I can’t tell you where I was, or what I was doing when I first heard about this case. But, when I did, I was so intrigued- so mystified. It’s a case that captured the nation- and has left investigators scratching their heads and wondering, WHO, WHAT, WHY, and HOW. This is the story of Elizabeth Short.
Let’s start off from the beginning. Elizabeth Short was born on July 29th, 1924 to Cleo and Phoebe Short. Elizabeth was the third of five daughters (Um… round of applause to her parents, ‘cause they are saints for having that many daughters!) and was from the Hyde Park section of Boston. Sometime in 1927, the Short family relocated to Portland, Maine, then made their way back to Boston and settled in Medford, Massachusetts- where Elizabeth was raised and spent most of her life.
Elizabeth’s father built miniature golf courses until the 1929 stock market crash: he lost most of his savings and the family became broke. In 1930, her father’s car was found abandoned on the Charleston Bridge- and it was concluded that he had committed suicide by jumping into the Charles River. Believing her husband to be dead, Elizabeth’s mother moved her five daughters and herself into a small apartment in Medford- working as a bookkeeper to support them all.
Elizabeth had bronchitis, and was known to have severe asthma attacks. She underwent surgery at the age of 15- after which her doctors suggested that she relocate to a more milder climate during the winter months to help alleviate and prevent more respiratory problems. Elizabeth’s mother then would send her to live with family members in Miami during the cruel, winter months. (Uh, can I do that!?) During the next three years, Elizabeth would bounce back between Medford and Miami, and during her sophomore year of high school, she dropped out.
In late 1942, Elizabeth’s mother received a letter of apology from her presumed-deceased husband. He revealed that he was very much alive and well, and had started a new life in California. At the age of 18, Elizabeth relocated to Vallejo to live with her father- whom she had not seen since she was just six years old. At the time, her father was working at the nearby Mare Island Naval Shipyard on San Francisco Bay.
Like any, arguments between Elizabeth and her father escalated, and eventually led to her moving out in January of 1943. Shortly thereafter, Elizabeth took a job at the Base Exchange at Camp Cooke (now Vandenberg Air Force Base), near Lompoc. She lived with several friends, and briefly with an Army Air Force sergeant who reportedly abused her. Elizabeth left Lompoc in mid-1943, and moved to Santa Barbara, where she was arrested on September 23rd, 1943, for underage drinking at a local bar. The juvenile authorities sent her back to Medford, only for her to leave for Florida.
While in Florida, Elizabeth met Major Matthew Michael Gordon, Jr., a decorated Army Air Force officer at the 2nd Air Commando Group. He was training for deployment to the China Burma India Theater of Operations of World War 2. Elizabeth claimed to friends that Gordon had written to her a proposal of marriage while he was recovering from injuries due to a plane crash in India. She apparently accepted his offer, but Gordon died in a second crash on August 10th 1945, less than a week before the surrender of Japan (and the eventual end of the war.)
Elizabeth relocated (yet again) to Los Angeles in July 1946 to visit Army Air Force Lieutenant Joseph Fickling, whom she had known from Florida. Fickling was stationed at the Naval Reserve Air Base in Long Beach.
Elizabeth spent the last six months of her life in southern California, mostly in the LA area- working as a waitress. She rented a room behind the Florentine Gardens nightclub on Hollywood Boulevard. Short has been described as an aspiring actress, even though she had no known acting jobs or credits.
On January 9th, 1947, Elizabeth returned to her home in LA after a brief trip to San Diego with Robert Manley- a 25 year old (married) salesman she had been dating. Manley stated that he dropped Elizabeth off at the Biltmore Hotel because she was supposed to see one of her sisters who was in town for a visit. (Elizabeth had plans to see her sister that afternoon.) Staff of the Biltmore recalled having seen Elizabeth using the lobby telephone, and shortly thereafter, she was allegedly seen by patrons of the Crown Grill Cocktail Lounge which is approximately 0.4 miles from the Biltmore Hotel.
A number of people, none of whom knew Short, contacted police and the newspapers and claimed to have seen her during her so-called “missing week”, between her January 9th disappearance and the discovery of her body, on January 15th. Police and DA investigators ruled out each alleged sighting; in some cases, those interviewed were identifying other women whom they had mistaken for Elizabeth. Her whereabouts in the days leading up to her murder and the discovery of her body are unknown.
