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1947: Elizabeth Short, "The Black Dahlia"

Discussion in 'Historical Cold Cases - Pre 1950' started by Lily, Jul 22, 2015.

  1. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    Wow! You've really done your homework. You put all this together?
    Akoya likes this.
  2. As I wrote before after reading BDA2 I came to the conclusion that Steve Hodel had basically proven the case that his father had killed Elizabeth Short. Having said that there are some things that I have to disagree with him about. In BDA1 chapter 33 "George Hodel-Elizabeth Short: Reconstructed Timeline" he talks about how he feels George Hodel knew Elizabeth Short since 1944 and had a long term relationship. He goes on to say that seeming every unknown man Elizabeth Short was seen with or talked about was either George Hodel or in some case or cases George Hodel's cohort Fred Sexton. He even goes on to say that that an unknown man seen in an unnamed Hollywood bar (BDA1 page 435) after the murder was in fact George Hodel. I have no idea who these people are. I have no idea when or how George Hodel and Elizabeth Short met. As far as George Hodel and Elizabeth Short meeting for the first time in 1944 Larry Harnisch from lmharnisch.blogspot.comi(4/03/2006 , 4/04/2006 and elsewhere) says that in the DA Files on the case there is a report entitled "Movements of Elizabeth Short Prior to Jan. 1, 1946" that Elizabeth Short was not in California in 1944 or 1945. Another thing that Hodel talks about was that there was a watch found around the time of the murder around the area of which he claims was his father's watch. On BDA1 page 265 he gives evidence that his father wore a different watch before and after the murder. Larry Harnisch on his blogspot says that this is just bunk (02/12/06). He seems to show reasonably convincingly that the watch in fact was found 4 days afterwards and that it was found 200 yards from where the body was fournd. He cites as his source the LA Times and the LA Herald Express. I didn't think it made much sense. If his father had lost his watch transporting the body from his car to the vacant lot you would have though they would have found it on day one. There is also the "flying lips" drawing (BDA1 page 244) which Steve Hodel maintains relates to the deceased body of Elizabeth Short. I think it's a stretch. Even though I probably agree with 90 percent of the things Steve Hodel talks about when you throw in stuff like this it tends to just confuse the issue.

    Larry Harnisch has undoubtedly played an important role in all of this beginning with his 1997 article in the Los Angeles Times marking the 50th anniversary of the case. He has also been an important source for this series of posts. At times on his blog he talked about writing a book on this subject. He has talked about how he has interviewed numerous major players involved with the case. Whether it is 50 pages or 900 I think he should just publish what he's got. Having said that I don't think he has been fair to Steve Hodel's theory. On his blog ladailymirror dated May 28, 2016s and elsewhere he states that George Hodel was not a surgeon and was not listed as a surgeon in the medical directory at the time. I haven't read every entry that Harnisch posted on his blog but as previously stated there is significant evidence that George Hodel had advanced medical knowledge and advanced surgical skill. Harnisch seems to cherry pick the weakest part of Hodel's case and ignore the enormous amount of evidence which incriminates George Hodel which is mammoth.

    Thanks Kimster. I'm glad at least someone is reading this post. I read all of the books involved plus Mary Pacios' book which I didn't think really added anything to the case. After that I read them again this time taking notes. I wanted it to be as comprehensive and accurate as possible. It wasn't really that hard.
    Akoya and Kimster like this.
  3. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    I've only had a general idea about this case. One of the drawbacks of helping on a crime forum like this is that I don't have time to dig into just one case. I need to know a little bit about many.

    Thank you very much for taking the time to post here about it! Much appreciated!
  4. Where does it go from here? Steve Hodel in both of his BDA books looks for a resolution near the end of both books. He has apparently given up on the idea of finding the original letter with the package of Elizabeth Short's effects and then having that tested for DNA against his father. In chapter 22 of BDA2 Hodel talks about how he was able to get a DNA profile of his father. Later on in that chapter he talks about the possibility of seeing if his father's DNA matches the known DNA of perpetrators for other crimes. How about something else? How about a mock trial? In 1988 former top prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi debated leading defense lawyer Gerry Spence in a mock criminal trial regarding the guilt of Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Of course they had lots of witnesses and evidence and whatnot. The jury came back with a verdict of guilty. With this case you would have to loosen up the rules a little bit with witness testimony given that so many of the witnesses are no longer amongst the living. Another possibility is having an inquest of sorts specifically focused on the George Hodel theory and we'll see how well the evidence holds up. A third possibility is to have something similar to a CBS documentary last year regarding the Jonbenet Ramsey case where a group of experts discussed and investigated that case. Well, there you have it.
    Takeitfromme, spike and Kimster like this.
  5. DaisyChains

