October 23, 2008
The Black Dahlia
The 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short has remained one of Hollywood’s most notorious unsolved cases in Los Angeles history. The cold case has been passed down from detective to detective searching answers or any clues to help put the case to rest. The Black Dahlia was actually Elizabeth Short: a young, aspiring actress from a small town in Massachusetts.
Elizabeth or Beth, as known by many, was born July 29, 1924 in Hyde Park, Massachusetts. (Beth Short). Elizabeth was the daughter of Cleo and Phoebe Short. (Beth Short). In 1929, Beth’s father Cleo disappeared, and his truck was found near a bridge, convincing people that he had committed suicide. (Beth Short). Later, Cleo had sent a message to the family, apologizing for deserting them. (Beth Short). Beth’s father was living in Vallejo, California. At age nineteen, Beth decided to move in with her father in order to pursue her dream of being a famous actress, and star in major motion pictures. (Beth Short). Cleo later demanded that Beth leave after she was arrested for underage drinking. (Beth Short). Elizabeth Short moved out and made her way to Santa Barbara to continue her pursuit to stardom. (Beth Short)
For the next six months, Short stayed in various places throughout the Los Angeles area, but never in one place for more than a week. (TruTv). It was mid-January, 1947, when Short was last seen alive at the Biltmore Hotel. (TruTv). It was reported that she was to meet a gentleman. After leaving the hotel, she was never again seen alive. (Black Dahlia Avenger).
According to police reports, on December 8, 1946, she took a bus to San Diego to meet up with her friend Dorothy French. (TruTv). Beth stayed with the French’s until January 8, 1947 when she was asked to leave by the French family for unknown reasons. (Black Dahlia Avenger). She was picked up by a salesman she had met just two weeks earlier named Robert Manley. (TruTv). According to Manley, Elizabeth tells him that she needs to check her luggage at the bus stop because she is moving to Berkeley with her sister. (TruTv). After Manley helped Short check her luggage, he claims he brought Short back to the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles where she was said to meet her sister at 6:30 p.m. on January 9, 1947. (TruTv). She reportedly left the lobby at approximately 10:00 p.m. This was the last time she was seen alive. (TruTv).
Six days later, on January 15, 1947, in Leimert Park, Los Angeles, her body was discovered. (Exquisite Corpse). A mother pushing her child in a stroller came upon what she thought was a broken mannequin. (Exquisite Corpse). When she got closer she realized it was a mutilated body, and called the police department. Short was found sexually posed, on her back with her hands above her head, and her legs spread apart. (TruTv). The mutilated body had been severed at the waist with surgeon-like precision. The autopsy showed that she had died of shock from a concussion and loss of blood. (TruTv). Her mouth was also slashed from ear to ear, and due to the lack of blood near the crime scene, it was clear that Short had been nearly drained of her blood and washed clean before she was placed in the vacant lot. (Beth Short). The discovery of Elizabeth Short’s body would begin the LAPD’s most notorious investigation in years.
Shortly after her death, the Los Angeles Examiner received a package with a letter made from newspaper lettering much like the Zodiac Killer. (TruTv). One letter was titled, “Here is Dahlia’s Belongings.” (TruTv). Inside the package, were her social security card, birth certificate, a telegram, photographs, business cards, and claim checks for the suitcases she had left at the bus depot. (TruTv). Another item was an address book filled with over 70 names and addresses, but with several pages recently torn out. (TruTv). This indicated that maybe the killer knew Elizabeth, and removed himself...