On the morning of January 15th 1947, Elizabeth’s naked body was found severed into two pieces on a vacant lot on the west side of South Norton Avenue (midway between Coliseum Street & West 39th Street- in Leimert Park.) At the time, the neighborhood was largely undeveloped. Local resident Betty Bersinger discovered Elizabeth’s body at around 10 AM, while walking her three year old daughter. Betty initially thought she had come across a discarded department store mannequin. When she realized it was a corpse, she rushed to a nearby house and called the police.
Elizabeth’s severely mutilated body was completely severed at the waist and drained of blood- leaving her skin a pallid white. Her face had been slashed from the corners of her mouth to her ears, creating an effect known as the “Glasgow smile.” She had several cuts on her thigh and breasts, where entire portions of flesh had been sliced away. The lower half of her body was positioned a foot away from her upper body, and her intestines had been tucked (neatly) beneath her buttocks. The corpse had been “posed”, with her hands over her head, her elbows bent at right angles, and her legs spread apart. Medical examiners determined that she had been dead for around ten hours prior to the discovery- leaving her time of death either sometime during the evening of January 14th, or the early morning hours of January 15th. Her body had apparently been washed (in gasoline) by her killer.
Upon the discovery, a crowd of passerbyers and reporters began to gather. Los Angeles Herald-Express reported, Aggie Underwood was among the first to arrive at the scene, and took several photographs of the corpse and crime scene. (Some are listed below this blog, just be aware they are graphic) Near the body, detectives located a heel print on the ground amid some tire tracks, and a cement sack containing watery blood.
An autopsy of Elizabeth’s body was performed on January 16th 1947, by Frederick Newbarr (the LA County coroner.) Newbarr’s report stated that Elizabeth was five feet five inches tall, weighed one hundred-fifteen pounds and had light blue eyes, brown hair and badly decayed teeth. There were ligature marks on her ankles, wrists and neck, and an “irregular laceration with superficial tissue loss” on her right breast. Newbarr also noted superficial lacerations on the right forearm, left upper arm and the lower left side of her chest. The body had been completely cut in half, using a technique taught in the 1930’s called a hemicorporectomy. The lower half of her body had been removed by transecting the lumbar spine between the second and third lumbar vertebrae, thus severing the intestine at the duodenum. (I know that these words are normally not found in our normal, everyday vocabulary, but just bear with me. It’s the best way to describe it all.) Newbarr’s report noted, “very little” bruising along the incision line, suggesting that it had been performed after her death. Another “gaping laceration” measuring 4.25 inches in length ran longitudinally from the navel to the suprapubic region. The lacerations on each side of the face, which extended from the corners of the lips, were measured at 3 inches on the right side of the face, and 2.5 inches on the left side. Her skull was not fractured, but there was bruising noted on the front and right side of her scalp, with a small amount of bleeding- consistent with blows to the head. The cause of death was determined to be hemorrhaging from the lacerations to her face and the shock from blows to the head and face. Newbarr noted that Elizabeth’s anal canal was dilated at 1.75 inches- suggesting that she may have been raped. Samples were taken from her body testing for the presence of sperm, but the results came back negative.
I went into specific detail about her autopsy for a reason. I wanted to really highlight the brutality of her murder. It is, after all, the reason why her murder is so intriguing. (I hope I didn’t scare off all the people with weak stomachs.)
Prior to the autopsy, police had quickly been able to identify the victim as Elizabeth Short after sending copies of her fingerprints to Washington DC via Soundphoto (a primitive fax machine of the era) and the prints matched those given by Short during her 1943 arrest. Immediately following Short’s identification, reporters from the LA Examiner contacted her mother- and told her that her daughter had won a beauty contest. It was only after prying as much personal information as they could get, that the reporters revealed that her daughter had in fact, been murdered. The newspaper offered to pay for her airfare and accommodations if she would travel to LA to help with the investigation. (That ended up being just another ploy, since the newspaper kept her away from the police and other reporters to protect their “scoop”.) The Examiner and the Los Angeles Herald-Express later sensationalized Elizabeth’s case, with one article from the Examiner describing the black tailored suit Short was last seen wearing as “a tight skirt and a sheer blouse”. The media nicknamed her as the “Black Dahlia” and described her as an “adventuress” who “prowled Hollywood Boulevard”. Additional newspaper reports, such as the one published in the LA Times on January 17th, deemed the murder a “sex fiend slaying.”
On January 21st, 1947, a person claiming to be Elizabeth’s killer placed a phone call to the office of James Richardson, (the editor of the Examiner) congratulating Richardson on the newspaper’s coverage of the case. He stated he planned on eventually turning himself in- but not before allowing police to pursue him further. Additionally, the random caller told Richardson to “expect some souvenirs of Beth Short in the mail.”
On January 24th, 1947, a suspicious manila envelope was discovered by a US Postal Service worker. The envelope had been addressed to “The Los Angeles Examiner and other Los Angeles papers” with words that had been cut and pasted from other newspaper clippings. A large message on the face of the envelope read: “Here is Dahlia’s belongings, letter to follow.” The envelope contained Elizabeth’s birth certificate, business cards, photographs, names written on pieces of paper, and an address book with the name of Mark Hansen embossed on the cover. The packet had been carefully cleaned with gasoline, similar to Elizabeth’s body- which led the police to suspect that the packet had been sent by her killer. Despite the efforts to clean the packet, several partial fingerprints were lifted from the envelope and sent to the FBI for testing; however, the prints were compromised in transit and thus could not be properly analyzed. The same day the packet was received by the Examiner, a handbag and a black suede shoe were reported to have been seen on top of a garbage can in an alley a short distance from Norton Avenue- two miles from where Short’s body had been discovered. The items were recovered by police, but they had also been wiped clean with gasoline, destroying any fingerprints.
On January 26, another letter was received by the Examiner, this time handwritten, which read: “Here it is. Turning in Wed., Jan. 29, 10 am. Had my fun at police. Black Dahlia Avenger”. The letter also named a location at which the supposed killer would turn himself in. Police waited at the location on the morning of January 29, but the alleged killer did not appear. Instead, at 1:00pm, the Examiner offices received another cut-and-pasted letter, which read: “Have changed my mind. You would not give me a square deal. Dahlia killing was justified.”
On February 1st, the Los Angeles Daily News reported that the case had “run into a Stone Wall”, with no new leads for investigators to pursue. The Examiner continued to run stories on the murder and the investigation, which was front-page news for 35 days following the discovery of Elizabeth’s body.
When interviewed, lead investigator Captain Jack Donahue told the press that he believed Short’s murder had taken place in a remote building or shack on the outskirts of LA, and her body transported into the city where it was disposed of. Based on the precise cuts and dissection of Short’s corpse, the LAPD looked into the possibility that the murderer may have been a surgeon, doctor, or someone with medical knowledge. In mid-February 1947, the LAPD served a warrant to the University of Southern California Medical School, which was located near the site where Short’s body had been discovered, requesting a complete list of the program’s students. The university agreed so long as the students’ identities remain private. Background checks were conducted, but they yielded no results.
The graphic nature of the crime and the subsequent letters received by the Examiner had resulted in a media frenzy surrounding Short’s murder. Both local and national publications covered the story heavily, many of which reprinted sensationalistic reports suggesting that Short had been tortured for hours prior to her death; The information, however, was false, yet police allowed the reports to circulate so as to conceal Short’s true cause of death—cerebral hemorrhage—from the public. Further reports about Short’s personal life were publicized, including details about her alleged declining of Hansen’s romantic advances, and in addition, a stripper who was an acquaintance of Short’s told police that she “liked to get guys worked up over her, but she’d leave them hanging dry.” This led some reporters (namely the Herald-Express’s Bevo Means) and detectives to look into the possibility that Short was a lesbian, and began questioning employees and patrons of gay bars in Los Angeles. This claim, however, remained unsubstantiated. The Herald-Express also received several letters from the purported killer, again made with cut-and-pasted clippings, one of which read: “I will give up on Dahlia killing if I get 10 years. Don’t try to find me.”
On March 14, an apparent suicide note scrawled in pencil on a bit of foolscap was found tucked in a shoe in a pile of men’s clothing by the ocean’s edge at the foot of Breeze Ave in Venice. The note read: “To whom it may concern: I have waited for the police to capture me for the Black Dahlia killing, but have not. I am too much of a coward to turn myself in, so this is the best way out for me. I couldn’t help myself for that, or this. Sorry, Mary.” The pile of clothing was first seen by a beach caretaker, who reported the discovery to John Dillon, lifeguard captain. Dillon immediately notified Capt. L. E. Christensen of the West Los Angeles Police Station. The clothes included a coat and trousers of blue herringbone tweed, a brown and white Y shirt, white jockey shorts, tan socks and tan moccasin leisure size eight shoes. The clothes gave no clue about the identity of their owner.
