Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center (Cal State L.A.)

1800 Paseo Rancho Castilla LA 90032

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The Hollywood Fire Devil

The Los Angeles Visionaries Association, Esotouric and Professor Donald Johnson invite you to the Cal State Los Angeles teaching crime lab for an afternoon’s inquiry into the history and practice of forensic science in Southern California, in support of new research coming out of the Criminalistics Department.

Join us for an afternoon with LASD arson/bomb detective Ed Nordskog, presenting on one of his most fascinating recent investigations, The Hollywood Fire Devil case.

ABOUT THE CRIMES: In 2011, Dorothee Burkhart used a fake check to pay a Frankfurt doctor the equivalent of $10,000 for breast augmentation surgery. The German authorities took a dim view of the ironic twist of using fake money to pay for fake boobs and soon arrested the long time scam artist. Ever resourceful, Dorothee feigned a heart attack and was taken to a hospital. She crawled out an emergency room window and called her adult special needs son Harry, who delivered their passports and some cash. The pair fled through Europe and flew to Vancouver. After being refused asylum in Canada, Dorothee fled to the United States and eventually landed in Hollywood, where she put her new assets to good use by opening an erotic massage parlor.

German authorities tracked her down and issued an international arrest warrant seeking extradition. This warrant was executed on December 26, 2011 by agents from the United States Marshal’s Service and the Deparment of State. Dorothee was arrested and appeared in federal court in Los Angeles on December 28. During the hearing, a livid Harry Burkhart leaped up and demanded his mother’s release. He yelled “Death to America”, among other things. The judge, realizing that Harry had mental health issues, ordered him to be identified and removed from the courthouse.

Eight hours later, a still fuming Harry Burkhart would light the first of fifty-two fires he would set over a four day period. The arrest of his mother would trigger that largest and most furious amount of arson activity ever recorded, and would bring the four largest police and fire agencies west of the Mississippi River to their collective knees. It would also cause the formation of the largest and most intense arson manhunt ever conceived in the United States.

Over the next four days, 400 local and federal investigators would utilize every possible tactic and trick in the hunt for the elusive Hollywood serial arsonist. This intense investigation would culminate with a simple traffic stop by a reserve sheriff’s deputy who earns one dollar per year (less taxes) for volunteering to serve his community.

The Hollywood Fire Devil case is the largest and most intense arson investigation in the history of the United States and is explained through the eyes of the lead investigators who spent ninety straight hours on their feet tracking down hundreds of leads.


Ed Nordskog is an active arson-bomb investigator/profiler for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept. He has been a detective since 1990, and specializing in arson-bomb investigations since 1997. He has conducted over 2,000 arson investigations and has arrested over 300 persons for arson related offenses. He has investigated over 60 fire death scenes and been an investigator on over 55 serial arson cases. He has testified on these subjects in various courts on over 85 occasions.

He has a Master’s Degree from Cal State Long Beach and has been named Cal State POST Instructor of the Year. He is a Lead Instructor and course developer for POST Arson-Explosion Investigations and Homicide (Fire Death) Investigation Courses

Det. Nordskog has assisted over 70 police, fire, and prosecution agencies with arson, serial arson, and fire death scene investigations. He has been asked to review several “cold case” arson murders in the local area and other states. He has delivered arson and bomb profiling lectures in a dozen U.S. states, Canada, and in several foreign countries. He is a regular lecturer for the FBI.

Det. Nordskog has authored three books on arsonists and serial arsonists, including his most recent release, The Arsonist Profiles. He has been named the “International Arson Investigator of the Year”, and the “Law Enforcement Officer of the Year” for his work on major and complex arson investigations. He has provided expertise and script consulting to several television and movie projects regarding both arsonists and bombers.

Contact Ed at ednordskog@gmail.com