A Brief Summary of My LAPD Career and Promotion to Detective III at LAPD Hollywood Detectives
June 16, 2020
Los Angeles, California
A number of readers have asked what were my years of service at LAPD and what was my rank when I retired. Here’s a short history of my career assignments during my nearly twenty-four-years with LAPD.
I joined the Department in February 1963 and after graduating from the academy worked four separate patrol divisions: WLA, Wilshire, Van Nuys and Hollywood. In August 1965, I along with the rest of the LAPD was assigned to, “The Watts Riots” in South Central Los Angeles.
After six-years in uniform patrol, I promoted and was assigned to Hollywood Detectives where I worked all of the “tables” which included Juvenile, Auto-Theft, Sex Crimes, Robbery, Burglary, and then eventually was assigned to the Hollywood Homicide detail, where I remained and investigated over three hundred murders over the next fourteen years. I promoted from officer to Detective I, II, and then achieved the highest rank (Detective III, me and Harry Bosch) in 1983.
( Gift (autographed photo) from “Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood) to Dirty Steve” received by me at my Detective III promotion party celebration at a local bar.
In the summer of 1983, I was assigned to Rampart Detectives where I coordinated the Burglary Detail and worked on unsolved homicides until my retirement in July 1986. (The reason for my retirement was basically due to the unexpected death of my brother, Mike Hodel at the young age of 47 from lung cancer. I was planning to remain until my twenty-fifth year, which grants extra retirement benefits, but Mike’s unexpected and sudden death made me realize, “life is short” and I “pulled the pin.”As fates would have it, my retirement date, totally random, was on July 29, 1986, which, unbeknownst to me was the shared birthday of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short as well as, Finis Brown, the lead investigator on her unsolved murder. I would not have any awareness of any connections to that crime and my father until his death in 1999, some fourteen-years into my retirement.)
If anyone “found their niche” , Steve, it was you with the LAPD! After watching “Bosch” in these pandemic months, it appears to me that much of your “personna”, empathy for people and (IMO) your ability to see the bottom line in situations…….and in people….was honed in the MacLaren detention center! Those few years you spent there along with the significant problems in your own immediate family could have produced a very different man than “Steve Hodel, Retired Det. 3, LAPD”!! If you’ve ever thought over the years “Gee, why didn’t I pursue law school, maybe aim for Chief of D’s” etc., well I can answer that (IMO😎)! No, we needed you to “see” the horrific crimes of George Hodel which you found after retirement! Those of us who lived thru & heard about the Black Dahlia, Lone Woman murders (altho we didn’t have a name for them) and of course Zodiac needed to know how so much brutality could exist in one man! Do think your book “The Early Years” is so important to complete the picture. And of course the proposed series on those CA murders will be a tremendous closure to the families of those murdered! Keep on pushing, Steve! Have to say in my musings about the series….who will play your father? Sometimes I picture Matthew McConaughey……..but whomever; have him in pleated trousers & tasseled loafers!😂. Await your future endeavors! Pat O’Neill🌵😀
Thanks again Patricia. Very kind of you and much truth in what you say as relates to my own personal life as what one might call, “an agent of destiny” in this most macabre story.
I must admit I vacillate from a total believer in cause and effect and a well ordered guided universe, to total atheist and wonder if my father were not correct in his nihilist belief that “nothing matters, do what thou wilt.”
The apparent injustice of his always escaping his crimes even though identified in many, argues for his beliefs, and on the other hand, the way I have been apparently “guided” and how so many doors have opened for me that should have remained closed argues for an intelligent metaphysics to it all.
So, am “pushing on” now, so stay tuned.
Yes, I agree that Matthew McConaughey could make a very good GHH. I had thought/suggested him in earlier years as one who should be considered for top of the list choices.
I totally agree, I do need to focus on this final windowpane of “The Early Years.” I don’t get “writer’s block” so I guess it has just been the “overload” of my father’s many crimes and the now six books, that has kept me from pursuing the final chapters, but have just begun to write them now, so will finish what I (or more correctly) what HE started.
Best Wishes, and your continued support along with so many others, is much appreciated.
P.S. Re. “Who will play George?” When the film LA CONFIDENTIAL first came out, the actor that played “Pierce Patchett”, David Strathairn, I thought would be perfect for GHH. In both looks and voice he was almost a perfect pitch. Sadly, at age 71, he is too old now. He was also terrific as Edward R. Murrow in “Good Night, and Good Luck.”
Just checked out David Strathairn, Steve…..and yes, he does look like GHH! But speaking as a woman, McConaughey has a “swagger” that I‘m sure your father exhibited in his relationships, especially with women & probably all people he dealt with! Compelling but manipulative😱! As for the “metaphysics” of life here on earth look to the book “ Shoeless Joe” by W. P. Kinsella and the ensuing movie “Field of Dreams”! James Earl Jones exit (his death) says it all: At first touch, a little scary but then you can almost hear him say WOW…..so this is what it was all about!! While writing you might try listening to The Eagles….they are always with me in my art room👍. Pat O’ 😎🌵
As a former professor of art & working artist, I’ve long noted the similarities between the Black Dahlia crime and the Surrealists. I’ve always felt there was something there, especially with the creation of Etant Donnes, but I wasn’t sure how or why that would make sense. It’s interesting that Duchamp worked on that piece in total secret for 20 years. Just listened to the new 8-part podcast and was totally blown away by your extensive research on this particular topic. I was a Zodiac hunter about 15 years ago, have been to all the crime scenes except the (possible) Edwards/Domingos & because I spent so much time researching that case, I never really dug into the Black Dahlia until now. I am hooked, and now positive that George Hodel was the Black Dahlia murderer. Thank you for your extensive research and enthusiasm – just bought the first book on Amazon and looking forward to reading it with the new updates.