    DaisyChains Bronze Member

    I think it is interesting she claimed she was going to Chicago to work for Jack the modeling agent. Wasn't there talk that she was meeting a cop from Chicago in LA the day she was murdered? Could this cop and "modeling agent" be one in the same? And if Hodel is right about police corruption back in the 40's-50's, perhaps this cop/agent was part of a mob network connected to the sex trade? Maybe a strong arm of sorts? And had police connections in LA who also ran with these mobsters and helped cover up crimes?

    I once was into the idea of Hodel being the prime suspect, but now that time has gone on and I've researched some other perspectives, I think it may have been either a sicko who had access to that meat factory or a mob hit to intimidate other working girls to not do whatever Short might have done to anger someone above her and end up dead as a result. If the DA said a payoff might have been involved then I'm thinking her murder was the result of some sort of organized crime.

    I am convinced she was field dressed (bled out through face lacerations as I think she was suspended upside down) and the murderer used a spray down hose for the factory to wash down her body. It was said she was washed off right? So many cases and memory starts to fade.

    I'm not sure there has ever been a proven direct evidential link between Hodel and Short before her death. I'm more interested in the last men she said she was going to meet and the last men she was actually seen with - and none of them seem to be stand up guys. I think that was the issue - these guys were part of the underbelly. It was too difficult for LE to figure out which of the suspects were capable and they seemed to really lack some necessary direct evidence that would have helped to solve the case.

    But the one unnamed mysterious character remains as the cop from Chicago... who might just also be the modeling agent from Chicago. Why give the illusion of two separate societal roles?
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
  6. DaisyChains

    DaisyChains Bronze Member

    Furthermore, if Short was planning to just up and leave for Chicago to model I wonder if maybe she was attempting to run away from someone or a situation that she felt was dangerous. Who knows. There could have been money owed or another perceived offense.

    My thought is that if she was trying to run away it is bc she feared a mob network of some sort in LA. That would point more toward her death not being a random act of violence as a date went wrong, but rather a planned and organized brutal murder. Her body was splayed out. I believe this was an effort to intimidate specific people within an underground network. Only they would know the significance and message behind her brutal murder and why her body was left that way. It could be something as simple as her leaving an LA based syndicate for a Chicago based one and that being seen as traitorous. Or perhaps someone thought she was ratting inside info about a syndicate and had an inside guy pose as a investigator to probe if she would divulge too much info about someone/something. Then, to protect herself, Short wouldn't openly say she was meeting a Chicago based cop in the letter... instead saying he was a Chicago based modeling agent named Jack.
  7. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    I think you're right. And I think the intimidation tactic working very well!

    Good to see you @DaisyChains ! :loveshower:
    DaisyChains, spike and Paradise like this.
  8. DaisyChains

    DaisyChains Bronze Member

    Good to see you, too Kimster ❤️
    spike and Kimster like this.
  9. It has now been over four months since I last posted on this site. I have since tried contacting Steve Hodel just under a month ago
    to try and get him just to read this series of posts that I originally posted. I have since gotten no response. If anyone else wants to
    to try and contact him I am more than welcome to let them try because I am through trying to contact Steve Hodel.
    spike and Kimster like this.
  10. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    Do you have a l8no to his contact information?
    spike likes this.
  11. There is a contact button on his site that I pressed and then posted a message. I still have not received any reply.
    Kimster likes this.
  12. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    Go to "inbox" and send a conversation message. Many members have this connected to their email. Hope it works!
    spike likes this.
  13. Mel70

    Mel70 Bronze Member

    Very interesting Theory! NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT! :peace:
    Lily and GarAndMo49 like this.
  14. Mel70

    Mel70 Bronze Member

    Ooooohh. THANK YOU! I WAS UNAWARE OF THESE. GREAT JOB "Lily". I am usually up on things though and You're making me look bad.:facepalm:
    GarAndMo49 likes this.
  15. Mel70

    Mel70 Bronze Member

    GarAndMo49 likes this.
  16. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    I was just reading a bio of Tommy Flanagan, an actor from Glasgow (was in Sons of Anarchy) who suffered a knife attack in his youth, a 'Glasgow grin' style facial laceration -- it said he almost died of his wounds. It made me think of Elizabeth - she actually did die of her facial wounds.

