The Black Dahlia


Elizabeth Short


Age: 22 years
Sex: Female
Date Death: January 15th, 1947

Time found: 10 A.M

Found: L.A.’s Leimert Park neighborhood


Around 10 am on January 15th, 1947 the body of Elizabeth Short was found by a woman who was walking with her two year old daughter through a park when she saw what she thought was an abandoned mannequin, soon she realized this was not the case. The body of a young woman sliced clean in half at the waist and there wasn’t a drop of blood indicating that she was killed elsewhere. She was later called The Black Dahlia by the press.


After identifying the body by its fingerprint with the help of the FBI the LAPD began circulating a flier in the hopes of getting more information. She moved to Hollywood in the hopes of stardom. Elizabeth worked as a waitress/cashier and also struggled with unemployment. She died because of a hemorrhage and shock. Nine days after her body was found a letter arrived at the offices of The Los Angeles Examiner, it contained some of Short’s belongings. During the investigation many of the people questioned said that they had only briefly met Elizabeth. In the letter sent to the Examiner, the FBI was able to find a fingerprint but they were not able to find a match. The last place she was seen alive was at the Biltmore Hotel.  After this the case went cold.


Someone with surgical skills may have been responsible. Hundreds were questioned and cleared. The FBI investigated and question at least 300 USC medical students, but nothing came out of this. After more than 70 years later there are three suspects that are worth looking at.


  • Salesman and former army musician
  • Robert “Red” Manley
  • His relationship with short began a month before her murder
  • He asked her if he could give her a ride, at first Short didn’t speak to him but he managed to get her into his car
  • Manley took her on dates
  • They both stayed platonically in a hotel in Pacific Beach. Then he left her in the Biltmore hotel at about 6:30 of the evening of January 9th.
  • Manley pleads his innocence and willingly took two polygraph test which he passed.
  • Manley died on January 9th after an accidental fall in his apartment, 39 years to the day after he last saw Elizabeth Short alive.   


  • In 1997 the LA times interviewed Ralph Asdel the last living detective from the original investigation
  • He claimed that he had found Elizabeth’s murderer
  • He received a few tips of a man witnesses noticed near the place she was found, they also described seeing a black car  
  • Asdel found a man matching this description whos car, which was repainted, also matched the description
  • Because this was only based on a hunch and had no hard evidence he was unable to confront the suspect.


  • This third suspect is well known to those familiar to the case  
  • Dr. George Hodel
  • Many said that they had interacted with the real killer of Elizabeth Short specially Steve Hodel a retired LAPD detective, the detectives own father.
  • Wealthy doctor, well connected, with a high IQ
  • While he wasn’t a practicing surgeon, he breezed through medical school where he studied to be one.   
  • After George died, Steve Hodel, found two photos of a women, who he believed to be Elizabeth Short
  • He believed that his father had a romantic relationship with Short, and that they were spotted at a hotel.
  • George Hodel would have had the medical training needed to produce the mutilation performed on Elizabeth Short body.
  • George drove a black 1936 Packard that looked similar to the descriptions of the black car previously mentioned (suspect #2)
  • George Hodel moved or fled to the philippines a few years after the Black Dahlia murder


Stephen Kay, LA county head deputy, believed with all the research done, specifically in suspect #3, the case was solved but he was speaking for himself not the DA’s office. Today the case is still open, but has been decades since this case was actively investigated. The Black Dahlia murder fascinated the nation and continues to fascinate many. Was the Black Dahlia killed by Dr. Hodel or is there another answer? For now the case remains a mystery and unsulved.

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