NOIR-REAL-The Photograph: DTLA LAPD Archival Crime Scenes Fototeka Exhibit -Author Talk Results in Creation of “Noirest of the Noir”

September 6, 2019
Los Angeles, California
“The story boasts all the glamour and sinister mystique of film noir.”     
                                                        — The Daily Telegraph (London)
“Former Los Angeles police detective Steve Hodel has written one of the most compelling true-crime books of all time in Black Dahlia Avenger: The True Story….the most noir of noir stories.”                                                                                                                                        —Seattle Weekly, Seattle Weekly
You would think by now that after writing six true-crime books all focused on my father’s serial crimes, I would have come to “expect the unexpected.”
Not so!
One week after giving my talk at the House of Lucie Gallery against the backdrop of ex-LAPD photo archivist Merrick Morton’s exhibit, “The Art of the Archive” the truly UNEXPECTED arrived.
It arrived unannounced, as a simple attachment to an email from Rick Morton which read:
“Greetings Steve, here are a couple of photos from last week. I feel the talk was a great success and hope we have a chance in the future to work together again. All my best, Rick.”

Photo by Rick Morton,  taken on Aug 29, 2019
At first glance, it appears to be simply a photo of myself taken inside the gallery with a background of the LAPD archival crime scenes. Nice.
In fact, the photograph is much more than that. Rather it is beyond surreal–and because of that I have taken the liberty to name it- “Noir-Real-A Time Triangle.”
Let’s take a closer look. (Pushes open the glass door and steps through into the open gallery and approaches the enlarged photograph entitled:

“Noir-Real” – A Time Triangle

Photo text added to Morton photograph by my author/artist friend, retired Dallas PD officer, Robert Sadler
Closer examination reveals a photograph of Dr. George Hill Hodel taken and signed by his artist/photographer friend Man Ray. The photo was taken at the Hodel Sowden/Franklin residence on or about the doctor’s birthday on October 10, 1946. We now know and recognize  Dr. Hodel as “The Murderer” of both Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short and the other 1940s “Lone Women Murder Victims.”
Next, our eyes are directed to the crime scene photograph on the wall. It is the vacant lot at 3815 South Norton Ave and shows the naked bisected body of “Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short, “The Murdered” posed and taken by LAPD photographer on January 15, 1947.
Finally, our attention is directed to the third point of the “time triangle,” to the LAPD Homicide Detective, who stands in the present, in the now,  August 29, 2019, and has identified the killer and solved the crime.


 “Murder cannot be hid long; a man’s son may; but at the length, truth will out.”
                                                                        The Merchant of Venice, Act II, scene 2
P.S.  For those that were/are unable to attend the ongoing gallery exhibit, many/most of Rick Morton’s LAPD crime scene archival photograhs can be viewed online at the following address:



  1. Bud White on September 8, 2019 at 12:05 am

    Curious how that picture came into LADP’s possession. Isn’t that from his U.N. days or shortly thereafter?

    • Steve Hodel on September 14, 2019 at 10:24 pm

      Bud W: Thought I replied to this Bud, but don’t see it so will do again. That is the UNRRA photo taken by Man Ray in Oct 1946, but not part of the collection on exhibit. I brought it with me to the show. It is one of six Man Ray originals I have which dad gave me years before I had any suspicions or any clue to any crime connections. The only other known photo of this one is in the Fogg Museum at Harvard. Someone gifted it to them way back when?

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