Elizabeth Short Murder

The Black Dahlia murder has been a baffler. It is the most infamous unresolved homicide in LAPD history. But the solution to the Dahlia murder has been “there” for LAPD Homicide and the LA public for more than a half-century. This is a paradox with a simple explanation: the solution was shrouded in black symbolism, abstruse encryption, plus a plethora of reportage.

On January 15, 1947 a housewife named Betty Bersinger left her home on Norton Avenue in the Leimert Park section of Los Angeles, bound for a shoe repair shop. She took her three-year-old daughter with her and as they walked along the street, coming up on the corner of Norton and 39th, they passed by several vacant lots that were overgrown with weeds. She couldn’t help but feel a little depressed as she looked out over the deserted area. Development had been halted here, thanks to the war, and the open lots had been left looking abandoned and eerie. Betty felt slightly disconcerted and then shrugged it off, blaming her emotional state on the gray skies and the cold, dreary morning.

As she walked a little further along, she caught a glimpse of something white over in the weeds. She was not surprised. It wasn’t uncommon for people to toss their garbage out into the vacant lot and this time, it looked as though someone had left a broken department store mannequin here. The dummy had been shattered and the two halves lay separated from one another, with the bottom half lying twisted into what was admittedly a macabre pose. Who would throw such a thing into an empty lot? Betty shook her head and walked on, but then found her glance pulled back to the ghostly, white mannequin. She looked again and then realize that this was no department store dummy at all — it was the severed body of a woman! With a sharp intake of breath and a stifled scream, she took her daughter away from the gruesome site and ran to a nearby house. From here, she telephoned the police.


The call was answered by Officers Frank Perkins and Will Fitzgerald, who arrived within minutes. When they found the naked body of a woman who had been cut in half, they immediately called for assistance. The dead woman, it was noted, seemed to have been posed. She was lying on her back with her arms raised over her shoulders and her legs spread in an obscene imitation of seductiveness. Cuts and abrasions covered her body and her mouth had been slashed so that her smile extended from ear to ear. There were rope marks on her wrists, ankles and neck and investigators later surmised that she had been tied down and tortured for several days. Worst of all was the fact that she had been sliced cleanly in two, just above the waist. It was clear that she had been killed somewhere else and then dumped in the vacant lot overnight. There was no blood on her body and none of the ground where she had been left. The killer had washed her off before bringing her to the dump site.

The horrible nature of the case made it a top priority for the LAPD. Captain John Donahoe assigned his senior detectives to the case, Detective Sergeant Harry Hansen and his partner, Finis Brown. Shortly after receiving the fingerprints, the FBI had a match for the L.A. detectives. The victim of the brutal murder was Elizabeth Short, a 22 year-old woman who originally came from Massachusetts. During World War II, she had been a clerk at Camp Cooke in California, which explained why her fingerprints were on file. Elizabeth Short was an aspiring actress who usually dressed entirely in black. Thanks to her nice figure and attractive face, men easily noticed her. Her hair was black and her skin pale, providing a striking contrast and a look that got her noticed, even in Hollywood, where good-looking dames were a dime a dozen.



Short hailed from Medford, Massachusetts. She quit school at age 16 and became a drifter. During the last four years of her life, she floated from Massachusetts through California, through Florida through Indiana, and into Chicago where she boarded a train and rode to the Union Pacific station in Los Angeles. Soon after her 1946 arrival in LA, Elizabeth was tagged “the Black Dahlia.” Her moniker was earned because of her raven locks, penchant for wearing black, intriguingly obsessive behavior and the release of Raymond Chandler’s The Blue Dahlia as a motion picture.


Published by Mithun Sundaresh

A realist, tech junkie, foodie, blogger and a filmmaker. That's what defines me. I'm a very confused man and I'm in constant search for answers, answers for questions that plague me every single moment. I'm not the regular guy that people might interpret me to be. I live in my dreams - some good, some bad. I want to be a filmmaker one day. I want to tell stories to the world, stories that I myself don't have an idea of as of now but deep inside I know, I have something to share. I seriously think life is no different than a dream, and sooner or later we're all going to wake up. But until then it's always wise to do what's most crucial - LOVE YOUR LIFE.

Join the Conversation


  1. There was more to the brutality..

    A chunk of her leg was taken and put into her vagina I am pretty sure.

  2. Wow..This Is One Of The Most Disgusting Yet Fascinating Murder Ever. This Guy Had To Be Pretty Intelligent.

  3. They believe Steve Hodel killed her. Theres a man in prison whos been there for about 60 yrs. He said he committed the crime but ppl believe it was Steve Hodel.

  4. Whoever this sick fuck is must have paid bigtime for it. If he/she’s still alive may GOD have mercy on his/her soul.

  5. I don’t think it was a leg.. Actually it was a tatoo that she had on her thigh. She had a heart tatoo and they cut that piece of skin off and stuck it up her vagina? What a crazy mind..

