Los Angeles District Attorney Lt. Frank Jemison’s 1950 Black Dahlia Investigation Transcribed Interview of Dorothy Huston Hodel At Santa Monica Pier Residence

April 15, 2023
Birch Bay, Washington
Happy Birthday, Mother!
Naysayers of my investigation will tell you, “Dr. Hodel’s residence was staked out just because he was one of the many doctor’s they were routinely checking out and because of his trial in December 1950, and he was cleared.” NOT SO.
Dr. George Hill Hodel initially came under suspicion for murdering (overdosing) his personal secretary, Ruth Spaulding in May, 1945. He fled the country by joining UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation) and being assigned to China which effectively stopped the investigation.
Dr. Hodel then became a suspect in the June 1949 kidnap/murder of Louise Springer after an LAPD CI (Confidential Informant), Glenn Martin, working undercover as a snitch for LAPD named him as an associate of the victim and identified him as the killer of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short as well as Lousie Springer. In July 1949, (seven months prior to the bugging installations)  LAPD brought Dr. Hodel in for questioning on both murders but according to CI Martin, as excerpted in his letter, “G.H. was grilled by police on Louise Springer death; he and I both knew her. The investigating officers became G.H. friend so matter dropped. He threatened to get even with me. He bragged while drunk in a salloon (sic).”
Dr. Hodel was next arrested in October 1949 for Incest and Child Molestation with his 14-year-old daughter, my half-sister, Tamar, and the trial began in December, which is when CI Martin, fearing Dr. Hodel would kill one of his two daughters, wrote his three-page letter, dated December 25, 1949, to be opened, “In Case of Margaret Ellen’s Death or Glenna Jeans.” (Neither daughter was murdered so the unopened letter remained in his family’s custody until open and found by his granddaughter, Sandi Nichols in 2018, some sixty-eight years after it was written. Sandi contacted me by email and forwarded the original letter. (See the complete summary of Louise Springer and Glenn Martin’s letter linking George Hodel to both the Black Dahlia and Louise Springer murders in Black Dahlia Avenger III (Rare Bird Books 2018)
In February, 1950, the LADA having assumed investigation for the Black Dahlia murder by order of the 1949 Grand Jury and with Lt. Frank Jemison in charge, brought Dr. Hodel into the Hall of Justice for questioning and while he was in custody, broke into the Franklin House residence and secretly installed microphones in the living room and bedroom walls and monitored his live conversations for the next six weeks. As a result, they received numerous admissions from Dr. Hodel as to committing the murder of his secretary, performing abortions and payoffs to police as well as the murder of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia’ Short.

Today is the 117th anniversary of my mother, Dorothy Harvey Huston Hodel’s birth.
I felt it is appropriate to revisit her 1950 tape-recorded/transcribed interview by LADA Lt. Frank Jemison at her then residence of 410 Santa Monica Pier. (We actually lived in a small two-bedroom apartment, on the pier above the bait shop. (The other side of our apt wall was the Spade Cooley Ballroom.)
Santa Monica Ballroom and “Home of Spade Cooley”

SKH Note- Western singer Spade Cooley was arrested eleven years later (1961) for the bludgeoning murder of his wife.
Lt. Frank Jemison                                                                                                  Dorothy Harvey Hodel
Lt. Jemison accompanied by a court-certified stenographer conducted an interview related to the 1947 murder of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short, with my mother, Dorothy Harvey Hodel on March 22, 1950, at her then residence apt on Santa Monica pier.
The following six pages are an exact transcribed copy of Lt. Jemison’s original interview as found in the secret LADA Hodel/Black Dahlia Files, hidden for over fifty years and allowed to be copied by me in 2003 by then DA Steve Cooley. (Not believed related to Spade Cooley?)
My relevant comments/observations are in red below each page of the six-page interview.

