« Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family and the Black Dahlia

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Steve Hodel receives a phone call that pulls him out of retirement to investigate the Black Dahlia, a murder that had been ice cold for more than 50 years. The deeper Steve gets, the more he comes to accept his father was a sadistic killer.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Root of evil is it action of sea thirteen originals, a division of cadence thirteen in partnership with the anti. This story contains strong language and graphic and potentially disturbing content. Discretion is advised, Five thousand dollar reward will be offered on the programme immediately following you
You think you committed the perfect, cried the perfect murder, but there are no clues. No witnesses. Listen you every lady, no matter where you're hiding somewhere sometime, someone listening to this programme is going to bring you adjusted. We after that, I believe, is carefully or you may be the one to revive this is a radio show called somebody knows from nineteen. Fifty three years after Elizabeth Shorts body was discovered on January fifteen. Nineteen forty seven, the investigation was on doing then the public was still captivated by open, still very much alive, although this time the identity of the murderers remains unknown somewhere in whatever someone spoke of the Bible,
he started back in episode to we told you Our great grandfather, George Hotel, was one of several names on a suspect lists in the black Dalia case, but he was never arrested and the case when ice cold. This episode decades later the case heats up. As retired LAPD homicide, detective, Steve Hotel invested data suspect he never could have imagined, His own father welcome to root of evil? The true story, Of the hotel family and the black Dounia, I mean that and I'm her sister Russia and we're your hosts
as far as the neighbourhood, its from what changed, but not greatly. Really, there are structures, of course, new apartment, buildings and stuff, but the main differences have to do with traffic much heavier now, of course The other strange thing that you have to factor is that, because I work Hollywood homicide for so long. This was my division. This is a great uncle Steve, Hotel, he's driving down Frank, an avenue in Hollywood, California, It's the same street were Steve, lived with his father, George Hotel in the Franklin House and its own, so right in the centre of his former beat as a homicide. Detective. Where I reflect America in my life and my personal career as a police officer detective, I could have become anything.
I wanted to become a marine biologist. I could have. A doctor, a lawyer to fall in my father's. What steps and beer physician but I always enjoyed being us service cliche, but it was true in my part, and I think most cops are motivated. Certainly not the money, their motivated by something else in its desire to help to be of assistance to do good were passing beechwood drive that building just up there, I made an arrest of the loan ranger rapist, who was probably good for We estimate around forty rapes of women from the neighborhood here over a four. Your period It was an interesting arrest, working age. Sex crimes, detail, detective, and we were really for us-
Granted we had so many rapes, unsolved images couldn't catch this guy. It's called alone, ranger rapers, because when he went any would put Asia. Loan ranger masks? but it was really a sleeping mask with no eyes so it was solid, but he put that over the victim and he'd rapes them mainly they talked about his high pitched, face very unique We have a general description of her man at the time of the gibsons. Middleweight twenties wait agenda He had mention to one of them Comes in conversation as it was raping, he disaster logical sign was Torres anyway, I was so frustrated. I had a taskforce going. You couldn't catch this guy,
Finally, I said forget I got myself and other partners should let's work this for three days, I know the area will end crimes are usually from midnight six in the morning. Let's just go healthcare and plain clothes and and see what we can come up with anyway, we do the first night a second night, not a partner that I said screw. The state is that this is a way The time as a delicious given another couple days so that night, He went out and work two in the morning or staked out over Area here, just sitting there and we see the sky walking down the street I just get this feeling that this is it so we get out and we stop it. So you know saucers council, Rural Carthage,
problems in the neighborhood got. Some ideas is no. I don't have any idea on bases its back up my apartment. Where do you live over Beechwood Franklin, which was about a mile away, and he had this high pitched voice, some writing out what we felt it ef I card field interrogation, her no said the birth name, David Wilson, address. It gives me an beechwood message, a birthday taxes, basics and a sufficient number of tourists put in a car. Take him back to his work and he gets his driver's license and were in there, you don't have any stolen cars. Burials two years is no one. Would you mind if I look was no? the top drawer and here's the Black Mass Clara, Rob gloves, which he used on a lot of his crimes,
