A retired LA detective talks to the Guardian‘s Alexis Sobel Fitts:
Shortly after receiving the news of his death, Steve Hodel found himself sorting through his father’s belongings. Though Steve’s father, George Hodel, loomed large throughout his early childhood, their relationship had always been strained. George was a grandiose doctor with a distant personality who abandoned the family shortly after Steve’s ninth birthday, eventually moving far away to the Philippines.
As he went through his father’s possessions, Steve found a photo album tucked away in a box. It was small enough to fit in his palm and bound in wood. Feeling like a voyeur, he perused it. It was filled with the usual pictures – his mom, dad and brothers – as well as portraits of the family taken by the world-famous surrealist artist Man Ray, a family friend.
But towards the back, something caught his eye: two pictures of a young woman, her eyes cast downward, with curly, deep-black hair. Steve still doesn’t know why he had the idea, but as he looked at the images, he thought to himself: “My God, that looks like the Black Dahlia.”…
The personal connection between Short and George Hodel suggested by the album photos seemed outrageous. Hers was one of the most brutal murders in American history, and, after the Zodiac killer’s shooting spree in San Francisco, perhaps the most famous unsolved crime in California. But from this moment on, Steve was hooked…
Cataloguing evidence has been Steve’s life for the last 15 years, during which the quest to connect his father to Short’s murder consumed his life. It brought him back to Los Angeles, where he now spends his days in a modest apartment, documenting his father’s supposed criminal past in a snowballing body of work including four books, a play and a frequently updated blog. And though his first book, Black Dahlia Avenger: The True Story, is little more than hundreds of pages of evidence, listed chronologically like a cop’s case log, it made the New York Times bestseller list after it was released in 2003.
This research has won him fans. It has also made many people uncomfortable given his tone, which blurs the line between obsession and admiration, and his conveniently gripping narrative: a homicide detective, raised in the heart of gritty Los Angeles, finds his father guilty of the city’s most notorious unsolved murder…
Hodel’s already written a book I like about this. It’s an entertaining, if not completely convincing, read. And, you will never look at Man Ray and John Huston the same again.
I don’t know what to think about this. It is sad that this has consumed him
Fascinating subject. There’s a Cold Case Files episode on the Black Dahlia featuring Steve Hodel.
Temporarily Max McGee (Soon Enough to Be Andy K Again)
Nope. There’s a much better suspect. Here’s part 1 of 3. Sorry, the sound quality can be grating.
Nope. It was Rafael Cruz, who also assassinated JKF and fathered The Zodiac Killer.
From what I’ve read the expert opinion is split on whether his theory is correct or not,
The Blog Dahlia
Just to let you all know, I had nothing to do with it. Really.
@The Blog Dahlia: Obviously you’ve been spreading yourself thin. *rimshot*
unsolved murders bring out a lot of obsessives who want to be the one(s) who prove their genius solving the unsolvable. Jack the Ripper still brings out the Gull-Catchers.
Sorry to disappoint. Steve Hodel wrote Black Dahlia Avenger, which was excellent. Unfortunately, he went on to write Black Dahlia Avenger II and Most Evil II, where he pinned many other “lone woman” murders on his father. The pinnacle was a decipherment of the Zodiak Killer’s message proving that, yes – his father was the Zodiac Killer.
Was he onto something with the Black Dahlia connection and then went round the bend? Or was he cray all along? Don’t know. True crime brings out some wonderful explorations of human frailty twisting into evil, but it also can just be pure mess and projection.
The Guardian writer does not appear to have done too much searching on the guy and either didn’t know or is ignoring the very problematic later writings.
Disclaimer: I wrote mystery fiction for a time at a time which now feels very far away. I was and remain a noir fiend.
The 70s saw a tremendous spike in crimes. In addition to the Zodiak, there remains unsolved murders of teenage girls -including a junior high classmate Laurie Weber. Many were discovered in the Sonoma County back roads especially porter creek near the petrified forest. Some speculate that Governor Reagan’s shuttering of the State mental hospitals played a large role.
My childhood neighbor Wayne Ford began a spree of killings as soon as he began driving long haul and littered I5 with lady parts. Like Ted Kazynzski Wayne’s brother convinced him to turn himself in.
My dear friend’s significant other is the nephew of drummer Jim Gordon who beat his mother to death with a claw hammer.
Small crazy world, this one.