Black Dahlia Case: New Forensic Evidence Found?

    February 4, 2013
    Amanda Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

The Black Dahlia Case–in which a woman’s horribly mutilated, bisected body was found in an L.A. park in 1947–has held the fascination of many over the decades. The mysterious woman who dreamed of being an actress suddenly went from being another pretty face in the crowd to the girl everyone knew. According to various reports, she was both morally loose and virginal; a bad girl and the girl who stayed in every night practicing her craft; a young woman who was ruthlessly pursuing stardom and a girl who seemed lost and swallowed up by the city. She became everything in the eyes of the media, and because no one seemed to know much about her or where she came from, the public and the press were essentially free to make their own assumptions.

But what made the murder so sensational was that her killer was never caught, sending the young women of L.A. into a panic as stories of a serial killer began to circulate. The fact that there was no blood found in the field which held her sad remains meant the killer did the job somewhere else and then dumped her, a bold move even in the days before surveillance cameras were mounted on every corner. Surely a witness must have seen or heard something?

There would be many conflicting stories flooding the L.A.P.D. in the days and weeks following the grisly discovery, and even several notes sent in claiming to be written by the murderer. He seemed to be taunting them, and certainly, a person capable of cutting a woman in half was most likely not new to the game. Everyone feared the death of Elizabeth Short would not be the last made at his hands.

But as the sensationalism of the story began to fade over time, one man says his suspicions that his own father was behind the murder began to grow. Steve Hodel, a former L.A.P.D. detective, says that after digging up some of the old records on the case, he discovered what his gut had known all along: his father, George Hodel–a physician–was at one time a suspect in Short’s murder. Hodel’s research included teaming up with a retired police officer, Sgt. Paul Dostie, and a cadaver-sniffing dog named Buster. Together, they say they found evidence in George Hodel’s former home–a mansion–of human decomposition.

“Buster immediately took off … and ran to a vent located at the southwest corner of the property where he alerted, indicating he had picked up the scent of human decomposition,” Hodel said.

Samples of the soil have been sent to a lab for analysis, and while it’s too early to hold out hope that anything definitive will come of the tests, Hodel says that he’s sure the mystery has been solved. At the very least, he and Dostie have discovered that something bad happened in that house.

“We have established as fact that the basement, some 66 years after the murder, still holds the smell of death,” Hodel said.

George Hodel’s mugshot, after being arrested for child molestation. (HAND-IN)


  • L. Corbitt

    Ms. Short’s remains were located in a vacant lot. Not a park, or a field. And she was not “dumped”. The remains were carefully, precisely posed.

  • lauren

    I have been interested in the Black Dahlia case ever since I saw the movie when it came out. Ever since, I have had an increased facination of it as a whole. Around 5 years ago, when I was 14, I even tried to solve the case myself. I really hope they find out what happened to her, though. It would put an end to a lot of worrying.

    • Bob

      So, what have you come up with as to this case? Sometimes comparing notes yields clues.

  • http://webpronews sam ramms


  • Suzie

    He remains were found in a vacant lot in Leimert Park. She had that part right.

  • tamara hope

    I’ve been interested in this case since I 1st heard about it.When something is brought up about her,I read hoping they have found the “person” who did this awfull crime.I have my doubts about this Steve Hodel,I 1st heard about him when he went on tv shows to promoat his book,about the murder & how he found a photo of Ms.Short in his fathers belongings so he claimed.I didn’t think the photo looked like her at all.That also bothered me that a son would be hell bent to “fry” his father.That makes no sence to me.Just because he had a photo didn’t make him a killer,also the police report said his father was a convicted child molester,last I knew those type of sicko’s went after children not a grown woman!We all would like to see this case solved,but I want to see the real killer,not someone that had a bad father & decided he did it.Now I’m not saying Steve made the whole thing up,but what he has to me isn’t hard eveidence.I would need more to go on to beleive that a child molestor moved up to killing woman!As far as the vent goes that was strange,it didn’t say anything about it being(vent)on a house,it sounded like it was out in the yard.Why would a vent be out there?Strange.

