Dark Dreams
Was The Black Dahlia Avenger the Red Lipstick Killer?

Devan Sagliani | 10 Jul 2015 13:15
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Veteran detective Steve Hodel is one of the people still looking for an answer, and he thinks he has found one. The former Los Angeles police department homicide detective believes he has solved both murders, and connected the killer to dozens more from the last century. The man responsible for these hideous and blood chilling crimes? His own father, the late George Hodel.

An indisputable genius, George Hodel had an IQ of 186, was declared a piano prodigy at an early age. By turns he was a poet, a crime reporter, a surgeon, a doctor, and a businessman. He was the head of the leading venereal disease clinic in Los Angeles, with a circle of friends that included artists and film directors, who enjoyed hosting lavish, over-the-top parties. He was also a well known philanderer, even long after he'd been acquitted of incest charges with his son's half-sister. Quite simply he was incorrigible, a man used to getting his way, and, according to his son, a man admired for his misdeeds as much as his virtues.

Recently his son came into possession of a secret photo album previously belonging to his father containing two photographs of a woman that bears an uncanny resemblance to the late Elizabeth Short. One image shows her with a pair of paper roses playfully entwined in her hair. The other is a nude shot, with Elizabeth's eyes shut, her young mouth a wide ring of erotic surprise, her eyes unfocused and trained off in the distance, as if she were in a trance. Hodel, who now works as a private investigator, has since written a 460-page book entitled "Black Dahlia Avenger" laying out his case. The evidence the former Hollywood Homicide Division detective has uncovered is considered largely circumstantial, but that hasn't stopped many from being convinced, including other officers familiar with the case.

Steve Hodel has also suggested a link between Elizabeth Short's murder and the 1946 murder and dismemberment of six-year-old girl named Suzanne Degnan in Chicago. One Captain Donahoe of the Los Angeles police department has also publicly announced that he believes the Black Dahlia and Lipstick murders were "likely connected" due to striking similarities between the writing of the Degnan ransom note and that of the Black Dahlia Avenger, both which used a combination of capitals and small letters and included the same letter P and an exact match of a another undisclosed word.

Convicted serial killer William Heirens was sentenced to life in prison for confessing to Degnan's murder after he was caught breaking into a residence close by, but later recanted claiming he was tortured by the police until he confessed. One of his alleged victim's mothers later said she did not believe he was responsible for her daughter's death. A petty thief, he'd kept nothing from the murder and didn't seem to possess the intelligence needed to pull off the crime which included an elaborate ransom scheme that ultimately was abandoned. Heirens was later subjected to questioning under Sodium Pentothal (aka truth serum) and even passed a polygraph test authorities then deemed inconclusive. He maintained his innocence until the day he died in prison.

Since the publication of Hodel's incendiary book some new facts have emerged which seem to further support his claim that his father George was the sociopath responsible for at least Elizabeth Short's death, if not many others. A transcript has been discovered from the investigation, with what appears to be a conversation George had inside his house. Steve had not known prior to the release of this transcript that their house had been bugged by police in 1950 in a desperate effort to bring an end to the ghastly case. George Hodel's words are a chilling even now.

"Supposin' I did kill the Black Dahlia," the doctor is heard saying. "They couldn't prove it now. They can't talk to my secretary because she's dead."

That may be the closest we ever come to a full confession, or it may just be idle chatter from a man bedeviled for a crime he swore he didn't commit. And so the debate rages on. Feel free to chime in and let me know what you think.

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