Moment in Oddity - The Aztec Death Whistle
Suggested by: Michael Rogers
There is a sound so scary that when you hear it, it not only unnerves you, but it literally makes your skin crawl. I love using skulls in my decor, but I never imagined that a skull could be used to make a terrifying sound. I also never imagined that a whistle could be formed in such a way that it makes such a chilling noise. Welcome to the Aztec Death Whistle! Ever heard a zombie wail? How about a banshee cry? Better yet, how about the screams of a sacrifice victim? That is how I would describe the noise made by the death whistle. The first of these whistles were found by archeologists decades ago and at the time, they thought they were just decorative pieces. Aztecs liked skull decor like myself after all. Now, I'm not sure who was the first person to purse their lips on the hole at the top of the skull and blow, but when they did, I'm sure everyone around them ran for cover. And that is why scholars believe that these whistles were used by the Aztecs in war as a type of psychological warfare. Imagine a hundred warriors running at you with the multiplied sound of screams. Since a whistle was found clutched in the hand of what was believed to be a sacrifice victim in a place used to worship the god of wind, some scholars believe that the death whistle was used during sacrifice ceremonies. We'll probably never know the real purpose of the death whistle, but the fact that it can make such a realistic human scream, certainly is odd! (Play a sample)
This Month in History - Congress Takes Over Lighthouses
In the month of August, on the 7th, in 1789, Congress enacted legislation that gave the federal government control over the creation and maintenance of lighthouses. This Act also included beacons, buoys and public piers. As we all know, lighthouses were built as a way to warn ships of dangerous rocky areas or to guide them back to land. They were especially effective during storms and heavy fog. While today radar and GPS has made the need for lighthouses obsolete, we all appreciate their long history of saving lives and their symbol as safe harbor. And for those of us at HGB, we appreciate their many tales of hauntings. In 1989, Congress passed a resolution that made August 7th of that year National Lighthouse Day. Although it is not an annual event yet, many lighthouse organizations treat it as though it is an annual thing. Maybe someday Congress will get with the program and make it official. So what is your favorite lighthouse? Mine, of course, is St. Augustine Lighthouse, but we've covered many amazing lighthouses on the podcast and I really do love them even though climbing them scares the crap out of me!
Black Dahlia Murder House
To title this episode, "Black Dahlia Murder House" is a bold move as the murder of the Black Dahlia remains unsolved. This is actually the John Sowden House, but the man I believe killed Elizabeth Short lived here for a time and I believe he murdered her and many other women in this house, which is one of the most unique homes, architecturally speaking. The torture and murder that took place here has left a negative spiritual residue that has lead to hauntings. Not only that, but the Black Dahlia herself is not at rest and has been seen in several locations in her spirit form. Join me as I explore the murder of the Black Dahlia, her killer and the history of the house that ties the two together, the Sowden House!
I have long been fascinated with the story of Elizabeth Short and her unsolved murder. The details are gruesome and so I do warn those of you that might have issues with details of murders, I'm going to go into the details of what happened to this woman, so this may not be the episode for you. One of the first Haunted True Crime BonusCasts I did for Executive Producers was about the Black Dahlia and her spirit. In that, I made a claim about whom I thought did the murder. This last year, the podcast "Root of Evil" dropped, hosted by the great granddaughters of George Hodel, sisters Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile, as a companion to the TNT limited series "I Am The Night." It was excellent and I encourage you to listen to it and by the time I finished it, I knew I was right in thinking that George Hodel was a sick serial killer and that Elizabeth Short was one of his victims. But before we get into all the details about that, I want to wind back the clock and talk about the three main characters in this episode and that is George Hodel, Elizabeth Short and the Sowden House.
If you've never seen a picture of George Hodel, I encourage you to Google him. I don't think I'm the only one who gets the creeps looking at him. There is something sinister in those eyes. This guy was seriously weird in a bad way. He was obsessed with incest and enjoyed hosting an orgie or two and the Marquis de Sade, from whom we get the word sadist, was a hero of his. His interest in the art of surrealist Man Ray would lead him to do depraved things. Who the heck was this freak?
