Liars and Tigers and Bears-Oh My!- Sales Documents Prove Dr. George Hill Hodel was Sole Owner of the Sowden/Franklin House

August 15, 2023
Birch Bay, Washington
This is the third time in as many days that I have had the same question from readers.
Q:  “Mr. Hodel, Is there any truth to the rumor that your grandfather owned Sowden house and just rented it to your father?
Apparently, one or more of the naysayers is out there spreading “rumors” (think deliberate lies) in an effort to create one of the many “smoke screens.” The simple truth is there will always be fantasists with other theories or simply just want the crime(s) to remain “unsolved” and they become angry with their, “Don’t Mess With My Myth” attitude. No matter how much hard evidence and proof is presented they are simply incapable of changing their beliefs–“No, the world IS FLAT.”
The short answer to the above question is: NO, No truth at all to the “rumor.” George Hodel was the sole owner of the Sowden property.
That is not to say that his father, George Sr. may not have helped with the downpayment, though I even doubt that. Considering the residence was purchased by my father for a whopping $37,500 in 1945. If he had to pay even 20% down ($7500) with monthly payments of around $200 a month, I’m sure as Head of L.A. County V.D. Control, he could have easily swung it by himself. Add to that the fact he bought it from “friends,” Dr. and Mrs. Mazur, who likely gave him liberal financing.
George Sr. and his short-lived second marriage wife, a French music teacher, did live there a short time while GHH went to China with UNRRA after joining in late 1945, but moved out on his return in ’46.
I have seen the sales documents and it was just the reverse. GHH’s father and wife were temporary tenants and lived (likely rent-free) at their son’s Sowden House. I have seen the signed, sales documents and they showed George Hodel Jr. as the sole owner of the property. Below is GHH’s clever sales brochure for the property which he sold in 1950, to pay for his defense attorney, Jerry “Get Me” Giesler to represent and help him beat the ’49 Incest charge. Then he gets bugged at the Soweden House, confesses to multiple murders, and  “got out of Dodge just ahead of the Sheriff” so to speak.

I provided the above-pictured sales brochure from my father’s personal papers and it was published in Mark Nelson and Sarah Bayliss’ book, Exquisite Corpse: Surrealism and the Black Dahlia Murder (2006)

GHH on his desk at his Franklin House 1950
Updated 8/16/2023
In reviewing the 1969 Historic Survey it does list George Sr. and his wife Andree as the initial buyer/owners of the property, which would indicate that my grandfather likely did put up the original funds and bought it “in name only” and once it became “family property” quitclaimed it to his son, George Jr. He would have had to as the sale in 1950 and signing over of the deed of trust was done by George Hodel Jr. as owner, and establishes he would have had to have been the legal owner to sign the deed of sale.
Further, the grandson of Dr. and Mrs. Mazur and resident tenant of the Sowden House from 1970-1999 in my interview in 2001 informed me that “your father was good friends with my grandparents and sold the property to them back in 1950.”

Update to Update:

Found it! Here is the Deed of Trust proving GHH Jr. was in fact the owner of the Sowden/Franklin House. The below document shows GHH signed it over (to insure a $10,000 promissory note) to his just-hired defense attorney, Jerry Giesler on October 13, 1949, just a week after he bailed out from the Incest Arrest by LAPD.

SKH Note: For those unfamiliar with my investigation a Court Certified Handwriting Expert examined and linked my father’s handwriting to multiple murders as presented in BDA I and on Dateline and 48 Hours in 2004.  To date, NO QDE has come forward to challenge her findings. Several have examined a few HW sources and provided an “Unable to exclude and my findings are “inconclusive”. The main reason was they only had two or three samples of GHH for comparison. My QDE had over twenty-five samples.
As a final point to this discussion, not only am I personally identifying all of the above signatures as belonging to my father, George Hill Hodel, but his father named him, George Hill Hodel and had no middle name himself. My grandfather’s name was George Goldgefter, which he changed to George Hodel when he escaped from Russia–no middle initial.  All Ancestry documents show my grandfather simply as George Hodel, NMI.

“I am renting rooms”  GHH

As a final final point to demonstrate how half/truths and misinformation are spread by individuals ignorant of all the facts. The comment is made that “George Hodel say’s he was renting a room at the Sowden/Franklin House in the DA bugging tape”, so the individual incorrectly assumes “his grandfather must have actually owned the home.” Here is a scan from the DA Bugging tape. Yes, GHH say’s he was “renting rooms” and he was-AS THE LANDLORD/OWNER. Throughout the tape, GHH interviews prospective tenants and was renting rooms TO THEM. Here he worries out loud that LE might try to “bring action” against him as the landlord renting out the rooms on the QT.


