As you can probably tell, I’m a huge fan of true crime. If it’s a depressing story of woe and murder, very often I’m going to be reading up on it. (I’m currently reading up on the murders of David Parker Ray and plan on publishing something about it soon.)
There is one case, above all, that fascinates and confuses me, and though it’s one you’ve probably heard of, you might not have heard this version of it. It is the Black Dahlia murder, and my only hope is that I can infect you with the same obsession that drives me, if only to make me feel more normal.
The Black Dahlia Murder
The Black Dahlia is THE Hollywood murder case. Period. Anyone interested in the seamy underbelly of LA’s glitz and glam would best investigate this case for him or herself.
It’s got everything: an East-Coast girl seeking out fame and fortune in the grimy side streets of LA, only to become just another never was among the superstar elites.
Only, she ends up getting her wish in the worst possible way. On January 15, 1947, a bisected corpse is found just off a sidewalk, disfigured almost beyond recognition. She is later found out to be one Elizabeth Short, a girl about town who had recently fallen on some hard times.
Despite the grisly nature of the crime, no suspect is ever seriously considered, and through the decades, the erosion of evidence of one of Hollywood’s most famous cases slowly disappears, leaving only questions in the wake.
The unsolved murder has flummoxed detectives, both real and armchair alike, for the past seventy years. The suspect list shrinks and grows on a yearly basis, though no one has any concrete idea of who, really, killed one Elizabeth Short.
For the Principled Uncertainty Podcast, I interviewed Steve Hodel, a retired LA homicide detective,who has a quite interesting theory about the identity of the Black Dahlia killer: his father, Dr. George Hill Hodel.
It’s a horrifying tale not just because of the details of Short’s murder, but also because of the circumstances surrounding George Hodel’s involvement in some very unseemly activities at the time. It’s a tale that will turn your stomach, and I hope it’s presented here with the utmost respect.
Skeptics of Mr. Hodel’s hypothesis should really listen to the podcast. He brings up a totally realistic scenario in which his father would have the access, the means, and the motivation to kill Elizabeth Short. At one point, James Ellroy himself believed Steve to be correct in his reasoning on the case.
I’ve included all the relevant links to the podcast below. Unfortunately, I can’t import files above 64 MB, so I’ve included links to all the relevant files below. Additionally, you can find the episodes on the Principled Uncertainty Podcast feed.
This episode deals mostly with the early activities of George Hill Hodel, including his upbringing and exploits. The episode also features an inciting incident that could give insight into what led Dr. Hodel down the path toward murder.
Episode 202 really grinds away at the case against George Hill Hodel, including Steve’s own investigation and final outcomes on the topic. This is the episode that, if you are listening on headphones and working out, will stop you in your tracks.