Dispatches from the City of Angels
I'm a writer and humorist living in and writing about Los Angeles. You can catch my novel LOSING CLEMENTINE out March 6 from William Morrow. In the meantime, feel free to poke around. Over at my website you can find even more blog entries than I could fit here, as well as a few other ramblings. Enjoy and come back often.
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"Taint what a horse looks like, itís what a horse be." - A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
"Trying to take it easy after you've finished a manuscript is like trying to take it easy when you have a grease fire on a kitchen stove." - Jan Burke
"Put on your big girl panties, and deal with it." - Mom
"How you do anything is how you do everything."
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2006-08-07 11:23 AM
The burden of a serial killer's son
I have a weird job.
I spent my Sunday afternoon listening to former LAPD detective Steve Hodel make his case for why he believes his deceased father was a serial killer responsible for, among others, the Black Dahlia murder. We watched him flip through slides, a mix of family snapshots and crime scene photos of a bisected corpse.
For those not familiar, the Black Dahlia murder is the most notorious unsolved case in Los Angeles history. Our Jack the Ripper. The victim, dubbed the Black Dahlia, was named Elizabeth Short. At 22, she was found in a vacant lot dead, nude, posed and cut in half at the waist. The body was washed clean of all blood, and the cut was so precise, it is believed the killer must've been a medical expert.
Steve Hodel's father, George, was, among other things, a twisted genius, a prominent citizen and a doctor. And the case Hodel makes for George's guilt - while circumstantial, as all physical evidence has been lost by the LAPD - is very convincing. He compiled his evidence in a book, "Black Dalhia Avenger," and it was this he was promoting Sunday at my writers' association meeting.
George Hodel traveled in well-placed company. His inner circle included the artist Man Ray and director John Huston. And the number of people who Steve Hodel suspects knew what his father had done is perhaps most shocking of all.
And the argument, particularly given that Steve was a homicide detective of all things, that someone who knows - or thinks he knows - should stand up and say something is commendable. But I can't help but imagine that were I in his shoes, I would've stayed silent. To stand up and publicly accuse one's own deceased father of being a serial killer - I wouldn't have the stomach for that. I think I would've told myself that, guilty or not, he was dead. No more harm could come at his hands. The notorious corruption of LAPD at the time of the murder is well known. And that nothing could bring back the victims. I would've told myself that my silence would hurt no one.
I have no idea if that would be true.
I think I like my fictional murders better.
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