    I'm sure this article has posted before, but I think it's really worth re-reading-- bold by me.


    In 1949, after being tasked with investigating Short’s murder, the Gangster Squad came extraordinarily close to arresting Leslie Dillon after he sent a letter, under the pseudonym “Jack Sand,” to the LAPD’s chief police psychiatrist, Dr. Joseph Paul De River. Dillon suggested that an acquaintance named Jeff Connors may have killed Short as revenge after she threatened to reveal “an affair not considered proper by the average person.” De Rivers believed that Connors was nothing more than a “projection of Dillon’s imagination,” Eatwell writes, though Connors turned out to be quite real.

    Dillon also knew a number of disturbing details about Short’s murder that the police had been keeping secret, and said he believed she’d been murdered in a motel room. But after holding Dillon for a week, the police released him because they found Jeff Connors, who offered conflicting statements about his own connection to Short. In the end, Connors, too, was released, and – with the exception of a few notable but uncredible suspects over the years – the Dahlia case went cold.

    “It’s incredibly difficult to obtain documents, because the Los Angeles police department will not release the [Black Dahlia] files,” Eatwell says. During the course of her research, she closely examined the FBI file – which the bureau unredacted in 2015 upon her FOIA request – as well as grand-jury testimony and newly released portions of the LAPD’s file, to produce what she calls her “good-faith assessment and plausible explanation [for who killed Short].”

    Eatwell posits that Dillon murdered Elizabeth Short at the behest of Hansen, whom he worked with. She believes they killed Short at the Aster Motel, where Dillon had reportedly stayed and where motel owners Henry and Clora Hoffman admitted finding, on January 15th, 1947, one of their cabins “covered in blood and fecal matter.” Witnesses who stayed at the hotel noted seeing a dark-haired girl who resembled Elizabeth Short, as well as a man who fit Mark Hansen’s description.
    Kimster likes this.
  17. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    Interview with the daughter of he owners of the Astor:

  18. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member


    • September: Elizabeth "Bette" Short goes to Florida to work and get away from cold weather
    • October 29: nation's first peacetime military draft

    • Spring: Bette Short returns to Medford
    • December 7: Pearl Harbor bombed; USA enters WW II

    • January: mobilization for war effort: price controls, rationing, women replacing drafted men in jobs
    • Spring: Bette replaces draftee as soda jerk at Shuman's Drugstore in Medford
    • September, Cleo Short sends Bette money to come live with him in California
    • November 28: Coconut Grove Fire in Boston
    – December 15: She left her mother, Mrs. Phoebe [Mae] Short, in Medford, Massachusetts and went to her father, Cleo A. Short at Mrs. Yankee's house on Nebraska Street, Vallejo, California.
    – December 22: Bette and father move to 1028-1/2 W 36 St, Los Angeles [Note DA files list this date as 1/28/43]

    - January 29: She went to Camp Cook and worked in the P.X.(Post Exchange) handling small store and confections.: [Note: fingerprinted and photo ID]
    • January: Bette living with Vera Green, 221 -C West Montecito St., West Cabrillo Beach, California
    • February: Bette picked "Camp Cutie"
    • February: Bette living with Mr. and Mrs. Carl Stradder, Tomkins Ranch near Casmalia, California
    • April: Cleo borrows key to Mary Booth's apartment in Los Angeles; Bette with him; Cleo encouraging her to be in movies
    • June 3: Zoot Suit Riots in LA
    • July: Mrs. Agnes L. Dixon befriends Bette in Los Angeles
    • August: Bette in Lompoc, staying at Rancho Santo Antonio in Casmalia
    • August 25: Bette ends employment at Camp Cooke
    • September 23: Bette arrested at El Paseo Restaurant—minor where liquor is served; befriended by police woman, Mary Unkefer
    - September 28: She left Camp Cook.
    • October 2: Bette put on bus to Boston by Policewoman Unkefer
    December 1: She went to Miami Beach and worked at Rosedale Delicatessen for a few months; lives at the El Mar Hotel

    She work's at Mammy's Restaurant until the latter part of 1944
    – March: She took a trip to Atlanta, Georgia.
    – April: She went to Miami Beach, Florida.

