Black Dahlia

“Beth would take a candle and melt it. Then she’d drop the hot wax into the cavities of her teeth. This would remove all the dark tops of the teeth.”

– Sheryl Hoagland, Chancellor roommate.

* * *

Long Beach, California, 1947

 

A Long Beach druggist and his son filled a gap in time in the Short girl’s life. This was the period July 22 to August 3 last year.

“She lived at the Washington hotel, now called the Atwater, at 53 Linden Avenue,” said Arnold Landers Sr., the pharmacy owner.

“She’d come into our drug store frequently. She’d usually wear a two-piece beach costume which left her midrift bare. Or she’d wear the black lacy things.

“Her hair was jet black and she liked to wear it high. She was popular with the men who came in here and they got to calling her ‘The Black Dahlia.'”

 

– The Los Angeles Examiner

* * *

Robert “Red” Manley told investigators that when he left Elizabeth Short at the Biltmore Hotel on January 9, 1947 she was wearing a fluffy white blouse with a black, collarless suit, high heeled suede shoes, nylon stockings, white gloves and a full length beige coat. Six days later, her murdered body was found in a vacant lot a few miles east of the hotel. The victim would be identified as Elizabeth Short, but soon the world would come to know her simply as the Black Dahlia.

* * *

Elizabeth Short, like so many before her, was looking for her place in the movie capital. She was a loner who walked the streets of Hollywood, relying on strangers and acquaintances for help. She was friendly, yet deceptive and mysterious about her past. As her story unfolded, those who knew her best found that she was not the young woman they thought they knew.

* * *

On the morning of January 15, 1947, Mrs. John W. Bersinger, discovered the naked, bisected body of Elizabeth Short on Norton Avenue, south of Coliseum Place in Los Angeles. She stopped at a nearby house and called the police.  Officers F. S. Perkins and W. E. Fitzgerald were the first to arrive at the scene. They called into the University Division and Officers S. J. Lambert and J.W. Haskins were sent to the location. Captain Jack Donahoe of homicide was notified and he assigned detectives Finis Brown and Harry Hansen to the case. They arrived at the crime site at 11:30 am. Brown and Hansen took charge and would remain the lead detectives on the case for the years that followed. The district attorney’s office became involved when the grand jury examined the unsolved murder in 1949. Lead investigator Frank Jemison directed the new investigation.

 

 

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
   Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
   We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
    Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
   Within a dream.

-Ernest Dowson

 

 

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV