A Timeline of Horror: The Reconstruction of the Abduction and Murder of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short on January 14-15, 1947

September 18, 2021
Los Angeles, California
Here’s my latest blog and sadly and horrifically, it is the reason WHY victim Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short became one. of if not, THE most infamous whodunit in LA history. (Caution contains adult content and detailed crime scene descriptions.)
Let’s do a review of the “timeline” of the final hours immediately preceding the horrific torture-murder of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short up through the discovery of her body, posed in the Leimert Park vacant lot on January 15, 1947, at approximately 10:00 A.M.
We begin with the last confirmed sighting of Elizabeth Short some eighteen hours before her body was found.

    A TIMELINE OF HORROR

 
Jan 14, 1947- 2 pm (approx) – 5th and Main Streets, downtown Los Angeles, sidewalk.
Elizabeth Short exits a bar and runs up to LAPD uniformed officer Meryl McBride and hysterically yells to her, “A man in the bar, just threatened to kill me.”  Officer McBride accompanied by Elizabeth enter the bar and the man is gone, however, Elizabeth recovers her purse. Both exit and after thanking the officer both go their separate ways and McBride resumes her foot beat in the area. 

Jan 14, 1947- 4 pm (approx) – 6th and Main Streets, downtown Los Angeles, sidewalk.

Officer McBride still on her footbeat one block south of prior contact with Elizabeth Short sees her exit a bar near 6th and Main Streets in DTLA with “two males and a female.” McBride, concerned for Elizabeth’s welfare, stops and  questions her, “Are you OK?”  Elizabeth responds, “Yes, I’m fine. Going to the Greyhound Bus Depot to meet my father.” (The bus depot is just one city block away.)  Officer McBride leaves her with adults and continues on her foot beat.
Jan 14, 1947- 5121 Franklin Ave, Hollywood 4:30 pm –   Jan 15, 1947 -6:00 AM
Elizabeth Short was taken by same “two males and one female” adult suspects (believed to be Dr. George Hodel, Fred Sexton, and unknown female) and driven to Hodel’s private residence, 5121 Franklin Ave, where she was likely drugged, beaten, tortured and sexually assaulted (sodomized) during the late-night and into the early morning hours. Based on the trauma to the body LE experts and doctors estimate the extended torture could have taken as long as 3-4 hours. (Drugged, posed, photographed, rounded scalpel cuts to mouth (almost ear-to-ear) believed to represent surrealist artist Man Ray’s 1936 painting The Lovers.  The victim’s right breast was completely excised and removed. (Breast never found and may have been buried at Hodel residence?) Cuttings to pubic region and a large section of flesh bearing a Rose Tattoo cut from left thigh and inserted in victim’s vagina. Multiple crisscross cutting patterns, to the victim’s right thigh, is believed to be in imitation of Man Ray’s 1943 painting L’Equivoque.   The victim, while still alive, was force-fed feces (likely Bandini Fertilite Steer Manure).  Multiple blows (blunt force trauma) were inflicted to the victim’s forehead which according to the Coroner would have caused a loss of consciousness and were contributory to the “Cause of Death.”
The victim’s body was then surgically bisected and a “hemicorporectomy” was performed. (A procedure taught in medical schools in the 1930s that could only be performed by a trained, skilled surgeon. Experts estimate this procedure could have taken several hours to perform, “likely in a bathtub.” The two sections of the body were then washed, scrubbed clean using a nylon brush, and towel dried.)
Investigation indicated that the two separate body parts (upper and lower torso) were then carried from the inner courtyard of the residence through the backdoor that led directly to the rear garage.
Multiple fifty-pound empty paper sacks (Bandini Fertilite Manure and four separate sacks previously containing powdered cement) were used to cover the bench seat or trunk of the vehicle and the body parts. 


Dr. George Hill Hodel seated atop the desk in the library at 5121 Franklin Ave circa 1949

 Diagram of Hodel Residence 
Jan 15, 1947 -6:00 AM
The below graphic (courtesy of Author/retired Dallas PD police officer Robert Sadler) depicts the suspected route and actions of Dr. George Hill Hodel in the early morning hours of January 15, 1947. Author’s Note- I personally reenacted and drove the suspected route on January 16 (to ensure identical lighting conditions) and following the suspected route below (in red) arrived at the vacant lot while it was still dark outside. Daylight was just beginning to break and after waiting four minutes at the scene (as described by the witness who saw the suspect and his dark sedan), I then followed the below route home (in red) back to the Hodel residence. I made one brief stop on the return route to where the victim’s shoes and purse were known to be placed by the suspect atop the trashcan at 1136 S. Crenshaw Blvd.

Jan 15, 1947 6:20 AM (approx)
The suspect makes a right turn at Degnan Blvd. drives northbound and bears left at the Y (believing he is still on Degnan and stops on the west side of the street at 3825 S. Norton Avenue.  He removes the body parts from the vehicle using the empty manure/cement sacks and carefully poses the separate parts just west of the west curb line;  leaving the four or five fifty-pound empty paper sacks (cement and steer manure) near the body. (LAPD will later confirm these sacks were used to transport the body parts from an unknown murder location to the vacant lot.)  The eyewitness confirms the suspect, and his black sedan, was at the scene “approximately four minutes and he then drove northbound out of sight.”

SKH Note- For those unaware of my previous investigation/writings it is my belief that the reason George Hodel placed Elizabeth Short’s body on DEGNAN BL. was to serve as a “taunting clue” to his previous murder of little Suzanne Degnan, who I submit he murdered in Chicago almost one year to the day earlier. (1.6.46) He would continue to pose victims bodies and leave these “street clues” in his later serial crimes. See below graphic.

Jan 15, 1947, 6:35 AM (approx)
The suspect drives north to Coliseum Blvd left one block to Crenshaw Blvd then northbound to 1136 South Crenshaw where he places the victim’s purse and shoes atop a trashcan next to a restaurant. 
Jan 15, 1947, 6:50 AM (approx)
The suspect drives north on Normandie Ave to the rear alley behind his home makes a left turn drives 150′ and parks his car inside his residence garage and is literally “home free.”

There are naysayers that claim that “Dr. George Hodel was never a surgeon. He had an administrative position and was not skilled in surgery.”  NOT SO.
As documented in Black Dahlia Avenger II (Thoughtprint Press 2014) under the chapter “A Doctor Did It”, pages 225-239, here is some of that documentation.

And this is a scan from an earlier job application George Hodel submitted, showing he was “the sole surgeon at a logging camp” shortly after receiving his M.D. in 1936.

 

15 Comments

  1. Karen Oman on September 18, 2021 at 8:42 pm

    You have July instead of January🙂

    • Steve Hodel on September 18, 2021 at 9:15 pm

      Karen O:
      THANKS KAREN. Yes, must have been thinking of her birthday in July? Will correct month.

  2. Don Ray on September 19, 2021 at 12:11 am

    Impressive work.

  3. Frank Adkins on September 19, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    I very curious if the woman with Fred n George is and if she’s the same woman who accompanied them to Texas and to the french house in San Diego looking for Beth short. Also if she’s a willing, even enthusiastic participant?I’m hoping il get my answers in the early years.

    • Steve Hodel on September 19, 2021 at 12:28 pm

      Frank A:

      Stay tuned. I’ll do my best to “make it so.”

  4. Patricia ONeill on September 19, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    Steve, once again your “timeline of horror” relates so glaringly to my experiences teaching pre-teen/early teen boys in my Emotional Disability class! Their comments, fantasies were many times so sadly connected to necrophilia and paraphilia…….hence their isolation from a regular classroom😔! All, plus their parents when available, were in intensive therapy outside the classroom. The connection between Degnan Blvd. & the murder of Suzanne Degnan not an unusual obsession with this illness. The attention to small details (placement/location of corpse, markings on body etc.) all very important to the predator as he (she) “conducts the business” of abuse, murder. Again, I strongly state that childhood abuse, trauma must be taken VERY seriously by medical and educational professionals as early as possible! GHH unfortunately typifies the predatory behaviors so aptly verbalized in my psychological orientations & again I quote: “……….. you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” 😱🌵

    • Steve Hodel on September 19, 2021 at 12:38 pm

      Patricia O:

      Yes, totally agree. Each one of the individual acts of horror is in itself a unique psychological signature pointing to its creator. Taken en masse they point to one of the most diseased minds they ever walked on this planet. So sad.

  5. Waid S. Woodruff, Sr. aka Jess Waid (author) on September 20, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    Enjoyed the read, Steve. Thanks. I resided in east Hollywood in ’47 and in ’50 moved to 1163 North Normandie not far from your father’s house. I remember the place for its unique architecture.

