A Timeline of Horror: The Reconstruction of the Abduction and Torture Murder of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short on January 14-15, 1947

January 10, 2024
Birch Bay, Washington
Five days from today, January 15, 2024, marks the 77th anniversary of the murder of Elizabeth Short.
Based on my now twenty-five-year investigation into that 1947 kidnap-torture-murder of twenty-four-year-old victim Elizabeth Short, known to the world as “The Black Dahlia” I here present the following “Timeline of Horror.”  (This is an updated blog from the original which was presented on my blogsite in 2021-hence the existing “comments”.)
This chronology has been established from actual in-person witness interviews, official police and District Attorney reports and photographs as well as hard physical evidence linking the killer’s residence (the original crime scene) to the vacant lot where he posed the dead body some eight miles south of his residence.
The following details underscore WHY the murder of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short became and remains to this day as  Los Angeles’ most infamous whodunit.   (Caution contains adult content and detailed crime scene descriptions.)
 We begin with the last confirmed sighting of Elizabeth Short some eighteen hours before her body was found.


Jan 14, 1947- 2 pm (approx.) – 5th and Main Streets, downtown Los Angeles, sidewalk.
Elizabeth Short exits a bar and runs up to LAPD uniformed officer Meryl McBride and hysterically yells to her, “A man in the bar, just threatened to kill me.”  Officer McBride accompanied by Elizabeth enters the bar and the man is gone, however, Elizabeth recovers her purse. Both exit and after thanking the officer both go their separate ways and McBride resumes her footbeat in the area. 
Jan 14, 1947- 4 pm (approx.) – 6th and Main Streets, downtown Los Angeles, sidewalk.

Officer McBride still on her footbeat one block south of prior contact with Elizabeth Short sees her exit a bar near 6th and Main Streets in DTLA with “two males and a female.” McBride, concerned for Elizabeth’s welfare, stops and  questions her, “Are you OK?”  Elizabeth responds, “Yes, I’m fine. I am going to the Greyhound Bus Depot to meet my father.” (The bus depot is just one city block away.)  Officer McBride leaves her with the three adults and continues on her foot beat.
Jan 14, 1947- 5121 Franklin Ave, Hollywood 4:30 pm –   Jan 15, 1947 -6:00 AM
Elizabeth Short was taken by the same “two males and one female” adult suspects (believed to be Dr. George Hodel, Fred Sexton, and an unknown female) and driven to Hodel’s private residence, 5121 Franklin Ave, where she was likely drugged, beaten, tortured and sexually assaulted (sodomized) during the late-night and into the early morning hours. Based on the trauma to the body LE experts and doctors estimate the extended torture could have taken as long as 3-4 hours. (Drugged, posed, photographed, rounded scalpel cuts to mouth (almost ear-to-ear) believed to represent surrealist artist Man Ray’s 1936 painting The Lovers.  The victim’s right breast was completely excised and removed. (Breast never found and may have been buried at Hodel residence?) Cuttings to the pubic region and a large section of flesh bearing a Rose Tattoo was cut from her left thigh and inserted in the victim’s vagina. Multiple crisscross scalpel cutting patterns inflicted on the victim’s right thigh, are believed to be in imitation of Man Ray’s 1943 painting L’Equivoque.   The victim, while still alive, was force-fed feces (likely Bandini Fertilite Steer Manure).  Multiple blows (blunt force trauma) were inflicted to the victim’s forehead which according to the Coroner would have caused a loss of consciousness and were contributory to the “Cause of Death.”
The victim’s body was then surgically bisected and a “hemicorporectomy” was performed. (A procedure to divide the body during autopsies was taught in medical schools in the 1930s that could only be performed by a trained, skilled surgeon.) Experts estimate this procedure could have taken several hours to perform, “likely in a bathtub.” The two sections of the body were then washed, scrubbed clean using a nylon brush, and towel dried.)
Investigation indicated that the two separate body parts (upper and lower torso) were then carried from the inner courtyard of the residence through the backdoor that led directly to the rear enclosed garage.
Multiple fifty-pound empty paper sacks (Bandini Fertilite Manure and four separate sacks previously containing powdered cement) were used to cover the bench seat or trunk of the vehicle and the body parts. 

