April 12, 2020
Los Angeles, California
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.
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:
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