April 12, 2020
Los Angeles, California
Easter Sunday

 DA Lt. Frank Jemison, senior detective appointed by the 1949 Grand Jury to reinvestigate the unsolved “Black Dahlia” murder, on February 1, 1950, accompanied by LADA detective Frank McGrath and LAPD detective-sergeant Finis Brown and a court reporter,  Ms. Florence Weber, drove from DTLA Hall of Justice to the residence of Robert “Red” Manley and his wife, Harriette.
Though Robert Manley had been a prime witness and had been extensively interviewed by LAPD in January 1947 as being the person who had driven Elizabeth Short from San Diego and upon arrival in LA had at Elizabeth’s request driven her to the DTLA Greyhound bus station, where she secured her personal suitcase in a locker.   Manley had then driven and dropped her at the Biltmore Hotel  at 5th Street and Olive, where Elizabeth informed him she “was going to meet her sister.”  Further, Manley in 1947 was given an LAPD polygraph exam which showed he had no knowledge or involvement in the crime and he was eliminated as a suspect.
 The purpose of Lt. Jemison’s 1950 reinterview was in hopes of obtaining additional information or possible leads on the three-year-old murder (1947) of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short.
Photo of pages of the LADA verbatim transcripts of Lt. Jemison’s 1950 reinterview.
(To my knowledge, this is the first public release of these never before seen documents.)

“STATEMENT OF ROBERT M. MANLEY, TAKEN AT MR. MANLEY’S HOME, 9459 EAST LOCK LOMOND DRIVE, PICO, BY INVESTIGATOR FRANK B. JEMISON, AT 3:30 P.M. FEBRUARY 1, 1950. ”
PRESENT:  Mrs. Robert M. Manley
Sgt. Finas (sp.)Brown, LAPD
James F. McGrath, D.A. Inv.
Questions by: Frank B. Jemison
Reported by: Florence Weber
Click below to read the complete verbatim interview as PDF document.

DA Interv Robt Manley Feb 1 1950

A reading of the Robert Manley interview really raises many more questions than it answers.
The most striking information, to my mind,  is when the detectives are asking Manley “if he recalls any of the following names being mentioned by Elizabeth Short during the entire time they were together?”  DA investigator McGrath then goes on to ask if Elizabeth Short ever mentioned any of the following names:
“Dr. Morris, De Gaston, Dr. Abrams, Dr. Scott, Dr. Brooks, Dr. Mitchell, Dr. Brix, Glenn Wolf, Mark Hanson, Carl Balsings, Dr. Wark, Cite Premere (sp?) and Harry Long? A girlfriend, Trudy?”
Manley’s response to each individual name as it is asked, is- “NO.”  “Elizabeth Short during the entire time she spent with Manley never mentioned any of the aforementioned names.”
What IS SUPRISING is that the name, “Dr. Hodel” is omitted from the list. Manley is never asked if she mentioned a Dr. Hodel.  WHY NOT?
Consider the timing. Yes, it is two weeks before Lt. Jemison has his men pick up Dr. Hodel and bring him in for questioning and while he is being detained at the Hall of Justice orders his Sound Experts break into and place concealed microphones in the walls of the Hodel Franklin House.
But, in the months preceding this Robert Manley interview Dr. George Hill Hodel is known and named before the 1949 Grand Jury by Lt. Jemison as THE PRIME SUSPECT.
LT. FRANK JEMISON’S  WRITTEN (15-PAGE) INVESTIGATIVE SUMMARY TO THE 1949 GRAND JURY  WAS SUBMITTED TO THEM ON OCTOBER 29, 1949. (Three months BEFORE this in-person interview with Robert Manley.)
Here is a copy of page 3-4 of that summary:
I quote in part from page 4:
…There have been three hundred and sixteen suspects fifty of whom have been arrested, (Not always charged with murder.) and later released. On the date of this report there are one hundred and seven remaining possible suspects after a definite elimination of two hundred and nine suspects. There have been nineteen suspects who have confessed to the murder of Elizabeth Short.
After examination of the files and evidence it appears that the investigative efforts should be continued and concentrated on the following suspects:
Leslie Dillon–Mark Hanson–Carl Balsiger–Glen Wolf–
Hubert Hoffman–Dr. George Hodel

 

Below is Page 4 (top)  Lt. Jemison apparently does not realize that “Elizabeth Short’s unknown doctor” is one and the same as Dr. George Hodel:

 

And here is the signature page showing date completed and submitted by  Lt. Jemison as  October 29,1949.

Prior to this February 1, 1950 interview with Robert “Red” Manley Lt. Jemison has:
  • Named Dr. George Hill Hodel in secret to the Grand Jury as one of the five top suspects and of those five he is the only doctor and the only one of those named that possessed the surgical skill capable of performing the hemicorporectomy bisection.
  • Lt. Jemison is aware (or should have been unless LAPD concealed this vital information from him?) that an LAPD paid police informant and acquaintance of Dr. Hodel has named and identified him as killing both Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short and victim Louise Springer and that LAPD has investigated Dr. Hodel and brought him and others in for questioning that previous summer.
  • That George Hodel was tried for Incest, the victim being his own fourteen-year-old daughter, Tamar Hodel, in November/December 1949 and “beat the case” and that during the trial defense attorneys Jerry Giesler and Robert Neeb in an effort to discredit the victim claimed “she had accused her father of being “The Black Dahlia killer.” (In fact, Tamar had made no such claim, but rather the accusations were made in secret and told to her by Lt. Jemison’s own DA detectives transporting her to the court trial.)
  • Lt. Jemison’s office has received the “Unkefer Letter” describing the “staged suicide” of victim Lillian Lenorak from Santa Barbara police officer, Mary Unkefer describing the drugging and assault of Lenorak at the Hodel Franklin House and her  (Unkefer’s) rescue of the victim and transporting her to the Ventura County Hospital and statements made by roomer Joe Barrett confirming Lenorak’s description of the assault.
Again, with this new public revelation of the February 1st, 1950, Robert Manley re-interview (and with Lt. Jemison just two weeks away from beginning his electronic stakeout of Dr. George Hill Hodel as his prime suspect), I again ask–Why did detectives after naming eight other doctors, omit from asking Manley if Elizabeth Short ever mentioned the name of “Dr. Hodel”?

Prior posted/related blogs:

 

SBPD Officer Mary Unkefer 1943 Rescuer of Elizabeth "Black Dahlia" Short Removes New Victim from Hollywood Residence and Reports Dr. Hodel "Staged Suicide and Threats to Kill Witness" to DA Office

 

Press Release-Historic 70-Year-Old Black Dahlia “In Case of Death” Letter Written in 1949 by LAPD Undercover Informant Identifies “GH” (George Hodel) As Killer New Discovery Reveals George Hodel “Grilled” By LAPD as the Suspect in Three Separate LA Murders

 

Josh Mankiewicz 2004 Court TV Clip with Joe Barrett wherein He Describes Disarming of Witness Waiting to Shoot Dr. Hodel for Killing Black Dahlia

 

 

 

28 Comments

  1. Steve Hodel on April 13, 2020 at 2:16 am

    To do a little additional “thinking out loud” on this blog.
    There are multiple possible scenarios. The one that comes to mind first is, that since Jemison had to be lining up his ducks in preparation for the HODEL stakeout which was just two weeks away, he may have kept silent and not asked it because as many are well aware, that by asking a question you are providing information at the same time. Could have been as simple as that not wanting to let anyone, especially a “civilian” get that HOT INFO by naming him?

    I’m fairly confident that in many respects, Lt. Jemison was kept out of the loop as far as LAPD was concerned and it is possible that he KNEW NOTHING AT ALL about the whole Glenn Martin connections. Very possible that LAPD did not share any of that with the DA’s Office for obvious reasons. I keep thinking about Lt. Jemison writing in his summary that “there was no burn marks on Elizabeth Short’s body.” I don’t see him putting that in writing unless that was what he believed. In other words, LAPD kept that secret from everyone including the DA’s office. He may have even asked them due to Dr. De Rivers statement to the secret Grand Jury that there were burn marks, and absent any confirmation from LAPD, he assumed there were none, and if he asked LAPD the detectives may have said, “Huh? Don’t know what you’re talking about.” The only photo that ever surfaced was obtained by me from Harry Hansen’s granddaughter from his “private collection.”

    • Luigi Warren on April 13, 2020 at 2:14 pm

      Steve: Regarding ES’s well-established interest in murder cases, particularly the Degnan murder in Chicago, two scenarios come to mind: (1) ES got wind that GHH was up to no good and started nosing into the question on her own initiative; (2) GHH was “running” her to get information. Hybrid scenarios can be envisaged, e.g., GHH picks up on her suspicions and spins her a line to keep her on the reservation. In the bugging transcript GHH talks about running girls to find out what the DA knows. I’ve also noted indications from likely 20s & 30s GHH crimes that he might have manipulated young women in this manner. I don’t believe you’ve ever spelled out exactly what you think might have been going on with the Chicago police badge story, but it seems to fit with these ideas. -LW

      • Steve Hodel on April 13, 2020 at 3:25 pm

        LW: Well, I think I’ve mentioned it elsewhere, but hard to keep track?
        My read on it goes something like this: We know that ES saw and was aware of GHH having and presenting himself as “a Chicago Police Officer” by showing the badge to Jack Egger (Sr. Usher) when in line in early Jan 1947 with ES to hear the Jack Carson Radio Show at Sunset and Gower and were taken to the front and allowed entry to the studio.
        I don’t think that was the first time she became aware of it and that GHH likely gave her some BS line like, “I’m working undercover on the Chicago Lipstick Murder, Top Secret, nobody knows it. All very on the QT, very hush-hush and strictly confidential.” (Just like the line of BS he gave the waitress in the bar/restaurant on Santa Monica Blvd about “being FBI agent working on the Dahlia case. I can fix you up with an apartment on Sunset Strip.”) GHH goes to WA D.C. after being accepted by UNRRA is there from Aug-Feb then on to China in early ’46. ES on a trip home or? stops in Chicago and does her thing with local newspaper men trying to get info on the murders while GHH is away and lets it be known, “I know a Chicago policeman working on the Heiren’s case.” GHH gets word she’s snooping around and quits UNRRA, comes home and she’s on the run and dead within a few months? Were the “two men and a woman” in San Diego doorknocking the French residence late at night GHH, Sexton and ?, the same “two men and a woman” heard by neighbors outside the Suzanne Degnan residence in Chicago on January 5th? Who knows? Maybe. And, the same “two men and a woman” seen exiting the bar with ES by LAPD officer Meryl McBride just hours before she was murdered? Who knows? Maybe. Anyway that’s a rough summary of a possible? skh

        • Luigi Warren on April 13, 2020 at 4:27 pm

          Steve: The police badge thing harkens back to Johnny Arrington and GHH’s stint at the LA Record in the twenties. There is some kind of intrigue like this behind the whole thing, I’ve little doubt. This wasn’t just a lover’s tiff. -LW

          • Steve Hodel on April 13, 2020 at 5:31 pm

            LW: No, most certainly not just a lover’s tiff for sure. They had at least three years of some sort of contact/relationship starting likely in ’43. You are right, there is a BIG PIECE of the puzzle that remains missing. While her “rejection” would have played into his whole sick psychology still there is a major something. May be tied in with Fred Sexton somehow? Lot of missing facts regarding that dude. I am confident he did some crimes completely separate from GHH “on his own” and I would not rule him out at all as the actual “Red Light Bandit.” I will be presenting other connections to other crimes with GHH when I get to “The Early Years” and hope more pieces will fall into place. skh



    • Luigi Warren on April 13, 2020 at 6:31 pm

      Steve: Regarding your original question of why Jemison did not name GHH to Manley, I can’t think of any plausible explanation aside from the one you propose of not wanting it to get out. Unkefer’s letter was received by the DA just the day before the interview and things were obviously heating up. GHH’s name had recently been linked to the case in the press, but not in a “serious” context. Manley had already made it pretty clear that ES had not revealed anything about a boyfriend in LA – in fact, she told him she had never even been to LA before — so the question might have been more to test if he was “suggestible” than to elicit new info. -LW

  2. Luigi Warren on April 13, 2020 at 3:35 am

    Steve: Fascinating reading. Jemison evidently aware of ES’s interest in news coverage of murders, consistent with Long Beach Officer Edward Boynton’s account and multiple witness accounts from her 1946 stopover in Chicago. Seems she was concerned they might catch up with someone driving to LA who’d just been in San Diego, or that Manley’s car was being followed to LA. ES very secretive, lies a lot, even tells Manley she has never been to LA before. Jemison’s questions regarding ballroom dancing interesting — reminds me of news story about GHH teaching mental patients ballroom dancing in Hawaii. -LW

    • Steve Hodel on April 13, 2020 at 10:36 am

      LW: Yes, I think ES was fearful of and looking to see if “the two men and a woman” who had doorknocked the French residence the night or two prior were following her back to LA. Can you remind me of the “ballroom dancing source” you mention. I seemed to have forgotten that one? skh

      • Luigi Warren on April 13, 2020 at 1:38 pm

        Steve: “They Study Social Dancing to Regain Mental Health,” The Honolulu Advertiser, 8/24/52. GHH teaches a murderer and a man who’s forgotten the first half of his life to foxtrot. There are also numerous points in the bugging transcript where GHH reveals a broad interest in dance — social dancing, artistic dancing (he buys tickets for a Martha Graham performance) and burlesque shows. Lillian Lenorak was a ballet dancer in Santa Barbara before she joined the Ruth St. Denis troupe (St. Denis was one of Martha Graham’s tutors). -LW

        • Steve Hodel on April 13, 2020 at 2:33 pm

          LW: Got the article. Thanks Mucho. How did I miss this? May have forgotten, but ?? because it really relates to a very real part of GHH’s crime signatures. As you know, in at least three of his murders, he danced and romanced the women on dance floors before killing them. Those three were: The Fromes, mother and daughter, who danced with him in Mexico across the border from El Paso in 1938; Ora Murray who danced with him at the DTLA ballroom in 1943 and then became “The White Gardenia” murder victim; and Marion Newton, who he met and danced and romanced in San Diego at Sherman’s Nightclub ( famed for having the largest dance floors in the world. ) No question in my mind that the article is a nice little thoughtprint. Thanks again.

          • Luigi Warren on April 13, 2020 at 3:15 pm

            Steve: I really wonder if GHH was in Santa Barbara for Man Ray’s September 1943 one-man show, just up the street from the El Paseo (flamenco floor show, “nightly dining, dancing and entertainment until 12, ” a “smart metropolitan rendezvous for discreet convivialists”) and it was at the El Paseo where he first encountered ES. -LW



          • Karen Smith on April 13, 2020 at 4:47 pm

            Don’t forget Georgette Bauerdorff at the Cantine. 😉



  3. Kris on April 13, 2020 at 11:55 am

    He wasn’t a prime witness. He was a prime suspect; as were a dozen other individuals.

    • Steve Hodel on April 13, 2020 at 1:00 pm

      Kris: Well, it’s a matter of terminology. Everyone that ever had any contact however slight could and apparently was considered a “suspect.” That’s why they claim over “three hundred suspects” all of whom were in truth “witnesses”. Robert Manley was quickly eliminated as he had a dead bang alibi of being in San Francisco at the time she was murdered on January 14-15, 1947. That with the follow-up elimination by LAPD who put him on the polygraph established he was not a “suspect” but rather a “witness.”

  4. Steve Hodel on April 13, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    Karen S. :

    Right you are Karen. I had forgotten that the USO Hollywood Canteen was mainly a dance location for the troops. Good One! That makes FOUR!

    • Karen H on April 13, 2020 at 9:07 pm

      Elizabeth Short lived with Mark Hansen for a time–did she want to be a dancer?

      Several of the women GHH knew were dancers at one time–Jean Spangler, Juliet Browner, Lillian Lenorak, Karen Brown.

      Lillian Dominguez was killed on the way home from a school dance.

      Are there any other murders of dancers, victims last seen in dance halls, etc? Was dancing some kind of signature?