In one of the early episodes of ROOT OF EVIL, you mention that after someone tells you their birthday you say, “So I’m thinking, ok, he’s a Taurus.” I wonder why this was important or relevant? I thought the same thing actually, but only because I am a Taurus. Lol. I thought maybe there was something I missed or it’s somehow relevant to something in the book that I don’t yet know about. Thanks Steve.
Thanks for the kind words much appreciated.
I think the “OK, so he’s a Taurus” reference was about a serial rapist I was trying to arrest back in Hollywood. Worked the case as a young detective for more than a year and finally caught him after he had committed several dozen rapes in Hollywood. He had told the victim’s he “was a Taurus” and it helped nail him when I and my partner caught him after staking out an area of Hollywood where he was working/raping.
Below is a list of my books, suggest to read Most Evil and Most Evil II to see how the Zodiac fits into the overall picture and my father’s many serial crimes.
Ahh, ok, I see. Thanks for the reply. The first book arrived today and am looking forward to reading. Take care.
Very interesting! Thank you for all that you’ve done in law enforcement.
Shirley S: Thanks, Shirley.
I have only seen McConaughey play a villain once, as the “man in black”, in the Dark Tower. The film didn’t do well, but not because of his performance. His character was pure evil & he played it well.
I’m looking forward to “The Early Years”. I recall that you said that his earliest known crime was in 1920.
If this happened before Oct. 10, he was only twelve. It also pre-dated his connection with Folly’s mother at Cal Tech. GHH was quite a puzzle.
The connection between the Winthrop Ave. in Chicago & the Winthrop St. slaughterhouse of Jack-the-ripper fame, was a mind blower for me. GHH connecting not only his crimes with street names, but also Jack-the-ripper. What a web of intrigue.
All the Best,
Yeh, actually it was a year later and he was just turning 14 chronologically, but as we know, with a “mental age” of around 35?
No question he was a “Ripperologist” and very familiar with all of the literature and documenting of JtR crimes. The other one that really stood out for me was his drawing of the “bloody knife” sent to the press as the Black Dahlia Avenger and as Zodiac. Of course the biggest clue of all to my mind was his copying JtR by sending in the human ear to little Suzanne Degan’s mother. That really topped his list of signatures. steve
Steve, Very chilling, very sad😓. One can only imagine GHH’s state of mind even at the young age of 14. It brings to mind my first orientation into my Special Ed teaching position into a classroom of emotionally disabled 7th grade boys. The psychologist opened his teacher’s orientation program saying: “You’ve all heard the saying, ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ well my dear teachers, ‘you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!!….hell knows no bounds for young boys who have been sexually abused. You will see here the frightening, heartrending results which we as teachers & counsellors will try to soften & ameliorate for the horrendous path these children are placed upon. God bless you all & good luck! “. I stayed at that job 2 1/2 years and never regretted or forgot what I learned. One of my students from that class is now on death row😓 & I keep him & his mother in my thoughts & prayers. It surely must be hell to write The Early Years, Steve; but believe me it will no doubt help countless readers….hang in there! Your work is much needed, Steve!
Pat ONeill, Tucson.
I have a serious question for you and you might not like me questioning this way!
You claimed to have attained the position of top detective in LAPD and literally apprehended Rod Alcala.
But, how did you miss Joseph James DeAngelo — a California police office — who committed dozens of brutal rape and murder as “Golden State Killer”, which were as gruesome as the acts of George Hill Hodel, M.D.
Please explain how ex-policeman Joseph James DeAngelo escaped your grip while you were active in 70s and 80s with LAPD.
Actually, I’ve never claimed to be a “top detective” what I have said is I promoted to Detective III which is the highest attainable rank in the Detective Bureau. (To promote higher one has to leave the Detective Bureau and go back into uniform patrol then advance as Captain, etc.)
As far as “missing serial killer Joseph James DeAngelo” my jurisdiction and scope of investigations only included Hollywood (and later Rampart) Divisions within the city of Los Angeles.
I am not familiar with all of DeAngelo’s crimes, but my understanding most were committed in the Sacramento area with some possibly as far south as Santa Barbara?
My sphere of investigation was only limited to the Hollywood area within the city limits of Los Angeles, so his crimes would never have been known or investigated by me or any other LAPD detective. (If any Los Angeles area crimes were suspected and investigated as serial killings they would have been handled by downtown Robbery/Homicide Major Crimes Division, but don’t think he ever came on their radar?) Regards, Steve
Don’t you think a well known actor portraying someone as evil and maniacal as your Father always takes a risk playing against type? I can’t see Matthew Maconaughey in that role. I personally think it would be a mistake and I’d be wrestling during the performance as to whether or not he could carry it off. It would be a complete distraction. I suppose some would say that “performance” would have to equal an Academy Award.
I wasn’t aware that a movie might be in the works. But, having said that, I definitely would see it no matter who was playing the deviant. As long as it was TRUTHFULLY told and by the one person who knows the TRUTH, you! pjw
This won’t be a movie as in two-hour show. If we get a “go” it will be a miniseries of say four to six episodes. A documentary to include many interviews with real and pertinent witnesses dealing with the many facets of the ongoing investigation as relates to the many crimes. Expect there will be some “dramatic reenactments” and as far actors not sure if we will use “big named established actors” or ??? All to be determined once we get approved. I expect I will be be a major part of the interviews to help “tell the story” but this won’t be just another documentary like what has gone before. Hopefully, this will be much more expansive in scope and communicate many of the unique pieces of this surreal puzzle. steve