Skip to content

New York Times Bestselling Author Steve Hodel

In Her Own Words-Tamar Nais Hodel Tells the True Story of the Circumstances Surrounding Her Daughter Fauna Hodel’s Birth and Adoption

May 19, 2019
Los Angeles, California

Tamar Hodel circa 2001, Hawaii

I recently appeared on several nationally televised talk shows, Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz  with my two great-nieces, Rasha and Yvette, who are the daughters (different father’s) of my niece, Fauna Hodel, who passed away from cancer in 2017.

During our interview with Dr. Oz (or possibly it was Dr Phil, I forget which show) Rasha told the viewing public that she believed her grandmother, Tamar Hodel (my half-sister) was, “Pure Evil.”  I corrected her on the spot and attempted to explain that Tamar was a teenage victim of incest and sexual abuse at the hands of our father, which subsequently caused her to spin out of control and make some major bad choices as she grew from a teen into adulthood.

In my most recent publication, Black Dahlia Avenger III, I devote an entire chapter on my half-sister presenting as best as I could, both sides, attempting to provide readers with a fuller “Nature and Nurture” cause and effect, along with identifying some of the failures on her part to assume responsibility for her actions.

In January 2004 some nine months after the publication of my first book, Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder, (Arcade 2003) Tamar wrote and emailed me the below six-page “Overview of the Tamar Chronicles.” This was a summary of what she intended to be her “autobiography in three parts. ”

In this opening introduction, Tamar presents me with the details of her teenage pregnancy and exactly how it happened and what followed during her “placement in an unwed mothers home.”

Tamar gives us the true story of how once she was hospitalized, “a very kind and loving Black man offered to help me…offered to marry me…, but authorities refused. Based on this the HOSPITAL AUTHORITIES AND PERSONNEL ASSUMED THAT THIS FRIEND (A NEGRO) WAS THE FATHER, and Tamar continued to let them believe the father was black.  (See full description and details in Tamar’s own words as to the how and why of it below.)

The actual facts surrounding Tamar’s pregnancy and adoption and Tamar’s motives, are very different from how they have been portrayed by others, so best to hear them told, as they actually occurred, in the very words of Fauna’s mother, Tamar Nais Hodel.

SKH Note:  Fauna’s autobiography would not be written until 2008, some five years after the publication of my book, Black Dahlia Avenger and some four years after Tamar wrote and sent me the below account of the facts, to be told in The Tamar Chronicles. 

Unfortunately for us, Tamar’s autobiographies were never completed.

 

T


Tamar late 1951 or early 1952 (age 16) in Mexico with her mother, Dorothy Barbe (wearing sunglasses left).
This photograph would have been taken shortly after the birth and adoption of her first child, Fauna Hodel, who was born August 1, 1951.

Below is a PDF containing the complet seven pages as included in BDA III Chapter 6, Tamar Nais Hodel.

Tamar in her own words bda III all seven pages

26 Comments

  1. Margo on May 21, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    Hi Steve,
    This is fascinating. I have always wondered how Tamar’s relationship with your father resumed after the incest trial. It seems as though they continued to have a relationship, but how was that possible after the way he vilfied her? I have read a few times that it was he who gave her second daughter, Fauna, the middle name ‘Elizabeth’ after Elizabeth Short. If this is true, it astounds me that he had a close enough relationship with her to name her child. Also, how did he explain the homage to Elizabeth Short?

    • Steve Hodel on May 21, 2019 at 5:24 pm

      Margo: No, Tamar and George did not have a relationship AFTER the trial going forward. Tamar NOT GEORGE named her first daughter Fauna after a Robinson Jeffers poem just as her father had named her Tamar after a poem by Jeffers. Tamar NOT GEORGE named her second daughter Deborah Elizabeth. He had no part in the naming. She had gone to her father at age 12 and asked him to name her doll for her. In 1947 just months after murdering Elizabeth Short, George told her to name the doll “Elizabeth.”
      Fast forward to the birth of Deborah and Tamar, again NOT GEORGE chose to give her the middle name of “Elizabeth” most likely to “honor” the play doll suggestion from her father many years earlier. Tamar always loved her father and felt affection towards him, but post incest trial in 1949 they never again had any kind of “relationship” and dad’s position toward Tamar with the rest of his family was always, “Lying Tamar.” (He did see her on a few occasions one being a meeting of Tamar’s good friend, Michele Phillips when “The Mamas and Papas” were doing debut singing in the Sixties as he was passing through San Francisco. But, no “relationship” and he went out of his way to avoid any contact with Tamar.