  1. Luigi Warren on August 16, 2023 at 2:46 am


    You have also previously reproduced the Deed of Trust by which GHH deeded the Sowden House to Jerry Giesler to secure his defense in the incest trial. Case closed.



    • Steve Hodel on August 16, 2023 at 8:50 am

      LW: Exactly so. Was looking for it to post, but its buried somewhere in my thousands of pages of files. Possibly remains in storage from the move up here to the Great NorthWest. Stay tuned LW, BDA IV to soon publish. Best, Steve

    • Pantaloon Kieth on August 16, 2023 at 12:48 pm

      Not true, Luigi. Case not closed. That’s George Jr’s Father’s signature on the deed. George Jr. adopted the M..D. as a component of his signature as early as 1945 and possibly earlier. The deed is dated 1949.
      The house was in Sr’s name. George Jr. rented. The bugging transcripts help to prove this.
      The dad, George Hill Hodel Sr. is still in play. His signature. His deed. Sr. was helping his Son. Case still open.

      • Luigi Warren on August 16, 2023 at 4:21 pm

        Fair enough. You may have a point if George Hodel, Sr. used the middle name Hill. Hopefully Steve can clarify this. BDA refers to him as George Hill Hodel, Sr. at one point and that name is used in the database and other secondary sources. And yet, the direct evidence I see on that — his gravestone, his death announcement, GHH’s birth certificate, every contemporary newspaper story or ad I’ve come across referencing him by name, plus a few other records I spot checked on Ancestry — do not give a middle name or initial. I also see “George Hodel and George Hill Hodel” (not GHH Sr and Jr) listed as joint tenants in a deed announcement in 1926.

        On the signature, the “George” in the signature looks very like the “George” sign off in GHH’s 1980s letters to Juliette Man Ray. The signature does not remotely resemble George Sr’s signature on his 1906 naturalization application or 1912 passport application, which are nearly identical.

        Further, the deed of trust gives the Franklin address as trustee George Hill Hodel’s personal address. Why wouldn’t George Sr give his true address if he held the title? Perhaps there was a subterfuge here, to make it look like a 3rd party wasn’t involved in guaranteeing payment for legal services. Or perhaps GHH was indeed the legal owner of 5121 Franklin Avenue and George Sr had nothing to do with it. A minor mystery…

        • Pantaloon Kieth on August 16, 2023 at 5:05 pm

          All interesting points. What would be educational is to investigate Inheritance of Handwriting/Hereditary Handwriting. Also–have a professional assess the signature– a Forensic Handwriting Analyst.
          Handwriting can change over time–too. A Sr. signature from 1906 may look very different in 1949. But I’m not a professional in that field. Many minor (and major) mysteries. The truth will out.

          • Luigi Warren on August 16, 2023 at 11:41 pm

            BDA II has more exemplars of GHH’s signature in the chapter on handwriting, including from Charles Harvey’s death certificate and a dedication in a copy of his 1960s book, “The New Far East.” These show that GHH used a variety of the possible forms of his name ([DR.] G[EO[RGE]] [H[ILL]] HODEL [, MD]) and did not always flaunt his “M.D.” Certainly looks like it is GHH’s signature on the deed. There may still be an outside possibility that father and son colluded to hide George Sr being the real owner of the Franklin house, but I can’t see any compelling reason why they would do that.

  2. Pantaloon Kieth on August 17, 2023 at 8:21 am

    Steve–: You claim to have seen the sales receipt. Do you have it? Can you post it? Surely that will put this discussion to bed.

    • Steve Hodel on August 17, 2023 at 11:25 am

      The “sales receipt” I was referring to was the Deed of Trust showing hims as the legal owner of the residence as posted in the blog. Grandfather never had a middle name of “Hill” and only gave that name to his son, George Hill Hodel.

