Elizabeth Short, a.k.a. “The Black Dahlia”
The “Black Dahlia,” Elizabeth Short, was an aspiring actress who wanted be famous more than anything else in the world. She never could have imagined, though, how she would earn it: as the victim of a brutal murder that has haunted America for decades.
On Jan. 15, 1947, a young woman and her three-year-old daughter stumbled upon the body of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short. She was horribly mutilated, lying in the grass of a Los Angeles residential neighborhood, her body completely chopped in half.
The two pieces of her body were about a foot apart. Her intestines had been removed, folded up and then shoved back into her gut. There were ligature marks on her wrists, pieces of her skin had been removed, and her body had been completely drained of blood.
Perhaps the worst part, though, was her face. The killer had cut it open from the corners of both sides of her mouth to her ears, permanently etching a Joker-like smile on the young woman’s face.
One week later, an editor at the Los Angeles Examiner received a call from someone claiming to be the murderer. He’d kept souvenirs, he said, and he’d be sending them over in the mail.
He made good on his promise. Four days later, a postal worker pulled out a letter addressed to the Examiner. Inside was Elizabeth Short’s birth certificate, business cards, photographs, and her address book.
But like so many other famous murders, this one’s ensuing chaotic media circus only obscured the investigation. The police were overrun with too many tips to filter out the truth from the lies. They interviewed 12 possible suspects and listened to more than 60 people who tried to insist they were the killers, but they never managed to make a single arrest.