January 15, 2021
Los Angeles, California
74th Anniversary of Elizabeth  Short-“Black Dahlia” Murder

KUDOS to DiscoverNet’s journalist/reporter ALBERT WHITWOOD for his January 12, 2021, published article, “What’s Come Out About The Black Dahlia”. (I recommend reading his piece at the above link before proceeding.) CLICK HERE.
The article, published to recognize the January 15th, 74th Anniversary of one of LA’s most infamous murders, is not only extraordinarily well-researched and well-written, but it is also a “Black Dahlia” rarity in that Mr. Whitwood’s reportage is HIGHLY ACCURATE.
In presenting “what’s come out”, the article does an excellent job of updating readers to some of what has been newly discovered in the past twenty-years since my original publication of Black Dahlia Avenger in 2003. (Obviously, an article of this size can only present a limited amount of the new evidence and linkage. It has taken me six books to date, with two more “on the way.”)
Again, my sincere appreciation to DiscoverNet’s reporter Whitwood for presenting us with his updated summary. Clearly, he has done his homework.
While in no way desiring to detract from the article’s reportage, I would like to take the opportunity to clarify specific points in his article for the sake of historical accuracy. Most of the inaccuracies have become part of the Dahlia myth and thus deeply ingrained as collective misconceptions. They have been repeated so many times from so many sources that to quote the famous statement from the classic Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:  
“This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
To further dispel and replace some of the “legends” with facts, I offer the following comments and observations on the DiscoverNet article.

Fact-Checking “What’s Come Out About The Black Dahlia”

(Reporter Albert Whitwood’s quotes from his article in bold.)
  • “…her intestines had been removed.”
Actually, no, they had not. Gravity at the vacant lot simply allowed the intestines to partially flow from the bisected open upper torso.
  • “…but the case was never solved and remains open.”
 Partially correct.” The case was “solved” and privately acknowledged so by LAPD’s “top brass.” But never publicly/officially by LAPD and technically “remains open, but with no active investigation.” LAPD Chief of Police William Bratton, in a public statement made at his  book signing at Book Soup Bookstore on the Sunset Strip in November 2004, stated, “I just told our Cold Case Squad guys to give it up. (Stop investigating the Black Dahlia case.) “I’m more concerned about the nine (9) murders we had last week than one going back that many years. …I know that is problematic for some people who would like to see it solved. But what would you have to write about if it was solved? Better it go unsolved. There are more and more books being written about it all the time.” (Stunned silence from the crowd for ten seconds.)  Full Summary “Special Report” here.

  • (Re. bisection of victim Short’s body.) “…It’s called a hemicorpectomy, and it’s such a difficult procedure …taught through the 1930s as a way of successfully dividing the body by cutting through two specific vertebrae and no other bone. …no way it could have been done by someone without extensive medical knowledge.”
Correct.  To be clear, the procedure was taught in the 1930s at my father’s medical school UCSF San Francisco, but in those early years, as I understand it, it was performed as an autopsy procedure as the best way to divide the body without having to cut through bone and rarely if ever used to “save lives” which procedure would not be developed or at least perfected for several more decades.

  • (Re. cement bags found at the crime scene) “…thought to be how the killer got her to the dump site.”
Actually, not “thought to be” but rather it is based on direct testimony at the Coroner’s Inquest and documented in those transcripts by LAPD detectives, “the cement sacks were definitely used to transport her body from an unknown location to the vacant lot.”  Later original receipts found in the Frank Lloyd Wright Jr. (Lloyd Wright) files at UCLA provided a direct connection to identical cement sacks purchased for construction work at the Hodel Franklin House just days before the murder  to those used to transport and left at the vacant lot next to the body.
  • “…Even without the speculated connection between George Hodel and Short…”
 The connection between George Hodel and Elizabeth Short is not “speculation”. Rather it is definite and documented in police and the LADA investigators’ secret DA Hodel/Black Dahlia Investigation reports found and published in 2003. Those reports clearly state that “George Hodel and Elizabeth Short were acquainted and had dated prior to her murder.”
  • (Re. Jeanne French “Red Lipstick Murder” three weeks after Dahlia Murder)
“…she had been badly beaten and dumped with “F*CK YOU B.D.” written on her torso in her own lipstick, followed by “TEX.”
The reporting of the letters “TEX” that numerous authors and journalists have claimed was written on the body and that this author is quoting from those sources are false. Part of the Dahlia Myth. While additional lipstick lines are visible, they are not actual letters, and they only spell “TEX” in the viewer’s imagination. (Think Rorschach Test) Likewise, many readers interpret the lipstick writing as “Fuck You P.D.” (Police Dept), attempting to deny it was written by “B.D.” as in Black Dahlia killer.  (The WHY of the message and motive for this “follow up murder” are detailed in Black Dahlia Avenger Chapter 14, “The Red Lipstick Murder.”
Jeanne French “Red Lipstick” letters shown written on body posed in the vacant lot.
  • “…The LAPD was reluctant to suggest the Black Dahlia was murdered by a serial killer, but…”
This is true only in more “modern times” coming from statements made decades after by LAPD Robbery/Homicide detectives who “inherited” the cold case, but had no real familiarity with the investigation. By example in 2003, when my first book, Black Dahlia Avenger was published, documenting what I believed were the “L.A. Lone Woman Murders which included Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short, the then LAPD detective, Brian Carr, assigned as “gatekeeper” to the then 56-year-old, Black Dahlia investigation, came out with the statement to the press that, “The Black Dahlia Murder was a standalone. One suspect. None before and none after.”
Not true. The 1947 LAPD detectives were convinced that many of the crimes were connected.
The truth is- IN 1950, BOTH THE LAPD AND THE L.A. SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT WERE CONVINCED THAT MANY OF THESE L.A. LONE WOMAN MURDERS WERE COMMITTED BY THE SAME SUSPECT. On March 14, 1947, two months after the Black Dahlia murder, LAPD provided and requested the local newspapers print their, 11-POINT LIST OF SIMILARITIES which justified their belief that at least three recent crimes committed in close proximity to each other in the previous two-month period were connected. (Elizabeth Short, Jeanne French and Evelyn Winters) The secret DA Files discovered in 2003 showed LE was actively investigating at least five of the crimes as serially connected.


