Who Is Fauna Hodel?

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Who Is Fauna Hodel?

Everything to know about the real-life woman at the center of the TNT Thriller "I Am The Night."

If you haven't heard the name Fauna Hodel, you aren't alone. But, if you're a fan of true crime you're probably all too familiar with who she is. Fauna was the granddaughter of a man named George Hodel. George probably would've lived and died in relative obscurity were it not for his connection to one of American crime's biggest unsolved crimes: the murder and dismemberment of Elizabeth Short, known to most as the Black Dahlia. So why is Fauna's name making headlines today more than 50 years after Short's murder? For that, we've got TNT to thank. 

Recognizing just how powerful the draw is to true crime programming, TNT is getting in on the action. On Jan. 28 2019, they began to air a six-part mini-series called "I Am The Night." The mini-series covers the murder of Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia, which took place in Los Angeles in 1947. It's being directed by none other than Patty Jenkins, and Chris Pine takes the helm as a reporter deadset on figuring out who was really responsible for the infamous and violent murder. 

While the show itself is a fiction, it is based deeply on real-life events and people, central to these are the accounts of Fauna Hodel whose grandfather is still considered a suspect in the case after his own son discovered incriminating evidence when going through his late father, George Hodel's personal effects. Before you dive head-first into the fiction though, you ought to know the facts.

So who is Fauna Hodel? Here's everything you need to know about the real-life Fauna Hodel and her connection one of the most notorious crimes of all times. 

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1. Her Grandfather Was A Murder Suspect 

For the past 15 years, George Hodel's own son Steve, a now-retired homicide detective for the LAPD, has dedicated his life to proving that his father was the man who ended Elizabeth Short's life, and left her body in pieces on the side of the road. 

George Hodel was a doctor, something important to keep in mind when you consider that Elizabeth Short's body was cut in half without breaking any bones, something only a person trained extensively in human anatomy would understand how to do. He abandoned Steve when he was 9 years old, and eventually left the country altogether, making his home in the Philippines. His son discovered a family photo album and at the back, he found a portrait of Elizabeth Smart

Steve knew he had to keep going, and in the process of trying to figure out if his father was the killer, he found enough incriminating evidence that to date his claim has been the only one acknowledged by the Los Angeles district attorney's office. The LAPD took him seriously too, and right now George is still considered to be the number one suspect in this case. 

2. Her Troubled Upbringing

In addition to his son Steve, George also had a daughter named Tamar. Their relationship was troubled to say the very least. When Tamar, a white woman, got pregnant, she revealed that the father was a black man, and her family insisted that she send the baby away upon its birth. That's exactly what she did, and that baby in question wound up being Fauna Hodel.

Fauna was raised in Nevada by a black maid named Jimmie Lee at the request of her mother. It's clear that she wasn't at all thrilled with the idea of giving up her daughter, but she had no idea that sending her to live with Jimmie would actually be a terrible thing to do. You see, according to her own memoir, One Day She'll Darken (also the original title of the TNT series), Jimmie Lee was an alcoholic and growing up not knowing who she really was turned out to be something that she could never quite shake. 

3. How She Died 

According to her uncle Steve, Fauna died at the age of 66 after a long struggle with cancer. Thankfully, Steve shared, Fauna did get a chance to meet her birth mother int he 1970s prior to her death, and the reunion seemed to provide them both with a significant amount of closure. In addition to connecting with her birth family, Fauna also left behind two daughters when she passed, Rasha and Yvette. 

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4. I Am The Night 

The mini-series "I Am The Night" may feature Fauna as one of the main characters, but the show itself is quite different from reality. The show tracks Fauna as she goes on the hunt for her birth family. In the process, she connects with reporter Jay (Chris Pine) who makes the connection between Fauna and her allegedly murderous grandfather. 

In reality, Fauna likely never knew of her grandfather's connection to the case until she connected with her uncle later in life. The reporter character Chris Pine plays did not exist. However, a lot of the plot centers on Fauna's inner struggles of identity, something that seems to be culled directly from her own memoir, so TNT obviously wanted to work in some more authentic details too.

5. Her Family's Reaction 

Usually, when the real-life families involved in true crimes find their stories taken up by Hollywood and retold they aren't always wild about it. Thankfully, that wasn't the case with Fauna's story in the least. Rasha Pecoraro, Fauna's real-life daughter actually shared a photograph of herself with India Eisley and Patty Jenkins, plus she and her sister Yvette Gentile started a podcast that they hopes will be listened to as a companion to the mini-series.

It's called "Root of Evil," and it's available on iTunes.

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. Her work focuses on relationships, pop culture and news. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr

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