Virgie Lee Griffin

Another butchered, young woman was Mrs. Virgie Lee Griffin. She was found mutilated and murdered in Barclay hotel wilson_testifieson November 15, 1944, at 03 W. Fourth Street. Near the poor woman’s remains were a large butcher knife and a razor blade-  the same instruments of torture and murder police believed were used on Short. Griffin had been murdered about 8 a.m. The detectives who caught the case were Det. Lts. Harry Hansen, R.F. McGarry, and Stewart Jones. Some of the cops had to be re-deployed when another woman was found dead and mutilated at a hotel just blocks away. Hansen would eventually be assigned to the Black Dahlia murder case.

Otto Stephen Wilson was captured and charged with Griffin’s murder. Wilson told detectives he was born in Shelbyville, Indiana and following high school Wilson joined the Navy, until he was given a medical discharge for sexual psychosis. Sexual psychosis. There’s a term I’ve never heard in the annals of crime.  Wilson’s wife went to naval authorities and told them about homosexual encounters he’d had. She also told them her husband once waited for her to get out of the shower, sliced her buttocks with a razor and then began to lick at the drops of blood. The Navy agreed Wilson’s behaviour was quite odd and they released him. Whatever happened to Mrs. Wilson, only Otto Wilson knows for sure.

It didn’t take long before Wilson the Weird confessed to killing Griffin. Wilson met Griffin in a Main Street bar and he took her to the Barclay Hotel where they registered as Mr. ottowilson_crop (1)and Mrs. O.S. Wilson. Once in their room the pair continued to drink. Later Wilson would claim that he became enraged when Virgie asked for $20, implying she was a prostitute, but the truth was that he’d brought the butcher knife and razor with him to the room, and he had intended to commit murder all along. Wilson started by choking her, then he stabbed her several times. Poor woman. Hopefully she was at least unconscious after the choking. For over an hour he sat naked on the bed with the body, trying to remove her arms and legs with a razor. Very intelligent. When he found it too difficult, he left the room and went to a movie, as anyone would.

Dr. J. Paul De River, Criminal Psychiatrist for L.A.P.D, interviewed Wilson. He included his summary in The Sexual deriverCriminal – A Psychoanalytical Study”, in the chapter on “Sadistic Homicide-Lust Murder”, case Study 116, K. De River described Wilson as a necrophiliac, a cannibal, and a sado-masochist. Really? Where’s the masochist part?  The book i s still available on Amazon, Goodread, and as a downloadable PDF, EPUB, and audio-recording. On September 20, 1946 Wilson was executed in California’s gas chamber. What a waste of gas.



Hollywood Beckons and Buries

Short is far from the only beautiful girl who went to Hollywood to pursue the goal of fame and fortune. There are countless forgotten, pretty faces who have tried, survived, peg-entwistle-c-1932-collection-of-bruce-torrencedied or simply returned home, disillusioned and seeking a new path in life. Short was one of the unfortunate women who would be murdered, although there were many more beautiful, young victims like herself during the 1940s decade. A rather unusual story, however, stands out in its own right. It is the story of the Girl who Jumped from the Hollywood Sign.

Hollywood Sign
Have you ever wondered whose idea the sign was and why he wanted it put at the top of Mr. Lee? Me neither but here’s a bit of background anhollywoodlandyway. Built in 1923, the famous sign was the vision for a real estate development in Beachwood Canyon. The sign read “Hollywoodland” and cost $21,000 to construct. That would be the equivalent of about $10,000,000 today. The letters are 30 feet wide and 45 feet tall. They were originally lit by 4000 light bulbs but that cost a pretty penny and light maintenance was discontinued in 1939, The word land was removed in 1949. Eventually the sign became rundown and in 1978 the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce restored it with the help of private donations. And that’s it. That’s the fabulous story of the Hollywood sign. However, there is a grim story about a girl and the sign.

Millicent Lillian Entwistle (Peg)
From an early age, Peg’s life was filled with tragedy. After the death of her mother when Peg was a child, she and her father peg2couchmoved to New York where he re-married. One day, however, Peg’s father was stupid enough to get run over by a car on Park Avenue. Peg the orphan began to pursue her acting career. At 17 she made her debut with the Boston repertory company, and Peg was soon working on Broadway in the prestigious Theater Guild productions. Pretty good beginning.

In 1927, Peg married Robert Keith a man 10 years her senior. However it wouldn’t be long before Keith admitted he was married and had a six-year-old son. Oddly, while divorcing this prize, Peg helped him stay out of jail by paying the back pegalimony he owed his ex-wife. Depression began to set in after Peg couldn’t find more theatre work and eventually she moved to Hollywood.  In 1932, RKO signed her for the role of Hazel in the murder mystery Thirteen Women starring Irene Dunne. The movie got poor reviews from critics and the studio held back its general release so it could re-edit the film. RKO dropped Peg and that appeared to be the end of her acting career.

On September 18, 1932, after a night of drinking and overwhelming depression, Peg climbed up the rocky slope of Mt. Lee to the base of the “Hollywoodland” sign. She peg1angerunderwent a strange suicide ritual that many suicides do: she removed her black and tan silk coat, folded it neatly and placed it alongside her purse, which contained a suicide note. Most suicides don’t leave notes, Peg did. Peg climbed up to the bottom of the letter “H” then took a swan dive into the ground. She was only 24 years old. Police found Peg’s mangled body some 100 feet down the side of the ravine. To this day, Peg Entwistle remains the only documented case of suicide connected to jumping off the Hollywood sign.