      • Luigi Warren on April 14, 2020 at 1:21 am

        Steve & Karen: ES had just moved from the boonies to downtown Santa Barbara (moving in with a girlfriend) when she was arrested for underage drinking at the ritzy El Paseo nightclub by Mary Unkefer, who put her up for several days before sending her back to MA (IIRC, on the train, routing through Los Angeles.) The nightclub had sent its “Grand International Revue” song and dance troupe to Camp Cooke, where ES worked, days before she moved downtown, and it seems possible that was part of the draw for her moving, even though money was short. Man Ray had a one-man show at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 0.3 miles from the El Paseo, the same week ES was arrested. -LW

        • Luigi Warren on April 14, 2020 at 7:09 pm

          Addendum: Worth noting that Madi Comfort described the top floor of GHH’s South Pasadena residence as a “ballroom.” This would have been about 1943. Comfort was practically the same age as ES and was introduced to GHH by chorus girl Suzette Harbin, who was modeling with Dorero for Man Ray. We have two versions of a painting, L’Equivoque, which Man Ray did in 1943 of an unknown subject who could well have been ES. GHH at this time has a fairly prestigious position with LA County Public Health in charge of VD control. At some point — I’m not sure if this would have been as early as ’43 — he is also the physician for an El Monte charity counseling and treating “wayward” girls with STDs. -LW

          • Steve Hodel on April 14, 2020 at 7:59 pm

            LW: Damn Luigi you got this stuff down better than I do. And, somewhere I seem to recall a reference made possibly in a newspaper article back in ’47 and I think it was made by one of the San Diego French women either mother or daughter re. ES posing/modeling for some man in Los Angeles and she got a hat in payment for the job. (Likely the blue hat seen in the formal professional photo) which could have been given to her from Man Ray or GHH?



          • Luigi Warren on April 15, 2020 at 6:12 pm

            Steve: We can’t be sure that GHH and/or Man Ray met ES in 1943, but L’Equivoque strongly suggests it. The stars seem to line up in downtown Santa Barbara in September of that year — including Police Matron Mary Unkefer who, by an amazing coincidence, is called upon to rescue another “runaway,” Lillian Lenorak, from GHH’s Hollywood home six years later. Could there have been contact between Unkefer and GHH in connection with ES in 1943, back when he was “a citizen above suspicion,” which took on a less benign aspect after the incest trial and the Lenorak incident? -LW



          • Steve Hodel on April 15, 2020 at 7:12 pm

            LW: While I haven’t come up with any direct connection I think the Santa Barbara/Lillian Lenorak/John Jr. link with GHH is somehow through the mother/grandmother Mrs. Hamilton. She was a wealthy, large and in charge woman in Santa Barbara who though on the outs with her daughter/very much loved her grandson and apparently only grandchild. We know she somehow “arranged” for Officer Unkefer to make the pickup from the Franklin House. I’m sure this was an “off duty favor” done by Unkefer for the wealthy woman who said, “Go and get them.” This would indicate she also had some “juice” with GHH who had she not been someone with “connections” doubtfully would have agreed to let Lillian just leave. Has to be more to it, we just don’t know what?



          • Luigi Warren on April 15, 2020 at 9:40 pm

            Steve: It is indeed interesting that GHH didn’t come up with some pretext to avoid receiving Unkefer and handing Lenorak off to her for an hours-long ride back to Santa Barbara. At the very least, when Unkefer called he must have realized she was the policewoman who befriended ES and featured prominently in the Black Dahlia murder coverage. Lenorak had tried to shoot him once and, per Jemison’s notes, Lenorak knew he had a relationship with ES. He had been linked to the murder in the incest trial coverage. And yet he chose to brazen it out. Was it all somehow “old news?” -LW



  5. Karen Hoy on April 13, 2020 at 9:59 pm

    Other dance connections:

    ES lived with Mark Hansen.

    Many women in this story were dancers: Karen Brown, Juliet Browner, Lillian Lenorak, Jean Spangler.

    Lillian Dominguez was killed on her way home from a school dance.

    Was dancing a signature for GHH? Do you know of any other cases of murdered dancers or women who disappeared from dance halls?

    • Steve Hodel on April 13, 2020 at 10:42 pm

      Karen H: Yes see above comment naming the other victims listed as being danced and romanced by GHH then taken out and murdered.
      Also, least we forget the direct connection between Lillian LeNorak (former dancer with the Ruth St Denis Troupe and her friend, Karoun Tootikian who was the person GHH telephoned when Santa Barbara officer Mary Unkefer was at the Franklin House and refused to take Lillian without another female accompanying them. GHH called Karoun who came and went with Unkefer and Joe Barrett to transport Lillian and her son to Santa Barbara. Karoun was close friend of Lillian’s and an instructor at the Ruth St Denis Dance Troupe and would later rise to become a Dept Head at the studio. Her bio lists her as “dancer, choreographer, and former Head of the Ruth St. Denis Oriental Dance Dept.” See the 1968 Los Angeles Times article, “Ruth St. Denis: A Legacy of Dance” at below FAQ link 39.2: http://stevehodeloldsite.staging.authorbyteshosting.com/wp-content/themes/hodel-s/faq/FAQ39.pdf. As the article points out we have RUTH ST DENIS, LILLIAN LENORAK and KAROUN TOOTIKIAN all performing together at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre (just south of Hollywood) on the night of January 12, 1949. Has to be a lot more beneath the surface as relates to Karoun and GHH.

