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June 15, 2023 46 mins

Root of Evil Producer and Creator Zak Levitt joins us to discuss what was left on the cutting room floor of the hit 2019 podcast. And we reveal new information about the relationship between George Hodel and Fauna Hodel.

Plus, listen to Zak Levitt's new show The Set. The Set tells the inside story of policing in Harlem's 30th precinct, during its most vulnerable time. 33 of its officers were arrested and convicted of corruption, and the precinct came to be known as "The Dirty 30." The Set is a cautionary tale of what can happen when the world's largest police department fails to police itself, and how easy it can become for good cops to turn bad - all told by the people who lived it. The first three episodes are available starting June 14th, with new episodes every week. Or you can binge all 10 episodes exclusively on the Audacy app.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:03):
You're listening to Facing Evil, a production of iHeartRadio and
Tenderfoot TV. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast
are solely those of the individuals participating in the show
and do not represent those of iHeartRadio or Tenderfoot TV.
This podcast contains subject matter which may not be suitable
for everyone. Listener discretion is advised.

Speaker 2 (00:27):
Hello, everyone, welcome back to Facing Evil.

Speaker 3 (00:30):
I'm Rasha Pecerreira and I'm Evett Genteeley and today's episode
is beyond special to us. And this episode is going
to be a two parter because it has been a
long time in the making for this particular one.

Speaker 2 (00:47):
Yes, it absolutely has, and we are finally giving our
Root of Evil and Facing Evil fans exactly what they
want and in depth look at the making of our
hit podcast. Asked Root of Evil the true story of
the Hodel family and the Black Dahlia.

Speaker 3 (01:05):
And the best way to do that is to have
the creator, the man himself, the producer, the writer, the
director of Root of Evil, mister Zach Levitt is here
with us on Facing Evil como.

Speaker 4 (01:19):
My I am so excited to be here. I thank
you for asking me on. Thank you for the opportunity
to talk about what was such a special time in
my career, in my life and getting to know you
guys and making the show, and this is sort of
the conversation that I've been waiting to have for a while,

(01:42):
to talk about the making of the show and what
we went through and the journey. And I'm really excited.
So thank you for having me on.

Speaker 2 (01:51):
Thank you, thank you here. Yeah, like this, like you said,
this has been years in the making. This conversation. Every
single listener is going to want to listen in on
because we're going to answer all of the questions and
Yvette and I get DMS messages, calls, all the things

(02:11):
on the daily, and we have been getting all those
since twenty nineteen when Root of Evil came out. We're
going to answer everything, and we more importantly, we're going
to have that amazing conversation with you, Zach, and we're
going to talk about everything that was left on the
cutting room floor of Rood of Evil. A lot of
people don't know what was left on the counting room

(02:32):
floor is monumental to the story and to our lives.
And we're going to answer that big question, who was
our mom's father? Was it George Hodell, Was it her
grandfather or was it not. We're going to get into
all of that today. Zach Lovitt is a two time Emmy, Peabody, NAACP,

(02:53):
Image and New York Press Club Award winning documentary, film
and podcast creator who has helmed some of the most
popular and acclaimed documentaries of all time. Zach's hit podcasts
include Gangster Capitalism, The Sunshine Place, Relative Unknown, and our

(03:13):
smash hit true crime podcast, Root of Evil, The True
Story of the Hodell Family and The Black Dahlia. And
next up for Zach, not only is he creating, producing,
directing all the things, he is finally stepping in front
of the mic as the host of the highly anticipated
podcast The Set.

Speaker 3 (03:33):
So prior to you making podcasts, Zach has made documentary
films from his time with the NBA. So we're talking
about thirty for thirty, Clutch City, Bad Boys, The Doctor,
Doctor j Doctor Julius Irving, who I just have to
say it was my dad's favorite, along with mine, The

(03:55):
Dream Team, The Announcement, and Once Brothers. I mean, Zach,
you have stood out as a fierce force and a
tenacious storyteller.

Speaker 2 (04:05):
Zach, But what I.

Speaker 3 (04:07):
Really love most about you and this is this is
so true and it's in your bio. But you can
work with the biggest names in the entertainment, but then
you can work with unknown characters like us. But you
bring everybody's story to light. And we feel that in

(04:28):
all that you do, like there's heart, there's grit, there's connection,
and that is a that is a storyteller at its finest.

Speaker 4 (04:37):
Zach. So, well, here's what I'm going to say the
next time I have a massive crisis of confidence on
the next project that I do, which there will be,
because it always comes where you say this is not
going to be good. Nobody's going to want to see
or listen to this. I'm going to listen back to that.

