The murder of Elizabeth Short, known as the “Black Dahlia,” is one of American history’s most brutal and mysterious killings.
On Jan. 15, 1947, Short was found dead, brutally mutilated, in a residential neighborhood outside of Los Angeles. The case made nationwide news, due to the horrific, graphic nature of the crime.
Short’s corpse was severed at the waist, and her intestines had been removed, folded up, and tucked under her lower torso. Pieces of her skin had been removed, there were ligature marks on her wrists and ankles, and her body had been entirely drained of blood. Her corpse had been wiped down with gasoline before being dumped.
The most horrifying part, however, was the lacerations on her face. The killer had sliced each side of her face, from the corners of her mouth to her ears, creating a Joker-like smile.
A week after her body was found, Los Angeles Examiner editor James Richardson received a call from a person claiming to be the murderer, who said he would be sending “souvenirs” of Short in the mail.
Four days later, a postal worker found an envelope addressed to the Examiner. Inside were Short’s birth certificate, business cards, photographs, a list of names, and an address book.
The media branded Short as a sexual deviant, claiming that she would trick men into giving her room and board, gifts and money in return for sex, and then not deliver on her promises.
Police searched hundreds of locations throughout Los Angeles for clues, heard over 60 confessions for the murder, and interviewed over 12 suspects, but ultimately never arrested anyone.
Most people assumed that the Black Dahlia murder was a date gone wrong, or that she had run into a sinister fellow late at night while walking alone.
For 70 years, the Black Dahlia murder case remained open. Cold, but open.
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