Unsolved Mystery #1: The Black Dahlia

It’s a famous case that almost seemed committed for Hollywood movie-makers, the brutal death of an aspiring actress, with a list of potential suspects that once included some of the movie industry’s elite.

Elizabeth Ann Short (1924-1947), known as The Black Dahlia, is the victim of a notorious murder case that is still unsolved.

The body of Elizabeth Ann Short was found Jan. 15, 1947, in a vacant lot in Los Angeles, the young aspiring actress had been tortured, cut in half at waist and had an ear-to-ear grin carved on her face. The body was drained of blood and her internal organs were removed. Because no blood was found at the scene, police detectives believe Short was murdered elsewhere and then dragged onto the lot, one piece at time.

During her stay in Long Beach she was nicknamed The Black Dahlia, for her passion for the film The Blue Dahlia and the habit to dress in black.

The investigations on the murder were among the most extensive in the history of the Los Angeles Police Department, and involved hundreds of agents and inspectors, even other departments. The suspects were hundreds, and thousands of people interrogated. According to some, investigations were not carried out properly as (officially) were never found tire-tread impressions or shoe prints. The police did not even pick up the fibers in the field. About 60 people confessed to the murder, mostly men. Of those, 25 were considered viable suspects by the Los Angeles District Attorney. In the course of the investigation, some of the original 25 were eliminated, and several new suspects were proposed. Detectives focused first on her former lovers and then later on medical students because of the body’s condition after dismemberment. Among the suspects (Orson Welles was on of them as well) police attention focused on Dr. George Hodel. Investigators had even planted a bug in the house to listen for incriminating admissions. But before authorities brought charges, Dr. Hodel abruptly abandoned his family and relocated to Asia. He died in 1991.

Well, over the years, theories abounded about who killed Short. Several writers have claimed their fathers were responsible. One writer claimed a drifter committed the act. In 1991, volunteers dug up a vacant lot looking for evidence after a woman said she recalled long- repressed memories of her father killing women there, but still the case remains unsolved.