Mollie Chambers

Black Dahlia’s murder is arguably one of the most famous unsolved cases of all time. Rightfully so, considering the gruesome circumstances surrounding her murder.

Elizabeth Short, also known as Black Dahlia, was found dead in Los Angeles on Jan. 15, 1947. Her body was naked, completely drained of blood and severed in half. Short’s mouth had also been cut on either side to form a makeshift smile.

When news of Short’s death broke, every media outlet seemed to be headlining this horrific murder. Merely weeks after the murder, reporters had already given Short the name ‘Black Dahlia.’ This nickname derives from a mystery novel entitled “The Blue Dahlia.”

Although Black Dahlia’s case captured the attention of the media, that alone was not enough to get her case solved.

However, Black Dahila’s case did capture the attention of one man who I believe single-handedly solved this case — Steve Hodel.

Steve Hodel is a former homicide detective for the LAPD. Hodel was a highly credible detective who had one of the highest “solve rates” in his entire force.

After the passing of his father George Hodel, he began looking through his possessions. Much to Hodel’s disbelief, he came across two photos tucked away that looked strikingly similar to Elizabeth Short. After this discovery, Hodel began investigating his father’s role in the Black Dahlia murder. Ultimately, he concluded that his father was responsible for the death of Elizabeth Short.

Of all the theories regarding Black Dahlia’s murder, Hodel’s is by far the most convincing. With that said, I have outlined some of the most convincing pieces of evidence against George Hodel.

1. The murder required medical training

Short’s autopsy revealed that all the marks on her body were clean, meaning they were precise and intentional. Marks such as these are unusual for a murder of this magnitude, which made this piece of evidence stick out to me.

The horrifying yet seemingly clean state of Elizabeth Short’s body could only be achieved by the work of a highly trained medical professional. These are skills that Dr. George Hodel possessed.

Hodel was a physician who ran a venereal disease clinic in Los Angeles. His time at the clinic and in medical school would have equipped him with the proper skills to carry out a killing such as Black Dahlia’s.

While I do not believe Dr. Hodel would be convicted under these circumstances alone, I think it is important to note that based on skill alone, Hodel is certainly capable of conducting this murder.

2. Hodel’s romantic connection to Black Dahlia

According to uncovered police records, it was reported that Hodel and Short dated for a short period of time in the 1940s. This piece of evidence is crucial because it is the biggest detail that directly links Hodel to this murder.

Steve Hodel also said he believes that jealousy is what fueled his father to kill.

While Steve Hodel never directly stated what caused his father’s jealously, I believe that some form of infidelity occurred within Short and Hodel’s relationship. This would explain why Hodel lashed out the way he did.

3. Hodel was a suspect in other crimes

Although Black Dahlia’s murder was the most high-profile crime he was accused of committing, this was not the only time Hodel was under police scrutiny.

In 1949, Hodel was accused of raping his 14-year-old daughter Tamar Hodel. Witnesses close to the family claimed to have seen Hodel having sex with Tamar. When the case went to court, he was ultimately acquitted.

However, these molestation charges are what caused the LAPD to become suspicious of Hodel and ultimately make him a suspect in the Black Dahlia case. Because he was now a suspect, the LAPD planted microphones in Hodel’s home in attempts to prove he was guilty.

In my opinion, the tapes are practically a confession from Hodel, not only for the murder of Elizabeth Short but also for the murder of his secretary Ruth Spaulding.

In the tapes, Hodel confided in a friend that he was with Spaulding when she overdosed and fled in a taxi once she was dead. This evidence made him a prime suspect in Spaulding’s case, but this theory was ultimately thrown out due to lack of evidence in court.

Later in the tapes, Hodel appears to be taunting the police by insisting that they would never prove he killed Black Dahlia.

I believe that Hodel’s links to other crimes, as well as suspicious behavior while being monitored by police, make him out to be guilty.

4. Fleeing the country

In 1950, after being acquitted of raping his daughter, Holden fled to the Philippines where he stayed for many years.

Once in the Philippines, Hodel seemed to create a new life for himself, leaving his old family in the dust. He remarried to a woman named Hortensia Laguda Starke who he had four children with.

In the 1960’s Hodel divorced Starke, and he moved back to the United States in 1990, where he got married once again.

Hodel’s sudden decision to flee the country after being accused of raping his daughter raises a few red flags. Not only did he leave his daughter, who was presumably upset by the case, but he also fled during a time where he was being watched closely by the police.

I believe that Hodel’s goal in fleeing the country was to escape the accusations against him regarding the Black Dahlia case, however this only makes him appear all the more suspicious.

Overall, Black Dahlia’s case is one that saddens me deeply. Not only was a woman brutally murdered, but the person I believe solved this case was the killer’s own son.

While this case remains unsolved for now, I hope that in the future some form of justice can be served for both Elizabeth Short and Steve Hodel alike.

Mollie Chambers is a freshman majoring in journalism and electronic media. She can be reached at mollcham@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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