Black Dahlia Podcast

History Uncovered Episode 11:
The Murder Of The Black Dahlia

Published September 29, 2023

Elizabeth Short, aka the "Black Dahlia," was just 22 years old when she was brutally murdered in Los Angeles on January 15, 1947. It remains one of Hollywood's most disturbing cold cases to this day.

The 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short, a.k.a. the Black Dahlia, remains one of history’s most notorious cold cases. The 22-year-old aspiring actress was found in Los Angeles with her body sliced in half, all the blood drained from her body, and a “Glasgow smile” carved across her face. But to this day, the case remains unsolved.

One winter morning, a mother was out on a walk with her child in Leimert Park when she came across what appeared to be a mannequin. But a closer look revealed the grisly remains of Short’s mutilated body.

The young woman had been sliced in half at the waist, all the blood had been drained from her body, and many of her internal organs had been neatly removed and placed underneath her. Pieces of flesh from her thighs and flesh had been cut away, and she had been forced to eat feces before she died. But the most chilling detail was the “Glasgow smile” — a carving made from her ears to the corners of her mouth.

Black Dahlia Murder Scene

Bettmann/Getty ImagesElizabeth Short was found gruesomely mutilated along a public street.

Short was dubbed “the Black Dahlia” by the press due to her reported preference for sheer black clothing and as a reference to the 1946 film noir The Blue Dahlia. As the investigation into her murder dragged on, the press became more and more involved. She was branded as a sexual deviant and accused of being a prostitute and a “teaser of men.” And as authorities failed to make progress, members of the media began to take the investigation on themselves. The Examiner received multiple calls, letters, and packages from someone claiming to be Short’s killer.

At the peak of the investigation, authorities interviewed more than 150 suspects in the Black Dahlia case. To this day, there have been more than 500 confessions to the murder, although none of them are considered legitimate. But many people still have their own theories about who killed Elizabeth Short.

One L.A.P.D. detective believes his father, George Hodel, was responsible for Short’s death after finding photos of a woman who bore a striking resemblance to Short in his late father’s belongings, along with handwriting samples that have strong similarities to the letters sent to the press, presumably by the killer.

Although it’s been 75 years since Short was found brutally murdered, her death is still one of the most compelling unsolved mysteries in American history.

Learn more about the Black Dahlia and the theories behind her mysterious murder.

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