Part I

Chapter 1 ~ The Beginning

“The world will whirl around forever

But you won’t be there to know or to care

Remember, you’re only young once.”

~ From the 1937 Andy Hardy film, You’re Only Young Once

Elizabeth Short was born on July 29, 1924 in Hyde Park, Massachusetts to the parents of Cleo and Phoebe Short. She was raised nearby in Medford, where she attended school. Her father deserted the family when Elizabeth and her siblings were young. 

* * *

Before Elizabeth Short ventured out into the world and was given the appellation, “The Black Dahlia,” she was an unknown local girl who grew up in Medford, Massachusetts, one of five daughters raised by a caring mother during the Great Depression. Her father abandoned the family when she was young.

She was well liked at school, and according to newspaper reports after her death, her school mates described her as a “movie struck girl.” She was called “Medford High’s Deanna Durbin,” referring to the widely popular film actress and singer. In Elizabeth’s autograph book, there were 10 references to the nickname. One passage read, “To a friend worth having and Medford High’s Deanna Durbin.” Another said, “To the sweetest and cutest double of Deanna Durbin.”

* * *

When she was old enough, Elizabeth began traveling, something she would do frequently throughout her brief life. Her mother said she left high school before graduation to “venture on her own.”  She was an attractive, dark haired woman with light blue eyes and pale, white skin and a feigned air of sophistication. She worked occasionally, but was usually without funds, living in hotels or homes of friends or acquaintances, often at the expense of others.

Her mother said, “She was a very affectionate, sweet girl and if she was out at night she always stopped in my bedroom to talk. And she would talk and talk and tell everything that she had done and everything.” She was the prettiest of the sisters and wrote to her mother frequently when she was away from home.

She first went to Florida as a teenager for her health and later moved around the country, stirring the attention of young men and creating a sense of mystery about herself. When she was only 22 years old, she disappeared from the streets of Los Angeles and was not seen again until her naked, bifurcated body was discovered in a vacant lot in Leimert Park. Her murder was never solved and her incomplete story has become part of Los Angeles lore.

* * *


On August 17, 1942, 23 year old Matt Gordon arrived in Miami, Florida. He and Elizabeth Short would have a brief whirlwind romance that ended in his early death.

According to district attorney documents, Phoebe Short and her daughter Elizabeth, “saw the father, Cleo Short on the street in Medford, Mass.” Phoebe said that her daughter had a conversation with Cleo. Later, Beth wrote to her father expressing her desire to visit with him and care for him. Cleo said he sent his daughter $200 and in December, 1942, Beth traveled to Vallejo, California and stayed with her father..

After awhile, father and daughter moved to Los Angeles, where Cleo lived with a friend from Vallejo, a Mrs. Yankee, at 1028 1/2 W. 36th Street. Roughly three weeks later, Beth left word with Mrs. Monte, a neighbor in a rear house, that she was going north to Camp Cooke, where she secured a job in a post exchange.


Elizabeth arrived at Camp Cooke on January 29, 1943. She found work in the post exchange, where Inez Keeling, the manager of the PX, said of her later, “I was won over all at once by her almost childlike charm and beauty. She was one of the loveliest girls I have ever seen- and the most shy.”

According to an FBI memo, Elizabeth was an applicant for a clerk position at the post exchange at Camp Cooke on January 30, 1943. Ralph Aylesworth, manager of the PX, in an interview with author Mary Pacios, said Elizabeth Short “only worked a couple of weeks for me before she took off, not long after being chosen Camp Cutie.”

P. O. Box 66

Elizabeth lived in a number of towns in the area over a brief period of time, including Lompoc, and Casmalia. Paul Veglia*, a twelve year old boy who lived at his father’s hotel, The Hitching Post in Casmalia, remembered seeing Beth every day for two months in the summer of 1943. She stayed in a cabin near the hotel and collected her mail at P. O. Box 66 at the local post office. He recalled seeing Beth in the hotel bar, where his mother was the bartender.

Bruno Zemaitis, founder and owner of Overland Security Services in Santa Maria, worked briefly on the murder in 1947. He said Beth was a frequent customer at the Snappy Lunch Diner at the corner of Broadway and Cook Streets, where his wife was a waitress.

It was in Santa Barbara, while living with Vera Green at 321-C West Montecito Street, that she was arrested on September 23, 1943 for “being a minor in a place that served liquor.” Mary Unkefer, Santa Barbara Police Department jail matron and the arresting officer, befriended Elizabeth. The Los Angeles Daily News reported that officer Unkefer let her stay with her in her home for nine days. The January 17, 1947 article quoted officer Unkefer as saying, “She was very good looking with beautiful dark hair and fair skin. She dressed nicely and was a long way from being a barfly.”

Beth said she was married to one of the soldiers at her table, but it was untrue. When Officer Unkefer went to her home on West Montecito Street she found two soldiers in the apartment and her roommate Vera Green. Green said she was married to one of them, but that proved untrue, too. Green was married, but her husband was overseas.

Officer Unkefer also said she,  “had a rose tattooed on her left leg. She loved to sit so that it would show.”

In October, she was put on a train by juvenile authorities and sent home to Medford. In a matter of weeks, she was in Florida again.

* * *

Miami Beach: The Rosedale, El Mar and Mammy’s

According to the Los Angeles District Attorney files, Elizabeth was living in Miami Beach in 1943. She arrived at the peak of the Art Deco movement in the area. Hundreds of structures were built between 1923 and 1943, making the Art Deco District of Miami Beach the largest concentration of Deco architecture in the world. The city, which was incorporated in 1915, was also a leading beach resort destination.

In early December, 1943 Elizabeth worked at Big Dave’s Rosedale Delicatessen and Restaurant, Miami’s premier delicatessen, located at 1437 Washington Avenue in Miami Beach. The Rosedale was one of the first delicatessens that served Jewish-style fare in Miami. Washington Avenue was and is a busy shopping district, intersecting with Lincoln Road, a fashionable area during the 1940s. Soon after she worked there, the restaurant moved from Miami Beach to Miami. At the time, Elizabeth lived a little over half a mile away at the El Mar apartments at 220 21st Street.

The Roney Plaza (“Might I remind you Mr. Holiday, this ain’t the Roney Plaza.”:  Alan Ladd, Box 13), the jewel of Miami Beach hotels, built in 1926, was located at 2301 Collins Avenue. It took up the entire block on Collins, between Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Streets. The hotel, at the north end of South Beach, faced the ocean and offered gracious accommodations for guests.

The Roney Plaza was just three blocks from Mammy’s restaurant (“Where the Stars Come Out at Night and Play Until Dawn”), where Elizabeth worked for Meyer Yedlin in the “latter part of 1944,” according to the D.A. Files. Mammy’s was located at 2039 Collins Avenue. Wolfie’s Restaurant was even closer to the El Mar, at 21st Street and Collins Avenue. It closed in 2001.

It was at the El Mar that Elizabeth received the inscrutable telegram from Washington, D.C. that read, “A promise is a promise to a person of the world.” The El Mar was a small apartment building with eight units. Mrs. Carmelita DeVaul was the manager.

According to Joseph Gordon Fickling, he and Elizabeth met for the first time in Miami in 1943. He said they renewed their relationship in June, 1946 and she traveled to Long Beach California, where he was stationed, to meet him there in July.

Miami Beach pioneer John S. Collins donated the land across the street from the El Mar for a permanent public park in 1914. The Park marks the beginning of South Beach’s boardwalk that extends to South Pointe Park, the southern tip of Miami Beach.


In March, 1944, Elizabeth was in Atlanta, Georgia, and in April she was back in Miami Beach, where in September, she met Gordon Fickling, a man she would live with in California. In November, she returned to Medford for Thanksgiving, but she was back in Miami in December, staying with Carmelita DeVaul at the El Mar.  According to the District Attorney files, Elizabeth, “stayed in Florida during the winter months of 1944 and 1945, as she had been operated on for a lung condition and could not stand the cold winters in Mass.” On New Year’s Eve, 1944,  she met Matt Gordon, the man she would later claim was her husband.

Two people stated she had been in Hollywood as early as 1944. In a Los Angeles Times newspaper article, Gordon Fickling, the boyfriend who lived with her in Long Beach and in Hollywood, said he met her in Southern California in 1944. Arthur Curtis James, Jr, a self-proclaimed artist, who claimed to have sketched her and painted her over a three month period, also said he knew her in Hollywood in 1944. According to a newspaper story, he said he met her in a cocktail lounge in Hollywood in August, 1944. James is quoted as saying, “I was sitting alone at the bar, making pencil sketches on a bit of paper, when a girl who turned out to be ‘Beth,’ sitting beside me, showed an interest in my sketches.”

James, who was also known as Charles B. Smith, was convicted of violation of the Mann act, after being arrested in November, 1944 in Tuscon, Arizona. His story remains largely unsubstantiated.


On August 22,  Elizabeth was sent a telegram that told of the death of Matt Gordon, the pilot that she asserted was her husband. Word was sent from the young man’s mother, Mrs. Matt Gordon, Sr., who said, ” Just received word from War Department that Matt was killed in crash. Our deepest sympathy is with you.” Afterward, Elizabeth would carry a newspaper clipping of the incident with her, telling people she met that she was a widow.

She did not work from the latter part of 1944 until the first part of 1945.  She was employed at St. Clair’s in Boston from March 30 until September 1, 1945. From late December, 1945 until January 9, 1946,  she was registered at the Colonial Inn at 2104 Riverside Avenue in Jacksonville, Florida.  Her mother sent her checks to the Jacksonville address.  No employment records in Jacksonville could be found for her.


By the next month, February, Elizabeth was back in Medford with her mother. Beth worked in a theater and at several restaurants in Medford and Cambridge, before scheduling her next trip west. By June, she was on the move again.  This time she was heading west.  “The shipping records of her trunk were dated June 1, 1946,” according to the District Attorney memorandums.

She purchased a bus ticket to Indianapolis, and then it was on to Chicago, where she stayed at the Park Row Hotel from June 24 until July 12.  She also stayed at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago with Jack Chernau.

While in Chicago, Elizabeth became interested in the Suzanne Degnan murder.  William Heirens, a young man from the area, was accused of killing the young girl and dismembering her body. The Los Angeles Examiner reported:

“In Chicago, Freddie Woods, 23, who described himself as a “friend” of the slain girl, revealed that she was “fascinated” with the brutal slaying of six year-old Suzanne Degnan, which took place in Chicago a year ago.

Woods said he met Miss Short last August when she was in Chicago for 10 days.  She told him she was a Massachusetts reporter covering the trial of William Heirens, who was convicted of the Degnan kidnaping and slaying.”

“Elizabeth Short was one of the prettiest girls I ever met,” Woods said.  “But she was terribly preoccupied with the details of the Degnan murder.”

* * *

Later, she continued west to California and Gordon Fickling, who picked her up at the bus depot in Long Beach. She checked into the Washington Hotel on Linden and stayed there from July 22 until August 3. While there, she became a regular customer at Lander’s drugstore on the corner, attracting men in uniform, just as she would all across the country. In an interview, David Landers said, “she was very popular with the men who visited the soda fountain and they got to calling her ‘The Black Dahlia,’ partly because of her clothes and partly because of the flowerlike arrangement of her jet black hair.”

When Elizabeth moved out of her hotel room in Long Beach, acquaintances described her as “radiant.”  She told them that she was planning to marry an army officer. Days later, witnesses said she boarded a Pacific Electric streetcar to Hollywood.  Investigators believed she  lived at the Sunset Motel on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood for about a week in August.

*Thanks to Steve Hodel and his interview with Paul Veglia in 2017.

Chapter 2 ~ California & Camp Cooke

Elizabeth Short visited Los Angeles once before she moved there in the summer of 1946. She traveled west from her home in Massachusetts to visit her estranged father, Cleo Short, in Vallejo, California in 1942. While living with him briefly in his Solano County home, the two made a trip together to Los Angeles. Not long after their arrival, Beth Short made arrangements to hit the road again. Next stop would be Camp Cooke, on the  central coast of California, near Lompoc. The army camp was home to the 5th Armored Division. Beth arrived in January, 1943.


When Elizabeth Short began her brief career as a clerk at the Camp Cooke post exchange in 1943, her immediate boss was Mrs. Inez Keeling.

After the murder, a newspaper paraphrased an interview with Mrs. Keeling as saying of her employee, “she was at first shy and bashful and never dated soldiers.” In a newspaper article, Mrs. Keeling reportedly told police that Beth was, “a model employee in all respects, not smoking, seldom drinking. A few months later, she began to go out with soldiers several times a week.”

Around the same time, newspapers told of, “a brutal army military policeman, ‘so tough he once casually tore handfuls of hair from another soldier’s head.'”

The article went on to state that, “Police hunted the burly brown haired, six foot-two MP after learning that slain Elizabeth Short had a romance with him while working in the Camp Cooke post exchange.

“An unnamed former Santa Maria, Cal., policeman said the soldier’s behavior was so violent, especially when he was drinking, that he was relieved of his assignment.”

The unnamed soldier was transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia soon after. The informant said,

“We all gave sigh of relief because he was a tough customer. He was the terror of what is called ‘Whiskey Row’ in Santa Maria.”

According to the 1949 grand jury investigation, one suspect, identified only as “Sgt. Chuck,” had a similar reputation at Camp Cooke. The district attorney suspect, “was seen with victim on numerous occasions at Camp Cooke in the spring of 1943. She testified that he had assaulted her to the court-martial proceedings there and he was ordered overseas as a result of it. She attempted to obtain his personal property which it was necessary for him to leave behind. It is agreed by investigators that this could be a revenge murder committed by such a person as Sgt. ‘Chuck’. Thus far numerous associates of victim at Camp Cooke have been interviewed and a search has been made for the records of this court-martial proceedings which would reveal the full name, background and information of this suspect. Thus far they have not been found. The investigation of this suspect is pending. See Los Angeles Police Department reports.”

An unrelated incident occurred in downtown Los Angeles in January, 1947. According to newspapers, Los Angeles policewoman Myrl McBride encountered a young woman that she later identified as possibly being Elizabeth Short. The young woman, the newspapers reported, was involved with an unnamed “discharged Marine whom the girl described as ‘insanely jealous.’”

Officer McBride tried to calm the situation and walked the young woman back into the bar where she had been. She saw her a short time later in the same area. This time she was at ease.

Chapter 3 ~ Aimless

“Hooray for Hollywood
That screwy ballyhooey Hollywood
Where any office boy or young mechanic
Can be a panic
With just a good looking pan
And any barmaid
Can be a star maid
If she dances with or without a fan”

~ Richard Whiting

On August 20, Gordon Fickling and his girl friend Elizabeth Short registered as husband and wife at the Brevoort Apartments on Lexington Avenue, near Vine Street in Hollywood. They lived there until August 27. After they split up, Elizabeth moved to the Hawthorne Hotel at 1611 North Orange Drive,  just behind the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood boulevard.

The Hawthorne would have been a step down from the Brevoort, which, after the war, rented rooms with a bath for $2 to $2.50 a day, or $12 to $15 a week. The Hawthorne rented singles and doubles, with rates starting at $1.25 a day.

* * *

Marjorie Graham, a friend from Boston was living at the Hawthorne with Lynn Martin, a 15 year old runaway from Long Beach. Lynn was passing herself off as a young woman in her twenties.  Apparently, no one knew the truth until after the murder. She was adopted as a child and ran away from home to pursue the Hollywood dream.

Margie Graham was from Cambridge, Massachusetts, but moved to Southern California and bumped into Beth Short around August 24 or 25, 1946. Beth stayed for a “night or so” at the Hawthorne with Margie before registering on August 28, according to Mrs. Ethel Richmond, the landlady..

Beth lived at the Hawthorne from August 28 until September 20. The three did not get along well, so Beth and Margie moved to another room at the Hawthorne and Lynn found a new roommate, Gloria Richards. Eventually, all four left the Hawthorne. While there, Beth, broke as usual, relied on friends and acquaintances to help her out. Neighbors Don Leyes, 22 and Harold Costa, 31 and others would treat her to meals. Eventually, Mrs. Richmond asked the three girls to leave.

At the time Lynn and Margie were living at the Hawthorne, another resident, Rosie Bone, and her boy friend,  Jack Crouch, learned from Lynn that she had been “cut” by Howard “Dutch” Darrin while he and his son, Bob, were out with her. Both father and son said they visited Lynn at the Hawthorne and met Elizabeth Short there. They said that several of the girls at the Hawthorne worked at the Palace Garden Barbecue, where Lynn was a waitress. Irene Grimes and Rosie Bone and Marjorie Graham all had worked at the Pig Stand at Sunset and Vermont, Beth Short was seen there, but was not an employee.

A year after the death of Elizabeth Short, the Hawthorne Hotel was “completely redecorated” and renamed the Langford Hotel and operated under new management. Time never stands still and Hollywood was slowly changing. It would eventually become almost unrecognizable to the Hawthorne Crowd that was already breaking up and going separate ways.

Alex Constance, a movie bit player and hair stylist knew Elizabeth Short, Lynn Martin and Marjorie Graham when the girls lived at the Hawthorne. He also knew Clarendon Kinney, a photographer known for taking lewd pictures of young women, including Lynn. Constance told his story to investigators at the Hollywood police station soon after the murder.

Police checked Kinney’s home, where they found “about 3” nude photos of Lynn Martin under his house. Constance’s property was examined by the Scientific Investigation Division for forensic evidence, as was the nearby home of suspect Glynn Wolfe. Results were negative

Over time, Lynn and Margie worked in different venues around town, often as waitresses. Lynn worked at the Tabu Club on Sunset Boulevard and at the Palace Gardens Barbecue at the top of Cahuenga Pass. She also worked at a movie theater on Hollywood Boulevard near Western Avenue.  Art Richman, a local boy, knew Lynn and Margie. He took Lynn to the beach for dinner and brought her back to the movie theater. He was surprised to learn her true age, he said later. Another acquaintance, George Bacos, dated Lynn and also told authorities he was surprised to learn her true age.

After the murder, Lynn’s true identify was revealed and she was returned to authorities in Long Beach. Lynn had another name, Norma Lee Myer. As was the case with so many people that crossed paths with Elizabeth Short, Lynn Martin disappeared from public view.

* * *

When she was interviewed after the murder, Margie Graham said that Beth planned to marry an Army Air Force lieutenant after he was released from the  hospital in Los Angeles.

“She said she was worried about the man and that she hoped he would get well and out of the hospital in time for a wedding they planned for November 1.”

Margie had already taken the train home to Massachusetts. She said, “I left the West Coast October 23 and came home to Cambridge.  I had one letter from her afterward.  Betty didn’t say whether or not the wedding had taken place.”

Chapter 4 ~ Friends & Acquaintances

When Lynn Martin, Marjorie Graham and Elizabeth Short lived together at the Hawthorne apartments on Orange Drive in Hollywood, they socialized with a circle of friends and acquaintance from the neighborhood.

Included in that group were Glynn Wolfe, owner of the Chancellor Hotel on Cherokee Avenue, Dutch Darrin, automobile designer, neighbors Donald Leyes, Harold Costa, Irene Grimes and Rosie Bone. Photographer Clarendon Kinney, aka George Price and bit player and hairdresser, Alex Constance.

After their departure from the Hawthorne apartments on Orange Drive in Hollywood, roommates Marjorie Graham and Elizabeth Short moved to downtown Los Angeles and registered at the Hotel Figueroa. The two girls lived there for about six days before moving into the home of musician Sydney Zaid on Windsor Road.

Zaid’s house was too small and he took them to the Florentine Gardens on Hollywood Boulevard at the end of September, 1946. There, he introduced them to Mark Hansen, a part owner of the nightclub. He told Hansen that the girls needed a place to stay and that his own home was too small to accommodate everyone. Hansen agreed, and according to records, Marjorie and Elizabeth stayed at Hansen’s home until about October 10.

Bill Robinson and Marvin Margolis told investigators that they met “the girls, ” according to district attorney investigators, (presumably Elizabeth Short and Marjorie Graham) on Hollywood Boulevard some time around the first part of October, 1946. The two men went to the Hollywood police station shortly after the victim was identified in the newspapers. They were referred to Central Homicide, the district attorney’s office said.

Robinson and Margolis said they spent from 10 days to a month with the girls. Robinson was using his aunt’s apartment, 726 at the Guardian Arms on Hollywood Boulevard. At first, Bill Robinson was reticent to explain the arrangement, fearing that his aunt would disapprove after hearing her nephew had allowed women to live there.

When the two men showed up at Central Homicide they were reluctant to speak freely. Newspaper photographers immediately took their pictures. At another interview, they opened up, explaining that Beth and Marjorie moved into their apartment on approximate October 10 and stayed there for about 10 days to 2 weeks. Margolis, Robinson and Graham all slept together, while Short slept on the sofa. Both men were cleared after, “an investigation was made which eliminated them as suspects due to their work and where they were during the time the victim was missing.”

During their stay at the Guardian, Marjorie left and returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Beth left the same day, leaving her luggage behind. She would return with Glen Kearns, an amateur photographer, who would take her on the next adventure. Kearns lived in the Elysian Valley area of Los Angeles, commonly known today as Frogtown. Glen worked with his father in a gasoline station.

Glen Kearns said he met Elizabeth Short on Hollywood Boulevard in 1946. According to the district attorney records, Kearns thought, “she was a good subject for photographs.”

He contacted the police shortly after the victim was identified in the newspapers. He brought with him the photos he took of Beth Short about October 22, 1946 at Marshall High School. Kearns told her he was an amateur photographer and asked if he could take her picture. She went with him and he took a series of photos at the high school. In the afternoon, he said he drove her to the Guardian Arms apartments and she picked up her luggage.

After he took her pictures, he drove her out to the San Fernando Valley where she hoped to find a place to stay. According to Kearns, they did not find a place, but drove around all night until first light. In the early hours, of October 23, Beth asked him to take her to Mark Hansen’s home on Carlos Avenue. He dropped her off and left her luggage on the front porch and Anne Toth opened the door and let Beth in.

She stayed with Mark Hansen until Anne Toth found and paid for rent for her at the Chancellor on November 13. Beth stayed at the Chancellor until December 6, 1946, when she began another, this time, final adventure.

Chapter 5 ~ Hollywood

“I walk along the street of sorrow, the Boulevard of Broken Dreams”

-Al Dubin & Harry Warren

In the 1940’s, there were the high class night spots and restaurants, like the Brown Derby, the Jade and the Cinegrill. And there were the working man’s bars, such as Steve Boardner’s, Bradley’s 5 and 10 and Jack O’Brien’s. Hollywood was a lonely town for transplants and runaways, but it was easy to get lost in if you joined the bar scene. For Beth Short, who preferred soft drinks over alcohol, Hollywood was a place to meet people and maybe make a future for herself.

* * *

It was the era of live radio programs and motion pictures. The NBC Radio City studios were at Sunset at Vine, while down the street, CBS broadcast from Columbia Square. There were night spots all along Vine Street, from Clara Bow’s It Cafe, the Brown Derby, Club Morocco and the Hangover to Tom Breneman’s Breakfast in Hollywood and many more. There were nightclubs with floor shows and live entertainment. The Palladium, sandwiched between NBC and CBS, was just across from Earl Carroll’s Theatre on Sunset. The Florentine Gardens was Blocks away on Hollywood Boulevard, and, of course the Sunset Strip was a taxi ride away, with clubs like Ciro’s and the Trocadero.

It was an exciting time and an exciting town. In 1946, five of the top records on the hit parade were different versions of “To Each His Own.”  Movie audiences were treated to a banner year of films, such as “The Best Years of Our Lives,” “Blue Skies,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and “The Harvey Girls.”

That year, Nino Frank, a French film critic,  dubbed a new style of movie making as “film noir.”  1946 saw the release of such noir titles as, “Gilda,” “The Big Sleep,” “The Postman Always Rings Twice”  and a film that  had a personal meaning for Elizabeth Short, Raymond Chandler’s, “The Blue Dahlia,” which opened at the Paramount Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard on July 4.

* * *

Hollywood was a town dotted with motion picture and radio studios, a town where people rode street cars to the San Fernando Valley or to the seashore or up and down Hollywood Boulevard. There were safety islands for passengers and tunnels under the Boulevard for pedestrians. There were newsboys hawking the daily newspapers at every major street corner and there was a movie theater on nearly every block. You could walk up and down the Boulevard and stare into the faces of strangers and never make a friend. Elizabeth Short fit in. She wandered the streets of Hollywood and spent hours in the restaurants and cocktail bars, but she was never discovered by the studios. Her fame would come after death.  She arrived in Hollywood after the Academy Awards presentation at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on March 7, 1946 and was dead before the Academy Awards show at the Shine Auditorium on March 13, 1947.

She became as famous and as intriguing as the movie stars who helped put Hollywood on the map. She never made a movie, never made a name for herself in life, but in death, the beautiful, mysterious, young woman of 22 became a legend. Her story is the tale of a town and a gypsy girl who passed through it and left her signature, not in Grauman’s forecourt, but in Hollywood lore itself.

The town that grew up in the 1920’s and 1930’s with glamorous nightclubs on Hollywood Boulevard was a town where movie stars, such as Rudolph Valentino and Charlie Chaplin, ate at Musso and Frank, where actors lived in the Hotel Hollywood and the Garden Court Apartments. It was the town where Carole Lombard and Joan Crawford made names for themselves dancing in Hollywood night spots. Years later, Hollywood would turn into a haven for prostitutes, drug addicts and the homeless.

But in 1946, Hollywood was doing just fine, with films and radio production creating magic for the rest of the world. Bing Crosby’s Philco Radio Time introduced audiences to the first prerecorded broadcast on a prime time radio network. Television was just around the corner.

Elizabeth Short arrived in Southern California in July, 1946. She turned 22 years old on July 29. The most popular song that summer was “To Each His Own,” a tune from the movie of the same title, starring Olivia de Havilland.

The Eddy Howard recording of “To Each His Own” entered the Billboard Charts on July 11, 1946, and would stay on the hit parade for nineteen weeks. The song was so popular that four other versions also stayed on the charts through the summer. Tony Martin, the Ink Spots, Freddy Martin and the Modernaires with Paula Kelly all had hit recordings.

A rose must remain with the sun and the rain

Or its lovely promise won’t come true

To each his own, to each his own

And my own is you

The war years had been tough on almost everyone. By 1946, annual incomes averaged $2,390. A new house cost about $5,600 and a new car about $1,200. A postage stamp was three cents, a loaf of bread costs nine cents, a dozen eggs was twenty-two cents, a pound of coffee cost fifty cents, and a gallon of milk was seventy cents. If you had a new Roosevelt dime and a Jefferson nickel in your pocket, you could buy a gallon of gas or go see the new Clark Gable movie. The nickel was mighty. A telephone call costs a nickel in a phone booth. A newspaper costs a nickel and any greasy spoon in town served coffee for a nickel. Coca Cola guaranteed every man a in uniform a bottle of Coke for five cents. You could ride public transportation or buy a candy bar for a nickel. Or you could buy a short beer at Bradley’s 5 and 10, a Hollywood Boulevard hangout known to Beth Short.