  6. Tom Majumder on April 17, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    Hi Steve,

    In the scenario of 2 men and 1 unknown woman, the unknown woman was probably Dorothy Huston Hodel.

    Because, Dorothy Huston Hodel was complicit in murdering Dr. Hodel’s secretary Ruth Spalding via barbiturate overdose and, later on, physically burning all paper-documents of that deceased secretary.

    So, in order to entice Elizabeth Ann Short before Elizabeth Ann Short’s brutal torture and murder, Dorothy Huston Hodel played the role of that “Unknown” woman while keeping her boys away elsewhere from the Franklin House aka Sowden House aka the Mayan Temple!

    Steve, I personally have witnessed a few individuals — without naming names here — who had succumbed to chronic and self-destructive alcoholism and when I questioned one why he was destroying himself with alcoholism, he replied that he wanted to forget realities of life and he wanted to forget his “Past” and alcoholism helped him forget his “Past”.

    Similarly, we find that, Dorothy Huston Hodel wanted to forget her “Past” by completely drowning her mind in alcohol to her last days on earth!

    Dorothy Huston Hodel also lied to police during questioning by police about Dr. George Hill Hodel.

    Lying to cops is Class A Misdemeanor, which could have warranted a year in jail; but, astonishingly police DID NOT charge Dorothy Huston Hodel for deliberately lying or withholding truth!

    Police had the confession of Dr. George Hill Hodel in wired transcripts that, “Supposing I killed Elizabeth Ann Short, but they cannot prove it without my secretary — who is dead.”

    That’s an extremely serious — officially recorded — confession and the jury in a court of law would have awarded Dr. George Hill Hodel the electric chair in notorious San Quentin prison for that.

    Escorting someone to police station and, subsequently, questioning that someone is one thing.

    But, police do not go to wire-tap someone’s prime residence — especially in those days of 1940s — without very seriously considering that someone being ready for justice.

    • Steve Hodel on April 17, 2020 at 5:00 pm

      Tom M:
      In regards to your suspicions that “Dorothy Huston Hodel was probably the unknown woman” I have received numerous emails through the years expressing this same suspicion. Based on what is publicly known I would have to say the evidence points to her as possibly being the “unknown woman.” There is much to address and consider on this possibility and I will be presenting some thoughts on this in the future, so stay tuned. Also, just as a point of clarity the Victim had no middle name just Elizabeth Short. The “Elizabeth Ann Short” was added by newsmen and hack writers years after the crime.

  7. Sea Dio on July 7, 2020 at 2:30 am

    Steve,

    A quick question: Based on your time as a homicide detective, would you have interviewed Red Manley with his wife Harriette present? It seems that he would be less than forthcoming about his activities and intentions with Ms. Short than he would have been without his wife present.

    Also, it seems that the interviewers keep coming back to the idea that Ms. Short made a phone call on the trip from San Diego. How does that fit into their theory of the crime?

    Thanks!

    • Steve Hodel on July 7, 2020 at 3:05 am

      Sea D:
      No, he would/should have been interviewed alone and I can’t imagine they allowed her to be present during the interview. Not sure what the source of that was, but seriously doubt that she was present, at least for the initial interrogation. I think the woman reporter interviewed him at length too, blanking on her name now. But, can’t really speak for 1947 police procedures other than to generalize.
      It is pretty well documented that ES did make a phone call en route back from San Diego according to Red Manley. Could have been to GHH or Mark Hansen? I’m guessing she called GHH and he told her he would meet her at the Biltmore at ??PM. We also know she made several calls from the Biltmore which may have been to GHH to say, “Where the hell are you? I’ve been here for hours”?

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