July 22, 2022
Birch Bay, Washington
Author Douglas Laux
Laux Blows-Fact Checking Black Dahlia Misinformation
Over five years ago I met Doug Laux who said he was very interested in my investigation regarding the Black Dahlia. I agreed to meet with him. I gave him a short overview of my investigation, which he recorded.
He left blown away and convinced that George Hodel “did it.”
At some point, he was approached by long retired LAT copy editor Larry Harnisch who pitched him his “No no. Hodel lies, Dr. Walter Bayley, a surgeon who lived in the neighborhood did it. He became mentally unbalanced and was mad because his son was killed in an auto accident 20 years before the murder, and Dr. Bayley killed the Black Dahlia in a fit of rage.”
Harnisch has been pushing his “theory”, without any corroborating evidence, and spewing his hate for me and my findings for the past twenty-two years.
Sadly, Mr. Laux, a man with, as far as I can tell, no criminal investigative experience, fell for Harnisch’s ‘story’ hook, line, and sinker. You would think that a man like Laux who claims to have been an ” Ex-CIA agent with seven years undercover work in the Middle East and Afghanistan” would have developed a lot of street smarts and sophistication and would not be taken in so easily by a retired copy editor with an empty Evidence Locker, but…
I won’t attempt to go into all the misinformation in Laux’s presentation, but here are just a few points from some of the episodes:
1. Victim’s mouth not “slashed in a Glasgow or Joker’s smile.” (It was carefully curved using a scalpel on both sides. The jagged appearance seen in many public photos was caused by sutures placed to shut or close the mouth at the Coroner’s Office.)
2. Laux claims his good friend Ralph Pezzullo co-authored my book Black Dahlia Avenger. No, actually my book Black Dahlia Avenger was published in 2003, five years before I ever met Pezzullo. We met in 2008 and Ralph edited my book, Most Evil from my finished manuscript. That 2009 book is “By Steve Hodel, With Ralph Pezzullo.”
3. Laux claims my father had an IQ of 161. No Doug, as indicated in my investigation, it was actually 186.
4. Laux claims witness “Red Manley’s wife lived in San Diego.” No, she lived in Los Angeles.
5. Laux claims authors Mark Nelson and Sarah Bayliss discovered Man Ray’s “L’Equivoque” linkage. No, neither the painting L’Equivoque nor its crime connections were never mentioned in their book and were only discovered many years later by a sharp-eyed armchair detective and only included in my books.
6. Laux’s presentation states a “Hemicorporectomy not performed until 1950.” As clearly defined in several of my books the 1950 date refers to the actual life-saving procedure in an attempt to save a life by removing the lower section of a patient’s body. George Hodel and others in the 1930s were performing the method (severing the body by going between the 2nd and 3rd lumbar vertebrae) not to save lives on living patients, but to divide the body on corpses in autopsies so as not to have to cut through bone with a saw.
7. Larry Harnisch in his interview with Laux states, that Chicago Lipstick Murder Suzanne Degnan’s killer, 17-year-old Wm Heirens, used a hunting knife and put body parts in different places. No, the Chicago Coroner advised “a skilled surgeon divided the body by going through the 2nd & 3rd lumbar vertebrae.” (A Hemicorporectomy, identical to the surgery performed on Elizabeth Short’s body, one year later.) Laux claims a fingerprint from Wm Heirens matched those found at one of the “Chicago Lipstick Crime Scenes.” No, that single fingerprint was proven to not match Heirens as it only had 8 points far from the number required for a positive ID.
8. Laux’s presentation claims Steve immediately ID’d a photo in his father’s album as Elizabeth Short. No, I didn’t even know Short’s name at that time. It was two days later when talking to my half-sister Tamar that she brought up “The Black Dahlia and said our father was believed by LAPD to have killed her.” It was at this point that I began my investigation to eliminate my father as a suspect.
9. Laux claims I referred to my father as “The Great Man.” No, that was his wife, June Hodel’s reverent reference to her husband. Yes, in my conversation with Tamar after our father died, we did in a tongue-in-cheek manner refer to our father using June’s pseudonym for him.
10. Laux and Harnisch both claimed there was “No proof Dr. Hodel ever performed surgery.” Totally false. In addition to his 755 hours of surgery in medical school and performing surgery in residence at San Francisco General for one year as an intern, he also was the “Sole Surgeon at a logging camp in AZ in 1936-7.”
11. Laux claims he received an “email from Larry Harnisch that changed everything.” Larry informs him, “If you take Hodel’s photos away there is nothing left to his investigation.” No. My investigation never began or depended upon the photographs in my father’s photo album.