Rumour has it that shortly after her death, The Beverly Hills Playhouse wanted her to star in their next production which, peg-entwistle-grave-markerironically, was about a young girl who commits suicide. Peg never did get her chance to twinkle. In the years following Peg’s suicide, hikers and park rangers in Griffith Park have reported sightings of a woman dressed in 1930’s era clothing who vanishes when approached. She has been described as a very attractive, blond woman, who seems very sad. Of course everyone speculates this is Peg’s ghost. Maybe there is no escaping Hollywood, for Short or anyone else who dies there.

What Do the Cops Say (sung to the tune of What Does the Fox Say)

Well, the Feds to be precise. The FBI also place a priority on Short’s murder and eventually created at least one report on her. The document enclosed is 51 pages in length and contains letters from members of the public to Hoover about various speculations on who the killer was, memosdump_10, correspondence, request for the Chicago Police Department to assist the Los Angeles Police Department by interviewing its own suspects, information on suspects, and documents tracking Short’s movements on the last day of her life.

The documents specifically mention:

  1. that on her last day alive Short and a male suspect attended Tom Brenamen’s for an apertif after they attended a Columbia Broadcasting Station show.
  2. that Short stated to friends Mark Hansen was very jealous about her
  3. a communication about the LAPD already investigating the mutilation murders of young women but were unable to confirm the identity of many dead women
  4. upon finding Short’s body on July 15, 1947, the LAPD were “against confronted with this problem” (of not being able to identify the victim)
  5. a suspect who had worked in the navy as a medical doctor, performing numerous surgeries, while he was merely an imposter.


Doubtless there are many more files and reports of this nature on Elizabeth Short within both the FBI and LAPD archives. This is veritable proof that the FBI, the Chicago police force and the LAPD worked actively for a number of years trying to solve Short’s murder. No end of effort went into breaking the case of the beautiful, broken doll.

Oddly, thousands of people today believe the case was solved but the police refused to identify the killer, so the case was marked as unsolved. Nonsense. What would be the purpose of leaving a nutcase out on the streets to terrorize more women? And if this person was of political worth, how was it that his lurid movements weren’t more easily detectable, and therefore preventable? Like most of us, politicians are creatures of habit. Their movements tend to be quite predictable and involve a lot of PR-related events. The neliza wallews announces well in advance whenever a particular celebrity, politician, or other important person will be attending (or being the star attraction of) a current event. And if anyone now knows anything about Short’s murder I am inclined to agree with a wise observer who stated “that person would be worth millions.” Who’s going to hold out on that?







Mary Pacios – Childhood Shadows – The Hidden Story of the Black Dahlia Murder


Mary Pacios, a former neighbor of the Short family in Medford, Massachusetts, claims she was a friend of Short’s when Short was about 16. Pacios, ten years her junior, paciosbecame a younger sister of sorts. Short was her mentor. The two girls would visit movie theatres and watch films. Short made movie days a special treat, by ensuring she dressed up. Presumably Pacios did the same. She doesn’t share a lot of detailed childhood memories during interviews with KTTV (1997) or when she appeared with author John Gilmore on Entertainment Tonight (1991) suggested filmmaker Orson Welles as a suspect. Pacios bases this theory on such factors as Welles’ volatile temperament and his obsession with the bisection of bodies, as indicated by the visual clues Pacios claims can be found in the “house of mirrors” set he designed for scenes that were later deleted from The Lady From Shanghai, a film Welles was making with his ex-wife Rita Hayworth around the time of the murder.

Pacios also cites the magic act Welles performed to entertain soldiers during World War II. She believes that the bisection of 02-Marilyn-Manson_mm_eliz_short_1the body was part of the killer’s signature and an acting out of the perpetrator’s obsession. She once saw Welles perform the traditional magic trick of sawing a lady in half at the waist. More than ever, Pacios was convinced of his guilt. If that’s the case, we better lock up a lot of magicians or there will be a Black Dahlia-style mass murder spree soon.

Pacios further believed in Welles’ guilt because Welles applied for his passport on January 24, 1947, the same date the killer mailed a packet carrying Short’s belongings to Los Angeles newspapers. Welles left the country for an extended stay in Europe 10 months after the murder. According to Pacios, witnesses she has interviewed state that Welles and the victim frequented Brittingham’s restaurant in Los Angeles during the same time period. Welles was never a suspect in the original investigation. Pacios doesn’t state whether the victim and the actor were ever seen together in Brittingham’s.

There are at least three things wrong with Pacios’ theory:
(1)  A complete lack of proof that Welles was a sadistic
(2)  The connection of Short’s corpse to the house of
mirrors in the film The Lady of Shanghai
(3)  Proof that Welles even knew, or knew of, Elizabeth Short

Once again what we have here is a whole lot of nothing in order to exploit a meager memory of a piece of Short’s life, elizand an unimportant piece at that (at least where the Dahlia story is concerned). Does anyone care that Pacios knew Short as a child? No. Does that make her a Dahlia expert? No. Does having known her briefly in her early life mean she knew anything about the adult Short? No. Is the book interesting? Well, certainly, as are most publications about the Black Dahlia. There are several red flags here, the biggest being that Pacios resorted to self-publishing. This implies she couldn’t generate enough interest from traditional publishers — whose job consists of separating the literary wheat from the chaff — to publish and promote her work.

I don’t know whether Pacios waxes poetic or pathetic about Short as I haven’t read her book, but if the answer is neither, ES-24then that is one positive the publication has going for it. There are far too many books in publication that portray Short as a prostitute, tease, user, squatter, tragic heroine, debutante, glamour girl, pedophile, and no-good drifter. Drippy, sentiment like Pacios’ isn’t going to convince us or get anyone anywhere. Neither is glamorizing Short’s life as a sort of build-up to her horrific death. The next author could at least aim for simple, pragmatic objectivity, firmly rooted in reality. Had that been what life had to offer Short, there would never have been a Black Dahlia murder.