Dr. George Hill Hodel seated atop the desk in the library at 5121 Franklin Ave circa 1949

 Diagram of Hodel Residence 
Jan 15, 1947 -6:00 AM
The below graphic (courtesy of Author/retired Dallas PD police officer Robert Sadler) depicts the suspected route and actions of Dr. George Hill Hodel in the early morning hours of January 15, 1947. Author’s Note- I personally reenacted and drove the suspected route on January 16 (to ensure identical lighting conditions) and following the suspected route below (in red) arrived at the vacant lot while it was still dark outside. Daylight was just beginning to break and after waiting four minutes at the scene (as described by the witness who saw the suspect and his dark sedan), I then followed the below route home (in red) back to the Hodel residence. I made one brief stop on the return route to where the victim’s shoes and purse were known to be placed by the suspect atop the trashcan at 1136 S. Crenshaw Blvd.

Jan 15, 1947, 6:20 AM (approx)
The suspect makes a right turn at Degnan Blvd. drives northbound bears left at the Y (believing he is still on Degnan and stops on the west side of the street at 3825 S. Norton Avenue.  He removes the body parts from the vehicle using the empty manure/cement sacks and carefully poses the separate parts just west of the west curb line;  leaving the four or five fifty-pound empty paper sacks (cement and steer manure) near the body. (LAPD will later confirm these sacks were used to transport the body parts from an unknown murder location to the vacant lot.)  The eyewitness confirms the suspect, and his black sedan, were at the scene “approximately four minutes and he then drove northbound out of sight.”

SKH Note- For those unaware of my previous investigation/writings I believe that the reason George Hodel placed Elizabeth Short’s body on DEGNAN BL. was to serve as a “taunting clue” to his previous murder of little Suzanne Degnan, who I submit he murdered in Chicago almost one year to the day earlier. (1.6.46) He would continue to pose victims’ bodies and leave these “street clues” in his later serial crimes. See the below graphic.

Jan 15, 1947, 6:35 AM (approx)
The suspect drives north to Coliseum Blvd left one block to Crenshaw Blvd then northbound to 1136 South Crenshaw where he places the victim’s purse and shoes atop a trashcan next to a restaurant. 
Jan 15, 1947, 6:50 AM (approx)
The suspect drives north on Normandie Ave to the rear alley behind his home makes a left turn drives 150′ and parks his car inside his residence garage and is literally “home free.”

Some naysayers claim that “Dr. George Hodel was never a surgeon. He had an administrative position and was not skilled in surgery.”  NOT SO.
As documented in Black Dahlia Avenger II (Thoughtprint Press 2014) under the chapter “A Doctor Did It”, pages 225-239, here is some of that documentation.

This is a scan from an earlier job application George Hodel submitted, showing he was “the sole surgeon at a logging camp” shortly after receiving his M.D. in 1936.

To be clear.  The procedure, a hemicorporectomy, while taught in medical schools in the 1930s, was not performed to save lives, which would not be developed for another twenty-five years. Rather, this was performed in autopsies to divide the dead body without the autopsy surgeon having to saw through bones. GHH’s medical records show he performed at least “12 autopsies” while in medical school.


  1. Karen Oman on September 18, 2021 at 8:42 pm

    You have July instead of January🙂

    • Steve Hodel on September 18, 2021 at 9:15 pm

      Karen O:
      THANKS KAREN. Yes, must have been thinking of her birthday in July? Will correct month.

  2. Don Ray on September 19, 2021 at 12:11 am

    Impressive work.

  3. Steve Hodel on September 19, 2021 at 12:52 am

    Don R.
    Thanks Don.

  4. Frank Adkins on September 19, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    I very curious if the woman with Fred n George is and if she’s the same woman who accompanied them to Texas and to the french house in San Diego looking for Beth short. Also if she’s a willing, even enthusiastic participant?I’m hoping il get my answers in the early years.