* * *

In many ways, the Hollywood Boulevard of today does not look that different from the Hollywood Boulevard of 1946. Many of the structures built in the 1920’s and 1930’s still line the street. Some of the businesses remain, most notably, the Musso and Frank Grill, between Las Palmas and Cherokee, which has served customers continuously since 1919. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre at the west end of the Boulevard and the Pantages Theatre at the east end still operate. The Roosevelt Hotel is open, The Snow White Waffle House, now the Snow White cafe, is still in business. The Hillview Apartments is renting again, after a major renovation. Decades after being hidden, the Kress department store sign has been restored and rises high above Hollywood Boulevard at Whitley. The Broadway Hollywood, no longer a department store, still proudly displays it’s original sign. Across the street, with its blue neon sign still in tact, sits the venerable Taft Building. Across the Boulevard on the north side, the Frolic Room, a neighborhood bar since the 1930’s, is still open for business.

What has changed then? Well, the streetcars are long gone, including their rails and electrified catenary systems. The newsboys have disappeared from all the major street corners. The five and dime stores, such as S. H. Kress, J. J. Newberry and F.W. Woolworth, are gone, although the buildings remain. The drugstores at Highland, Cherokee, Hudson and Vine, with their lunch counters, have vanished. Bradley’s Five and Ten, where Steve Boardner said Elizabeth Short was a patron, was torn down long ago. It was located at the northwest corner of Hollywood and Cherokee, a block and a half from the Chancellor apartments, Where Elizabeth briefly shared a room with other young women.

The Walk of Fame replaced the more conventional cement sidewalk in the early 1960’s and trees now line the north and south side of Hollywood Boulevard. Larry Edmunds Book Store moved from Cahuenga to Hollywood Boulevard during the intervening years. The old Hollywood Typewriter Shop, Miller’s Stationers and Pickwick Book Shop are gone, as well as C. C. Brown, home of the hot fudge sundae.

And of course, people don’t look the same these days. They carry more weight and wear less clothing. Their manners and demeanor have changed. A well dressed woman like Elizabeth Short always stood out from the crowd, but today she might even seem out of place.

Just as Elizabeth Short would not recognize Hollywood today, we would not recognize her Hollywood either.

* * *

Once, there were frequent premiers at the first run theaters, where locals and tourists sat in the bleachers and watched their favorite stars step out of limousines and into lavish theater palaces. Today, that sight is rare. Movie-goers in the 1940’s, had many choices of theaters on Hollywood Boulevard. Most have vanished, but once there were more than a dozen. Gone is the Hollywood Music Hall at Hudson, the Admiral at Vine, the Iris at Wilcox, the Hollywood at Highland, the Fox at Gower, the Marcal, just west of the Florentine Gardens and the Hawaii, just east of the Gardens. The News-View, a single aisle newsreel theater was between Las Palmas and Cherokee. The Vogue was across the street, next door to the Musso and Frank Grill. The Hunley, the Apollo, the Hitching Post, the Warner, are all dark or razed. Today, the only theaters showing movies on Hollywood Boulevard are the Chinese, the El Capitan and the Egyptian.

Elizabeth Short might have seen “The Strange Woman” with Hedy Lamarr at the Hawaii, or “Missing Lady” at the Mayfair. or “A Game of Death at the Marcal. A happier choice might have been “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Pantages.

* * *

If a flame is to grow there must be a glow

To open every door there’s a key

I need you, I know, I can’t let you go

Your touch means too much to me

* * *

In Long Beach, Beth would eat breakfast at a favorite drug store near her hotel.  She met a man, Bob Robertson and his friend there. The two had been in the service together and were visiting California from Boise, Idaho.

Robertson recalled that, “She was a nice looking girl and smiled at us and we had breakfast together in the drug store and then we went back to the room and then went to the beach.  I don’t know where she went.  And then we would have breakfast with her every morning and walked to the beach a couple of times in the afternoon.  One night she said she would like to go to the Palladium dancing and we got the P.E. train and went to Hollywood in the afternoon and spent the day dancing and came back that night and probably got home about  2:30 or 3:00.”

While in Hollywood, they visited the tourists spots, including the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood boulevard and the NBC Radio City studios at Sunset and Vine. They danced at the Palladium and she posed for a snapshot across the street outside  the Earl Carroll  Theatre,  beneath the sign that read, “The most beautiful girls in the world.”

After  the two men returned to Boise, Beth wrote a few times and included the photos or negatives from the Hollywood trip. She eventually stopped writing, the man said, and then one day his friend “came dashing to the house,” saying, “Do you remember that girl we met in California, in Long Beach? She’s been murdered.”

* * *

“Meet me at Hollywood and Vine,” a catch phrase made popular during the radio era, was widely used by locals and tourists during the brief time that Beth Short was in Hollywood.  Linda Rohr, a roommate at the Chancellor said, “She loved to prowl the Boulevard.” She frequented Tom Breneman’s on Vine, where the waiters knew her and she went to the Frolic Room and the Italian Kitchen in the Pantages Building, next to the theater.

Beth was a regular at the CBS radio studios on Sunset near Vine. John Egger, the head usher at CBS said he saw her there, “at least twenty times.”  Anne Toth said Beth used to go to NBC at Sunset and Vine “all the time.”

* * *

After Thanksgiving, the Boulevard dressed for Christmas with lights and decorations. Shops stayed open later at night and Bing Crosby could be heard singing White Christmas again.  It was a festive time, but by early December, a frightened 22 year old Elizabeth Short decided it was time to get out of Hollywood.

According to William Fowler, the doorman at the Pantages Theatre at Hollywood and Vine, Beth walked by often.

“The Jolson Story” was playing at the Pantages and Beth would walk by and say hello occasionally. William described her as a, “Very attractive girl, the way she dressed.” He said she had, “Very dark black hair.  Looked like it was dyed black and rather full.”

“I was working as doorman, but I was in front of the box office.  I had a mike in my hand.  I believe it was a Friday night.  She walked [by]  and there was a kind of a lull, everything quieted down.  I believe the stores had just closed and she stated, ‘You have quite a crowd, haven’t you?’  and I said, ‘Yes, we have quite a crowd’ and she says, ‘A pretty good picture?’  and I had seen it about thirty times and I said, ‘Yes, it’s a good picture.’  That was the last I ever saw of her.”

He remembered seeing her about five or six times in all.  “It was some time around the first of December. Christmas shopping, Christmas rush.  I don’t believe I saw her after that.”

Before long, Beth was in San Diego, watching “The Jolson Story” at the Aztec Theatre.

Chapter 6 ~ The Carlos Avenue House

Beth was frequently in hot water with Mark. He would throw her out and then let her back in.  Shortly before her death, Anne said Mark told her that he was going to allow Beth to return for a few days when she got back from San Diego.

* * *

Mark Hansen’s modest home at 6024 Carlos Avenue was a block north of Hollywood Boulevard, behind the Marcal Theatre. It was also home to aspiring actresses and young girls who were down on their luck, as well as Hansen’s friend, Anne Toth.

Carlos Avenue, between Gower Street on the west and Bronson Avenue on the east, was situated one block north of the hustle and bustle of Hollywood Boulevard and a string of theaters, including Hansen’s Marcal and the Florentine Gardens. By fall of 1946, the Marcal had shown Howard Hughes’ The Outlaw, starring Jane Russell, for eight months. It was predicted that the Marcal would break all attendance records across the country.

Down the street was the Hawaii Theatre, a movie house with a tropical theme. Carlos was a residential street with the sprawling First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood on the north east corner. Along the south side were six or eight or more bungalows, set back from the sidewalk. They were single story, unpretentious homes with front porches and lap siding exteriors. Hansen’s house was a couple of doors from La Baig Avenue, a street that ran south from Franklin Avenue and dead-ended at Carlos. Further to the east was Tamarind Avenue and after that Bronson Avenue. Mark Hansen’s home was on a quiet street, just a block from the action of Hollywood Boulevard, and easily accessible through a gate in his back yard that lead to the parking lot behind the Marcal Theatre.

Anne Toth lived there while she pursued her modeling and acting career. Her boyfriend, Leo Hymes, was a friend of Mark Hansen, and according to Anne, she was the one girl that was not approached by Hansen. Anne said that Mark moved in on all the girls that stayed at his house, “-every one, outside of myself.”  She was asked by investigators what happened if he was turned down.  “Out they go,” Anne replied.  She also said that Mark Hansen discovered that Beth was a virgin, “so he didn’t want to bother with her.”

Investigators determined that the girls that lived at Hansen’s home “were financially embarrassed at the time they were living there.”  Anne was unaware whether any of them paid rent.  Sergeant Finis Brown said he couldn’t determine if the girls were paying rent or not.  “As far as I know, I couldn’t state.  Some say they were and some say they weren’t.”

Besides Beth and Anne, some of the other girls that Mark allowed in his home were Connie Starr, Rosalind Kingston, Lola Titus, Marjorie Graham, a  girl known only as Barbara, another named Cecile, as well as other unidentified young women. Anne’s boyfriend, Leo Hymes, looked at photographs of Carol Fisher and Sara Lee Testa, two former “Camp Cooke Cuties,” and said he might have seen them at Mark’s home.

The men who visited the Carlos Avenue home included, Leo Hymes and Marvin Margolis, the man that Beth called her cousin.  Finis Brown felt Margolis was still a good suspect in 1949.  He said Margolis,  “was interrogated at first, but it was not – there was nothing to tie him to the case at that time other than being a medical student.  He could possibly be a very good suspect.” By then, Margolis was living in Chicago.

Anne said that Beth got in trouble with Mark one day when she had an argument with another girl who worked in pictures.  Mark told Beth to leave. Anne’s boyfriend, Leo Hymes, recalled that, “This short girl wanted to chase that other girl out of the house.”

“I walked in there at that particular time.  We were going out to eat and Mark -the argument was over but you could tell, the atmosphere – Anne told me, ‘you remember that girl.  She really let her have it then.  Wasn’ t there – she was a little short girl.  Ann told me, ‘You remember that girl.  She was that little short girl that used to come over there all the time; little stocky girl, blonde.’  I could be off on that but that was the story on it at the time.”

As for Beth, Leo said, “-I don’t think he had anything to do with that girl.”  Investigators asked him if Hansen said anything that would indicate that. “Oh, I guess it is just- Anne told me- second-hand information, but it is just a strange thing about that setup there.  I don’t know, she – naturally I’d kid Mark about it at different times, but I’d never see her there enough to get to know her.  The few times I did see her – Mark said he never had anything to do with that girl; it just so happens it is one time I believe him”

Another time, Hansen found out that Beth had made a long distance call and left him to pay the bill. Leo said, “She called somebody down in Texas, an army camp or somewhere it seems to me.  Anne was telling me about it, because – I came over there the early part of the afternoon and I never did see that Short gal around there very much – she was gone.  In fact, I think she said Mark told her she worked for the T.W.A.  T.W.A., that’s why I think that Biltmore came into the thing, but  he was pretty hot about a phone call.  He must have found it on his bill;  he must have caught her in a lie – she must have said she didn’t  call or send a wire  collect or something like that.  I know he was upset about it.  I don’t believe I ever saw her around there  in the daytime, except twice.  She would leave there and – went to work.”

“As far as I am concerned, I think she sought more refuge with Mark and myself than anybody but I don’t know all the conversation and I think if she had more encouragement from  Mark to come back, she would have come back in a minute, if he would have asked her,” Anne said.

It wasn’t until 1949, when Lola Titus shot Hansen, that investigators were finally able to conduct a search of the Carlos Avenue house. Finis Brown said, “Jones of the Crime Lab went over the whole house, checked for blood in other rooms.  During the time that I went out there, I have checked myself, the various rooms, when the opportunity presented itself, to check bathroom and such.”  When asked by investigators why such a search was made, Brown replied, “Connected with death of Elizabeth Short, if any possibility that it could have been committed there. “Brown also said, “I talked to Lola Titus and from what I could gather the girl talks in riddles.  She is – she told me that she didn’t  know the Short girl at all.”

Brown also said he found two pictures of Beth in Mark Hansen’s home.  “There was a photograph of the Santa Barbara photograph, and another one taken by a boy named Glenn Sterns.” Brown further said that listening devices were installed in the Carlos Avenue home from roughly March to October, 1947, under the direction of Chief of Police Horrall.

* * *

Mark Hansen was a family man, but he was separated from his wife and daughters during the time he lived in the Carlos Avenue house.  In July, 1949, he moved back with his family on Canyon Drive in the Hollywood Hills. Mark and Anne kept in touch with each other for years after the murder.

Chapter 7 ~ Mark Hansen

On October 22, Glen Kearns, who lived at 2332 Gale Street, drove Beth around town all night looking for a place to stay . The next day, he dropped her off at Mark Hansen’s house.

* * *

Mark Marinus Hansen was born in Aalborg, Denmark on July 25, 1890 and moved to the United States in 1919, where he settled in Scobey, Montana. He bought a theater in Scobey and later moved to Williston, North Dakota, where he bought two more theaters.   He moved to Minnesota for about nine months where he was also engaged in the theater business.  In 1921, Hansen relocated to Los Angeles. He lived at Melrose and Larchmont and owned the Larchmont Theatre. He also had a theater in Whittier, one in San Pedro, one in Walnut Park, three in Oxnard and three in downtown Los Angeles.

In 1926, Hansen built the Marcal Theatre as a playhouse.  He moved to 6024 Carlos Avenue in Hollywood in the mid 1930.’s.  He and his wife separated from each other in the mid 1940’s and she remained in their home in Los Angeles with their daughters.

When he knew Elizabeth Short in the 1940’s, Mark Hansen was a Hollywood resident and a successful businessman. At the time, he was described as 55 years old, 5′ 9′, 175 lb, with graying hair and an accent. He walked with measured steps and was somewhat stoop shouldered.

Hansen owned at least two other dwellings, one at 6048 Hollywood Boulevard and another at 1771 Van Ness Avenue.  He was part owner of the Florentine Gardens, a successful nightclub on Hollywood Boulevard. He and silent screen actress Alice Calhoun built the Marcal Theatre on the same block at 6025 Hollywood Boulevard in 1925.

Hansen’s friend, actress Anne Toth, lived with him off and on at the house on Carlos Avenue. Beth Short also stayed at Hansen’s house for two weeks in October and ten days in November, 1946.

Anne told investigators that Mark Hansen “really liked her, he had a yen for her,” but when interviewed, he acted as if he had no interest in her. When asked if she was a sexy-type girl,” Hansen replied, “Well, I don’t know if she was sexy-type girl. She appeared to be a very nice girl.” He also said, “she appeared to be a more domestic type girl.”

Hansen said, “Well, I thought she was fair looking, average. If it wasn’t for her teeth. She had bad teeth. Other than that she would have been beautiful.”

Inspector Jemison’s report says, “Anne and her friend Leo Hymes state that Mark was crazy about her and jealous of her, that he is a man who must have what he wants.”

Lt. Jemison’s report also states, that Beth “told Anne Toth that Mark was trying to make her, that he was jealous so she had to leave boyfriends at the corner so he wouldn’t see them.”

Hansen apparently liked Beth, although he played down his interest in her. He had one of his tenants, “who was in the dressmaking business,” according to Jemison, make two dresses for her “which she fitted and made, but never delivered to the victim.”

* * *

Syd Zaid let the two girls stay at his home on Windsor Road. Around the last day in September, he introduced them to Mark Hansen at the Florentine Gardens. He told Hansen he didn’t have enough room at his place and asked if Mark could put them up at his home. Hansen agreed and Zaid drove them to the Carlos house in early October.  They stayed, “Perhaps about a week or ten days; something like that,” Hansen said. After awhile, he asked them to leave, “- because this Graham girl, she was inclined to be liquored up and I didn’t like it at all; and this Short girl, she had always some undesirable looking character waiting for her outside and bringing her home.”

Anne said, “Well, Marjorie drank up all of Mark’s liquor, so he kicked her out, so out Betty went too. I don’t blame him.” After they left, Hansen said he believed they moved into the Guardian Arms with Bill Robinson and Marvin Margolis.

Margie’s boy friend was Bill Robinson, a U.S.C. student who had been in the navy. Anne said, Beth “was keeping company with a supposedly cousin of hers, if I can remember his name.” When Jemison asked her if it was Marvin Margolis, Anne replied, “Um-hum.”   Margolis was also a U.S.C. student, studying to be a chiropractor.

Beth and Marvin both told Mark that he, Margolis, was her cousin, Hansen said. After Beth and Marjorie moved out, they came back a few times. “-they came over there one day and say they want to leave town; they were going to go east and this cousin, he was along with them- this Margolis.  They visited with Anne and then later on this Graham girl came over one night.  I wasn’t home, but she was sitting, eating dinner, and she was sitting eating dinner and crying.”

“The next day he came around there and carried the suitcase up and I says, ‘What’s this?’ He says, ‘Can she leave this here overnight? She’s going away tomorrow and would like to leave these until tomorrow.'”   Hansen said he agreed, but, “That night I come home Beth Short was there.”

“I said, “I thought you were just going to leave your suitcases,  and she said,  ‘I didn’t have no place to stay.’  Would I mind if she stayed.  She kept staying and staying. Then she moved over to the Chancellor Apartment.  Then it was after that one night she was sitting and crying about being scared – one thing and another, I don’t know.  She said she was going to Oakland to a sister.  Well, from there she wanted to know if she couldn’t come back there when she came from Oakland. She said she was scared.”

* * *

Unknown to Hansen, Anne found an apartment for Beth at the Chancellor after Hansen asked her to leave the second time. She came back to visit Mark and Anne later, telling them that she didn’t like living at the Chancellor. “I felt sorry for her.  She said there was bad company over there and she couldn’t stand it,” Hansen said.  He gave Beth a ride home to her apartment, dropping her off outside.

That was the last time he saw her, Hansen said. “She say she was going to Oakland during the holidays with her sister. When she comes back she says she would call me to see if I changed my mind, to see if she would stay at the house.”

“I never saw her again.”

* * *

On January 25, 1947, authorities interviewed Mark in his home in the presence of Anne Toth. He denied dating Beth.

“Several girls have rented rooms here at the house, but I never went out with them.  She had lots of dates. There was a language teacher that I know of, and with other persons, mostly hoodlums whom I wouldn’t even let in my house.”

He said that the address book that was recovered by postal authorities belonged to him. He also indicated that another memorandum and calendar book was missing.  “I believe Miss Short stole that, too,” Hansen said.

Anne objected to Hansen’s depiction of Beth, saying, “She was a nice girl.  She was quiet, she didn’t drink and she didn’t smoke and we ought to look on the good side of people.”

Sgt. Finis Brown was interviewed during the grand jury investigation about photographs of Elizabeth Short that were in Mark Hansen’s home. According to Brown, Hansen said he got the photos from an officer when a girl told him that she knew Beth. He said the girl told him that she “knew Elizabeth Short and gave him some information about her being at the Hal Browning Hotel -.” Hansen wanted the photos to show the girl “to see if she could identify her,” he said.

* * *

In 1949, Lola Titus shot Mark Hansen while he was shaving in the bathroom of his Carlos Avenue home. Lola, aka Beverly Alice Bennett and “The Lady in Gold,” was a 25 year old blond taxi dancer, The bullet pierced a lung and missed his heart by 7/10 of an inch and was later found embedded in the wall. Lola said afterwards, “I made up my mind that he was either going to love me, marry me or take care of me or I was going to kill him.” In the D.A. investigation Lola was described as a, “Friend of Short. Never thoroughly quizzed.”

* * *

The Carlos Avenue house was razed years ago. The Marcal Theatre became the World Theatre in 1963. It since closed. The Florentine Gardens is still a nightclub and is still open for business.

Mark Hansen died on June 14, 1964.  His wife Ida died ten years later in 1974. Their ashes rest in the Hansen niche in the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery, one mile from Carlos Avenue.

Chapter 8 ~ Anne Toth

As summer turned into fall in 1946, Elizabeth Short was becoming known around Hollywood. The war was over, and returning soldiers and sailors filled the streets and bars of Hollywood. Elizabeth, or Beth, as she now referred to herself, liked men in uniform and she began to spend a lot of time in bars.

Beth met many men and women during her brief time in town, but none of the friendships appeared to be close. She knew Lynne and Margie, but it was actress and model Anne Toth, described by newspapers as 24 years old, that was perhaps her truest friend.

Anne worked on the Charlie Chaplin film Monsieur Verdoux and the Merle Oberon movie Temptation, which was released in early December, 1946. She also had a small part in the Susan Hayward film, Smash-Up, which featured Anne in the trailer. Smash-Up was released in the United States in March, 1947.

Anne first  met Beth in Mark Hansen’s home after she returned from a trip to San Diego. Hansen owned the Florentine Gardens nightclub on Hollywood Boulevard and the Marcal Theatre near by. He owned other properties around town, including his home on Carlos Avenue, behind his club.   He allowed showgirls and young women, who were down on their luck, to stay at his home.  His own estranged wife and daughters lived in the Hollywood Hills.

When Anne came home one day, Beth and Mark were there. That was the first time the two girls met, Anne said.

Over time, Anne said Mark Hansen and Elizabeth Short were going together. Investigators asked Anne, “-did she want him to think he was going steady with her?” Anne replied, “Yes.” She agreed with investigators that asked if Hansen “was kind of carrying the torch for her at that time.” But the two fought with each other, too, she said.

Well, she cleaned up his bathroom for him and threw out a number of things, you know, set them out, empty bottles and things that he didn’t have any use for, but then he got awful damn mad about that. So I told him he should be thankful somebody wanted to clean it up for him. He said “I would rather leave the damn things alone and she leave my things alone. For a week he carried on about it.

LAPD Officer Ed Barrett asked, “Anne do you think Beth was afraid of Mark?” “Yes, I do,” she answered. “She never said much around him. As a matter of fact, she , she was – seemed afraid to tell me anything because I think she thought that I was in cahoots with him, I think, that I might say something to him. That is probably why I didn’t find out half as much as I should have.”

When Anne was asked if Hansen ever hit Beth, she replied, “Well, I don’t know if he did or not.” She went on to say, “Of course, maybe she was afraid to say anything because she had a feeling I was on Mark’s side, I would probably tell him. Actually, I was just living there, I was just an innocent standbyer. My friend and Mark were very good friends, they used to – he used to visit with Mark. They were pretty good buddies, so he was always around there, so he couldn’t get too rough with me. I don’t think he would of if he could, because we are both of the same nationality, I can be just as mean as he can get, so -”

Anne, who is often portrayed as Hansen’s girl friend, had her own boy friend, Leo Hymes. Authorities described Leo as a, “heavy set fellow [with a] birthmark on his nose.” Anne said she wasn’t always privy to all the goings-on at the Carlos Avenue house, because she was spending time with Leo.  She also said she was not a friend of Beth’s socially. They didn’t go out together or frequent the same spots at the same time.

Beth moved out of Hansen’s place on October 22, but she was back at his home on October 23. Anne said that Hansen allowed Beth to “come back in, and I think at that time, I think, she placed a long distance telephone call to Texas, to this Fickling, and I think that sort of — she charged it on his telephone bill, and I don’t think she told him about it. That is one of the things too, he wanted her to — then of course, I think she paid for it later, and then he let her come back in later and she had a place to stay, without Margie of course.”

Anne said that Beth told her that Hansen was trying to “make her” “a couple of times,” but that Beth lead him to believe that she was a virgin. After that, according to Anne, he didn’t bother her again. She continued to see other men, but they were not allowed to to visit her at the Carlos address.

Anne indicated that Beth moved out of Hansen’s home about November 13, 1946, after an argument with another of Hansen’s girls. Anne said Beth “was planning to stay for the evening and, of course, as Mark told Betty that he was going with her and she was going with him and vice versa. In the meantime, he was having other girls come over there, and I imagine he was trying to romance her or something. Well, anyway, Betty came along –.” The other girl was upset. “Well, anyway, Betty got out of bed, she was sleeping with me, and insisted that this tramp go home.”

The other girl told Beth to go home to her mother where she belonged, according to Anne. The girl continued to insist Beth leave. Anne said she “had a lot of high ideas, that Betty, believe me, with her Boston family and all that stuff, and she got up and locked her suitcase, and she said, ‘I don’t want to touch your damn suitcase, I don’t want anything in there.’ Anyway, words were flying back and forth and there was almost a beef and a fist fight, and Mark stepped in between them and he ordered Betty to move the next day. She was right though, I’ll tell you that.”

* * *

But it was Anne that looked out for Beth and tried to help her. It was Anne that lent her the coat that she was last seen wearing at the Biltmore on the evening of January 9, 1947. It was Anne that found her a place to stay at the Chancellor of Hollywood and paid her first week’s rent when Mark Hansen threw her out of his home. It was Anne that helped her move, and Anne that took her mail to her and it was Anne who said kind things about her.

Anne talked about how Hansen once drove Beth home to the Chancellor without knowing Anne found the apartment for her.

He didn’t know that she lived at the apartment there, because I was the one that got it for her, and he was amazed, he didn’t know what had happened to her, where she had gone or what had happened. I didn’t say anything.

I borrowed a car to move her and everything and I never told him. He would have probably gotten pretty sore at me, so I didn’t tell him that I knew she was living there, because I had been there to visit her, and he drove her home.

Anne defended Beth when others didn’t:

In the first place, she didn’t drink, she didn’t smoke, because after all, living with her, I knew, and she always came in at a decent hour, 11 o’clock, or around there. She never came in later than that, and naturally if she was supposed to be sexy and do other stuff, there is a lot more that goes to it, rather than if a decent girl – there is drinking, smoking, wining and dining, and a few other things that go with it. I don’t think she was trying to be sexy – in a very innocent way

* * *

Anne was questioned by the Los Angeles Police Department shortly after the murder. She and Mark went to see homicide detectives as soon as they heard that authorities were looking for an “Anne Todd.”

A document from the district attorney files, says in part:

“On January 16, 1947, after investigating officers had received information that Elizabeth Short had a friend, supposedly by the name of Anne Todd, they attempted to locate this person.  At approximately 11:00 a.m., officers received a telephone call from Anne Toth, who stated she was a friend of Elizabeth Short and was living at 6024 Carlos Street and that Elizabeth Short lived there with her, and that she was probably the friend referred to as Anne Todd.  She appeared at the office of the Homicide Detail with Mark Hanson shortly after noon of the 16th.  At that time she gave an account of meeting Elizabeth Short; that Elizabeth Short had lived at the address  on two occasions where she was living and where she moved.  Most of the names she could think of were friends of Elizabeth Short.

“Mark Hanson [sic] verified her statements at that time, but declined to talk where there was any chance of newspaper reporters being present, or any chance of any publicity.   When Mark Hanson and Anne Toth came into the office there were approximately twenty reporters and photographers in the office.  Anne Toth identified herself and was photographed and talked to by news reporters.  Hanson, on being asked his identity by reporters, stated he was nobody — he was merely her [Anne’s] chauffeur.”