    • September: Bette meets Gordon Fickling in Miami Beach Florida
    • November: Bette back in Medford for a visit Thanksgiving
    • December: Bette in Miami Beach, Florida: meets Matt Gordon New Year's Eve; living with Mrs. Devaul

    • Mid-January: Bette back in Medford waiting for fiancé Matt Gordan's retum.
    March 30: Begins working at St. Claire's Restaurant, Boston
    • May 7: V-E Day
    • August 14: V-J Day—war is over
    • August 22: Bette receives telegram Matt Gordon killed after war ended
    September 1: She ends work at St. Claire's Restaurant
    • September: Bette working in Belmont, Massachusetts at Schraff’s
    December: She went to Jacksonville, Florida.

    – February: She went to her mother, Phoebe Short at Medford, Mass
    • April: Bette leaves for Chicago from Medford (mother’s testimony at inquest)
    May: Ann Toth moves into Mark Hansen home at 6024 Carlos, Hollywood
    • May: Bette in Chicago, meets briefly with Gordon Fickling: he's on way to California
    • May: Bette contacts Dr. John Olsen in Hammond, Indiana
    • May: Letter to Bette from Fickling, "Have we been childish?"
    June 1: Bette goes to Indianapolis, Indiana [Note: Mother testified at Inquest that Bette left Medford, Massachusetts in April, 1946. The District Attorney investigator could have relied upon the date her trunk was shipped from Medford. Another person could have arranged for the shipping.]
    – June 1: Railway Express receipt addressed to Miss B. Short, 905 (street not legible), Indianapolis, Indiana
    – June 24: She went to Chicago, Ill and registered at the Park Row Hotel.
    – July 7: She left Chicago to go to Long Beach, California saying she was going there to marry Gordon Fickling. She did not marry him, but did live with him.

    • July: "Blue Dahlia" playing at theater in Long Beach, California
    • July: Bette given "Black Dahlia" nickname
    – July 22: She moved into the Washington Hotel, Long Beach with Gordon Fickling
    • July 26: Bette living at Atwater Hotel in Long Beach
    – August 8: She moved into several other small unknown hotels in Long Beach remaining approximately the five-day limit in each and living with Gordon Fickling.
    – August 20: She went with Fickling and lived with him at the Brevort Hotel, Hollywood.*
    – August 27: At 11:30 PM she checked out of the Brevort Hotel
    – August 28: She moved into the Hawthorne Hotel, 1611 N. Orange Grove, Los Angeles*, with Marjorie Graham who was originally from 65 Winthrop Street, Cambridge, Mass.