    • Steve Hodel on September 19, 2021 at 12:28 pm

      Frank A:

      Stay tuned. I’ll do my best to “make it so.”

      • Deborah on January 16, 2024 at 3:27 pm

        Hello from Austria to you Steve, I researched the black Dahlia case, and reading about it for many years now! Just watched with great interest the 48 hours black Dahlia Docu again! After watched the Brian de Palma movie Black Dahlia which is a typical movie interpretation but still… Nice to watch! I am very fascinated by your research, especially doing this with your father as main suspect!
        I believe you, and I wonder how the relationship with your father really was before he died! And I thought often what if your father was still alive when you started to investigate! Maybe he would have confessed to you? What do you think about that possibility?

        • Steve Hodel on January 16, 2024 at 5:38 pm

          Hi Deborah:
          Thanks, much appreciated.
          My relationship with my father for the ten years he returned to the U.S. and resided in San Francisco were good. At 80 the fires still burned in him but more like glowing embers. I enjoyed those last ten years and he was a much softer/gentler man. I credit his wife June for changing his lifestyle as far as getting him to quit smoking and drinking and eating healthy.
          I don ‘t think the investigation would ever have been started by me while he lived. Had I not received the photo from June at his death I would never have suspected anything and Tamar, my half-sister only brought up the fact that the LAPD officers told her “he was a suspect back then” after his death. Never mentioned it during his lifetime. Assuming he was still alive and I discovered his guilt in the many crimes, I doubt he would have confessed. (Though not completely sure, because his huge Ego may have wanted him to have the world KNOW he was the AVENGER.) Best, Steve

  5. Patricia ONeill on September 19, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    Steve, once again your “timeline of horror” relates so glaringly to my experiences teaching pre-teen/early teen boys in my Emotional Disability class! Their comments, fantasies were many times so sadly connected to necrophilia and paraphilia…….hence their isolation from a regular classroom😔! All, plus their parents when available, were in intensive therapy outside the classroom. The connection between Degnan Blvd. & the murder of Suzanne Degnan not an unusual obsession with this illness. The attention to small details (placement/location of corpse, markings on body etc.) all very important to the predator as he (she) “conducts the business” of abuse, murder. Again, I strongly state that childhood abuse, trauma must be taken VERY seriously by medical and educational professionals as early as possible! GHH unfortunately typifies the predatory behaviors so aptly verbalized in my psychological orientations & again I quote: “……….. you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” 😱🌵

    • Steve Hodel on September 19, 2021 at 12:38 pm

      Patricia O:

      Yes, totally agree. Each one of the individual acts of horror is in itself a unique psychological signature pointing to its creator. Taken en masse they point to one of the most diseased minds they ever walked on this planet. So sad.

  6. Waid S. Woodruff, Sr. aka Jess Waid (author) on September 20, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    Enjoyed the read, Steve. Thanks. I resided in east Hollywood in ’47 and in ’50 moved to 1163 North Normandie not far from your father’s house. I remember the place for its unique architecture.

    • Steve Hodel on September 20, 2021 at 5:41 pm

      Hi Jess:
      Thanks. Wow, you were just a short distance away the same year as the Black Dahlia murder. And then in ’50 you were even closer when the detectives installed the microphones and bugged the house for six weeks. (Feb 15-late March 1950). Looks like our careers had a lot of parallels. You came on LAPD about three years before me (1961 to my 1963) and retired about three years before me in the early 80s. (I retired in ’86). Not to mention both of us spending a lot of time in Hollywood Division. All Best, Steve

