Elizabeth Short was only 22 when her mutilated body was found in Los Angeles' Leimert Park in 1947. The press nicknamed her the Black Dahlia, and 66 years later her unsolved murder has inspired numerous books and films — including Brian De Palma's unfortunate 2006 neo-noir retelling. One tome, however, has led to what many are saying is a break in the lingering case. Steve Hodel wrote Black Dahlia Avenger, claiming his deceased father, George Hodel, is the killer. The retired LAPD vet makes an interesting case, providing accounts of wild, celeb-filled orgies, an obsession with Marquis de Sade and Jack the Ripper, and a surrealist art connection to Man Ray.
Now, cadaver dogs were sent to the late Hodel's Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house (where parts of The Aviator and The Rocketeer were filmed) and have picked up the scent of human decomposition. Was Steve Hodel really onto something? George Hodel was a Los Angeles physician — which could explain why Short was sliced in half with precision — who was singled out during the initial investigation due to an unrelated case of sexual molestation brought against him. His home was bugged, damning evidence was logged, and his son has been tracking new leads more than six decades later.
If the canine investigators are right and the case develops, we could have another Dahlia film on our hands. American Horror Story recently resurrected the story for a first season plotline. For another fascinating take on the case, visit the website of George Hodel's grandson, J.M. Darling. The photographer and writer shares his own personal account of the case, along with a few family photos. Note: Darling's website is extremely NSFW.
It should also be noted that Hodel is just one of many suspects — one of which includes famed filmmaker Orson Welles. Writer Mary Pacios, who also happens to be a former neighbor of the Short family, has a detailed account of the filmmaker's connection to the case on her website
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