    • LRussell

      I agree w/ you about Steve Hodel’s evidence being mostly circumstantial. However, sexual predation is a crime of convenience. It makes no difference to most of them what gender or age once they get started. As you probably know (we seem to watch some of the same true crime shows), the extremely psychotic, ritualistic killers usually start out setting fires & torturing small animals as children, graduate to abusing other children & at some time graduate to killing adults. An interesting bit of info: When my staff & I were allowed to go through our DA’s files (no identifiers, just sex offense data), there were relatively few sex offenders between the ages of 25-55 in the system. The social workers call this the ‘dine at home period,’ when children are in the home. Hodel certainly used his daughter that way, but this is not evidence he was a murderer, but a sexual predator. I look forward to more news on this case, though the news media’s sensationalism has certainly spawned copy cats…school shootings are the best current example. It is not true that the ‘public has a right to know’ about active law enforcement investigations. Reporters should not be told anything except what might help the cops catch bad guys.

    • Trevor Gowe

      Plenty of older homes have low outside vents.

      Just because the man is a child molester doesn’t mean he’s not also a murderer of adult woman.

      Your logic is deeply flawed.

  • Heather

    I am so happy to hear this! It’s about time Elizabeth Short get’s justice.

  • LRussell

    I read Steve Hodel’s book & find the circumstantial evidence very compelling that George Hodel was a murderer, whether he was the Black Dahlia murder or not. Other young women within driving distance of the Hodel home went missing & turned up dead & cut up during the same time frame. I hope money for DNA testing is available if even a shred of bone can be found. In the book, however, it seems a bit of a stretch to call George Hodel the Zodiac killer. That strains the book’s credibility somewhat, but it is an easy, interesting read & I recommend it to folks who are interested in the case(s). I found my copy at Dollar Tree.

  • J.D.K.W.

    I read Steve Hodel’s book some years ago and he made a very good argument about his father possibly being the killer. One being that George Hodel was a fan of an artist who portrayed women in mutilated poses. One in a pose like the Black Dahlia was positioned in,in the empty lot. But it has been over 60 years and even though I believe she could have been killed in that house, there also could have been other reasons for the dog to hit on the vent. Dogs pick up the scent of blood, flesh etc. So what if someone cut themselves near that vent? Or a band aid dropped in there. They would need to rip up the vent to see. But until they do and find something such as DNA, or perhaps a weapon was hidden there, it will always be speculation. I would like it to be solved though. I think it could have been if George Hodel wasn’t a doctor and had clout. I’m sure there was more evidence that was “over looked” or buried deep in the evidence pile. The fact he was tagged as a suspect for the murder shows the police knew something.

    • Bill Thomas

      I find it interesting the mention of the name “Sgt. Paul Dostie”. I’ve been studying the Manson case online for about 2 years now. Dostie took his dog “Buster” out to Barker Ranch where possible victims of the Manson family may remain buried at the behest of Debra Tate, Sharon Tate’s sister. The dog apparently “hit” on a number of areas there as well. After a great deal of digging, no remains were ever found. I’d be very skeptical that his dog has now smelled something in relation to another famous murder case with no actual evidence being found.

    • XtraQ

      An average tracking dog picks up the scent of blood, flesh, etc., but “cadaver dogs” are specially trained. They pick up on the specific scent of human remains, not blood or band aids. The fact that the dog alerted there means that either someone died there, or an artifact from a death was kept there.

  • skip schapiro

    Someone wants to sell a book that has crowds waiting to buy it, and all he has to do is make up a story to appear believable to a crowd that looks for answers. $$$$ motive for stylish fiction.

  • m. A. Jacobsen

    Leimert Park is a district rather than an actual park–the person who wrote the story was unfamiliar with LA. The posed remains were found in a vacant lot. I was quite young when the murder was done, but I remember the headlines in the LA Times and on the news on our 7″ TV screen! I think it unlikely Hodel was the culprit; I doubt the crime will ever be solved, just as we will never know the ID of Jack the Ripper.

  • pablo cervantes

    Decomp is decomp. Cadver dogs can not differentiate between decaying mammals. An air vent? Could have been a dead mouse for all we know. Still, interesting.

  • greg

    sounds as if there is alot of circumstantial evidence pointing the finger at dr. george hodel, steve’s father. however, it would be nice if L.A. county re-opened the case and sponsored a full investigation of the old Hodel mansion to look for any dna connections, especially since the dogs point the mansion being involved in a death of some kind. then this case could be put to rest once and for all. oh, and maybe they’ll get some insight on some of the other (cold?) cases of mutilated women in the area.

    • Mary

      yeah, waste some taxpayer money on that bullshit. 66 yrs after.


    George could have been doing abortions back then. That is what the dog could be picking up.

    • http://none Phil

      That would make a lot of sense, first for the remains left for thr dogs, secondly for his medical skills and knowing how to dispose of bodies, and this is just wild speculation here but if the good Dr. lost it while he was giving this young lady an abortion her ending up bi-sected….well not such a surprise.

