Who Killed Elizabeth Short? 7 Possible Suspects In The Horrifying Black Dahlia Murder

Published September 8, 2022
Updated April 3, 2024

The 1947 murder of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short has baffled investigators for over 75 years. Was one of these jealous, criminal, or even famous men the Black Dahlia's killer?

Black Dahlia Killer

Bettmann/Getty ImagesElizabeth Short was just 22 years old when she was gruesomely murdered in Los Angeles in 1947.

On a winter’s day in January 1947, a housewife out for a walk with her child in Los Angeles stumbled upon the gruesomely mutilated body of a young woman. Later identified as 22-year-old Elizabeth Short and nicknamed the Black Dahlia, her murder launched a mystery that hasn’t been solved in 75 years. So who are the top candidates for the real Black Dahlia killer?

Though the Black Dahlia murder remains unsolved, investigators — amateur and otherwise — have come up with a list of suspects over the years. The Black Dahlia suspects include doctors, gangsters, and even a legendary Hollywood director.

Below, look through the evidence and decide for yourself if any of these seven Black Dahlia suspects could have committed perhaps the most infamous murder in American history.

George Hodel: The Womanizing Doctor Who May Be The Black Dahlia Killer

George Hodel Black Dahlia Suspects

Courtesy of Steve HodelGeorge Hodel’s son, Steve, started to suspect him of killing Elizabeth Short after George’s death.

For Steve Hodel, a former LAPD detective, the idea that his father, George Hodel, may have killed Elizabeth Short started with a hunch. While looking through George’s belongings after his death, he found a tiny photo album that contained two photos of a dark-haired woman — a woman who bore an uncanny resemblance to the Black Dahlia.

As reported by The Guardian, Steve started to dig into his theory, and came up with some compelling clues. His father, a doctor, would have had the skill necessary to slice the Black Dahlia in two. His handwriting seemed to match letters to the police. And he appeared to have purchased bags of concrete shortly before Short’s death, which matched bags found near her body.

And when Steve published a book about his findings, Black Dahlia Avenger: The True Story, in 2003, a Los Angeles Times columnist found even more evidence as he fact-checked Steve’s story.

According to The Guardian, Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez asked the Los Angeles County district attorney for more information on the Black Dahlia murder. They sent over a number of old files, among which Lopez found George Hodel’s name on a list of suspects. What’s more, Lopez found that the police had even bugged George Hodel’s home in the 1950s.

On Feb. 19, 1950, the recording device picked up a woman’s scream. Later, it recorded George talking on the phone with someone and telling them: “Realize there was nothing I could do, put a pillow over her head and cover her with a blanket. Get a taxi. Expired 12:59. They thought there was something fishy. Anyway, now they may have figured it out. Killed her.”

The doctor added: “Supposin’ I did kill the Black Dahlia. They couldn’t prove it now. They can’t talk to my secretary any more because she’s dead.”

But George Hodel isn’t the only compelling potential Black Dahlia killer out there.

Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
Cite This Article
Fraga, Kaleena. "Who Killed Elizabeth Short? 7 Possible Suspects In The Horrifying Black Dahlia Murder." AllThatsInteresting.com, September 8, 2022, https://allthatsinteresting.com/black-dahlia-killer. Accessed April 21, 2024.