Hodel was born in October of 1907 to Russian Jewish parents. He grew up in Los Angeles and was highly intelligent and a bit of a musical protege. He graduated from high school early and entered the prestigious California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. There he met the wife of one of his professors and the two began an affair that left her pregnant. He wanted to marry her, but she pushed him away. He eventually met another woman named Emilia and they would have a son they named Duncan in 1928. He left her and took up with a model named Dorothy Anthony whom he married. They had a daughter named Tamar, whom Hodel would groom for sex from an early age and he would eventually rape her repeatedly. He had Man Ray take naked pictures of her. Tamar told journalist Sheila Weller, "It made me so uncomfortable. My father always said that sex between a father and a daughter was the most beautiful experience."
During the time that Hodel was married to Dorothy, he graduated pre-med from Berkeley in 1932 and got his medical degree from the University of California in San Francisco in 1936 with a specialty in gynecology. He would use that degree to do abortions and treat venereal disease. He would then blackmail many of his patients. In 1940, Hodel married his second wife whom was also named Dorothy. She also was the former wife of John Huston. He started calling her Dorero, which was Dolores and Eros combined. Dorero would finally get Tamar out of the house and away from her father. Steve Hodel would be the son of Dorero and George and he would have two brothers as well. The 1940s was the era of Noire in Los Angeles and Hodel was a big time mover and shaker, hanging out with the art scene, particularly surrealist Man Ray. The two men shared an interest in surrealism and sadomasochism and lots of sex and drugs. After Hodel bought the Sowden House, he would throw drug-fueled parties and orgies. And he shared the home with both his first wife and second wife.
Tamar finally told the police what her father had done to her and he was put on trial in 1949. His lawyers got him off and did such a good job that the 14-year-old Tamar was sent to juvenile hall for lying. It would be here that Tamar would be raped and get pregnant at the age of 15. She gave birth to a daughter and named her Fauna. Fauna was given up for adoption to a black cleaning woman. She would grow up believing that she was a light-skin black woman even though she was actually white. When she was 19, she found out the truth that she was white and the granddaughter of George Hodel.
Hodel decided to leave America in 1950 and headed to the Phillipines where he married his third wife and had four children. They divorced in the 1960s and he eventually ended up back here in 1990. He killed himself with an overdose in 1999 at the age of 91.
Elizabeth Short was a girl with stars in her eyes like so many of us. Maybe that is why so many of us can identify with her. She just wanted to be somebody and to find fame in Hollywood. She had a rough start to life and got herself into some trouble. We all have our moments, don't we? But what is it about her that would lead George Hodel to her and drive him to not only kill her, but torture her and treat her body in the most heinous way and then display it in the most humiliating way to the world?
Elizabeth was born to Cleo and Phoebe Short on July 29, 1924 in Hyde Park, Massachusetts. When Elizabeth was five, the Great Depression was in full swing and her father who made a living by building miniature golf courses decided he was going to throw in the towel and kill himself. Or at least, that is what he wanted everybody to believe. He pulled his car up to a bridge and disappeared, leading authorities to believe he had jumped off the bridge and drowned in the river. His family believed the same thing until a letter arrived in the mail from Cleo, apologizing for faking his death and informing Phoebe that he had moved to California, but wanted to come home. He had left her to raise five girls on her own and so she, of course, told him to basically kiss off.
As a way to escape from her unhappy and sickly life, Betty, as Elizabeth was called by most of her friends, would go to the movies. She was fascinated by the moving pictures. Betty was growing into a raven haired beauty and a classmate described her as "a porcelain China doll with beautiful eyes — think of them as blue, but sometimes would change depending on color she wore, and became greenish.” Boys would become tongue-tied talking to her because she was so pretty. But she was a sweet girl and made friends with everyone. Basically, she was not what we would call "stuck up." Unfortunately she had bad teeth and would use melted candle wax to fill the cavities in her teeth, so that you couldn't she the black and decay. She was graceful and determined and she wanted to be famous. The irony isn't lost on any of us how she would actually come to gain a fame so immense that a nickname makes her immediately known to most people. She certainly would have wished for a life of obscurity had she known. Eleanor Kurz had been a good friend who said, “Dottie [Elizabeth’s sister], Bette, and I were going to be movie stars. We were all entranced with movie stars, star struck. Spent hours talking about movie stars, about going to Hollywood. We performed using the Short’s front porch as a stage. Every Friday as soon as the song sheets came out, we’d pool our money, get the latest sheets, and spend hours singing. Bette imitated Deanna Durbin. Walked like her, talked like her, and in my eyes sang like her.” During her teens, Betty would spend winters in Florida because of lung problems.