12. Laux goes on to say that “Larry loves nuking Steve and that all the LA murders were random killings.” While it is true Harnisch seems to relish touting his ‘theory’ over my exhaustive investigations… it is not true that all the LA murders were random killings. In actuality, LAPD was actively investigating these murders and publicly went on the record in newspapers of that day and “listed 11 points of similarity confirming their belief that least four of the murders were committed by the same suspect.”
13. Laux claims he has been “won over by Larry” as he attended weekly meetings over an 18-month period. And claims they “consistently remain friends.”
15. Laux believes Larry’s claim that after Elizabeth Short “left the Biltmore she was never seen again until her body was found.” That may be Harnisch’s claim, but the statement is absolutely, not true. In my investigation, I present 15 witnesses who saw Elizabeth Short each day of the mythical “Missing Week”. Seven of those witnesses personally KNEW HER and could not have been mistaken.
16. Larry Harnish states, “Victim Elizabeth Short didn’t know George Hodel.” Not true. LADA documents established, “George Hodel was acquainted with Elizabeth Short and dated her prior to her murder.”
17. Laux ignores the fact that five top law enforcement officials who actually worked the original investigation in the 1940s, independently, at separate times, stated “The Black Dahlia case was solved” and identified Dr. George Hodel as her killer.”
18. Laux ignores the fact that then active LAPD Chief of Detectives James McMurray ordered his detectives in 2004 to “Go ahead and clear the case on Hodel’s findings unless you can find any holes in his investigation.” (Detectives, subsequently claimed “they were too busy with other cases to look at my investigation and ignore the order from their Chief, knowing he would retire in six months.)
19. Laux closes his presentation with “I absolutely believe that Dr. Walter Bayley did it. He’s the only suspect I cannot clear.”
20. Laux never mentions and ignores the scores of police and civilian witnesses (more than 30) that provide either direct evidence and or crime signature linkage connecting Dr. Hodel as the killer of Elizabeth Short and other of the LA Lone Woman murder victims.
21. Finally, the dynamic duo of Laux and Harnisch completely ignore the real test of whether a criminal investigation has been sucessful–the submission and review by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. They ignore the fact that before I went public, I submitted my case to an active HEAD Deputy DA. DDA Steve Kay (co-prosecutor with Vincent Bugliosi on the Manson Family prosecutions). DDA Kay reviewed my investigation and stated that were the witnesses still alive he would “Based on Steve Hodel’s investigation, I would file two separate counts of murder against Dr. George Hill Hodel. One count on the Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” murder and a second count on the Jeanne French “Lipstick murder” and that I would obtain a guilty verdict on both counts in a jury trial.”
In closing, while we know from Larry Harnisch’s many prideful claims to “never having read Hodel’s investigation” it is clear to me that Mr. Laux has likewise not read or has ignored my further linkage, connecting hard physical evidence from the Hodel residence to the crime scene, and any of the “Murder as a Fine Art” connections which reveal the killer’s name as well as the crime scene location in their artworks.
In Laux’s six-episode podcast and “book” there are many more inaccuracies and repeated myths, but I will leave it at that. Those of you who have read my books and have followed my investigation closely, know of what I speak.
LAPD Hollywood Homicide Det.III Steve Hodel #11394 (ret.)
(See detailed response to Harnisch blog of 4/15/22 at below link)
SKH Note to the living family of Dr. Walter Bayley
My sincere apologies to any and all living relatives of Dr. Walter Bayley for the totally false accusations made by these two men, neither of whom has ever conducted an actual criminal investigation.
Despite the attempts of Larry Harnisch and Doug Laux’s Tweedledee and Tweedledum-like* attempts to paint Dr. Bayley as the Black Dahlia killer, who they claim became mentally ill and slew her in a fit of rage. I would like the Bayley family and relatives to know, THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THEIR “THEORY.” ZERO.
On the contrary, all indications are that Dr. Bayley was a dedicated physician who cared for and honorably served the citizens of Los Angeles for thirty years. Records show he left his wife and their home on October 26, 1946, and died at the VA Hospital in West Los Angeles on January 3, 1948. Below is an article from the Los Angeles Record newspaper, dated August 9, 1920, describing the tragic death of his son, Walter Bayley, age 11. (In a bizarre twist of fate, my father, George Hodel, in just four years (1924) would come to work for the same newspaper as a young crime reporter and write about Los Angeles area murders.)
Los Angeles Record, August 9, 1920
* The Tweedledee and Tweedledum reference is taken from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland” published in 1865.