(05:00):
So thank you for that. That's super kind. And you know,
I mean, I think for me, I go into every
story beginning with a sense of curiosity. Who are the people.
That's really what I connect with, whether it's a it's
a former basketball player or athlete, or the two of you,

(05:24):
or anybody that I have, you know, put into one
of these stories. It's a curiosity about your lives and
what you've been through. And you know, gaining that level
of understanding. To be able to convey that to the
audience is what I love about what I do more
than anything, making those connections. And you know, the greatest
thing to me about these stories and working on documentaries

(05:47):
are the relationships that you make, you know, And here
we are five five years later from when we first
spoke on the phone and I first came out to
San Francisco and LA to meet up with you and
and do these these shoots, these these recordings. Here we
are five years later, and that relationship has grown to
this point. And I love that about docs because it's

(06:10):
such an intimate task. It's such an intimate journey to
to get to know the people on a level where
you know you can trust each other in the telling
of the story and and trust each other with your deepest,
darkest secrets and your lives, and you know, and that's
a that's a big undertaking. And you know, I that

(06:33):
is certainly something that I hold as incredibly important. And uh,
I love the fact that I have been able to
continue these relationships through the years, and that's a really
rewarding part of what I do, being able to to
to follow along in your lives as well. And look
at I mean, now you have your own podcast.

Speaker 2 (06:52):
And thank you, mister Zach Lovett to mister Donald, all right,
it's because.

Speaker 4 (06:58):
Of what you've been able to do and and people
have made that connection with the two of you and
they hear the you know, the warmth in your voices
and the and the sincerity and so I'm just it's
a stretch to say proud parent, but that's sort of
what I feel sometimes, I know, brother, Yeah, absolutely, that's
a much better analogy. So that's super rewarding for me.

(07:20):
So this is like full circle.

Speaker 2 (07:22):
It is full circle, and you're you're a true storyteller exactly.

Speaker 3 (07:27):
And I was gonna that was going to be one
of my first questions for you, Zach, is because you
have this you know, immense body of work. Right where
you started in the NBA, right it was all about
the sports and the basketball. And then I guess my
question is how did you transition from you know, documentary
films to podcasting? How did that come about?

Speaker 4 (07:50):
Yeah? So, I mean I was lucky in a sense
when I began working in production with the NBA. I
always wanted to get into production. I just I didn't
know anything about it. So, you know, how do you
break your way in? And so working at NBA Entertainment
was the perfect opportunity. I mean, I'm a huge basketball fan,

(08:12):
and it afforded me the opportunity to learn production from
the start, you know, as a production assistant, work my
way up, and I realized that I loved to do it.
I loved pulling overnighters in the edit room and making
the deadline and trying, you know, just trying to work

(08:33):
on being an actual storyteller. And so I was able
to do that and had that tremendous opportunity to make
some thirty for thirties and these other films, and through
that I sort of wanted to branch out. I didn't
want to do sports stories anymore at that point. In fact,

(08:55):
the ones that I did, I was always sort of
searching for an angle to connect in a more human way,
you know, rather.

Speaker 2 (09:03):
Than the heart of the story.

Speaker 4 (09:05):
Yeah, rather than portraying a basketball player, who is this person?
And so that has always been what I've been drawn to.
And at a certain point I had made the decision
that I wanted to do that in a different way,
and this opportunity became available to come on and start
an Originals division for Caden's Thirteen, and initially it was

(09:28):
going to be sports stories, and I said, well, I
kind of want to do other stuff. And Chris Corcoran,
who hired me, to his credit, he just sort of said,
that sounds great, whatever you think. And having said all that,
as I'm you know, having these talks to come on board,
talks were already going on behind the scenes between Caden's

(09:49):
Thirteen and TNT for a Sister podcast, which sounded really cool.
I can actually picture where I was in my old house,
stand in the room having this conversation, asking the question, well,
are any of the family members around?

Speaker 3 (10:07):
That's exactly what I was going to ask, Like, take
us back to that moment, right when you decided to
do this.

Speaker 4 (10:14):
Yeah, when I read your mom's book, as I said,
I was fascinated and I'm like, wow, there is a
lot here.

Speaker 2 (10:25):
Right, one little layer of the onion exactly.

Speaker 4 (10:28):
It was the first layer of the onion. But I
was devastated that to find out that your mom had
passed because my initial thought was, she'll tell her own story. Yeah,
she's never done this except for her book, and that'll
be really interesting. And I knew from her book that
she had a daughter named the Vett.

Speaker 2 (10:47):
I know, I'm not I'm barely mentioned. I'm in the epilogue.
You probably didn't read the epilogue.

Speaker 4 (10:53):
So I remember on that call with TNT, they said, well,
we'll put you in touch with the.

Speaker 2 (10:59):
Girls, and you're like the girls with.

Speaker 4 (11:01):
Any girls, there's more than one. And I said to myself,
oh shit, like, how am I going to incorporate two
of them as potential hosts? You know what is that
going to look like? So all of these things were
swirling in my mind in the background as we had
our first conversation. And I'm trying to remember. I think

(11:23):
I may have spoken with Sam Sheridan prior to speaking
with you read Yeah, yeah, so Sam Sheridan was the
writer and I think the ep and I am the Night, Yeah,
And so I spoke to him. I remember the first
question I asked him was, can you send me your
reading list, like all the books that you read to
write I Am the Night because I need to start researching.

(11:46):
And so he sent me a whole list of books
and I went out and I read all of them.
And it was such a wide range of topics, from
surrealist art to the history of LA and you know,
I found a bunch on my own that I read
as well. And one of the things that he said
on that conversation and I was just, I mean, I'm
trying to sort of jump on the treadmill as it's

(12:08):
speeding along. And you've been writing this thing for however long,
a year or longer.

Speaker 2 (12:15):
I know that you worked with Mom for a year
before he passed. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (12:20):
Yeah, so you know, any story that I do, my
first thing is to do research, and I try to
literally read everything possible it's ever been written about those topics,
so that you know, if I'm going to tell the story,
I have to be an authority on that story. But
one of the things that he mentioned in that conversation was,

(12:42):
so I just spoke to the girls Russia and Nivette,
and I'm saying to myself, Okay, Rasha, I didn't know
there was a second daughter. And he said, they told
me that they just went on twenty three and meters.
They just submitted their DNA to twenty three and meter
but I told them not to check the results until

(13:03):
they speak with you.

Speaker 2 (13:04):
He actually had it done before Mom passed. But yeah,
but we hadn't checked because some things were coming up
real funky, and we're like, oh my god, this is
going to prove that George was Mom's father.

Speaker 4 (13:37):
So I said, DNA results, you know, what is that
all about? That sounds interesting and it sounds like it
could be an interesting sort of reveal for the podcast.
I'll just talk to them. I don't even know DNA
results for what? Right again? I remember where I was
the first time we spoke. I was sitting in my
car in the parking lot of the library in the

(13:59):
town I live in, because I had just taken out
a bunch of books, and we spoke, and I remember
feeling this utter sense of warmth emanating from the two
of you, and you were both open to any idea
that I had and ready to ready to really just
tackle the story and go wherever I asked you to go.

(14:22):
And whether it was fly to la or down to
San fran from Portland or whatever whatever it was, you
were both ready to do anything. And I asked you,
you know, if you would be willing to be the hosts.

Speaker 3 (14:38):
Wait wait, wait, wait, I got to throw this in.
So I remember where I was. I was in my
car as well. You know, This was before twenty twenty
when everything shut down. San Francisco was still bustling, people
were walking everywhere, and we were getting this call from
Zach Levitt. You know, Sam said, you're going to get
this call from Zach Levitt. He wants to talk to
both of you. And I just remember feeling so I

(15:02):
always like to describe it as just you cradled us,
you know what I mean, Like you made us feel
so at home in that very first conversation. From that moment,
we you know, literally fell in love with you. And
you know that that doesn't happen often, but we could
tell that. You know, you were a solid, solid guy

(15:25):
who really wanted to do the story right.

Speaker 4 (15:27):
Thank you.

Speaker 2 (15:28):
And you have to remember too, we have to tell
our listeners this story. I remember, and I don't know
if it was in that first conversation. And yes, I
remember where I was. I was five feet from where
I am right now since I'm recording in my closet.
I was in my bedroom and I was instantly captivated
by your voice and I'm like, oh my god, like
I could listen to you talk for hours. But I

(15:50):
remember you saying, and I don't remember if it was
that first. I know, Zach, I know you don't like
your voice, but I love your fat Zach, accept it.
You're a podcast post. Now you're in our same realm.
But I remember, and I don't remember if it was
that very first conversation or the thousands we had after that,
but you're like, all right, Yvett and Russia like I'm
not sure which one of you I'm going to pick

(16:11):
as the host.

Speaker 4 (16:12):
Wow, I don't remember that. I was probably like hedging
my best or something like.

Speaker 2 (16:17):
Right, and and we're like, yeah, you know it. We're
just happy to be a part of it. And Mom,
you know, it's like she knew what a podcast was
before podcasts existed, because she started recording and making all
these recordings for years and years and years. And you know,
Yvette and I have never had jealousy anything like that,
and we're like.

Speaker 3 (16:34):
Never never any competition. So we were like, okay, well whoever.

Speaker 2 (16:38):
Yep, whatever, And then you were like, no, it has
to be the two of you. I mean you tell
us like.

Speaker 4 (16:44):
Yeah, well, I do remember that part because and I
think I told you this early on when we when
we first met. I've never seen siblings and I have
a brother, that I'm super close with, but I've never
seen siblings. There is no competition, there is no jealousy,
There is nothing between the two of you except this,
like I said before, this warmth. And you weren't proscriptive

(17:07):
about it, like you know, we do everything together. But
it was evident right from the start that this is
how it had to be because you were finishing each
other's sentences, and I mean it was like it was
like you were twins or something. But yeah, the energy
I knew that having the two of you together, and
also you leaned on each other emotionally.

Speaker 2 (17:28):
Yeah we just lost mom.

Speaker 4 (17:30):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely, and you were both in there for
each other. And then hearing you talk about one another
that was the selling point. And you know, I do
have to say because there was there was a consideration,
like you know, early on, you know, when I took
the job, it's like, Okay, everybody's got a podcast, right,
it's like running dough, yeah, media or wherever, you know,

(17:51):
listen to my podcast, and and you know, everybody sort
of takes that opportunity to put themselves out there right
and and to be you know, to have their own
podcast and to be a host. And that was never
really a consideration for me, especially with this story, because

(18:12):
one of the things, you know, when people ask me,
you know what, what is sort of one of the
overriding thoughts that you have as you're making these stories,
and I always say, get out of the way of
the story. And again it sounds you know, it sounds cliche,
and it probably is. But for me, it was like,
you know, if I can get the people that I

(18:32):
need to to to open up and to talk, the
story is great, and what the hell can I add
to it other than putting it together and writing it
and sort of shepherding it. But it's it's not my
story to tell, So it was never going to be
a consideration for me to host it myself. Which is
funny because I have come full circle on now with

(18:55):
with which we'll talk about later, the set coming out
which I'm which I'm hosting. But the other thing was
that I absolutely hate my voice, hate love and I
listen to it.

Speaker 2 (19:08):
You're just a perfectionist, Zach, and I have to say
that right now and put that out there, like you
are a perfectionists because you're a true storyteller and you
want to get it one hundred million percent right every
single time.

Speaker 4 (19:22):
That's true to my own detriment something. But in addition
to hearing you know, the way the two of you
interacted with one another, it was also your voices. I
was like, holy shit, your voices are so good and
totally ready to do this, And so yeah, we were.
We were sort of off and running. But of course

(19:42):
at that point I had no idea who was who
and how deep the story.

Speaker 2 (19:47):
Would get, right, and you know, talking about that on
that level, we and I mean, I'm going to speak
for you bet here, and I know she'll chime in.
We never thought that our Hodel o'hanna, our Hodel family
would sign on, only because Yvette and I have well,

(20:08):
I've been much more open than Evett. But our mom,
you know, told everyone she ever met her story and
wanted to hear other people's stories as well, but everyone
else was much more private. So I would love to
know how you got our great uncle Steve, our uncle Peace,

(20:29):
our uncle Love, our you know uncle Joy, our our
aunt f two. Everybody like, how how did that happen?

Speaker 4 (20:39):
Well, first of all, when I heard from you that
you had uncles named Peace, Love and.

Speaker 2 (20:46):
Joy, Yeah, that doesn't happen every day myself.

Speaker 4 (20:51):
I grew up in Woodstock, New York.

Speaker 2 (20:52):
I mean, and you've never heard of a Peace, Love
and Joy.

Speaker 4 (20:57):
You know. I know a lot of people with some
interesting names. But when I heard that their their names
were Peace, Love and Joy, I said, Okay, that's interesting.
I at least want to talk to them. That's that's
really interesting. But before I even got there, I knew
I wanted to speak with Steve, with Uncle Steve Odell,

(21:18):
because I knew that in order to tell Fauna's story
that you know, the black Dahlia had to be a
part of it. Absolutely Obviously, that's going to be the
thing that people recognize, and it's a trojan horse, really
great to tell this bigger story of the family. And
I also, with or without Steve, this was always going

(21:40):
to be a story about family, because there was no
way that I was going to just do a black
dahlia story. It had been done so many times. I
knew I could bring some level of authenticity to it.
But if it were just about the black Dallia, it
was going to be viewed as something sensational and you know,

(22:02):
capitalizing on this gruesome unsolved murder. And I did not
want that. Yeah, And I think that that's what we
connected on for sure. And I think when I when
I told you that I really wanted to tell the
story of the family. You know, my sort of entry
point was, who would give away this baby to, you know,

(22:22):
to a family in Sparks, Nevada, Nevada, a black family
and tell them that she's black when she wasn't and
put her through this turmoil of having no idea who
she was? And you know what is that all about?
Like why why would that happen? And you know you
mentioned the onion analogy before, and it's it's it's like,
once you start asking that first question, you're in the

(22:44):
rabbit hole.

Speaker 2 (22:45):
Yeah.

Speaker 4 (22:46):
Yeah, and the Black Dahlia is a whole other, enormous
rabbit hole that you know. It's like, you know, once
you go in, you can never really get out. And
in fact, once you see the pictures of Elizabeth Short,
it's hard to get that out of your mind.

Speaker 2 (23:04):
Yeah.

Speaker 4 (23:04):
And so in telling the family story, I knew that
I wanted to incorporate this investigation. And if I'm telling
the family story and the investigation, I have to have
Steve Hodell, who literally wrote the book on the investigation.

Speaker 2 (23:19):
Yeah.

Speaker 4 (23:19):
Yeah, and is of course part of the family. I mean,
the idea of a son investigating his own father and
the most famous unsolved murder in American history is that
alone is enough for a massive story, and then you
incorporate all of these other things that we found out.
So I knew that I really wanted to get to Steve. Yeah,

(23:42):
And so once I got Steve, I spoke with Love,
and Love was generous enough to say that he would
do it. And Fauna number two, Deborah Elizabeth Fauna, she
was difficult at first because you know, obviously her story
is so personal and so devasting, and she wasn't sure
that she wanted to tell it. And the last thing

(24:04):
that I wanted to do was trigger her by digging
into her past and traumatize her. Yeah, And I was
really really sensitive to that. And so you know, I
told everybody, look, I would love to have you all,
and I don't want anybody else speaking about you or
telling your story other than yourselves. Peace and Joy were

(24:24):
the last to come around. And you know, once there
was that agreement, I knew it was going to be
special because I knew I knew that there was a
story that none of them had told that. You know,
I was hoping to provide this forum to maybe have
some sort of catharsis or to be able to speak

(24:46):
about what they'd been through and have people hear it
and let them know that they were fans of theirs.
And you know, and I think that that's you know,
I never offer anybody any money. I've never done that once. Yeah,
I don't offer anything other than you can finally tell
your story, you know, and people are people are going

(25:08):
to listen.

Speaker 3 (25:08):
There's power in that, you know, going into that room
with all of us, it was cathartic, you know at
that moment in time. You know, we had never done
that before, so that, you know, was a blessing for
all of us. But like you just said, everybody will
continue to live their lives and tell their own story

(25:31):
and in whatever way that they choose to. We do
know that, you know, by doing Root of Evil, there
was so much There was so much there that was
left on the cutting room floor, right, Zach, And we
really need to jump into that.

Speaker 4 (25:46):
Should we start with a six hour interview I did
with with the two of you that I think I
ended up using about three minutes of yes, because once
you were, once you were narrating, I was like, Okay,
well you know this is going to be even better
with your narration.

Speaker 2 (26:01):
So I think it's really important. I want to take
the opportunity to say this because Zach, what you shared,
you know about the family, Yvet and I have promised
the Hotels that we would never speak for them moving
on in the future. But with all of the publicity
and everything, you know you're with us, we did, doctor Phil,
doctor Oz that today show all the things. I do

(26:23):
want to take this opportunity to say that I learned
so much in that process because I realized that what
our family the Hotels went through is not my story
to tell, and they chose to share their story with us,
with the world, and anything I've ever said publicly, I

(26:46):
just want them and everyone to know that I never ever,
ever intentionally wanted to hurt any of them ever, and
I know that whatever they choose to do, whatever stories
they decide to tell, that we will always support them
well always, and I want them to have as much

(27:08):
healing as we have and success that we've had in everything,
and I just want to send them just all love
and light always. So I just really, really really wanted
to say that, and you know, at the end of
the day, you just have to remember you only get
one family, right, I.

Speaker 4 (27:25):
Want to do the same Rasia. I spoke about those relationships,
and you know, I know that that some people are
you know, might be more private or or or just
sort of want to move on, and I respect that,
and I have nothing but love for everybody in the
Hodel family, those who participated in those who didn't, and

(27:48):
to have have trusted me with their stories. You know,
it's a scary thing. It's a really it can be
a really scary thing to put yourself out there like that,
and it takes an insane amount of courage to do that. Absolutely,
the bottom line is that all of you are such
incredible people in every way, and so yeah, I mean

(28:09):
it all starts from there, and then everything else, you know,
god willing can fall into place, and of course it
doesn't always because they're messy family dynamics, but it's an
ongoing process, right.

Speaker 2 (28:21):
Yeah, if you think about it, like what family has
been in a room altogether, airing all the dirty laundry,
all the dirty skeletons, all the secrets. With an award
winning podcast creator and director and all these microphones.

Speaker 4 (28:37):
I mean, you could have stopped that getting together in
a room because very few.

Speaker 3 (28:41):
Right I was going to say that exactly, I would say,
very few have ever done that. And you know, there's
been so many, you know, different movies, you know that
deals with families, and one side of this family doesn't
agree with what the other side of the family does.
But the most important lesson I think that both Rush
and I learned is you have to respect what other

(29:03):
people went through, and you can never walk in their shoes.
You can only tell the story from your perspective, your truth.

Speaker 4 (29:11):
You know.

Speaker 3 (29:12):
And I think you did that and you you directed
us in a beautiful way, you know, Zach so And
that's why the story was so welcoming to so many.

Speaker 4 (29:21):
It's hard to distill one, two, three, four, five, six, seven,
eight lives into a podcast where there's there's so much there.
But yeah, I mean, just as the two of you
took this platform, I mean, you know, I had hoped
that it would be a platform for for everybody to
sort of run with it in whatever way they chose afterwards.

(29:45):
In making it, I knew that it was an incredibly unique,
wild story, and we can get a couple of the
details sort of you know, moments that I lost my
shit where I was like, oh my god, yeah, us too.
But you know, you never really know for sure when
you're making these things how the audience will respond. But

(30:08):
I had a feeling that people would listen because it
is such a wild story, but I certainly couldn't have
ever anticipated the audience that it would have.

Speaker 2 (30:20):
I want to know what was your oh shit moment?

Speaker 4 (30:24):
I think my biggest oh shit moment. I decided to
put that at the end of episode three. You know,
I mentioned before about doing all of this research going
into the story, and one of these one of the
major topics of research was surrealist art. And I can't
remember who I heard it from. Maybe it was maybe

(30:44):
it was in Steve's book, I don't remember, but you know,
look into Robinson Jeffers because he had a poem called
Tomorrow and I read it and I was like, oh
my god, this is like, you know, the overriding theme
is about incest, and I'm like, okay, this is very
you know, this is really strange. And then to find

(31:07):
out that he had another poem named Fauna, I was like,
holy shit. I mean, I remember like losing sleep a
lot during the making of this first sort of the
mental piece of wrapping my mind around the Black Dahlia
murder and the fact that yeah, yeah, and the pictures

(31:28):
and how gruesome it was, and you know, really getting
into the details of that. But then the darkness of
understanding that George could have named his daughter and had
a hand in naming his granddaughter after these poems about.

Speaker 2 (31:44):
Incest because of the surrealist connection.

Speaker 4 (31:47):
You had this incest trial in nineteen forty nine, yep,
And I'm like, how sadistic could you be to do
something like that? And so I knew that that would
have the same impact on the audience. I mean, I'm
pretty jaded at this point, you know. Yeah, but if
it rocked me, I'm like, it's going to rock other people.

(32:10):
And I remember, you know, that was one of the
few times I like went on social media after that episode,
dropped on Twitter.

Speaker 2 (32:17):
It's the only place you can find Zach Levitt.

Speaker 4 (32:19):
Yeah, right, Yeah, I'm not a big social media person,
And I remember seeing the reaction people's jaws dropped. There
were there were like videos of people like, you know,
redoing their reactions.

Speaker 2 (32:31):
Right, and the memes and the gifts.

Speaker 4 (32:34):
Yeah, yeah, totally. That was That was That might have
been one of the biggest moments where I was like,
holy shit.

Speaker 2 (32:41):
Yeah, And we didn't know that either. We knew that
George named Mom, but we didn't know where it came from,
not at.

Speaker 4 (32:47):
All, Like I didn't yep, well that's where it came from.

Speaker 3 (32:50):
Yeah, did you know back then that Root of Evil
would change the game in podcasting forever?

Speaker 4 (32:58):
I thought that it would rest an eight with people
because at the end of the day, it's about a
family and as Kelly Kelly Hodel, Steve's brother says in
one of the episodes, like all families have skeletons if
you go back far enough. And I totally believe that
to be true. And so, you know, going into this

(33:20):
and I think I try to do this in all
of the stories that I tell. How can I connect
with people broadly? You know, starting with a story that
nobody really has had this experience? How can people connect
with a story that is just totally foreign to them? Right,
if you're interested enough, you'll stick around because it's a

(33:41):
fucked up story. But at the end, let's sort of
take this story that is my internal story and let's
turn it around and sort of push it out there
to you the listener. And here's how I dealt with
these things. How are you know? If I can do it,
you can do it? That sort of thing. And I
did want to have a positive message at the end
of Root of Evil, and that's what you all delivered

(34:03):
so beautifully, which is, you know, if we can get
through this trauma, or if we're willing to talk about it,
not get through, because you know, it's always a work
in progress, but if we can continue to speak about
it and be willing to go to these dark places
to help you and to help myself by putting it
out there, you know, maybe you can do it too.
And you know, I had this sort of idealistic idea that,

(34:28):
you know, maybe we could help people along the way.
And I think ultimately that's what really resonated with people.
It wasn't, you know, because you watch you look at
the reviews, you look at what people latch onto, and
it's not really about the black Dahlia, even though I
think we sort of put it out there in the
podcast that George Hodell was the killer. That's why I
believe I know there are others out there that don't

(34:50):
believe that.

Speaker 2 (35:12):
Let's talk about the elephant in the room, shall we,
So we want to know the story of what the
original ending of episode seven was and what the finale
of Root of Evil episode eight was supposed to be.

Speaker 3 (35:29):
Take a deep breath, Sack, take a deep breath.

Speaker 4 (35:32):
That was a difficult moment for me in a lot
of ways. So circling back to my first conversation on
this project with Sam Sheridan when he mentioned that the
two of you had been on twenty three and meters
sort of digging around seeing what would come back as

(35:53):
far as DNA results. Because of course, your mother, Fauna
didn't know who her father was, you know, when you
talk talk about the elephant in the room, Not only
did she not know who her father was, she had
thought for many years that it could have been George Hodell.
So not only would he have been her grandfather, but
he would have also been her father, which would mean

(36:16):
that he would have impregnated his own daughter tomorrow who
gave birth the Fauna. And that is not something that
is unbelievable because we know that there was an incest
trial in Los Angeles in nineteen forty nine, where this
well known doctor in La doctor George Hodell, was accused

(36:37):
of having incest with his daughter Tomorrow and impregnating her
and then getting her an illegal abortion.

Speaker 2 (36:47):
So those are facts, and there were witnesses that ended
up recanting even though he was acquitted.

Speaker 4 (36:55):
Yes, yes, there was a whole trial as we go
through in Root of Evil. So the idea of George
impregnating Tomorrow second time is not something that is out
of the realm of possibility, right, so we start from there. Okay,
who is Mom's father? And so that was something that

(37:16):
I thought from the very beginning, if we could answer this,
that would be a pretty dramatic way to close out
the series. Yeah, so that was always in the back
of my mind. I never knew if we would get
there or not. But you know, we sort of were
off and running with so many other beats of the story,
and you know, tracking this piece down and interviewing this

(37:38):
one and that one, and then I remember when we
first got together the first time in San Francisco. We
went on the computer and we went on twenty three
and meter and I said, Okay, let's let's do it.
Let's see, let's see.

Speaker 2 (37:49):
What we got yeah, let's look at it.

Speaker 4 (37:51):
Yeah, and you guys went on and I had never
been on a DNA website up until that moment, and
so I didn't really know what I was looking at
at first, and I was hoping to get some sort
of reaction from from the two of you, like what
are we looking at? And it turned out to be
a total nothing burger.

Speaker 2 (38:11):
Yeah, we didn't know. Yeah, we didn't know. Right, We
had no clue. Is there so many half siblings all
the thing? Yeah, it was a lot.

Speaker 4 (38:19):
Yeah, it was more like you might be related to
this person, you might have this background in your DNA.
But it certainly wasn't going to answer the question of
was George Odell Fauna's father? Right, was not going to
answer that.

Speaker 3 (38:33):
There was no definitive answer.

Speaker 2 (38:35):
Yeah, not without somebody analyzing all that data.

Speaker 4 (38:38):
So we go through. I am writing the episodes and
putting them together. We're, you know, we're we're building the
you know, the final product. And there was always this
idea in my mind. I remember asking the two of you,
when was the last time you were in the same
room with your uncles and your aunt, and you said,

(39:00):
all of us together, it's been.

Speaker 2 (39:02):
Decades nineteen eighties.

Speaker 4 (39:03):
Probably, yeah, so again sort of having this idealistic approach
of like, maybe I can bring the family together and
you know, heal some wounds and put things back together
for them. I mean, you know, I had these noble intentions.
Maybe I was naive, and I certainly didn't you know,
I didn't live the lives that any any of the

(39:24):
Hodell family has. So, but everybody was into it. Everybody agreed,
and I knew one way or another that it was
going to be a powerful moment. It was.

Speaker 2 (39:36):
It was very powerful.

Speaker 4 (39:37):
It was everybody was crying in the room. I was
crying everybody. I could almost start tearing up thinking about
it right now, honestly.

Speaker 2 (39:44):
I mean too. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (39:46):
So we put a pin in the twenty three and
me thing, Okay, we'll pull up out. Literally the day
before we were going to record that in the room
with all of us together, my producer found out that
we could take Fauna's DNA profile, which you had also uploaded.

(40:08):
I should have mentioned that earlier. We weren't just looking
at your DNA profiles.

Speaker 2 (40:13):
We had moms.