The Players

Elizabeth Short – victim  aka Black Dahlia Short was born in Medford, Massachusetts and lived with her father, Cleo Short, for a time in Vallejo, California. Eventually Short left her father’s home and became somewhat of a drifter. She was arrested in Santa Monica for underage drinking. Finally Short settled in HoBlack_Dahliallywood, California. Her goal was to become a movie star. She lived in different locations with a number of roommates over the months she was there. She was usually unemployed and low on money. Short dated numerous men in order to secure dinner dates as she could seldom afford to eat. It is believed this is the manner in which she met her killer.



Phoebe Short – Mother – nee Sawyer  Phoebe was a caring
Phoebe Phone (1)mother who worked hard to keep her four daughters. When Elizabeth was a child, Phoebe’s husband, Cleo, abandoned the family in such a manner that many people believed he had committed suicide. Phoebe had to deal with bankruptcy and debt after Cleo abandoned the family. She took work whenever she could as a bookkeeper to support her girls. Phoebe often took Short to movies. This was a treat for the girls and Short dressed up to make the occasion special. may have been the manner in which Short began to dream of becoming a movie star. Phoebe would send Short to Florida every winter because her daughter suffered from asthma, and the warm climate helped relieve her symptoms. When Phoebe was interviewed about Short after her murder, she stated Short “was a good girl.”



Cleo Short – Father  Cleo Short was a handsome, yet enigmatic man. He made a small fortune building miniature Cleo 2golf courses. Cleo abandoned his family when Elizabeth was about 8 years old and went to Vallejo California. After several years, he contacted Phoebe and asked if he could return to the family but she refused. When she was 19, Elizabeth moved in with Cleo but the two separated within several weeks. When contacted about his daughter’s murder, Cleo stated he had no interest in the case and refused to identify her remains.

Mrs. Betty Bersinger – discovered the body. Bersinger was a young, pretty mother who was pushing her 3-year-old bettydaughter in a stroller, walking along 39th and Norton Avenue.It was the time that “children were going off to school.” She noticed a mannequin that was broken into two pieces, lying beside a vacant lot. Confused, Bersinger decided to report the doll to the police. It occurred to her that it might “scare these kids” as they went to school. The thought of a corpse didn’t cross Bersinger’s mind. She was convinced Short was a mannequin because “it was so white.” But as she walked along she wondered whether “it could be something other than a mannequin.”

Matthew Michael Gordon Jr. – Member of the United States Army Air Force and Fiancee  Short and Gordon met when she was working at an army base as a waitress. He was an

Matt Gordon 11 (1)army pilot. The two fell in love and were constantly seen together until he was stated overseas in India. Gordon contacted his sister, asking her to write to Short so she wouldn’t be lonely. On his last night fighting Gordon was killed. His mother sent Short a telegram stating her sympathies. After the murder the Gordon family denied knowing Short.

Red Manley – Businessman Handsome, married man Manley drove Short on the now notorious drive to the Biltmore Hotel where she was staying on the night of her death. It is the last known time an acquaintance saw her alive. Before he

red manleyreturned Short to her hotel, the two stayed in the Mecca Motel for a night. He told investigators: “She was sick in the Mecca Motel before they left. “Well, she didn’t even care to have me do much talking after we got back to the room, after we had been dancing. She just took a blanket off of the bed, propped her legs up against the wall by the heater and I asked her what was the matter with her and she said she just didn’t feel well and for me to leave her alone so I did, and she didn’t talk much more after that. She said it was just that time of the month and she wanted to be left alone.” Manley was taken into custody, where, he said, he read about the murder. “I turned sick inside,” he was quoted in newspapers. Manley was cleared of all charges and died on January 9, 1986.

Anne Toth – Actress and Roommate  Anne was perhaps

Anna%20TothElizabeth’s only good friend in Hollywood. She helped Elizabeth to move out of Mark Hansen’s house, a boyfriend, and to find a new apartment. She also paid Elizabeth’s first month rent. Anne generally spoke kindly about Elizabeth to the press. She insisted Elizabeth had good morals and wasn’t a promiscuous girl. Toth defended Short’s relationship with Mark Hansen and other men. She gave helpful information to the police about Short and Hansen but the leads led nowhere.


Leo Hymes,  Anne Toth’s boy friend and Mark Hansen’s friend, Hymes worked  in ladies apparel.  In late 1946, he  spent time visiting Anne at the Hansen’s Carlos Avenue house. Hymes recalled, “Easter was getting around there – Easter is in April; we were shipping early in November, December and January.  I had been packing and I got over there one night.  There was an argument between Beth and another girl.” About Short he claimed, “I always felt that she had – her hair; she had real dark brown – more on the black side -.”   And,  “Appeared to be dyed.  She just didn’t look attractive.”  “Another thing I remember about that Short girl was her teeth.  There was something about her teeth. Bad.”

Mark Hansen – Owner of the Florentine Gardens and Boyfriend  Hansen was a shady yet financially successful character. He owned the very popular nightclub Florentine

Mark%20Hansen%2021Gardens, which was frequented by celebrities, beautiful young women and the Mafia, including Kingpin Mickey Cohen. Hansen hired only beautiful young women to dance as showgirls at his club, whether or not they had any talent. He also offered pretty women a place to stay when they were “down on their luck.” Short lived with him for a time, but it wasn’t a financial arrangement. Hansen was a very jealous man and didn’t want Short dating other men. He was a suspect in the murder but threatened police to leave him alone or he would approach the press about the bribes he had to offer police in order to keep the Gardens open.

