Unsolved: The Black Dahlia, 1947

It’s one of the city of Los Angeles’s oldest cold cases to date, and by far the most famous. The victim of this gruesome crime was 22-year-old aspiring actress Elizabeth Short, later nicknamed “the Black Dahlia.”

Elizabeth was nicknamed Black Dahlia by newspaper reporters, because back then, it was common practice for newspapers to give murder victims, their killers, and the cases interesting names.

A Tragic End

On January 15, 1947, the mutilated body of Elizabeth was found by a mother taking her child for a walk. She had been cut in half—dissected—and left nude and posed in a vacant lot near Leimert Park in Los Angeles. She also had cuts coming from the corners of her mouth.

Despite the gruesome scene, not a drop of blood was found at the scene, suggesting Elizabeth had been killed elsewhere. Her body had been drained of blood, and her body had been scrubbed clean.

The Theories

There are several suspects in the Black Dahlia case. By December 1948, detectives had considered 192 suspects in total. About 60 people confessed to the murder, but only 22 people were considered as viable suspects.

Suspect 1: Leslie Dillon

Leslie Dillon

Dillon never confessed to the murder, but instead claimed his friend Jeff Connors was the killer. A psychiatrist, Dr. J Paul De River, was convince that Connors was not a real person after writing Dillon back a forth.

Dillon also had experience draining bodies of blood because he had embalming experience when he worked as a mortician’s assistant.

By 1949, the LAPD was no longer interested in Dillon, as they concluded that Dillon was most likely in San Francisco during the time of the murder.

Suspect 2: George Hodel

George Hodel

George Hodel is the best known suspect in the Black Dahlia case, and is probably the suspect with the most evidence against him.

George Hodel’s son, Steve even believes his father is the Black Dahlia killer. As a retired police detective, Steve began to suspect his father’s guilt after George died in 1999 and had gone through his belongings. He found two images that resembled Elizabeth, and began doing his research.

Steve also suspects that his father was responsible for the murders of at least 10 other women. Steve took cadaver dogs to the family home, and the dogs showed positive results for human remains in several areas in and around the house.

Other Resources

Buzzfeed Unsolved’s theories of the Black Dahlia

For more details on the murder and the evidence against George Hodel, watch Buzzfeed Unsolved’s in-depth look at the infamous unsolved murder case.

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