Another time, Anne remarked to D.A. investigators that Mark didn’t want his name mentioned.  “Well, he used to get provoked at me about mentioning his name, he, at that time, to the papers, and one thing and another, which I didn’t.  Only they found the address book and, of course, they got his name, but I didn’t mention his name or anything.”

Anne was interviewed twice by investigators for the grand jury.  She made it known that she did not want publicity.  She telephoned Sgt. Finis Brown in 1949 to ask if two men who contacted her were actually from the police department, as they had indicated.  When Anne told Brown their names were Waggoner and Ahern, Brown told her to “go ahead and talk with them.”  Brown said Anne told him, “I have a lot of adverse publicity in this case and I don’t want to take any chances – .”

Another time, when Anne gave her telephone number to Lt. Frank Jemison during questioning, she asked, “None of this will be in the paper, will it?”

Later, Jemison asked, “Everything that you are telling us can be used confidentially, of course, in our secret files?” Anne replied, “I insist it be that way.”

After the grand jury disbanded at the end of the year, the active investigation of the murder of Elizabeth Short began a descent that led to cold case oblivion.  The last known time that investigators interviewed Anne was in 1950.

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Chapter 9 ~ Leo Hymes

“He never got back that night.”

* * *

Leo Hymes,  Anne Toth’s boy friend and Mark Hansen’s friend, worked  in ladies apparel.  In late 1946, he  lived at 356 N. Alfred Street, near La Cienega Boulevard and Beverly Boulevard, but spent time visiting Anne at the Carlos Avenue house, about five miles east.

Leo was born in Seattle, Washington in 1912. He was older than his girl friend, Anne and older than Beth. He stood at 5′ 8 1/2″ and weighed 190 lbs. He had a light complexion, with a birth mark on the left side of his nose. He had brown hair and blue eyes. Detectives described Leo as, a “heavy set fellow.”

Leo worked at H&G Hat Company on Hill Street in downtown Los Angeles. His office was just around the corner from the Crown Grill, a two minute walk from his building.

He recalled once that, “Easter was getting around there – Easter is in April; we were shipping early in November, December and January.  I had been packing and I got over there one night.  There was an argument between Beth and another girl.”

Frank Jemison and Finis Brown asked Leo about Beth. “I always felt that she had – her hair; she had real dark brown – more on the black side -.”   And,  “Appeared to be dyed.  She just didn’t look attractive.”  “Another thing I remember about that Short girl was her teeth.  There was something about her teeth.  Were they protruding, or bad or something?” Brown replied, “Bad.”

Leo saw a picture of Beth wearing a hat and wondered, “That wasn’t one of my hats was it?” He said that, “Mark got a couple of hats for her from my firm when I was in the hat business.” Speaking of Hansen, Hymes told Brown,  “I know he got her a couple of hats one time.”

Anne introduced him to Beth at Mark Hansen’s house, Leo said. “- I saw her there about, oh, I’d say half a dozen times altogether.”  He said, ” – I always felt he [Hansen] did like her pretty well.” When questioned about Hansen and shown photographs of him, Leo remarked, “What a guy.  He’s fantastic.” And, “There is a character.  He’s plenty smart too.” And, asked if Hansen was a good businessman, he answered,  “Oh yeah, he’s plenty shrewd.”

In 1950, Leo recalled Hansen’s January, 1947 trip to Long Beach:

This is the only thing I have always been thinking about, even back in 1946.  Mark called from Long Beach, said he was staying out at van der Steen’s house – or It was right around the time she was killed.  Now he was some place in Long Beach because he never got back that night.

Bernardus van der Steen was a businessman and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Pig n’ Whistle restaurants. Mr. van der Steen and his wife, Iris van der Steen, knew Mark Hansen socially and entertained him and his friends in their home in Redondo Beach.  At the time of the Long Beach trip, Hansen was in negotiations with van der Steen to increase van der Steen’s interest in the Florentine Gardens. The purpose of the trip was to celebrate the opening of the new Crest Theatre in Long Beach. After the opening and the showing of a new movie, Charlie Skouras threw a  party at the Long Beach Hilton. The party broke up at about 2 am.

He said he was going over to see van der Steen in Long Beach and then he called about ten o’clock I guess, or ten-thirty; said he was going to stay out there; wasn’t coming back that night.  It was right around that time.  In fact, I asked Ann a lot of times if she ever recalled whether it was two or three days before or right at that particular time.  I know I recall I was there.

After the party broke up at about 2 am, Mark Hansen and a male friend followed the van der Steens to their home. It was a very foggy morning and van der Steen first said that Hansen spent the night at his home and left early in the morning.

In March, 1950, van der Steen was interview by Frank Jemison and he said, “That is, I still don’t know – I don’t recollect right now – that is with all fairness to all parties concerned, I don’t recognize – I don’t remember if he did stay.”

Leo said that trip stayed in his mind long after the murder. He and Ann talked about it. He said, “It was seldom he ever stayed away.

“He never got back that night.”

Chapter 10 ~ Drive-Ins & Hangouts

Hollywood has always been a small town to those who live there. Seems you always run into someone you know when you’re walking down Hollywood Boulevard or sitting in a coffee shop.

* * *


In the 1940’s,  Carpenter’s was a popular drive-in restaurant in Hollywood, located at the five points, where Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Virgil Avenue, Hillhurst Avenue and Sunset Drive all converge. One in a chain of four drive-ins, this Carpenter’s sat on the southeast corner of Sunset Boulevard and Virgil Avenue, where locals stopped for a soda or a sandwich.

You could stay in your car or dine inside. The building was circular in design so automobiles could park facing the restaurant and drivers and passengers could order from car hops, who would bring your order on a tray to the window.   Inside, you could order from the counter man, dressed in white and wearing a  paper hat.  There were stools where you could sit down and order coffee, or fried chicken.

Bob Granas would ditch classes at Marshall High School occasionally and drop by Carpenter’s. He would go inside and order a milk shake and French fries or sometimes stay in his car and smoke a cigarette.

Art Richman, George Bacos and Bob Granas, were students at Marshall High School during the war and  were regulars at Carpenter’s. Lynn Martin, Margie Graham and Beth Short also frequented the drive-in. The five points was a busy intersection and Carpenter’s was a popular stop.

Art, whose father ran an auto wrecking yard on San Fernando Road, met Lynn one day when he was driving around in Hollywood and picked her up. Later, he introduced Lynn and Margie to Bob.  George Bacos recalled meeting Lynn and Margie through Bob at Carpenter’s.  Bob didn’t know Beth, but George did. He said he met her at Carpenter’s.

One evening when he was late for a date with Lynn, George went to her apartment at the Guardian on Hollywood Boulevard. Lynn was gone and Beth was home alone. He had tickets for a radio show, and since Lynn was not around, he invited Beth to the program instead. They were too late to get in, so George drove out to the Strip and up into the hills, where they parked and talked. He was dating Lynn, he said later, and was not interested in Beth.

“I didn’t want to kiss her because of all that ‘goop’ she used on her face.  I’m used to nice, cultured girls.”

When he was shown a photo of her after the murder, George said, “Yeah, that is a pretty good picture of her.  Looks a lot softer there than she usually does.  She looked pretty hard.”

George said, “Lynn seemed to be a nice girl.  She was quieter; not as flashy.” He had a brief sexual affair with her, unaware,  until after the murder, that she was underage, he said.

John Egger, the head usher at CBS on Sunset boulevard, knew George when George was head usher at NBC, down the street. George said he worked at NBC for about a year in 1944 and 1945.  John said, “I don’t like him very well.  He is very conceited; I just don’t care for him myself.  Never very close to him, just speaking acquaintance.”


Britt’s, as locals called Brittingham’s Radio Center Restaurant in Columbia Square, was a hangout for the employees of the radio studios.  Egger said, “Bacos would be seen quite often in the Brittingham restaurant cocktail bar, it is right in front of C.B.S., everybody would gather there after work – Bacos would be there quite often.”

John Egger recognized Beth from the times when she would wait in the CBS courtyard to see a radio broadcast. George Bacos also knew Beth from Britt”s. “That used to be my hangout – Brittingham’s Restaurant,” George said.  “I’d see her in there.  I’d say hello, be as nice as possible; try to get away.”  Bob Granas went to Britt’s, too, but he never met Beth Short. Bob also worked as a page at the NBC studios, wearing a dark blue uniform that looked like that of a Navy ensign. Years later, he speculated about why he was interviewed by Finis Brown: “Maybe because I knew somebody who knew somebody who knew her.”

Bob Granas said he and George Bacos were acquaintances since “about the time of high school.”  Bob was in the publishing business. He put out the Beverage Bulletin.  George was in show business. He was originally from Chicago, but stayed in Southern California, attending Marshall High School and later Los Angeles City College before joining the Army Air Corp. He supplied talent to clubs, including the Crown Grill near the Biltmore downtown.  George was also employed at Jay Farber Associates in “Cosmo Alley” in Hollywood. He worked on commission, promoting records and handling publicity. Later, he was a television writer and wrote the book, Warriors Down. His sister, Frances Campbell, was a waitress at the Crown Grill.

Maurice Clement met Beth about December 1 in Brittingham’s. He said she was broke and he picked up her check. He said he saw her three or four times within the week. Salvador Torres Vara, another acquaintance of Beth’s, worked at Brittingham’s as a dishwasher at one time.

Crown Grill

The Crown Grill was located at 8th Street and Olive Street in downtown Los Angeles, two and a half blocks south of the Biltmore Hotel. The Jewel Room  was a popular night spot with a pianist and live entertainment. Unsubstantiated reports said Beth used to go to the Crown, where Anne Toth was a regular.  Anne said that Beth never told her she went there.  “- as a matter of fact, I used to go down there all the time, so I imagine she would mention it to me if she did.”  Anne said she did not recall Bob Granas, George Bacos or his sister Frances Campbell.  She said, “- I used to meet Leo there quite often down at the Crown Jewel.  Seemed to me that she always repeated a lot of things I said to other people and she may have gone down there because of my going down there with Leo, but I never saw her there.”

When investigators asked Anne about George, she said, “I have heard of him.” They told her, “You see, George Bacos went out with her and that’s not far from where she disappeared, you know, from her last being seen there at the Biltmore.” They said to her, “Bacos ducked us when we first looked for him.” They  also asked if she knew Bob Granas or George’s sister Frances Campbell or John Egger. Anne said, “No.”

Leo Hymes was questioned about the circle of acquaintances, too.  He said he knew the Crown Jewell bartenders Gil, Harry and Al.  He also remembered Carol Fisher, a friend of Beth’s from Camp Cooke, but he couldn’t recall Marjorie Graham, who investigators described as heavy-set, light blond. Leo told them, “I am the poorest  guy in the world on names. If  I see a picture, I never forget.”

The Pig Stand

Marjorie Graham worked  nights at the Pig Stand on Vermont Avenue, just south of Sunset Boulevard. Rose Bone and Irene Grimes also worked there with Margie and remembered Beth as a customer. Bob Granas was another patron. The Pig Stand was a popular hang out for young people.

Robert S. Gessinger, whose business card was discovered among Elizabeth Short’s belongings, told police that he met her in Hollywood in October, 1946. Gessinger, an outdoor advertising firm executive, said he drove Beth to to a drive-in at Sunset Boulevard and Vermont Avenue.

* * *

Michael Anthony Otero, who lived on Marathon Street, a few blocks from Los Angeles City College, dated Elizabeth Short. He was six older than her. Otero, a one time student at UCLA, was 5′ 6″ and weighed just 125 lbs when he registered for the draft. Otero was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He said he met her on Hollywood Boulevard. He said he’d taken her out for dinner and drove her home. She borrowed five dollars from him on two occasions, but never repaid him, he said. Otero last saw her at Hollywood and Vine in early December, 1946.

Paul MacWillaim, who lived on Brunswick Avenue, near Los Feliz Boulevard, worked as a movie extra. He knew Beth and Lynn Martin. He saw Beth for the last time at the Gilmore Auto Races near Gilmore Field and the Farmer’s Market. He remembered her referring to a Long Beach man who was “very jealous of her.”

* * *

Ace Cain’s

Ace Cain’s was an established cafe on Western Avenue in Hollywood. It was just one of many such places where Beth Short was seen.

Ardis Green, alias Joy Powers, said she met Beth there on her birthday, August 27, 1946. They were introduced to each other by a camera girl named Loraine. Ardis said Beth was accompanied by a man who was about 6’1″ to 6′ 3″ tall. When investigators showed her a photograph of Leslie Dillon, she said, “I can almost positively say that this is the man that was with Beth Short the night that I was introduced to her, but I can’t say positively until I could see him smile or see him in person.”

Arnold Edmundson, a bartender for twelve years, could not identify Beth or Leslie Dillon from photographs, but his wife recognized both from the pictures, although she did not remember seeing them there together. Joe Cappo remembered Beth from the photograph, but did not recognize Dillon.

On August 27, 1946, the same day that witnesses said they saw Beth at Ace Cain’s, Gordon Fickling and Elizabeth Short checked out of the Brevoort Hotel on Lexington Avenue and separated

                                                       * * *

Joe Dallesandro, the long time and current manager of the Brevoort, says that Elizabeth Short would visit a resident who lived in the rear gardens in Villa F.

Tabu of Hollywood

According to newspaper articles,  there are two known times that Beth visited the Tabu of Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard.

Jimmy Harrigan, an aviation mechanic, told investigators that he met Elizabeth Short in December, 1946. A newspaper article reported,

“Harrigan was contacted at the San Bernardino Army Air Base, where he is now a civilian employe.

“He said he first met Beth Short last Dec. 1, when he picked her up on Hollywood Blvd. He took her to the Tabu, a night spot, and they chatted over several drinks.

“After an hour, Harrigan said, he drove Beth home. Home at that time for the ill-fated girl was the now-celebrated Apartment 501 in a hotel at 1842 N. Cherokee Ave. Before they parted Harrigan made a date for the following evening.” They then drove to the Sycamore Inn east of Los Angeles on Route 66.

Another account was given by Christenia Salisbury, a woman who claimed to have known Beth in Miami Beach.

Christenia Salisbury told police she had seen Elizabeth Short and two other women in a black coupe along the curb at the 7200 block of Sunset Boulevard some time after 10 pm on January 10. The witness said she “ran into Elizabeth as she and two other women were coming out of the Tabu Club on Sunset Strip in Hollywood.” Beth told her, “I’m living with these two girls in a motel in San Fernando Valley.” The Tabu of Hollywood was located at 7290 Sunset Boulevard

Part II

Chapter 11 ~ Glynn Wolfe & The Chancellor

“He even threatened to kill me once.”

~ Anne Toth

Glynn Wolfe, the owner and operator of the Hotel Chancellor on Cherokee Avenue in Hollywood, was Elizabeth Short’s landlord when she lived in Apartment 501 in 1946.

A year after the murder of Elizabeth Short, Glynn Wolfe was charged with battery by a tenant in room 507 at the Chancellor. Sydelle Boyer, the tenant, claimed that Wolfe dragged her from the laundry room in the basement of the hotel and left her on the sidewalk on Cherokee Avenue. Boyer claimed she was doing her laundry when Wolfe showed up in the basement room and ordered her to leave, turned off the lights, then turned them back on when she said she could not see, and then dragged up the stairs and outside the hotel. She brought the suit against Wolfe, claiming shoulder, leg and abdominal injuries.

At the time of the incident, authorities said that Wolfe was known by the aliases, Clifford King, Joe Koenig and George W. Wilson.

* * *

Wolfe, nicknamed “Scotty,” was born in Indiana on July 25, 1908. He was first married in 1932 when he still lived in Indiana. He was married and divorced four times by 1936. A judge asked him not to make his home town into a Hollywood, so “I went to Hollywood,” Wolfe said.

In 1948, Wolfe married Peggy Lou, but divorced her in Mexico in 1952. In 1954, he said, “I’ve had a bad experience since she left. I’ll give her half of the Chancellor Hotel if she comes back.”

Beth’s friend, Anne Toth, called Wolfe “one of the worst type.” She described him as a sexual pervert, maniac, everything. I hate him,” she said, “He even threatened to kill me once.” Anne said Wolfe “was putting four girls into a room, where there should have been two, for $5.00.”

In 1960, he had four ex-wives living at the Chancellor. The same year he was jailed after one of twelve of his ex-wives accused him of beating her.

Wolfe, who preferred young women, once said that “You have to spank them once in a while, but after they’re tamed they make wonderful wives. He said his twelve wives were all teenagers “because they’re happy that they don’t have to work, and they don’t make demands. He said they eventually left him when they get “fidgety and want to run loose. And you can’t hold anybody if they don’t want to stay.”

Bonnie Lee Bakley, married nine times before marrying actor Robert Blake, claimed to have been Wolfe’s 26th wife.

According to the Guinness World Records, Glynn Wolfe was “world’s most married man.” His last wife, Linda, holds the “record for being the most married woman in the world,” with 23 marriages. By the time of his death in 1997, Wolfe had been married 29 times.

Chapter 12 ~ The Chancellor Neighborhood

“Hollywood is full of men around 40 that want to buy you drinks and a meal. They expect you to pay for the drinks and the meals with yourself.”

~ Lynn Martin, roommate

After Mark Hansen asked Beth to leave a second time, Anne borrowed a car and moved her to the Chancellor of Hollywood apartments on Cherokee Avenue on November 13. Anne paid the first week’s rent for her and went back home, never telling Mark what she had done.

Anne knew Glynn Wolfe, the owner and operator of the Chancellor, who she described as a “-sexual pervert, maniac, everything.  I hate him.  He even threatened to kill me once.” She was going to report him to the O.P.A. for overcrowding apartments for his own financial gain. She said, “He was putting four girls into a room, where there should have been two, for $5.00.”  Anne called him, “One of the worst type.” A district attorney memorandum claimed Wolfe was “rumored to know Elizabeth Short rather well.”

Two girls, Mary McGraddle and Ruth Vetchie, lived at 1621 McCadden and knew Elizabeth Short. They were “quite friendly with her,” Frank McGrath of the D.A.’s office reported. Finis Brown and Frank Jemison recommended that the two be interviewed, but apparently they never were.

The girls that lived in apartment 501 at the Chancellor apartments seemed to  come and go from week to week. Among the roommates, there was an English girl that worked at the Gotham Delicatessen on Hollywood Boulevard, a nurse, two musicians and two “big” girls from Texas. There was also a young woman named Edna who worked as a waitress at Steve Boardner’s on Cherokee. She slept in an upper bunk and another girl named Shell shared a bed with Beth and operated a hot dog stand on the Santa Monica boardwalk. Sherryl Maylond was a cocktail waitress and Linda Rohr, 22 worked at Max Factor’s on Highland, a block south of Hollywood Boulevard.

Beth  seemed afraid that she would be implicated if the two girls from Texas were arrested for marijuana   possession. Detective Brown suggested that the marijuana bust “- was kind of a frame on those girls.”  He said he didn’t think “they were prosecuted.”

Anne said the roommates at the Chancellor did not “look queer to me, none of them.” Lt. Jemison asked Anne, “Didn’t Beth Short at one time or another indicate to you at least she wasn’t fond of queer women, did she indicate that to you?” Anne replied, “No, she always made the statement, very queer people in this town, queer people, referring to both men and women I guess.  That is the only thing referring to queers  that she ever mentioned, but I doubt it very much.”

The Chancellor of Hollywood, as it was then known, was located at 1842 N. Cherokee, two blocks north of Hollywood Boulevard. Beth was also known to have visited Bradley’s 5 & 10 at the northwest corner of Hollywood and Cherokee. Doctors Faught and Schwartz had offices  at 6636 Hollywood Boulevard, across the street from Bradley’s. John Egger, who knew Beth from the CBS studios in Columbia Square, lived a block west of the Chancellor at 1774 North Las Palmas Avenue.

At the Chancellor, Beth stayed, according to newspaper accounts, with roommates Linda Rohr, Sherryl Maylond, Cheryll Haughlamb, Beverly Don’e, Pat Goff, Marion Schmidt, Dorothy Saffron and Mary Louise Pappe. They shared room 501 on the top floor, overlooking Cherokee Avenue and the Hollywood Hills.

Three days after Beth’s body was found, newspapers were telling the story of the Chancellor roommates. Only three of the original eight young women were still living in the cramped apartment with double-decked bunk beds. Linda Rohr said Beth “was always going out and she loved to prowl the boulevard.” Marion Schmidt, another roommate, was a telephone operator.

Roommate Sherryl Maylond was a cocktail lounge employee who remembered “a tall, sinister elderly man who inquired about Beth after January 15.  A Los Angeles newspaper reported that, “on the night of the murder a man who called himself  ‘Clement’  came into the bar where Sherryl works and asked to see her. It was her night off, the bartender told him.  On the next  evening, after the body had been found, Clement came back – a slight, dapper, olive-skinned man with hair gray at the temples.”  Sherryl later said that she had never seen the man before. He wanted to “talk about Betty,” but Sherryl “gave him a cold shoulder,” according to the article.

The roommates were interviewed, but could not offer a good lead to the murder. One of the young women said Beth discussed working in a military base in San Bernardino. Another remembered Beth asking her to accompany her to a Beverly Hills address, “where a man would pay the rent,” a Los Angeles Times newspaper article reported. All of the roommates “agreed she worked nowhere in Los Angeles although she seemed to have periodic funds for rent, clothing and groceries,” the Times said.

When Beth lived at the Chancellor, her landlady, Juanita Ringo, said “She came here for a room last November 13. That’s a bad day, isn’t it? She wasn’t sociable like the other girls who lived in apartment 501 with her – more the sophisticated type.”

Linda Rohr recalled, “Elizabeth was odd. She had pretty blue eyes, but sometimes I think she overdid it with makeup an inch thick. Elizabeth dyed her brown hair black, then red again.” Linda also remembered, “She was out nearly every night. She had a lot of telephone calls, mostly from her favorite boy friend, Maurice.”

Chapter 13 ~ Art Richman

“Somebody  that might have a head injury could do a thing like that.”

– Art Richman

Art Richman was one of the Carpenter Drive-in crowd that knew all the principle characters in that part of the Beth Short story. He was close to Bob Granas, but he also knew George Bacos. Art was a student at Marshall High, but dropped out in his senior year to join the Navy.

He was not a suspect in the murder of Elizabeth Short, but he was a valuable witness to detectives. He told them about Lynn and Margie and the fellows that dated them. Art lived off Sunset Boulevard on Effie Street, near Thomas Starr King Junior High School. He described himself as 6’ 1” tall, about 178 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes. After joining up, he was stationed in San Diego. He said he received a medical discharge shortly after enlistment.

Art said, “I went in April 5th I think, 1943, I am pretty sure, I am positive on that. Got out probably around June 3rd. Didn’t want to, but they were pretty sore about it. I didn’t tell them I had hay fever pretty bad. I used to get nose bleeds all the time and couldn’t run with the rest of the guys.”

According to Art, he had two motor vehicle accidents. “I had one on a motorcycle. It wasn’t my fault.” His grandmother, Rose Snyder, said he had another. Art said it was, “riding in a car, pickup truck, from Mount Wilson.”  He said, “I had two pretty serious head injuries, one was a car accident, and one was water skiing up in Lake Elsinore.”

Although Art suffered from head injuries, he was able to recall names and dates from the fall of 1946, when Elizabeth Short lived in Hollywood. He said he never met her, but he did know Lynn and Margie. He met Lynn, “I believe up here at a drive-in stand on the corner of Vermont and Sunset.” He said Margie told him “she was working at a dime store.”

Art was a regular at the Pig Stand on Vermont Avenue, just south of Sunset Boulevard. He knew George Bacos, and a friend of his, Chuck Finklestein, who drove a 1947 Cadillac convertible. Art said he was “up there every night.” He said Chuck was “one of George’s best friends -.”

Art and Bob would cruise around Hollywood.  When Art met Lynn and Margie on Vermont, he thought of Bob. “Bob is the kind of guy never got a date too much. This Margie seemed awful nice and quiet. So, the next night, might have been the next night, I took both of them up to Bob’s house. I took Lynn home and after, Bob may have taken Margie home.”

Once, he drove them to the Hotel Figueroa where they were staying, shortly before the day they checked out. He said Lynn moved to an” old time movie theater” near Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue, next door to the Studio Delicatessen. Art said she, “sort of worked for her room and board -.”

As time passed, Art said he never saw the girls again. He went into the auto parts business and moved on with his life. He died a few years ago.

Chapter 14 ~ Marvin Margolis

“The next time there is a war, two of us are not going – the one who comes after me and myself.”

~ Marvin Margolis

* * *

Marvin Margolis, the young Navy veteran that Beth introduced as her cousin, was born in Chicago on March 25, 1925. As a child, Marvin was shy and introverted. He was afraid of dark closets, walked in his sleep up to age 14 and often threatened to run away from home.

Marvin was 5′ 9″ tall, weighed 150 lbs and had hazel eyes and brown hair and a ruddy complexion. After high school, he signed up as a pre-med student at the University of Chicago.  Just before his eighteenth birthday, he joined the Navy. He was in the Naval Medical Corps during his entire enlistment, for two years, four months and twenty-four days, beginning March 1, 1943. He served in the U.S. Naval training stations and hospitals in Illinois, Washington state and at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California. One psychiatric report from Illinois read in part,

“This subject is calm, quiet and a resentful individual who shows ample evidence of open aggression; has had trouble in adjusting himself to Navy discipline, has become resentful over this. He desired operating room technique which was never granted to him and this is one of the underlying bases for his resentment and disgust. A tension state has resulted and at present this man shows a lack of interest, aims and ability to concentrate. The content of thought shows a beginning hypochondriasis and self-seated resentment.”

After serving stateside for the first two years, he was shipped to the South Pacific, where he took part in the invasion of Okinawa on April 1, 1945. The massive battle, known as Operation Iceberg, lasted until mid June and resulted in the highest number of casualties in the Pacific Theater during World War II. The Allies wanted the island for an air base to begin the final assault on the mainland of  Japan, less than 350 miles away. From April 1 until May 25, the Japanese conducted seven major Kamikaze attacks on the American Navy, involving more than 1,500 suicide missions.

Margolis served 65 days on the island under intense, unrelenting bombing and air attack. He was involved with setting up a medical station at an airport that was bombed and strafed by the Japanese air force for twenty nine days. At one point he was ordered to set up a hospital in the south. He worked day and night, with little sleep, caring for 1,500 patients. Soon after, he was sent to the front lines for two weeks.  He administered aid to two companies with heavy casualties.  He worked out of a cave, which gave way under heavy rains, and he was buried up to his neck in mud, unable to move. He worked himself free the next day. Afterwards, he was described as being “amnesic, emotional with depression and instability.”

* * *

Japan’s total losses in the battle of Okinawa exceeded 100,000, while Allied forces suffered 62,000 casualties. After his release, Margolis received disability pay. Three Naval doctors said his condition resulted from “neuroses resulting from being in [the] first landing group on Okinawa in April, 1945.”  On September 16, 1946,  Margolis was diagnosed as, “sullen, his personality is not pleasing, apathetic, inclined to sarcasm.”