Gordon Fickling – Short’s former boyfriend. Fickling and

gordon_fickling (1)Short were involved before Short arrived in Hollywood. After her fiancee, Gordon, died in action Short moved in with Fickling.  Soon afterward the two fought and Fickling told her to leave. They remained in touch with one another, writing each other tender, kind love letters. He was a suspect in the murder.

Capt. Jack Egger – Movie Theatre Usher  John F. Egger was born on July 27, 1927 and began work at the Columbia Broadcasting System in Hollywood in March, 1941. Egger claimed to

Captain Jack Egger (1)see Short on her last night alive. He worked as an usher at CBS studios. On the night she was murdered, Egger stated he saw Short on a date with a Chicago police officer. Egger  worked security at the Florentine Gardens. In January, 1947, Egger lived with his father, Frank Egger two blocks from the Chancellor Apartments. Egger was shown photographs to see if he could identify the man Short dated. He identified Dr. Patrick S. O’Reilly, but after he saw O’Reilly in person, he changed his mind. Balsiger was a suspect in the murder.

Marjorie Graham – Friend and Roommate Short and Graham

Marjorie_Graham-Roommateknew each other from Boston. Short and Graham lived at the Hawthorne Hotel with Lynn Martin, a 15-year-old runaway from Long Beach. Short  stayed from August 28 until September 20. The three didn’t get along, so Short and Graham moved to another room at the Hawthorne. Short was broke as usual, and relied on friends to help her. Eventually the manager, Mrs. Richmond asked the girls to leave. Graham left Hollywood before the murder and returned to Massachusetts where she got married in 1948. She stated “I left the West Coast October 23 and came home to Cambridge.  I had one letter from her afterward.”


Linda Rohr – Roommate Short and Rohr shared an apartment on Cherokee near Hollywood Blvd.  Rohr, a worker in the “Rouge Room” at Max Factor in Hollywood, stated  she Lind Rohr 1was fascinated by Short’s make-up. According to Rohr, “She had pretty blue eyes but sometimes I think she overdid with make-up an inch thick.” Short’s finished look was startling and almost geisha-like. During the post-war era most women used make-up to enhance their natural beauty. Ingrid Bergman personified the ideal of natural beauty. Eventually, in the 1950s, this trend would give way to the glamorous appeal of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell. Due to Rhor’s opinions about Short’s makeup, novelist James Elroy,  “concluded that Beth was using her make-up as a mask, a way in which to keep people at arm’s length. I don’t think that it was a conscious decision; I believe that without ever realizing it Beth created the character she would become in death, Black Dahlia.  And I also believe that her distinctive look played a crucial role in her abduction and subsequent slaying.  I don’t mean to suggest that Elizabeth Short deserved her death, or that she brought it upon herself, only that her killer was drawn to her because she fulfilled the criteria for his (or her) perverse desires.” 


Lynn Martin – Roommate Martin and Short weren’t friends, in fact the two women didn’t get along. Martin, Short and Graham lived together briefly at the Hawthorne Hotel but Short’s continual encounters with Martin led to Martin’s Lynn Martin 12moving into another room with a different roommate. After the murder it was discovered that Martin was only 15 and not in her early twenties as she claimed to be. She was adopted and had run away from home to become a movie star. Police returned her to her home after her interview. It was for this reason that Martin didn’t want to be interviewed but her friend “Duke” convinced her to turn herself into police. Duke told police that Martin, “Crying, she told me she knew nothing of it and I know that to be truth. Miss Martin was very vague about her past.  Seemed depressed and a little nervous most of the time.  She said she had no family and had been married to a military policeman at El Paso, Texas, and divorced…” Martin stated “I don’t want any notoriety,” and eventually disappeared from the public eye.

George W. Welsh Jr. – Suspect in death of Anne Welsh (sister) Welsh was suspected of murdering his sister Anne in

George Welsh 2their home. Anne was tortured and raped while her mother and supposedly Welsh slept nearby. He was a suspect for two years. Police suspected he killed his sister since she inherited a generous amount of money from their father, while he received nothing. Investigators suspected he may also have been involved in Short’s murder. Welsh was eventually cleared of his sister’s murder.


carl_basigerCapt. Carl Balsiger – Suspect Balsiger was an acquaintance of Short’s. He drove her to Camarillo, California for the day and then brought her back to Hollywood, where he dropped her off at a motel on Yucca Street. The following day, he took her by car to the bus depot, gave her a ride to Hollywood. Balsiger was also a suspect in the Leila Welsh murder.

Elvera and Dorothy French – Temporary Family On

elverausherette Dorothy French found Short asleep in the movie theatre where she worked. Feeling sympathy for Short, French took her home to her mother Elvera, who agreed to take Short in for a time. However, Short’s slovenly habits, the same that she displayed when living with Cleo Short, tried their patience and they told Short to leave. Within weeks Short would be dead. The French family were not suspects in the murder.

Dr. Melvin Schwartz – medical doctor  Schwartz may or may not have made Short’s acquaintance. He wasn’t a fan. He told police that one afternoon a “lady in red” attended his office and asked to see him, claiming she had an inflamed gland.

ES 2222During their appointment she told him he was a good-looking man then grabbed his hand and pulled it beneath her dress. He ordered her out of his office. The lady in red attended his office another time then suddenly disappeared. Dr. Arthur Faught, the daytime doctor, told Schwartz she was “a streetwalker, the type, a pick-up type.” Two uniformed policemen talked with Dr. Schwartz. Investigators showed a photograph of Short to Dr. Schwartz, who said, it “resembles her very, very closely, I’m inclined to think that was her.” He said the nurse, Mrs. Zickler “appeared to be” positive that the young woman was Beth Short. “ I think she wore red nearly every time she came in, or had a red flower in her hair, I don’t know, they referred to wearing a carnation or some type of flower  all the time.” The good doctor was not a suspect in the murder.


Art Richman – Friend of Martin and Graham Richman was part of the Carpenter Drive-In crowd that included Short. He knew information about Lynn and Margie and the fellows that dated them. Art suffered from head injuries, but he was able to recall names and dates from 1946. Richman never met Short, but he knew Lynn and Margie. “I believe [I met Martin] up here at a drive-in stand on the corner of Vermont and Sunset. She was working at a dime store.” Richman met Martin and Graham and brought them to his friend Bob’s house. “ I took both of them up to Bob’s house. I took Lynn home and after, Bob may have taken Margie home.” He told investigators that Martin moved to an” old-time movie theater” near Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue, and that she, “sort of worked for her room and board -” Richman was not a suspect in the murder.


Marvin Margolis – Short’s boyfriend  Margolis served in the U.S. Naval training stations in Illinois, Washington state and at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California. One psychiatric report from Illinois read, “This subject is calm, quiet and a resentful individual who shows ample evidence of open aggression; has had trouble in adjusting himself to Navy discipline, has become resentful over this. He desired operating room technique which was never granted to him and this is one of the underlying bases for his resentment and disgust. For a time Margolis was Short’s boyfriend but after a few weeks, he delivered her belongings to Mark Hansen’s house and deserted her. After Short was murdered Margolis was wanted for questioning. Margolis was a suspect in the murder.

Jack Sands aka Leslie Dillon Informant  Dillon wrote a letter to Dr. J. Paul de River, LAPD psychiatrist, stating he knew a good suspect in the Dahlia case, one Jeff Collins. de River communicated his concerns to Sergeant John J. “J. J.”

leslieO’Mara. O’Mara worked undercover to investigate Dillon. Dillon gave the two men that he worked in a funeral home and knew about bleeding and embalming. Dillon stated Short’s body was cut in half because “the person would want to see how far his penis went into the person.” Dillon was able to direct the men to the exact location of Short’s body. Although Dillon was a suspect in the murder he had alibis. After his release from custody, Dillon sued the city of Los Angeles for $100,000, the equivalent of about $1,000,000.00 today.

Glenn Wolfe – Chancellor Hotel Landlord Wolfe was the hotel`s landlord while Short lived there in apartment 501 in 1946. Wolfe, ni

wolfecknamed “Scotty,” was born in Indiana on July 25, 1908. He was married and divorced four times by 1936.  Ann Toth stated Wolfe was “one of the worst type.” She described him as a ``sexual pervert, maniac, everything. I hate him. He even threatened to kill me once.” Wolfe “was putting four girls into a room, where there should have been two, for $5.00.”  He was jailed in 1946 after one of his twelve ex-wives accused him of beating her. Wolfe, who preferred girls, once said “You have to spank them once in a while, but after they’re tamed they make wonderful wives.“ It would sOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAeem to me that Wolfe (irony) was the one who needed the taming. Wolfe stated he married teenagers “because they’re happy that they don’t have to work, and they don’t make demands`, but eventually they get, “fidgety and want to run loose. And you can’t hold anybody if they don’t want to stay.”  The late Bonnie Lee Bakley, who was once married to actor Robert Blake, claimed to have been Wolfe’s 26th wife. In 1991 Blake was acquitted of charges in Bakley`s murder. By the time Wolfe died in 1997, Wolfe was married 29 times. Clearly, a man with great respect for the institution of marriage. Wolfe`s only tie to Short was that she was his tenant in the hotel for a number of weeks. There is no evidence that they were romantically involved with one another. Wolfe was a suspect in the murder.

Media – Wayne Sutton will stand as an example of the damage the press did to the Short family and especially to Elizabeth’s memory. Sutton contacted Phoebe Short after her

dahliabluedaughter’s murder on the pretense that Elizabeth had won a beauty pageant in Los Angeles. He was seeking information about the dead girl to publish along with censored photographs of Short’s corpse. Phoebe spoke excitedly about her daughter until Sutton interrupted and admitted the real reason he was calling. A bewildered Phoebe refused to believe him until local Medford police attended her house to confirm Short was indeed dead. The press invented the name Black Dahlia in reference to a film released the previous year titled The Blue Dahlia. In the film, the Dahlia was a nightclub and not a person.

Dr. George Hodel – Doctor  Hodel was a suspect in the Short murder for three reasons: he was a surgeon and therefore had anatomical knowledge of the human body. He lived only one block away from the crime scene. His daughter took him to court for incest (he won the case although this didn’t prove him innocent). His wife, Dorothy Hodel, was astounded that her husband was a suspect in the murder. She commented “it is incredible to me that he should in any way be connected with it.” When police showed Dorothy a picture of Short and asked if she’d ev

hodel_muger seen or met Short she replied, “no I haven’t.” When asked if her former husband said, “They can’t pin that murder on me,” she said, ” – to the best of my knowledge he didn’t and doesn’t know her.” Detective Jemison asked, “Has anybody ever told you that Dr. George Hodel had Beth Short over to his home?” Dorothy answered, “No.” Jemison said, “For your information the photograph has been identified by certain persons as resembling the young lady that was over to his house prior to the murder.” Again Dorothy denied the accusation. Dorothy said to Jemison, “I have nothing to tell you that would bear out any idea you may have that he did this. All I know is that he is not the sort of man that would psychologically be the kind to do it. He has a fine record as a doctor and is a dedicated man. He has never had a fashionable practice. He could have had. He is a man that really cares about medicine, not of earning money, but it is incredible to me that he should be in any way connected with it.” I’m inclined to agree with Dorothy, butI do believe he was guilty of child molestation charges. It is a big leap from incest to sexual sadist, however, so I don’t give this accusation any credence.