  6. To correct Steph
    Steve Hodel was apart of the LAPD for around twenty five years. he wrote a book regarding the Black Dahlia entitled The Black Dahlia Avenger. He belives his father George Hill Hodel murder Elizabeth and was responsible for numerous other murders in the LA around around the same time. I highly recommend reading it.

  7. omg thats so disgusting, i cant believe they never found out who was responsible….may the perp burn in an eternity of hell.

  8. There is a lot of myth that followed this murder but the truth is that it was indeed George Hodel who killed her and all of the evidence is undeniable. George was a high society surgeon and worked a lot with payoffs and such to the lapd (abortion rings and vd treatment for the elite in Hollywood”. He was a child prodigy and a complete sadist who raped his own daughter as well. We’re talking a HUGE cover-up scandal. Unfortunately, George died before he could have ever been brought to trial. But through his death his son Steve Hodel member of the LAPD discovered a partially nude photo of Elizabeth in his pop’s personal belongings and that’s when he started his investigation. I agree with Lauren read The Dahlia Avenger by Steve Hodel it is by far he most accurate on the case. Great read, you won’t be able to put it down. The truth really is stranger than fiction sometimes. PS George was a huge fan and friend of the artist Man Ray (another sadist) they had participated in orgy parties and all sorts of debauchery together. If you look at the corpse of ES you’ll notice it mimics a famous photo of Man Ray. Check it for yourself. I did.

  9. Man this has to be one of the most scariest investigations EVER ! i cant believe that someOne would actually do so .. thats sick maan ! Jesus loves you .. lol

  10. Omg I So Intrested For Some Reason I Want solve this murder but i doubt i will no harm in trying.

  11. god.. this is one of the saddest shit i have ever read about.. i feel sorry for the girl… 😦
    what went on in the mind of those ($*(#*$. at the time.. sheesh..!!

  12. The pictures that Steve Hodel has that he claims are Elizabeth Short are laughable. They look nothing like her. People are so easily duped.

  13. An LA police detective thought he knew the identity of Elizabeth Short’s killer. John St. John was somewhat of a legend in the LAPD as he held LAPD Detective badge # 001. He actually had an arrest warrant sworn out against Jack Anderson Wilson for the murder of Liz Short. The very day St. John went to arrest him in 1982, Wilson’s hotel in downtown LA burn down, killing him.
    Wilson is not only suspected in other homicides in LA, but also that of Maoma Ridings in Indianapolis in 1943, and can be placed in Cleveland while the Torso Murderer was active.

  14. i dont understand how a innocent girl was mudered in such a graphic way..it is ironic how the police/ LAPD never really had leding evidence!!! this just shows how much focus and work they put in to solving this horrible crime… elizabeth short{ black daliah} was a beautiful women and she probably got taken advantage of which is reallly sad!!!!

  15. uhhh… it wasnt steve hodel. he was about 8 at the time. its his father George Hodel that was their main suspect. steve hodel is the one who wrote a book about how he thinks it was his father && all the evidence he gathered to support it && another book about how he thinks george hodel was also responsible for a few other very well known murders && serial killers like the zodiac killer && jigsaw. your can read it in the most evil. im reading it now && its really interesting.

  16. Not sure who did it, but the Spirit led me to watch the movie.
    I just wanted to add that I get prophecies.
    I learned she died like this because she had too many abortions.
    Pain and suffering is an atonement for sins.
    Pray for her and for her killer.

  17. Thanks Emily for the comments. Black Dahlia Files seems to be a sure interesting reads. Thanks again 🙂

  18. omg i cant even think of this happening to some one and to think that some one can do this to another person is scarryy even the pics i cant even look at them :,(

  19. I too read the Black Dahlia Avenger – and studied it intensively… What I came up with helps to explain WHY she was murdered. 1. She spurned George Hodel’s marriage proposal – he was MADLY in lust with her – not love – LUST. When he realized she DIDN’T want to marry him – he followed Marquis De Sade’s ‘180 days of sodom’.
    2. He got her hooked on opiates that he was getting from the Orient – if you recall, after the rape and trial of his 8 y.o. daughter, he fled to China, Man-Ray fled to Europe. I believe Man-Ray participated in the rape of his daughter.
    3. Because she was a ‘opium-junkie’ she kept going back to him when he would torture her – if you recall in the book, she was tortured/beaten two other times before the dismemberment/evisceration/chelsea grin murder occurred. What would prove this theory is ‘how’ did they know EXACTLY which house she stayed in at San Diego the night they came knocking on the door? Quite simply, because she called George and asked him – she wanted opiates. He was a violent alcoholic, and drug addict as well… Terrible end to a truly beautiful woman…

  20. Y ”To celebrate its arrival, I am afraid that you have some
    bad credit records before. However, the online backup services snapshot is significantly smaller.

    What is the use of RMAN and the plain fact that many storage vendors
    are unable to access your Online Backup Servicess through the Internet via an unattached computer.

%d bloggers like this: