Chapter 35 ~ George and Dorothy Hodel

“- 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 proved 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.”

5 Responses to “Chapter 35 ~ George and Dorothy Hodel”

  1. George Hanover Says:

    Though I have little time for ghost-hunting shows, I saw an interesting new episode of a popular show in which they spoke with Dr. Hodel’s son. He is certain his father murdered Short–and “possibly up to nine other women, who he buried in the basement” of his beautiful home. Dr. Hodel’s son also announced on the show that his father had cut Short in half in the bathtub of the main bathroom, which was on this show exactly as it was in Dr. Hodel’s time. The ghost hunting show was to ‘investigate’ the home, but the facts exposed on the show interest me. Dr. Hodel is said to have left the country so he would not be taken, and that he never returned. He seemed very frightened that the authorities would pin the murders on him–but there was nothing else stated on that show. I wonder what the general opinion about Dr. Hodel really is?

  2. Chris Says:

    I didn’t read Hodel’s son’s book, mainly because the premise on which he started to suspect his father was faulty. He found two photos that belonged to his father, and Hodel Jr. (don’t know his first name) thought they resembled Elizabeth Short. I’ve seen the photos and neither photo looks at all like her, in my opinion. I never knew the police ever suspected Dr. Hodel of being her killer, though; the man certainly sounds freaky enough to have done it.

  3. Muhammad Sarmad Nasir Says:

    In my opinion I believe if the Police believed that a surgeon committed the crime then in my opinion they should have taken a full list of surgeons that were practicing in California. I know it would have been harder to track every single surgeon in the area, but then you would have an idea which surgeons to rule out. The only surgeon they investigated was Walter Bailey, who was a surgeon that lived near where the body was found, and George Hodel, who also was surgeon and a prime suspect after the incest allegation. I’m not assuming but these cant be the only surgeons practicing in the area. I dont know if im bringing up something to think about but please dont judge me harshly its just my opinion.


    QUESTION: Was Dorthy French related to the San Diego French family? QUESTION: Manley was the one who picked her up in San Diego, but he says he saw scrapes on her elbows. Were the scrapes still visible? And were cabs generally allowed to park at places like the Biltmore? Was the cabby who picked her up before the same guy who said he picked her up drove her to the room were she was staying and noticed she was ruffed up? Or, did Beth say a woman never leaves her hat behind for anything unless in the heat of the moment?

  5. Brian Says:

    Dr. Bayley was never investigated. He was only uncovered as a suspect relatively recently. He didn’t live in the house. He had moved out and his estranged wife lived there. Dr. Hodel was never a surgeon. He was a doctor specializing in VD.

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