Speaker 4 (40:15):
We were looking at Mom's DNA profile, which told her
her ethnic background and that kind of thing. But we
had this digital DNA profile and if we uploaded it
to this other website, it would tell you if you
were a product of incest, and so we didn't need
the answer of okay, it will tell you that George

(40:38):
Hodell is your father. But if if the results come
back yes you are a product of incest, we know
who the father is. It's George, right. We literally the
day before we were set to record, Lloyd says, I
found this website and I spoke to and you know,
I'm being crazy, I'm like, okay, speak to the person

(41:00):
it runs it, just to make sure. I was like, look,
I'm not going to do this if we're not one
thousand percent sure that this is authentic and not some
you know, money grab on the internet or whatever. And
you know, I just I wasn't going to fuck with
everybody like that. You know, this is your lives and
it had to be accurate. And so Lloyd spoke with

(41:23):
this woman who is like the foremost DNA expert, and
I got on the phone with the two of them
and I was able to authenticate it and Okay, this
is this is what we need to do, because again,
like you know, talking about whether it's surrealist art or
these other facets of the story. Okay, now now I'm
looking at DNA and these scientific results that I don't understand.

(41:48):
How can I understand that? So she walked me through
it and I said, Okay, we now know that if
we just click enter on this website we will have
these results. And I was like, holy shit, holy shit, holy.

Speaker 2 (42:01):
Shit, holy shit, holy shit, holy shit, holy.

Speaker 4 (42:02):
Shit, because we're all going to be in the room
tomorrow together. And nobody wanted it to be George Hodell
for obvious reasons. You never want that to be your
family history. I mean, it's awful.

Speaker 2 (42:17):
I didn't want it, but I thought it with every
part of my being that he was the father, right,
and we know everyone knows that I did not, But
still you still want confirmation regardless. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (42:29):
Absolutely, And to everybody's credit, you were all willing to,
you know, to be a witness to that and to
go through with it, as scary as it is. I mean, god,
you know, finding out if this guy that you know
was a monster could have been the father of your mother. Yeah,
so yeah, going into it with anxiety, trepidation, you know,

(42:53):
all of those feelings, but also knowing like if we're
going to do this, let's do it. Let's do it.
You've all put your lives out there and this is
a big moment that everybody wants to hear.

Speaker 2 (43:04):
So did you know the day before? Did you know
before we did it in the recording? He did, didn't you, Zach?

Speaker 4 (43:10):
So I will tell you that we put it in
the day before and the results came back while everybody
was setting up in the room.

Speaker 1 (43:20):
Holy.

Speaker 4 (43:21):
So I knew that my reaction was not going to
be a part of the podcast, and I had to know.
So I went in the hallway and I checked.

Speaker 2 (43:29):
Yeah, of course you did. Of course you did. I
knew you knew, but I couldn't read your face. That's like, yeah, I.

Speaker 4 (43:36):
Tried to betray nothing. Yeah, I tried not to betray anything.

Speaker 2 (43:40):
He didn't.

Speaker 4 (43:42):
And then yeah, after our whole session together, and I
use that word because it really felt like a therapy session,
it was.

Speaker 2 (43:53):
It absolutely was.

Speaker 4 (43:54):
Now here we have this critical piece of information which
is going to be the culmination to the whole story.

Speaker 2 (44:02):
Right.

Speaker 4 (44:02):
We started with Fauna's story. Yeah, in episode one that
she was given away at birth? Why was she given
away at birth? When she finds out at the end
of episode one, that she was saved by the ghetto, right.

Speaker 2 (44:14):
That that's right, she was saved by the ghetto.

Speaker 4 (44:18):
Yeah, maybe that her father is this awful serial killer.
I mean, God, could there be anything worse. So we
have this opportunity now to end the series, to bookend
the series with you know, question in the beginning, answer
in the very end. And I thought that that would
be incredibly rewarding for the audience, but more so than that,

(44:43):
it was about all of you, like providing this answer
to all of you that you never had. Yeah, And
so there was this opportunity to close the book on
these thoughts that you've had all your lives, that your
mother lived her whole life with. And we can answer
that question right here, and we're about to do it.
So let's do it.

Speaker 2 (45:04):
Let's do it.

Speaker 1 (45:12):
We'll continue this conversation on the next episode of Facing Evil,
which will be available tomorrow, June sixteenth. Stay tuned to
hear the shocking truth about the Hodell family legacy. Facing

(45:45):
Evil is a production of iHeartRadio and Tenderfoot TV. The
show is hosted by Russia paquerero In a Vet Gentile,
Matt Frederick, and Alex Williams Our executive producers on behalf
of iHeartRadio, with producers Trevor Young and Jesse Funk. Donald
albright In Payne Lindsay our executive producers on behalf of
Tenderfoot TV, alongside producer Tracy Kaplan. Our researcher is Carolyn Talmage.

(46:12):
Original music by Makeup and Vanity Set. Find us on
social media or email us at facingevilpod at tenderfoot dot tv.
For more podcasts from iHeartRadio or Tenderfoot TV, visit the
iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your
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