turn on its security firms hospital anyway. We Finally caught him? the damn centimeter prison? as of driving by others, David Wilson, loan ranger rapist rested in there. Steve Hoddan had become a police officer in nineteen sixty three. At a time when Chief Bill Parker, was cultivating a new clean cut image for the LAPD. I was paid about hole image that was born dragnet chief bill parkers new breed. I was kind of like out central casting for that tall thin. The fifth back in those days So for five years in petrol, and then I graduated to or gravitated two detectives
all the different tables. I work: juvenile burglary, auto theft, sex crimes, robbery and then, finally, I went to the homicide table I loved working detectives and general, but I really love working outside who done it. I had a burning desire to get to the truth of it. Wherever that took me Frank, his career as a homicide, detective and allay uncle. Steve worked over three hundred murders and he had one the highest solve rates in the LAPD not have been the brightest, upon the tree, but I, excelled in determination. My nature of persevering
is what really is kept me moving on all my cases, kind of a bulldog temperament where I would just stick with it and keep digging till I found the bone I didn't want. Give up a cold, but by the time he joined the force it seem like the a p d had given up on the black dahlia case. Sixteen where's after the murder it was little more than a teaching tool to recruits. You know when I went through the police Academy, One of the things they did was one of the house. Are things was some photographs of the black daily murder because it was almost way solve this. Is the black dahlia murder abominable? Nor name, I didn't know anybody details. The hotel name never came up anywhere in anything ever
for more than fifty years there had been no movement in the case it wasn't even being investigated, Steve had returned. Two Bellingham Washington, after many years of little to no contact with his father. They were beginning. Rebuild their relationship. Then on May seventeenth, nineteen, ninety nine Steve gotta phone call from his father's wife tune hotel before rings in its June and she's hysterical does the paramedics, or here they're, just pronounced him dead? He was ninety. One I immediately ghetto flight organised fly down problem going home to San Francisco she's totally destroyed. I mean June loved him. For thirty years I ve been together. So she brings out a note and that the top
That's entitled the notes were J Age June hotel. And it was kind of a you know it's time for me to it, exit stage right now before something serious happens. Ok, at the top of my game type of thing. He was suffering from congestive heart failure. Then his written prescriptions for second all and she's required enough for it to become lethal dosage, There was a suicide note. Decided to take his life He goes on to say, destroy all of my personal effects. Everything misery instructions are orders for her. But June kept one thing of Georgia's a photo album.
Passed along to Steve we want a photo album of family members and staff, and there was one of those The grass was a beautiful dark, haired, woman and black dahlia comes to bite I don't know what the source was on, that might have Tv movie, I'd seen in the seventies called who is the black dahlia looked just like her. I looked at the picture, and I dont know where the blackmail you came from, except I think it was probably because she looked so much like that picture in the tv move. I'll see what I am now the other. Possibility. I turned Lee more on this- is that I had heard the name. I'd heard something in my childhood at all, either Franklin House or something about black dahlia. There alone people that knew about it back then, but I have no conscious memory of anybody ever say anything about black dahlia. But what
was that this was kind of like in an out thing. For me, I didn't put much thought to it then just a few days later. He got another call someone he had spoken to in decades, his half sister and our grandmother tomorrow. Hotel within two or three days, I'm on the phone The term are- and I are having these long conversations, but one first thing she says to me as well. You know our father I suspect, in the black dahlia murder. Term or worse, is coming from an episode. Three. We told you that, bring incest, trial, George Hotels, defensive turning announced that to MAR had said to her father. Was the black tie? Your murderer that he had a lust for blood that he was insane
that comment seal. The defences argument that to MAR was a path the logical, liar and helped George get acquitted, but ass. It turns out. She didn't make this up: when she was in juvenile hall, the detectives who were bringing her to and from court had told her that her father, It was a suspect in the murder and that they also says I did him of killing Ruth Spalding his Secretary to MAR never forgot hearing that information and when She died. She told her half brother event- and I heard the stories all the time growing up believe it or not, steal had never heard anything about it allowed peoples and wait said this is your half sister and she knew that it was a suspect. A battalion. She never told you. This was a fact. As I had maybe twenty minutes
conversation in fifty years with Tamar. I got a couple of foam calls from her asking for money to bail out She was under arrest for possession of marijuana or something, and could I come up with Thousand dollars to help her out, I mean literally No more than ten minutes conversation and forty or fifty years so now, I was never asked for it never came up that she said this. I was told later that she told or children that they were aware of this. But it never came up. We, our separate ways she gonna got into it. Drugs and alcohol, and I the black sheep of the family, became a cop. So we just never really had conversation until after dad's death So I said to myself what I'm, after absolutely sure he had nothing to do with us. There's no way he would be capable of crime like that
so my initial investigation was declare him. To totally exonerate him. After Fourteen years in retirement, Steve was back at it this time, to disprove his own fathers involvement in the black dahlia murder. You couldn't make this up the mind would even go there. I don't think to make up a story like this. I mean it. You could even conceive of it. I don't think. If you do that, you walked in touch it to some, but studio they'd get about a year. Are you crazy? You know you're, absolutely crazy. Steve first began searching for information. He saw the. Taunting letters that the killer had sent to the early times and the pity, and he, I recognise the handwriting
He gathered the few letters that his father had written to him as well. As copies of the black dahlia letters. And sent them out for a graphology analysis. He also found out that the LAPD had suspected a duck. With surgical experience. As the killer your connections to his father, but nothing substantial. And Steve began to study the crime scene, we ve just come six miles south of the Franklin. Do south from Hollywood. This areas, known as lament part now you can, save me
Lee manicured mice, homes, middle class area, the back that it was a huge open area and where we're standing now is actually the location. Chosen by the killer to pose the body he had by that surgically bisected. The body and was in the car and he had used. Summits Accept Maneuver sacks large fifty pound paper, sacks not put the parts inside, but on top of and cover probably to protect the carve getting bloody he pulled up here to this location, where we're standing, which is the thirty eight hundred block of South Norton, and he got out
He was seen by a witness who was standing. Maybe a half a block away cross. Think a lot and daylight was just breaking. He removed the body parts carefully pose the upper torso. Maybe twelve inches from the West curb line here. Then he came back and he carefully pose the lower torso the floor body. Next to a truck just a little bit off. He was here about four minutes. According the witness, took off and drove away in a dark Nineteen- thirty, six, thirty, seven black sedan. My dad at that time was driving a nineteen thirty six black Packard.
So I'm walking over here and can basically about eight inches into the grass here front of this residence is where the body was post. She's place right here in this position here did place the arms above the head look like would be awesome. Ready for position north. You can see Hollywood side so little the shadow of the famous hole side and it was carefully posed. It wasn't thought police work very clear about that. It was carefully put here, The visual wanted it to be found was making a statement, early into his investigation Steve. Given some unique evidence from the scene. Daddy. Is unaware, had even listed
The original detective Harry Hansen's, granddaughter had contacted me and she found it box with crimes in photos. I met her and she turned him over. So I actually had photographs of the public and even have, and I'm not sure that the police had because a lot of my disappear state steady the photos for months. Any luck then, on the way the body was posed, show being this deliberate and wanting to make this public statement constantly Magda and it was like. Why is he doing this? I had no answer to other than this was or deliberate statement so probably another six months passed,
interviewing various witnesses, collecting data information and stuff. I had read located to LOS Angeles by then. And I was in my apartment and I had the photographs on board and I was like trying to tell us something here What does he say? What does he trying to tell us Allow me to introduce myself. I dont know whom I public is going to be, but they must surely know who I am. This is man ray yeah third man raise name in episode. Three. He was one the most famous surrealist artists and he spent a lot of
time. At the Franklin House, I was born many years ago and eighty ninety I don't feel at all, although many people have told me that they thought I was dead. I seem to have become a legend at all, Genes are supposed to be of the past, They tell us what distinguishes the human race from others species. What makes this Superior is its capacity for laughter, but. I have seen donkeys and monkeys law, think themselves into hysteria I think the human race no, what distinguishes owl race and only through a few representations of it is a capacity for creating gratuitous emblems, as if we are gods for,
from the necessity of survival, I want to say, a few words about my activity is a photographer to most people This is a problem Rather I should say a puzzle. Am I a photographer four or am I a painter? well. Do I have to choose between the two can't, I have both I am Grady. I do many. Other things to some of which I cannot even mention here. Sweet listen to accept at women are meant to be subservient. Surrendering, giving up there sexuality giving up their autonomy.
Independence, they existed services without art. That is why they exist, and that is why they are depicted in that way. That Professor Neil Baldwin Niels Busk, can episode three about surrealist art and its idea is an influences, including the dream world. In addition, to being a professor in the college of the arts at Montclair State University. Neil also wrote the critically acclaim biography. Man re emerge I can artist, I think, even more pertinent is key idea Taking a woman's body and making into something else, but it's not just justification. It's the power of the artists to do this. Man raise attitude toward photography when it came
photographing, nude women was very phallic. He made no Pretend said I wasn't Amy. The power and the light. The aiming of the lens, and he liked telling women which way to face telling women angle he wanted and a population was a big, thing with him, not just the population of the physical body but- until manipulation and that's. Why is portraits portraiture so effective because he knew how to get people look like they really looked for him and that was his power. We mentioned in Episode three that tomorrow said man re, took nude photos of her at the Franklin House. When she was, Twelve years old man re often
took photos of the hotel family and sir. Some of them were in Georgia's photo album that Steve was given after his father died, and hosty, began to look into man re his art and his relationship with George Hotel. Ok, so this is twelve forty five North Vine Street, which is known as the villa Elaine, and this was men- raise home back in the night team,
forties support than herebert inopportune. They were constantly together back and forth and sharing thoughts and ideas. Men re was much more than just a passing acquaintance that George New in the forties. They were very very close. He was our family photographer retook, paragraphs of us three boys of mother and his wife. Juliet, sure that joy and my mother Dorothy were lovers She was very openly bisexual, my mother and proud of it it was a very intimate relationship between Monterrey, George, Juliet and Dorothy Guerreros. Before the conference. And dad would come over here regularly. Men rate,
of course, the irregular visitor at the Franklin House, did not suffer force. Gladly. This house oh, I must have been a kindred spirits to him as no question. It would not have spent much time with him. They re George, they fought like and part of my father's personal madness had to do with surrealism. He was a Sweden artist himself, he really, wanted to be an artist, but he was a scientist and the doktor His heart, he really wanted to accounting but they were conclusion it has always been my dream to do something that what Mr Ford I am shocked. The rest of the soil is no fun mischief buying a shocking, the public,
How can they expected to be impressed, anything which they give to menacing. Of attention to something to which I have given all my lifetime to I'm way ahead of them. I would like to do something that would mr by or shot surrealist I haven't exceeded yet But this idea shocking are mystifying, the question of whether a man's work is sincere or not is trying to fool. The pub that is all nonsense: when a man does a picture or rights upon. This seems to be shocking. He does. Primarily to shock himself. He has do something to move himself to give himself a shock to miss Fi Himsel, discuss
with himself, not with the public. It is the deadly does move or affect the public in the same way that I thank you succeeded admirably in expressing himself for expressing this desire for mystery and the shark. I had a number of books by men right of his photographs and large ports that I was going through I was going page by page and I half way through When I look at his photograph and its title. The minute four greek mythology, the men the door was the monster that was half man, half full he was kept inside the labyrinth and fed on
young virgins. I knew that the monitor was like those surrealist adopted pet. They use a lot of their paintings stuff, but this photograph, was a woman. Why directed in half her arms cheerfully, posed above her head and the lower half below. I looked at this hand, you're, just like I flashed on Elizabeth Then the primacy I said this is a woman she's protein disposition and she said we bisect That was kind of I first aha moment it was kind like it
or into my father's mind. It was just like one of these gonna flash moments. Where is this? Is it? This is why he did it is paying homage to his friend Steve, made more connections between the body of Elizabeth Short and some of man. Other works among them. His most famous painting called lovers lips. It's been described, is the quintessential surrealist painting it's a joke. Instead of lips, there represents the devouring woman Steve can did it to the slashing of Elizabeth shorts. Mouth In man raised nineteen forty three painting called lucky ok
the female model is topless and its that of having a face has crossed hatch marks like a large tik, Tok Toe Board, you might- remember from episode to elicit a short right had had the exact same crossed, hatching sliced into it with a sculptor was one man. Re collection includes a photograph of his way, Juliet paused on their count. With her I shut Like a dream in the eggs Jack position that this short body was posed in Steve has made up to ten distinct connections, between the black, Dalia and man raised art. It's not like man rate was completed in the motor and not just the point. I think more of the point, though, is that the surrealist connection is
very feasible to me, the imagery of the corpse The corpse was: can figured on the ground. It really struck me immediately as a classic, surreal, the duration of the position of the arms above the head as very typical and then the way the torso is not just Operators from the legs, but moved laterally. So little eggs are sort of themselves. They are coming down, but thereof themselves and laterally from the bottom. Up
the torso man re was very into that in photographs of women. There our truncated or partly dismembered visually where to buy a shadow or the head is above the frame where the legs are below the frame or the arm is out of the frame, and I think that also comes across in the way that the corpse was displayed in the murder and the destruction and the bifurcation in the cutting in a literal cutting of the mouth and all these features to me, this is anger partners, surrealism and again, this goes back to the dream consciousness sometimes in a dream. Everything is so
finally drawn. That's like the way that it invades Europe, minors. With you and then, as you go through the day after you, wake up, starts to lose its trail and it starts to lose its coherence as you go through the day. So it's sort of like this exquisite. Corpse, lay out. You know that leaps out you and you see that it had to have been arranged by somebody and then maybe as a defence mechanism as
go through the day and think about or reflect upon it. It starts to lose its coherence. Then that reminded me of what he did with the body. A body has a narrative, a coherent unity to it, and then he made it so he made this body into something they didn't have any sense and that set of rushed into my mind. When I look at these photographs of this woman lying there, when I looked at it, I thought I know that's why he wants me to talk about it.