It was no surprise that when Cleo offered Betty the chance to move to California and stay with him, that she would take him up on it. In 1943, she packed her bags and headed to Vallejo, California. Cleo clearly thought that having Elizabeth there would give him a housekeeper, but that was not the case. He found her to be lazy and he disliked her dating practices and eventually he kicked her out. She found a job as a cashier at the Post Exchange at Camp Cooke where she eventually won a beauty contest and was declared “Camp Cutie of Camp Cooke.” The attention was too much for her and she left for Santa Barbara to live with a girlfriend. It was here that Elizabeth would get caught drinking underage at a restaurant when she and some friends got too rowdy. She was arrested and booked and her mug shots are some of the only pictures that exist of her today. She was sent back to Massachusetts, but she detoured to Florida. While there, she started dating servicemen and met Major Matt Gordon, Jr. The two fell head over heels and planned to marry. The Major was sent to India and before he could make good on his promise to marry her, he was killed in action on August 10, 1945. Elizabeth was heartbroken and even told friends that she and the Major had actually been married and that she had been pregnant, but lost the baby. There doesn't seem to be any proof of either of these claims.
One of the other servicemen she had dated in Florida was a pilot named Lieutenant Gordon Fickling. To try to overcome her heartbreak, she began to correspond with him and probably had plans on getting him to marry her. She met up with him in Chicago and he asked her to join him in Long Beach where he was stationed at the Naval Reserve Air Base. Betty ended up staying in Los Angeles and while there were claims she wanted to be a movie star, she never did pursue any acting jobs. Rather, she worked as a waitress and couch surfed. She stayed with friends like Ann Toth and Lynn Martin who said, "Hollywood is a lonely place when you come into it without home ties or friends and very little money. There are few places for a lonely girl to go except into a bar. Girls start rooming together like old friends. It doesn't matter if they don't know anything about each other. It's somebody to talk to and share the rent with - like Beth and Marjorie and I. ... You're always lonely in Hollywood, even when you're out with people. They don't belong to you - those people. None of them really care what happens to you. ... Lots of times the girls talk to each other about getting out of Hollywood and starting all over again. They're going back home, or they're going to get married to someone. Down in the heart of all of them is sort of a hazy dream about a husband and a house and a baby."
Perhaps that is why Betty decided to leave Los Angeles for San Diego on December 8, 1946. She also had been very upset about something as she told Mark Hansen, a man in whose home she had stayed for a while, that she was scared and needed to get away. In San Diego, she met Robert "Red" Manley, a guy who was built nice and very good-looking. But, he was also married. He offered to drive Betty back to Los Angeles and he did so on the morning of January 9, 1947. She asked him to drop her at the Biltmore Hotel, so that she could meet-up with her sister who was visiting from Boston. Red is the last person to have seen Elizabeth alive, other than a few staff members of the hotel who remember seeing her using the lobby telephone and sitting in the Crown Grill Cocktail Lounge. She walked out of the hotel at 10pm wearing a friend's coat heading south. *Weird Fact: Red died on January 9, 1986, thirty-nine years to the day after leaving Elizabeth Short at the Biltmore Hotel.* Elizabeth would be found dead January 15th. Before I get into the specifics of her murder, I have so many questions right here.
Why didn't she meet up with her sister? Did she leave before her sister arrived for some reason? Did she leave with someone? Was it willingly? Did she know George Hodel prior to this? Is that why she had been afraid and wanted to leave town? Did he show up at the Biltmore Hotel? How did George Hodel get Elizabeth to his house? Where was she for six days?