      • Fauna on May 24, 2019 at 8:59 am

        Your comment is awaiting moderation.

        Dear Uncle steve, please correct the information concerning my name Elizabeth, as I believed what my Mother, Tamar, told me. George is responsible for my middle name. I recently spoke with you explaining how I was told that come to be. Mother said few things that never varied, this is one. PLEASE CORRECT. Unless mom, Tamar told YOU differently then what I am saying. She, when married my father she hoped George would be proud of her, close to her again (as she never meant to tell on him. ) She felt she was tricked into telling. Mom still loved him…. boarding on being “in love”. In fact she spoke of George this way even years after your first book: “Black Dahlia Advenger”. Grandfather, REALLY twisted her mind & values. She tried many times to win back his love and hopefully her inheritance as well. She desperately wanted to be loved. She was proud to be to married to a famous recording artist, as her first love (Josh White) was already married.
        When others listen to “Root of Evil” my bother’s statements bear out mine, as to the warped relationship she keep with George. This started up again when she married my father Stan Wilson. This what she told me.
        FaunaElizabeth Hodel Wilson
        Love you Dearly, Fauna Elizabeth Wilson /Hodel 😘💕😘
        Ps. THANK YOU for printing for story ” in her own words” The Tamar Chronicles😘💕😘

        • Steve Hodel on May 24, 2019 at 9:56 am

          Fauna Elizabeth: Dear Fauna: In our hundred or more hours of discussions after our father’s death in 1999, your mother, my sister, Tamar told me many personal stories, as I wanted to know as much as possible about what she could recall about our father and his life. At that time she and no one else had a clue that I was investigating our father for suspected crimes. One of these stories was as I have related in BDA, telling me of her going to our father at age 12 and asking him to help her name her the Black haired doll she had just received from her mother for her 12th birthday in late March of that year. (1947) (This would have been just nine weeks after he murdered Elizabeth Short.) She said he smiled at her and said, “Why don’t you name her Elizabeth.” During the telling of that story, she laughed and went on to say that seven years later she would name her own daughter, Deborah Elizabeth. That is what she told me.

          She also told me that she always loved George, always. Before and after the trial. She never stopped loving him and always hoped that love would be reciprocated by him. Though truth be told it never was. George Hodel was incapable of love, real love, to her or anyone.

          Do I think that she gave you the middle name of Elizabeth to show her ongoing love for her father and to do as he wished and “name her little doll, (this time a living doll) to please her father and fulfill his seven-year-old request, “to name her Elizabeth”? Most assuredly, YES. I am sure Tamar had different stories for different people, so what is the truth of it? I don’t know? I only know what she told me. And, in the end, it is the same- The fact is the source of your middle name, “Elizabeth” did come from and at George’s request. Much Love, Uncle Steve.

      • Cathy Louise on October 24, 2019 at 1:21 am

        Thank you for this clarity.
        I just listened to the podcast.
        Bravo to you and your family.

      • Joan James on November 9, 2019 at 4:24 am

        Steve, I believe I knew Tamar years ago. Did she board 1 year at St. Helens Hall in Portland, OR for 7th or 8th grade? She would have been 13 I believe. I think she lived in the room next to mine. I particularly remember she had a picture on her bureau and I’m reasonably sure it was her father.
        I remember she never came back and we all wondered why. She was a bit of a mystery to all of us at the school. I’ve wondered about her for years, but didn’t know who or where to ask.

        • Steve Hodel on November 9, 2019 at 8:51 am

          Joan J:
          Hi Joan.
          The name of the school St. Helens Hall never came up in any of my conversations with Tamar, but it is certainly possible.
          The reason being that her mother Dorothy Anthony Barbe Hodel was originally from Portland, Oregon and married a symphony conductor from that city. (I believe he was a conductor for the Portland Philharmonic Orchestra.) So, very possible she was at that school prior to coming down for the fateful events that occurred in the Summer of ’49?

