October 1, 2019
Los Angeles, California
Below scenes from Director Michelangelo Antonioni’s classic 1966 film, BLOW-UP showing “Thomas” (Actor David Hemmings) examining his “blown up photographs” which reveal evidence of a crime.
In the updated Black Dahlia Avenger (HarperCollins 2006) paperback edition I added several new chapters. One of these was entitled, “New Investigation: Hard Evidence and Forensics.
I quote from pages 544-45 of that chapter:


As my Dahlia investigation comes to a close, I again find death imitating art.
Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni’s thriller Blowup, a seminal film of the 1960s, forced us to think and question lifestyles, mores, art, and the subjectivity of perception, all focused through the lens of a photographer’s camera. In the film, a whodunit or wasitdun existentialist mystery, David Hemmings plays a mod-fashion photographer who, while strolling through a London park, happens upon and takes photographs of a couple embracing.
In developing the photographs, he discovers that his camera has caught a possible murder in progress. Is there a hand showing a man holding a gun in the shrubbery? A dead body? He begins to enlarge small sections of his prints (hence the title), and as they grow, they enhance the mystery as distinct pieces of the puzzle.
Some forty years after seeing this fascinating film, I now find myself cast in the same role of protagonist-photographer. The only difference: we are in the year 2005, and I have traded Hemming’s 35mm Leica for a Hewlett-Packard computer and Adobe Photoshop!
What my investigation has revealed forces me to make public crime photographs that are graphically horrifying. In previous printings of my book I have been able to restrict this aspect of the investigation to verbal descriptions, which though shocking reduced significantly the violence. Hearing is a much kinder sense than sight. For the sake of truth, and the further need to prove my case, I must, I am afraid, cross the line and delve into that darker corner. I would ask that you, my readers, consider yourself a seated juror in a murder trial. Before showing you this evidence, I will do what most prosecutors do in court: apologize for having to show you scenes so violent that they will doubtless shock your senses; but this additionally compelling evidence must be added to our case.
In the 2006 examination and analysis, I suggested that an object seen inside the upper torso at the crime scene may well have been a military watch placed there by my father as a deliberate inclusion and posing of his “surreal masterpiece,”
This was based on several known factors which included:
  1. A search of the vacant lot by LAPD recruits in the days following the removal of the victim’s body from the lot resulted in the “finding of a man’s military watch which was recovered and booked in evidence.”
  2. A photo of George Hodel taken some two months prior to the murder showing him wearing a man’s military watch.
  3. The fact that surrealists in their paintings were known to place a watch or other representation of “time” in their drawings/paintings.
  4. A blowup of the upper torso showed what appeared to be a circular object with a dark face inside the body cavity at the crime scene compared to a second photo taken at the coroner’s office showing that object missing. (Did the watch fall out upon moving it from the scene only to be discovered by police recruits searching the location two days later?
Photos included in the original 2006 Chapter:

Man Ray photo of GHH taken in October 1946 showing him wearing his military watch.
Newspaper article describing “a man’s military watch” found two days by LAPD police recruits searching near where the body had been placed.

(Top) Crime scene arrow showing a circular object in upper torso appears to have a black face and resembling a man’s watch. (Bottom) Arrow taken at coroner’s office showing object missing from inside the upper torso.
(SKH Note- At the time of my original writing I assumed it would be a simple task to compare the watch booked in LAPD evidence to the watch seen worn by my father in the Man Ray photograph taken just months prior. Post publication, in a television interview, LAPD was forced to admit, “The watch is missing from our Property Division. We don’t know where it is?” Consequently, no comparison could be made to the George Hodel watch.)
2019 Forensic Reexamination
At my request, my friend and now frequent partner in my ongoing investigation, Robert Sadler, photographer, true-crime author, and ex-Dallas Police Officer, enhanced the original photographs as I wanted to see if we could obtain a more definitive answer that might allow us to rule “in or out” the suspected object. Was it or was it not- a man’s military watch?
Click photo to enlarge

In examining Robert’s photographic study and enhancements both he and I agree that the object can now most probably be ELIMINATED as being a man’s military watch.
Based on the above comparisons, specifically, 1c (negative imagery) and 1d (high contrast imagery) we both agree that it is more likely a piece of human tissue or bone that appeared to be connected and hanging from the upper torso and  likely fell off during the autopsy procedure.


  1. Barry Guerrero on October 2, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    If I’m understanding correctly, the watch was never observed upon E.S.’s wrist, but rather was laid upon the surface near by. Is that right?

  2. Steve Hodel on October 2, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Barry G:
    No, the watch was never connected to Elizabeth Short in any way. This blog is a followup to what was written in my 2006 BDA updated HarperCollins edition where I theorized that George Hodel may have placed his watch inside the upper torso of her body at the crime scene. Here, I dispute that original theory and indicate my doubts that the object was a watch, but rather with enhanced photos now believe it was flesh or bone.
    LAPD police recruits found a man’s watch in the field near the body and booked it in evidence, but it has “disappeared” from the police property room so we are not able to compare it to the “military watch” seen worn on George Hodel’s wrist in the photograph taken two months prior to the murder.

