A retired police detective suspects he's getting closer to solving a series of 1940s Hollywood murders, including that of the Black Dahlia—and the man he suspects to be the killer is his own father. Steve Hodel first began to suspect George Hodel while going through his belongings after his death at age 91 in 1999. That's when he says he found two photos resembling Elizabeth Short, who became known as the Black Dahlia—and DA records confirm Hodel was indeed under suspicion in the 1947 case. The younger Hodel started doing research, and in 2003 published a book on the subject. He suspects his father killed as many as 10 young women before moving to Asia in the late 1940s, including Jean Spangler, a 26-year-old actress who may have been seeking an abortion before her 1949 disappearance; Hodel says his father was then one of the only LA-area physicians performing abortions. And new evidence lends credence to his serial-killer theory, he tells NBC Los Angeles.
Hodel believes his father committed the murders in or near their home at the time, which Hodel told CBS in 2004 included a secret room he and his siblings weren't allowed to enter. Suspecting the bodies may have been disposed of nearby, he returned to the house in 2012 with a cadaver dog in tow. It picked up the scent of possible human decomposition in several areas, including the alley behind the house. A soil sample from that alley was analyzed late last year, and it "came up positive for human remains," says the forensic anthropologist who tested it. Hodel next wants to deepen his search for the remains, but he's been thus far barred from searching the private hillside near the home, and the LAPD has declined to get involved. Hodel also thinks his father, who traveled to northern California in the 1960s and died while living in San Francisco, may have been the Zodiac killer—but at least two other people have pinned those murders on their fathers as well. (Read more serial killers stories.)