&R. (Questioning and Release) of Zodiac shortly after the Stine murder which resulted in GHH telling them he “saw a man with a gun running down the street and he went that away.” skh



          • Luigi Warren on January 9, 2019 at 2:06 pm

            Steve: My money’s on “total charlatan.” The Philippines Studies article seems to be another case of GHH’s extraordinary, Fred Rhadini-like gift for manipulating intelligent people by telling them exactly what they want to hear. GHH’s co-author, the Very Reverend Wayland S. Mandell, was Dean of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Theological Seminary in Manila. He was originally from LA (Covina/El Monte) and rated an obit in the New York Times (6/21/75). From the article, it’s clear that GHH was involved in a multi-year collaboration with the Seminary. This puts a new light on “I saw + think ‘The Exorcist’ was the best saterical comidy that I have ever seen.” The JSTOR digital library keywords for the article: “Seminary, Vocation, Psychometrics, Priests, Emotional stability, Academic ratings, Christian missionaries, Psychological assessment, Psychological counseling.” -LW



  3. KL on January 2, 2019 at 11:48 pm

    Thanks for commenting on this series and clarifying your involvement. I just learned about this limited series on TNT and came here to get your thoughts on it. It seems that no media outlet can do justice to your detailed and concise work unless it was a multi-part documentary that you wrote, directed and produced. I would pay to see that, not the fictional drivel that continues to be produced.

    These fictional accounts are really upsetting to me, knowing how the truth is so distorted but the names were real people, and the fiction is what people remember. I can imagine how they must frustrate you as well.

    Take care, and happy new year.

    • Steve Hodel on January 3, 2019 at 12:03 am

      KL: Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. I am hoping that something along the lines of what you have suggested will develop this coming year. There is strong active interest as I type this. If it’s based on my books and I am able to be directly involved as an executive-producer and or technical adviser, we could see it come forward as a miniseries. (Need at least six episodes just to tell the BDA story alone.) I have “passed” on numerous offers to just sell the book rights as it is too important from a historical standpoint to fall into the “based on” category and become fictionalized. I remain optimistic that Zak Levitt (an Emmy Award Documentarian) will present the audio podcast with truth and accuracy. As I indicated in my earlier blog he impressed me with his overall knowledge and came off as a straight shooter. Wishing you and yours a Happy New too. Steve

  4. Dana S. on January 24, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Quick question,
    in what order should I read your books? In order of publication or do you suggest differently? Also, can not wait for the podcast!
    Thanks!

  5. Raul R on January 30, 2019 at 1:57 am

    I’ve finished a few of your books now. I will definitely check out the podcast. Thanks!

    • Steve Hodel on January 31, 2019 at 4:47 pm

      Raul R; Thanks

  6. Diane Esper on January 30, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    I would like to check out Fauna Hodel’s book after the miniseries and documentary run. How can I find a copy?

    Hold fast to your princples in deaing with these storytellers. . Their spin can ‘t match the true facts about your family .

    • Steve Hodel on January 31, 2019 at 4:47 pm

      It should be available on Amazon.com

  7. Kay Nichols on February 5, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    Steve,
    Having always been fascinated like most people by the BD case, I have been eager to see the Into The Night show but more importantly I am looking forward to your podcast and hopefully your potential new movie.
    I have read your earlier book regarding ths case and your discovery that GHH, your Father was most likely the killer. One question I have wondered is how GHH reacted to you becoming a police officer and how your relationship was with him.
    Sincerely,
    Kay Nichols

    • Steve Hodel on February 5, 2019 at 8:22 pm

      Hi Kay: Not sure what your reference is to “potential new movie”? If you mean the I Am The Night six-part miniseries that is currently airing on television, just know, I wasn’t consulted or involved in that production and it is a fictional story based on my niece Fauna Hodel’s story, “Some Day She’ll Darken” at least the early episodes, then turns to explore some imagined connections between my father and the Black Dahlia murder. Of course, my niece Fauna never met my father in life and was never inside the Sowden/Franklin House until long after his death.

      As to your questions: My father on the surface at least when in the presence of others seemed or feigned proudness that I had become a big city detective. (What must he, as a big city serial killer must have really thought?)
      My relationship with him was very good. He returned from Asia in 1990 to his penthouse suite with his wife June in San Francisco and I got to spend a fair amount of time with him for the last decade of his life from 81-91. I loved and respected my father and initially when I began my search for the truth was confident that I would be able to exonerate him from any suspicions as connected to the Black Dahlia murder. I followed the evidence and sadly, it took me in another direction.

      Much has been discovered in my updated four addition books on the investigation and now we are way “beyond any reasonable doubt.” Regards, Steve

      • Jerry Cooper on February 10, 2019 at 4:30 pm

        Did GHH and Fauna ever submit to DNA tests?

        • Steve Hodel on February 10, 2019 at 4:48 pm

          Jerry C:
          As I’ve indicated to others here, my half-sister Tamar, Fauna’s mother was clear on who her father was.
          “A Male Italian in San Francisco.” I obtained and offered to compare my father’s DNA to Fauna a decade or so ago, but she declined the offer.
          I can only assume she didn’t want to know the answer?

  8. Deidre on February 18, 2019 at 10:27 pm

    Steve, I am captivated by this story, although not a story but real. As I am a artist and can see how your father, could’ve have thought he was creating “a masterpiece.” Although eerie, most people who desire to be artist “hitler”, clearly just couldn’t do it. I can also see how he psychologically thought he could. Kudos, excellent investigating I will admit you are a artist at that very thing. When will the second series be coming out of the podcast? I listened to the first and enjoyed but am waiting for second. Where is the list of release dates, I’m really confused.

    • Steve Hodel on February 19, 2019 at 12:01 am

      Deidre: Thanks. I think the podcast will air every Wed so Episode 2 should be up and available shortly after midnight tomorrow night into Wed morning.

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