When Elizabeth Short left San Diego for Los Angeles on January 9, 1947 she was simply a 22 year old aspiring actress. On that day she hitched a ride to LA with salesman Robert Manley. He dropped her off at the Bilmore Hotel at around 6:30 PM. A few hours later she was seen leaving the Biltmore Hotel and walking south on Olive Street. A little later she was seen in the Crown Jewel Cocktail Lounge, formerly known as Broox’s Cocktail Lounge at Eight and Olive.
On the morning of January 15, 1947 a car was seen stopped at a vacant lot at 39th and Norton. At 10:54 a call is made to the LA Police Department with a report of a ‘person without clothes on’ at this vacant lot. When police arrived they discovered the naked and mutilated body of Elizabeth Short. Later her death would be listed as late on the 14th or early 15th. Nothing is known about her actions between the night/early morning of the 9th/10th and the discovery on the 15th.
Elizabeth Short was nicknamed the Black Dahlia. As with many things with this case and her life, it’s not really known whether this was a nickname that she was called while alive or was an invention of the press. The evidence points to a newspaper reporter invention. Many her knew her, referred to her as Bette.
Her murder is one of many unsolved Los Angeles murder cases. And it will probably never be solved. Too much evidence was compromised and there was police malfeasance. During the early days of the investigation there were as many newspaper reporters answering the phones at police headquarters as police officers.
There are plenty of suspects or persons that have been reported to be the Black Dahlia Murderer. Some of those suspects were cleared by police and others are though as doubtful because of some of the circumstances of the murders. About 60 people have confessed to the murder. Most of these were men but there also has been a few women.
Just as the number of suspects and confessed murders are a great number so are the myths and misconceptions about Elizabeth Short and the murder. One of the biggest is that she was a prostitute as well as an actress in underground sex films of the era. There is no evidence to this rumor and district attorney’s grand jury states that she was not a prostitute. Another is that at the time of her murder she was pregnant and the death was due to a blotched abortion. The autopsy describes Short’s reproductive organs as anatomically normal and states that Short was not and had never been pregnant.