“- it is incredible to me that he should be in any way connected with it.”
Dr. George Hodel surfaced as a suspect in the Black Dahlia murder during the district attorney investigation. While it has not been proven positively that he ever knew Elizabeth Short, there are transcripts from investigators that make the case that the doctor and the victim did have contact with one another.
In February, 1950 investigators James F. McGrath and Walter Morgan placed Dr. Hodel under surveillance. They tailed him around town while he drove from location to location, meeting with different people, including his former wife, Dorothy Hodel. McGrath also contacted plumbers who had worked on Hodel’s house on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. They checked files and interviewed the manager of the H.A. Sonntag Company to see if he recalled what work was done and to see if he remembered seeing “any fresh diggings in the basement, or anything of an unusual nature.”
By the spring of 1950, George Hodel was being taken seriously as a suspect in the murder of Elizabeth Short.
* * *
Hodel’s second wife, Dorothy, was interviewed on March 22, 1950 by Frank Jemison at her home on the Santa Monica Pier. George and Dorothy were divorced in 1945, but were always on friendly terms, she said. She was raising their three sons at the time.
Jemison said, “I will now show you a photograph of Beth Short, Santa Barbara No. 11419 and ask you whether or not you have ever seen that young lady in your life?” Dorothy replied, “No, I never have.” When she was asked if her former husband had ever said, “They can’t pin that murder on me,” she said, ” – to the best of my knowledge he didn’t and doesn’t know her.”
Jemison also asked, “Has anybody ever told you that Dr. George Hodel had Beth Short over to his home?” Dorothy answered, “No.” Jemison said, “For your information the photograph has been identified by certain persons as resembling the young lady that was over to his house prior to the murder.”
He continued to press his case with Dorothy, asking her to come forth with any information that might be helpful, but she insisted that she had no reason to believe that Hodel could have been involved. She told Jemison that, “I know he has never practiced surgery. His branch of medicine is V.D. generally and administrative medicine.”
At one point, Dorothy said to Jemison, “I have nothing to tell you that would bear out any idea you may have that he did this. All I know is that he is not the sort of man that would psychologically be the kind to do it. He has a fine record as a doctor and is a dedicated man. He has never had a fashionable practice. He could have had. He is a man that really cares about medicine, not of earning money, but it is incredible to me that he should be in any way connected with it.”
Jemison asked several questions concerning the Biltmore Hotel and whether Dorothy had been there with him, knew that he had dined there with “other women” or if she knew that at one point he stayed there. She said the Biltmore was a “central location” and that they had been there together for lunch and possibly dinner. She thought he might have stayed there when he was between apartments at the time the “three-day law in effect.” This was the same law that may have caused Beth to move from residence to residence at different times.
Towards the end of the interview, Jemison said, “Let me advise you that we do have information that he did associate with Beth Short and as you know the last place she was seen alive was at the Biltmore Hotel in the evening of January 9, 1947.”