April 15, 2022
Birch Bay, Washington
(Today would be my mother’s 106th Birthday)
Friends and readers have asked me to respond to a recent four-hour YouTube video tirade coming from a long-time self-appointed critic and wannabe writer who has been promising to write and reveal his own “solving of the Black Dahlia murder.” He has made numerous claims over the past 25-years (since 1997) that he is writing this book with “hopes to complete it in the near future.”
For those not familiar with my original March 26, 2022, Sisters In Crime “Off The Shelf” interview with Dawn Gepfer and chapter members, see the link- HERE.
My usual response over the past two-plus decades has been to ignore his libelous, slanderous actions. As he goes totally “off the cliff” in this most recent “critique”, I will reluctantly respond to some (11 of many) of his false claims/allegations (his words in red quotes) as presented in his two-part video.
The eleven (11) quotes in red below are from: “Black Dahlia: Larry Harnisch Reviews Steve Hodel on ‘Black Dahlia Avenger” as posted in his blog dated March 30, 2022, on his website, “The Daily Mirror” with its link to his video “FACT CHECK” which appears on YouTube. My responses are in black.
So let’s begin:
1) “Steve says his father was a child musical prodigy. Total lie and B.S. He only played an interlude during speeches.”
BOY OF NINE CHIEF SOLOIST AT SHRINE HOLIDAY EXERCISES
As the headline (from Los Angeles Evening Herald) states, George Hodel was “Chief Soloist.”
In the article below, I see no mention of “speeches” or “interludes”. In fact: …… this is what was really reported:
2) “I.Q. didn’t exist when George Hodel was a child. Total BS and lie.”
As the above article states twice, the word “genius” was used to describe George. When was George Hodel a “child”? Legally a person is a child until the age of 18. George was born on October 10, 1907, thus he would have been considered a child until his eighteenth birthday, October 10, 1925. Clearly, the term I.Q. did exist during the entirety of George’s ‘childhood’.
The first modern intelligence test in I.Q. History was developed in 1904 by Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon.
Dr. Lewis Terman is best known for initiating his Genetic Studies of Genius and his revising of the Binet-Simon I.Q. Scale in 1916–the first I.Q. Testing was done with 1.7 million soldiers during WW I. George Hodel “achieved the highest test scores in public schools in his day” and was one of “Terman’s Termites” and initially participated in Terman’s testing in 1921. (Hodel continued sending in the Terman follow-up questionnaires, as requested by the researchers, every ten years, well into his Eighties.)
(Re. George Hodel’s working as a crime reporter for the LA Record and covering vice and homicide crime scenes.
3) “L.A. Record was a dying, little nothing newspaper. They would hire anybody. All baloney.”
Not true. The Los Angeles Record was a robust, respected, and competitive Los Angeles newspaper in the 1920s. Additionally, why would a “dying, little nothing newspaper,” as a matter of routine, in addition to their ‘regular’ edition feel compelled to keep their reading public abreast of current events by printing “EXTRA” editions, much less “SECOND EXTRA SECOND” editions?
4) “George Hodel graduated from medical school with the minimum surgical skill. Hemicorporectomy was not taught at that time.”
According to his medical school transcripts “George had 766 hours of surgical training, performed fifty-three (53) separate surgical operations, and conducted twelve (12) autopsies.”
This was followed by at least a one-year medical internship—to gain more practical skill.
George Hodel was an Intern at San Francisco General/County Hospital, 1935-36 where he would be performing surgery on a daily/weekly basis and became Camp Surgeon, CCC, New Mexico, Dec. 1936 – June 1937. And he received a Presidential Appointment as PA Surgeon, U.S. Public Health Service, July 11, 1942.
The below-scanned excerpt is from Dr. George Hodel’s 1942 application to the U.S. Public Health Service listing his prior employment positions, including sole surgeon at the logging camp. The second document shows his acceptance and presidential appointment by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942 as a PA Surgeon.
5) “Hemicorporectomy was not taught at that time.”
One must assume that this quote “at that time” is referring to the time George was in medical school.