  2. Margo on May 22, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    Thank you for the response, Steve. I have seen it reported in at least two different places that he chose the middle name, but that never made sense to me. Thank you for clarifying. And I just got a chill upon reading that he told her to name her doll Elizabeth. Speechless.

  3. CHRISTINA M GARCIA on May 23, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    Hi Steve,

    I read Black Dahlia Avenger back in 2008 and I loved it…I couldn’t put it down. This is when I fell in love with True Crime. Who is Fauna Hodel’s father? I had the idea that George was her father.

    • Steve Hodel on May 23, 2019 at 8:17 pm

      Christina M.G.: Fauna Hodel’s father was an unnamed White Male Italisan American in San Francisco who gave Tamar a bunch of alcoholic drinks then raped her when she was 15. No, recent DNA testing has eliminated and dispelled the “rumor” that George Hodel was her father. That was created from the fictional mini-series, “I Am The Night” which is 95% fiction. Fauna Hodel never met her grandfather George Hodel in life and was never at the Sowden/Franklin House until long after his death in 1999, and then only to visit the new owners briefly.

      • Kathleen Kat McLaughlin on May 25, 2019 at 1:37 pm

        Fauna did return to the Sowden/Franklin house for an episode on Ghost Adventures, but I believe on false pretext. She stated she wanted to be involved in the seance with the intention of having the medium free any spirits of victims remaining in house. Zack, the host of the show, had an agenda different than hers. He asked her if GHH was her father, and other prurient questions. She said she didn’t know. She never achieved her goal there at that time. It’s a shame because it seemed she cared so much about GHH victims. Fauna passed away shortly before the DNA results came out? If so, I want to believe that wherever she is, she now knows the truth.

        • Steve Hodel on May 25, 2019 at 1:52 pm

          Kathleen K: We know that Fauna since meeting Tamar, her biological mother always knew the truth that her father was “A White Italian Male that gave her mother alcohol then raped her in San Francisco.” Tamar, was straight with her from the getgo back in the early Seventies. Tamar, was very clear with everyone that she only had sexual relations with her father that one time, in July 1949. Never again. Fauna Hodel was born in August, 1951. In my opinion, Fauna chose to let people believe that “maybe George was her father” for “dramatic effect.” Same reason she totally invented three fictional letters supposedly written by my mother and sent to her mother which she included in her biography, “Some Day She’ll Darken.” When I queried her after the book was published in 2008 about the invented letters, her response was, “Well sometimes a writer has to take creative license for dramatic effect.” That was the last time I ever spoke with my niece, Fauna Hodel. And, of course, 95% of the material in the “IATN” miniseries is fictional. Fauna never met George Hodel and was never in the Sowden/Franklin House until long after her grandfather’s death in 1999.

          • Kathleen Kat McLaughlin on May 25, 2019 at 9:39 pm

            Thank you for the clarification, Steve. I was a bit disturbed when she was on board with the production of the highly fictionalized version of her life. That true version of her life was dramatic enough in and of itself without going along with the storyline of the miniseries. I remember reading about her daughters being so glad that her story was finally going to be told on screen after Fauna’s passing and I was truly disappointed when I finally watched IATN. I knew that wasn’t the book that I had read (One Day She’ll Darken), and now finding out there was also fictionalized material in the book is so disheartening. Family dynamics are so complex, and I thought my family was the archetype of dysfunction. Secrets and lies have permeated the Hodel family for far too long and finally the spotlight zeros in on the truth as it should. You are that spotlight…



  4. Steve Hodel on May 25, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    Kat M:

    Yes, the “family” dynamics have been difficult for me. I am not one to get involved in petty arguments and disputes.

    As far as the “hosts” of Root of Evil, I had never actually met my great niece Rasha prior to our appearance on the Dr. Phil Show a few months back and had only met her sister, Yvette on two brief occasions, with her mother Fauna, more than a decade past.

