Real Name: Elizabeth Short
Nicknames: None (Elizabeth Short was never known as "The Black Dahlia;" this was a name the press called her after her murder.)
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: January 15, 1947
Details: One of the most famous unsolved crime mysteries of the Twentieth Century, the mutilated remains of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short were found posed in a vacant lot in the unfinished Leimert Park housing development of Los Angeles on January, 15, 1947. The passerby who discovered her remains thought it was a discarded mannequin at first, because the body had been neatly bisected at the waist. During the investigation, the murderer taunted the police with letters, sending them a packet of Short's belongings including her birth certificate, address book, and social security card, which had been soaked in gasoline to eliminate fingerprints.
Butcher of Kingsbury
There is speculatory evidence suggesting Elizabeth might have been a victim of a 1930s Cleveland killer known as the Butcher of Kingsbury, a figure investigated by Eliot Ness of the Cleveland Police Department. The Butcher killed at least a dozen people between 1935 to 1938, hacking the bodies into small pieces and disposing of their heads, many of which were never found. Ness found a man he believed to be the Butcher, but this person died a year after admitting himself to a mental hospital. No proof was ever found to connect this man to the Butcher of Kingsbury murders. Other accepted prime suspects include:
Dr. Walter Bayley who knew Elizabeth's older sister, Virginia. It is theorized that Dr. Bayley's degenerative brain disorder which symptoms include homicidal ideation/behavior in even pacifists. What we do know about Elizabeth is that before her murder she was short on cash and constantly moving. She may have contacted Dr. Bayley, a surgeon who specialized in lyposuction, hysterectomies and amputations. We also know that Elizabeth wasn't shy about asking for money and she often tried to gain some through a sympathetic sob story that her husband had died in World War II and she miscarried. While she did have a lover who died at war, she was never pregnant. Walter had a son, named Walter Jr. who died in a car accident. It is hypothesized that since he is a doctor, he saw through Elizabeth's lie and acted in a fit of rage. Police and psychologists agree that the murderer must have had to sustain his anger for quite some of time, meaning she must have touched on something that really upset him. Coincidentally, Walter Jr.'s birthday is on January 14, the day before Elizabeth's body was found. It was rumored Walter Jr. liked clowns, which explains the Glasgow grin.
The Torso Slayer of Kingsbury Run
After brutally murdering at least 15 people, all by decapitation, Francis Sweeney walks off scott-free thanks to his first cousin politician Martin Sweeney. He often sent Eliot Ness taunting postcards after he admitted himself to a mental institution, which happened to be exactly the same time the killings abruptly stopped. He mentioned he was travelling in one of his postcards and is thought to be related to dozens of murders in Mississippi, Kentucky and California. One post card he did leave said he was in "sunny California" and "felt bad for operating on his guinea pigs, but science must progress!," in a gruesome ode to sadistic murder.
Dr. George Hodel
Steve Hodel a retired City of Los Angeles homicide detective, has argued in his 2003 book "Black Dahlia Avenger" that he believed there was evidence that the murderer of the Black Dahlia was his father, Dr. George Hodel, a Los Angeles physician who was a prime suspect in the infamous murder, although he was not publicly named as such at the time. Hodel believes his father actually tortured, murdered and dissected Elizabeth in the Historic Sowden House. The location has been investigated on Ghosthunters and Haunted Encounters, who believe Elizabeth's spirit is still in the house.
Extra Notes: This segment originally aired on the December 9, 1992 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Robert Stack, the host of Unsolved Mysteries, portrayed Eliot Ness in the TV series, "The Untouchables."
The Black Dahlia was also profiled on an episode of America’s Most Wanted.