Because I have this background and looking at art that looks like that, and so I saw it. I realize what you wanted to talk to me about this. His masterpiece and not only was a marsh to man, Ryan other surrealist, it was all some kind of a one upmanship? It was our You guys talk the talk. I walk the walk. Her Body was his canvas and his scalpel was his paintbrush. This would become recognised and I'm absolutely positive that his fellow surrealist got it. They knew it.
After the fact, and in reality, as a young boy, he wanted to become an artist, a creator and actually when you look at it in the field of coming from surrealism. Nothing more surreal than this crime. And her body I was not only children born. I was really horrified by fact that he could do such a thing Stick. It threw me into a place where actually, in my mind, was reliving his actual acts at the Franklin ass. Well, record in going through it and doing all of these horrible sadistic. To her body was still alive and making all those connections. It was horrified.
You know I've been through every possible motions. We go through this emotion. That time was Super really showed me the monster within the man. I refer to a gentleman hide, and this was the hide Ross purest form. It was horrifying for me. First, eve. What started out as an investigation to exonerate George Hotel had become I'm something entirely different. He was, now absolutely convinced not only had his father savagely, tortured and murdered Elizabeth Short, but that done it in the Franklin House. The same house where George impregnated his daughter to MAR.
How Steve and his brothers grew up in my training and my years of detective work, the three hundred murders under my belt. Been trained to be objective and to not overly import. But this was a different situation for her we're not talking about some unknown. Suspect out that I'm looking for my father, his blood is, flowing through me. He created me and there was always a love for him. In the last ten years. His life. We had become much closer so In a way I was psychological bisected like. She was surgically in the sense that I loved my father I felt closed,
and then to realise that this monster was within was very traumatic. For me, but the thing thought me through it is I've had training to force myself to be objective. Almost every climate go on, you have, be able to remove your self from the horror that was always operated in me but what am I most difficult times- was one. I got inside his mind, Walker, the horrors that were within this point. The letter Steve had sent out for handwriting analysis had come back is a match. His father's handwriting was seems the writing on some of the taunting letter sent by the killer to the police and newspapers,
made. Other connections to any person Did his investigation to Steve Kay the former debt The idea of LOS Angeles after looking at the file Kay said that if George Hotel were alive, he take the keys to trial. And he believed he win without vote of confidence into that three Steve hotel released his first book black oh yeah Avenger, which became a new. York Times. Best seller, but the story was just beginning because up to that point, I'll see you had was a compelling theory What he didn't realize was that back In nineteen fifty I within the walls of the Franklin House, where my refunds.
Radio. Let tell you a on the next episode of rude of evil, there's psychopaths and there's sociopaths, and I try to figure out which one my mother was it's the story of what would become of tomorrow down after the insects trial If I had been her and experiencing onto the things that she had done turn around and under my kids,
forgive you say anything. The term are right now I would tell you route of evil is an eight episode series produced by sea thirteen originals, the division of cadence, thirteen in partnership with Tee Anti.
Transcript generated on 2020-01-12.