    As I indicated, after my niece Fauna came out with her “creative license for dramatic effect” as relates to inventing fictitious letters supposedly written by my mother, in her autobiography, I just ignored it. I made no “review” about her book from its publication (2008) until just a few months past, so 11-years of “no comment.”

    But, now, with all the publicity first with the “I Am The Night” fictional miniseries followed by the podcast, “Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family and the Black Dahlia” I have been called upon to “keep it real.” (The only reason I agreed to do the interviews on the national television shows.) The viewing/listening/reading public needs to know what is FACT and what is FICTION.

    So, I will do that, as best I can, in my writing, and public speaking and if the muses are willing (How can they not be? They’re having so much fun!) I will continue to wear the dual masks of Drama (Thalia God of Comedy and Melpomene God of Tragedy).

    Again, thanks to you and my many readers for your ongoing confidence and support.

  5. Suzi Felix on May 26, 2019 at 10:06 pm

    But isn’t it also true much of what you have put together, at least regarding the Black Dahlia, is also conjecture based on your own ‘theories’ and no 100% proof so you could call that dramatic effect for your own writing and sales as well. Just seeing things from both sides.

    • Steve Hodel on May 26, 2019 at 10:37 pm

      Suzi F: No, not really. As far as the Black Dahlia investigation is concerned it is way beyond “my personal conjecture and theories.” But, one has to read the material and see all the linkage. While I provide much of what I believe to be the motive and crime signatures to his crime, (the method for his madness) separate from that is: physical evidence connecting the crime scene to the body dump location (cement sacks), police tape-recorded admissions and confessions to multiple murders, including Dahlia, as well as “police payoffs” and to performing abortions, police reports documenting “they knew and dated each other prior to the murder”, handwriting expert analysis confirming authorship of the “Avenger Letters” were written by GHH, four top original law enforcement officers independently corroborating each others statements that “the case was solved and Dr. George Hodel did it”; witness statements connecting him to the crime, and on and on. So, in truth it is “way beyond a reasonable doubt” which is what you need to convict in a jury trial. I started out convinced my father would be incapable of committing such a crime and was sure I would be able to clear him of any suspicion. Remember, this case came to me, I didn’t go to it. In the end, by following the evidence, it took me in the exact opposite direction. Truth being, Law Enforcement solved the case 70 years ago, and were about to arrest him when he fled the country. Best, Steve

  6. T. J. Burks on July 8, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Mr. Hodel, if Fauna past away in 2017 from cancer, how could she write you asking for a correction regarding her middle name in May 2019? When did Tamar die?

  7. Meagan on July 14, 2019 at 9:14 am

    Steve,
    I wanted to let you know that I just finished “Root of Evil” and I thought your work on it was amazing! I was speechless listening to the part about your discovery of the receipts for the concrete and fertilizer. I do have a question, if you believe that your sister Tamar had no relationship with your father after the trial, does that mean you think Fauna ll’s story about George Hodel photographing and molesting her is made up?

    • Steve Hodel on July 14, 2019 at 9:59 am

      Meagan: No, it happened. It’s confusing because of the two Faunas.
      Our father did see Tamar on occasion through the decades when passing through Hawaii enroute to the U.S.
      They might meet for dinner on rare occasions. He did see her back in the early-mid Sixties and did take Fauna II (Deborah Elizabeth, daughter of Tamar and Stan Wilson, the folksinger) out alone for dinner. That is when he drugged her and took the naked photographs in the hotel room. That happened. This has nothing to do with the other Fauna who never met dad in life. It is confusing. Best, Steve

  8. Lisa Kominiak on August 20, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    Hi Steve

    I’ve just finished the podcast, haven’t watched the miniseries… Nor do I intend to 😬

    A few questions:

    – is there any further movement on the testing of the DNA on the envelope, which your father sealed? Assume there was DNA left at Elizabeth’s crime scene?
    – were there any reports from Surrealists at the time? Surely they made links between the imagery?
    – numerous years have passed… why do you think there is such resistance from LAPD – when files were found in the DA vault? They corroborate your findings… surely it’s more than bad PR?
    – what’s next? Will there ever be closure?