Following the war, he settled in Los Angeles and signed up for pre-med classes at the University of Southern California. In October, 1946,  Margolis, Bill Robinson, Beth Short and Marjorie Graham all shared an apartment at the Guardian Arms on Hollywood Boulevard for twelve days.

After the death of Elizabeth Short, the two male roommates were wanted for questioning. Authorities stated, “He and Bill Robinson were both reluctant informants.” They also said, “It should be noted further that this suspect, Marvin Margolis, is the only pre-medical student who ever lived as a boy friend with Beth Short.

On November 26, 1946, he married Edith Bernstein  at 6331 West 6th Street in Los Angeles. By the end of the decade, Marvin Margolis had moved back to Chicago, fathered a son and found work in an auto supply company as a stock man.

In 1950, the Chicago Police Department concluded that, “Records at the office of the Secretary of Police were check and do not show anyone by the name of Margolis as ever applying for or receiving any Chicago Special Police Badge. The Chicago Police Department does not issue ‘Honorary’ badges.'” Marvin Margolis was suspected of being the Chicago policeman that accompanied Elizabeth Short to a radio broadcast in Hollywood.

* * *

In 1949, Deputy District Attorney Arthur L. Veitch, in the presence of grand jury members, asked Detective Harry Hansen:

I think it might be just as well to ask you a question which in itself would be directly leading, but you are aware, I presume, of the investigation with respect to the fact that within 60 days of her death, this girl roomed and stayed in the rooms of a medical student at U.S.C., Marvin Margolis, who entered U.S.C. in September of 1946, and whose first obligation under his entry was to dissect a human corpse, and that Marvin Margolis is now in Chicago and that a check-up is being made.

Hansen answered, “No, I am not. The name is very familiar.”

Veitch told them:

Let us affirm to each other, nothing that’s said in this room is said outside the walls of the room. If we do that, we might inadvertently, [allow] the culprit to escape punishment forever.

Chapter 15 ~ The Lady in Red

Faught told him that she had been in previously, and referred to her “as a streetwalker, the type, pick-up type.”

* * *

Suite 215 in the Cherokee Building on Hollywood Boulevard held just two medical offices. Dr. Arthur M. Faught was a physician  from Nebraska who had once been a surgeon for the Union Pacific Railroad. The doctor  had the corner office in suite 215 for about 23 years before he died in late 1949. His  brother Claude helped out in the office with bookkeeping and financial matters. The doctor also had a nurse, Mrs. Lillian Zickler.

Dr. Melvin Schwartz was the other doctor in Suite 215. He was a younger man, in his late 20’s. Dr. Schwartz was a dentist. He also had a nurse, Miss Barbara Martin. The two doctors got along well. Dr. Faught usually left his office for home between three and four in the afternoon. If patients wandered in, Dr. Schwartz would evaluate their needs, and if they weren’t urgent, he would tell them to come back the next day when Dr. Faught was in. Dr. Schwartz said, “- occasionally a straggler, someone walking the Boulevard, walking around looking for a doctor would happen to land up there.”

Whacked Out

One afternoon, after Dr. Faught had left for the day, a young woman walked into the office and asked for the doctor. Dr. Schwartz talked to her, explaining that the Doctor was gone for the day. He asked her the nature of her problem in order to see if she needed immediate attention or if she could wait until morning.

According to Schwartz, “she seemed to be rather reluctant to talk, this was in the reception room, there were other patients waiting, we stepped in Dr. Faught’s office and she related the fact that she had an inflamed gland.” She said that Dr. Faught had once lanced the gland for her and it had worked but now she needed to be treated again.

She told Dr. Schwartz that she thought she was allergic to rubber. “Every time I play around and have a rubber used on me, I get into this trouble.” Dr. Schwartz also said she told him, “Gee, I’m tired, I’m whacked out. I didn’t get in until about four or five o’clock this morning. I was practically in San Diego.” She said to Schwartz, “You’re a pretty good looking doctor.” He thanked her and she said, “Why don’t you examine me?” Schwartz said, “she proceeded to grab my hand, she lifted her dress, and I pulled my hand away and stepped away from her.”

Schwartz said it all happened quickly and then nurse Zickler “stepped into the office, and this lady in red, as they call her, disappeared.” Schwartz checked with Faught the next day, but he said she had not returned. According to Schwartz, Faught told him that she had been in previously, and referred to her “as a streetwalker, the type, pick-up type.”  Schwartz said the young woman, “appeared to be a very fast individual, very fast, fastest woman I had ever seen.”

The Lady in Red

Two uniformed policemen first came to the Cherokee Building and talked with Dr. Schwartz.  “I was very much surprised that uniformed men came  up on a case like that, inasmuch as I have seen and been around the police department as much as I have, I always thought that would be handled by plainclothesmen.”

Schwartz said, “They wanted to know the date or when we had seen what they referred to as the Black Dahlia, and told them the reason I’m so positive of the date we had seen her, we were addressing Christmas cards, and it was approximately 10, 12, 14 days before Christmas-.”

Later, when investigators showed a photograph of Elizabeth Short to Dr. Schwartz, he said, it “resembles her very, very closely, I’m inclined to think that was her.” He also said that Mrs. Zickler “appeared to be” positive that the young woman was Beth Short.

Dr. Schwartz said that Dr. Faught and Mrs. Zickler “called her the lady in red, she was known as the lady in red, I think she wore red nearly every time she came in, or had a red flower in her hair, I don’t know, they referred to wearing a carnation or some type of flower  all the time.”

Chapter 16 ~ Harry Hansen

“Well, I have a little pet theory of my own, I think that a medical man committed that murder, a very fine surgeon. I base that conclusion on the way the body was bisected.”

~ Harry Hansen

* * *

Sergeant Harry Hansen, one of the original homicide detectives assigned to the Elizabeth Short murder, began his career with the LAPD in the 1920 ‘s. He joined the Homicide Division on May 1, 1943. Prior to homicide, he worked in Central Division as a uniformed Sergeant.

During the course of the investigation, Hansen and his partner Finis Brown interviewed Beth’s father, Cleo Short, at his home. “We went up there and first time we ever saw him, we knocked and knocked and knocked on the door, and finally aroused him, and we found him to be in a drunken stupor.  Found wine bottles all over the place, he was very uncooperative, especially in view of the fact that after all, his daughter had been murdered.”

Later, he and Brown played “good cop-bad cop” with Mark Hansen. “As part of our investigative technique, we decided that one of us should rough him. In other words, make yourself hated by him, that was me, that’s the part I took.”  Sgt. Hansen remembered Mark Hansen’s comments about Beth:  “- I think in his own words, ‘she’s a little tramp.  I didn’t want her there, and I told her to leave.'”

* * *

After Detective Harry Hansen retired from the Los Angeles Police Department in 1970 he moved to Palm Springs with his wife Norma and started a new life.  He wrapped up a 43 year career, but the unsolved mystery of the Black Dahlia murder wouldn’t set him free. In interviews, he discussed the one that got away.

“The killing seemed to be based on unbelievable anger.  I suppose sex was the motive, or at least the fact that the killer was denied sex.  From all accounts, Elizabeth Short liked to tease men.  She probably went too far this time, and just set some guy off into a blind, berserk rage.  There was no evidence of forcible entry.

“I suppose I allowed myself to lean slightly towards the theory of a male murderer, someone with medical training.  I based that merely on the physical aspects of the case.  Still, you have to have an open mind to anything, can’t close your eyes to any evidence.  In other words, it may have been somehow possible that the killer didn’t have any medical background.  We had to keep that in mind despite all the evdence.  All you have are facts and evidence; all you can do is fit them and see if they dovetail.  Nothing we ever had did.”

* * *

“She didn’t seem to have any goals or standards… she never had a job all the time she lived in Los Angeles.  She had an obviously low IQ, lived hand to mouth, day to day.  They found out during the autopsy that her teeth were full of cavities.  She had filled them up with candle wax.  She was a man-crazy tramp, but she wasn’t a prostitute.  There were all kinds of men in her life, but we were able to find three who’d had any sexual experience with her.  She was a tease;  she gave a bad time to quite a few guys.  She just asked for trouble.  There wasn’t much to like about her.”

* * *

“There were crimes that same year that were at least as heinous and victims at least as pretty and not one of them got anywhere near the same attention.  It was that name, ‘Black Dahlia,’ that set this one off… just those words strung together in that order turned Elizabeth Short’s murder into a coast-to-coast sensation. ‘Black’ is night, mysterious, forbidding even; the dahlia is an exotic and mysterious flower.  There could not have been a more intriguing title.  Any other name and it wouldn’t have been anywhere near the same.”

* * *

“It’s fairly realistic to figure the killer is no longer alive.  By now, he would have attracted attention.  If he is still alive, he’s got it made unless he just completely slips up and blows it.  That’s a lot of years that’ve gone by;  it would be hard now to go back and dig up new witnesses, new evidence.  I know for certain that I never met the killer face to face.  I know he didn’t manage to slip through with the other suspects.  We considered the possibility of his coming right in, making a confession, then cleverly side-stepping the ‘key question.’  We watched for that, had taken measures to expose him in that event.  You’d never believe the amount of checking we did on this case;  we followed everything as far as it would go and then we’d turn right around and walk through it again.”

Chapter 17 ~ Robert “Red” Manley

Robert Manley was a tall, good looking, 25 year old traveling salesman from South Gate with a beautiful wife and a young son at home at the time of the murder.

When he registered for the draft in 1942, he was 5′ 10 1/2″ tall and weighed 140 lbs, had red hair, a light complexion and a scar on his left elbow. At the time,  he was working for the Montgomery Ward Company.

Seven months after his discharge from the army air corp on April 17, 1945, Bob Manley married Harriette Cooper on Nov 28, 1945. Harriette, three years younger than her husband, gave birth to their son, Steven, on September 8, 1946.

By 1947, “Red” was, “employed as a sales engineer by Baker and Company in Huntington Park,” according to investigators. His territory stretched from the Bay Area to San Diego. He took orders for plumbing supplies, traversing his route in his black 1939 Studebaker coupe.

In San Diego, visiting his accounts, he recalled, “I saw Miss Short standing on a corner across from the Western Air Lines I looked at her and decided to try and pick her up.”

“I asked her if she wanted to ride. She turned her head and wouldn’t look at me. I talked some more. I told her who I was. And what I did and so forth. Finally she turned around and asked me if I didn’t think it was wrong to ask a girl on a corner to get in my car. I said yes, but I’d like to take you home and she got in the car.”

Red drove her to the home of Elvera French, where they sat in the car and made plans for him to take her out to dinner. Beth said she would tell the Frenches that she worked with Red at Western Air Lines.

He had a date with her again at the airline office where Beth said she worked. Manley showed up, but she wasn’t there. “I asked two or three people and they didn’t know her and I didn’t think she worked there then.”

They stayed in contact and on January 7 they agreed to meet. Red told Frank Jemison,

“She asked me to drive her to Los Angeles. I told her I had to make some business calls. But she put her baggage in my car and said she would take a bus that night.”

He took her out for drinks that evening and later got a motel room for the night.

The Los Angeles Times quoted a witness saying, “Both Miss Short and her companion were in a ‘jolly mood,’ joking as the companion loaded the valises into the automobile.”

Jemison asked Red if he knew how she got to San Diego. He said, “No. I don’t remember her saying how she got down there.”

“Did she talk about any murders you had been reading about in newspapers — anything about that?”

Manley replied, “No, in fact, she talked very little on the way in to Los Angeles and I wasn’t in a very talkative mood. I don’t know what was the matter with her. It didn’t make any difference to me. I was just glad to get rid of her.”

Red dropped her off at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on January 9 under the assumption that she was to see her sister, Virginia West, at the hotel. He waited briefly, and at about 6:30 pm, he drove off to resume his life.

Manley’s fabled trip from San Diego to the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles with Beth Short has been told and retold over time, but years after the murder, Red added new touches to the story.

He said that, to his knowledge, Beth never made a telephone call after they departed the French home. “No, not one,” he said. It was Red that used the payphone just before leaving San Diego. “- I called my wife from San Diego,” he said. He agreed that it was possible that she did make calls while he was conducting business in Encinitas or Oceanside, but he never observed her using a telephone.

A newspaper reported days after the murder that Manley said of Beth, “She had bad scratches on both her arms above the elbows on the outside. She told me she had a boyfriend who was intensely jealous of her.” He said he was “an Italian with black hair,” and that he lived in San Diego. Jemison asked him if she complained of a toothache or a headache. He didn’t remember her saying one way or the other. He gave him a list of doctor’s names, including De Gaston, Ahrens, Scott and Brix, asking if she had mentioned any of them. Again, Red answered no.

She was sick in the Mecca Motel before they left. “Well, she didn’t even care to have me do much talking after we got back to the room, after we had been dancing. She just took a blanket off of the bed, propped her legs up against the wall by the heater and I asked her what was the matter with her and she said she just didn’t feel well and for me to leave her alone so I did, and she didn’t talk much more after that.”

“She said it was just that time of the month and she wanted to be left alone.” They had been at the Hacienda Club in Mission Valley, where she danced with him and with the band vocalist.

During the motor trip to Los Angeles, Red said she was constantly looking back at “Cars that passed on the right, and then, if I’m not mistaken, cars that would pass us, but I noticed mainly on cars I would pass. She would strain her neck and look, like this toward the rear of the car.”

Red drove his Studebaker from San Diego, with a stop in Encinitas, where he had a new account, and where they had hamburgers. The next stop was Laguna Beach, where Beth used the restroom and Red purchased gasoline.

From the beginning, before they left San Diego, Beth told Red that she would be meeting her sister, Mrs. Adrian West from Berkeley, at the Biltmore, but when they reached Los Angeles, she wanted to check her things at the Greyhound bus station first. According to newspaper reports, Beth’s luggage “consisted of a hat box, a suitcase and a small bag.”

She told Red he could leave her there.  “She led me to believe she hadn’t been in Los Angeles before and I told her it was a bad part of town and I better take her to the Biltmore and I told her to stay away from that part of town.”

He dropped her off at the Biltmore, where she used the restroom while he checked at the desk for her sister, Mrs. Adrian West. There was no record. He said goodbye and left.

LAPD Sergeants Sam Flowers and Jerry Wass took Manley into custody, soon after his return from San Francisco, where, he said, he read about the murder. “I turned sick inside,” he was quoted in newspapers.

Red and associate Harry Palmer of Eagle Rock were on a business trip to San Francisco on Friday, January 17 when Manley learned of the murder of Elizabeth Short.

Red said he, “turned sick inside.” He told Palmer he was,  “in a heck of a mess and didn’t know what to do.”

He called his wife Friday night,”but I didn’t mention it to her, of course, because she didn’t even know I knew the girl. Saturday afternoon, when I was out on calls, my wife called me. I returned the call Saturday night and when I finally got her the first thing she said was, ‘Did you do it?’

“The cops had been at our house in South Gate that afternoon and told her I was connected with Betty. Then I knew I was in for it.”

Red Manley served in the Army Air Corps from June 24, 1942 until his discharge on April 17, 1945. He was a corporal and a bandsman in the Army Air Force Marching Band and played the saxophone. His education while in the service was listed as “musician, teacher, music.” He served in Santa Ana, and Lemoore, California. Red received the Service Lapel Button and the Victory Medal. He was separated from the service from Dibble General Hospital in Menlo Park, California.

Red died on January 9, 1986, thirty-nine years to the day after leaving Elizabeth Short at the Biltmore Hotel.

Chapter 18 ~ Aggie Underwood & Red Manley

Soon after Robert Manley’s arrest, Aggie Underwood obtained an exclusive interview with the suspect and her article was printed in the Hearst newspaper, The Evening Herald-Express on January 20, 1947. The article, as it appeared under her byline, Agness Underwood, is transcribed below:

* * *

I knew Betty Short- sure. I saw her twice. I even kissed her a couple of times. But believe me, knowing her has taught me to walk the straight and narrow. If ever a guy found himself in a mess, I’m it.

With the lipstick of his pretty wife, Harriette, still on his face- implanted there last night when she kissed him and promised to “stand by”- Robert “Red” Manley, a 25-year-old ex-army corporal, today at Hollenbeck Police Station denied any connection with the brutal murder of Elizabeth Short.

A desire to “test myself and see if I still loved my wife,” a few stolen kisses, an unromantic night in a motel with Miss Short all led to his arrest on a suspicion of murder charge, young Manley said today.


Eyes red-rimmed from a sleepless night, but, he said, “with conscience clear,” young Manley told The Evening Herald-Express a detailed account of his two meetings with the “Black Dahlia,” whose brutally murdered body was found last Wednesday in a vacant lot on South Norton Avenue.

“A week or 10 days before Christmas my company sent me to San Diego on business,” Manley said, as though anxious to “talk this thing out.”

“I drove to San Diego after hitting all my sales spots, and arrived there about 5 p. m. I decided to take it slow and see everything I could because I hadn’t been there since the exposition.

“I saw Miss Short standing on a corner across from the Western Air Lines. I looked at her and decided to try to pick her up.

“My wife and I had just had the baby and we had to go through sort of an adjustment period. We had lots to iron out. It was nothing important but just lots of little things.


“I decided to pick her up and make a test for myself and see if I loved my wife or not.”

Here, the fiery red-haired, romance-seeking young father of a 4-month-old baby, lit  cigaret[sic] and then continued his story:

“I asked her if she wanted to ride. She turned her head and wouldn’t look at me.

“I talked some more. I told her who I was. And what I did and so forth. Finally she turned around and asked me if I didn’t think it was wrong to ask a girl on a corner to get in my car.

“I said yes, but ‘I’d like to take you home,’ so she got in the car.

“I drove her to the housing project in Pacific Beach where she was staying with some friends. When we got there we sat in the car and talked and I asked her if she would go to dinner with me.

“She said she would but was worried about how she would tell the people she was staying with just who I was so she decided  to tell them that I worked with her. She said she worked for Western Air Lines.


“After I left her I drove down the highway until I found a room. I registered for myself, went to the corner and got a beer.

“Because I was a stranger in town, I asked the people where I bought the beer where would be a good place to get dinner and maybe dance.

“They told me the Hacienda Club, out on University [sic]avenue in Mission Valley.

“I went back to my room then. I’ll admit I was a little worried about my wife, because you see we were just married in November, 1945, and I had never ‘stepped out’ on her before.

“I cleaned up a little bit and picked up Miss Short at 7. I met the people she was staying with and we left and tried to find -” here he hesitated, then said, “no-we started to drive to the club and it took us two and one-half or three hours to find it.

“Boy, it’s sure easy to get lost in San Diego.

“When we got there we had a few drinks and danced a few times then it was 12 o’clock. We went to a drive in, had a sandwich I took her home.


“No, I didn’t ask her to stop at my room,” he said, in response to questions.” We did sit in the car and talk for a short time, and I kissed her a couple of times, but she was kind of cold, I would say.”

Manley admitted he told the girl he was married, during the evening and said she had told him she had been married to “a Major Matt somebody” who had been killed.

“When I walked her to the door, I told her I might be down that way again and I asked her if it would be all right to wire her when I was arriving. She said yes. But she said she did not like San Diego and might not be there.


“I went to my room-with a guilty conscience-and the next morning made my San Diego calls. As I left town I drove through Pacific Beach and stopped where she lived, but they told me she was at work.

“When I got home I didn’t tell my wife I’d been out with her.

“I found out I had to make the trip again, and on Jan. 7, about 5 p. m., I sent her a wire that I was arriving next day. I covered the same territory and arrived near the Western Air Lines office about 5 p. m. I waited about one half hour but she didn’t come out. I drove to the place at Pacific Beach and she was there to greet me at the door.

“We walked outside and she asked me if I’d take her down to a telephone. She said she wanted to make a call. But, en route, she said she decided not to make the call after all.

“We started back to where she lived and she asked me if I would drive her to Los Angeles. I said yes, but told her I couldn’t leave until the next day. She decided to put her bags in my car that night, so I helped her load them. Then she got in the car and we drove down the highway. I decided it was about time for me to find a place to sleep so we stopped at a motel.

“I told her I thought it would look funny to drive into a motel with a girl in the car and ask for a room for one, so I asked for a room for two. She made no objection.

“We went into the cabin and I washed my face and shaved and changed my shirt. She combed her hair.


Asked whether he had made love to the girl while this was going on, young Manley, former army bandsman, strongly denied it.

“We decided to go eat,” he said. “So, we ate, then went back to the Hacienda Club and again it took us a couple of hours to find it.

“En route, however, she wanted to  stop at a big hotel in San Diego-the U.S. Grant-that was it.

“We went in the room where the music and everything was but it was dead so we had one drink and then went on to the Hacienda Club.

“We danced several times and had several drinks. She was gay and happy and seemed to be having a swell time. We left at 12 and she had mentioned taking a bus to Los Angeles that night and I asked if she wanted me to take her to a bus. She said she thought it wold be better if I got some sandwiches and we went back to the room. She said she was cold and hungry.


“We went to a driven[sic]-in. I got a couple of hamburgers and we went back to the room.

“When we got in, she grabbed my overcoat and put it around her. She said she wanted a fire, so I lit it. We ate the sandwiches and there was no affection between us. We talked for a while and she said she didn’t feel good. Said she was very cold and pulled a chair up in front of the fire and I threw a couple of blankets over her.

“I asked her if I could get her anything and she said ‘yes,’ her suitcase out of my car-her make-up and stuff.

“I got it and then asked if I could get anything at the drug store and she said no. She sure didn’t act sick when we were dancing.

“Pretty soon I looked at my watch and it was late. With her back to me, I took off my trousers, my coat, my shirt and climbed into bed-and went to sleep.


“When I woke up the next morning, she was propped up on the other side of the bed, awake. She said she’d had chills all night long.

“I happed[sic[ out and dressed and told her I had to make some calls in San Diego that morning.

“I did. Then about 12:20-12 noon was checkout time at the motel-I went back and picked her up. I had a call to make on the way back to Los Angeles and she waited in the car for me. It took quite some time and when I got back to the car, she was hungry-again.

“We stopped at a small restaurant and had another sandwich.

“Then we drove to Laguna Beach. There we stopped and got gas. En route she asked whether she could write to me. She said she was going to meet her sister from Berkeley, Mrs. Adrian West.

“I asked where she was going to meet her, and without waiting for her to answer I said ‘The Biltmore?’ and she answered ‘yes.’

“She wrote my name and business address in her notebook, so she could write to me.

“When we got in to Los Angeles, she wanted me to take her to the Greyhound Bus Station so she could check her bags before she met her sister. I drove her to the Greyhound bus Station and carried her bags in. I had to go out to move my car, but told her I would drive around and pick her up and take her to the Biltmore. I didn’t want to leave her in that neighborhood.

“When we got to to Biltmore, she said she had to go to the restroom and asked me if I would check at the desk on whether her sister had arrived.


“I checked information and they had no Mrs. West registered. She had told me her sister was short and blonde. So I went up to a couple of short blonde women in the lobby and asked whether they were Mrs. West-but they weren’t.

“It was getting late and I told her I had to leave. I had to get home. I was worried about my wife. She said she had to wait there and I left her there.

“That is the last time I ever saw Betty Short. I’ll take the truth serum or anything they want to give me. And, I’ll swear on a stack of Bibles and tell my minister, too, that was the last time I ever saw Betty Short. I did not kill her.

“But brother! I’ll never cheat on my wife again!”

Chapter 19 ~ San Diego Round Trip

Beth left the Chancellor Apartments on December 6 and was once again homeless. Carl Balsiger drove her in his 1940 Oldsmobile to Camarillo and then brought her back. He said dropped her off at the bus station in Hollywood. She arrived by bus in San Diego on December 9.

* * *

On December 5, 1946, Beth was visibly upset. She cried and told people she was scared. Juanitia Ringo, the manager of the Chancellor in Hollywood, said, “I felt sorry for her even when she got behind on the rent. She looked tired and worried.”

“When I went up for the rent last December 5 she didn’t have it. I don’t think she had a job. That night she got the money somewhere and left the next morning.”

That same evening, December 5, Beth returned to the Carlos Avenue house.

Mark Hansen said, “- she was sitting there one night when I came home, with Ann about 5:30, 6:00 o’clock – sitting and crying and saying she had to get out of there.” He also said, “She was talking about she was going to Oakland to visit her sister there and asked if she could come back to my house when she got back. I told her, ‘I don’t think so. Better find another place.’” Hansen said he took her back to the Chancellor that night and “left her off on the street.” She didn’t ask him for money. “She told me she was working in the cafe at the airport in Burbank.”

Hansen went home and later said, “I never saw her again.”

Carl Balsiger picked up Beth on the evening of December 6, 1946. The next day, he took her with him in his car to Camarillo, a town just over the Ventura County line, five miles from the Pacific Ocean, and most famous for its forensic mental hospital. They spent the day of the 7th together and drove back to Los Angeles with another passenger, Walter Thackeray, by way of Reseda in the West San Fernando Valley. According to Balsiger, he rented her a room somewhere on Yucca Street in Hollywood that night and drove her to the bus station the next day, December 8. Beth told him she was going to Berkeley to visit with her sister.

Beth arrived by bus in San Diego at 6:00 a.m. on December 9.

According to Dorothy French, the cashier at the all-night Aztec Theatre in San Diego, Beth Short engaged her in a conversation that morning, December 9. Beth told Dorothy her story and Dorothy invited to to stay at her home for awhile.

* * *

The guest overstayed her welcome. Dorothy’s mother Elvera and her brother Cary tiptoed around their home while Beth slept late in the day and didn’t seem to be in a hurry to leave.  In an interview, Dorothy said, “she was only going to stay one night, but she stayed a month. We had to ask her to move because our home was so crowded.”

On January 7, two men and a woman showed up at the French’s door asking for her. This frightened Beth.

On January 8, Beth called Mark Hansen in Hollywood for help. She wanted to know if she could come back to his home on Carlos Avenue. Hansen recalled, “- she said that she was in trouble and she wanted to know if she could come up, if she could stay. I told her Ann[e] wasn’t home, she could not stay there at all until Ann[e] got home. That is what I told her. Ann[e] was up visiting her parents.”

Anne said she contacted Mark and told him she would be back in Hollywood on January 10. Until then, he did not know when she would return. Anne later said, “Well, if he told her I was coming back on the 10th, as he says, then she would have called me between the 10th and the 14th, because after all, I helped her move before. I did an awful lot for that girl, I think she would come to me before she went to Mark.”

Soon after, Beth made arrangements to return to Los Angeles with her new acquaintance, Bob “Red” Manley.

* * *

The San Diego police did their own Black Dahlia investigation and came up with a time line for the last weeks of Beth’s life.

Most of her time was spent “loafing.” However, she did date an unidentified man on December 10 and had another date with “an unidentified Naval officer.” On December 15, she was “Washing and Preening.” The next day, the 16th, she “Left house, saying she had interview with airline office job. Picked up by Manley outside bus depot.”

