First, let me wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Let’s hope that 2022 will bring an end to the Coronavirus pandemic that has threatened our world since 2019—wishing all of you good health and happiness.
As for me personally, the closing of 2021 signifies something much more. For myself, it represents the end of what has now become a twenty-three-year-long personal and criminal investigation into the life and crimes of my father, Dr. George Hill Hodel.
More than two decades ago, I wrote in my first book, Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder, that I would begin a two-pronged investigation. One path would take me in search of a father I barely knew. What did his early life include? What had he done as a boy and young man? My knowledge consisted of just bits and pieces from his unknown past. I was determined to discover as much as I could of my father’s personal history through his living friends and relatives.
The second path would be down a professional road I knew well—that of a criminal investigator with twenty-four years of experience, seventeen of them as a homicide detective. I thought I would follow the leads and most certainly be able to put to rest any suspicions that may have surfaced as slanderous rumors because of the 1949 incest trial. I suspected they were likely courtroom whispers coming from a fifty-year-old sexual molestation trial, attempting to upgrade a pedophile and make him into a murderer.
As stated in my early investigation circa 2000, while I was confident that my half-sister Tamar (fourteen years old in 1949) was telling the truth and that our father “beat the rap” on the incest charges—I was equally sure that he in no way could have committed the “Crime of the Century—Black Dahlia Murder.”
As then documented, I set out to follow the evidence that I believed would exonerate and free him from any further suspicions.
Realizing that I would not be able to conduct an “absentee investigation” from my then residence in Bellingham, Washington, I spent about six months “wrapping up” my ongoing P.I. investigations and by early 2000 made the relocation back to Los Angeles.
I anticipated that the background search into my father’s life might take six months and expected his exoneration of any criminal activity would take about the same.
I advised my friends and the half dozen attorneys that I regularly did investigative work for in Bellingham to expect my return no later than Christmas 2000.
Well, I am back in Whatcom County, Washington, and Christmas is just days away. Not bad. My timing was only off by about twenty-one years, ten books and one three-act-play later.
As I have said many times, all the published books as a collective are really just one ongoing investigation into the life and crimes of Dr. George Hill Hodel.
With the recent publication of “The Early Years,” we now have a total of forty-nine probable crimes committed over fifty years.
I say “probable” because while I am confident that the twenty-six (26) murder investigations (1943-1969, see victim chronology chart below) and their linkage to George Hodel as presented in the first six books meets the threshold of “beyond a reasonable doubt”—(I am not making that claim in “The Early Years” crimes.)
(Below excerpt from a graphic chart prepared by author Robert J. Sadler)
In the Introduction to “The Early Years” editions, I write:
In the presentation of these crimes from long ago (the first one goes back one hundred years), I make no claim to a “solution.” I do not and am not saying that my father, George Hill Hodel, committed all of these crimes beyond a “reasonable doubt”—which would be the legal requirement to find him guilty. Several of these crimes, without the Introduction of hard physical evidence or DNA, are not solvable. Other cases have been claimed to be “solved” by law enforcement, and each is considered “Case Closed.” In several of them, it is my position that 1) the wrong man was convicted or 2) the suspect committed the crime but had an unidentified accomplice(s) or 3) the suspect has never been identified, and the case remains an ice-cold whodunit that was filed and forgotten long ago.
That said, there exists no doubt in my mind that many, if not all, the crimes presented in The Early Years summaries (1921-1938) were committed by my father and his likely accomplice, Fred Sexton.
A number of the Early Years serial crimes do meet the threshold and present enough evidence to convict. Others are too old and cold, but based on the crime signatures and M.O., George Hodel is “the prime suspect.” I leave it for the individual reader to make the call on each separate investigation.
In just the few short weeks that The Early Years have been published, readers and “armchair detectives” have already developed additional “thoughtprints” and further evidentiary linkage to several of George’s early crimes.
As occurred in Black Dahlia Avenger, I fully expect many more links in the chain will come from astute readers as the new books reach a broader audience.
As we enter the New Year of —2022, I am pleased to announce some personally rewarding and exciting news.
Beginning this coming spring, I will be assisting in adapting five of my books (Black Dahlia Avenger I, II, III, and Most Evil I and II) into a true-crime docu-miniseries for television.
Production began in 2021 and will continue after the Holidays. I am working with some exceptionally talented, award-winning filmmakers and am confident the end product will be a true and accurate portrayal of my multi-year investigations.
So, stay tuned—a lot more to come.
Wishing all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!