  7. Bart Polin on September 27, 2021 at 5:26 pm

    Excellent book. Well researched in great depth. This crime occurred 4 years before my birth but has always been of interest to me since viewing the Efrem Zimbalist Jr./Lucie Arnaz, historical-fiction TV-film. At first, I thought the accusations that this book was probably made-up, strictly for profit, had to be true. I can’t say I’m 100% convinced that George Hodel was indeed the perp, responsible for this heinous crime, but listening to the audiobook version of the 2015 book sure made me think otherwise. Especially, interesting was the John Huston angle therein. I had heard thru the years that he was even on the short-list as a person of interest. Kudos to a job well done. This book sure does make one question this horrible crime. Everything about it. How and why it happened, in more than enough and grizzly detail. Even too much for me as an ex-worker in psychiatry, where I looked heinous murderers right in the eyes and saw nothing. I mean NADA! Especially interesting was the reference at the end of the book to Anjelica Huston. I always wondered if she knew anything about this in detail, what., and how much? Thank you for making this book perhaps the most detailed and researched report on the Black Dahlia Cold Case. Especially from someone who was the son of the perp/perv. It took guts to write this, but I bet it sure was cathartic. I have just one question. Is “True Crime Magazine’s Behind the Tape Photobook” to be taken literally or as altered? I can’t understand how they’re able to say that the photos therein are solely in their possession. The fact that they charge money to view those photos is a bit too much, and makes me wonder if its credible or not. I sure wouldn’t pay–real or unreal photos of the crime-scene.
    Many people have made money off of this crime. I’m just curious if their “expose'”(???) is legitimate or not. I think my daughter may have once said she saw a Black Dahlia Exhibit (mock-up or whatever) at the Crime Museum in Los Angeles. The same museum where they were petitioned by the Robert Kennedy Family to remove his bloodstained shirt from further viewing. All the best, Steve. Job exceptionally well done!!!

    • Steve Hodel on February 12, 2024 at 5:50 pm

      Bart P:
      Thanks for the kind words much appreciated.
      I was not aware of the “True Crimes Magazine Behind the Tape Photobook”. Guess I will have to check it out. I have seen the Black Dahlia Crime Museum’s photos and they do show some photos that should not be publically displayed. (The anal rape) As far as I know, I am the only one in possession of the original cigarette burn photos of her back, which I published in BDA primarily to refute the naysayer’s comments “No burn marks.”.

  8. Bart Polin on September 27, 2021 at 5:35 pm

    Addendum/Correction: I just realized the book just “read” was NOT an audiobook, but the Kindle edition played over my Alexa app and speakers. I don’t know if that changes anything above, since I don’t even know if this book is actually available via audiobook. Just wanted to clear that up. Again–My very best to you and yours. This book will go down in history.

  9. Steve Hodel on September 27, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    Bart P:
    Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. Not aware of exactly what photos you are referring to in the “True Crime Magazine’s Behind the Tape Photobook” but doubt there exist any “new” or “exclusive” photos of the crime scene. The Black Museum in Hollywood did have on display some photos showing the fact that Elizabeth Short had been sexually sodomized which were not displayed to the general public, but all the others were shown online and in several books. Stay tuned more to come in the publication of “The Early Years.”

  10. Ron Roffel on October 5, 2021 at 6:32 pm

    With every new clue, the case against GHH gets more solid. With every new clue, we delve deeper into the most notorious crime in LA history and the mind of the man who committed it.

    Though I have read nearly every book on the murder, the photo of Elizabeth in the morgue is new to me. Does this mean lost evidence may turn up or is the photo merely one which has not been previously published?

    It would be a huge win if the lost physical evidence would suddenly reappear, but as you note in one of your books, it disappeared almost as fast as the investigation was halted.

    • Steve Hodel on October 6, 2021 at 11:46 am

      Ron R:
      The morgue photo was obtained by me thanks to Det. Harry Hansen’s granddaughter, who contacted me and I met with her and she shared photos that Hansen had retained after retirement and kept at home. She received them after his death. It’s my belief that the “physical evidence” from the case likely is sitting in some storage warehouse lost and forgotten to the world, much like the box in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” closing scene. Today’s LAPD has no knowledge of its whereabouts, and could basically care less.

  11. Anna on October 21, 2021 at 10:56 pm

    I don’t know how they could of thrown out the samples to see if she was drugged and was Elizabeth short teeth really as bad as people say

    • Steve Hodel on October 21, 2021 at 11:00 pm

      Well, not sure how severe the problem was, but what got the public’s attention was the fact she had no money for dental attention, so used wax to try and seal the problems. (cavities?)

      • Anna on October 22, 2021 at 8:59 am

        Do you think some of they people that knew her ,didn’t come forward because they didn’t want to get involved. Or out of fear for your father

        • Steve Hodel on October 22, 2021 at 10:27 am

          Much more the latter. All who knew George Hodel and suspected or knew of his involvement remained silent out of fear and or because he “had the goods on them”, expecially those in law enforcement that made the decision not to pursue it. Much more will be revealed in “The Early Years” to publish in November.

  12. Sophia on October 27, 2021 at 1:21 pm

    I would guess you’ve been asked this before (I’m new to this, and fascinated by the case you’ve made), but what do you think ES imagined she was doing during her time in Los Angeles?

    She is said to have aspired to be an actress, but seems never to have taken an acting class or gone to an audition.

    Was she just an unfocused fantasist?

    Her life as a low-end drifter certainly made her a perfect “blank canvas” for an “artist” like George Hodel.

    Most of the time, no-one really know where she might be, doing what, and few would be trying to find her – until much later.

    Very sad…

    • Steve Hodel on October 27, 2021 at 2:06 pm

      Yes very very sad. Elizabeth was never attempting to become an actress. That’s just part of the MYTH. Likely many of her friends said to her, “You aught to be an actress, you’re so beautiful.” She was as you say, “drifiting” looking to meet and fall in love with “Lt. Right” during the war years and after. “Unfocused fantasist” is very accurate description.

      • Yolie of the Sacred WombSpace 💎 on January 13, 2024 at 11:17 am

        Kristel, Rap’cha and I join in our Sacred WombSpace to send you a deep cleansing, centering breath and powerful VIBRATIONS for ancestral HEALING! Let this year be your year to embrace the power and LOVE 💖💖 of ancestral healing! Ancestral healing is the ancient practice of connecting with our forefathers and foreMOTHERS to banish the negative energies of past generations and replace it with pure love!💖💖💖
        Let this be YOUR YEAR to heal the past!
        Peace always!
        Peace to you!
        Peace to Brother Kel!
        Peace to FaunaElizabeth!
        Peace to powerful Dorero of the Sacred WombSpace!
        Peace to Noble Rima, earthly Guardian of Steve!
        Kristel 💎

  13. Michael Myers on January 17, 2023 at 9:22 pm

    This article eventually helped me to solve the case. So, thank you.

  14. Joakim on January 10, 2024 at 12:03 pm

    Roses can be demise symbols (the tarot death card for example). If such symbol is placed in a “life area” the act may try to say something.

  15. Bridgit McKee on February 12, 2024 at 5:20 pm

    I’ve seen it mentioned that Dr. Patrick S. O’Reilly was married to an LAPD Captain’s Daughter. I can’t find this confirmed anywhere. Do you know if this is fact and if so, do you have her information?

    Thank you!

  16. Barry Guerrero on March 11, 2024 at 2:25 am

    The M.O., the motive, the timeline, everything – it all makes perfect sense to me, Steve. And of course, in those days, it would have been much easier to quickly pull over to a garbage can along Crenshaw Blvd. than it would be today. I have to think that a street named Santa Barbara that cuts east/west just south of the Norton/Degnan ‘Y’, must have also delighted GHH as well. I say that because of Beth Short’s arrest for underage drinking in a bar in S.B. during the war. Of course, it’s possible she never told him about that incident. I’m also thinking you have the M/M/F trio correct as well: GHH, Fred Sexton, and a yet undetermined gal pal (I’m interested to know who you think that could be).

    • Steve hodel on March 11, 2024 at 6:24 am

      Barry G:
      I’ve documented my suspicions on who the unidentified female might be in my writings. After learning of the mother and daughter “In The Mesquite” crimes that included two men and two women and the Chicago Lipstick Murders, again two men and a woman; and the Dahlia two men and a woman I have very reluctantly come to the conclusion that the woman might well have been, my mother, Dorothy Huston Hodel. She was alread made “an accomplice” by GHH in the Rujth Spaulding OD murder in 1945. He had her under his control and couple that with his threats etc.

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