This procedure (dividing the body by cutting between the 2nd and 3rd lumbar vertebra) was known and used during the 1930s—used not as life-saving surgery, but rather in performing autopsies. It allowed the surgeon to avoid having to saw through bone.
The procedure’s use as an attempt to save lives was not developed until the 1950s and 60s.
According to Wikipedia: “…Frederick E. Kredel first proposed the operation in February 1951 while discussing a paper on pelvic exenteration The first hemicorporectomy was attempted in Detroit, Michigan, by Charles S. Kennedy in 1960, but the patient died eleven days later. Surgeons J. Bradley Aust (1926–2010) and Karel B. Absolon (1926–2009) conducted the first successful hemicorporectomy in Minnesota in 1961.
(Re. my eight books on the ongoing investigations and specifically the first published book, Black Dahlia Avenger.)
6)”I call it a franchise of garbage. DDA Steve Kay says, “no coverup.”
No, Head Deputy DA Kay, in reviewing my investigation (in 2003) did not say “no coverup.”
Regarding the murder of the Black Dahlia, here is what HDDA Steve Kay did say, “I have no doubt in my mind that George Hodel murdered both Elizabeth Short and Jeanne French, and was he alive today and were the witnesses alive, I would have no problem in filing two counts of murder against Dr. George Hodel. And I believe if I took that case in front of a jury that I would convict him.” Further, he said, when asked, he was not going to address the allegations of (an LAPD) coverup and was just providing his opinion regarding the murders.
7) “Jeanne French was not posed. No relationship to Dahlia murder.”
Not posed? Really?
Reportage of the crime indicated that her killer beat her to death and dragged her body a short distance across the isolated vacant lot. He repositioned her body by splaying her legs apart and spreading her arms away from her body so they formed an arrow. He then carefully placed her shoes on each side of the body. Next, he wrote “Fuck You B.D.” on her naked torso in lipstick (even this was written left to right from the left side of her body toward her head) and then draped her naked body with her dress and fur coat. That is ritual posing.
Also, note the detective ‘holding her fur coat’ which had been on top of her body prior to police removing it to photograph the “Fuck You” written in red lipstick. Again, ritual posing.
“No relationship to Dahlia murder.”
Not true. Back as early Feb. 1947, the LAPD did believe there was a connection, and that the same suspect killed both Elizabeth Short and Jeanne French.
Feb 12, 1947
Police Work on Theory Same Person
Committed Two Los Angeles Murders
LAPD Capt. Donahoe discloses “police are pursuing the theory that the captivating brunette’s murder (Jeanne French) may have been the work of the Black Dahlia slayer.”
In support of this belief after the arrest of one possible suspect (Otto Parzyjegla, Male, Caucasian, 36, arrested on February 12, 1947 for bludgeoning his employer to death) Capt. Donahoe conducted a live show-up at LAPD’s Wilshire police station. Detectives had witnesses from both the Short and French, as well as several kidnap/rape victims abducted from DTLA, who survived their kidnappings, all attend the show up in an attempt to identify the suspect. (All eliminated Parzyjegla and he was charged with the single crime of murdering his employer.)
LAPD Capt. Donahoe, in charge of detectives at that time, was convinced that it was the same killer who kidnapped and tortured, and slew Elizabeth Short just sixteen days earlier and posed her body on a vacant lot in Leimert Park district. Capt. Donahoe was extremely vocal with the press on this linkage and said so. Further, the LAPD in 1947 published in the newspaper “Eleven Points” as to why they believed at least four of the LA “Lone Woman Murders” were likely connected to the same killer.
8) LAPD Det. Brian Carr (assigned in 2003 as the gatekeeper on the Black Dahlia case) didn’t show Steve Hodel the George Hodel file because Hodel was a pariah within LAPD.”
Det. Brian Carr did not know that a George Hodel file existed!
Neither Det. Carr nor did anybody on the then current-day(2003) LAPD know that George Hodel was a prime suspect or was even named in the Dahlia investigation. All the ‘known’ Hodel/Black Dahlia Files had been destroyed decades prior, and NONE EXISTED AT LAPD. The first time today’s LAPD became aware of George Hodel’s name was when I published my first book, Black Dahlia Avenger, containing the first revelation of the DA Secret Hodel/Black Dahlia files.
However, after I and Head DDA Steve Kay personally briefed the LAPD brass and detectives in April 2003, on the findings of my investigation, it still took a highly reluctant Det. Carr six months before he, obtained and reviewed (copies) of the Hodel files from the DA’s office. And that was only because he was ordered by Dep. Chief of Detectives James McMurray. (Chief McMurray also ordered Det. Carr to “Clear the Black Dahlia case based on Hodel’s investigation, unless you can find major holes in his findings.”) Det. Carr ignored the order claiming he “was too busy with other cases to take time to determine if George Hodel committed the crime or not.”
9) “Hodel said, Jeanne French’s body was posed off Mountain View. No, the street name was Grandview, not Mountain View.”
No, the street name I was drawing readers’ attention to was, in fact, MOUNTAIN VIEW.
Granted police pulled up to and used the 3200 Block of Grandview Blvd. as the call’s arrival address, they could have just as easily used the 3200 Block of Mountain View, or the cross street, Stanwood.
Jeanne French’s body posed on a vacant lot between Grand View and Mountain View
Why? Because the vacant lot upon which Jeanne French’s body was found was bounded on the west by Stanwood Dr, by Grandview on the south, and by Mountain View on the north. The crime scene photographs show a body some distance from the street. It was posed like an arrow with the tip of the arrow, her battered head, pointing north to Mountain View and her feet toward Grandview.
That said, given George Hodel’s penchant for posing his victim’s bodies near streets with names significant to other victims and crime scene locations, it would therefore be consistent that George was posing his victim, Jeanne French, near MOUNTAIN VIEW as a mind game “clew” and a “catch me if you can” taunt referencing Elizabeth Short’s burial, just days sixteen days earlier at “Mountain View Cemetery.”
Elizabeth Short’s family at the gravesite at Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, California
The victim’s body was laid to rest on January 25, 1947, just sixteen days before the brutal murder of Jeanne French.
Further GHH/BDA/BD-French Connections:
The following article appeared in Los Angeles area newspapers the day after the body of Jeanne French was discovered with the obscene note written in lipstick on her body that read, “Fuck You B.D.”
The Whittier News
February 11, 1947
Further details revealed taxicab driver Charles Schneider discovered the note in the glove compartment of his cab after returning from eating at a restaurant in the 500 Block of Columbia St. in DTLA. Addressed to the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper, but not released to the public, the note, with a crude illustration of a knife* and a pistol on it was turned over to LAPD.
*George Hodel mailed a note in the Black Dahlia murder to the Los Angeles Times, on January 28, 1947, with a crude drawing of a knife dripping blood. (Just 13 days before the French murder with this second note and knife.)
One More Connection:
The cab containing the February 11,1947 note left in the cab was just one mile (5mins) from Dr. Hodel’s medical office in the Roosevelt Building at 7th and Flower St in DTLA.
(10) “In the Dahlia murder, Degnan Street is three blocks away.”
Degnan Street becomes Norton and changes its name mid-block. I’ve explained this numerous times in my writings, and he knows it.
Based on my research and investigation, I contend that in the pre-dawn hours of January 15, 1947, George Hodel drove north on DEGNAN, just before daybreak from Santa Barbara Blvd and bearing left (at the Y) toward the vacant lot ahead, assuming he was still on Degnan.
Because the Street Signs/Street Names were part of George Hodel’s crime signature taunts.
George Hodel posed Suzanne Degnan’s body off “Hollywood St.”
George Hodel posed Elizabeth Short’s body off “Degnan St.”
George Hodel posed Jeanne French’s body off “Mountain View St.”
George Hodel posed Manila Lucila Lalu’s body off “Zodiac
George Hodel, in one of his “Chicago Lipstick Murders” just one year earlier on January 6, 1945, had performed a hemicorporectomy on little Suzanne Degnan (verified by the Chicago Coroner who performed the autopsy saying it was done by “a skilled surgeon who cut the body between the 2nd and 3rd lumbar vertebra.”)
