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by Maria Kalafatis 2 years ago in investigation

The Murder of Elizabeth Short

At 10 am on Jan 15th, 1947, a woman name Betty Bersinger was taking her three year old daughter Ann, on a morning walk to the shoe repair store, near what is now the Crenshaw neighborhood of

Los Angels. As they passed an empty lot on Norton Avenue Bersinger recalls quote, “I glanced to my right, and saw this very dead, white body, my goodness, it was so white. It didn’t, look like anything more than perhaps an artificial model. It was so white and deprecated in the middle.” It was the body of 22 year old Elizabeth Short laying face up and naked. Her body was split in half at the waist and was oddly posed, with her eyes open, hands above her head with elbows bent and legs out straight, and spread apart. She had been hit over the head and pieces of her flesh had been cut out. As well as the corners of their mouth had three inch long slits. But the only thing missing from the crime scene is blood, their was no blood. It appears that the body may have been drained and scrubbed before being placed where it was found. Betty Bersinger went to a nearby home and called the police to report the body, then continued her errand.

After identifying the body by its fingerprints with help by the FBI, the LAPD began gave out fliers in the hopes that they would be able to get some more information. The description that they gave Short was “five foot six inches, 118 pounds, black hair, green eyes, very attractive, bad lower teeth, fingernails chewed to quick.” Eventually, more information about Short did began to emerge. Short was a waitress who was looking to make it big as an actress in Hollywood.

Now in the 1940's it was normal for the newspapers to give nicknames on murder cases. In this case the they called it the Black Dahlia, because she where sleek black clothing and had striking dyed black hair.

The Autopsy and Investigation:

Elizabeth Short officially died of hemorrhage and shock. With Marks on legs, wrists, jack, and right thigh, which suggest that Short was bound and tortured. Slits at coroner of mouth where made while she was alive. She has also suffered concussions because she revived blows to head. Their where suspicions that someone with surgical skills may have done it. Because of the gory details and proximity close to the glamour of Hollywood, it became a huge story and stayed on page 1 headlines for a whole month. Then nine days after the body was found an envelope arrived at offices of LA examiner. It contained some of Shorts belongings belongings such as her social security card, birth certificate, photos, and an address book with pages missing. All items clears of fingerprints by gasoline. The envelope has been addressed by using cut out letters from movie advertisements.In total 13 letters where sent to police and press to taunting them, and many of the letters where signed Black Dahlia Avenger. The police contracted the 75 men listed in the address book that was sent and the majority said they only met briefly. Going out on dinner date or to the movies, but never went any further. The FBI investigated approximately 300 USC medical school students but nothing came of the investigation. Eventually they found fingerprints on one of the dahlia letters sent to the police but they could not find a fingerprint to match. So as a result the case went cold.

My top Suspect:

One of the most convincing suspects is Dr. George Model. It is told that many who worked on the case over the years believed that they have interacted with the real killer at one point or another. Perhaps no one feels stronger then Steve Hodel. After retiring as an LAPD homicide detective, having worked on over 300 murder cases, Steve Hodel published his research, claiming the murder was one George Hodel, this own father. George was a wealthy doctor in LA, described as a well connected, dashing man, with a high IQ. George was in charge of a venereal disease clinic in LA, which supposedly gave him knowledge of the sexual lives of people ranging from local sex workers to the city’s elite. While George wasn’t a practicing surgeon, he was reported to have breezed through med school, where she studied to be one. An interesting fact is after Georges death, his one Steve found two photos of a woman who he believes to be short. He began investigating the case, coming to believe that his father has a roman relationship with her and that they had been spotted together at a hotel in downtown LA. George would have had the maniacal training needed to produce the surgical mutilation performed on Short.

With the notes allegedly sent by the killer after the murder, they where able to match Hodel's handwriting with the writing of the letter. What is even more interesting is that evidence was found that George had 50 pound sacks of concrete sent to his home for remodeling on January 9th 1947, which is the same say the Short was last seen alive and also less than one week before her body was found. Steve has claimed that there were similar bags found near Short’s body that police speculated could have been used to Cary Shorts body from the car to the lot. A key piece of information is that George drove a black 1936 packers that looked similar to the descriptions of the back car seen near where Short’s body was found.

Steve’s research pointed out similarities between how Shirt’s body was found, and work found by George’s reported friend, surrealist artist, Man Ray. According to Steve George idolized him and wanted to become and artist himself.

One of George’s daughters, Tamar, recalled her father hosting huge parties at their home close to Hollywood with guests including Man Ray as well as movie stars. Tamar also claimed she had posed for nude photos for Man Ray when she was a child. After running away from home in 1949, Tamar reported her father to the police, telling them he has tried to teach her about oral sex at the age of 11, and that he had offered her to his friends for sex when she was 14 and that George himself had had sex with her. Really disgusting.

Steve claims that at the time, George was living within half a mile away from the crime scene.

In 2012, Steve visited his childhood home with a production crew, and a search dog that picked up the scent of human decomposition in multiple locations on the property. Such as the alleyway in back of the house. According to Dr. Arpad Vass, a leading forensic anthropologist, who helped pioneer chemical analysis of human decomposition, suggest that this does not technically indicate that the remains are located where the search dog found the scents, cause the markers the dog detects can move, carried by water and other forces over the decades. However, Vass himself analysed a soil sample taken from behind the alley behind the home and was positive for human remains which could have been from 20 to 100 years ago.

What makes George such a strong candidate for the killing of the Back Dahlia is that he was originally one one the 21 suspects listed in the case. Furthermore, the LAPD had put listening devises into George’s home undetected and listened to him for 40 days in 1950. Transcripts of recordings, George said “supposing I did kill the Black Dahlia? They couldn’t prove it now. They can’t talk to my secretary because she’s dead.”

Steve claims his father, via his connections and occupation, had knowledge about corruption in the LAPD and their ties to prostitution and abortion rings and that the police covered up George’s guilt to avoid their own scandals being public knowledge. There is also a recording of George saying “this is the best payoff I've seen between law enforcement agencies. I’d like to get a connection made in the DA's office.”

This is what makes George Hodel a compelling suspect in the case, and why most people that is familiar in this case believe that he was the killer.

Information from:


Maria Kalafatis

I am a creative writer that loves to write poems and short stories, as well and the ocasonal review on stuff that I love and enjoy

Read next: True Cost of A Heart Shaped Locket

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