The Autopsy

“Murders leave behind them a trail of fingerprints, bits of skin and hair. The slayer of “The Black Dahlia” left the most tell-tale clue of all–the murder pattern of a degenerate, vicious feminine mind.”

The autopsy revealed morbid details but it wasn’t especially lengthy. Generally it read that Elizabeth Short was 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m) tall, weighed 115 pounds (52 kg), and had 

cropped-cropped-cropped-black-dahlia_1.jpglight blue eyes, brown hair, and badly decayed teeth. When she was living Short used to fill her cavities with wax, presumably because she couldn’t afford dental care. There were ligature marks on her ankles, wrists, and neck. Although the skull was not fractured, Short had bruising on the front and right side of her scalp with a small amount of bleeding in the subarachnoid space (whatever that is) on the right side, consistent with blows to the head. The cause of death may have been hemorrhage from the lacerations to the face and shock due to the blows on the head and face. However the killer placed Short’s body on a large board over a bathtub to sever her in half using a butcher knife. He tied her hands to the faucet and her ankles were tied together. It is believed Short was not completely dead at this time although it is believed she was unconscious (however, no evidence). This killer would be classified as a sadistic sexual killer, a very rare type of serial killer and rapist.

In life she was as elusive as in death. Although she was well-liked no one knew a lot about her, even the four women who black-dalhia-p1were her roommates for a time. She didn’t like to talk about herself possibly because there wasn’t much to say. Short was a drifter with no education and only a vague dream of becoming a movie star, like most of the pretty young women who flocked to Hollywood. She was described as sweet, beautiful and soft-spoken. Although she enjoyed the night life and didn’t work often she didn’t have a “bad reputation” as the press implied. Possibly because she was single, beautiful and far from home, the media concocted stories of prostitution and a loose lifestyle but none of it was true.

The neat, accurate means of bisecting the body led to the speculation that a person with knowledge of anatomy and skill in wielding a knife or other sharp object, was the killer. There were three suggestions: a butcher, a surgeon, or a member of the militia. All of these suggestions implied the killer was either employed or at some time had been, was likely intelligent and probably successful at his work. If the killer had been a medical doctor most likely he would have been the least likely suspect due to his good reputation in the community. Be that as it may, a doctor in the neighbourhood where the body was dumped was considered a suspect in the murder but eventually he was cleared.

Ultimately whoever the twisted individual was who tortured, elizablanketbrutalized and murdered the pretty, young woman was never found and never will be. In total Short had been in his possession for five days: two to three days of unrelenting torture, the murder, the draining of the body and removal of organs, and dumping the body. The manner in which Short was displayed to the public was a point of pride with the Black Dahlia killer; “look what I did!”, like a child showing its mother a picture. The Black Dahlia murder will always be the most tragic L.A. unsolved murder.


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