    • Steve Hodel on September 20, 2021 at 5:41 pm

      Hi Jess:
      Thanks. Wow, you were just a short distance away the same year as the Black Dahlia murder. And then in ’50 you were even closer when the detectives installed the microphones and bugged the house for six weeks. (Feb 15-late March 1950). Looks like our careers had a lot of parallels. You came on LAPD about three years before me (1961 to my 1963) and retired about three years before me in the early 80s. (I retired in ’86). Not to mention both of us spending a lot of time in Hollywood Division. All Best, Steve

  6. Bart Polin on September 27, 2021 at 5:26 pm

    Excellent book. Well researched in great depth. This crime occurred 4 years before my birth but has always been of interest to me since viewing the Efrem Zimbalist Jr./Lucie Arnaz, historical-fiction TV-film. At first, I thought the accusations that this book was probably made-up, strictly for profit, had to be true. I can’t say I’m 100% convinced that George Hodel was indeed the perp, responsible for this heinous crime, but listening to the audiobook version of the 2015 book sure made me think otherwise. Especially, interesting was the John Huston angle therein. I had heard thru the years that he was even on the short-list as a person of interest. Kudos to a job well done. This book sure does make one question this horrible crime. Everything about it. How and why it happened, in more than enough and grizzly detail. Even too much for me as an ex-worker in psychiatry, where I looked heinous murderers right in the eyes and saw nothing. I mean NADA! Especially interesting was the reference at the end of the book to Anjelica Huston. I always wondered if she knew anything about this in detail, what., and how much? Thank you for making this book perhaps the most detailed and researched report on the Black Dahlia Cold Case. Especially from someone who was the son of the perp/perv. It took guts to write this, but I bet it sure was cathartic. I have just one question. Is “True Crime Magazine’s Behind the Tape Photobook” to be taken literally or as altered? I can’t understand how they’re able to say that the photos therein are solely in their possession. The fact that they charge money to view those photos is a bit too much, and makes me wonder if its credible or not. I sure wouldn’t pay–real or unreal photos of the crime-scene.
    Many people have made money off of this crime. I’m just curious if their “expose'”(???) is legitimate or not. I think my daughter may have once said she saw a Black Dahlia Exhibit (mock-up or whatever) at the Crime Museum in Los Angeles. The same museum where they were petitioned by the Robert Kennedy Family to remove his bloodstained shirt from further viewing. All the best, Steve. Job exceptionally well done!!!

  7. Bart Polin on September 27, 2021 at 5:35 pm

    Addendum/Correction: I just realized the book just “read” was NOT an audiobook, but the Kindle edition played over my Alexa app and speakers. I don’t know if that changes anything above, since I don’t even know if this book is actually available via audiobook. Just wanted to clear that up. Again–My very best to you and yours. This book will go down in history.

  8. Steve Hodel on September 27, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    Bart P:
    Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. Not aware of exactly what photos you are referring to in the “True Crime Magazine’s Behind the Tape Photobook” but doubt there exist any “new” or “exclusive” photos of the crime scene. The Black Museum in Hollywood did have on display some photos showing the fact that Elizabeth Short had been sexually sodomized which were not displayed to the general public, but all the others were shown online and in several books. Stay tuned more to come in the publication of “The Early Years.”

  9. Ron Roffel on October 5, 2021 at 6:32 pm

    With every new clue, the case against GHH gets more solid. With every new clue, we delve deeper into the most notorious crime in LA history and the mind of the man who committed it.

    Though I have read nearly every book on the murder, the photo of Elizabeth in the morgue is new to me. Does this mean lost evidence may turn up or is the photo merely one which has not been previously published?

    It would be a huge win if the lost physical evidence would suddenly reappear, but as you note in one of your books, it disappeared almost as fast as the investigation was halted.

    • Steve Hodel on October 6, 2021 at 11:46 am

      Ron R:
      The morgue photo was obtained by me thanks to Det. Harry Hansen’s granddaughter, who contacted me and I met with her and she shared photos that Hansen had retained after retirement and kept at home. She received them after his death. It’s my belief that the “physical evidence” from the case likely is sitting in some storage warehouse lost and forgotten to the world, much like the box in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” closing scene. Today’s LAPD has no knowledge of its whereabouts, and could basically care less.

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