She had dates with Manley every day from December 17 until December 20. On the 21st, “Manley came for her saying she had failed to show for job interview he had arranged for her.” On December 22, Beth received a postal money order for $100 from Gordon Fickling. She  had dinner at the home of Frank Dominguez on December 24 and had “Dinner with the Frenches” on Christmas.

On December 26, she had a date with Manley again. Then on the 27th, she had a “Date with unidentified man who honked horn in street, after phoning she should be ready on time.” On December 31, she had her “Second date with Dominguez. El Cajon bartender said he slapped or patted her face to sober her up.”

On January 1, it was “New Year’s day with Frenches.” The next day, Beth received two telephone calls, including one from Los Angeles. She loafed for the next two days and on January 4, she “Went out to buy cosmetics and magazines.” January 5, she “Wrote several letters.” The next day was spent loafing. Then, on January 7, “Beth receives a wire from Manley in Huntington Park. Beth goes out with Sam Nevara [Navarra].”  On January 8 Beth “Left with Manley. Went to motel.” And finally on January 9, she Left with Manley for Los Angeles.


Sam Salvatore Navarra was a big fellow, standing 5′ 10″ tall and weighing 245 pounds. He was twenty-four years old, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. Sam lived on Columbia Street near the ocean in San Diego. When he was interviewed by authorities, he said he dropped Beth off at the French home on January 7. He said Beth told him that she was returning to Massachusetts the following day.

Before she left San Diego on January 9, Beth gave Mrs. French a Leo Joseph crown top black hat and veil. The tag inside read, “Made in California.” Previously, she told the French women that she was a millinery model in Hollywood.

When she wrote to Gordon Fickling, not long before she left for Los Angeles, she mentioned that she was leaving for Chicago with a dress model agent named “Jack.”

When detectives asked the Frenches about “Red,” Dorothy said that Beth told her that he worked at a San Diego airline office. Beth herself told Red that she worked at Western Airlines in San Diego.

When Phoebe Short arrived in California, she said that her daughter had worked at the Naval hospital in San Diego before she returned to Los Angeles. Elvera French, who did work at the hospital, told investigators that Beth was jobless during her stay at the French home.

The authorities had to clear up the lies before they could get to the truth.

Chapter 20 ~ The Biltmore

After overstaying her welcome with the French women in San Diego for a month, Beth caught a ride with Red Manley back to Los Angeles. They arrived at the Biltmore Hotel early in the evening of January 9, 1947.

* * *

When Robert Manley drove Elizabeth Short to Los Angeles on January 9, 1947, he noticed that she frequently turned around in her seat and looked back at cars they passed or that passed them on the road, but she said nothing. He dropped her off at the Biltmore Hotel that evening. Manley said she was wearing a black suit without a collar, a fluffy white blouse, white gloves, nylons, high heeled suede shoes and a full length beige coat. Elizabeth used the pay phones and the ladies room. Manley checked at the desk to see if her sister had left word. After awhile, he said good bye and made his way home.

Red Manley couldn’t figure her. When police interrogated him repeatedly, he said, “I was infatuated, that’s all. I couldn’t tell if Betty was a gold digger or a nice girl.”

Elizabeth stayed at the hotel for several more hours and then she walked out to Olive Street and headed south. As far as the police were concerned, that was the last verifiable time she was seen by any known witness. However, a number of people came forward over time and claimed to have seen her around town.

When interviewed by Frank Jemison, Mark Hansen said he received a telephone call from her, but he wasn’t sure of the date. Jemison said, “We do have information now and evidence that would establish that you haven’t told us exactly the truth in connection with what conversation you did have with Beth Short, and our information is that you received a telephone call from Beth Short from the Biltmore Hotel on the evening of the 9th of January 1947.”

Hansen was also questioned about a telegram. He told Jemison he had no recollection. “I received a phone call. I don’t recall any telegram. There may have been a telegram. I don’t recall, but I know this phone call, I remember that very distinctly because Ann wasn’t home. She was visiting her folks.”

Anne Toth had expected to see Beth in northern California when they were both supposed to be in the Bay area, but she lost track of her. “Gee, the funny part of it, I was thinking of her all the time I was gone, wondering what did become of her, because she didn’t say goodbye to me.”

Anne said Beth told her about three weeks before Christmas that she was going to Berkeley to see her sister. “But instead,” Anne said, “she went to San Diego. Why, I don’t know. Just before Christmas, she wired me saying she needed $20. She had been gone about three weeks when I received another wire, saying she was coming back and stating that a letter would follow. That was the last I ever heard of her. The letter never came.”

Anne had returned from Richmond, California to Hansen’s Hollywood home on the evening of January 10, and Hansen told her the story of how Elizabeth had called from San Diego. Anne was surprised. “Well, that is like wrong way Corrigan. Headed for Berkeley and went to San Diego.”

Marjorie Graham, Beth’s friend from Boston and her roommate in Hollywood, was interviewed after the murder. Marjorie said,

“After staying with me for a month she went to live with a private family and when I left Hollywood in October, she  said she was going down to San Diego because the weather in Los Angeles was getting too cold.”


Part III

Chapter 21 ~ Sgt. Peter Vetcher

In the FBI Black Dahlia files, an office memorandum relates the story told by First Sergeant Peter Anthony Vetcher, who said he met Elizabeth Short and spent time with her in Los Angeles. Special agents interviewed the sergeant on March 27, 1947 and he spoke of meeting Short near the Crown Grill and the Biltmore Hotel in September of 1946.

First Sergeant Vetcher was stationed at Fort McClellan in Alabama. He was in California with another soldier, First Sergeant Charles Moffett, with orders to return an AWOL soldier to Ft. McClellan. Both men were given unofficial leave to sight-see around Los Angeles for a few days.

Vetcher was among the original First Ranger Battalion group at the Commando Training Depot, Achnacarry, Scotland on June 19, 1942. He was a member of the famed Darby Rangers. Vetcher himself, who was wounded twice, first in the Africa campaign and again in Italy, estimated that of the 500 elite soldiers, only 43 survived the war. He was awarded the Silver Star, among other medals. He was held as a prisoner during the war in Stalag 3B near Fuerstenberg, Prussia. His capture was first reported to the International Committee of the Red Cross on January 30, 1944. He was held prisoner for at least 526 days. Pete Vetcher was born in 1915 and died in 2001.

Sergeant Vetcher said he wrote the LAPD after the murder, but said the police never contacted him. Eventually, he was interviewed by FBI “special agents” on March 27, 1947. He recounted his story to the agents.

On September 20, 1946, he “proceeded to downtown Los Angeles.” He then, “wandered around the downtown section of Los Angeles until about 1:45 P. M., when he stopped and stood leaning against the wall of a store on the corner of what he recalls was 6th and Olive Streets. While he was idly watching the passers-by, he observed the victim, accompanied by another young woman, walk by at about 2:00 P. M. After passing him, the victim turned around and walked over to Sergeant Vetcher,” and inquired about a friend who had been in the service. She explained that they had been “childhood sweethearts in their hometown of Medford, Massachusetts.”

Vetcher “stated that after this conversation he inquired of the victim whether she would give him a date for the evening.”

“The victim’s girl friend separated from them, and the victim and Vetcher eventually proceeded to the Columbia Broadcasting Station Studios, where they saw TONY MARTIN broadcast.”  Tony Martin was enjoying the success of his first million selling record, “To Each His Own,” which he sang on radio.

“Thereafter they proceeded to Tom Breneman’s. Vetcher stated that at the corner of Hollywood and Vine they met First Sergeant Charles Moffett who accompanied them to Tom Breneman’s. Upon arriving at Tom Breneman’s, they observed that a number of people were waiting in line for a table, but as soon as they entered the door, the head waiter came over to the victim and escorted her, along with Vetcher and Moffett to a nearby table. Vetcher stated that during the time they were at Tom Breneman’s, he observed that the victim appeared to be well known to all of the waiters there.”

They talked again of the “childhood friend” from Medford. The man reminded her that he only knew this friend of hers under “combat conditions.” Lieutenant John P. O’Neil was the hometown boy and Beth and Pete Vetcher wrote him two postcards the next day, according to Vetcher, stating they were married and living “in Hollywood and very happy.” Beth signed one card Betty Short Vetcher.” The sergeant “also stated that the victim was very well dressed and caught the attention of many of the guests at Tom Breneman’s He stated that he caught snatches of conversations of people seated in the immediate vicinity and heard some of them suggest that she must be a professional actress employed by RKO or some other studio.” According to his statement, they left at about 12:30 A. M. and separated from Moffett.

Pete Vetcher told the special agents that they returned to downtown on a trolley and as they walked about five blocks from the stop, “a black car drove up beside them and stopped. Vetcher stated that there were five men seated in the car who appeared to be dark complexioned and possibly were Mexican, three of whom jumped out of the rear of the car and yelled, ‘There she is.’ Vetcher stated that he suggested to the victim that he beat these individuals up, but she told him the best thing to do would be to run. According to the FBI report, “they ran and escaped from these individuals, who apparently were unknown to the victim.”

When they reached her hotel, Beth invited him upstairs. Her roommate was working that evening and said Vetcher could sleep in her bed if it was alright with Beth. After sneaking into her room and making advances, Vetcher said that they made love several times throughout the night, but “that at no time was the victim in a passionate mood, which led him to suggest the possibility that she was a Lesbian.”

“In order to corroborate this statement by VETCHER, he pointed out that during his conversations with the victim, she related to him that she at one time frequently visited a wealthy woman who resides either in Hollywood or Los Angeles, and that this woman had made improper advances towards her, which she resisted.”

Vetcher spent time with her the next day, before they went their separate ways. He watched her enter the Figueroa Hotel with a girl friend and “stated that as the girls entered the hotel, he observed the victim in a heated conversation with a short, chunky, well-dressed man who appeared to be 40 or 45 years of age.” The soldier said, “he had not seen the victim since that time, and had never had any correspondence with her.”

The report said,

“VETCHER stated that during his various conversations with the victim, she never expressed fear of anyone, but she did mention that Los Angeles was a tough city and that it was dangerous for a girl to be alone on the streets at night. She told him that she was afraid to be alone on the streets at night, and while they were reading a newspaper in the lobby of the Figueroa Hotel, she pointed out to him an article which featured a resume of the number of murders and rapes which had occurred in Los Angeles over a short period of time. In addition, VETCHER stated that the victim told him that she was going with a man whom she did not like very much, but she stated that she did not want to hurt his feelings by stopping to go with him. VETCHER advised that he did not know the name of this man. It may be noted that VETCHER vigorously denied that he had ever been married to the victim.”

“VETCHER claimed that after reading in the Birmingham, Alabama newspapers that the victim had been murdered, he wrote a letter to the Los Angeles Police Department advising them of his meeting with the victim. VETCHER stated that he feared that his name might be found in the little black book of the victim’s girl friend, and, accordingly, contacted the Los Angeles Police Department as soon as possible. VETCHER advised that he never received a reply to his letter.”

Chapter 22 ~ The Frolic Room & The Crown Grill

Elizabeth Short lived in Hollywood for much of the last four months of her life, and while some assumed she was working at Western Airlines or at the airport in Burbank, or elsewhere,  she was, in reality, unemployed and quickly becoming a bar scene regular.

* * *

According to acquaintances, bartenders, rumors and news reports, Beth was seen at Steve Boardner’s on Cherokee Avenue, just a few blocks from the Chancellor, where she lived, and at Melody Lane at Hollywood and Vine. She reportedly went to Tom Breneman’s Vine Street restaurant, where the popular radio program, Breakfast in Hollywood was broadcast. She was seen at Brittingham’s, next to CBS on Sunset Boulevard, and on Hollywood Boulevard at the Four Star Grill, Bradley’s 5 and 10, and other locations.

* * *

Daniel Jackson was a private investigator for Lucian C. Wheeler in the Equitable Building at Hollywood and Vine in the 1940’s.  He dated a girl named Marjorie, who worked as a secretary for a theatrical agency in the Pantages Building next door.

Jackson occasionally had drinks with Chuck Morgan nearby at the Frolic Room on Hollywood Boulevard.  Morgan described himself,  “as an expert mechanic, particularly on racing cars,” according to Jackson.  One day in November, 1946,  when Daniel and Marjorie were drinking in the Frolic Room, Chuck Morgan walked in with another man and Beth Short.

Jackson said, “I was working under cover on a studio strike taking place at that time, and I had been working day and night and keeping going by drinking whiskey and Benzedrine, and anything I could do not to sleep -.”

Morgan and the others joined Jackson and Marjorie. Morgan asked them if they would like to join his party and go for a ride. Jackson said, “-having probably had too much to drink , I agreed.”  They left with Morgan in his older model Ford sedan.  They eventually made their way downtown.  “I would say down on Los Angeles Street or San Pedro Street- someplace.” They  “stopped in a dark street in lower Los Angeles. Chuck got out of the car and went away and returned in about five minutes.”  Then, they headed back to Hollywood, making a few more stops. The group drove to  Sunset Boulevard and went to the El  Zarape at 2905 Sunset Boulevard, where Daniel and Marjorie separated and took a taxi back to the Frolic Room.

Later, after the murder, Jackson recalled the evening, but was never sure of the name of the girl that accompanied the group downtown.  He described  her, saying “She was  a brunette, very black hair, dark hair -.”

Jackson later found out that Chuck Morgan and the man that was with them that night were arrested for armed robbery and assault, he believed.  He and a friend, Tom Bickmore,  also a patron of the Frolic Room, went to visit Morgan in jail.

Jackson said:

I think as I remember, our conversation with Morgan, that he had been arrested several days or – I don’t remember how much time between his arrest and the murder.  After the murder took place and the pictures were in the paper- the pictures of this girl looked like the girl that was with Chuck Morgan very much, and that evening that Morgan was with this girl he told me that he and this other fellow had either met her in San Diego or picked her up in San Diego and brought her to Los Angeles, and as I remember she was supposed to  have been working in a burlesque house in San Diego, and there was some reference to San Diego in the newspapers following the murder, which also made me think of this girl.  So, in a conversation with a friend of mine- Tom Bickmore, who was a police reporter for the Los Angeles Examiner, I mentioned this incident to him and he said that Chuck was in the County Jail, which was the first I knew where Chuck was, and Tom said, “Let’s go up and talk to Chuck,” so using his credentials as a reporter, Tom and I went to the attorney’s room in the County Jail and talked to Chuck Morgan.

When Jackson and Bickmore asked Morgan if the girl he brought into the Frolic Room that night was Beth Short, Morgan replied, “Yes, it was,” according to Jackson. They also said she, “was a user of marijuana and frequented places that degenerates frequented,”  Jackson remembered.

Investigators told Jackson, “We do know it to be a fact that Beth Short was in that cocktail bar and around that locality numerous times just before  her murder.”

* * *

The Crown Jewel Cocktail Room, at 754 South Olive Street, in downtown Los Angeles was a favorite drinking spot of Elizabeth Short and her friends, according to Lt. Frank Jemison. He testified before the 1949 Grand jury hearings about his investigation. In a written statement he said that, “Elizabeth Short and her friend Marjorie Graham and Anne Toth were known drinking customers of this bar located at 9th and Olive, which is two blocks from where Elizabeth Short was last seen alive.”

Several employees of the Crown Grill identified Elizabeth Short as a regular customer. Frances Campbell, a waitress there, identified Beth by a photo shown to her by authorities. She was working at the Crown on January 9, but said she did not remember seeing Beth that night. According to Lt. Jemison, “Officer Ed Barrett was told by a bartender in the Crown Grill that victim was in there that night alone.”

Two other waitresses, Bernice Smith and Majorie Underorbok “all knew victim as a customer of this bar two blocks from the Biltmore Hotel,” Jemison said. He also stated that Joe Scalise “was a bartender on duty the night of January 9, 1947 at the Crown Grill, the night Short was last seen alive. He was bartender on the Olive Street side. It will be remembered that victim Short was last seen alive walking in the direction of this bar as she left the main door of the Hilton on the Olive Street side. This suspect had a reputation for being high-tempered with any woman who would not date with him after closing time. When questioned at his home in the Adson hotel he appeared very nervous and stated, ‘Yes, her body was found right over here’ (pointing to where it was found eight blocks away) and said, ‘I was sleeping in a room right across the hall at the time.’ But he denied that her photograph looked familiar to him as a customer of the bar.”

Beth had been to the downtown area many times in the past. Anne Toth recalled dropping her off near the Biltmore about two weeks prior to her leaving for San Diego on December 6. Anne’s boyfriend, Leo Hymes, recalled the drive downtown to Jemison:

I know it was a rainy day. Anne was with me; we took her downtown somewhere.  Either she had an argument; was going away or something.  Now I think I gave Anne the car at that time; I got out on Eighth Street; I believe she was going to take her somewhere – I don’t quite remember.  I know it was raining to beat the – because that is why I know it was at that time, but I don’t  know if she was going away on a trip.  It seems to me she was mad about something.

When Jemison asked him if she could have been going to the Biltmore, Leo replied, “It’s strange, but I really think she did.  I wouldn’t swear to it, but it seems to me there was some comment about the Biltmore – maybe she was going to catch a plane or train or -.”

At the time, Leo’s office was on the corner, close to the Crown. He said, “Well, I used to eat there quite a bit; that would be at noon, but I would say I would go in there, oh, late in the afternoon different times.  I knew the boys there that owned the place.  In fact I am very friendly with them right now.” He also said he would drink there at night.  “Yeah, lots of times.”

But he never saw Elizabeth Short at the Crown Grill.

Chapter 23 ~ The Two Time Loser

It was the unnamed girl living at Hansen’s house that told the undercover officer about the jewelry scam and about a curious comment she said she overheard. The unidentified girl said that Anne called Bill Miller and said that Elizabeth Short had been murdered and that, “We had better get together.”

* * *

Chief Bradley, Captain Donahoe and Sergeants Brown and Hansen all approached Chief of Police Horrall and asked for permission to bug Mark Hansen’s house. Horrall consented and Brown set up secret listening and recording devices in Hansen’s home between March and October, 1947 and made, according to Brown, “about six recordings altogether, large recordings, which are turn-on, turn off.”

The surveillance produced nothing of value concerning Elizabeth Short’s murder.

Eight or nine months after the murder of Elizabeth Short, Finis Brown decided to put an undercover man in the Carlos Avenue home to observe suspect Mark Hansen. Hansen agreed, because he “had a lot of people he wanted to talk about,” police reported.

According to detectives, “Hansen wanted to tell the Police Department about this fellow — ‘he is a pimp’ — and this girl, ‘is a prostitute’ and so forth, but that would be the ostensible purpose of putting a man out there, but the real reason was to watch Hansen.  We complied.  Hansen introduced him around to people, thieves and so forth.  Undercover man ostensibly went to work as a automobile salesman out in Hollywood area and he was watching Hansen.”

During this time, Hansen told Brown about Lola Titus, which would later lead to Hansen saying, “get Brown for me,” after he was shot by Lola  in 1949. Brown explained that Hansen had, “- given me some information on her.”  When Lola shot Hansen, she called him “a damn cop lover.” Brown said later that  “Apparently she believed he had give some information on her to the police.”

While Hansen was in the hospital, Brown said, “Jones of the Crime Lab went over the whole house, checked for blood in other rooms.  During the time that I went out there, I have checked myself, the various rooms, when the opportunity presented itself, to check bathrooms and such.”

The Unidentified Girl

An unidentified girl that lived at the Carlos Avenue house told an undercover office about a jewelry scam that was handled by Bill Miller, who operated a jewelry shop on Frank Street in Santa Monica. The girl revealed stories about how Miller was going through bankruptcy and replaced his first grade stock with “second grade, third-grade stones,” according to the undercover officer.  Supposedly, Miller brought the quality stones, valued at approximately $50,000, to Hansen and planned on paying off creditors “ten cents on the dollar.” A search of Hansen’s home turned up nothing, but immediately after, Miller settled for fifty cents on the dollar and returned the first grade material.

Miller was described as “an ex-convict, two time loser,” by Lt. William Burns, who was head of the Gangster Squad in 1949. Burns was asked if he knew anything about a conversation between Anne Toth and Bill Miller. He replied, “Of my own knowledge, no.” Burns was questioned, “Do you know about Ann Toth?” He answered, “I know about Ann Toth. I wouldn’t Know her if I would see her.”

Lt. Burns got the story of the supposed jewelry deal between Mark Hansen and Bill Miller through a girl living at Hansen’s home and an undercover officer posing as an automobile salesman. The unnamed girl told the undercover office she overheard Toth and Miller discussing the jewelry heist. Burns learned about the story from the undercover officer.

“Do you know anything about Ann Toth having called one Bill Miller and having told him that Elizabeth Short had been murdered, and Ann Toth saying, ‘We had better get together.”? Burns answered, “No Sir.”

Burns searched Hansen’s house and property thoroughly, saying, “I even had him open the safe.”

In the end, no evidence was discovered and the Black Dahlia investigation moved on.

Chapter 24 ~ Leads & False Leads

“Tire  tracks photographed in the pavement where the body was found indicated the tire was probably a size used on Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet, Pontiac or Oldsmobile.”

~ District Attorney Investigation

* * *

In early February, 1947, The Herald Examiner ran this notice in an inside page of their front section:

Dahlia Death

  Tip Wins Cash

By reading this, you may make some easy extra money.

It’s about the Examiner offer of $50 every week for news tips called in to the city editor, and from $5 to $100 for pictures accepted for publication.

There were two top winners in the news tip division last week – one who called in with an exclusive angle in the Elizabeth Short murder, and another about a jeep crackup that killed two men.

* * *

In the days that followed January 9, witnesses claimed to have seen Beth around town in bars, in automobiles and on the street. During the years of newspaper coverage of the murder of Elizabeth Short, many witness accounts were published. Occasionally, authorities gave credence to the stories and other times they refuted them. Often, rumors and false statements were never cleared up and the public was left to speculate which accounts were valid and which ones weren’t .

* * *

In mid January, 1947, newspapers reported:

“Long Beach police said that Margie B. Collins, restaurant operator, claimed to have seen her [Elizabeth Short] on a Pacific Electric car at 12:30 p.m. in conversation with a Negro man.

If true, this would be the last known trace of Miss Short.”

                                                          * * *

Bartender Robert “Buddy” La Gore said she was a regular at the Four Star Grill at 6818 Hollywood Boulevard. He described an encounter different than the others to police, saying, “when she came in on January 10, she looked like she had slept in her clothes for days.” “Her black sheer dress was stained, soiled, and otherwise crumpled.” He went on to say, “I’d seen her many times before and always she wore the best nylons, but this time she had no stocking on.” He said, “Her hair was straggly and some lipstick had been smeared hit-and-miss on her lips. The powder on her face was caked.” La Gore lived at 6769 Yucca Street, two blocks from work. His apartment was just two and a half blocks from Beth’s room at the Chancellor. She may have walked past his address on her way to the Four Star Grill.

Waitress Gloria Hattenberg, of the Four Star Grill, remembered seeing Beth there many times, but she never came in with a man. La Gore said he had seen her many times, too, but accompanied by other women.

* * *

Christenia Salisbury, aka “Princess Whitewing,” told police she had seen Beth Short and two other women in a black coupe along the curb at the 7200 block of Sunset Boulevard some time after 10 pm on January 10. Salisbury said she, “ran into Elizabeth as she and two other women were coming out of the Tabu Club on Sunset Strip in Hollywood.”

* * *

In late January, according to the Daily News, a man, whose name was withheld by authorities, came forward and told police that he overheard Beth and two women talking in a coupe on Sunset Boulevard on January 10. He was standing on the sidewalk in the 7200 block when a coupe pulled up to the curb. He said he overheard parts of the conversation between the three women. According to the newspaper article, the man understood that the girls were living together on Ventura Boulevard in a motel and that they were on their way to the Flamingo Club on La Brea Avenue.

Captain Jack Donahoe, according to the newspaper report, said photographs of Elizabeth Short were shown to the unidentified man who recognized them as the girl he had seen. The other girls were identified as “uncommonly attractive” in the article. One was about 27 years old with jet black hair and about 5’6″ tall. The third girl was “also a woman in her 20’s, and wore her light brown hair in a short bob.”

* * *

In January, 1947, hair stylist and bit player Alex Constance was living at the Stanton Hotel on Western Avenue in Hollywood. He was interviewed by authorities about the murder of Elizabeth Short. He knew her when she lived at the Hawthorne Hotel on Orange Drive, he said. He had done her hair for her. Constance said that he also knew Lynn Martin and Marjorie Graham. The last time he saw Beth was in the first part of December, 1946, he said.

He was interviewed again at police headquarters. His room and automobile were searched and inspected by the Scientific Investigation Division. Constance was cleared as a possible suspect.

* * *

C. G. Williams, the barman at the Dugout Cafe at 634 South Main Street, told police that Beth had frequented his place. According to the Los Angeles Times, Williams “recalled that someone with Miss Short’s appearance came in on January 11 or 12 with a blond girl.” He remembered that a male customer attempted a conversation , but was ‘brushed off’ by the pair.”

“I remember  that a fracas started when two men tried to move in at their table.  The blonde went into a rage, and we had quite a time calming her down.”

* * *

Beth’s room at  the Chancellor Apartments was repeatedly described  in the Daily News as “famed Apartment 501.” Her roommates, other residents and employees were interviewed by the police and the press. Paul Simone, a painting contractor, said that on January 11, 1947, at about 5 pm, he witnessed an argument between two women in a doorway at the rear of the Chancellor. The Daily News reported that he “overheard Beth and another woman arguing bitterly.”

“It was plenty hard language. I thought they were going to fight.” The article said the other woman was “cursing viciously at a pretty girl who he believes was Beth Short.” After seeing Simone, the other woman said, “Oh, nuts to you,’ and walked out of the building.”

* * *

On the evening of January 11, a taxi driver named I. A. Jorgenson said he drove her and a male companion from the Rosslyn Hotel in downtown Los Angeles to a Hollywood motel.

* * *

Also on January 11, another witness, a gas station attendant working at the Beverly Hills Hotel said he saw Beth about 2:30 am in Beverly Hills in a car with a male driver and another woman. “She seemed very upset and frightened,” he reported. The attendant described the automobile as a 1941 or 1942 tan Chrysler coupe. Police Officer R. L. Gray reported that the attendant said, “A man about 30 years old, 6 feet 1 in height and weighing 190 pounds, got out and asked for gas. In the back seat were two women. One could hardly be seen. But the other, the attendant insisted, was Beth Short. He identified her by various photos.”

* * *

On January 12, between midnight and one in the morning, the telephone at Mark Hansen’s house began ringing about every five minutes. When Mark answered, there was silence. The calls were annoying Anne in the other room, who said “Let me answer the phone.” Anne said she, “took it into my bedroom and then the same thing continued for about another half hour, so finally I was disgusted with it, I took it off the hook for a little bit and then I put it back again and it did [the same thing] again, and I picked it up and I said, ‘You so and so, whoever is on the other end of the line, I am going to report this to the superintendent of the telephone company and I will have this call traced immediately,’ so I took it off the hook, pretending I had been calling in the meantime, so they would get a busy signal and after I, oh I left it off about three minutes, I would say. So, when I put it back on the hook again I couldn’t hear a word after that. I either scared them or what, but there was no more.”

