Seven decades later and still the chilling Black Dahlia murder has never been solved…
On the morning of 15th January 1947, a young woman and her 3-year-old daughter were walking through Leimert Park, Los Angeles, when she discovered what she thought was a discarded store mannequin.
Much to her horror, she was actually looking at a dismembered corpse – discarded in such a brutal manner that the image would haunt her and many others for years to come…
The beautiful, slain woman was identified as 22-year-old Elizabeth Short (born July 29th, 1924, in Hyde Park, Boston).
Short’s body was mutilated, sliced in half at the waist and entirely drained of blood. Her face had been slashed from the corners of her mouth to her ears to create a smile effect.
“An Adventuress Who Prowled Hollywood Boulevard”
Within hours of the body being discovered, police officers and reporters crowded the crime scene. When the victim was identified as Short (confirmed via a set of fingerprints from 1943 when she was arrested in Santa Barbara for underage drinking), the Los Angeles Examiner quickly found the home address of her mother and phone number.
They called Short’s mother and shockingly led to her to believe that her daughter had won first prize in a beauty competition. They gathered as much information as possible about her daughter’s past; her hobbies and other intimate details. Only after they had secured their scoop did they finally reveal that her daughter had been brutally murdered.
To add further insult to the grieving family; they also sensationalised the murder reporting that at the time of her death she was wearing a “tight skirt” and a “sheer blouse”, that she was an “adventuress” who “prowled Hollywood Boulevard.”
The press created the name ‘The Black Dahlia’ by using a combination of the 1946 noir flick The Blue Dahlia and that Short would often wear all black clothing.
A Letter From The Killer
Nine days after the body was found, the Los Angeles Examiner received an envelope that contained some of Short’s personal belongings including her birth certificate, social security card, photos of male acquaintances, and an address book – they believed there was nobody else who could have sent these items other than the killer. Also with the letter was newspaper clippings of letters that spelled out: “Heaven is HERE!”
When the address book was handed over to the police as evidence, they found seventy-five men had met with Short leading up to her death. They had either socialized with her over dinner or at a club – but they all claimed they had not heard from her again after the meeting. With no evidence tying any them to the murder, the investigation hit another wall.
Alongside these arrests, more than sixty women and men confessed that they were the killer (clearly excited by the intense media coverage), although once again there was no evidence that would suggest they were guilty or that they had ever met Short.
Short’s murder has been the inspiration for many books, television, and film adaptations. The chilling and gruesome case is now one of the oldest unsolved murder cases in Los Angeles history.