'Black Dahlia' Murder Case May Be Cracked – By Suspect's Son

Tuesday, 05 Feb 2013 09:29 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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A former detective who has long held that his own father was responsible for the infamous Black Dahlia murder almost 70 years ago will soon find out if his suspicious are correct, when tests on a specimen recovered from a Hollywood home come back from the lab next week.

Steve Hodel, formerly with the Los Angeles Police Department and author of "Black Dahlia Avenger," teamed up with a retired police sergeant and police dog Buster, a Labrador retriever trained to track the scent of human decomposition, to investigate the former home of his deceased father, George Hodel. With Buster's help, the search team collected soil samples from the basement of the home and sent them to a lab for testing. The results are expected back next week.

The murder of Elizabeth Short in 1947 sparked a tabloid firestorm after the 22-year-old's body was found in a downtown Los Angeles parking lot, mutilated and posed. Media dubbed the case "the Black Dahlia murder" after the flowers Short wore in her jet-black hair. The case has been cold for decades, despite more than 50 false confessions, countless tips, books, conspiracy theories and films.

But Hodel claims it was his father, one of the original suspects, who was responsible for Short's murder. Detectives at the time postulated that the suspect was someone with medical training because of the accuracy of incisions between Short's mouth and ears.

After George Hodel, a surgeon, died in 1999, his son found old photos of a woman who looked like Short, according to the Daily Beast, suggesting the man may have had a relationship with Short. Some more digging led to an old grand jury file, which Hodel said revealed that the LAPD had placed bugs in his father's house in February 1950, two months after he was acquitted for molesting his 14-year-old daughter, Hodel’s half-sister. The secret microphones picked up a conversation between Hodel's father and an unidentified visitor:

"Supposin' I did kill the Black Dahlia. They couldn't prove it now. They can't talk to my secretary because she's dead." (Police investigated Hodel as a possible suspect in his secretary's poisoning but later dropped the case.)

Hodel told the Daily Beast he suspects his father was responsible for nearly a dozen other murders of young women in Los Angeles, leaving their bodies at locations across the region. But the elder Hodel always managed to stay out of jail through a combination of high-powered friends and inept detective work, his son said.

The Nov. 9 search of George Hodel's former home was set up in conjunction with the TV show "Ghost Hunters." Although it was filmed, the segment with Buster never aired, according to the San Bernardino Sun newspaper.

Related stories:

JonBenet Ramsey Grand Jury Voted to Indict Parents, But DA Said No


Manson Family Recordings May Lead to More Unsolved Murders

Manson Family Eyed in Dozen Cold Case Murders


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