New York Times Bestselling Author Steve Hodel

Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family and the Black Dahlia Ranked No. 2 Podcast in U.S. –Episode 4 of 8 Airs Wed March 6, 2019

March 5, 2019
Los Angeles, California

Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family and the Black Dahlia since its debut on February 13th has consistently been running No. 2-5 as the top podcast in the United States.

Episode 4 of 8 will air tomorrow, Wed March 6th.  Tune in to a podcast near you.  

22 Comments

  1. Alf Y. Wilson Martin on March 5, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    Dear Mr. Hodel.

    Thank you for all of your amazing work on uncovering the brutality of Dr. George Hodel and his penchant for cruelty. This is ground breaking work and indubitably it cannot be easy to identify, much less research and write about the monster (and genius) your father was.

    One thing that I’d like to understand is what lead to his depravity? One one hand, he showed an obvious “love” for women, having been married four times and having fathered 15 children, I believe. It seems as though he was always attached to at least one woman throughout his life.

    On the other hand, he showed a convincing hostility and anger towards women, torturing them, humiliating them, controlling them and murdering and mutilating (some of) them. What drove this passion and deep-seated ambivalence, teetering between love and hatred, that he demonstrated throughout his lifetime?

    And what kind of relationship did he have with his own mother? Did his father also display these tendencies?

    Thank you,
    Alf Wilson Martin

    • Steve Hodel on March 6, 2019 at 12:09 am

      A.Y.W. Martin: In several of my books I attempt to examine some of the “triggers” that led to his criminal behavior. Too much to try and summarize here, but I see it as both Nurture and Nature coming together to form a perfect cocktail of psychopathy. Congenital insanity and abusive treatment by an over controlling parent and probably sexual abuse either from his mother or a close relative or family friend? Add to that his rejection by the professor’s pregnant wife who he followed back to the East Coast and proposed marriage to. She laughing in his face, “Get out of my life George, you’re just a child yourself.” His natural cunning and high intelligence allowed him to first enchant women then harm them in a, “Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly” scenario.

      As far as his own mother, my mother tells of how much he absolutely hated her. She was a doctor (dentist) in 1900 Paris, very unusual for a woman of that period. Highly intelligent and mother tells how he would come in to their home and say, “Mother, can I go out and play baseball with the boys?” Her response, “No Georgie, you’re a pianist, not a baseball player.” And so it went. Add to that her overly protective “Little Lord Fauntleroy attitude” and the probable incest, and you can see where it would take him. Obviously, much more, rejection by his peers because of his superion mental power and the likely attitude that went with it. I’m not aware of his father’s tendencies much. My impression was he was a rather meek fellow, befitting his position as a “banker/insurance agent”, but then again, one really doesn’t know do they. Best, SKH

      • Alf Y. K. Wilson Martin on March 6, 2019 at 8:38 pm

        Hi Mr. Hodel. Thank you for your answering my questions. I really appreciate it.

        It’s so hard to fathom that your grandmother could have sexually abused her son (your father). I understand the over-protectiveness and emotional abuse but not the sexual abuse.

        Do you have any specific knowledge or evidence about this? Was she from an abusive family herself when she was in Russia? Your father was married three times? How did your grandmother, Esther die? Also, what brought them to L.A.?

        My last question is about your oldest half-sibling, the one who was born to the professor’s wife. Do you have any connection or relationship with him/her?

        Keep up the GREAT work. You’re edify us with your knowledge.

        Best, Alfie

        • Steve Hodel on March 6, 2019 at 10:49 pm

          A.Y.K. W Martin: No hard info re. sexual abuse other than fits the profile along with the massive anger. Little known about grandparents other than general info. Esther died from T.B. in 1935 here in a Los Angeles hospital. No known info on the professor’s wife and child, “Folly”. I do know her last name, but have not done any research to date. I’m sure both mother and daughter have passed on. May include additional in next/final book, “The Early Years.” skh

  2. Luigi Warren on March 6, 2019 at 9:01 am

    Steve: Best episode yet. Very interesting to hear Prof. Baldwin’s comments. All the more striking given his biography, “Man Ray: American Artist,” offered a rather benign depiction of Man Ray personally, and was written with extensive cooperation from Juliet. Interesting to hear your suspicions concerning the relationship between Juliet and Dorero — had wondered about that (they look pretty chummy in Man Ray’s portrait). I’m wondering where the Man Ray readings we hear came from, and whether that is his actual voice we’re hearing. -LW

    • Emily on March 6, 2019 at 9:22 am

      Luigi and Steve – Yes, today’s episode was absolutely riveting. I always thought Steve’s connections between his father and the surrealists made tons of sense. But hearing an art historian describe it literally sent chills down my spine as I was driving this morning.

      The podcast is doing a great job connecting the dots in an easy to understand way. There is so much more in Steve’s books though! Looks like they have also been moving up on the Amazon chart.

      I’m going to have to order “exquisite corpse” because I cannot get enough of these connections between the murder(s) and art.