Police quickly deemed Mark Hansen, the owner of the address book found in the packet, a suspect. Hansen was a wealthy local nightclub and theater owner and an acquaintance at whose home Short had stayed with friends, and according to some sources, he also confirmed that the purse and shoe discovered in the alley were in fact Short’s. Ann Toth, Short’s friend and roommate, told investigators that Short had recently rejected sexual advances from Hansen, and suggested it as a potential cause for him to kill her; however, he was cleared of suspicion in the case.
In addition to Hansen, the LAPD interviewed over 150 men in the ensuing weeks whom they believed to be potential suspects. Manley, who had been one of the last people to see Short alive, was also investigated, but was cleared of suspicion after passing numerous polygraph exams. Police also interviewed several persons found listed in Hansen’s address book, including Martin Lewis, who had been an acquaintance of Short’s. Lewis was able to provide an alibi for the date of Short’s murder, as he was in Portland, Oregon, visiting his father-in-law, who was dying of kidney failure.
A total of 750 investigators from the LAPD and other departments worked on the case during its initial stages, including 400 sheriff’s deputies and 250 California State Patrol officers. Various locations were searched for potential evidence, including storm drains throughout LA, abandoned structures, and various sites along the LA River, but the searches yielded no further evidence. City councilman Lloyd G. Davis posted a $10,000 (equivalent to $114,501 in 2019) reward for information leading police to Short’s killer. After the announcement of the reward, various persons came forward with confessions, most of which police dismissed as false. Several of the false confessors were charged with obstruction of justice.
By the spring of 1947, Short’s murder had become a cold case with few new leads. Sergeant Finis Brown, one of the lead detectives on the case, blamed the press for compromising the investigation through reporters’ probing of details and unverified reporting. In September 1949, a grand jury convened to discuss inadequacies in the LAPD’s homicide unit based on their failure to solve numerous murders—especially those of women and children—in the past several years, Short’s being one of them. In the aftermath of the grand jury, further investigation was done on Short’s past, with detectives tracing her movements between Massachusetts, California, and Florida, and also interviewed people who knew her in Texas and New Orleans. However, the interviews yielded no useful information in the murder.
The notoriety of Short’s murder has spurred a large number of confessions over the years, many of which have been deemed false. During the initial investigation into her murder, police received a total of 60 confessions, most made by men. Since that time, over 500 people have confessed to the crime, some of whom had not even been born at the time of her death. Sergeant John P. St. John, a detective who worked the case until his retirement, stated, “It is amazing how many people offer up a relative as the killer.”
In 2003, Ralph Asdel, one of the original detectives on the case, told the Times that he believed he had interviewed Short’s killer, a man who had been seen with his sedan parked near the vacant lot where her body was discovered in the early morning hours of January 15, 1947. A neighbor driving by that day stopped to dispose of a bag of lawn clippings in the vacant lot when he saw a parked sedan, allegedly with its right rear door open; the driver of the sedan was standing in the lot. His arrival apparently startled the owner of the sedan, who approached his car and peered in the window before returning to the sedan and driving away. The owner of the sedan was followed to a local restaurant where he worked, but was ultimately cleared of suspicion.
Suspects remaining under discussion by various authors and experts include a doctor named Walter Bayley, proposed by the former Times copy editor Larry Harnisch; Times publisher Norman Chandler, whom biographer Donald Wolfe claims impregnated Short; Leslie Dillon, Joseph A. Dumais, Artie Lane (a.k.a. Jeff Connors), Mark Hansen, Dr. Francis E. Sweeney, Woody Guthrie, Bugsy Siegel, Orson Welles, George Hodel, Hodel’s friend Fred Sexton, George Knowlton, Robert M. “Red” Manley, Patrick S. O’Reilly, and Jack Anderson Wilson.
Police came to consider George Hill Hodel Jr, a suspect. He was never formally charged with the crime, and came to wider attention as a suspect after his death when he was accused by his son, Los Angeles homicide detective Steve Hodel, of killing Short and committing several additional murders. Prior to the Dahlia case, he was also a suspect in the death of his secretary, Ruth Spaulding, but was not charged; and was accused of raping his own daughter, Tamar, but acquitted. He fled the country several times, and spent 1950 to 1990 in the Philippines.
