All of you, who believe that the murder of the Black Dahlia, a.k.a. Elizabeth Short, is still unsolved, please raise your hand. How many of you know who shot Lincoln? And finally, how many know who killed John Kennedy?
These three unrelated, yet notorious murders have gained a following of cynics and conspiracy theorists. All right, two of them have international implications while the third, The Black Dahlia, is most known in the U.S. because it’s about sensationalism at its most grand. There have been many mystery books written on the subject.
Folklore has propelled The Black Dahlia to the status of Jack the Ripper and Lizzie Borden. But here are some interesting notes about the murder. Since he hasn’t been tried in court, we can’t convict now and most likely will never prosecute. And now that he is dead, it may continue as more than legend but a part of history. Here are some interesting facts:
- The victim had blue eyes and brunette colored hair and was from Massachusetts, not California.
- Elizabeth Short wasn’t just murdered, but dissected and mutilated by having her mouth cut wide on both sides by someone with detailed knowledge of anatomy
- The body was discovered in a vacant lot by a woman and her daughter.
- She was not murdered at the scene; her body was placed there. Police believed that the murder took place in a home on Franklin Ave. in Los Angeles.
- Reporter Will Fowler and photographer Felix Paegel were the first to arrive on the scene before the police!
- The secretary of Dr. George Hodel, the alleged murderer, was writing a manuscript about him when she died suddenly and the manuscript disappeared.
- The killer taunted police with a series of written notes after the murder took place.
The reason the killer was never charged or indicted for the crime, even though the police had known who he was shortly after the crime took place, had more to do with blackmail and corruption as much as anything else. The physician who was in charge of the public health in Los Angeles County was Dr. George Hodel. Venereal disease was not only dangerous in the late 40’s and early 50’s but a taboo that few people would even talk about it. Dr. Hodel treated some members of the police department and the judiciary who contracted venereal disease. They feared he would go public with their names if he was indicted.
Shortly after the murders, and there were more than one, Dr. Hodel was involved in a sensational incest trial involving his 14 year old daughter. He was acquitted of the charges on Christmas Eve and left for the country where he remained for many years.
His daughter gave birth to a girl that was immediately given up for adoption to a black restroom attendant in Reno, Nevada. Dr. Hodel maintained a distant contact with the new parent, keeping tract of his offspring as she struggled in this dual world.
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