John Sowden House

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The John Sowden House was the site of the murder of Black Dahlia, aka Elizabeth Short, found surgically cut in half and dumped on a lot. Suspect Dr. George Hill Hodel fled the country. Subsequent residents of the home have heard voices, footsteps, and the sound of heavy chains dragging, and seen apparitions that appear to be Hodel. TV’s Ghost Hunters featured the house on an episode, and they caught the apparition on video as well as an EVP that said “It’s George.”

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Geographic Information

5121 Franklin Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
United States

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34.1055181, -118.3011975
Los Angeles County, California
Nearest Towns:
Hollywood, CA (1.5 mi.)
West Hollywood, CA (3.6 mi.)
Glendale, CA (3.7 mi.)
Universal City, CA (3.8 mi.)
North Glendale, CA (4.3 mi.)
Los Angeles, CA (4.9 mi.)
Burbank, CA (5.2 mi.)
North Hollywood, CA (6.4 mi.)
Boyle Heights, CA (7.4 mi.)
Century City, CA (7.5 mi.)

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  1. In 1945, Dr. George Hodel purchased the already iconic house. George frequently beat his sons in the basement. He also threw drug-infused, hedonistic parties and orgies in his gold bedroom. In 1949, Hodel’s beautiful teenage daughter Tamar ran away from the house. When questioned by the police, she said she had left because “her home life was too depressing,” on account of “all the sex parties at the Franklin House.” Tamar then accused her father and other adults of raping her during a party at the house. When questioned by police, George responded bizarrely, stating that he had recently been “delving into the mystery of love and the universe,” and that the acts of which he was accused were “unclear, like a dream. I can’t figure out whether someone is hypnotizing me,” he insisted, “or I am hypnotizing someone.” When police raided the home, they seized pornography and questionable objects. George was acquitted after launching a smear campaign directed at his daughter. He soon sold the Sowden House and left the country. For decades, the house was quiet—the home of the upstanding Mazur family. George Hodel died in 1999. But this was not the end of the story of George Hodel and the Sowden House. Not by a long shot. After George died, his son Steve, a retired LAPD detective, was going through some of his father’s possessions when he found two pictures of a lovely dark-haired girl. He soon became convinced that the photos were of Elizabeth Short, aka the Black Dahlia, whose unsolved 1947 murder and mutilation had long been the stuff of Hollywood legend. Over the next few years, he became convinced that not only had his sadistic father murdered the Dahlia, he had also been responsible for a number of unsolved, brutal murders that had taken place in Los Angeles in the 1940s. And he believed that some of these murders had taken place in the Sowden House’s basement. In 2003, Steve made these allegations public in the book Black Dahlia Avenger. “Supposin’ I did kill the Black Dahlia,” the good doctor said. “They couldn’t prove it now. They can’t talk to my secretary anymore because she’s dead.”

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