Craziest Conspiracy Theories About The Black Dahlia

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Vote up the weirdest, most intriguing Black Dahlia theories.

The murder of Elizabeth Short, which became known as the Black Dahlia murder, is 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. Short, 22, was killed in Los Angeles in 1947. Her body was found in an abandoned lot. She had been surgically cut in half at the waist and drained of blood; the woman who found her body initially thought it was a discarded mannequin.

There was a media frenzy in the aftermath. The police got hundreds of tips, a few confessions, and even one family who thinks one of their own did the deed - but no one has yet been 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?


  • 1
    513 VOTES

    Her Slaying Is Connected To The Cleveland Torso Murders

    Her Slaying Is Connected To The Cleveland Torso Murders
    Photo: gargantuen / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

    Between 1934 and 1938, at least 13 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 some people believe that the killer is one and the same.

    513 votes
  • 2
    391 VOTES

    Her Murder Was Inspired By Man Ray

    Steve Hodel, a former detective 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 figures who appeared to be cut in half. An article in The Guardian points to two Man Ray photographs which suggest this connection: "Les Amoureux" and "Minotaur."

    391 votes
  • 3
    319 VOTES

    The Killer Was a Woman

    The Los Angeles Herald-Express commissioned a criminal profile from psychologist Alice La Vere, who presented the idea that the killer may have been a woman experiencing extreme emotional tension, loneliness, and/or jealousy.

    Decades later, Los Angeles Times writer Larry Harnisch found some overlooked clues that pointed to some involvement of physician Walter Bayley, Bayley's wife, or Bayley's mistress, Alexandra Partyka. This theory has been contested by Steve Hodel in his book Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder

    319 votes
  • 4
    337 VOTES

    Her Killer Also Murdered Georgette Bauerdorf

    Her Killer Also Murdered Georgette Bauerdorf
    Video: YouTube

    Georgette Bauerdorf was found murdered in her bathtub in 1944, two and a half years before Short was killed. She had also been violently attacked and raped.

    In Severed: The True Story of the Black Dahlia, author John Gilmore compares both crimes and believes that they carry the same signature.

    337 votes
  • 5
    292 VOTES

    Her Killer Was Jack Anderson Wilson

    Her Killer Was Jack Anderson Wilson
    Photo: Medford Oregon Police Dept. / Fair Use

    Arnold Smith was one of Gilmore’s sources when writing Severed. Smith claimed to know who killed Short and also told Gilmore unusual details about the murder; he said it was committed by 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, an alleged psychic who goes by the name 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?

    292 votes
  • 6
    238 VOTES

    The Letters 'D' And 'E' Were Carved Into Her Body

    The Letters 'D' And 'E' Were Carved Into Her Body
    Photo: Los Angeles Police Department / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    In Crime magazine, Stephen Karadjis claims that the letters “D” and “E” were carved into Short’s pubic area. His claims are based on testimony and photographs that are not available to the public, so they’re difficult to verify.

    However, he believes the “D” may stand for Leslie Dillon, one of the lead suspects in the case.

    238 votes