  3. Cindy Orozco on October 2, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    Could it possibly be, just a theory i’m not a detective, that George Hodel was able to bribe cops? By this it would’ve justified how the watch “mysteriously” disappears. If he had some kind of leverage, he would’ve been able to blackmail the cops into making the case go in his favor, and therefore, he wouldn’t be responsible. His daughter, Tamal Hodel, gave brith to a baby very young that some believe is his child due to the incest that Hodel took part in when it was believed he raped her. And if he was acquitted for this, there is possibility that he was able to do it with the police department on his side. I understand you didn’t have a relationship seeing as he was such a terrible person, but I believe even after all these years there still needs to be justice for Elizabeth Short and Tamal Hodel.

    • Steve Hodel on October 2, 2019 at 3:25 pm

      Cindy O:
      Yes, he had power over LAPD and the DA’s Office. All detailed in my books. Too extensive to summarize here. He was basically “untouchable”.

  4. Anne on October 3, 2019 at 8:03 am

    Hello,Steve! I’m freshly new to your blog and the Black Dahlia case, but I’m fascinated by the latger scheme uncovered by yourself and the symbolism behind this ritualistic murder!! Do you think Elizabeth Short was your father’s first victim? And do you believe this murder, as well as his other core values, were actually part of a larger luciferian cult? It almost seemed like the murder was a form of worship of some sort! What also strikes me, is your family’s intense connection to show business and the definite protection of Hodel’s assets. It seems like he didn’t lose any of his property or suffer financially from these controversies! Do you think George Hodel was into the occult?

    • Steve Hodel on October 3, 2019 at 9:03 am

      Anne: Hi Anne. No, Elizabeth Short was definitely not my father’s first victim. He was a serial killer and began in his teens in the 1920s and had committed dozens of murders prior to her abduction and torture/murder in 1947. Suggest you start by reading Black Dahlia Avenger (Skyhorse 2015 ed.) That book chronicles his “LA Lone Woman Murders” about a dozen from 1943 until he fled the U.S. in 1950 to avoid arrest. I do not believe he was involved in any organized “cult” but his unique crime signature did relate to “Murder as a Fine Art” and his beliefs in Surrealism and that “the dream and waking states were all one.” Doubt he was “into the Occult” but rather had his own personal twisted beliefs and psychopathic belief system mixed with being a misanthrope, a classic sadist in the extreme and an urban terrorist. Regards, Steve

  5. Peggy Codella on October 11, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    Was there any investigation as to whether the basement of the Franklin house contained bodies or other evidence buried there? I’m so fascinated by your books. I’m almost finished reading Black Dahlia Avenger and just purchased BD Avenger 3.

    • Steve Hodel on October 11, 2019 at 9:03 pm

      Peggy C: The DA investigators suspected there might be a grave(s) in the basement back when they did the electronic surveillance in 1950, and interviewed a plumber asking him if he saw any digging in the basement, but they never really followed it up on their own. And no searches since then with the exception of “Buster” the Cadaver Dog alerting to “human remains” in my 2012 investigation, but no followup by LAPD. I would suggest you read BDA II (2014 edition) before BDA III, but up to you. Best, Steve

  6. Gretchen on October 25, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    I have been listening to the Root of Evil podcast all day and it is so fascinating. I can’t imagine how difficult this must continue to be for you; learning more details about your family and this awful crime over the years. Thank you for so openly sharing your story as it relates to your father. I admire your strength, honestly and ability to stay true to the facts. Sincerely, Gretchen

    • Steve Hodel on October 25, 2019 at 4:14 pm

      Gretchen N:
      Thanks for the kind words Gretchen. Much appreciated. Steve

      • Katie Kuderer on December 1, 2019 at 10:13 pm

        Hi Steve
        I honestly believe that your father killed Elizabeth Short. I can’t imagine how you felt when you discovered this. This has nothing to do with you. You are a good man.Wow. This podcast has really affected me to the core. Bless you and your family.

  7. Star Swanson on May 5, 2020 at 4:39 am

    I have a few questions about the specific room that you were not allowed into. I believe that there would be more bodies somewhere inside or underneath the floorboards, considering he was a high paid doctor, he’d be able to pay to get the floor fixed quickly. Even if this is proven wrong have you been in that room prior to the recent owner being there?

    • Steve Hodel on May 5, 2020 at 8:38 am

      Star S:
      The room as described in my books was nothing more than a 3’x8′ area behind the sliding bookcase designed when the house was constructed in 1926 to hide and store booze during prohibition. Nothing more and not enough space to perform any type of “operation.”

  8. Star Swanson on May 5, 2020 at 4:46 am

    I also have another question, had they not looked for blood inside the house whatsoever, even if they were to go now, there should at least be a trace of blood in the house considering the fact that blood from the 1950s of a soldier could be found in any historic house

    • Steve Hodel on May 5, 2020 at 8:41 am

      Star S:
      LAPD claims they are “too busy” with current cases to do any investigative follow-up. Forensic testing of the surrounding soil has already been done and proven positive for “human remains.” But, again, LAPD though having received the forensics still maintains “too busy” to take a look.

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