... eventually included:
* Robert Manley
Manley was the last known person to see Short alive. He dropped her off at her hotel and left. He was initially booked as a suspect, but released after he passed a polygraph test. Beset by a long history of mental health problems, in 1954, his wife committed him to a psychiatric hospital after he told her he was hearing voices. That same year, doctors gave him a shot of sodium pentothal — aka the “truth serum” — in another attempt to glean information about the Black Dahlia murder from him. He was absolved a second time. He died in 1986, 39 years to the day after he left Short at the Biltmore. The coroner attributed his death to an accidental fall. It is precisely because poor Manley was schizoid that I believe he was innocent. The polygraph has nothing to do with verifying his innocence. Psychopaths for instance, are easily able to pass polygraph tests because they lack a conscience. Insofar as Manley’s profile is concerned, very few mentally ill people hurt people around them. If anything, they end up hurting themselves or committing suicide, and even this is somewhat uncommon. Mentally ill people seldom have the capacity to lure people to a horrific death: pre-meditated plotting takes organized, rational (although nasty) thinking, a skill well beyond Manley’s mental capability as evidenced by his committment to a mental hospital.
* Mark Hansen
Hansen’s name was embossed on the address book that was mailed to the Examiner; it’s unclear how the item fell into Short’s hands. The 55-year-old Denmark native was the manager of the Florentine Gardens, a sleazy Hollywood nightclub featuring burlesque acts. Many of the young women working for Hansen lived at his home, which was located behind the club. It was well-known that if a beautiful young girl was short on money for food or a place to stay, Hansen would help her out. Short was his guest for several months in 1946, and the aging lothario is rumored to have tried to bed her – unsuccessfully. My feeling is that Hansen was also innocent. Short trusted this lech enough to live with him for several months and he did her no harm. This would have been the opportunity he needed to kill her. After she left, Hansen would have had a more difficult time re-connecting with Short, who wanted nothing more to do with him. He would also be an obvious target for the police. He also had no motive for killing Short. Many young women lived with him. If Short wouldn’t have sex with him, I’m sure there were others who did. Ick. However he was dropped from the list of suspects very quickly after police began to question him. His response was if the police tried to connect him or any of his friends to the murder he would tell the press about the pay-off money he gave the cops who worked the beat around the Gardens. That was the end of that.
* George Hodel
In 2003, a retired LAPD detective named Steve Hodel published another daddy-did-it tract, but this one became a national bestseller. According to the “Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder” Hodel Jr. depicts his dad as a tyrant and misogynistic pervert who held orgies at the family home and was put on trial for raping own his 14-year-old daughter (he was acquitted). After his father died in 1999, Steve Hodel acquired his father’s private photo album, which contained two snapshots of a dark-haired woman. Hodel claims the woman was Short, but Short’s family has refuted his claims. Hodel’s second wife, Dorothy, was interviewed on March 22, 1950 by Frank Jemison at her home on the Santa Monica Pier. George and Dorothy were divorced in 1945, but were always on friendly terms, she said. She was raising their three sons at the time.
Jemison said, “I will now show you a photograph of Beth Short, Santa Barbara No. 11419 and ask you whether or not you have ever seen that young lady in your life?” Dorothy replied, “No, I never have.” When she was asked if her former husband had ever 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.” Jemison also 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.”
He continued to press his case with Dorothy, asking her to come forth with any information that might be helpful, but she insisted Hodel couldn’t have been involved. She told Jemison that, “I know he has never practiced surgery. His branch of medicine is V.D. generally and administrative medicine. At one point, 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.” She said the Biltmore was a “central location” and that they had been there together for lunch and possibly dinner. She thought he might have stayed there when he was between apartments at the time the “three-day law in effect.” This was the same law that may have caused Beth to move from residence to residence at different times. That Short had to move around on such a frequent basis also placed her in harm’s way. If her killer inhabited hotels in the same manner she did, or for whatever reason, stayed in various hotels, Short’s forced itinerant lifestyle placed her in greater danger than if she had remained in one hotel.