* * *

The Valley Times, a San Fernando Valley newspaper, reported that a man with red hair entered The Gay Way bar on Main Street in downtown Los Angeles on the night of January 12 and approached “dancer” Betty Blake. The article said, “Miss Blake said he asked for Miss Short who had been there earlier in the evening.”

* * *

John Jiroudek, described as a “one-time jockey,” knew Beth from her days at Camp Cooke. According to newspaper articles, Jiroudek said, “On January 13, I met Beth with this bossy blonde at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. They were in a 1937 Ford sedan. The blonde kept insisting they drive off, and finally they did. She seemed jealous because Beth talked to me.”

The police were interested in finding the “bossy blonde,” and were encouraged when a taxi cab driver, Charles Beckham, told a similar story. He “reported he picked up a ‘big blonde’ and a girl he is certain was the ‘Black Dahlia’,” according to newspaper articles. He said he “drove the two girls to separate hotels in Hollywood.”

* * *

Another newspaper article reported that a Greyhound bus driver named Stagg recalled Beth boarding his bus in Riverside at 1 am on January 14. He said that she got off in Los Angeles at 4:15 am.

* * *

Perhaps the last claim of seeing Elizabeth Short was made by policewoman Myrl McBride at a downtown Los Angeles bus station on January 14.  Newspaper articles quoted McBride as saying the young woman, whom she later identified as Elizabeth Short,  was “sobbing with terror” when she first saw her. The officer said that Beth asked for protection from “her marine boy friend who once threatened to kill me if he ever found me with another man.”

Newspapers reported that McBride took her back into the bar.  According to the articles, Beth “talked with a woman and a tall man for a few seconds, then emerged.  When cautioned to go home, the girl was quoted as having refused, saying, ‘My daddy’s coming in two hours from now.'”

The articles said the encounter took place “some four hours before the murder.”

* * *

On February 3, newspapers reported that Los Angeles detectives left for San Diego, “for the purpose of checking out several new ‘leads” which they hope might place them on the trail of the killer. These ‘leads’ concern a man who was known to have associated with  the girl in San Diego.”

It was also reported that, “Police were combing the Santa Monica-Venice area for a battered, black Model A Ford believed to contain a possible suspect in the case.

“In an all points bulletin, the man was described as 5 feet 9 inches tall, between 25 and 30 years of age.

“He was said to weigh between 150 and 160 pounds, to have blonde hair and blue but bloodshot eyes. He was wearing a black and white plaid shirt.

“In the car, the bulletin said, was a gray wool blanket bearing dark stains, books and clothing. The information was furnished police by an unidentified woman.

“The description of the car was similar to that given of an auto that was seen at the Norton Avenue lot where Miss Short’s body was found.”

* * *

William “Sully” Sullivan, a Railway Express Agency clerk working at Union Station, told investigators that he talked with a young woman who identified herself as Elizabeth Short. On January 14, just before noon, she inquired about sending a trunk and suitcases to Ketchikan Hospital in Alaska, he said. She said they would be sent to her and she gave her name. She was accompanied by a red haired man. She did not have the baggage with her, saying she was only interested in the rates at that time. Sully later recanted his story when another young woman, who resembled Beth, proved to be the customer who visited the R.E.A. office on January 14.

* * *

Just when press coverage of the murder was winding down, an envelope addressed to “Los Angeles Examiner and other Los Angeles papers” was sent anonymously from downtown Los Angeles and intercepted at Terminal Annex.

Lead detective Finis Brown later told 1949 grand jury members:

“The–on the 24th of January, shortly before seven o’clock, we received a call in the Homicide Division from Mr. Low and postal inspectors that they had a letter that had come in the mail.”

“Officer Cummings or Sergeant Cumming and myself went to Mr. Low’s office. We found there a letter which was improperly addressed to the Los Angeles Examiner and other newspapers, if I recall. ‘This is the Dalia[sic] belongings. Letter to follow.’ This was on the outside of the envelopes.[sic] The envelope, Mr. Low stated, had bursted open. In the envelope was numerous cards–the birth certificate of Elizabeth Short, the address book, some snapshot photographs and a telegram.”

Among the contents of the gasoline soaked envelope was a business card for Brandt Orr. In 1949, Detective Brown asked Anne Toth,

“You don’t recall any numberd[sic] down around the Axminister[sic] or Inglewood area?” He also asked, “See what, Ann[sic], I am trying to figure is if there is some possibility of someone she might have called down in that area there. She ever talk to Brant[sic] Orr?”

Anne replied, “No, not that I know of.”

Brandt Orr worked for Dressen Realty Company, with main offices on Market Street in Inglewood. He lived at 1018 1/2 Kingsley Drive, the same street where Beth’s father, Cleo Short, lived at 1020 South Kingsley Drive.

* * *

On January 18, the Los Angeles Herald Examiner reported that a cab driver, Glen Chanslor, told newspaper reporters that Elizabeth Short “came to my hack stand last December 29. Her clothes were torn. She told me a man she worked with had tried to attack her. It was about 7 pm when some people dropped her off at my stand. She looked wild-eyed and hysterical. Blood came from her knees. I didn’t know if she was cut or bruised.” He said he drove her in a cab to a hotel at 512 South Wall Street.

She told Chanslor, according to the newspaper account, “that a well-dressed man she worked with wanted to take her to Long Beach and cash her weekly pay check for her. Instead, the girl said, he parked his car on a lonely road south of Garvey boulevard near Garfield avenue and tried to attack her.”

The article said that after the taxi driver dropped her at the hotel, he “waited for her to come back down and pay her fare, but, “When she came down she was all dolled up. She said she didn’t have the money and I figured then that I wouldn’t get it.”

* * *

Phyllis Jean Cyr, a woman newspapers described as a 20 year old brunette “model,” lived in West Los Angeles at the time of the murder.  Cyr was brought to Long Beach police for “questioning in another case,” a minor traffic violation in late January, 1947, according to newspapers.

As she was leaving the station, she said, “I am surprised that the police haven’t questioned ‘Lee’ about the Short girl’s murder.  They used to run around a lot together.” Cyr said she told Long Beach police that Lee and Beth were friendly last February and March. The newspaper article reported that Cyr said Lee took Beth to a hillside rendezvous and tried to attack her. She also claimed that Lee tried to induce Beth to join him in an illegal black market scheme, but that Beth refused.

Cyr described Lee as a black market nylon salesman, whose district  was Sunset and Gower in Hollywood, where Brittingham’s and Columbia Square were located.

Cyr said that she and Elizabeth Short posed nude for a photographer she knew simply as “Price.” Cyr said that Price tried to molest both of them.  She also said she had not seen Elizabeth Short in almost a year.

* * *

In late January, 1947, Detectives Harry Hansen and Jess Haskins questioned Red Manley and  Elvera and Dorothy French for two hours. They compared notes and offered what help they could to the detectives. Red and Dorothy both found their names in Beth’s address book. Manley identified his name, “Red Morris,” his nickname and middle name. He told reporter Agness Underwood, while under arrest, “She wrote my name and business address in her notebook, so she could write to me.” Manley further cleared up the confusion made by witnesses that saw them at Pacific and Balboa in San Diego. Two waitresses and a service station employee claimed they saw Red and Beth on January 14. He told detectives it was January 8.

Not long after Manley was eliminated as a suspect, police asked him to identify a shoe and a patent leather purse that were found in a trash dump at 1819 E. 25th Street in Los Angeles.   Robert Hyman reported to police that he had seen the items in a trash can at the Wilbar Cafe at 1136 Crenshaw Boulevard. Authorities were unable to locate the items before trash collectors picked them up and took them to the dump.

Red went to the University Police Station and looked through a number of shoes and purses from the dump, before exclaiming, “This is it! I’m sure of it.” He had identified a shoe with double taps and told police that Beth had asked him to have the extra taps put on her shoes, which he did. He also recognized the purse by the scent of her perfume.

As late as 1954, when Red was 32 and a patient at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Brentwood, California, he was still being asked by authorities to submit to testing. Newspapers reported that he suffered from “paranoid schizophrenic” disorders while he was in the facility. Captain James Hamilton, of the Police Intelligence Division of the LAPD, said Manley volunteered to take a truth serum, which substantiated his claims of innocence in the Black Dahlia murder.

For Red, it must have seemed the interrogations would never end.

Chapter 25~ The Duke

“She told me she would be 24 on the 25th of this month and I think you will agree she acted and looked the part.”

* * *

The LAPD started looking for Lynn Martin soon after the murder. Lynn’s friend, Duke Wellington, advised her to turn herself in. Then, they began looking for him.

Duke Wellington, alias Bill Cochrane, 40 or 44 years old, according to newspapers, wrote  a letter to Captain Jack Donahoe, head of the homicide squad. It was received on January 27, 1947, after Lynn Martin had been interviewed. Wellington claimed that he did not know Elizabeth Short.

“Yes, I suggested Miss Martin surrender. That was on Tuesday, the 21st.”

The LAPD joined the Burbank and Glendale police departments in their search for Wellington, who was avoiding contact. He was wanted for writing bad checks and was finally caught in February by Burbank police. Detective H. D. MacDonald of the Burbank police department said that Wellington had written six bad checks since the previous November and was arrested, with bail set at $3,000.

Duke’s wife, Hazel Wellington, said she had been in New York since September, 1946 and was unaware of his activities. She arrived home in Burbank on January 28. She said, “I never heard of Elizabeth Short and do not know Lynn Martin or anyone else involved in the slaying.” She told a friend that she hadn’t heard from Duke since October.

Hazel Wellington called the Burbank police on January 29 and asked them to inspect their home in Burbank, because, as a police notation declared, “of the unusual situation her husband is now in.” Hazel said that her husband was working in Glendale as an engineer from late 1945 until spring, 1946.

Duke said, “I had no intention of running away. I read in the Valley Times that my wife had arrived and I wanted to see her.”

The Burbank police got their man when they arrested Duke Wellington for writing bad checks. However, the LAPD was more interested in any connection he might have with Elizabeth Short. They were also interested in his relationship with 15 year old Lynn Martin. The LAPD  Homicide Bureau dispatched Det. Harry Fremont and Det. Sgt. William Cummings to Burbank to interview Wellington.

“I first met Miss Martin at the Club Tabu on Sunset Strip in November, about the 15th to 20th, I think.”

“I have seen her off and on since that time, the last on Jan. 21.”

He said he did not have contact with her between January 7 and January 15.

“I had not seen or heard from Miss Martin until about 12:15 a.m. on the morning of Jan. 15 when she and another girl, Bobby, returned with at least one other person.  Miss Martin told me it was a man, a friend of Bobby.”

“On this  evening, I was at the office of that address from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.”

“I did not at any time meet the girl who was killed nor did I know anything about her until this happened.  Miss Martin came to me, running and frightened, either Thursday or Friday of last week when she saw in the papers she was wanted for questioning.”

“Crying, she told me she knew nothing of it and I know that to be truth, unless she and Bobby did it and that is utterly impossible to conceive.  I questioned her about her relationship with the dead girl and she could tell me little other than the girl never brought men to her room and rarely had dates at the place.”

“The only girls who I know that Miss Martin knew was a girl, slightly on the mannish type, known to me as ‘Mary,’ who gave her a job at the club and who I saw last on New Year’s Eve.”

“The other was a roommate at a hotel on Wilcox, near Sunset.  I am sure she called her by the name of ‘Marion.’

“Miss Martin was very vague about her past.  Seemed depressed and a little nervous most of the time.  She said she had no family and had been married to a military policeman at El Paso, Texas, and divorced…”

“I questioned her on this Short matter and she could tell me nothing.  I have thought of this thing a lot in the past two days, making notes so as not to forget anything.  This is all that I know, frankly and honestly.”

“As for myself, I can retrace my steps and thank God enough people know where I was at the time.  Now let us look at things squarely.  I am in trouble, yes, but how.

“Well the first thing I thought I was doing right turned out wrong.  That was to tell Miss Martin to report in.  You people only used that to ruin me and any chance I might have to get my affairs in shape.  By such gracious tactics you might be preventing the real clue from showing up.

“This smear campaign would only make people afraid of the police.  You make people run from you instead of come to you.  Ninety per cent of us have things we don’t want publicly displayed.

“Thanks for the nice publicity.  I am washed up.  Period.  A fair deal for trying to help clean up this Short mess.  I am trying to clean up my affairs and will continue to do so until stopped.”

By early February, 1947, Wellington was of no further value to the investigation. He still had a hearing scheduled for February 14 for writing bad checks on his Bank of America account in Burbank.

Chapter 26 ~ The Runaway

“I don’t want any notoriety.”

– Lynn Martin

Lynn Martin said she learned of the murder of Beth Short when a friend stopped her on Hollywood Boulevard on Friday, January 17. Lynn said the friend told her, “Here is your picture in the paper.”

On January 22, Ballard Smith, a cab driver that knew Lynn casually, picked her up at Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue and drove her first to the Hollywood post office on Wilcox Avenue and then to her motel on Ventura Boulevard. He said later that he told her to contact the police, since they were looking for her. She agreed to do so, explaining that she was scared and “I don’t want any notoriety,” Smith said. When she arrived at the motel the managers called the police. Detectives showed up soon after and took Lynn into custody.

Lynn told authorities that she had been living with Duke Wellington at a Hollywood motel at 5265 Sunset Boulevard since January 10, 1947. Wellington left her there at one point  and did not return. According to newspapers, Lynn said Wellington left to make a telephone call, but did not come back. He reportedly left her a note suggesting she turn herself in. When police took her into custody they also confiscated a white-tipped silver fox fur, which Lynn said was given to her as a Christmas present by Wellington.

At first, convinced that Lynn was in her early twenties, detectives grilled her at Central Police Station in Los Angeles. Deputy District Attorney Herbert Grossman interviewed her. Lynn said she had not seen Beth since September 20, 1946 when they moved from their lodging.

At one point, according to newspapers, she admitted to a “pickup” acquaintance with George Price, a 43 year old freelance photographer. Price, whose real name was Clarendon Kenney, lived at 1856 Jewett Drive. He met Lynn on Hollywood Boulevard and offered to take photographs of her. She agreed and went to his home/studio in Laurel Canyon.

Lynn said Price knew Elizabeth Short, too. He was said to have been seen driving his car on Hollywood Boulevard with Beth before she left for San Diego in December. It was also said that he knew Marjorie Graham. Investigators said his name was found in Beth’s address book, but upon questioning, Price denied knowing her or knowing how his name got into her address book.

Lynn said she posed nude for him on her second visit. Other disclosures by Lynn were not released to the press because of her age.

After six hours of questioning, authorities were convinced that Lynn was not an adult, but a teenager. She said her real name was Norma Lee Meyer and that her parents lived in Long Beach. She was turned over to juvenile officers  and transferred to the Georgia Street division. It was learned that she had been in trouble with juvenile authorities since the age of 11. She had been an inmate at El Retiro School for Girls for a year and was released about two years prior to her current detainment.

* * *

Lynn, like Elizabeth and other girls that just scraped by, was in and out of trouble. Howard Darrin, who lived in a secluded, wooded area off Laurel Canyon at 8225 Lookout Mountain Avenue, “cut” Lynn, “when she tried to escape from his advances, in the Hollywood Hills,” investigators reported.

Howard “Dutch” Darrin, the automobile designer,  had a showroom on the Strip at 8534 Sunset Boulevard, near La Cienega Boulevard  in the 1946. He was successful as a consultant for Rolls Royce, Renault, Stutz, Daimler-Benz and other car manufacturers. He is famous for his Packard designs, such as the Packard Darrin and the Packard Clipper.

Lynn and another girl, a blonde, were seen at the automobile designer’s address on the Strip in the late afternoon of January 15,  1947, according to the Daily News. They were looking for a place to live. Lynn was also spotted at a hotel on Wilcox Avenue near Sunset Boulevard on January 15, according to the local newspaper. “Earlier last week,” the newspaper reported, “before the murder, Miss Martin stayed a few hours at a Sunset Blvd. motel. She told the manager there that she was broke and needed to rest for a while. The manager said he heard the woman sobbing in her room, but did not disturb her.”

* * *

Lynn was hiding from authorities after the discovery of Beth’s body. She was underage and trying to avoid detection. Investigators found her almost a week after Beth’s body was discovered. She had been living with Edward P. “Duke” Wellington, alias Bill Cochrane, in the M & M Motel, a North Hollywood auto court on Ventura Boulevard.

A Los Angeles Times article written shortly after the murder, stated “witnesses said Miss Martin arrived at the motel first on Jan. 5, departed, and returned Jan. 12 to remain two days.” The article also said, “she was seen as late as midnight Jan. 14, the day before Miss Short’s severed body was found in a vacant lot near busy Crenshaw Blvd.”

A Long Beach newspaper stated,  “- Los Angeles juvenile authorities and officials are preparing to start court action against 10 male adults with whom the girl told police she had been intimate.” Lynn, it turned out, had been arrested eight times under juvenile charges, according to Detective Lt. William Cummings.

“The thorough investigation made by the department disclosed the girl’s earliest recollections were of living with a half sister in Minnesota.  The half sister was living with a drunken common-law husband.  She believes she was 4 years of age then.”  The newspaper reported that Lynn’s half sister was suicidal and that her maternal aunt, who lived on a farm in Washington brought Lynn to her home for about three years. The aunt said she was placed in a detention home in Washington because, “the family was unable to support her any longer,” the article stated.  “She was adopted from this home by the Meyer family and brought to Long Beach,” the article said.

The newspaper account further reported, “Lynn Martin, as the girl herself prefers to be known, first came to the attention of juvenile authorities in July 1943, when neighbors reported that she was the victim of ‘an unfit home.’ ”

According to news accounts, Lynn told officers in Hollywood, “Hollywood is full of men around 40 that want to buy you drinks and a meal. They expect you pay for the drinks and meals with yourself.”

Chapter 27 ~ Jimmy Richardson

When James H. Richardson, retired city editor of the Los Angeles Examiner, wrote his autobiography, which was published in 1954, he wrote about the biggest news story of his long career, the murder of the Black Dahlia. Richardson believed he talked with the killer of Elizabeth Short when he received a telephone call and was asked, “Is this the city editor?” He remembered the nameless voice saying, “Well, Mr. Richardson, I must congratulate you on what the Examiner has done in the Black Dahlia case.” Then, according to Richardson, the caller said, “I’ll send you some of the things she had with her when she, shall we say, disappeared?” Richardson said he felt a “shiver up my spine.”

* * *

City editor Jimmy Richardson was occasionally a step ahead of the LAPD investigation of the murder of Elizabeth Short. It was the Examiner that arranged to have Elizabeth’s fingerprints sent by Soundphoto to the FBI in Washington, D.C.; and it was Richardson who claimed to have made the deal with the police department for exclusive information on the true identity of Jane Doe Number One. He also found the two suitcases and the hat box at the Greyhound Bus Station and made another deal with Donahoe. Or, so he said.

Richardson said he had rewrite man Wain Sutton call Phoebe Short in Medford and lie to her, saying her daughter had won a beauty contest. Mrs. Short gave Sutton information about her daughter before he told her the truth. Richardson said he dispatched reporters to San Diego to discover the identities of  Red Manley and Elvera French. They also found the motel records of Manley’s motor trip with Beth to Los Angeles on January 9, according to Richardson. He also claimed he sent reporters to Red’s home, where they broke the news to his wife, Harriet.

The Examiner was responsible for the most sensational coverage of the murder of Elizabeth Short.

* * *

“I have my own idea about the killer, pieced together from everything that is known about the case. I believe he is an egomaniac who deliberately planned the murder to prove to himself that he was a superman who could outwit and outhink the whole world. He chose his victim, persuaded her to go with him to wherever it was he tortured and slew her and carefully placed her severed body where it would be quickly found. He made it all as horrible as possible to attract the greatest attention and cause the most intensive search for him. He would be one against the world, the perpetrator of the perfect crime. He would revel  in the satisfaction of his insane and all-consuming ego. To feed that satisfaction he had taunted me and the police with his phone call and the return of those things the Dahlia had with her.

“I am convinced that his mad ego will cause him to commit another crime and in the same manner. Either that or he will come forward again with taunts about the Dahlia murder. He may even furnish a clue that will start the search all over again. Eventually he will make the mistake that will result in his capture. It may be that what is written here will do it.  He knows my name and he has talked to me. If he knows about this book, he’ll read it. If he does the warning about his eventual mistake won’t stop him because he believes himself the superman incapable of making a mistake.”

Chapter 28 ~ Badge Number 1

One of the most famous Los Angeles Police Department detectives of all time was John St. John, known as “Jigsaw John” to colleagues and the public. He wore Badge Number 1 and was a legend in his own lifetime. A book and a television series told of his exploits while he was still on the force.

St. John began his career with the LAPD in 1942, making detective in 1949, two years after the murder of Elizabeth Short. Decades later, he was one of several senior officers assigned to the case long after it had gone cold.

St. John was given the nickname “Jigsaw John” after he solved the murder of a woman whose  dismembered body was found in Griffith Park in the wee hours of the morning.  The nickname derived from his unique ability to “put the pieces” together and solve the crime.

John St. John was born in 1918, joined the force in 1942, worked as detective from 1949 until 1993, solving more than two thirds of the more than 1,000 cases that came his way.

In 1942, he was still a rookie police officer, assigned to the Georgia Street Juvenile Jail on the second floor of the three-story, brick-faced building. Long since razed, the structure housed the city’s central emergency hospital and Police Department units. The building opened in 1915 as a juvenile detention facility. Over time, it was home to the Juvenile Division, Administrative Vice and Metro and a jail.

St. John was in the seventh month of his assignment when he let his guard down and a teenage prisoner beat him savagely with a metal bar, resulting in multiple injuries, including the loss of sight in one eye.

St. John worked the unknown cases and the infamous ones. He was assigned to the Night Stalker (Richard Ramirez), the Hillside Strangler, the Southside Slayer, and the Onion Field murder. He worked 12 serial killer investigations, was lead investigator of the William bonin “Freeway Killer” investigation for eight years, after which he was awarded the LAPD Distinguished Service Medal in 1982.

St. John was renowned for solving a number of serial  murders during his career. He once said of serial killers, “These guys all kill the same way you or me pick a banana off a tree. Whenever they get the urge, they go out and do it to get their sexual gratification or whatever. They’ll keep doing it, too, until you stop them.”

Another time, he said, “I’ve done just about everything in this Police Department. I guess I’ve got more experience in blood and guts than anybody else around.”

In 1974, he explained, “You’ve got to see the face of a real victim. You’ve got to go to a murder scene, and you’ve got to see the face of death. The agony. They could never fake that on TV.”

Over the years, his nickname stuck, and friends, strangers and colleagues called him “Jigsaw.” He was known for his slow, methodical approach which amazed other detectives. He outlasted his contemporaries and carried Badge Number 1, signifying that he held the highest seniority on the force.

Los Angeles Times writer Al Martinez wrote a book called Jigsaw John about the famous detective. A year after the book was published,  Jack Warden portrayed St. John in fifteen episodes of the television series, Jigsaw John.

But not all his cases were solved. He said, “Sometimes I wake up at 3 in the morning thinking about them.”

Chapter 29 ~ 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.

Chapter 30 ~ The Death of Elizabeth Short

When Mark Hansen asked Beth why she went to San Diego, she told him a “screwball” was bothering her and she decided to go to San Diego before she went north to visit her sister.

* * *

Beth spent several hours in the Biltmore lobby after Red Manley left her there.  About 10:00 pm, wearing Anne Toth’s coat,  she walked out of the east doors of the Biltmore Hotel on Olive Street and turned south. According to authorities, she was not seen again until six days later, when her bisected body was found naked in a vacant lot in Los Angeles.

At 11:07 a.m. on January 15, Betty Bersinger, who lived at 3705 S. Norton Avenue, was walking south on Norton, pushing her daughter in a carriage, when she saw the body in two pieces laying in the lot. She hurried along, not wanting to frighten her child, and knocked on the door of a house nearby and asked to use the telephone. She called the police and reported what she had seen and then went on with her business.

At 11:18 a.m., officers S. J. Lambert and J. W. Haskins arrived at the scene after receiving a “man down” call. Twelve minutes later, LAPD Homicide Detective, Sergeant Finis A. Brown and his partner, Detective Harry L. Hansen, from Central Division, were on hand and examined the body.

An early report by the LAPD described the scene: “The body was comparatively  free of blood smears or stains which clearly indicated  that it had been washed sometime after death.” The report also said, “There were strangulation marks on the neck and definite rope or tie marks on both lower legs and arms.”

Back at the police station, officer Lambert reported, “In the drive way leading to the body was a tire track, which may have been left by the car, that deposited the body. On this track was a smear that may have been left by a bloody shoe, and their [sic] was a blood spot approx 1″ from the curb in the driveway. Another group of blood stains was on a bag which had originally contained cement.”

As time passed, more officials and newspaper reporters showed up at the scene. After the coroner had the body removed, the investigation continued downtown. Headlines, stories and photographs about the Black Dahlia filled the papers for weeks.

Finis Brown felt the killer was a publicity hound.  He thought the body was placed in clear view to be seen. He didn’t feel that the body was thrown or laid out.  He said,

It would indicate that it was dropped.  The upper half was quite a little further in.  The foot, left foot was about a foot from the sidewalk.  The person wouldn’t have to drop the body or flip it out there, wouldn’t have to lean over to do it, you know.  It didn’t land absolutely straight.  If it had been laying, laying right together – the two halves were about a foot apart, but he legs were spread and the type of mutilation that was done would indicate a person – to my estimation who had a mania for publicity.  The newspapers up until the 23rd when things began to slack off and we only had one page in the newspaper – one column, the 23rd and the 24th – that night we received the belongings of the Short girl.   The next day it was full.  The papers was full of it then.  It continued that way until altogether about 33 days.  To my estimation, the person sent that in because they wanted publicity to gloat over the fact that they had been successful in their crime and got a kick out of it.

The belongings that Brown referred to included a small book which he described as, “a brown imitation leather-bound book with gold letters “1937” and “Mark N.[sic] Hansen” printed on the cover. The book originally had about 400 pages, although many had been removed.  Investigators compared the writing with letters Beth sent to her mother and determined that most of the writing in the book was hers. There were about three or four pages written in another hand, Brown estimated.  He further said,

I can’t remember the pages.  There was in one – there was torn out in three places, just a few pages, five or six in one place is the most.  In another place, one or two, three or four, and cut out was about four places which ranged from anywhere from three to four pages to nearly a hundred pages.

* * *

On October 28, 1949, Lieutenant Frank B. Jemison, of the Bureau of Investigation filed a description of the body in his report to H. L. Stanley, Chief of the Bureau of Investigation.

The body had been cleanly severed at the mid line and the lower half was laying about one foot to the south of the upper half both parts laying absolutely flat with the protruding entrails of the lower one half laying under the buttocks. There was a marked post mortem lividity on the top side of both parts indicating that the victim had lain on her front side or face for some period of time immediately following her death.

The body had been washed; there were bristles of a stiff brush still adhering to the body; there were several lacerations on the forehead which appeared to have been inflicted by a blunt instrument; lacerated left breast and lacerated right breast, the top of which appeared to have been removed. The area covered by the pubic hair was slashed in criss-cross fashion and the scarcity of hair gave rise to the opinion that the hair had been cut off rather close to the skin. (Not shaved.) There was a tic-tac-toe slashing on the right hip; the mouth was badly slashed approximately three inches from the corners and the upper lip was deeply lacerated on the right hand side. There were possible strangulation marks on the neck and definite rope or tie marks on both lower legs and arms.

From the lack of blood stains around or under the body it is a definite conclusion that she was killed elsewhere. Photographs were taken of the body and measurements as well as photographs of a tire track at the curb line at a point opposite of where the body was found. Upon removing all of the body by Coroner’s deputies it was found that the grass undeneath the body was still wet with dew, indicating the body had been placed there after the dew fell in the early morning hours, at approximately 2:00 a.m., January 15, 1947.

Rigor mortis had not begun to set in, indicating that the murder would probably have been committed after 1:00 a.m., January 15, 1947, as the Coroner believes rigor mortis would set in within ten hours time. He stated the cause of death as shock and loss of blood from hemorrhage. He reported that echimosis [ecchymosis] appeared on the lacerations, on the head, face and right breast while slight echimosis appeared on the left breast and on the right breast and on the cut severing the body at mid line. There was no echimosis on all other lacerations indicating they were inflicted post mortem.

The flesh cut from her left thigh weighing approximately a pound was found in her vagina and the pubic hair was found in the rectum. (See photographs.)

There were no cigarette burns and no tattoo marks on the body.

Mr. Ray Pinker of the Crime Laboratory was only able to acquire a few drops of blood from this body and typed it as “A B”, which is a rare type of blood appearing in less than six per cent of the human bodies.

The officers requested that the Coroner and the County Chemist analyze the vital organs chemically to determine for one thing whether or not her body contained narcotics. At a later date when the officers requested the results they were informed that these vital organs had been misplaced and had probably been thrown out at the time they were cleaning up the laboratory and further that they had made no analysis.

And so on.

* * *

Authorities claimed they had no reliable leads to prove the whereabouts of Elizabeth Short from the time she left the Biltmore Hotel at about 10:00 pm on January 9 until her naked, bisected body was found on Norton Avenue on the morning of January 15.

Part IV

Chapter 31 ~ Postmortem

Elizabeth Short’s body was discovered on the morning of January 15. The next day, her body was identified. Soon after, Anne Toth and Mark Hansen went to the police on their own and told them what they knew.

* * *

Bill Robinson, who lived with Beth, Marjorie Graham and Marvin Margolis at the Guardian Arms, went to the police and told them what he knew. Robinson was an accounting student at USC. He told how he and Margolis had met the two girls on Hollywood Boulevard and eventually let them stay at his apartment, which belonged to his aunt, who was in Mexico at the time.

Red Manley, who drove Beth up to Los Angeles from San Diego, did not go to the police when he heard about the murder. When they found him, he was first considered a suspect and was later cleared.

Dorothy French, the 22 year old woman who brought Beth to her home in San Diego in early December, said, “her manner was shy and somewhat mysterious.” Dorothy had taken her in, “as a friendly act when the girl was down and out.”

Dorothy  said, “There was something so sorrowful about her ~ she seemed lost and a stranger to the area, and I felt I wanted to help her. I wasn’t sure how. She apparently had no place to stay. I suggested she come home with me and get a good night’s sleep, if that would help. She said she was thankful for my generosity.”

Elvera French,  Dorothy’s mother,  said, “her manner was shy and somewhat mysterious.” “Elizabeth was constantly in fear of someone, and was very frightened when anyone came to the door.” And, “I had a premonition Miss Short was in trouble. She was unwilling to discuss her past other than to say she came from Hollywood.”

* * *

On January 24, over a week after Elizabeth Short’s body was discovered, an envelope addressed to “Los Angeles Examiner and other Los Angeles Papers” was discovered.  It was addressed incorrectly, Finis Brown explained, and ended up at the Los Angeles post office. The envelope  had letters clipped from newspapers pasted on the front that read, Here is Dahlia’s Belongings Letter to Follow. The envelope was 8 inches by 3 1/2 inches and had been opened by the time it reached a postal clerk. According to a Los Angeles Times article, “A sharp-eyed clerk noticed that the end of the ‘Dahlia’ letter was broken open and turned it over to inspectors after reading the lettering cut from printed matter that formed the address.” At first, police were certain the numerous contents would eventually lead to the killer.

They said the gasoline-soaked envelope contained a birth certificate, address book, Greyhound baggage claim check, six snapshots, a Social Security card and a newspaper clipping concerning the death of Matt Gordon. There were two photographs of women and more of men. “One snapshot showed an Army flyer. Another was of two Army flyers in a plane. One showed an Army private, and another was the picture of a woman, possibly Miss Short’s sister, Mrs. Virginia West of Berkeley.”

Soon after receipt of the envelope, police received an anonymous telephone call from someone who said, “Don’t try to find the Short girl’s murderer because you won’t.”

* * *

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

– Luke 12:2-3, King James Bible

Chapter 32 ~ The District Attorney Investigates

There have  been “over 300” suspects – Finis Brown

The LAPD investigation into the murder of Elizabeth Short began after the discovery of her body on January 15, 1947. Detectives Harry Hansen and Finis Brown were assigned to the case from the beginning and remained the primary investigators through the years. Although the case was never solved and was never closed, the investigation slowed down after the first year.

In 1949, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office began their own investigation for the 1949 grand jury. While the investigation by the LAPD was widely covered by newspapers at the time, the DA’s investigation was more muted, due to the lapse in time since the murder and due to the secrecy imposed by the grand jury.

Los Angeles District Attorney Investigator, Lt. Frank Jemison became involved in October, 1949. The grand jury was dissolved at the end of December that year. In a short period of time, Jemison and his assistant, Walter Morgan accumulated an immense amount of material that still exists in the DA files.

Among the first jobs was organizing the voluminous documents.

The gangster squad supplied about seven hundred documents. Approximately 2,200 pages of material were made available, “being records, reports and statements and correspondence of the Homicide Division which had been filed in order and indexed.” Finis Brown supplied 528 documents, which still had to be indexed. It was a daunting task for secretaries and clerks to prepare for the new investigation.

It was noted that, “It seems that hundreds of police offers have worked on this case and as a result some of these officers did not bring to a conclusion some of the loose ends of their investigations.”

It was also reported that, “Captain Harry Elliott in charge of the Homicide Division stated that there has been more work done on this case than any other murder case in the history of the LAPD. Sgt. F. A. Brown and Sgt. Harry Hansen have done most of the work on this investigation having been assigned ever since the case of the murder and in spite of their being handicapped by the lack of clerical assistance and lack of expense money with which to travel they have kept their records in fair order and have made a comprehensive investigation and as indicated by their reports they brought most of their check-outs on suspect and investigations to a conclusion as nearly as possible. However, due to the lack of coordination of effort and the lack of proper correlation of records, reports statements and correspondence on the part of the Administrative Division of the LAPD it appears that there is much work yet to be done on this case and at least fifty persons remain that should be interviewed and there are at least twenty-five more persons that should be requestioned. There have been three hundred and sixteen suspects fifty of whom have been arrested, (Not always charged with murder.) and later released. On the date of this report there are one hundred and seven remaining possible suspects after a definite elimination of two hundred and nine suspects. There have been nineteen suspects who have confessed to the murder of Elizabeth Short.”

The grand jury was presented with the material from the investigation and began their probe following the Brenda Allen prostitution case. Under jury foreman Harry Lawson, witnesses, detectives, investigators and others were interviewed. At the conclusion of the grand jury findings, a statement, shown in part below, was published:

Testimony given by certain investigation officers working this case was clear and well defined, while other officers showed apparent evasiveness. There was no sufficient time left to the jury to complete this investigation, and the Grand Jury recommends that the 1950 Grand Jury continue the probe.

The 1950 grand jury did not continue the probe.

The 1949 grand jury summary stated, “In the original part of the investigation it was found that due to the wide publicity given to this case, many acquaintances and friends of the victim were reluctant to tell all they knew about her.” “The LAPD records and reports indicate some stupidity and carelessness on the part of the more inexperienced officers who were working on the case from time to time, but as of this report dated October 28, 1949 there has not been found any indication of payoff, misconduct or concealment of facts on the part of any officers. ….It is the consensus of Officers Ed Barrett, Jack Smyre, F. A. Brown and the undersigned that there is insufficient evidence as of this date, October 28, 1949, upon which any suspect could now be brought to trial for the murder of Elizabeth Short.” – Frank B. Jemison, District Attorney files.

Many of the original findings from the LAPD investigation have since been taken as fact and have been expanded upon by theorists. The District Attorney’s investigation uncovered new information, which at times, disputed the LAPD conclusions. While the trail was growing cold by 1949, witnesses were still alive and available to investigators.

Though not all of the DA’s investigation has been published, the files remain in the custody at the District Attorney’s office. Included in these files are statements, interviews, photographs, and other documents that shed further light of the murder of Elizabeth Short.

Suspects and confessors seemed to multiply in number in the months and years after Elizabeth Short was killed. By December, 1948, according to the 1949 grand jury transcripts, 192 suspects had been eliminated from the investigation. In a November, 1951 newspaper interview, Detective Harry Hansen said there had been 33 confessions to the murder. The grand jury documents stated that Elizabeth Short knew at least 50 men at the time of her death. Testimony also indicated that her belongings included about 200 photographs of different men. There have been many leads through the years, most of which were investigated, but not all trails were followed to their end. Some suspects, or persons with information, as indicated by Frank Jemison in the 1949 grand jury, were never fully investigated. Time passed and a new crop of suspects, mostly introduced by amateur sleuths and writers, popped up. The Los Angeles Police Department still keeps track of the case and follows up on new leads, but not nearly as thoroughly as they did in 1947.

Chapter 33 ~ Leslie Dillon

Dr. de River is  “a full time civil employee of the Department; his rating is that of psychiatrist, created in 1936; that position was created. he’s a civil service full time employee of the City, civil employee like a stenographer or a civil employee would be in the Police Department.”

~ Arthur L. Veitch, Grand Jury Legal Adviser

* * *

Leslie Duane Dillon was born on July 4, 1921 in Ralston, Oklahoma. By the time he was 20 years old, he was six feet tall and weighed 135 pounds. He had a light complexion, with brown hair and blue eyes. He had a scar over his left eye.

* * *

Jack Sand (or Sands), alias Leslie Dillon, wrote a letter from Florida to Dr. J. Paul de River, LAPD psychiatrist, expressing his theory of the murder of Elizabeth Short. The two exchanged letters and eventually agreed to meet with each other in Las Vegas, Nevada. Dillon had a suspect, but de River thought Jack Sand made a good suspect.

In late December, 1948, Sergeant John J. “J. J.” O’Mara of the Los Angeles Police Department served undercover as Dr. de River’s chauffeur and body guard. O’Mara met de River at his home and drove with Lt. William Burns, the commanding officer of the Gangster Detail, to Las Vegas to meet up with Leslie Dillon. The three first met with Captain Kearney from the Homicide Squad in Las Vegas. After “around a day or a day and a half,” de River and O’Mara met Dillon, O’Mara said.

From there, de River, O’Mara and Dillon all drove to Briargate Lodge near Banning, California.  The impression was given that O’Mara was simply a driver and not connected with the police department.  Dr. de River would be interrogating Dillon, while O’Mara would act as chauffeur and “more or less as bodyguard,” O’Mara said.

During the drive to Briargate, O’Mara recalled that de River and Dillon were discussing embalming and bleeding. Dillon claimed he had worked at the Hahn Funeral Home in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1943. O’Mara remembered Dillon talked about bleeding a body prior to embalming by making an incision on the “upper thigh” and “inserting a tube to drain the blood.”

At Briargate Lodge, O’Mara had a room adjoining de River’s and Dillon had a room to himself. Kearney and Burns checked in, “I believe the next day,” O’Mara recalled. Kearney and Burns were there unbeknownst to Dillon.

At one point Dillon showed a picture of a woman that O’Mara described as the “Madonna.” He said “the picture of the woman had very attractive hair, you might say, as to Dillon’s idea of attractive hair.” O’Mara said Dillon became tense while the doctor viewed the picture.

“Well, there was one occasion, as I recollect, the doctor was questioning him on New Year’s Eve, it was extensive questioning and I was in the next adjoining room in the dark, watching through a crack in the door. In fact, I was supposed to be out of there at that time, it was supposed to be a discussion between the doctor and Dillon.  The doctor knew I was there,  but Dillon didn’t, and when the doctor was questioning him about various things, he became more and more progressively excited, at least he appeared to me to be, when this was actually a discussion of the picture of that Madonna I referred to, it’s kind of hard to explain, the doctor was studying the picture very intently, and I was looking in the light about the distance of myself to yourself, about that distance from me, and he got very peculiar look in his face. It’s hard to describe, it’s one of, – impression I got it was one of rage more or less, looked like he was about ready to pounce on the doctor, I know it sounds kind of silly, but he had an awful look on his face, his face contorted, and it was a look of rage on his face.”

O’Mara also remembered a conversation about Elizabeth Short and why the body would be cut in half. O’Mara said “there was some talk when he was discussing about the body, the incision, the cut through the body.” Dillon, according to O’Mara, said “the person would want to see how far his penis went into the person.”

After four or five days, the trio drove into Los Angeles. During the drive, Dillon talked of driving to San Francisco to  show Jeff Connors to de River. Instead, they continued on to L. A., where O’Mara said, “I noticed that he became increasingly apprehensive as we approached Los Angeles.”

Before reaching the city, the three of them stopped at the La Bonita Motel in El Monte for several days.  O’Mara said “it was headquarters, and listening post set up.” In order to avoid suspicion, O’Mara said, “There was a loose security.” Still, he believed that Dillon knew he was a suspect.  “- if he did fly we could pick him up immediately,” O’Mara said.

They left the motel one morning and drove towards Los Angeles, eventually stopping at Jiggs Moore’s trailer court, where Dillon had been previously. Dillon hurried out of the car when they arrived and rushed into the office and asked Moore to alter a date in his registration records. O’Mara did his best to follow Dillon without arousing suspicion.  O’Mara also noted that Dillon went to a phone booth and wrote down the payphone telephone number for himself.

After they left Jiggs Moore’s, they drove towards Dr. de River’s office in Hollywood. Dillon “volunteered the best way to get there was by going over La Brea -,” But O’Mara avoided La Brea. “I turned more or less on Crenshaw, on Crenshaw Boulevard;  I knew more or less where we were going.”  O’Mara said Dillon wanted to take them out of their way, but de River told him to turn off Crenshaw.

“So I turned off at Crenshaw Boulevard, and at that time I had no knowledge myself where the exact spot of where the body was found, I never worked the case, never had occasion to go over there, but as we turned, I believe it was on 39th Street, as I recall, and I started to turn up an alley way, and Jacks Sands or Dillon says, ‘You can’t get through that way.’ So I kept on going down to the next street, he says ‘That alley won’t get you through.’ So I went, proceeding near the Coliseum and Norton [intersection], and at the time, there was a little conversation about his denying the fact that he knew about being on Crenshaw Boulevard. At that time, it struck me awful funny that he knew what alley way didn’t go through.  Of course I was again the dumb chauffer.

They made their way to the site where Beth Short’s body was found. Dr. de River told O’Mara, “Pull over and park here.” Dillon and de River talked, while O’Mara “more or less hung in the background -.”

O’Mara said that Dillon became “very agitated, and the doctor says, ‘Do you recall now, this was where the body was found.’ As I recall, Dillon said, ‘What body do you mean? You mean the woman who was stomped and kicked?’ You might say off-hand – the other murder that happened in West Los Angeles, where a woman was kicked, at least there was footprints on the body, and the doctor’s conversation was, ‘You know what I mean, you know what body I mean.’ And Dillon was very – didn’t have much to say there. He was kind of more nervous than the average person would, in casual observation, if somebody told me that, I would say, ‘Are you accusing me?’ or something like that, he made no statement of that kind, he more or less appeared that he was becoming ill, at least that’s the impression I got, and we didn’t stay there very long, and we proceeded back to the motel, and the doctor began questioning him again en route to the motel, and when we were proceeding along, he wanted a drink, or had to go to the restroom, we stopped in a service station, got out at the service station, and he said something about wanting a Coke.  He felt very thirsty, we went over to the Coke machine, and he ordered a Coke, and as I recall, he didn’t drink it, he still appeared, well, very nervous. We got back to the car and drove, continued on to the motel, and one time there the doctor was questioning him, he manifested a peculiar thing, you might say, the doctor would question him and the questions were kind of tight, you might say, he had a habit of sticking his hand out through the wind wing and crowding over close to the door, now it would probably take a psychiatrist to explain why he did that.”

The trio eventually made their way to San Francisco in search of Jeff Connors, whom they never found. Dillon was agitated much of the time, according to Officer O’Mara. He was subsequently taken into custody outside San Francisco by Sgt. Bublichki, with O’Mara present. He observed that Dillon, “ – kind of sunk down, he relaxed -.” Omara said, “His reactions were one of a person that seemed to have slumped down in his seat.”

* * *

O’Mara concluded that Leslie Dillon was “- an individual that I have never seen the likes of before, and probably will never see again, if I may say so, he was – his facial expression would change and his temperaments would change very quickly and suddenly, he was very – I mean to a point of super cunning. I mean little things he did, in his conversations, the way he would shoot a few statements and he said something and watch your reactions, and he was – in other words, he was not a stupid person.  He was very, very clever in my opinion.  In other words, one you had to more or less spar with, box with, a person – reference came up one night about him wanting to sleep with me. A question of shortage of rooms, he said, ‘I’ll sleep with J. J.’ He got quite a laugh out of that, I wouldn’t  sleep with that fellow, not even in the same room, unless I was wide awake. I merely state that of what I think of the man. He’s not stupid in any sense of the word.”

* * *

Finis Brown first heard about a new suspect in the Black Dahlia murder when his partner Harry Hansen called him at home on January 10, 1949.  Brown was working nights on a special detail. Captain Kearney of Homicide directed the detectives to get downtown as soon as they could.  When  asked, “What’s up?” Kearney said, “Something pretty hot, how soon can you get down?”

Dillon was booked as a suspect on January 10, 1949 at the Highland Park station, north of downtown.  Lead detectives Finis Brown and Harry Hansen first questioned Dillon that evening. The next night, January 11, San Francisco police contacted the LAPD and informed them that they had located Jeff Connors.

In April, Sgt. Brown and Officer Barnes of the Gangster Squad went to the Bay Area to interview witnesses.  For almost a week, they talked with Phil Coponie, Shirley Anderson, a Mr. and Mrs. Ross, Bell Dugmas MacMerdo, Woody J. Wood and others. Although Brown had reservations concerning the caliber of witnesses, he said, “From all the reports that I have read – other officers and my own report would indicate that he was in San Francisco all during the time up until the 22nd of January, 1947.”

Brown also said, “There is apparently nothing else that we could do, be any more sure of other than the testimony of these people which we could expect as alibi witnesses for Dillon if he would ever be brought to trial.”

Dr. de River made recordings of his interviews with Dillon, where he questioned his suspect about the details of Elizabeth Short’s murder:

de River: What do you think the killer did with the hair he shaved off the private parts of the body of Elizabeth Short?”

Dillon: “I think the killer such as he was would probably have thrown the hair into a toilet and flushed it.”

de River: “What do you think a killer such as he was would do with the piece of flesh with the tattoo on it after he cut it off her thigh?”

Dillon: “Well, I think he would probably have thrown that down the toilet and flushed it.”

And on another recording:

deRiver: “You are the one who murdered Elizabeth Short.”

Dillon: “Dr. de River, the trouble with [this] is that you first reach your own conclusions about this case and then you try to dig up things to prove that your conclusions are correct.”

de River: “What do you think I am, a child?  What do you mean by talking to me that way? I’m a person who has been around.”

* * *

District attorney investigator Frank Jemison concluded in October, 1949,  in part, “the present administrators of the police department are of the opinion that there was an error made on the part of the preceding administrators when they assigned the Gangster Squad and Dr. Paul de River as Psychiatrist to investigate the Short murder.  They appear to be of the opinion that the Homicide Division officers should have had control over  it at all times.”

When members of the grand jury interviewed Sergeant Finis Brown in December, 1949, they asked about the Leslie Dillon investigation. “In a statement taken from Dillon–I am not certain which office told it–[Mark] Hansen partially identified the picture of Dillon and said he looked very much like a fellow who had been there five or six times to see Elizabeth Short.”

Brown replied in part, “Now, in the — in the investigation, Mr. Hansen and Miss Toth, both told of a man, described him as about six feet tall with light hair, driving a light colored Chevrolet coupe, thought he was a service man, picking Elizabeth Short up on several occasions while she lived at that address, at Hansen’s address. They stated they could not give a better description because they only saw the man from the house out to the sidewalk or out to the street, and on January the 19th after Dillon and Connors was in jail, I taken the pictures and showed hem to Mr. Hansen and asked him if he recalled, knew either one of the fellows or recalled the instant on which he told me about, and asked him if he could identify any of the pictures he had showed me there. He stated Dillon did look like the man, prominent view of the Adam’s apple, but he wanted to look at the man before he made an identification. Of course, at that time Dillon was released, and also I asked him if he ever knew the men. I also — Jeff Connors–I knew that he knew Jeff Connors because when it–we had the listening device in the house–Jeff Connors correct name is Artie Laine–his real correct name is Artie Loy. He uses the name of Artie Laine. His wife, Grace Allen, and him had had a separation, and she had come to Hansen’s house in regard to this separation and fight with her husband and he had come there looking for her and told–trying to talk to her. She had called officers, and officers went to her house where she was living with Laine on Camerford Street and picked up her belongings and they separated at that time, and I knew that Hansen had seen Jeff Connors and which he admitted he knew the man. When he picked out the pictures, he said he knew the man–that the man looked familiar.”

By the end of 1949, Finis Brown no longer believed that Dillon was a viable suspect, but he said the investigation was not complete, including the verification of Dillon’s work history and whereabouts at the time of the murder.  Dillon did have alibis supplied by witnesses, but they were not always convincing.

After his release, Dillon sued the city of Los Angeles, the police department and Dr. J. Paul de River for $100,000 for false arrest and damage to his reputation in the press.  The Dillon affair led, in part, to the grand jury investigation of the murder of Elizabeth Short.

In the end, Jemison, concluded:

“It is the consensus of Officers Ed Barrett, Jack Smyre, F.A. Brown and the undersigned that there is insufficient evidence as of this date, October 28, 1949, upon which any suspect could now be brought to trial for the murder of Elizabeth Short.”

Chapter 34 ~ The Aster Motel

On August 2, 1949, the Crime Lab went to the Aster Motel at 2901 South Flower Street and conducted chemical tests of all 10 cabins. Officers removed baseboards and thresholds from all the cabins in the search for blood residue. The tests were conducted by Chief Forensic Specialist, Ray Pinker. No blood was found, with the exception of one room where the manager said a woman had menstruated on a sheet and a few drops of blood were found on the floor.

* * *

By 1949, the investigation into the murder of Elizabeth Short turned to the possibility that she was murdered at the New Aster Motel on South Flower Street in Los Angeles. Both Homicide and the Gangster Squad worked on the case. Assistant Chief of Police Joe Reed was in charge. Lt. William Burns directed the Gangster Squad investigation, while Sgt. Finis Brown ran the homicide investigation. Sgt. John Ahern, Sgt. Archie Case, and L. K. Waggoner reported directly to Lt. William Burns of the Gangster Squad. Homicide detectives reported to Sgt. Brown. It was recognized by all officers that this case ultimately belonged to Homicide.

Leslie Dillon and Mark Hansen were the suspects.

Ahern was working with Sgt. Case when Case had an appendicitis attack and went to the hospital, not returning back to duty for almost two months. Ahern and Waggoner teamed up and researched Dillon’s background. They learned through a witness, James Hurst, who lived across the street from the motel, that Dillon had once lived at the Aster. Hurst also identified a photograph of Elizabeth Short as looking like a girl who lived at the Aster. He had seen her on at least two occasions and talked to her once when she asked him for a quarter for fare to Long Beach. He noted that she looked like she had been crying for a week. He asked her why she didn’t ask her friends at the motel for money and he said  she answered that they wouldn’t give her any. He ended up giving her fifty cents.

We were checking into the point where Dillon had lived; and in doing this, his mother-in-law told us he lived in a motel on Flower; and previously Tommy Harlow had said that he had built a motel on Flower Street for a friend of his named Hansen,” Ahern said. Early in the investigation, Dillon was said to have stayed at the Aster Motel in January, 1947, by witness Harlow. Later, the correct date was found to be in April, 1947.

Some also claimed that a guest known as the “man from Batavia” might have been Mark Hansen. A man, whose name they could not recall, took Burt and Betty Jo Moorman and their baby to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Betty Moorman identified the man they dined with as an oil man. Burt Moorman confused the oil man and the man from Batavia. Moorman was the brother of Clora Hoffman, who owned and operated the Aster with Henry Hoffman. According to witnesses, the man from Batavia identified himself as the representative of the Dutch Republic of Batavia and was in the United States for the purpose of purchasing heavy machinery for his country.

Ahern and Case brought Burt Moorman and Betty Moorman to Hollywood to watch Mark Hansen unobserved. Mr. Moorman was driven to Hollywood Boulevard first. He watched Hansen from an unmarked car for a few minutes. Later, Mrs. Moorman was taken to a restaurant near the Florentine Gardens where Hansen was known to dine. She observed him in the restaurant, noting that he used his left hand and ate in a wolfish manner, as had the man from the Aster.

At a later date, the Moormans and the Hoffmans were brought to Mark Hansen’s office at 6021 Hollywood Boulevard, where they were interviewed by Lt. Frank Jemison. Hansen was brought in for witnesses to observe from different angles, with and without a hat. The two men and two women gave conflicting testimony. At one point, Jemison asked Burt Moorman, “And even though it might mean the gas chamber for Mark Hansen for murder, you will still go into court and testify he was the man who took you to dinner?  Moorman answered, “Yes, I will.”

Eventually, the four were unable to positively identify Mark Hansen as the man from the Aster Motel.

* * *

Clora Hoffman told the officers that the police had been to the Aster soon after the murder of Elizabeth Short. After Mrs. Hoffman was interviewed, the report read, “Clora Hoffman stated that officers did come to the Aster Motel, 2901 South Flower Street, and inquire about a sergeant in the Army, and made inquiry about the Elizabeth Short deal a few days after the murder was committed.”

Ahern discovered that Mrs. Hoffman had found bloody clothes in one of the cabins at the motel, but had not mentioned it to the officers during the original investigation. Different witnesses were interviewed about the blood in the cabin, including the maid:  “Lila Durante stated there was a good sized spot of blood on the blouse front – a spot of blood on the tail end of the skirt, and the shorts like they have been used to wipe blood off the floor. The blood was located on the front part of the shorts.”