The Sowden House:
Standing outside of the Sowden House leaves an impression on anyone. This is one of the most unique homes that has ever been built. Many people got to see the home when it was used as a setting during the "I Am the Night" series. Steve Hodel described what was probably the draw for his father when he wrote, "Once inside this remarkable house one found oneself in absolute privacy, invisible to the outside world." The house is located at 5121 Franklin Avenue in Los Angeles, California and was built in 1926. The design can leave no doubt that this is the creation of the Wright family. Frank Lloyd Wright was a legendary architect known for his unorthodox and controversial designs. I'm fortunate in that I live near Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida, which is a campus filled with Wright creations and a museum. As a matter of fact, it is the largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in the world. Frank had a son whom he gave his name and junior would go on to be an architect as well, who helped his father. He went by Lloyd and joined his father in Los Angeles in the late 1910s. One of the commissions he helped his father with was the famous Hollyhock House. The elder Wright eventually became tired of Los Angeles and left the reins to his son. Lloyd wanted to get out of the shadow of his father's name and establish himself.
He would do that designing places like the Otto Bollman House in the Hollywood Hills, the Wayfarer's Chapel in Palos Verdes and the avant-garde orchestral shells for the Hollywood Bowl. In the neighborhood of Los Feliz, he would build the Samuel-Novarro House and the Sowden House. Los Feliz has shown up on the podcast before because Griffith Park and this neighborhood make up the original Rancho Los Feliz, a land grant given to colonial Spanish-Mexican land grantee, José Vicente Feliz. (You can hear about the haunts of Griffith Park on episode 95.) The Los Feliz of the 1920s was an enclave for silent movie
stars and people on the upper end of the financial spectrum. It was here that retired artist John Sowden moved with his wife Ruth and they commissioned Lloyd to design a unique home for them. And that is certainly what he did.
The Sowden House is in the Mayan Revival style, which I had never heard of before. It resembled a fortress and the Sowdens had requested that it have a stage for them to host avant-garde performances. Also included were secret rooms and a central courtyard filled with plants, a pool and fountain, which were later removed. The entire structure is built from steel and the concrete blocks used in construction were ornamental. The carved stones are so unique and really make this house. The designs
are on the outside and inside and are so hard to describe, but are
beautiful. The floors are wood and the windows are uniquely shaped and
designed. The style of the house has been referred to as "brooding" and "cultic." A 1938 article in the Los Angeles Times wrote of the house, "It's the sculptural style of architecture,” explains Mr. [Lloyd] Wright. Sculptural architecture, it seems, fits the building right into the landscape. One of the striking features of the Franklin Avenue structure is the mass of stone and cement which project out from the roof line." One of the most impressive features of the house are the huge sculpted copper gates at its front. The interior is described as labyrinth-like and has seven bedrooms, four bathrooms and covers 5600 square feet. This house would be considered the pinnacle of Lloyd Wright's career.
The house was sold in 1930 to Ruth Rand Barnett who kept it for six years and sold it in 1936. I'm not sure who that owner was, but they sold it in 1944 to someone who didn't keep it long. George Hodel bought the property in 1945 and moved into it with his ex-wife Dorothy. Steve Hodel described the house as, "Once through the gate, you turned immediately to your right and
continued up a dark passageway, then made another right turn to the
front door. It was like entering a cave with secret stone tunnels,
within which only the initiated could feel comfortable. All others
proceeded with great caution, not knowing which way to turn. Growing up
in that house, my brothers and I saw it as a place of magic that we were
convinced could easily have greeted the uninvited with pits of fire,
poison darts, deadly snakes, or even a giant sword-bearing turbaned
bodyguard at the door. Right out of Arabian nights."
After George Hodel was aquitted of raping his daughter, he sold the Sowden House and left the country. From that point until the 2000s, I'm not sure what happened with the house, but it was left in disrepair. The house was purchased for $1.2 million in 2001 by Xorin Balbes. The house was in need of a lot of love at this time and he spent $1.6 million in restorations. He added a pool and spa to the central courtyard and redesigned the kitchen into a large open room. Some of his changes were criticized by preservationists and Lloyd Wright's son Eric. In 2011, Balbes sold the house to a
man named Stephen Finkelstein for $3.85 million. The current owner of the house is Dan Goldfarb who purchased it in 2018 for around $4.7 million. He made his fortunes by selling cannabis to pets. His plans at the time for the property were to open a "cannabis oasis" in the space. As I did my research, the official website for the property was down, so I'm not exactly sure what is going on with it currently, but it had been offered for photo shoots and as a gathering place for events. The house has been in several movies, TV shows and music videos.
