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
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.