Elizabeth Short - Black Dahlia
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"Another factor complicating the case was the obsession developed by men with the Black Dahlia in death -- as many as had been obsessed with her in life."
-- Finis Brown, LAPD

Elizabeth Short -- Born: 29 July 1924, Hyde Park, Massachusetts

January 15, 1947, Elizabeth Short's naked body was was discovered on a vacant lot near Leimert Park in downtown Los Angeles, by a mother with a young child, her body surgically bisected, horribly mutilated, and posed. Her body was severed in half at the waist. Both halves were drained of blood and washed. 22 year-old

Elizabeth Short came from Massachusetts to Hollywood to be a star. Her hair and clothes were always black, she wore a dahlia in her hair, so she was known as "The Black Dahlia" She was last seen as she stepped from an auto in front of L.A.'s Biltmore Hotel.

For weeks the killer taunted the police and public, sending notes to "catch me if you can." Other women in LA were murdered, and their cases remained unsolved.

Once the body of the Black Dahlia was identified there was a steady stream of false confessions as with this case. Unfortunately, the murderer was never identified. Regional History Center, Los Angeles Herald Examiner collection

Black Dahlia Avenger: The True Story by Anonymous by Steve Hodel
A former Hollywood homicide detective cop turned private investigator names the latest suspect in the slaying, his physician father, the late George Hodel, who abandoned the family when his son, the author, was 9. Steve Hodel claims his father killed 20 women, in the 1940 - 50s, including Short
during a fit of jealousy. Hodel, 61, began investigating his father after finding photographs he believes is Short. He saw similarities in notes the killer sent to newspapers and his father's handwriting. A musical prodigy, Hodel was a county health department doctor specializing in venereal disease control for VD clinics that treated well connected Los Angeles residents. He kept dossiers on clients. Jeanne French, 45, dubbed "the Red Lipstick Murder" because the initials B.D. (Black Dahlia?) were written in lipstick, on her nude, beaten corpse. Hodel claims his father was quilty. Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, Stephen Kay, said he would have filed murder counts against Dr. Hodel. He has "no doubt" George "not only murdered Elizabeth Short but also murdered Jeanne French." A primary suspect he was about to be arrested when authorities feared the suspect would expose the medical charts of well known, powerful patients, including police officials. A 1949 grand jury was ordered to stop hearing evidence because the LAPD's reputation would become tarnished if the VD files became public. "At that point, the whole thing was shut down and my father left the country for 40 years and everything sunk below the surface." He died at age 91 in 1991and was never arrested for the crimes. "I'm asking the press and the detectives to now take up that responsibility and reopen the murder books and continue the investigations so that all of us may know the truth."

Black Dahlia - Elizabeth Short - crimelibrary

A friend fingers Orson Welles - salon

Find A Grave - Elizabeth's final resting place.

Writer Reopens Black Dahlia Murder Case -- Offers a New Suspect in One of the Most Famous Unsolved Crimes -- The woman's black hair spilled across the grass of the vacant lot, her dead blue eyes open in the sunshine, her mouth sliced at the corners. About 8 inches from the sidewalk, her pale, naked body lay in two pieces, cleaved at the waist and nearly drained of blood.

VHS Volume 2: Hanson/ Black Dahlia-Perfect Crimes?

VHS Case Reopened: The Black Dahlia with Joseph Wambaugh
When Elizabeth Short came to Hollywood she was not unlike thousands of other young women, hoping her good looks and a little bit of talent would propel her into the world of the rich and famous. Elizabeth Short did earn notoriety, but in a horrifying way that would come to chill even the most seasoned investigators. Within weeks of her murder, 37 innocent men and women had confessed to the crime. What is it that fascinates us so about the Black Dahlia? What was the dark secret that police kept under lock and key for over half a century? And what kind of person could have committed such a violent, brutal, yet carefully planned and executed crime?

VHS True Confessions (1981)
John Gregory Dunne turned the true story of Black Dahlia into a compelling novel and then adapted the novel movie mystery directed by Ulu Grosbard. A study of the ways power corrupts, and the way corruption consumes the soul, the film stars Robert Duvall and Robert De Niro as a pair of brothers (a cynical police detective and a rapidly rising monsignor, ) who come into conflict over the case of a murdered woman in 1940s Hollywood.

Laid Bare: A Memoir of Wrecked Lives and the Hollywood Death Trip by John Gilmore

Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2006


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