Several crime authors, as well as Cleveland detective Peter Merylo, have suspected a link between the Short murder and the Cleveland Torso Murders, which took place in Cleveland, Ohio, between 1934 and 1938. As part of their investigation into other murders that took place before and after Elizabeth’s killing, the original LAPD investigators studied the Torso Murders in 1947 but later discounted any relationship between the two cases. In 1980, new evidence implicated a former Torso Murder suspect, Jack Anderson Wilson (a.k.a. Arnold Smith). He was investigated by Detective St. John in relation to Short’s murder. He claimed he was close to arresting Wilson for Short’s murder, but that Wilson died in a fire on February 4, 1982. The possible connection between Short’s murder and the Torso Murders received renewed media attention when it was profiled on the NBC series Unsolved Mysteries in 1992, in which Eliot Ness biographer Oscar Fraley suggested Ness knew the identity of the killer responsible for both cases.
The February 10, 1947, the murder of Jeanne French in Los Angeles was also considered by the media and detectives as possibly being connected to Short’s killing. French’s body was discovered in West LA on Grand View Boulevard, nude and badly beaten. Written on her stomach in lipstick was what appeared to say “Fuck You B.D.”, and the letters “TEX” below it. The Herald-Express covered the story heavily, and drew comparisons to the Short murder less than a month prior, surmising the initials “B.D.” to stand for “Black Dahlia”. According to historian Jon Lewis, however, the scrawling actually read “P.D.”, ostensibly standing for “police department”.
Crime authors such as Steve Hodel (son of George Hill Hodel) and William Rasmussen have suggested a link between the Short murder and the 1946 murder and dismemberment of six-year-old Suzanne Degnan in Chicago, Illinois. Captain Donahoe of the LAPD stated publicly that he believed the Black Dahlia and the Chicago Lipstick Murders were “likely connected”. Among the evidence cited is the fact that Short’s body was found on Norton Avenue, three blocks west of Degnan Boulevard, Degnan being the last name of the girl from Chicago. There were also striking similarities between the handwriting on the Degnan ransom note and that of the “Black Dahlia Avenger”. Both texts used a combination of capitals and small letters (the Degnan note read in part “BuRN This FoR heR SAfTY”), and both notes contain a similar misshapen letter P and have one word that matches exactly. Convicted serial killer William Heirens served life in prison for Degnan’s murder. Initially arrested at 17 for breaking into a residence close to that of Degnan, Heirens claimed he was tortured by police, forced to confess, and made a scapegoat for the murder. After being taken from the medical infirmary at the Dixon Correctional Center on February 26, 2012 for health problems, Heirens died at the University of Illinois Medical Center on March 5, 2012, at the age of 83.
Additionally, Steve Hodel has implicated his father, George Hodel, as Short’s killer, citing his father’s training as a surgeon as circumstantial evidence. In 2003, it was revealed in notes from the 1949 grand jury report that investigators had wiretapped Hodel’s home, and obtained recorded conversation of him with an unidentified visitor, saying: “Supposin’ I did kill the Black Dahlia. They couldn’t prove it now. They can’t talk to my secretary because she’s dead.”
In 1991, Janice Knowlton, a woman who was ten years old at the time of Short’s murder, claimed that she witnessed her father, George Knowlton, beat Short to death with a clawhammer in the detached garage of her family’s home in Westminster. She also published a book titled ‘Daddy was the Black Dahlia Killer’ in 1995, in which she made additional claims that her father sexually molested her. The book was condemned as “trash” by Knowlton’s stepsister Jolane Emerson in 2004, who stated: “She believed it, but it wasn’t reality. I know, because I lived with her father for sixteen years.” Additionally, Detective St. John told the Times that Knowlton’s claims were “not consistent with the facts of the case”.
John Gilmore’s 1994 book ‘Severed: The True Story of the Black Dahlia Murder’, suggests a possible connection between Short’s murder and that of Georgette Bauerdorf, a socialite who was strangled to death in her West Hollywood home in 1944. Gilmore suggests that Short’s employment at the Hollywood Canteen, where Bauerdorf also worked as a hostess, could be a potential connection between the two women. However, the claim that Short ever worked at the Hollywood Canteen has been disputed by others, such as the retired Times copy editor Larry Harnisch. In ‘Severed’, Gilmore also states that the coroner who performed Short’s autopsy suggested in conversation that she had been forced to consume feces based on his findings when examining the contents of her stomach. This claim has been denied by Harnisch and is also not indicated in Short’s official autopsy, though it has been reprinted in several magazines and online reports.