Now and then we read about parents who are so incestuous and violent as to expose their children to pedophilic orgies. Maybe this happened to Hodel. Maybe it didn’t. I believe George Hodel was brought to trial for incest. His acquittal may have been fair and it may have been false. In the 1940s not many incest victims were believed when they tried to tell someone they were being molested or raped. A jury would have been keen to dismiss the charges because fathers simply didn’t rape their daughters in the 1940s (and for some people, it still doesn’t happen). What I don’t believe is Steve Hodel’s ability to prove any of the accusations he has made against his father. This book is merely a money-grabber.
* Jack Anderson Wilson
In “Severed: The True Story of the Black Dahlia Murder,” actor-cum-crime writer John Gilmore fingers an alcoholic drifter named Jack Anderson Wilson. When Gilmore interviewed him in the early 80s, Wilson purportedly divulged details about the murder that only the killer would have known, including knowledge a supposed vaginal defect which would have prevented Short from having sexual intercourse. A few days before his pending arrest, Wilson died in a hotel fire. As soon as we learn that Wilson discovered Short couldn’t have sexual relations due to a vaginal defect we know this story is untrue. It was proven in the autopsy that Short’s vagina was normal in form and function. This leads to the idea that perhaps Short said she couldn’t have sex for this reason, so she didn’t have to have sex with Wilson. Anything is possible. That’s one of the reasons the case is still unsolved. Wilson did suggest to Gilmore that a Short impersonator told Wilson he had killed Short. Meh. I’m not convinced. Wilson eventually burnt to death in a fire at a cheap hotel where he lived. He fell asleep when he was smoking.
* Walter Alonzo Bayley
In 1997, a Los Angeles Times writer named Larry Harnisch suggested yet another suspect: Dr. Walter Alonzo Bayley, a surgeon whose house was located one block south of the lot where Short’s body was found. Bayley’s daughter was a friend of Short’s sister Virginia. Harnisch theorized that Bayley suffered from a degenerative brain disease that made him kill Short. While the police believe Short’s killer was affiliated with a cutting profession — a surgeon or butcher, say — Bayley was 67 at the time of the murder and had no known record of violence or crime. Neither is it known whether he ever met Short. I had no idea that Short’s sister Virginia was in any way still connected to Short when she moved to L.A. so that piece of information is new to me. Whether or not that meant Virginia had any contact with Short in Hollywood however is open for speculation. It’s intriguing to take a closer look at Bayley because of the brain disease and his surgical skills. The two traits combined in this case do sound like an intriguing profile for Short’s killer. Yet his age may have made him an unlikely suspect. The effort that would be required for this killing and the dumping of the body sounds more like a young man’s horrible game. And dumping the body only one block south of the killer’s house is nothing less than stupid. Who walks a block away from home to dispose of a corpse? The idea is to remove the evidence as far away as possible. And if this profile fits so well, why didn’t the police arrest the good doctor? Stating that he was well-connected is nonsense. No one has good enough connections to get away with this murder.
None of these suspects have been endorsed by the LAPD which isn’t to say that none of these suspects is the killer. I’d like to wager that this person may have been a Scottish or English immigrant (no offence to the Scottish or the English). Why? The Glasgow smile also known as a Chelsea Grin, that was carved into Short’s face originated in Glasgow, Scotland by members of various gangs but it became popular in England. The smile is made with short cuts to the corners of the mouth then beating and stabbing the victim until facial muscles contract and the cuts extend up to the ears. Usually this is done with a utility knife or a piece of broken glass. This alone could have ended Short’s life due to exsanguination, or blood loss. This doesn’t narrow anything down of course. Just a thought.
To make matters worse 50 people confessed to the murder.