What happened to Elizabeth between January 9th and the discovery of her body on January 15th is a mystery, although I would say at least three people know much of what happened: George Hodel, Man Ray and Elizabeth Short. That is my opinion, not fact. We can reason out how Elizabeth was tortured and murdered based on her body. This is gruesome stuff committed by a sick mind. When her body was discovered in an empty lot near 39th Street and Norton Avenue in Los Angeles, it had been surgically bisected. I'm not sure if her body was cut in half to facilitate transport or for the purpose of creating an art piece. Now you may have jerked your head when you heard me say art piece, but I believe that is what this was: George Hodel's sick surrealist piece of art as an homage to Man Ray.
There are some who believe that Elizabeth Short knew Hodel and had even posed for Man Ray. A piece of art Man Ray did in 1970 features an unknown woman who has a striking resemblance to Elizabeth and has a Red Dahlia in her hair. The piece “L’Equivoque” was done in 1943 and features a nude torso of a woman with the face scratched out. Steve Hodel thinks this gave his father inspiration. Man Ray seems to depict the crime scene of the Black Dahlia murder in his piece "Les Invendables," which was done in 1969 and features a woman's torso on top of a mythical beast body. I totally see it. Link to see here. The woman's arms are raised above her head. Steve says that “I talk about his scalpel being his paintbrush and her body was the canvas." I couldn't have said it better.
Another Betty would find the nude and bisected body, Betty Bersinger. She was heading down Norton Avenue with her three-year-old daughter on the way to a shoe repair shop. Many of the lots here had been left abandoned because of World War II. Betty noticed something white in the weeds that looked similar to a human body and she initially thought it was a mannequin that had been discarded. She approached closer because she was intrigued as to why the mannequin was in two pieces and then she realized that she was looking at a human. She screamed. She then ran to a nearby house to call the police. The first to arrive on scene were officers Frank Perkins and Will Fitzgerald who called for backup when they saw the state of the body.
Investigators made several notes about what they found. The woman had clearly been posed with her torso lying on the back and the arms raised over the shoulders. The lower half of her body featured her legs spread in a vulgar way. The body had been mutilated and the coroner's report would reveal some twisted stuff. The mouth resembled the Joker's smile having been sliced from corners of the mouth to the ears. This type of mutilation is called a Glasgow Smile. The reason is because
the practice originated in Glasgow. It became very popular with English
street gangs. And we would have an answer as to where Betty had been for six days as rope marks on her wrist, ankles and neck indicated that she had been tied up and tortured for days. Her intestines were tucked underneath her buttocks. The most peculiar thing was that the body had been drained of blood and washed. This was confirmed by Detective Lieutenant Jesse Haskins who described the scene as “the body was lying with the head towards the north, the feet towards the south, the left leg was five inches west of the sidewalk… The body was lying face up and the severed part was jogged over about ten inches, the upper half of the body from the lower half… there was a tire track right up against the curbing and there was what appeared to be a possible bloody heel mark in this tire mark; and on the curbing which is very low there was one spot of blood; and there was an empty paper cement sack lying in the driveway and it also had a spot of blood on it… It had been brought there from some other location… The body was clean and appeared to have been washed.”
Elizabeth's fingerprints were taken to help identify her and then her autopsy began. There was no sperm on the body as it had been washed, but it was believed she was violated both vaginally and anally. She had multiple lacerations to the face, arms and head and it was these along with head trauma that was listed as her cause of death. Her pubic hair had been removed and there was a criss-cross pattern cut into the area above her pubic bone. There was a tic-tac-toe slashing on the right hip. Pieces of flesh had been cut away from her breasts and thighs. Horribly, the flesh that was removed from her left thigh was found in her vagina and the pubic hair that had been removed was found in the rectum. Many of the cuts were believed to have been made post mortem as was the bisection.
People and reporters had trampled the crime scene and there wasn't much to go on. A list of suspects was compiled, but no one was arrested. The Herald-Express was owned by William Randolph Hearst and he wheeled and dealed with the LAPD to exchange information. LAPD Captain Donahoe wasn't keen to make this deal with the Devil, but he was desperate and so he agreed to grant exclusive access to the paper if they would continue investigating clues and give the police anything they uncovered. Wayne Sutton, a Herald-Express reporter, called Phoebe Short and lied to her about Betty winning a talent contest to get information on Betty. He then told her mother that Betty had been murdered and he offered to fly her out. He kept her from the cops and other papers. The paper also managed to track down Elizabeth's trunk where she kept her photos and mementos at the Greyhound Express station in downtown Los Angeles. On the nickname Black Dahlia, I've heard a couple of stories. One is
that the newspapers came up with the name, but I also found several
stories that claimed she already had the nickname before her death and
that the papers were meerly reporting what they heard about Betty. A
drugstore owner said, "Her hair was jet black and she liked to wear it
high. She was popular with the men who came in here and they got to
calling her ‘The Black Dahlia.'"
The Black Dahlia in Hollywood website reported that Betty's belongings were mailed to the newspapers in LA, but ended up just at the post office. The website says, "At approximately 5:30 p.m. on January 24, 1947, Postal Inspector Wood telephoned police investigators and informed them that an open ended envelope with paste-up letters, addressed to “Los Angeles Examiner and other Los Angeles papers” had been received at Terminal Annex in downtown Los Angeles. The envelope also read, “Here is Dahlia’s Belonging. Letter to Follow.” After authorities were contacted, several Los Angeles newspapers were informed.
The envelope was opened in the presence of Postal Inspectors Wood and Green, Homicide detectives Brown and Cummings, Sgt. Wheeler of the fingerprint unit and several representatives from local newspapers.
The envelope had been soaked in gasoline or kerosene and 23 items were discovered inside, all personal property of murder victim Elizabeth Short. The contents included,
(1) Western Union Telegram regarding missing trunk shipped via R.E.A..
(2) Railway Express Agency Express receipt, dated 6/1/46.
(3) Part of sales slip printed in ink, Pacific Outdoor Advertising Co.
(4) Business card, Pacific Outdoor Advertising Company.
(5) Business card for A.D. Brix
(6) Business card for E.A. “Jack” Kleinan. House of Hollywood Realtor.
(7) Typewritten Social Security card, signed “Elizabeth Short” in green ink.
(8) Piece of notebook paper with Jimmy Harrigan’s Army base phone number.
(9) A torn piece of notepaper with Carl Balsiger’s phone number.
(10) Notebook leaf printed in pencil “Jimmy Bifulco.”
(11) Scrap of paper with”Wayne Gregg” written in ink.
(12) I.D. card “Elizabeth Short,” in case of emergency, contact P.M. Short.
(13) Abstract of record registry, City of Boston, “Elizabeth Short, daughter of…”
(14) Card, Hollywood Wolves Association with member, Chet Montgomery.
(15) Business card for Brandt Orr, Dressen Realty Company, with personal note.
(16) A Pacific Greyhound Lines parcel claim check, stamp dated January 9.
(17) 1 small snapshot of an aviator and a girl in cockpit of a plane.
(18) 1 small snapshot of a girl in black fur jacket, black hat, buildings in background.
(19) Photo of man in army uniform, standing near tree, frame house in background.
(20) Small snapshot of victim and a man.
(21) Small snapshot, aviator in flying suit and parachute, standing in front of plane.
(22) Woman dressed in riding habit standing beside a horse.
(23) One black address and telephone book with “Mark Hansen” in gold letters."
I've heard former LAPD detective Steve Hodel interviewed many times. He has written several books including "Black Dahlia Avenger" that detail what he believes were the crimes of his father. Steve put forward that he thinks his father killed at least nine women and that three of them came to their end in the Sowden House, including Elizabeth Short. There is evidence to back up the claim that this is true and one of those things is that a cadaver dog named Buster was brought to the house in 2013 and he marked several places in the basement as having the scent of death. Soil samples that were collected revealed the presence of human decomposition.