Divorced in 1945 was news to me. I and my brothers had assumed my parents were married up until our father fled the country in 1950. So we three boys and mother were living off and on at the Franklin House at our father’s pleasure.
Dorothy, questioned by Lt. Jemison, admits to knowing Lillian Lenorak and that she was admitted to Camarillo Hospital and offers her own “confirmation” that Lenorak must have been a mental case and “ill” (psychologically) and adds, “The little boy was running around and very distressed. Poor little kid.” This questioning by Lt. Jemison indicated he was aware of the letter sent by Santa Barbara police officer, Mary Unkefer describing the drugging of Lenorak by Dr. Hodel and his assault and staged “suicide” of Lenorak by superficially cutting her wrists and bandaging them while she was unconscious. (This assault by George Hodel on Lenorak was witnessed by her four-year-old son, John Lenorak. No wonder he was “stressed and running around.”)
Dorothy denies knowing Elizabeth Short. Claims “to the best of my knowledge George Hodel didn’t and doesn’t know her.”
Denies being out at 4:00 am with George on the night of the murder  (Jan 15, 1947) and being intoxicated. (Lt. Jemison had to have some information to ask this question. No idea who was his source on this?)

Lt. Jemison informs Dorothy he has information that both Dorothy and George Hodel were intoxicated and that George stated, “They can’t pin the Black Dahlia Murder on me.” Dorothy denies that occurred. Apparently, the source was my half-sister, Tamar as Lt. Jemison asks, “Do you remember telling Tamar that?” Dorothy denies she did.  Here she also establishes that she and we three sons were not living at the Franklin House on January 15, 1947 and were living with her brother at 2121 Loma Vista Place, Los Angeles. (About four miles away.)  Lt. Jemison informs Dorothy that witnesses place “the victim Elizabeth Short at the Franklin House prior to the murder.”  Dorothy denies knowing that. 
Dorothy admits on prior occasions to having lunch and dinner with George Hodel at the Biltmore Hotel in DTLA.
Admits knowing George stayed at the Biltmore Hotel on prior occasions.
Lt Jemsion states to Dorothy, “You know that Dr. Hodel has had practice with surgical tools?” Dorothy lies claiming “he never practices surgery. His branch of medicine is V.D. generally and Administrative Medicine.” Mother knew he was a surgeon in New Mexico and had visited him during his practice there in the mid-to-late 1930s. Lt. Jemison shows her a Booking Photo and she identifies it as being Dr. George Hodel.

Lt. Jemison shows Dorothy a photo of a nude Black Female and asks her if she knows her as they are attempting to identify her? Dorothy lies claiming only that she “looks familiar’ but claims not to know her name. BIG LIE. This photo is of Mattie Comfort, who was a sexual partner of both George and Dorothy for many years prior to 1950 and wrote in her personal diary of the “many pleasures that the three of them exchanged.” Lt. Jemison shows Dorothy a second photo with both Mattie Comfort and George Hodel standing nude and holding a cat. Lt. Jemison again asks Dorothy if she know her and he is “sincerely interested in contacting this girl for information.” Again, Dorothy lies and denies knowing her or her whereabouts.
Lt. Jemison categorically states to Dorothy, “Let me advise you that we do have information that he (George Hodel)  did associate with Beth Short.”

SKH Note- As transcribed in the LA DA Bugging Transcripts immediately following this interview by Lt. Jemison of Dorothy Hodel at her apartment on the Santa Monica pier, she immediately, the following day, went to her ex-husband’s residence, the Franklin House, 5121 Franklin Ave, and had a conversation with George Hodel. Clearly, this was to inform him of all that Lt. Jemison had questioned her about, the fact they had nude photographs and were attempting to identify Mattie Comfort and that they believed he killed Elizabeth Short.
Within five days of the Dorothy interview, George (at least temporarily) was “in the wind” and the bugging stakeout was apparently terminated on March 27, 1950.
To be clear, as I see it, the reason for my mother lying to Lt. Frank Jemison was twofold. 1) Knowing that her ex-husband was a serial killer and sociopath and if she disclosed any information he would come after her and us three boys, she was a mother bear protecting her young. 2) Having been involved and present in the Ruth Spaulding overdose and present at her apartment and burning Ruth’s writings disclosing George Hodel’s criminality, she was an accomplice to murder and would go to prison knowing if George was arrested he would implicate her. (Also, as documented in my follow-up books/investigation she was present on some of his “Early Years” crimes which made her an additional accessory to those crimes. Lots of reasons to lie and deny.

