Articles and stories about Elizabeth Short always point out how unremarkable she was. Talented, but not magnificent. Pretty, but not exceptionally so. Tainted, somewhat, by the rose tattoo on her thigh. Just another young woman drifting through Hollywood in 1947, seeking fame. She was twenty-two when she died. When she was surgically cut in half and drained of blood. When she was posed like a mannequin and dumped in a field. She was twenty-two when she became infamous, not famous like she wanted. She was twenty-two when she became the Black Dahlia.
It's one of the most famous murders in American history, partially because of how gruesome it was, and partially because it remains unsolved to this day. There was a media frenzy in the aftermath. The police got hundreds of tips, and even a few confessions, but they were never able to definitively prove any of their Black Dahlia theories. This list explores conspiracy theories about what happened to Elizabeth Short. Do you believe any of them?
Her Slaying is Connected to the Cleveland Torso Murders
Between 1935 and 1938, at least twelve people were killed and surgically dismembered in and around Cleveland. The manner in which they were surgically cut apart is very similar to the way the Black Dahlia was bisected and many people believe that the killer is one and the same.
Her Killer Also Murdered Georgette Bauerdorf
Georgette Bauerdorf was found strangled in her bathtub in 1944, two and a half years before Short was killed. She was also violently attacked and raped. In Severed, author John Gilmore compares both crimes and believes that they carry the same signature.
Her Killer was Jack Anderson Wilson
Arnold Smith was one of Gilmore’s main sources when writing Severed. Smith claimed to know who killed Short; he said it was a man named Al Morrison. However, there is no evidence that Al Morrison exists. Police believe that it was just an alias that Smith used. On top of that, Arnold Smith wasn’t even his real name. It was Jack Anderson Wilson, and he was a career criminal, though he had only ever been convicted of petty crimes. Also, psychic Marie St. Claire claims to have made a psychic connection with Short, who said that her murderer’s name was Morrison, so, um, case closed?
Her Murder Was Inspired by Man Ray
Steve Hodel, who maintains that his father, George Hodel, killed Short, believes George was inspired by a surrealist artist named Man Ray. George and Man Ray were close friends and Man Ray’s work often featured nude men and women cut in half. In particular, Hodel believes his father was influenced by a specific piece called “Le Minotaure,” and draws parallels between the art and the way Short’s body was posed when it was found.