    Best regards

    Lisa

    • Steve Hodel on August 31, 2019 at 11:06 am

      Lisa K: I haven’t watched the miniseries either, the trailer was enough to tell me is is 95% fiction. Of course, my niece, Fauna in real life never met my father, nor was she ever at the Sowden/Franklin House until long after his death in 1999. As to your questions:
      1. No movement on DNA testing by LAPD. They can’t defeat the evidence, so all they can do is continue to claim “we are too busy with other cold cases to look at Hodel’s investigation.”
      2. Yes, the surrealists of that day, specifically, Man Ray, Duchamp and William Copley KNEW at least after the fact, and acknowledged it in their later “artworks”. See BDA II (2014 ed.)for that specific linkage.
      3. LAPD’s refusal to look at it has I think, all to do with IMAGE. If they look at it they will have to conclude as I have shown, that LAPD’s two greatest heroes, Chiefs William H. “Bill” Parker and Chief of Detectives Thad Brown, did in fact, participate in a cover-up by not pursuing their known/identified suspect, Dr. George Hill Hodel. (The reason being to hide the fact that a murder was committed during the electronic stakeout and they took no action, made no immediate response to the assault.) They could not allow this to become public so they locked away the DA Secret Hodel Files for fifty-three years, until accidentally discovered by LA Times journalist Steve Lopez, and myself in 2003. As we know, sadly those actions resulted in both men and the Department having serious blood on their hands from the murders that followed in the Sixties. By confirming my investigation they would confirm that fact, which they apparently decided is not acceptable. Again, all about IMAGE.
      4. Next? I continue to present my father’s additional crimes and am working on what I hope will be the last book, “The Early Years” covering his crimes from the 20s and 30s. Just came out with Book 6, “In The Mesquite” which details a horrific mother/daughter murder I believe he committed pre Dahlia in 1938. Also, hope to put together a Documentary, miniseries to tell the full story in six or eight episodes. So, stay tuned.

      • Dawn on October 26, 2019 at 11:55 am

        Steve- I’ve recently finished reading DANGEROUS FRIENDS which has a lot of background on John Huston, who as you know, was well connected to Fred Sexton. Having never watched Chinatown, I caught it on cable a few weeks ago. The theme of incest and murder at the end of the movie is so clear to me… made me wonder why John Huston would have taken such an interest in the “acting” part, as he rarely portrayed a character in films. Spoilers aside, as it is such an old film, part of the impact of the last few scenes has to do with the fact that Noah Cross “gets away with it”…. The thought has crossed my mind that this is Huston’s nod to GHH or at least an indication that he was aware of some of the dark dealings of noir age Hollywood.

        • Steve Hodel on October 26, 2019 at 1:34 pm

          Dawn: Yes, Dangerous Friends is an excellent read and very well written by screenwriter, Peter Viertel, one who KNEW. See blog on it HERE. https://stevehodel.com/2016/10/29/john-huston-peter-viertel-white-hunter-black-heart-friendship-cold-blooded-premeditated-murder/

          Huston having been married to my mother, Dorothy Huston Hodel for seven years prior to marrying George Hodel certainly KNEW and was a regular partygoer to the Sowden/Franklin House at the time of dad’s arrest for Incest and Child Molestation with my halfsister, Tamar in 1949. See also The Huston Letters chapter in BDA II that documents correspondences between my mother and John during and after the incest arrest. Clearly, his role as Noah Cross was an indication and I believe a definite reference to what he knew, though, in real life, George was not the father of his granddaughter by way of his sexual relations with his fourteen-year-old daughter, Tamar. (That pregnancy was aborted in 1949.)

  9. Patti Lundberg on September 27, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    Hi Steve, was the Franklin house where the black Dahlia’s murder supposedly occurred ever tested with luminol or searched for any DNA?

    • Steve Hodel on September 27, 2019 at 8:46 pm

      Patti L.
      Hi Patti. Yes, the Franklin/Sowden Hodel residence was the actual crime scene.
      No, LAPD nor any other LE agency has never done any testing. As indicated in my followup books, “Buster” a cadaver dog alert to numerous locations for human remains. Soil samples confirmed his findings. But, LAPD claimd “they are too busy to do any followup.” No luminol ever test back then or through the decades. Best, Steve

Leave a Comment