There are more nut cases around than you’d realize in any sensationalized murder case. In fact, Short’s social life included the adventurous and the utterly dangerous so every confession and every tip had to be followed, 1000 in total. She met dozens of men in bars and nightclubs and even worked in a nightclub for a while. The press portrayed Short as a temptress and a loose girl who slept with several of these men but this is false. Short was not known by her roommates and friends to be promiscuous. She dated men for meals since she was so low on money most of the time, and for cash for clothes and trinkets but she wasn’t known to sleep with any of her male acquaintances. Most of her roommates dated several different men and they were also not promiscuous girls. In the 1940s, good girls didn’t have sex until marriage and Short appeared to live by this ethic.
A creepy letter was sent to the LA Times after the murder. Someone had cut out letters from magazines and newspapers to form words. The message read: Here are Dahlia’s belongings. Letter will follow. Undeniable evidence including Short’s i.d. were provided to police. No matching prints were found on the letter. The author didn’t send the follow-up letter. A black address book was filled with names except for one page that was ripped out. Naturally police suspected this page held the killer’s name but this didn’t come to fruition either. Originally there were 23 suspects (including the above 5) many of whom were decidedly warped, and, for one reason or another, were eventually ruled out by police. These included:
Carl Balsiger -in February, 1943 was stationed at Camp Cooke at the same time as Beth Short. She was employed there in the commissary. When questioned by police on January 20, 1947, he stated he first met victim at real estate office on Sunset Boulevard on December 6, 1946, that she moved out of the Chancellor Hotel that date and that he took her in his car on a business trip to Camarillo, California where he made a sale of supplies to a baker. They returned to Los Angeles the same day and then signed his name for a room for victim at a hotel on Yucca Street, Hollywood. That on December 7, he took her down to the bus station in Hollywood where she said she was going to take a bus San Francisco to see her sister. He said that he had no sexual relations with her; he just felt sorry for her. This story was not believed as the facts indicated that the victim took a bus to San Diego on December 9, 1946. It was established that this suspect on two occasions had given different women vicious beatings and that a twenty-two year old woman by the name of Dorothy Welsh with whom he had attended a school in Kansas City was murdered in that city in 1941 in a similar manner to victim Short.
Claude Welsh – Here’s a parallel universe if ever I read one: The victim’s name was Leila Adele Welsh, not Dorothy Welsh, as she was listed in police reports. Equally odd, Dorothy’s brother “Claude” was actually named George. Both siblings were incredibly beautiful and the family was wealthy. Nice. For two years, Claude was a suspect listed on the DA’s papers and for good reason: he lived at the murder site and was present when his sister was murdered.
Leila Adele Welsh was born in 1917 and died on March-09-1941 at the age of 24. Leila was the heiress of Kansas real estate mogul James Welsh, (her grandfather). She was a pretty brunette and was a runner-up in beauty contest at University of Kansas City in 1937. Leila taught school in Knoxville, IL until 1940, at which time she returned home to Rockhill Road in Kansas City, to live with her mother Marie and George. She was killed horribly and in a manner similar to Short: three blows to the head with a 4 and 1/2 pound railroad hammer and a slit in her throat that almost decapitated her. Blood was drained from her body onto the floor, through the floorboards and into the basement of her mother’s home. Leila’s pajamas were shredded and a man’s shirt, minus collar, was stuffed into the wound in her throat. A 6 inch, circular piece of flesh was cut from her right thigh/buttock after exsanguination. The letter G
or S was written on the victim’s calf in the victim’s blood. The victim had not been sexually assaulted. If this doesn’t sound like Short’s murderer, I don’t know which does.
Incredibly, this murder took place in Marie’s house, when both she and her son were home sleeping.The killer entered Leila’s bedroom through an open window after she returned home from a date at the circus. Leila followed her date with a nightcap at a local hotel at around 1:30 am. Her mother heard a thump at some point in the night, but thought it was her son rolling off the davenport he was asleep on. Aft
er the murder, the killer left the hammer at the foot of the victim’s bed and stuck the knife into the ground outside the window. Police discovered the killer’s bloody cotton gloves as well as the sizable chunk of flesh he cut from Leila’s thigh/buttock, about 100 yards from the house.
Marie didn’t discover her daughter until late morning the following day. The killer wedged a chair against the door of the victim’s bedroom making it difficult to enter. Leila’s friend
told police that the victim mentioned a recent marriage proposal by a male she recently met in Knoxville. This man was not named. Leila told him she would have to think about
his proposal. The police eventually and predictably arrested the victim’s brother George Welsh (named Claude), aged 27. This was based on the statement of the owner of a second-hand store, who claimed to have sold the knife used in the murder to the victim’s brother. Police claimed motive was money and greed, specifically the $200,000 trust that James Welsh left for the family. I find that one hard to believe. Why would someone use overkill because he was motivated by greed? And what was the point in draining the poor victim? A simple bullet to the brain would have finished her off quite nicely. This was no money-motivated murder. Whatever the reason, it took two years before Welsh was acquitted of the charge of murdering Leila Welsh. No other charges were laid against anyone and 72 years later, this case also remains unsolved.
Sergeant Chuck – name unknown
John D. Wade – Wade had a Crown Grill connection with Short. The Crown Jewel Cocktail Room, at 754 South Olive Street, in downtown Los Angeles was a favorite drinking spot of Short and her friends, according to Frank Jemison. He testified before the 1949 Grand jury hearings about his investigation. He said that, “Elizabeth Short and her friend Marjorie Graham and Anne Toth were known drinking customers of this bar located at 9th and Olive, which is two blocks from where Elizabeth Short was last seen alive.” I am unsure of why Wade was a suspect.
Joe Scalis – Joe Scalise worked at the Crown Grill across the street from the Biltmore Hotel where Short was staying, on January 9, 1947. Two other employees said they saw Short there that night.
James Nimmo – James Nimmo was an usher that worked at the CBS studios in Columbia Square on Sunset Boulevard near Vine Street. He worked under head usher 20-year-old John Egger. Egger said he saw Short “at least twenty times” at the radio studio. She always came alone, except once when she was with a man who identified himself as a Chicago police officer. Short usually waited in line to see a broadcast, but this time she was allowed in with the man through a side door. He said she came to see the Jack Carson show on either January 2 or January 8.
Maurice Clemment – Clement worked at Columbia Studios at the time of the murder. He lived in Hollywood at 1616 N. Normandie, apartment 107. His name was found in Short’s address book.
A Chicago Police Officer – A man accompanying Short to a radio program at CBS studios in January, 1947, showed a Chicago police badge to CBS employees. His identity was never established.
Salvador Tores Vera (medical student) – Vera frequented Brittingham’s restaurant in Columbia Square, but it has never been confirmed that he knew Short. (The enclosed picture is an unidentified man found in Short’s belongings.)
Marvin Margoles (medical student)
Glenn Wolf – Ann Toth, a friend of Short’s, did not care for Glenn Wolfe. She described him as a “lousy character. I would say. One of the worst type. He was a sexual pervert, maniac, everything. I hate him. He even threatened to kill me once, because I was going to turn him over to the O.P.A. He was putting four girls into a room, where there should have been two, for $5.00.” Wolf, according to district attorney notes, lived at 1617 N. McCadden Place in Hollywood, sleeping “in the N.W. corner room.” Wolfe lived two blocks west and one block south of the Chancellor.
Michael Anthony Otero – Otero lived with Albert Rodriguez at the time of the murder. Right after the murder he emigrated to Barcelona, Spain.On September 1 1950 he returned to the U.S. He admitted dating Short 12 times and on one occasion he met Short at the Biltmore Hotel. He is the only known boyfriend who met Short at the Biltmore before her murder.
George Bacos – head usher at NBC Studios at Sunset and Vine in Hollywood, was an ambitious 23-year-old who was employed on a commission basis at a record promotion company, Jay Faber Associates. As another sideline Bacos contracted entertainment talent around town, including the Crown Grill located two blocks south of the Biltmore Hotel. Short frequented this establishment and was last seen walking in this direction. Bacos had met Short while dating Short’s roommate, Lynn Martin. During the four plus months Short lived in Los Angeles, Bacos took Short out 12 times. When Short was identified as the murdered woman, Bacos’ statements to police contained comments that were disingenuous and derogatory.
I used to see her with a lot of people. I tried to avoid her as much as possible. She dressed kinda cheaply, you know too obvious and everything… I didn’t want to kiss her because of all that goop she used on her face. I’m used to nice cultured girls. Bacos says he was used to “nice cultured girls” yet he confessed to dating and having had sexual relations with Lynn Martin who was found to be 15 years old. He certainly was a cultured gentleman.
Francis Campbell – Campbell was on duty at the Crown Grill the night of January 9, 1947.
Queer Woman Surgeon – Elizabeth Short may have made contact with a female abortionist in the San Fernando Valley. There is no positive identification of this person.
Doctor Paul DeGaston – DeCaston was identified as an abortionist who practiced under the alias, Dr. C. J. Morris in downtown Los Angeles. He was tried for murder in 1934 and served time for performing abortions. His name and address were found in Elizabeth Short’s address book after her murder. Very unlikely that DeGaston murdered and butchered Short in this manner. It’s a bit of a stretch from performing abortions to dismembering women. I suspect that the charge of murder against him was the result of a botched abortion rather than a random act of violence.
Dr A.E. Brix – A business card for Dr. Brix was found in Short’s belongings after her murder. Dr. Brix said she visited his office once, inquiring about his charges for treatment of female trouble. He said she did not return.
Dr. M.M. Schwartz – Dr. Schwartz was located in the Cherokee Building on Hollywood Boulevard, less than two blocks from the Chancellor. Mark Hansen said he drove Elizabeth Short to Schwartz’s office. The Doctor said she was a patient of Dr. Faught, with whom he shared a nurse in the Cherokee Building.
Dr. Arthur McGinnis Faught
Dr. Patrick S. O’Reilly – frequented the Florentine Gardens and attended sex parties with Mark Hansen. He had a history of weird, violently sexual crime and had been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. No charges were brought against him but considering Hansen’s threat to expose police blackmail against the Gardens if his “friends” were harassed, I’d say O’Reilly is a solid candidate for the killer, especially due to the Scottish surname….I have the suspicion that a Scot or an Englishman committed the murder due to the Glasgow smile that was carved into Short’s face.
Bill Robinson – although not on the list of LAPD suspects, I dare say he belonged there. Marvin Margolis and Bill Robinson visited Mark Hansen’s home “quite often,” according to Ann Toth. She said that Bill was Marjorie’s boyfriend, but on one occasion he attacked Short. “This Bill Robinson tried to take advantage of her once and he slapped her in the face and threw her out of the car. She came home crying about that. I don’t think anyone else tried anything.” Mark Hansen described Bill Robinson and Marvin Margolis, saying, “They had a lot of nerve, those two guys. Always had to chase them out.” Concerning Margolis, Hansen said, “Well, I didn’t pay much attention to his conversation. He was a windy blower. I had to ask him to leave there. I didn’t want him around.”
Leslie Dillon – Jack Sands, alias Leslie Dillon, wrote a letter from Florida to Dr. J. Paul de River, LAPD psychiatrist, expressing his theory of the murder of Short. The two exchanged letters and met with each other in Las Vegas, Nevada. Dillon claimed he had a suspect, but LAPD psychiatrist, Dr. J. Paul de River thought Jack Sands made a good suspect. Homicide detective Sergeant John (J.J.) O’Mara worked undercover as dr River’s bodyguard and chauffeur. Dillon and de River discussed lovely topics such as embalming and bleeding. Dillon admitted he had worked at the Hahn Funeral Home in Oklahoma in 1943. Dillon described how to drain blood from a body by making an incision on the upper thigh and inserting a tube. When de rivers asked why the killer would drain Short’s body Dillon suggested “the person would want to see how far his penis went into the person.” That’s not at all weird.