    • August: short, dark man sometimes pays Bette's rent at Hawthorne Hotel
    • August-November: Bette a regular at Brittingham’s — Columbia Studios
    • September-November: Rumor that Bette going with someone at Columbia Studios
    • September 20: Last time Lynn Martin saw Bette; argue over Lynn's activities
    – September 20: She moved to the Figueroa Hotel with Marjorie Graham and Sid Zaid.
    – October 1: She and Marjorie Graham moved into the home of Mark Hansen and Ann Toth 6024 Carlos Ave.
    – October 12: She moved to the Guardian Arms Apartments, Apt 726 at 5217 Hollywood Boulevard, and lived with Marjorie Graham, Bill Robinson, her boyfriend and Marvin Margolis.
    – October 22: She moved out of the Guardian apartments and spent the night driving around looking for a place to stay but found none. She dorove around in the car of Glen Kearns, 2332 Gale St, Los Angeles;
    [Note: Glen took photos of her at Marshall High School.]
    – October 23: Glen Kearns took her to the home of Mark Hansen and Ann Toth, 6024 Carlos Avenue, Los Angeles
    • October: Robert S. Gessinger gives Bette ride to drive-in at Sunset Blvd and Vermont
    – November 13: She moved from the last address to the Chancellor Apartments, 1842 N. Cherokee, Apt. No. 501. She lived there with Cheryll Haughlamb, Beverly Don'e, Pat Goff, Marion Schmidt, Dorothy Saffron and Mary Louise Pappe. Glen Wolfe was the manager of the chancellor Apartments at the time.
    • November: Bette receives letter from Fickling, "pessimistic about the future," but will try to help her
    • November: Bette’s trunk arrives at Railway Express
    • December: Landlady Juanita Ringo holds Bette's suitcases for nonpayment of rent
    – December 1: Maurice Clement bought Bette dinner at Brittingham’s; saw her 3 or 4 times that week
    • December 1: Jimmy Harrigan takes Bette to Tabu Club
    • December 2: Jimmy Harrigan takes Bette to Ontario for dinner at Sycamore Inn; she tells him she's leaving area
    – December 6: She went with Carl Balsiger to Camarillo, California in his 1940 Oldsmobile car (According to Balsiger, he brought her back to Los Angeles and took her to the bus station.)
    • December 8: Carl Balsiger brings Bette to Greyhound
    - December 9: She arrived in San Diego on a bus from Los Angeles at 6 a.m. and moved in with Dorothy French at 2750 Camino Pradero, [Pacific] Beach, San Diego, Cal. She lived there with Mrs. [E]lvera French and her daughter dorothy French and her son [Cory] French.
    • December 13: Bette has date with unidentified naval officer
    • December c. 15: Bette writes letter to Ann Toth asking for $20 stake
    • December 16: Bette meets Robert Manley (San Diego)
    • Decembcr 21: Manley goes by Frenches looking for Bette (Pacific Beach)
    • December 22: Bette receives letter and $100 from Fickling (Pacific Beach)
    • December 24: Bette has dinner at home of Frank Dominguez (San Diego)
    • December 25: Bette celebrates Christmas with the Frenches (Pacific Beach)
    • December 31: Bette has date with Frank Dominguez (San Diego)

    • January 1: Bette spends New Year's Day with the Frenches (Pacific Beach)
    • January 2: Bette receives two phone calls (next door); one from Los Angeles
    • January 7: Bette receives telegram from Red (Pacific Beach)
    • January 7: Bette dates Sam Navarra (San Diego)
    • January 7: Two men and a woman looking for Bette at French home
    - January 8: She went to the Mecca Hotel in San diego with Robert Manley Note; They registered as Robert Manley, Mountain View and Eliz. Short, Chicago]
    • Januery 8 or 9: Mark Hansen receives phone call from Bette.
    • January 9: Fickling receives nine-page letter from Bette: tells Fickling she is going to Chicago for modeling job with "Jack"
    • January 9: Robert Manley and Elizabeth Short stop at Sheldon's Café before leaving Pacific Beach; Robert Manley drives Bette to Greyhound Bus Depot in Los Angeles where she leaves her suitcase in locker: at 6:30 or 6:45 Manley drops her off at the Biltmore Hote1; three people see Bette in the lobby
    – January 9: She was seen to leave the Biltmore Hotel and walk south on Olive Street by Harold Studholme, the Biltmore Bell Captain, residence, 427 Magnolia St., S. Pasadena
    – January 9: At night she was seen by bartender and two other persons in the Crown Jewel Cocktail Lounge, formerly known as Broox's Cocktail Lounge at Eight and Olive, Los Angeles

    • January 14: Lynn Martin visits Sunset Strip auto designer; heard sobbing in motel room
    • January 15, 6:30 AM Bob Meyer sees 1936/37 black Ford sedan stop near vacant lot 39th and Norton
    • January 15, 10:30 AM: Betty Bersinger sees "two pieces of mannequin" in vacant lot: calls police
    • January 15: 10:54 AM: Communications Divisions of LAPD clocks in call of a "person without clothes on"
    • January 15: Lynn Martin disappears from haunts


    ^ Also excellent suspect list -- note how many times Hansen's name comes up, both directly and indirectly.
    Kimster and spike like this.
  19. spike

    spike Bronze Member

    Thanks for this, Lily!
    Most informative and interesting.
    Happy New Year!
    Kimster likes this.
  20. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    This timeline is really handy!
    spike likes this.

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