June 9, 2021
Los Angeles, California
“Among the anonymous notes sent to police in the ‘Black Dahlia’ case,” said Donahoe, “there was one which was obviously prepared in a print shop. At the time we discounted its importance. Now, however, it may take on new significance.”
Captain Jack Donahoe, LAPD Homicide
Los Angeles Times, Feb 17, 1947
In January 1947, the “Black Dahlia Avenger” mailed notes to the police and newspapers using “proof sheet paper” an unusual stock of paper-primarily found in print shops.
One month after the “Black Dahlia and Red Lipstick Murders” a printer/linotype operator, Otto Parzyjegia, was arrested in Los Angeles for assaulting and killing his employer.
Based on his physical description and the fact that he had slain and dismembered his employer and was connected to “proof sheet papers” as a linotype operator at a print shop, LAPD Captain Jack Donahoe ordered a live-show-up be conducted on Feb. 19, 1947.
Los Angeles Times, February 17, 1947 (Capt. Donahoe quote)
Attending this show-up were witnesses from the Elizabeth Short, Black Dahlia murder, the Jeanne French, Red Lipstick Murder, and additional females victim’s who had been kidnapped, assaulted, and raped by the “Avenger”, but had survived. (Several of these witnesses were named in BDA::Sylvia Horan, Ica M’Grew, Christine Studnicka, and Toni Manalatos. All witnesses attending the Otto Parzyjeglia show-up eliminated him as being the man they saw connected to the separate crimes.
LAPD forensic criminalist, Ray Pinker compared samples of the proof sheet paper mailed in by the Black Dahlia Avenger to samples obtained from the printing shop where Otto Parzyjeglia worked and found they were from different proof sheet stocks.
Dr. George Hill Hodel- The Printer
1920s printing press of type owned and used by George Hodel to print his own literary magazine, “Fantasia.” This same press was stored in the basement of the Sowden/Franklin House in the 1940s and used by George Hodel to print the labels on his “Five Dynasty Tea” as well as the sales pamphlet for the sale of his home in 1950, “For Sale Shangri-LA in Los Angeles.” (All three shown below)
The Proof Sheet Paper
From 1945-1950 this printing press along with reams of “proof sheet paper” was set up in the basement of the Franklin House. In the late 1940s, this same printing press along with the proof sheet paper was used to reproduce George Hodel’s sales brochure in marketing the sale of the Franklin House. The proof sheet paper was frequently used by my brothers and me to make our childhood drawings. My father kept several of my original drawings (I was then 7-years-old) and after saving them for over 45-years, returned them to me circa 1995, after his permanent relocation to San Francisco.
In 2001, after two years of full time investigation, I came to realize that these original proof sheet papers could well be important forensic evidence, potentially directly linking the stock proof sheet papers mailed in by the Dahlia killer to these original papers now in my possession. I was confident that a spectrographic comparison of the size, texture, and fiber content, could establish and link them as coming from the same unusual stock. (In my 2003 post-publication briefing to LAPD “brass” this was one of the first forensic comparisons I suggested be made. (Both I and the senior staff officers were unaware at that time that “all the Dahlia evidence including all the original Avenger mailings had disappeared from the locked evidence room.”)
Below are my original child drawings on proof sheet paper from the basement of the Franklin House. All of the hand printing on the drawings, including: “Chinese Chicken and “Little Me” were written by my father, George Hodel and would become an important forensic exhibit in linking his 1949 handwriting to that of the 1947 samples from the, “Black Dahlia Avenger.
Author drawings on “proof sheet paper” from the basement (printing room) of our residence, the Sowden/Franklin House. Drawn in 1948-1949 at age 7 years. This unique paper stock was identical to that used in taunting mailings sent to newspapers and police in 1947 by the “Black Dahlia Avenger.”