Steve Hodel – son of George Hodel  Hodel didn’t meet Short as he was either an infant or not even there yet at the time of the murder. For several years now he has been promoting his book that his father, George, was the Black Dahlia killer and steve-hodelhe insists he has proof. Hodel claims there is a secret room in the house where he grew up and it was in here that Hodel murdered and tortured Short. The full story (in a few words) is that Short and Hodel were lovers. She lived in a makeshift bedroom in the Hodel’s garage. Hodel claimed Short got pregnant by his father. This didn’t seem to be the  catalyst that caused daddy dearest to snap and murder his paramour. Hodel claims he was forced to help his father dump Short’s body and for that reason he has been haunted by guilt for decades. What a load of rot.

The Killer – We know the part he played. We will never know his identity.




John Gilmore – author, actor, musician  Gilmore was a student of Lee and Paula Strasberg in the Actors Studio, NYC. He claims to have met Short when he was 9-years-old and his gilmorefamily ran a boarding house. This is  his big claim to fame with Short. He wrote a text entitled Severed: The True Story of the Black Dahlia Murder. I highly doubt that. Gilmore types full conversations between the people in his book as if (a) he was there (he wasn’t) and (b) if he was there he could remember the conversations word for word decades later (nonsense). He documented some details about Short’s early life that I was unable to find before reading a part of the PDF text, however, in light of the many inaccuracies in the book, I don’t know how much these facts are true. For instance, Gilmore discusses the manner in which the Short girls and Phoebe had to live after Cleo abandoned them. I haven’t read it. It looks boring but in spite of the dark subject matter not as menacing as Gilmore’s picture.


Maria Pacios – Pacios claims was 9-years-old when she knew Short. She lived in the same neighbourhood. Short became a paciossister of sorts to Pacios, often taking her to movies and out for ice cream, whenever money was available. The two had a pleasant friendship until Short moved after a number of either weeks or months. The Short family moved three times after Cleo left due to a lack of finances to pay the rent at different locales.  Her book, Childhood Shadows: The Hidden Story of the Black Dahlia. Pacios seems to think Short’s suffering and murder was all about her. “I was ruined. have suffered. My family has suffered…” Not as much as Short.


The Duke – Edward P. Wellington alias Bill Cochrane  Wellington ,or the Duke as he was known, contacted the LAPD in a bitter, accusatory letter. It was received on January 27, 1947, after Lynn Martin had been interviewed. Wellington claimed that he did not know Short. His letter says it all:

“I did not at any time meet the girl who was killed nor did I know anything about her until this happened. Miss Martin came to me, running and frightened, either Thursday or Friday of last week when she saw in the papers she was wanted for questioning. Crying, she told me she knew nothing of it and I know that to be truth, unless she and Bobby did it and that is utterly impossible to conceive. I questioned her about her relationship with the dead girl and she could tell me little other than the girl never brought men to her room and rarely had dates at the place.

This smear campaign would only make people afraid of the police. You make people run from you instead of come to you. Ninety per cent of us have things we don’t want publicly displayed. Thanks for the nice publicity. I am washed up. Period. A fair deal for trying to help clean up this Short mess. I am trying to clean up my affairs and will continue to do so until stopped.” Duke was a suspect in the murder. As to whether or not he was washed up, I have found no evidence for or against this claim. In fact, I am unaware as to what he did for a living.


Lester Jiggs Moore – Witness Jiggs had once lived in the same trailer court as Leslie Dillon. He ran the A-1 trailer court at 1270 Pacific Court Highway. Police interviewed Jiggs regarding Dillon. Jiggs said there was a man named Ashford staying at the court. He was living with a black-haired woman with “large bosoms” who was 23 years old and that the two lived next to Leslie Dillon’s. The officers went back the following day with a photo of Elizabeth Short and showed it to Jiggs. “That’s the girl,” came the reply.He “steadily maintained in subsequent interrogation that it couldn’t possibly be anyone else.” Jiggs said they stayed there for a week in July, 1946, that he took their money but did not register them.  The ledger book was poorly kept, to no one’s surprise. Mr. and Mrs. Ashford said they were the only people living there with the last name Ashford. They recognized Leslie and Georgia Dillon from photographs, but did not recognize Elizabeth Short.







Resource: The Black Dahlia in Dial Murder Network


















The Last Day

This excerpt is from the website The Black Dahlia in the Dial Murder Network. Additional lines are added by me in regular font.

Too much time has passed and too many witnesses are gone to accurately reconstruct a typical day in the life of Elizabeth Short in Hollywood in 1946, and especially the last day of her life, but we can imagine what might have been:

Before she returned to her apartment that evening, Beth walked through the front door of Musso and Frank’s on Hollywood Boulevard and made her way to the back of the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERArestaurant and entered a telephone booth. She closed the door, dropped her nickel and dialed GR-9953. When the salesgirl at the other end of the line answered, she asked if they had the medicine she needed. When the girl said yes, Beth said she would be in for it the next day. Back in her apartment, Beth dyed her hair again while her roommates prepared to turn in for the night. The girls insisted she clean out the sink more carefully than last time as it was stained with purple-tinted henna for a week. She was staying with the other girls at the Chancellor on Cherokee Avenue in Hollywood. It was early December and Hollywood was starting to get ready for Christmas. Short was acutely aware that she was too low on money to buy Christmas gifts to send home to her family, or for friends in Hollywood. She hoped she would date a gentleman who was in a generous enough mood to press a few bills into her hand over the next few days.

The next day, she woke up late, dressed, put on her make-up and fixed her hair, said goodbye to her roommate Marion and dahlia sweetthen walked down the hall from room 501 to the elevator. She pulled the metal safety gate aside, entered and waited for the door and the gate to close, then pushed the button for the lobby.  The elevator descended without a stop, and she entered the lobby and walked outside to the street. Beth had dressed well, as usual, wearing a new pair of Nylons and a favorite pair of shoes. Her red lipstick and curled eyelashes fave her a doll-like look. She walked south on Cherokee to Yucca Street. She looked both ways and then crossed the street and turned left.

It was a pleasant fall day and she glanced at the old houses along the street until she reached Whitley Avenue. Perhaps it was because she always felt a little sentimental at Christmas, but today the houses reminded her of the neighborhoods where she’d grown up, and the houses she’d lived in. It elizbrought a lump into her throat. She crossed Whitley and turned south towards the Boulevard. On the corner, Beth stopped for a moment and looked at the new magazines at the Whitley newsstand. She stared at the sinister cover of Inside Detective without picking it up. “Jealous Enough to Kill,” the headline said. After a bit, she turned left onto Hollywood Boulevard and glanced at the fresh produce facing the sidewalk at the Hollywood Market. She was hungry, but she didn’t have much money. Sometimes the thought briefly crossed her mind to simply palm a piece of fruit or a vegetable but she would never do it. She felt the grumbling in her stomach and kept walking towards Vine to her favorite drugstore.

As she walked along, she saw the theater marquees of the Hollywood Music Hall at Hudson and the Warner at Wilcox. “One day, my name will be up there,” she thought hopefully, her heart aching a little. She wanted to see the new Alan Ladd Florentine Gardens 1movie, but it wasn’t showing on the Boulevard. She’d enjoyed his last film, The Blue Dahlia, very much. She passed Ben’s Smoke Shop on the way to Cahuenga Boulevard and she heard a car horn honk for her, but she didn’t look over. She was used to the sound of car horns, but except for her hunger, she wasn’t interested today. She didn’t want to have a forced conversation, as if she found her date fabulously fascinating in order to eat.

She passed an acquaintance, Paul Burke, a young actor who tended bar at the dead10Florentine Gardens in the Zanzibar Room.  She wanted to duck into a nearby drug store, but he’d already spotted her. He stopped her briefly and asked if she’d seen the new John Payne movie, “Wake Up and Dream.”  “It just opened last week. I had a small part in it,” he told her. She congratulated him, smiled and then continued her walk.  Apparently producers were giving parts to anyone these days. A newsboy was yelling out headlines to automobiles on the corners, but paused to watch her pass by. She winked at the kid and he smiled at her. He’d have something to brag about to his friends later.

When she reached the corner at Cahuenga, Beth crossed the street and walked east on the south side. The sun was not as bright and she window-shopped at Macy’s Jewelry on the corner Greyhound%20Depot%203and later at Lucy’s and Chandler Shoes. When she got to Vine she walked through the main floor of the Broadway Hollywood and looked at ladies gloves and handbags. They were too expensive for her, but sometimes she enjoyed looking. One day when she was a famous actress, she’d buy out the store. Although she’d been depressed lately, despondent over her lack of employment, Short pepped herself with positive self-talk. Moving to Hollywood was still the best thing she’d ever done. It was just a matter of time before something remarkable happened to her.

She walked out the Vine Street door and passed Mike Lyman’s restaurant to see if she knew anyone there. She was hungry by now, and if she ran into someone she knew, she might be invited for lunch. She didn’t recognize anyone and continued to walk down Vine, past the Lux Radio Playhouse and Mom’s Hot Dogs, towards Selma. Short thought of calling Mark Hansen again but she’d be

Mark%20Hansen%2021damned if she’d let the aging lothario know she was again financially bereft after the way he’d treated her. Besides, she felt smug knowing Hansen had practically begged Anne Toth, her roommie, to tell him where she was living now. Anne had refused. Short liked the thought of Hansen being jealous and baffled as to how she could live without him.

She crossed Selma and headed towards one of her favorite places, Tom Breneman’s, where most of the staff knew her.
Sometimes they offered her a free serving of toast and an orange juice when she was alone because she often brought in h er dates which meant more business for them. Today however she walked past Breneman’s tomand when she got to the Thrifty drugstore, she noticed a few Christmas advertisements in the window and then went in. Inside, the sales clerk, Jean Knudsen, remembered her telephone call from the night before and knew what she wanted. Beth had asked for something to “help me stop biting my finger nails.” She paid Mrs. Knudsen her last two pennies and thanked her. She still had a nickel left.

Beth checked the seams on her nylons, went back outside and walked across Vine near the NBC Radio City studios and up towards Hollywood Boulevard. She passed the Brown eliza wallDerby and Owl Drugstore and waited for the signal to change and a streetcar to pass. She walked with a deliberate swivel, her breasts thrust out and her chin held high. She’d learned that in the modelling course she’d managed to afford. It was only one course, but better than none. Men often paused to take a second look at this striking, hourglass-shaped woman. Then, Short crossed to the north side of the street. She noticed that Ken Murray’s Blackouts was still playing at the El Capitan up on Vine. On the opposite corner, she saw people were bustling in and out of Melody Lane.

The light changed, and as she made her way across Vine, another driver honked at her and she heard a wolf whistle. She ignored the car and stepped up on the curb and continued on down the Boulevard towards home. She had a few postcards and letters to mail at the post office on Wilcox, but otherwise, she had no plans for the day. One postcard was to Marjorie Graham, who’d moved back to Massachusetts weeks ago. The letter was for her mother. It was cheerfully worded as always and she didn’t hint at her financial difficulties, or that she was always hungry.  She knew her mother would start sending her money and Phoebe herself was on a very fixed income.