      I wonder why misogyny was such a big part of surrealism? You would think that a “modern” (for the time) new art form would have been more about liberating women than owning them, Particularly since during the 20th century, particularly during World War II, women were in many cases liberated from the home to the workplace? Why the hatred for women? Because it was a kind of hatred in the art.

      My huge hope is that something will break this case open due to the podcast and show. A few other podcasts have been part of why some cases have been solved. (Tara Grinstead, Bear Brook). Here’s hoping.

      I’ve been defending Steve’s theories for years on online message boards. Glad to hear other voices in agreement to such a large audience.

  3. Michael Wilson on March 6, 2019 at 9:52 am

    Hi Steve,

    I’m enjoying the podcast and I greatly admire your work.

    I should like to hear your thoughts on the following:

    1. Whether the crime scene should be read as an attempt to frame Man Ray.

    2. Whether the state of Elizabeth Short’s remains are more easily explained as an attempt to distract police from a death that occurred under very different circumstances, such as death from conditions arising from an illegal abortion?

    • Steve Hodel on March 6, 2019 at 11:18 am

      Michael W: Thanks for the kind words. As to your questions. 1. No, it rather was an homage to honor Man Ray’s earlier works photos/paintings. 2. No, the condition of the body was a deliberate creating of his own surrealist “masterpiece.” Regards, Steve

  4. Dan Lackey on March 6, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    Hi Steve,
    I’ve been following the podcast & the “Minotaur” episode excells in having the crime scene make sense. Man Ray inspires George with the “Minotaur”, along with a number of other works. George displays his masterpiece, with the shocking crime scene.. Man Ray, William Copley, and Marcel Duchamp do their respective works of art, paying homage to George’s masterpiece of horror. A bizarre mutual admiration society existed among the surrealists.
    There is also that photo of a much older Man Ray holding the painting “Observatory Time”, with the huge lips, & winking at the camera. What’s with the wink?

    When you consider that the surrealist magazine, back in the thirties, was called “The Minotaur”, their obsession with the myth is apparent. The Marquis de Sade comes in a close second. Actually, de Sade May be first. It’s a close call.

    All the best,
    Dan

    • Steve Hodel on March 6, 2019 at 6:02 pm

      Hi Dan: Good to hear from you. (Dan is “the man” who discovered the L’Equivoque Man Ray Elizabeth Short 1943 link!) Trust all is well with you and yours. Yes, Zak Levitt (Exec Producer for Credence 13) has done a great job of editing and finding the right people to do the interviews/reads. Best, Steve

  5. Aryana Alborzi on March 6, 2019 at 4:35 pm

    Hi Steve!
    After beginning this podcast I’ve found my way to your website and am blown away. The 4th episode was shocking and so eye-opening. I am fascinated with the linkage between the artwork and the murder. In one post you discuss Marcel Duchamp’s Etant Donnes and how it is modeled after the Black Dahlia. I remember this piece of work at the Philly Art Museum! I went a few years ago and wasn’t all too familiar with Black Dahlia Murder, but now I see it all!!! I remember being very freaked out by the exhibit. I am actually planning to go again to the museum on Saturday to see this work of art again with a different perspective.
    I am in graduate school studying school psychology, and I am super interested in trauma, PTSD, and things of that nature. Obviously my focus is on children, but it’s very interesting in adults as well. In episode 4 you talk about being traumatized when you realized who your father was, but also remaining objective and separating yourself. How did you do this? I’m sorry if this is so personal, but what you have discovered is amazing and I give you an immense amount of credit.
    Also – is there any reason why Copley’s art is “It is midnight Dr.____”? Does midnight have any specific relation to the murder or crime scene or Short?
    Lastly, can you explain or lead me to more info on the connection with the Zodiac killer and Dr. Hodel. I am very curious about this!
    Thank you so much for all of your work and for answering everyone’s questions and comments! You are so dedicated!

  6. Dominic on March 6, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    Dear Steve Hodel,

    Foremost, thank you for serving our country in the Navy and serving California as a Los Angles Policeman/Detective.

    I’m a big fan of the Noir genre which attracted me to the “I Am the Night” series. Though you state in another blog that it’s 95% fiction, and I have to believe you, in my humble opinion it was well done from an entertainment perspective.

    In any case, the “Night” series piqued my interest to dig into Fauna, Tamar, George Hodel, and the rabbit hole that googling has produced (Sowden House, Man Ray, Root of Evil podcast, your blog, etc.).

    My next endeavor is to read your books. Thank you for your suggested reading order from a previous blog (BDA, then Most Evil I, then BDA II, then Most Evil II, and finally BDA III).

    Now, on to my question. It’s off topic, but interesting to me nonetheless. How the heck did you end up living in Bellingham, assuming you still live there? From your background of being born, raised, and having a career in sunny SoCal, it seems incongruous that you would end up in the Pacific Northwest dismal weather environment.