  3. Laura on August 23, 2023 at 9:30 pm

    Wow- that house was quite a bargain for your dad! Why oh why didn’t my parents buy a house in L.A. at that time? It’s difficult to believe that you could buy a large, architecturally significant house in a choice neighborhood like Los Feliz for anything like $7,500. It’s hard to believe that it would sell in the 1940s for less than $25,000 and even that would have been a gift price for such a house. My goodness, my mother’s very ordinary brick Cape Cod in suburban St Louis cost $19,000 around the same time, and the first Levittown houses, little 4 room 2 bed 1 bath cracker boxes, sold for $7,500 in 1949.

    • Steve Hodel on August 24, 2023 at 8:25 am

      The purchase price wa $37,500. In 1945 dollars that was the equivalent of-$637,000. in today’s dollars.

      • Laura on September 27, 2023 at 9:32 pm

        Well, that’s more like it, Steve. $37,500 was still quite a bargain, especially since Los Feliz was a more fashionable neighborhood then than it is now, and now it would sell for at least $3 M if not more. That neighborhood is stuffed with huge, beautiful homes and great architecture, and Los Angeles is a place where a shanty sells for $600K>

  4. Yolie 💎 on September 2, 2023 at 10:31 am

    Our Healing CIRCLE gathers to send you a cleansing, centering breath and powerful VIBRATIONS for ancestral healing. Ancestral healing is the ancient practice of connecting to out foreFathers and the sacred WombSpace of ForeMOTHERS to heal the wounds of past generations and dispel the negative energy of the past with purest LOVE! The message of Ancestral Healing never ages. It never grows old. Ancestral healing is a miracle!
    Peace to you!
    Peace to Brother Kel!
    Peace to FaunaElizabeth!
    Peace to powerful Dorero and her sacred WombSpace!
    Peace to Rima, noble Guardian of Steve!
    Peace always!
    Yolie 💎

  5. George A on September 14, 2023 at 9:41 am

    Detective Hodel,
    Sir: In my Criminal Justice Ethics course my professor assigned a paper on can officers use intimidation and deception to get a suspect to confess. Can I use your quote in my assignment?
    George A

    • Steve Hodel on September 14, 2023 at 10:30 am

      George A:
      Well, keep in mind I’ve been retired and out of law enforcement for nearly forty years now. That said, I doubt the ethics have changed since my days in the streets. Miranda rules. The in-custody suspect’s right to remain silent and to have an attorney present before questioning sets the stage for police interrogations. Assuming the suspect has waived those rights and is willing to talk and understands that “any statements he makes can and will be used against him in court,” then the first part of your question, “intimidation,” is a NO, and would be considered as coercion. The second part, deception, is a Yes. The interrogator can come up with an untrue statement such as, “Look Danny, the victim and two witnesses have identified you as the man with the gun. Come clean.” Or, “We got your fingerprints off the cash register. Tell us where you hid the gun.” At least that’s how we “played the game” in my day. I doubt it has changed much in the past four decades. Best Regards, Steve Hodel.

      • George A on September 15, 2023 at 9:37 am

        Detective Hodel
        Sir: Thank You.
        George A

  6. Yolie💎 on September 16, 2023 at 10:28 am

    Our Healing Circle unites in the power of the SacredWombspace to send you a cleansing, centering breath and powerful VIBRATIONS for ancestral healing. Ancestral healing is an ancient practice that dispels the wounds of the past to Connect us with our forefathers and foreMothers. Ancestral healing dispels the negative energy of past generations and replaces it with PUREST LOVE! The message of ancestral healing never grows old. It is timeless! It is ageless! It brings peace!
    Peace to you, Steve!
    Peace to Brother Kel!
    Peace to FaunaElizabeth!
    Peace to powerful Dorero of the SacredWombSpace!
    Peace to noble Rima, earthly Guardian of Steve!
    Peace always!
    Yolie 💎

  7. Yolie💎 on September 23, 2023 at 10:46 am

    Kristel, Rap’cha and I unite in the Healing CIRCLE of the SacredWombspace to send you a cleansing, centering breath and powerful VIBRATIONS for Ancestral Healing. Ancestral healing is an ancient practice that connects us to our forefathers and foreMothers. Ancestral HEALING dispels the negative energy of past generations and replaces it with pure LOVE! This week Kristel and Rap’cha drove to the Franklin House and performed a beautiful Ancestral healing ritual. We hope you felt the VIBRATIONS💎
    Peace to you Steve!
    Peace to Brother Kel!
    Peace to FaunaElizabeth!
    Peace to powerful Dorero and her SacredWombspace!
    Peace to Rima earthly Guardian of Steve!
    Peace always!

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