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Episode 53

Elizabeth Short: The Black Dahlia

June 8, 2020   Tags: ,
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It’s a case most people know by two words: “Black Dahlia.” The case is one of the most infamous unsolved murders in history. Even now, 73 years later, the savageness that took the life of a young, aspiring actress intrigues both real and armchair detectives alike. But we want to apply the forensic advances we’ve learned over the last seven decades to the case of the murder of Elizabeth Short.
The Murder of Elizabeth Short:
Elizabeth Short was last seen alive on January 9, 1947. Red Manley, a man she had been seeing, dropped her off that afternoon at the Biltmore Hotel. The hotel was located in downtown Los Angeles. 

Just before 11 AM on the morning of January 15, 1947, Betty Bersinger was walking with her three year old daughter in the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles. The mother and daughter walked along the sidewalk on South Norton Avenue.    

A few feet from the sidewalk Betty thought she saw a mannequin. But the mistaken mannequin was actually Elizabeth Short's body. The body was cut in two halves.  

The two halves of the body were positioned roughly a foot apart. The arms were posed above the head, the elbows bent at a 90 degree angle. The lower half had the intestines tucked under her bottom. The legs were posed spread apart.

Los Angeles Detective Lieutenant Jesse Haskins described the scene as follows:

“The body was lying with the head towards the north, the feet towards the south, the left leg was five inches west of the sidewalk… The body was lying face up and the severed part was jogged over about ten inches, the upper half of the body from the lower half… there was a tire track right up against the curbing and there was what appeared to be a possible bloody heel mark in this tire mark; and on the curbing which is very low there was one spot of blood; and there was an empty paper cement sack lying in the driveway and it also had a spot of blood on it… It had been brought there from some other location… The body was clean and appeared to have been washed.”
The coroner noted “a deep laceration on the face 3" long, which extends laterally from the right corner of the mouth.....There is a deep laceration 2 1/2" inches long extending laterally from the left corner of the mouth." 

There were several small cuts on her lip. Bruises on her head and neck. A square shaped incision was made on her thigh. Her pubic area contained several criss cross cuts and the hair had been removed by hand. Entire portions of flesh had been removed, including on her right breast. The body was scrubbed clean and drained of blood. No sperm was present.

The autopsy also noted ligature marks on her ankles, wrists and neck. Paul corrected this term for the ankles and wrists, stating it was a binding mark. The cause of death was stated to be “hemorrhage and shock from a concussion of the brain and lacerations of her face,” and “the trauma to the head and face were the result of multiple blows using a blunt instrument." But the ligature mark around Elizabeth Short's neck means she could have also been strangled. 

  
The Search for Elizabeth Short's Killer:

Not long after Elizabeth Short's body was found, the FBI was able to identify her by fingerprints. Elizabeth had been arrested for underage drinking in Santa Barbara and her fingerprints were on file. 

Two days after the murder, the press dubbed Elizabeth Short with the name most know her by now: "The Black Dahlia." The press coverage of the case helped bring in tips and even communication from the supposed killer, but the sender and/or murderer have never been identified.  Below are two the notes. 

ASSIGNMENT:
We want you to begin looking into the case. This is just an overview of the in depth discussion of the crime on the episode. We’ve given you our thoughts on the killer(s) in general terms. We want you to take a look into the crime-does it remind you of others? If you have theories, please contact us.   

CODE OF CONDUCT: 

1. Do not name names publicly. Send everything to the police or to this page and we will forward to the police. 
2. Do not post side by side photos. 
3. Do not contact any family members. 
4. Do not doxx each other and be civil. We all want the same thing. 

As tips come in, Jensen and Holes will work to verify them. If they look good, we will publish them here to try and get us closer to their names.

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