The three eventually made their way to a lodge to discuss Dillon’s theory. Dillon showed de Rivers a picture of the Madonna, for no particular reason. The doctor sat and studied the picture. This caused Dillon significant annoyance. When Dillon was brought to the crime scene he became increasingly agitated. O’Mara observed that Dillon was “very, very clever…you had to more or less, spar with, box with, a person.” In fact when the good doctor was questioning Dillon, the latter managed to infuriate the doctor with a condescending observation. The strange interrogation led nowhere and Dillon was never charged with Short’s murder. Too bad. I think he was a viable candidate in part because he knew about draining a corpse of blood and also because it was Dillon who contacted police about the murder, and not the other way around.
Robert Roberts – No you aren’t seeing double. That’s his name. Anyway, Mr. Robert Robertson who was originally from Boise, Idaho, who was visiting California. He told detectives about his experiences with Short in Long Beach, where she stayed from late July to early August 1946.The photos wouldn’t come to the attention of the police until 1951 when Roberts was busted for beating his wife. Nice guy. if Short had been interested in him, she dodged a bullet. I think. In his statement to LAPD detectives he said he and a friend, who had also known Short in Long Beach, had considered coming forward immediately following the news but they’d decided not to get involved. The man may have been guilty of spousal battery, but he was eliminated as a suspect in Short’s murder. Police used this picture of Short at one of her favourite clubs as a clue to possible suspects. This is part of Roberts’ interrogation:
“…we saw this girl going down the stairs. She was ahead of us and we went across the street to breakfast at the drugstore. She was a nice-looking girl and smiled at us and we had breakfast together in the drugstore and then we went back to the room and then went to the beach. I don’t know where she went. And then we would have breakfast with her every morning and walked to the beach a couple of times in the afternoon. One night she said she would like to go to the Palladium dancing and we got the P.E. train and went to Hollywood in the afternoon and spent the day dancing and came back that night and probably got home about 2:30 or 3:00. That must have been in July or August, I guess. It’s hard, you know, when you don’t know exactly the months.”
Roberts can hardly be arrested for enjoying the company of a pretty girl while having breakfast. If he could there’d be a lot of over-crowded prisons in L.A. right now.
Technically Woodley wasn’t a suspect but he was arrested in
Colorado and brought to Los Angeles for questioning about Short’s murder. Woodley admitted to spending the last night of Short’s life with her but not alone: his date, and a sailor who was in Short’s company were all there having a booze and pot party. Woodley stated the sailor, simply known as Jack, was red-headed and had a “florid complexion.” Woodley also claimed the man was very drunk and belligerent. He fought with Short over some rings she wore and Woodley believed that Short didn’t seem to know how to handle the situation. Later in the evening, Short and her date parted company with Woodley and his friend. So
me hours later, Jack attended Woodley’s residence, covered in blood and stating he’d “been in an accident.” He acquired a new set of clothing from Woodley then he and the latter stuffed the sailor’s suit down a sewer. Why it was that the idiotic Woodley helped this belligerent, suspicious man to dispose of bloody clothing in the wee hours of the morning is beyond my understanding however I don’t believe Jack was a viable suspect. He was highly drunk, loud and attended Woodley’s house only hours after parting ways with him. That simply isn’t enough time to have committed the fatal atrocities against Short. And a highly intoxicated person isn’t going to be able to wield a butcher knife with that kind of skill. Whatever Jack had been doing to get so bloodied remains a mystery.
Claud R. Cox
Cox came to the attention of the LAPD after a Marion Brown reported to police that he had threatened her with a knife and stated “I’ll cut you in half.” Cox approached Brown as she waited for a bus and he told her “I know you.” He offered to take her home in his car and she accepted, following him to his apartment. Once inside he jumped on her and held a knife to her throat. Brown managed to scream, free herself and run out to the street. Police questioned him about Mrs. Louise Springer, who was a sex slaying victim and Short, but no connection was made with either woman. Cox told cops that he got “a little friendly” but he flatly denied trying to harm the girl.