Lt. Jemison shows Dorothy Booking Photo 119364
which she identifies as her ex-husband, George Hodel.
Dr. George Hodel inside Franklin House 1950

Dorothy Hodel inside Franklin House courtyard circa 1949
Below are my summaries of day-to-day stakeout activities overheard by LADA and LAPD officers who served four-hour shifts for six weeks 24/7.  What is important to understand is the actual bugging transcripts only contain brief summaries by officers during the stakeout and the detectives are constantly advising “to listen to the full tape for complete conversations.” For example, they state, “Subject (Hodel) talking about Black Dahlia.”  (They don’t state what was said and leave that to be reviewed on the tape.)
Unfortunately, all the actual tapes after being ordered by DA Simpson to be turned over to LAPD Deputy Chief Thad Brown directly by Lt. Jemison then “disappeared” so the actual detailed conversations as well as the transcripts have been missing from LAPD Black Dahlia Files. (Fortunately, unbeknownst to LAPD Lt. Jemsion kept a second set of books and locked them away in the DA vault to be discovered some fifty-three years later and fully copied and published by me in BDA II in 2004.



  1. Luigi Warren on April 19, 2023 at 2:46 pm


    Do you think Lt. Jemison was using the photos of Mattie Comfort purely as a tactic to try and weaken GHH’s hold over your mother?



  2. Steve Platto on April 19, 2023 at 5:29 pm

    Love following this story and all the concrete evidence you’ve presented in this and your books. Just visited LA and swung by the Franklin House and stopped into the Frolic Room for a couple of beers. I also am fascinated with the life of Spade Cooley–did you have any connection to this case and him killing his wife? Keep up the good work!

    • Steve Hodel on April 20, 2023 at 3:20 pm

      Steve P:
      Thanks. No connections to Spade Cooley other than listening to his music “on the other side of the wall”
      way back when I was just a kid of 10 years. That year or so living on Santa Monica pier was THE BEST.
      Fishing, swimming, boating, Muscle Beach, all at our front door. Paradise.

  3. George A on April 21, 2023 at 9:59 am

    Detective Hodel
    You say that your mother was with your father when he/they drugged the secretary. Did your mother tell you that?
    George A

    • Steve Hodel on April 21, 2023 at 11:31 am

      George A:
      You need to read my book, Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder rather than just getting misinformation from the internet.
      I never claimed, “my mother was with my father when he/they drugged the secretary.” Nor did my mother tell me that.
      The information as presented in BDA came from my half-sister, Tamar and was told to her by my mother. Tamar stated that my mother told her that “she was called to the secretary’s home by our dad.” That, “the girl was unconscious but breathing and alive and mother was given papers and writings that the secretary had written and our father told her to take them and burn them.” She left and returned home and burned the papers.” (So, unwittingly, this made her an actual accomplice to murder.) LAPD confirmed that George Hodel was investigated and suspected of murdering his secretary in 1945/6, “but, not enough evidence to prove it.”

  4. Fred Martin on April 21, 2023 at 8:33 pm

    Mr. Hodel,

    The photos used by Lt. Jemison during his interview of your mother were apparently supplied by Joe Barrett (acting as a DA informant). During your later conversations with Mr. Barrett, did he identify the female(s) pictured in those photos? And did he (or anyone else) ever claim to have seen a photo of your father accompanied by Beth Short?

    Thanks for all your efforts on this, Fred Martin.

    • Steve Hodel on April 21, 2023 at 9:35 pm

      Fred M:
      No, Joe did not identify the individuals in the photos.
      He just said he gave the DA detectives a photo or photos of GHH. LAPD also recovered photographs from “the secret room” during the serving of the search warrant on the October 1949 Incest arrest, so not sure what/which ones they got from that. (Could have been the Mattie Comfort/GHH nude photos?)
      Barrett was not completely open and, he held back info that he thought would put him in a
      bad light with me. Ie. getting Tamar pregnant and letting prosecutors allow him to cop to a
      “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” rather than a felony statutory rape charge with Tamar;in trade for his “cooperation.” He also, withheld all the info on the Lillian Lenorak incident re. his going with Officer Unkefer to Santa Barbara with victim. He did state in a television interview (forget which, ( 48 Hours or Dateline or Court TV?) that “GHH knew Elizabeth Short.”
      The statement from Lt. Jemison, “we know that Elizabeth Short and GHH knew each other” could not have come from Mattie Comfort at the time of the Dorothy interview (maybe later) because the detectives had yet to identify her. We do know that at the time of the Dorothy interview detectives had also info from their LAPD CI Glenn Martin that GHH knew Elizabeth Short and “had killed her and knew and had killed Louise Springer in June, 1949.”

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