Chapter 4 ~ The Beginning of the End

Elizabeth Short left the Chancellor Hotel on December 6, after telling friends she was going up north to the Bay Area to spend the Christmas holidays with her sister, Virginia West. She never made the trip and her sister later said she had not heard from Elizabeth for a long time.

Instead, Beth Short went south to San Diego. Investigators later said she was “picked up approximately the evening of December 6 by one Carl Balsiger.” Balsiger first took her on a business trip to Camarillo, “where he had business with another party.”

Balsiger and Short returned with another passenger, Walter Thatcher, the next day, December 7. They drove through Reseda and the West San Fernando Valley, eventually ending up in Hollywood. Balsiger claimed he found a room for Beth on Yucca Street that evening, but investigators were unable to find proof of his claim. He said he dropped her off at the bus station in Hollywood the next day. Balsiger said Beth told him she was traveling to Berkeley to see her sister.

  • Beth Short arrived in San Diego by bus and soon found an all night theater where she bought a ticket. The cashier, Dorothy French engaged her in conversation on the morning of December 9, and Dorothy invited her to stay at her home with her mother and brother.

The French family did not anticipate a long visit, but Beth stayed a full month, not leaving until January 8. While a guest in the French home, Beth met and dated men. She went dancing and dining with new acquaintances. She went out with Sam Navarra, Frank Dominguez, an unidentified man and “an unidentified Naval officer.” She also met salesman Robert “Red” Manley on a street and saw him several times before asking him for a ride to Los Angeles.

Red Manley, the last known person to spend considerable time with her, drove her to the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles on January 9, 1947. He left her in the lobby and continued on with his life. Then, when her slain body was found on January 15, Manley became the number one suspect in her murder.

Red Manley would be released from custody. Other suspects would surface as time went on, but none would be charged with murder and none would go before a court for the murder of Elizabeth Short.

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