Was The Black Dahlia’s Killer Inspired By The Artist Man Ray?

Black Dahlia

The mystery of who killed the Black Dahlia, aka 22-year-old Elizabeth Short, in Los Angeles in 1947 has eluded police investigators, as well as true crime enthusiasts, for well over half a century. There have been plenty of theories batted around, of course, with the brutal manner in which she was killed – mutilated, her body sliced in half at the waist – providing the biggest potential clue.

Related: How Is The Black Dahlia Case Still Unsolved After Nearly 7 Decades?

Les Amoureux

Les Amoureux by Man Ray (Public Domain)

Retired police detective Steve Hodel has long suspected that his father, physician George Hodel, was the man who killed Short, and as many as 10 other women. Following his father’s death in 1999, the younger Hodel discovered photographs of a women resembling Short amongst his belongings; further research revealed that George Hodel had indeed once been a suspect, and in a 2004 interview with CBS, he said that his father had a secret room that he and his siblings were barred from ever entering. That’s where he believes his father killed his victims, including Short, some of whom he lured in as one of the only doctors at the time who performed abortions. There’s other potential evidence as well — Hodel’s handwriting is similar to the handwriting on notes the killer sent to police, and shortly before Short was murdered, Hodel bought bags of concrete of the same brand and size as those found near her dead body.

But a big question looms — WHY? Steve Hodel didn’t have a close relationship with his father, who abandoned the family when he was 9, moving eventually to the Philippines. But over the course of his investigation into his father’s past, he’s developed a new theory about what might have inspired the Black Dahlia murder — Man Ray. The famous surrealist artist was a family friend back in the 1940s, and according to The Guardian, “Two of Man Ray’s photographs, Les Amoureux and Minotaur, do bear a chilling resemblance to Short’s mutilated body.”

Minotaur by Man Ray (Public Domain)

Minotaur by Man Ray (Public Domain)

Steve Hodel believes his father wanted to emulate Man Ray’s surrealist style to create a “masterpiece” of his own, “a crime so shocking and horrible it would endure, be immortalized through the annals of crime lore.”

The Guardian has done a more extensive interview with Hodel about his overall investigation into the Black Dahlia murder and George Hodel’s possible involvement and it’s worth a read. This quote in particular stuck out. Asked what his dad would think of his theory and investigation, Hodel replied, “I don’t know. I’m guessing he’d be proud of me.”

Read more:

The Guardian


  • Joe Kulik

    I’ve read about Steve Hodel’s research into the Black Dahlia in the past, & I feel now exactly as I did back then — What a WIERDO this Hodel is for working SO Hard to prove that his own father is a sadistic murderer !!! Honestly, most offspring would try to hide any evidence that would implicate their parent in any murder, much less a famous one like this, right?? So what’s up with this guy?? It’s like he somehow thinks that it’s a “badge of honor” to be a murderer’s son. I have no clue where his head is at. So.Experienced@gmail.com

  • lasheekahaaron

    So sick and tired of hearing about this chic. Who cares

    • Emily Towsend

      Well, I would imagine her family cares quite a bit, no? She had a mother and 4 sisters. They have long since passed but suffered quite a bit for the better part of 5-6 decades. Her mother lived until 1992, nearly 50 years of pain and sorrow seeing her child like that. Have you seen those pictures? That was a real person. Those sisters had children who now, through no fault of their own, have to live through this. People writing books and making movies, telling lies, disparaging her name. The investigators who wanted to bring justice but couldn’t probably care quite a bit if you read through their interviews. Many devoted the better part of their careers to solving this case. Those who carry that torch today who are trying to right a wrong certainly care. Maybe you don’t care, which is fine. Maybe you don’t have anything to care about, which would be a shame. Maybe when you have children, you certainly will. Maybe you’re the one with the problem and not everyone else. For now, maybe you should just go away.