In 1947, a gruesome murder in California sent shockwaves across the globe. The Black Dahlia murder, as it became known, sent chills down the spine of all who knew of it. This was partly due to the horrific details of the crime, in combination with the fact that the killer was never caught – until now.
Elizabeth Short was just 22-years-old when she met her terrifying fate. The aspiring actress’ body was found severed in two halves in a vacant lot in Los Angeles. Hauntingly, her corpse was entirely drained of blood and her mouth was cut into a sinister smile. The police knew they had a savage murderer in the area, but corruption in the department would mean that the culprit would never be apprehended. Short’s body appeared to have been posed by the killer, who had sickeningly placed her arms behind her head and spread her legs open wide. However, under closer inspection, the murder got impossibly more heinous. A portion of skin, that bore a rose tattoo had been cut from Short’s thigh and stuffed into her genitals. Not only that, but her pubic hair had been cut away and grimly pushed into her rectum and human feces were found inside her stomach. Her entire body was badly beaten and covered in cuts, bruises and cigarette burns. Rope marks around her wrists, ankles and neck seemed to suggest that the young beauty had been tied up prior to her death – investigators at the time thought she could have been tied down and tortured for days. It is not entirely clear when Short succumbed to death, with examiners suggested that she could have been alive when the murderer began to cut her in half, just above the waist. Short’s face was beaten and cut beyond recognition, making identification of the corpse a problem. However, officers hit the jackpot when the corpse’s fingerprints matched those of a young girl who had been arrested in 1943 for underage drinking whilst in the company of soldiers in Santa Barbara. They identified the body as Elizabeth Short, but they were yet to unmask the killer, or his motives. The police began their investigation by learning every detail of Short’s private life. They deciphered that the young girl was an aspiring actress, who was familiar with men. According to a police report, “This victim knew at least 50 men at the time of her death and at least 25 men had been seen with her in the 60 days preceding her death.” However, it transpired that Short would not sleep with these men. Instead, she would claim to be married, engaged, or a virgin. She simply used men for places to stay, rides, clothes, food and money. Short would frequently wear a two-piece outfit which revealed her bare midriff and “black lacy things”. This attire was incredibly risky for the 1940s, prompting the media to dub her a “man crazy delinquent” and a “prowling temptress.” However, it would now ironically appear that Short’s refusal to engage in sexual intercourse that would be her downfall… Short made a fatal connection shortly before he death when she met 55-year-old, Mark Hansen. Hansen, a powerful Hollywood figure, owned dozens of movie theaters which he used as bait to lure in young girls who craved stardom. (Sound familiar?) Hansen also owned the Florentine Gardens, a club on Hollywood Boulevard, which often put on “girly shows” and hosted illegal gambling events in an underground room. He was a dangerous man who, on the surface, appeared to have a “legitimate business” but in reality, he was a key figure in the “LA underworld.” Hansen operated as a casting agent, where “would-be Hollywood hopefuls were groomed for semi-nude careers both on and off the dance floor.” So, it was inevitable that Short, an aspiring actress, would cross paths with the entertainment mogul. Sure enough in October 1946, just a few months before her death, she did. But, it wasn’t Hansen that killed her… Hansen attempted to seduce Short, but she refused his advances for 10 days by claiming to be a virgin. Eventually, a fed up Hansen expelled Short and her friend from his house. But, Hansen would never forget being humiliated by the young beauty. Meanwhile, a chief police psychiatrist was beginning to work on a plan to trap the killer. Dr. Joseph Paul De River expertly seduced the killer out of hiding with a tactical trap that the brutal murder couldn’t resist. De River planted an article in a magazine, laden with words to tempt the killer to contact him. It was De River’s view that the killer had a “deep-seated compulsion to publicize and claim recognition for his act” and would need to “boast” about his crime. He was right. In October 1948 a letter arrived at the police department. The letter was signed off by a man named “Jack Sand”, who claimed to know the killer. Sand offered to help the police track the killer down. De River met with “Jack Sand”, who actually turned out to be Leslie Dillon, the true killer. Dillon knew unpublicized details about the murder that only the murderer would know. Not only that, but he had also worked in a mortuary meaning that he knew how to drain a corpse of blood and how to expertly cut flesh. In addition to that, he was an errand boy for Mark Hansen. Sickeningly, Dillon suggested to De River that Short’s body had been sliced in half so that the murder could see how far his penis penetrated the female body. This prompted De River to ask Dillon to drop his trousers, which he begrudgingly obliged to do, revealing a “juvenile penis … typical of an eight-year-old boy”. From this, the police department were able to determine two motives. Firstly, they concluded Hansen had told Dillon to get rid of Short, after he became tired of her asking for money without realizing that Dillon was psychopathic. On the other hand, they thought that Dillon could have acted alone after Short mocked him for his small penis – in one of Dillon’s letters he claimed the killer acted because he “had been mocked” and “threatened exposure by her to his friends”. The LAPD were convinced that they had their killer. However, just as they began to make headway with the case, a complication arose. In the summer of 1949, the LAPD became embroiled in “the biggest scandal of its history” when they were revealed to have been part of a cover-up operation, involving none other than Mark Hansen. Dillon was allowed to walk free and a campaign began to suppress information from reaching the media. Dr. De River was harassed for his involvement and newspapers were stopped from printing the truth. Even in modern times, writers and researchers have been terrified of revealing what really happened. That was until Piu Eatwell released her book Black Dahlia, Red Rose: The Crime, Corruption, and Cover-up of America’s Greatest Unsolved Murder, in which she makes the shocking claims which she hopes will close the case forever more. Still intrigued? This video will help answer any questions you may have about the greatest murder mystery in American, and possibly world, history!
More From this publisher : HERE