The 2017 book, ‘Black Dahlia, Red Rose’ by Piu Eatwell focuses on Leslie Dillon, a bellhop who was a former mortician’s assistant; his associates Mark Hansen and Jeff Connors; and Sergeant Finis Brown, a lead detective who had links to Hansen and was allegedly corrupt. Eatwell states that Short was murdered because she knew too much about the men’s involvement in a scheme of robbing hotels. She further suggests that Short was killed at the Aster Motel in Los Angeles, where the owners reported finding one of their rooms “covered in blood and fecal matter” on the morning Short’s body was found. The Examiner stated in 1949 that LA Police Chief WIlliam A. Worton denied that the Aster Motel had anything to do with the case, although its rival newspaper, the Los Angeles Herald, claimed that the murder took place there.
According to newspaper reports shortly after the murder, Short received the nickname “Black Dahlia” from staff and patrons at a Long Beach drugstore in mid-1946, as wordplay on the film The Blue Dahlia (1946). Other popularly-circulated rumors claim that the media crafted the name due to Elizabeth adorning her hair with dahlias. According to the FBI official website, she received the first part of the nickname from the press “for her rumored penchant for sheer black clothes”.
However, reports by DA investigators state that the nickname was invented by newspaper reporters covering her murder; Herald-Express reporter Bevo Means, who interviewed Short’s acquaintances at the drugstore, has been credited with first using the “Black Dahlia” name, though reporters Underwood and Jack Smith have been alternatively named as its creators. While some sources claim that Short was referred to or went by the name during her life, others dispute this. Both Gilmore and Harnisch agree that the name originated during Short’s lifetime and was not a creation of the press: Harnisch states that it was in fact a nickname she earned from the staff of the Long Beach drugstore she frequented. Prior to the circulation of the “Black Dahlia” name, Short’s killing had been dubbed the “Werewolf Murder” by the Herald-Express due to the brutal nature of the crime.
Elizabeth is interred at the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. After her younger sisters had grown up and married, her mother moved to Oakland to be near her daughter’s grave. She finally returned to the East Coast in the 1970’s, where she lived into her 90’s. On February 2nd, 1947, just two weeks after Elizabeth’s murder, Republican state assemblyman C. Don Field was prompted by the case to introduce a bill calling for the formation of a sex offender registry; the state of California would become the first U.S. state to make the registration of sex offenders mandatory. (The NY sex offender registration didn’t take effect until January 21st, 1996!)
Elizabeth’s murder has been described as one of the most brutal and culturally enduring crimes in American history, and Time magazine listed it as one of the most infamous unsolved cases in the world.
Elizabeth’s life and death have been the basis of numerous books and films, both fictionalized and non-fiction. The case was the focus of Season Four, Episode 13 of ‘Hunter’, in which the main characters, along with a (fictitious) veteran former police detective (played by Lawrence Tierney), investigated and carried out an arrest of an in-reality fictitious suspect after 41 years. Elizabeth Short was portrayed Jessica Nelson. Among the most famous fictional accounts of Short’s death is James Ellroy’s 1987 novel ‘The Black Dahlia’, which, in addition to the murder, explored “the larger fields of politics, crime, corruption, and paranoia in post-war Los Angeles”, according to cultural critic David M. Fine. Ellroy’s novel was adapted into a 2006 film of the same name by director Brian De Palma: Short was played by actress Mia Kirshner. Both Ellroy’s novel and its film adaptation bear little relation to the facts of the case. Elizabeth Short was also portrayed in heavily fictionalized accounts by Lucie Arnaz in the 1975 television film ‘Who Is the Black Dahlia?’ and in 2011 by Mena Suvari in the series American Horror Story in the plot line of the episode ‘Spooky Little Girl’, and again in 2018 with ‘Return to Murder House’. OH! And there’s a band named, The Black Dahlia Murder.
I personally don’t think we’ll ever know for certain; WHO committed the murder, and the WHY he (or she) committed the murder. We have figured out the HOW (as awful as it is) and the WHAT. The WHAT being Elizabeth Short. She’ll be forever known as, “The Black Dahlia”.