Clora Hoffman, since married, and using the name Clora Sartain, “Stated that the men’s shorts had blood over the front on the fly. Doesn’t remember blood being on the blouse. Described the skirt size: ‘I remember the skirt because it was so small. That is the reason I couldn’t figure out why it should have blood on it like that. The front of the shorts were covered with blood.’ Doesn’t remember how much was on the skirt.  It was all wrapped together in a bundle.”

Mrs. Sartain said Mr. Hoffman told her to burn the clothing, which she says she did. Ahern said, “She said there was blood on the mattress. She said that Hoffman found the room all messed up, and there was human feces all over the blood, that she came by to look in and Hoffman told her to go away, that there was too bad a mess there, and if she came in, she might be sick.  She said she looked in – there was fecal matter –  human feces.” She also said there were male foot prints and shoe prints in the feces.

Dr. Frederick Newbarr, the Chief County Autopsy Surgeon, said that Elizabeth Short’s stomach was full and that there was fecal matter in her lower intestine at the time of death. There was no indication that there was a loss of fecal matter.

The Moormans lived at the Aster from January 10 until January 17, 1947. Burt Moorman said that his wife told him about a big mess in one of the rooms. Mr. Moorman, who said he had worked in a mortuary and had drained blood from bodies, said there were two army blankets in the room, covered with caked blood.  Ahern remembered Moorman saying, “I thought the blood on this mattress would be what a human body would probably contain. It was that much.”

Ahern said, “He’s a very precise witness – this fellow Moorman. You can’t shake him on anything.  He is very determined about what he saw. He states he saw the blood covered on the blankets.” Later, “Moorman came home after the cabin had been cleaned and only knew about it from his wife telling him. He then went over and looked into the cabin. He said the smell there at that time was enough to drive you out, even though the cabin had been cleaned up.”

According to Ahern, Mr. Hoffman decided that he be the one to clean up the room. Normally, he did not clean the rooms. He also denied seeing any bloody blankets, but Carl Moorman insisted there were blankets. There was also disagreement over which cabin was in question. Mrs. Moorman said, “it was Cabin number 3.” There was also speculation that it could have been cabin 4, 5, or 6.

Some witnesses remembered a girl in cabin number 10 that fit the description of Elizabeth Short, but no one would make positive identification. They said the girl had black hair, was seen laying in her bed and sometimes she was seen outside begging for money from people at the motel.

Ahern said, “No one has identified her as knowing her previously.  I knew her as Betty Short. I know where she was. I know she was there.  We have lots of people saying here was a black-haired girl answering her description and her habits, but no one that puts her there by name, which was what we were trying to establish, if possible.” Investigators looked through the registration cards, but Mrs. Hoffman had destroyed many of them.

When a member of the grand jury asked Ahern if he thought Elizabeth Short was murdered at the Aster Motel, he replied, “I think it is very possible that she was. Yes, sir.  If you could just find one witness that could identify her – put her in that court – we could have something.  We just couldn’t seem to find somebody that could identify her and put her there.”

Chapter 35 ~ George and Dorothy Hodel

“- it is incredible to me that he should be in any way connected with it.”

Dr. George Hodel surfaced as a suspect in the Black Dahlia murder during the district attorney investigation. While it has not been proved positively that he ever knew Elizabeth Short, there are transcripts from investigators that make the case that the doctor and the victim did have contact with one another.

In February, 1950 investigators James F. McGrath and Walter Morgan placed Dr. Hodel under surveillance. They tailed him around town while he drove from location to location, meeting with different people, including his former wife, Dorothy Hodel. McGrath also contacted plumbers who had worked on Hodel’s house on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. They checked files and interviewed the manager of the H.A. Sonntag Company to see if he recalled what work was done and to see if he remembered seeing “any fresh diggings in the basement, or anything of an unusual nature.”

By the spring of 1950, George Hodel was being taken seriously as a suspect in the murder of Elizabeth Short.

* * *

Hodel’s second wife, Dorothy, was interviewed on March 22, 1950 by Frank Jemison at her home on the Santa Monica Pier. George and Dorothy were divorced in 1945, but were always on friendly terms, she said. She was raising their three sons at the time.

Jemison said, “I will now show you a photograph of Beth Short, Santa Barbara No. 11419 and ask you  whether or not you have ever seen that young lady in your life?” Dorothy replied, “No, I never have.” When she was asked if her former husband had ever said, “They can’t pin that murder on me,” she said, ” – to the best of my knowledge he didn’t and doesn’t know her.”

Jemison also asked, “Has anybody ever told you that Dr. George Hodel had Beth Short over to his home?” Dorothy answered, “No.” Jemison said, “For your information the photograph has been identified by certain persons as resembling the young lady that was over to his house prior to the murder.”

He continued to press his case with Dorothy, asking her to come forth with any information that might be helpful, but she insisted that she had no reason to believe that Hodel could have been involved. She told Jemison that, “I know he has never practiced surgery. His branch of medicine is V.D. generally and administrative medicine.”

At one point, Dorothy said to Jemison, “I have nothing to tell you that would bear out any idea you may have that he did this.  All I know is that he is not the sort of man that would psychologically be the kind to do it.  He has a fine record as a doctor and is a dedicated man.  He has never had a fashionable practice.  He could have had.  He is a man that really cares about medicine, not of earning money, but it is incredible to me that he should be in any way connected with it.”

Jemison asked several questions concerning the Biltmore Hotel and whether Dorothy had been there with him, knew that he had dined there with “other women” or if she knew that at one point he stayed there. She said the Biltmore was a “central location” and that they had been there together for lunch and possibly dinner. She thought he might have stayed there when he was between apartments at the time the “three-day law in effect.” This was the same law that may have caused Beth to move from residence to residence at different times.

Towards the end of the interview, Jemison said, “Let me advise you that we do have information that he did associate with Beth Short and as you know the last place she was seen alive was at the Biltmore Hotel in the evening of January 9, 1947.”

Chapter 36 ~ Carl Balsiger

Of all the suspects in the murder of Elizabeth Short, Carl Balsiger held a unique place. He knew two murder victims, both attractive young women.

H. Carl Balsiger, son of Herman C. Balsiger of Kansas City, Missouri, was born on June 16, 1916. In 1940, he enlisted in the U.S. army as a private. At the time, he was a salesman. He was 6 feet tall and weighed 181 pounds.

Carl Balsiger was a fellow student of Leila Adele Welsh in Kansas City. Both Balsiger and Welsh attended college. Balsiger entered the service as a post graduate. Welsh, born in 1917, was a student at the University of Kansas City. She was also a beauty contest winner and a sorority sister in Sigma Pi Alpha and a member of the student council.

In 1941, Leila Welsh, 24 years old, was murdered in her bedroom in the family home. Her brother, George W. Welsh, Jr., born in 1916, was the number one suspect in her brutal murder. He was tried and acquitted.

Newspapers covered the story of the murder and the subsequent trial for months. Welsh came from a prominent family and her murder shocked the community. She was found brutally beaten with a track chisel, causing multiple fractures to her head. Her throat had been slashed from ear to ear with a seven inch knife, later found outside her bedroom. A piece of flesh from her right hip was removed and later found outside the home.

At the height of the investigation, 40 police officers and 20 deputy sheriffs worked the case around the clock. Hundreds of people were interviewed and many clues were discovered, but no one was found guilty of the murder. At the trial of Leila’s brother, “The crowd was so great at the preliminary hearing for George W. Welsh, jr., in Kansas City yesterday,” newspapers reported, “that he was forced to enter the courthouse through a window.”

* * *

Carl Balsiger was at Camp Cooke in California at the time Elizabeth Short worked in the post Exchange. According to the Los Angeles district attorney, Balsiger was interviewed on January 20, 1947 concerning the murder of Short. On January 24, when Elizabeth Short’s personal belongings were sent to newspapers, the police found a folded piece of paper in her address book with Balsiger’s name. The Los Angeles district attorney noted, “It was established that this suspect on two occasions had given different women vicious beatings apparently for no good reason…”

It was also reported by the D. A. that George Welsh, Leila Welsh’s brother, was in Los Angeles at the time that Elizabeth Short was murdered. It was not established that Welsh and Short knew each other.

Carl Balsiger told authorities that he met Elizabeth Short at a real estate office on Sunset Strip in Hollywood on December 6, 1946 and that he gave her a ride to Camarillo, where, “he made a sale of supplies to a baker,” according to the D.A. report. He later returned to Hollywood, where he found her a room for the night on Yucca Avenue. Detectives were unable to discover a hotel registration on Yucca under the name Balsiger. The suspect said he later dropped her at a bus depot in Hollywood, where she told him she would catch a bus to San Francisco to visit with her sister.

Balsiger originally said he spent one day and one night with Elizabeth, but later said he was with her until December 8, according to Detective Finis Brown, who flew to Missouri to question Balsiger and give him a lie detector test.

* * *

In October, 1949, the parents of Jane Ellen Moyer announced the December wedding of their daughter to H. Carl Balsiger. The bride to be was a graduate of the University of Nebraska and the University of Iowa law school. Her future husband was a graduate of the University of Kansas.

Years later, in 1966, Carl Balsiger was vice president and secretary of North Central Fire and Causality Insurance Company in Minnesota. At the time, a scandal erupted when $750,000 dollars was missing.

The Minnesota attorney general asked for an investigation of the missing assets. Carl Balsiger “attempted to withdraw $325,000 from Northwestern National Bank in Minneapolis,” newspapers reported.

Previously, $750,000 had been withdrawn from the Minnesota bank and deposited in Las Vegas banks. The transfer happened one day after Kansas City, Missouri investors purchased the company. Newspapers speculated that a higher interest rate in Nevada may be the reason for the transfer of funds. Vice President Balsiger had no comment.

* * *

Carl Balsiger, as was the case with other suspects in the murder of Elizabeth Short, was eventually forgotten by the public, but he remains the man who knew two savagely killed young women. Many questions remain unanswered and many questions remain unasked.

Chapter 37 ~ Citizens Committee

Document from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Black Dahlia files:

May 18, 1949

With reference to the Elizabeth Short, (Black Dahlia) case reopened in the press January 14 1947.  The following allegations seem to constituent reasonable grounds for a re-opening of the investigation of this case.

On January 14, 1947, at about 10.30 A.M., on my way to work; was walking West on the South side of Hollywood Blv’d between El Centro and Vista Del Mar Streets.  Opposite parking lot located between Hotel and the Undertaking Parlor, noted girl approaching, (walking East). This person when first seen was directly in front of Undertaking Parlor on the south-east corner of Hollywood Blvd and Vista Del Mar. She was manifestly disturbed and by her manner suggested an angry mood.  As she neared me she looked back once or twice.  Her pace was moderately fast.  First impression was of a so-called “party girl” on a “call” or a girl just going home from an all-night party.  This impression was sustained by her apparel, unusual even for Hollywood Blvd at 1030 A.M.

Thinking that she was headed for the Hotel nearby, a Hotel ordinarily occupied by wrestlers and Boxers and similar persons, tyrned[sic] and watched her after she passed expecting to see her enter this hotel.  On the contrary, she passed the Hotel and continued walking East until she reached Gower Street.  Having some years previously known of a certain house on Carlos Avenue, a street running West from Franklin Avenue and intersecting Gower one block north of Hollywood Blvd, we watched to see if she would turn in that direction.  Reaching the corner of Hollywood Blvd and Gower, she crossed Hollywood Blvd to the North side, then turned East at Gower on the East side of the street, and turned North on Gower and was lost to sight.  At this point, our opinion was that she might be heading for the house on Carlos Avenue , and if so, could be one of the girls frequenting the place.  The girl is described as follows:

White American, about 5’7″, 120 Lbs, 20-25 yrs, Well Formed, Dark hair worn rather long, white or light-colored flower worn in hair on the right side, also some sort of pin or other jewelry.

Attire: Light-colored, about knee-length coat of light weight cloth, worn open.  Black silk or other glossy material dress with ruffled hem.  Light colored hose.  High-heeled, open type, black colored shoes.

No bag. carried balled-up handkerchief in one hand.

The following evening, and for some time afterwards, various Los Angeles newspapers carried physical descriptions of Elizabeth Short together with her photograph.  Whether or not, the girl here reported was Miss Short, she did answer her general description.  Certain odd circumstances brought out by police investigations of the case influenced a telephonic report to the police in which the entire set of circumstances was reported to the Homicide detail.  These circumstances folllow:

There is a certain house on Carlos Avenue about one block east of Gower on the south side of the street.  This house a frame, California Bungalow type residence, has for some time been reported as a resort for Lesbians, Homo-sexuals of both sexes, Bi-Sexuals and other so-called “queers.”  In 1936, and at other times the house has been the residence of Lesbians and has been investigated by the Vice Division of the Hollywood Precinct.  This property, directly in the rear of the Marcal Theater on Hollywood Blvd is owned by Mr. Mark Hansen, likewise owner of the Marcal Theatrer.  It is alleged that Mr. Hansen is himself a person with abnormal sexual desires and that he consorted with Lesbians in this house.  Also, it is reported that the operator of the “N.T.G.” Theater and Night-Club is similarly perverted, and is an associate of Mark Hansen.  Newspaper accounts of the Elizabeth Short case infer that people of this type may have committed the crime.

With regards to this house, one may pass directly into the rear of the Marcal Theater, through a gate in the fence at the rear of the lot.  Also, on Carlos Avenue, access to the N.T.G., theater and the building west of it may be had by entering the parking lot in the rear of these buildings from Carlos Avenue.  Examination of these premises will disclose that all of these locations occupy a readily inter-communicable area by which persons may pass to and fro without detection.

One of these adjacent properties, is a building formerly occupied by a meat market, now occupied by a foreign car agency.  At the time of the murder of Miss Short, this building was vacant, and open through a door in the rear leading from the parking lot above described as the building on Hollywood immediately west of the “N.T.G.” theater.  An alley leading from the parking lot to Hollywood Blvd separates the two building.  With regards to this former meat market, it contained at the northwest corner, near the rear door leading to the parking lot, an enclosure used by the meat market for dressing meat.  This arrangement consists of an area enclosed on four sides by cement walls about three inches above the general floor level and its central portion, also concrete contained a drain.  Passing out of the door in the rear of this market, there is a large incinerator with a sizable iron door standing over near the fence at the rear of the Carlos Avenue house.  At the rear of the “NTG” theater is another.

About two days following the news reports concerning Miss Short, the facts concerning our alleged observations of a girl very similar to her in dress and general appearance on Hollywood Blvd, at about 10.30 A.M. on January 13, 1947 was reported in full to the Los Angeles Police.  Subsequently, news reports were published with regards to a certain note-book bearing the name of Mark Hansen that had been found in her effects and that Mr Hansen had admitted knowing the girl and giving her the note-book.  It was also reported that Miss Short had lived at the Carlos Avenue house.  Further, that  some persons had reported seeing a girl of her dress and description in a small grey coupe in the neighborhood of Hollywood & Vine.  Another call was made to the Police detailing information regarding Mark Hansen.

Recalling the reputation of the Carlos Avenue address, we walked past the house and noted a small grey coupe parked in the drive.  Checked with the MVD, this coupe was found to be registered to Mark Hansen at that address.  Continued past the house about 75 feet to a gate in a cement wall enclosing the parking lot in the rear of the meat market and the NTG theater and entered the area through this gate.  Then about 2.00 p.m., in the afternoon the place was utterly deserted.  Walked over to the rear of the meat market and opened the incinerator door.  Evidence of recent use was manifested by the presence of unidentifiable burned fragments in the bottom.  Then entered market through rear door and found previously described meat dressing area.  Considerable junk both metallic and other littered area in rear of building.  Left building by rear door, turned right in the alley between this marked and NTG Theater.  About halfway down alley to Hollywood Blvd, turned to look back and discovered Mr. Mark Hansen, peering out of a door in the rear of the NTG, as he was obviously watching me, and no doubt had been for some time, continued to Hollywood Blvd, turned to the right in front of the market.  Out of sight of Mr. Hansen, watched him open the door and cross alley towards the incinerator at the rear of the market.

(This too was reported to the Police).

This report is not an accusation of Mr. Hansen or of any other person but a true account of facts.  Whether or not anyone in or about the Carlos Avenue House, NTG, or the meat market committed the crime, is not known.  Circumstances, brought the name of Mark Hansen into the case; the girl was known to him, had occupied the Carlos Avenue House.  The house was a known resort of Queers, we thought that we saw Miss Short heading towards the Carlos Avenue address. To suggest possibilities:  The girl may have become involved in an altercation with one of the Queers or Lesbians over a mutual friend, murdered, her body taken into the meat market and dismembered, her affects burned in the incinerator, and her corpse transported via an automobile from  the parking lot to where it was found.  It is only a few blocks from this location to Van Ness Blvd.  From descriptions of the condition of the body when it was found, we feel that the crime might have been committed by a Lesbian or other such.  At night, the areas herein described are utterly deserted and unlighted.

Chapter 38 ~ 23 Clues

At approximately 5:30 p.m. on January 24, 1947, Postal Inspector Wood telephoned police investigators and informed them that an open ended envelope with paste-up letters, addressed to “Los Angeles Examiner and other Los Angeles papers” had been received at Terminal Annex in downtown Los Angeles. The envelope also read, “Here is Dahlia’s Belonging. Letter to Follow.” After authorities were contacted, several Los Angeles newspapers were informed.

The envelope was opened in the presence of Postal Inspectors Wood and Green, Homicide detectives Brown and Cummings, Sgt. Wheeler of the fingerprint unit and several representatives from local newspapers.

The envelope had been soaked in gasoline or kerosene and 23 items were discovered inside, all personal property of murder victim Elizabeth Short. The contents included,

(1) Western Union Telegram regarding missing trunk shipped via R.E.A..

(2) Railway Express Agency Express receipt, dated 6/1/46.

(3) Part of sales slip printed in ink, Pacific Outdoor Advertising Co.

(4) Business card, Pacific Outdoor Advertising Company.

(5) Business card for A.D. Brix

(6) Business card for E.A. “Jack” Kleinan. House of Hollywood Realtor.

(7) Typewritten Social Security card, signed “Elizabeth Short” in green ink.

(8) Piece of notebook paper with Jimmy Harrigan’s Army base phone number.

(9) A torn piece of notepaper with Carl Balsiger’s phone number.

(10)  Notebook leaf printed in pencil “Jimmy Bifulco.”

(11) Scrap of paper with”Wayne Gregg” written in ink.

(12) I.D. card “Elizabeth Short,” in case of emergency, contact P.M. Short.

(13) Abstract of record registry, City of Boston, “Elizabeth Short, daughter of…”

(14) Card, Hollywood Wolves Association with member, Chet Montgomery.

(15) Business card for Brandt Orr, Dressen Realty Company, with personal note.

(16) A Pacific Greyhound Lines parcel claim check, stamp dated January 9.

(17) 1 small snapshot of an aviator and a girl in cockpit of a plane.

(18) 1 small snapshot of a girl in black fur jacket, black hat, buildings in background.

(19) Photo of man in army uniform, standing near tree, frame house in background.

(20) Small snapshot of victim and a man.

(21) Small snapshot, aviator in flying suit and parachute, standing in front of plane.

(22) Woman dressed in riding habit standing beside a horse.

(23) One black address and telephone book with “Mark Hansen” in gold letters.

Chapter 39 ~ Myth

Where does Elizabeth Short fit in Hollywood lore today? To those who know little of her, she may have been a woman of loose morals or a prostitute who was killed years ago in a sex slaying. For others, she was a beautiful, young aspiring actress, the victim of a terrible murder. To others still, she was a sponger, a teaser that stuck men with the tab and was eventually made to pay for her sins. To her family and many who knew her, she was simply a nice girl.

In the days and weeks following her death, investigators and journalists asked everyone they could find who knew Elizabeth Short to describe her. One newspaper article said, “although she spent long hours in the night spots, barmen recalled that she usually ordered soft drinks.”

* * *

The young women who knew Beth Short usually spoke well of her. Anne Toth called her “Young and tender” and said “we used to think the world of that kid.” In San Diego, Dorothy French recalled, “There was something so sorrowful about her ~ she seemed lost and a stranger to the area, and I felt I wanted to help her.”

But others did not think well of her. Mark Hansen said that “she picked up with bums.” Harry Hansen called her a tease.

She sponged off Mary Unkefer in Santa Barbara and Mark Hansen in Hollywood and the French family in San Diego. She asked Red Manley for a ride to Los Angeles. Syd Zaid let her stay at his home. Bill Robinson and Marvin Margolis let her stay at their apartment. Anne Toth found her a room at the Chancellor and borrowed a car to move her. Gordon Fickling put her up in Long Beach and Hollywood. Carl Balsiger found her a room in Hollywood on Yucca Street. Glen Kearns tried to find a place, but failed and took her back to Mark Hansen’s, where she had already been thrown out. She accepted money, rides and places to sleep. She borrowed Anne Toth’s beige coat when she left for San Diego. Perhaps, Anne did the most. “-I helped her move before. I did an awful lot for that girl-.”

And she lied to almost everyone. She lied to her mother about working in San Diego. She lied to the Frenches about working for Western Airlines. She lied to Anne Toth and Mark Hansen about going to Oakland and Berkeley. She lied to Red Manley about meeting her sister at the Biltmore and about never having been to Los Angeles before. She told Mark Hansen that she worked at the cafe in the Burbank airport, and according to Anne, “- she was working all the time that she lived at Mark’s house, she was supposed to be working. She went to work in the morning and came back at night like she did.” “I just assumed that she was working at Western Airlines where she said she was. After all, you got to believe some things some people say.” Despite her shortcomings, most of those who knew her seemed to like her and care about her.

* * *

Elizabeth Short has become a  mythological character over time and is probably as misunderstood now as she was when she roamed the streets of Hollywood. Boardner’s, an old Black Dahlia hangout, wouldn’t allow her photo to be displayed years ago. The Biltmore Hotel, however, celebrates her life and death with a cocktail named after her and a framed portrait of her hangs on a lobby wall. The old haunts around Hollywood are disappearing. The neighborhoods that she knew so well have changed so much that she would find it difficult to recognize them today.

Tempus fugit.

Chapter 40 ~ A Typical Day


Too much time has passed and too many witnesses are gone to accurately reconstruct a typical day in the life of Elizabeth Short in Hollywood in 1946, but we can imagine what might have been:

Before she returned to her apartment that evening, Beth walked through the front door of Musso and Frank’s on Hollywood Boulevard and made her way to the back of the restaurant and stepped into a telephone booth. She closed the door, dropped her nickel in the slot and dialed GR-9953. When the salesgirl at the other end of the line answered, she asked if they had the medicine she needed. When the girl said yes, Beth said she would be in for it the next day.

It was a short walk from the rear entrance of Musso-Frank to the sidewalk on Cherokee and up the hill to her apartment at the Chancellor. Back in her room on the top floor, Beth dyed her hair again while her roommates prepared to turn in for the night.  It was early December and Hollywood was starting to get ready for Christmas.

She woke up late the next day, dressed, put on her make-up and fixed her hair, said goodbye to her roommate Marion and then walked down the hall from room 501 to the elevator. She pulled the metal safety gate aside, entered and pulled the gate shut and waited for the door to close, then pushed the button for the lobby.  The elevator descended without a stop, and she entered the lobby and walked outside to the street.

Beth dressed well, as usual, wearing a new pair of Nylons and a favorite pair of shoes. She walked south on Cherokee to Yucca Street. She looked both ways and then crossed the street and turned left. It was a pleasant fall day and she glanced at the old houses along the street until she reached Whitley Avenue. She crossed Whitley and turned south towards the Boulevard. On the corner, Beth stopped for a moment and looked at the new magazines at the Whitley newsstand. She stared at the sinister cover of Inside Detective without picking it up. “Jealous Enough to Kill,” the headline said. After a bit, she turned left onto Hollywood Boulevard and glanced at the fresh produce facing the sidewalk at the Hollywood Market. She was hungry, but she didn’t have much money, so she headed on towards Vine to her favorite drugstore.

As she walked along, she saw the theater marquees of the Hollywood Music Hall at Hudson and the Warner at Wilcox. She wanted to see the new Alan Ladd movie, but it wasn’t showing on the Boulevard any longer. She passed Ben’s Smoke Shop on the way to Cahuenga Boulevard and she heard a car horn honk for her, but she didn’t look over. She was used to the sound of car horns, but she wasn’t interested today. She passed an acquaintance, Paul Burke, a young actor who tended bar at the Florentine Gardens in the Zanzibar Room.  He stopped her briefly and asked if she’d seen the new John Payne movie, “Wake Up and Dream.”  “It just opened last week. I had a small part in it,” he told her. She congratulated him, smiled and then continued her walk.  A newsboy was yelling out headlines to automobiles on the corners, but paused to watch her pass by.

When she reached the corner at Cahuenga, Beth crossed the street and walked east on the south side. The sun was not as bright and she window-shopped at Macy Jewelry on the corner and later at Lucy’s and Chandler Shoes. She passed Thrifty Drug Store at Ivar, where Martin Townsend, fresh out of the service, was jerking sodas. When she got to Vine she walked through the main floor of the Broadway Hollywood and looked at ladies gloves and handbags. They were too expensive for her, but she enjoyed looking. She walked out the Vine Street door and passed Mike Lyman’s restaurant to see if she knew anyone there. She was hungry by now, and if she ran into someone she knew, she might be invited for lunch. She didn’t recognize anyone and continued to walk down Vine, past the Lux Radio Playhouse and Mom’s Hot Dogs, towards Selma. She crossed Selma and headed towards one of her favorite places, Tom Breneman’s, where most of the staff knew her. When she got to Thrifty’s, she noticed a few Christmas advertisements in the window and then went in. Inside, the sales clerk, Jean Knudsen, remembered her telephone call from the night before and knew what she wanted. Beth had asked for something to “help me stop biting my finger nails.” She paid Mrs. Knudsen and thanked her.

Beth checked the seams on her Nylons and went back outside and walked across Vine near the NBC Radio City studios and up towards Hollywood Boulevard. She passed the Brown Derby and Owl Drugstore and waited for the signal to change and a streetcar to pass. Then, she crossed to the north side of the street. She noticed that Ken Murray’s Blackouts was still playing at the El Capitan up on Vine. On the opposite corner, she saw people were bustling in and out of Melody Lane.

The light changed, and as she made her way across Vine, another driver honked at her and she heard a wolf whistle. She ignored the car and stepped up on the curb and continued on down the Boulevard towards home. She had a few postcards and letters to mail at the post office on Wilcox, but otherwise, she had no plans for the day. Several ideas crossed her mind as she walked along. She might stop at Bradley’s 5 and 10 for a Coke and run into some friends. Or, she might stop at the Cherokee Building first and see if Dr. Faught was in. She was still hungry, so she considered stopping by Steve Boardner’s. She met some servicemen there before, and if she saw them again, they might offer to treat her to lunch.

It was a pleasant fall day in December in Hollywood and Beth had no plans.