And Steve found that he wasn't far off when LA Times reporter Steve Lopez went through police
transcripts and found that George Hodel had been a suspect. The police had also bugged the Sowden House during the incest trial and in those tapes it is believed that there are the sounds of a woman being assaulted and then there are sounds of a shovel moving dirt. George later called a friend and said, "Supposin' I did kill the Black Dahlia. They couldn't prove it now. They can't talk to my secretary because she's dead." We don't know what his secretary, Ruth Spaulding, knew, but Steve believes his father killed her. She apparently died of an overdose.
Now an interesting little aside is that I also did a Haunted True Crime on Georgette Bauerdorf who haunts the The El Palacio Apartments. She was murdered in 1944 in a horrible way too and the murder was never solved. She had worked at the Hollywood Canteen and I had thought that the Black Dahlia did too, so I remarked in that BonusCast how their lives intersected because of these similarities. Later I found that there was no real proof that Elizabeth Short had worked at the Hollywood Canteen because every woman who worked there had an ID with their fingerprint on it and there has never been an ID like that that has surfaced for Elizabeth. But their lives intersected in another way according to Steve Hodel. When I visited his website to look at the list of victims he thinks his father killed for sure, Georgette Bauerdorf is second on the list just before Elizabeth. On the BonusCast, the only suspects I really had mentioned were several servicemen, one of whom had been pretty persistant about dancing with her at the Canteen on the night of her death. Is it possible she was another victim of Hodel's? The other women Steve has down as definite victims are Ora Murray in 1943, Jeanne French in 1947, Lillian Dominguez in 1947, Gladys Kern in 1948, Mimi Boomhower in 1948, Jean Spangler in 1948 and Louise Springer in 1949. The podcast Hollywood & Crime did a 26-episode series opener they called The Black Dahlia Serial Killers that goes into detail about these deaths.
Goldfarb and his wife claim to feel at peace at the home and believe they have not had any paranormal experiences when they stay there. I mentioned that I didn't know what happened to the house between Hodel and the 2000s, but Steve Hodel claims that the house was abandoned in the 1960s and 1970s and his half-sister, Tamar, broke into the house, possibly seeking some kind of closure and when she was in there, she saw an apparition of a female. She didn't think it was the Black Dahlia. Zak Bagans interviewed members of the Hodel family and while he was talking to Tamar's daughter Fauna, they both felt a presence near them. Fauna claimed that she has felt ill many times in the home because of the negative energy. Psychic medium Patti Negri has felt that same negative energy in the house. She says that something pushed her up against the wall. Something she could not see.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention where the spirit of the Black Dahlia has been seen and for that, we need to leave this property and head to the Biltmore Hotel, the last place that Elizabeth was seen. Her full bodied apparition is seen pacing in the area where the bank of phones was once located. She paces in the lobby and in the hallways and wears a black dress. And occasionally, she takes a ride on the elevator. One man reported his first hand experience with the Black Dahlia. He boarded the elevator with his head down and jammed the number 8 button. He noticed that the number 6 button was lit, so he glanced behind him and saw a young woman in the corner of the elevator. She had black hair and beautiful eyes. She seemed sad, but gave him a faint smile. He turned his head forward again, but he could see the young woman in the reflection of the elevator doors. He noticed that she seemed dressed in clothes better suited for the 1940s.
The elevator reached the sixth floor and the doors opened. The young lady did not get off as the man stepped aside. He cleared his throat and said, "This is the sixth floor. Don't you want to get off." The young woman seemed startled and bustled passed him. As she did, he felt an icy chill. She turned to him before the doors closed and there was a look of urgency in her eyes as though she were asking him for help. Just as the doors closed, he pressed the Open Doors Button. As the doors slid back open, he saw that the young woman was gone. He glanced up and down the hallway, but she had just disappeared. Later, he was in a bookstore when he picked up a book on unsolved crimes. He flipped through the pages and was stunned to see the young lady staring back at him from one of the pages. The young woman had been the Black Dahlia.
A friend of Hodel's named Edmund Teske said of his time at Sowden House, "It’s an evil place! Artists, philosophers, accountants and politicians we all played and paid there. Women were tortured for sport there. Murders happened there. It’s an EVIL place." Is there still something evil there? Is the negative energy absorbed into the stones? Is the Sowden House haunted? That is for you to decide!