THE NewCastle SUN –  July 19,  1947
  • “… in 2018, Piu Eatwell released the book Black Dahlia, Red Rose that suggested she’s found proof it was another original suspect—Leslie Duane Dillon—who was the killer.” “…The rest of the story paints Short as a member of a hotel-robbing gang, and her involvement led to her murder. Truth or fiction?”
Pure Fiction!  LADA official reports and follow up made after Leslie Dillon’s arrest as a “suspect” completely cleared him of any involvement in the Elizabeth Short murder.  In late 1949, nearly three years after the crime occurred, the lead LAPD Black Dahlia investigator, Harry Hansen, working with LADA Lt. Frank Jemison confirmed Dillon’s alibi. Det. Hansen traveled to San Francisco and verified that Dillon was in that city at the time of the January 15, 1947 Dahlia murder and under oath, provided a full and complete report to the 1949 LA Grand Jury clearing Leslie Dillon of any involvement.

6 Comments

  1. Dennis Effle on January 14, 2021 at 11:34 pm

    Once again, thanks for putting the record straight in regards to this case. The only other thing that jumped out to me was the assertion of Short being kidnapped and tortured for a week before her murder. As you’ve published, this was the “missing ” week (that you’ve documented) where she was actually seen around town by multiple credible witnesses. Other than the this and the other points you bring up the article is a good overview otherwise.

    • Steve Hodel on January 15, 2021 at 12:05 am

      Dennis E:
      Right you are Dennis, but in his article Whitwood say’s it was “highly debatable” and provides a link to my “Missing Week Myth” that lists the fourteen witnesses who establish in truth there never was a “Missing Week” which includes the final witness, LAPD Officer Meryl McBride who saw her on the afternoon of January 14th exit the DTLA bar with “two men and a woman.” Just sixteen hours before her body was found at the vacant lot.

  2. Patricia ONeill on January 15, 2021 at 11:55 am

    Steve, as I read the statement by then LAPD Chief William Bratton: “I just told our Cold Case Squad guys to give it up” I see a startling resemblance to our current political chaos!! Are we not facing the same situation as a nation because so many in positions of authority turned a blind eye to one man’s atrocious actions over many decades with a shrug of the shoulders and a sigh of dismissal? Countless murders along the CA coast as well as internationally were the result of those with the power to act miserably failing to do so. Law enforcement’s premier goal is to “serve and protect”! This “failure to protect” has woefully enabled the Piper to be paid with the loss of scores of innocent victims. To quote Willie Nelson singing ….”good morning America how are ya?” says it all! Wake up America!!

    • Steve Hodel on January 15, 2021 at 12:35 pm

      Patricia O:
      Exactly so!
      We see it in every phase of society. Personal, professional, social and political.
      That is why in attempting to “protect and serve” the role of a homicide detective is so important especially when it comes to attempting to identify a known serial killer. Had GHH been caught back in his “Early Years” there would have been no “Chicago Lipstick Murders, no “LA Lone Woman Murders” no “Black Dahlia Murder” no “Manila Jigsaw Murder” no “Zodiac Murders”. So much blood on the hands of those in power in the 1940s and early 1950s who KNEW and had IDENTIFIED GHH as a serial killer and ALLOWED HIM TO REMAIN FREE. All the tragic deaths at his hands that followed in the SIXTIES are the direct result of THEIR INACTIONS AND COVERUP. So tragic. So sad.

  3. Karen E Hoy on January 15, 2021 at 3:10 pm

    I was very happy to read that you have TWO more books on the way! I’ve been rereading your previous titles and they’re as engrossing and disturbing as ever.

    RIP Elizabeth.

    • Steve Hodel on January 15, 2021 at 3:29 pm

      Karen E.H.
      Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated.
      Yes, but likely have the miniseries precede the publication of the books
      which document his crimes from “The Early Years”. Best, Steve

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