Black Dahlia case may be solved by death-sniffing dog

Posted By Kristen Butler,  |  Updated Feb. 6, 2013 at 6:12 AM
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On January 15, 1947, the severed body of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short was found in a vacant lot in Los Angeles. The case went cold and remained unsolved up to today, but former LAPD detective Steve Hodel has long believed his father murdered Short, nicknamed the Black Dahlia.

Hodel authored a book, "Black Dahlia Avenger," in which he said that his father, doctor George Hill Hodel, committed the murder at the "Sowden House" in Hollywood where the family lived at the time. It turns out the elder Hodel was a person of interest at the time, but was released. He died in 1991.

The Nov. 9 search of the historic house was conducted with the TV show "Ghost Hunters." Hodel participated in the search along with a cadaver dog trained to sniff for human remains. Although it was filmed, the segment with Buster did not air in the Jan. 16 episode. [Update: You can see a clip of the cadaver dog here at]

Buster's sense of smell led to a vent just outside the basement where he alerted detectives to the scent of human decomposition. Hodel said soil samples from the basement have been sent to a lab for analysis, but he believes the dog was onto something. "We have established as fact that the basement ... some 66 years after the murder, still holds the smell of death."

The Black Dahlia murder remains part of popular culture. The mystery was most recently covered in the 2006 film "The Black Dahlia," starring Scarlett Johansson, Josh Hartnett and Hilary Swank.

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