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New York Times Bestselling Author Steve Hodel

Black Dahlia Crime Scene Photos and Forensics Part II – “The Earring”

October 3, 2019
Los Angeles, California
New Investigation-Hard Evidence and Forensics Part II-
The Earring
George Hodel Album Photo
Elizabeth Short Coroner’s Photo left Ear
Excerpt from Black Dahlia Avenger (Skyhorse 2015 ed.) Pages 492-3
Blowup 6: The Earring
I had found the trace evidence hair follicle on the body from the crime scene photographs.* Was I missing anything? To make sure, I decided to recheck the remaining few photographs taken at the coroner’s office. More scans, this time from foot to head. I moved slowly upward, forced to endure in magnification the many visible horrors of my father’s sadism. I finished with the head. I had seen enough. I reached to turn off my screen, and again, an object caught my eye. Perhaps, it was just a small white mark on the nearly sixty-year-old print? I zoomed in on it. Something was there. Inside her left ear. Too blurred to see. Again, I rescanned with higher resolution.
Another blowup. Now I could make it out. An earring. But not just any earring. It appeared identical to the earring seen worn by the woman in my father’s nude photograph. Small circular pearls. Is this an additional link to his album photo No. 1?
These links help us to close the circle. We have viewed and compared the actual hair follicle, photographically preserved and found on Elizabeth’s nude body, identical to George Hodel’s curly, black hair. * We have seen my father’s sardonic and surreal placement of a watch and an earring, inside the body. The pearl earring appears identical to the one worn by the woman in my father’s photograph Number 1. And we have documentation of law enforcement’s deliberate misstatement and falsification of evidentiary facts, (“no burn marks on the victim’s body”) formally presented to a seated grand jury.
We are left with one final question: the coroner’s report. Locked and never released to the public. What more can it reveal? Does it contain the evidence as shown in the photographs? Do the watch, and the earring, still exist? Or has the full and complete report, along with the physical evidence, also simply “disappeared”?
LAPD’s Chief Bratton has told us his department is off the case. “I just told our Cold Case Squad guys to give it [the Black Dahlia investigation] up.” All the LAPD evidence has disappeared. There is no “ongoing investigation” and there are no more secrets. The shadows are gone and the silence is broken. That should effectively remove any objection to a public viewing of this final document. The coroner’s protocol is not held within any LAPD (city) file but is locked within the purview of the county. Two years ago, District Attorney Steve Cooley opened his county vault and let me and the public read the “Hodel File.” Perhaps he will now take a second step and order the coroner’s vault open as well. We shall see.*
Steve Hodel
Los Angeles, California
August 2005
* On July 13, 2005, I conducted an interview with UK television journalist Sam Kiley for a documentary on the Dahlia story, to air in Great Britain in December 2005. During that interview, I was advised by Kiley that he had contacted personnel from the L.A. Coroner’s Office who had agreed to provide him with a copy of the complete protocol. However, a subsequent search for the records revealed that all the files “have disappeared.” Coroner’s officials added that they had no idea how or when the Elizabeth Short file became “lost.”


In September 2019 I asked my friend/author/retired Dallas PD officer Robert Sadler to again see if he could “work his magic” in an attempt to enhance the GHH and Elizabeth Short Coroner’s photos for additional comparison. Here is his graphic and summary:


SKH Note:
  • Below is the graphic (Exhibit 88) originally published in the 2006 BDA HarperCollins edition (and referenced above) showing the “black curly hair follicle” found on Elizabeth Short’s body during the autopsy. This follicle, as can be seen, is consistent with George Hodel’s black curly hair.

     1a) hair follicle on Elizabeth Short’s body; 1b) enlarged; 1c) GHH hair from LAPD booking photo for 1949 Incest Arrest.

    – I would like to address one further point as relates to the above GHH  album book photograph.
    Many Naysayers, Dahlia theorists, and critics with their own agendas and “solutions to whodunit” over the past several decades make the following claim: “The photo in George Hodel’s album is not Elizabeth Short, and so everything else that Steve Hodel has presented has to be thrown out and disregarded.”
    Obviously that is a ridiculous claim.
    The importance of the GHH photograph, if it is Elizabeth Short, only goes to address one point- that being that George Hodel photographed the victim. It irrefutably connects the suspect with the victim, and if the earring evidence is accurate, it would further indicate the photo was likely taken on the very night/morning of her murder, January 15, 1947.
    For argument’s sake, let’s set aside the Facial Recognition Software analysis that says it is “95% probable that it is the victim.” Let’s also set aside the above earring evidence that adds additional linkage and assume the photo is not Elizabeth Short , and it is merely some other woman that looks like her.
    It matters not since the official LA DA law enforcement reports unequivocally state that “George Hodel was acquainted with and dated Elizabeth Short prior to her murder.” *Add to that the multiple independent statements from both civilian witnesses and LAPD and  DA and Sheriff’s command officers that “The case was solved and George Hodel killed her.”
    Scan of official LA DA Lt. Jemison’s 1950 interview with Dorothy Hodel where he admonished her:
     “Let me advise you that we do have information that he did associate with Beth Short and as you know the last place she…”
    *For the Record- I do believe, as stated in BDA II (Thoughtprint Press 2014) that:
    1.  The photograph in my father’s album is Elizabeth Short.
    2. It was taken at the Sowden/Franklin House prior to her extended torture and bisection of the body  in the early morning hours of January 15, 1947.
    3. Elizabeth Short appears drugged and unconscious.
    4. That the pearl earring she is wearing at the residence (possibly broken in half?) was inserted in her left ear by George Hodel at the crime scene as part of the “posing” of his surreal masterpiece consistent with his “Murder as a Fine Art” crime signature.


  1. Carol Kehrley on October 4, 2019 at 7:33 am

    Steve, you convinced me long ago that your father murdered Elizabeth Short and that there was, and remains, a large cover-up. The earring just adds another log to the fire of evidence. How ironic that files from the “unsolved” case were “lost.” 😠

  2. Dennis Effle on October 4, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Literally another “find” by my favorite retired LAPD detective III and Slayer of Minitours, Steve Hodel. Your contribution to the correct recording of history in regards to this case is unequalled. I am constantly amazed, when I really shouldn’t be. I’ve become to expect it from you. Well done!

    • Steve Hodel on October 4, 2019 at 6:12 pm

      Dennis E.
      Thanks Dennis. Much appreciated.

  3. Tami Marie Alexander on October 4, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    When files in the hands of officials are “lost,” it always means someone at that institution was involved directly in the crime or paid to destroy the evidence. So, who among the LAPD was in the not-so-good doctor’s inner circle? Who was on his payroll? Because someone had to be covering up for him.

    Great work on spotting that earring, Steve. As a creative person, I try to view an artist’s work and consider what he is trying to convey. It’s not like her earring fell off and he just stuffed it in her ear — he put it there for a reason. It was a minute detail but it meant something to him. It symbolizes something.

    • Steve Hodel on October 5, 2019 at 12:47 am

      Tami A: Thanks for the kind words. Yes, I detail the “connections” and the WHY of the earring’s placement as part of the posing of his masterpiece and crime signature, “Murder as a Fine Art.” Detailed in my books BDA, BDA II and BDA III. Best, Steve

    • Dan Lackey on October 10, 2019 at 3:03 pm

      Hi, Steve,
      The earrings certainly appear to match. I felt pretty certain that the photo GHH kept, was ES after the expert matched the facial features. The expert eliminated the JS possibility. The earring solidifies it all the more. It certainly appears as if ES was drugged & was placed in one of the chairs in GHH’s study, photographed, and then moved to where the horror began. GHH wanted to keep a photo of the blank canvas of his masterpiece. He was able to view her final resting place from the privacy of his penthouse 50 years later. What a strange mind.
      All the best,

      • Steve Hodel on October 10, 2019 at 3:20 pm

        Hi Dan: Yes, just more corroboration, and using her earring is certainly totally consistent with GHH’s surrealistic posing. Also, we have the new information that reportedly has GHH taking a “night photo” at the crime scene just prior to daybreak, which to my mind totally fits with him wanting to further “memorialize” his masterpiece and going so far as to send it to authorities as a “Black Dahlia Avenger Taunt.” It the reported information from Director David Lynch is accurate have to wonder whatever became of Detective “Jigsaw John’s” night photo? Must still be somewhere in LAPD files? See April 2019 blog referencing it here.

  4. barry guerrero on October 5, 2019 at 7:32 am

    To me, just as important as the very existence of the earring is your point #3 above. Not only is the photographed and posed young woman likely to be E.S., but also the very strong possibility that the woman was, quote, “drugged and unconscious” also exists. That had not occurred to me. But a ‘second look’ at that photo convinces me that you may very well be right.

    • Steve Hodel on October 5, 2019 at 9:42 am

      Barry G: Yes, drugging his victims at the Franklin/Sowden house was a KNOWN part of his M.O. (Think Lillian Lenorak, who was drugged and an he then staged her “attempted suicide” suicide followed a few months later by drugging, beating and probable murder of the “unknown woman” all captured on the DA/LAPD electronic surveillance tapes.

  5. XS on October 5, 2019 at 11:48 am

    Poor darling I hope she was drugged and didn’t have to feel and suffer but who knows. I hope she rests in peace and the low life that did this will burn for eternity in hell!!

  6. XS on October 5, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    You see what’s sad is system failure. The ones that are paid to keep us safe and process justice again allowed the rich to get away with murder and continue on a murder spree. Consider internal corruption and the long list of names of people that got paid. You know it’s still happening today.

    RIP ES

  7. Steve Hodel on October 5, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    XS: Sadly it’s true.

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