    • J.D.K.W.

      Johnny, That is an excellent point. Never occurred to me about abortions being performed. I heard that even after so much time has passed, they can put luminal to detect blood splatter. That could be another option to determine if there is blood in the vent.

  • PuzzleSolver

    In forensic psychology the placing of Miss Short’s body could create a list of reasons.
    Don’t do ‘something’ or you will end up like this. A message for someone else.
    She could have a “p____ tease” so her mouth or sides of face were busted to shut her up. She still could have been alive while this happened.
    Rumors of her being a hermaphrodite could have instigated the cutting up of her body out of freakish compelling curiosity. A medical person could have been taunted by intrigue.
    Slasher rag magazines were big in this time period. Maybe somebody was trying to make some money.
    Maybe somebody wanted to her eat her or drink her blood. Cannibals and vampires. Fun to speculate.

  • Clinton Stapp

    Is it possible that with the close connection to an LAPD officer that a cover-up was going on?

    • Frank

      Hey dipshit….the reference to the LAPD is about a retired officer who was a little kid at the time. If he was a cop back when this happened he would be almost 100 years old. Way to go numb-nuts…jump to a conclusion without the facts and blame a cop. Do me a favor next time you are in trouble don’t call a cop…call one of your lefty buddies instead. You are the meaning of the word moron.

      • bob nelson

        Why assume he is “lefty” Frank ?. There are many antigovernment righties out there. Police are PART of the government and funded by taxpayer dollars. Your main point was correct , this was a good cop who is trying to do the right thing. Kudos to him. – leave out the Sean Hannity political hit jobs . He gets paid to drum up discontent against anything anti Hannity. Clinton Strapp you need to stop reading conspiracy novels.

      • Mary

        nobody likes cops. get used to it. they are the lesser of two evils. that’s why their job goes un-thanked. it might be different if they weren’t always trying to pin anything on everyone, if they can’t pin who they want.

  • Philip Haberkorn

    How do we know the dog wasn’t reacting to the smell of rotten Gaineburgers? I don’t trust sniffer dogs, they can’t tell you what they smell.

  • Suzie

    As a gentle reminder, it would be good to keep in mind that some who comment might be, but not necessarily, impaired in some way due to health, advanced age or cognitive issues, and name calling is uncivil, inconsiderate, and unkind. Please refrain from doing so.

  • Nicole

    American Horror Story Brought Me Here…

  • debbie

    red the book abt hodel’s father. Can’t wait to hear the follow up on this theory

  • J.D.K.W.

    If you read the books, you may know that George Hodel was a friend of an artist named Man Ray. Man Ray’s art in some instances was bizarre. Shorts body was posed and carved as if in a sick artistic manner. I wonder if Hodel was so enthralled with Man Ray that he wanted to be an “artist” himself but with dead women as his art. He always wanted artistic people around him from what I read. I saw mentioned that there were other women murdered in the area. I don’t remember reading about that,(it has been awhile since I read the books) but were these women murdered in the same manner, or “posed”? Anyone know more on these murders?

  • aili

    You know what would be crazy but kinda cool if they ended up finding like a ton of bodies and stuff in that house!

  • http://yahoo.com Valarie Abyad

    Feb. 7, 2013

    Dear Sirs,

    I have been following this case since I was eight years old.
    Do they have blood from Elizabeth Short?
    If so I thought the body was washed clean?
    No blood ever found in the Sowden House in pipes, or drains?
    Let us see what they found in the basement, maybe he killed someone else there also.
    Very interesting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/georgevhill George Vreeland Hill

    They will need to prove that any evidence is directly related to Elizabeth Short.
    Without that, this story means nothing.
    It will just add to the speculation that George Hill Hodel was the killer.
    Also, they would need to tie any evidence if proven to be from Short, to Hodel.
    This case is not being solved any time soon.

    George Vreeland Hill

  • Bob Smith

    Interesting theory on the part of Detective Hodel, but without Elizabeth Short’s DNA in the home of the “doctor” this is just media fodder.
    One must remember too, that at the time of the murder WWII had ended and many vets with battle fatigue were walking the streets. These same vets have “butchered” the enemy and all could be considered suspects.
    I would like to have solid DNA testing done and confirmed before rushing to judgement that an abusive father was behind this murder.

  • Bob

    I’ll have to go with Jack Anderson Wilson as Elizabeth Short’s killer.

  • Erin

    There was no blood at the scene where Elizabeth was discovered because her mutilator drained her body of all it’s blood.