    I myself live in the Puget Sound region and would live no where else. But I would think, with your background, you would have chosen a more hospitable location to retire.

    Thank you again for your service, I look forward to more posts on your blog and the remaining “Root of Evil” podcasts.

    • Steve Hodel on March 8, 2019 at 9:55 am

      Dominic: Thanks for the kind words. I retired in 1986 and my two sons were just 7 & 9 and lot of gang activity in NE LA where I was living and they would regularly get hasseled while going to the neighborhood park etc. Decided to check out other areas and took a summer scouting trip through NoCal, Oregon and Washington State. Stayed at Orcas Island for three days and checked out Bellingham. Next summer moved up there and raised my two sons, until they were through HS and then this case “came to me” with my father’s death in 1999. Moved back to LA in 2000 and been back ever since, with my now twenty year ongoing investigations. Miss Puget Sound area. Beautiful country.

  7. Ted Sheridan on March 6, 2019 at 11:40 pm

    Hi Steve,
    Really enjoyed this episode of the podcast. One of the questions I’ve had is what Tamar knew about George / Black Dahlia and when. It seems clear that she first learned of the connection from the authorities holding her in Juvenile Hall who told her that he was a suspect. But during the trial, in an attempt to discredit her, one of George’s defense attorneys told the court that Tamar had at some point told the border, Joe Barrett, that George was the Black Dahlia killer (and would kill his own family). Could that conversation, if it actually happened, have occurred after she was taken to Juvenile Hall? Or is it possible that it took place before she ran away from the Franklin House, and it was based on her suspicions, actual knowledge, or was simply a wild accusation?
    Also it seems a shame there wasn’t more contact between you and Tamar – if she had told you about the BD connection much earlier maybe you could have investigated your father while he was still alive.
    Regards,
    Ted

    • Steve Hodel on March 6, 2019 at 11:57 pm

      Tamar claimed that she was told this by the detectives who transported her back and forth to court during the trial. You are correct, she remained in custody through the trial and after and was eventually transferred to San Francisco detention before being released. Defense attorney Robert Neeb ask her the “Did Joe Barrett tell you your father was the Black Dahlia killer etc….” Her response was “No.” Maybe Neeb was guessing on “who told her?” Hard to know? Doubt it could have occurred after her detention in Juv Hall. It could have come from someone prior to her arrest, we know a lot of “insiders” knew or at least “suspected”. Could have come from my mother referencing “GHH came out of a bar drunk at was bragging “They will never be able to prove I killed the Black Dahlia.” We know that statement/question came up when Lt. Jemison interviewed “Dorero” in March 1950, and mom denied it was said.
      Tamar when she told me after our father’s death only said, “The cops told me they suspected dad killed the Black Dahlia.” But, she had/knew NO DETAILS other than that. So anything that came out in the fictional version I Am The Night is fictional. Best, Steve

  8. Alf Y. Wilson Martin on March 7, 2019 at 11:37 pm

    Steve,

    When did you begin to suspect your father? Did he know that you had suspicions about him? What was your relationship with him like when you were a child? Did he show favoritism among his children? His wives? How did you grapple with his? You seem like such an honorable man and he was such a monster. I just can’t imagine how you reconciled the truth with the notion that a father can/should do no harm.

    • Steve Hodel on March 8, 2019 at 12:39 am

      Alf Y. W. Martin: Sorry, not able to answer all your questions here. Suggest reading the five books which should provide answers to most of your questions. Regards, Steve

  9. Bryan Reeves on March 8, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    Steve-Thanks for your continued fine work on this. Your books have completely pulled me in. What a terrifying (but compelling) story.

    • Steve Hodel on March 8, 2019 at 9:57 pm

      Bryan R: Thanks Bryan. Glad you are enjoying the books. Best Wishes, Steve

  10. Whitman Ward on March 15, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    As a former police officer myself, I would be fascinated to know your father’s reaction when you joined the Los Angeles police department and later became a homicide detective. Did he approve/disapprove, have any comment at all? And I think you are exactly right-he did not wake up one day and decide to cut a young woman in half. The roots of this go back to his childhood, an event or a series of events. To be involved in a pregnancy scandal at age 15 shows something had been at work on him early on. How we raise our children is so important because it affects our future. Thanks for the work.

    • Steve Hodel on March 15, 2019 at 3:44 pm

      Whitman W: Well, I think it must have been a combo plate of emotions for him. What must he thought knowing that there were still some of the brass around that KNEW the truth or strongly suspected it? Knew that he was the killer and must have wondered would they inform his son? As mentioned in BDA he tried to get me to leave the LAPD in 1973 when I had ten years on the job. “Come work for me in Asia.” I took a hard look and a long vacation and almost made the change, but in the end, I found him too controlling and loved my work, so that was not to be. As I advanced and promoted to a senior detective I think at least part of him was proud of me. My success as a “big city detective” at least he seemed to convey that on that outside. It had to also have been clear to him that “I didn’t have a clue” or suspicion as related to his criminal acts. And, thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated.

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