Several ideas crossed Short’s mind as she walked along. She’d hoped for a phone call from her modelling agent about getting an audition for a small part in a movie but none had come. In fact, she hadn’t had an audition for months and it Norma-Jeane-Dougherty-Bruno-Bernard-photoshoot-1945-marilyn-monroe-tribute-36595829-352-399didn’t look as though she would anytime soon. She hadn’t had a modelling job in quite some time, even though she called the agency regularly. It baffled her that she wasn’t getting more jobs. She was easily as beautiful as any of the young women who were constantly working. She’d met a girl at Breneman’s named Norma Jeane Dougherty who didn’t look that glamorous to her with her red, kinky hair and round nose, but she was always working. Short knew she was far prettier than Norma Jeane. Dougherty must have been one of those girls who didn’t mind the casting couch if it meant getting a role. Short wouldn’t even consider it. That was like prostitution as far as she was concerned.

Sometimes Short thought about marrying one of the men who admired her and settling into a domestic life, where bette7money was steady and she could eat regularly but that had not been the goal when she arrived in Hollywood and it wasn’t now. She might stop at Bradley’s five and ten for a Coke and run into some friends. Or, she might stop at the Cherokee Building first and see if Dr. Faught was in. She was still hungry, so she considered stopping by Steve Boardner’s. She had met some servicemen there before, and if she saw them again, they might offer to treat her to lunch.

As if fate was answering her prayers, another horn honked at her and a car pulled up beside her. Short glanced around at janpic3him. He was pleasant-looking with intense eyes partially hidden behind wire frame glasses and a non-descript manner of dress. “Hey you’re Beth Short, right?” he kept talking without giving her a chance to answer. “I’m sure I’ve heard of you. You’re an actress or something? I’m sure I’ve seen you in movies. You look so familiar.” Blushing, Short  tossed her mane of black hair , straightened up a little and lied, “well I have had a couple of small roles. I’m working on larger roles. Where have you heard about me?” She was known for telling stories.

Hey listen, climb in. I’ll treat you to lunch and tell you all about it. In fact, I know a guy in the industry. I’m sure he’d be interested in meeting you.” Short thought about it for a
moment. The man’s eyes locked on hers. He kept an unwavering grin on his face, tapping his steering wheel with his knuckles and waiting. It was lincoln-cars4a pleasant fall day in December in Hollywood and Beth had no plans. Short climbed into the man’s car and shut the door, smiling at him. He didn’t smile back. Instead, the man pressed the gas pedal quite hard, pulling abruptly away from the curb. Short’s body jerked forward and she nearly hit the dashboard. She glanced at him, her eyes registering doubt. The man’s face was grim as he appeared to ignore her. Instead he looked straight ahead, fastening his eyes on the road. It was as though she wasn’t even in the car anymore. Short thought he muttered something that sounded like “actresses are whores.The small hairs on the back of Short’s neck prickled.


Location, Location, Location!

Location, Location, Location

You know that old advice about purchasing real estate? Location! First and foremost! Especially where amenities and parks and dumping lots are concerned. Wait a minute.
dahlia deadDumping lots? Let me backtrack for a moment. We know that Short was found on Norton Avenue, Los Angeles. She was brought to the very end of the Avenue that was a vacant lot. A sign was posted that stated No Dumping. Needless to say the killer flaunted convention and the law even further by “dumping” poor Short’s remains beside the lot. There’s nothing original about that, to be sure. But wait! There’s more! LA Times reporter Larry Harnisch researched the Dahlia case for several months, as fascinated and obsessed as anyone has ever been. What he discovered about the location of Short’s corpse was quite intriguing.

Harnisch discovered that Norton Avenue was a significant name in Short’s life. Not only was it her dumping ground but years before when her sister married, one of her
bridesmaid’s whose married surname was Lindgren, lived on Norton Avenue in Los Angeles, about a block from Short’s location. The vacant lot is now built up into a pretty suburb. In 1944, the house that Lindgren lived in, at 3959 S. NortonIrma_Grese Avenue, belonged to Lindgren’s mother, Ruth Bayley. Who was Bayley’s husband? Surgeon Dr. Walter Bayley. As former chief of staff at LA County Hospital, Bayley was indeed a good candidate. What’s more, after his death Bayley’s wife and girlfriend, Dr. Patika, fought over the content of his will. The implication was that Patika had a secret she held over him, forcing him to include her in a substantial portion of his will. Patika herself looks as though she could have committed – or assisted with – the murder. She must be one of the most ghoulish women I’ve ever seen. She reminds me of Irma Grese, also known inexplicably as the Beauty of Bergen-Belsen, a Nazi sadist who tortured Jewish prisoners in the women’s camp, except Patika was even homelier. She bared her teeth when she smiled, almost as much as Short’s Glasgow Smile, and Patika’s monstrous teeth were just as ghoulish.

Does Harnisch think Dr. Bayley killed Short? No. There is no obvious motive and it cannot be proven that Bayley even knew Shohodel_mugrt. Harnisch does believe that if ever police had found who killed Short, it would have come out long ago. A police officer from the LAPD stated more it more succinctly: if a person had proof about who murdered Short, that person would be worth “millions.”

Another doctor, George Hodel, also lived in the area. He too had anatomical knowledge and could possibly have been the killer. His son, Steve Hodel, certainly thinks so and has published a book about his suspicions, providing what he believes to be solid evidence. Could DNA help solve the case? Maybe. Alas, wouldn’t you know, all samples from Short’s body have been lost so DNA is not to be found. In fact all witness and suspect audiotapes are gone, photographs, original documents, envelopes, and more are all lost forever. Like the Dahlia herself.