11) “Tamar handed her daughter (Fauna ) off to a washroom attendant in Las Vegas, correction I meant to say in Reno.”
No. Tamar Hodel, a sixteen-year-old teenager, had nothing to do with handing off her daughter Fauna to the adopting parents. Tamar was in San Francisco. Instead, her mother, Dorothy Anthony, made all the arrangements and negotiations and went to Reno and gave the child away.
I have written six books regarding the serial crimes of my father, Dr. George Hill Hodel, which includes the murder of Elizabeth Short.
It is fair to assume that not many of my critics have read, word-for-word, all of my books nor have they studied my investigation and the results carefully and in-depth. Instead, some individuals rely on other ‘so-called’ experts, such as a copy editor who has never been a law enforcement officer, or assigned to a crime scene to investigate a single homicide, follow the clues left by the killer, track down the killer, arrest him or her, put them in jail, testified before a Grand Jury and at trial, and obtained a guilty verdict convicting the killer.
I on the other hand have conducted over 300 homicide investigations.
As for being a “pariah” [#8)] “within LAPD and his peers informing me he was just average with a drinking problem”
My clearance rates and personnel ratings speak for themselves. Out of a sincere sense of modesty, I have not posted them previously in my writings. But, will here do so in rebuttal. Here are random examples of my consistently high ratings (always upper 10%) received from my superiors.
Click on the link below:
Most police officers will receive on average one or two “formal citizen complaints” a year. (Some “founded” and many or most “not sustained”, regardless, they remain in the officer’s personnel file.) It comes with the territory. That said, In my nearly twenty-four years of police service in uniform and as a detective, I never received even one citizen complaint.
And here is a letter of commendation from then-Chief Daryl F. Gates thanking me for my many years of service. (Unbeknownst to what lay ahead some thirteen years into my future, I retired on July 29, 1986, (Elizabeth Short’s birthday). Chief Gates wrote the below letter on September 4th.
A number of readers through the decades have asked me, “Why does that retired LA Times copy editor hate you so much? Why is he so venomous towards you?
Setting aside the obvious of his losing his throne as the self-professed “leading expert on the Black Dahlia investigation” and revealing that he had falsely and wrongfully accused an innocent man (Dr. Walter Bayley) bringing irreparable harm to the man’s reputation and that of his family. There exists another potential reason that I have never revealed. Maybe it’s time, as it could shed light on the question.
In the AFTERMATH section of my first book, Black Dahlia Avenger (pages 454-457) I relate the story of how I came to obtain the four original Black Dahlia photos owned by Elizabeth Short.
These four photographs came up for auction on eBay in February 2003, just two months before my book was published.
I expected the bidding might go as high as $1,000.00. Not even close. In the last hours it went from $1,000 to $4,000, then to five, then six. It was obvious that there was one bidder that wanted them as badly as I did. In the closing moments, it came down to this unknown anonymous bidder and me. The last few seconds were frantic and as the computer dust settled, I looked at the screen and saw my bid just barely topped my opponents by $100.00. My final bid won at a whopping- $7, 611.11.
A short time later I would learn the name of the anonymous bidder from a knowledgeable and highly reliable source. That source identified the other bidder by name and indicated “he was extremely angry and upset with you because he did not get the photographs.”
Who was that bidder?
You guessed it. Los Angeles Times copyeditor- Larry Harnisch.
SKH NOTE TO READERS:
I am aware of the difference between opinion and untrue statements. You can be sure that I will not allow untruths to go unanswered.
Slander ; is the action or crime of making a false statement damaging to a person’s reputation.
Libel; is a statement or representation published without just cause and tending to expose another to public contempt.
Defamation; is the action of damaging the good reputation of someone; slander or libel.
P.S. A huge thank you to my good friend and editor, retired Dallas Police Officer and mystery author, Robert J. Sadler for helping create the graphics.
Det. III Steve Hodel LAPD Hollywood Homicide (ret.)