Uploaded by Melanie Van Den Brink

MLA Unsolved Mystery

Jane Doe
Professor Berg
EDU 515
February 20, 2020
The Black Dahlia
The Black Dahlia, an unsolved murder, continues to puzzle experts 70 years later. First
referred to as the Werewolf murder, Elizabeth Short’s death remains a mystery (Blakinger).
Elizabeth’s active social life made her movements and whereabout hard for investigators to pin
down a suspect and solve her murder (Blakinger), which resulted in more questions than
Elizabeth Short moved from Massachusetts to Hollywood to become a star, which she
did, but not the way she planned. She was last seen at the Biltmore Hotel in Hollywood, making
a phone call while waiting for her sister to pick her up on January 9, 1947 (Samuel 74). Six days
later, Betty Bersinger, on a walk with her three-year-old daughter, discovered what she thought
was a discarded “broken doll” in a vacant lot, but it was Short’s body (Samuel 75). The naked
corpse was severed at the waist and posed with her legs spread and her arms above her head, and
the murderer cut the corners of her mouth to extend to each ear (Samuel 75). Elizabeth’s murder
made her a posthumous star as a result of the extensive newspaper coverage.
The Black Dahlia murderer left unsullied evidence that foreshadowed a variety of
suspects and theories. The editor of The Examiner received a call on January 23 from a man
identifying himself as the killer, and he expressed he did not agree with the way the story was
told (Korzik). The man offered to mail Elizabeth’s belongings to prove his claim, which he did
(Korzik). The box The Examiner received included her birth certificate, business cards,
photographs, an address book, and a cryptic letter from the killer, and it was all doused in
gasoline to erase fingerprints (Korzik). The same day the package arrived, Elizabeth’s shoes and
handbag were found in a trash can near the crime scene (Korzik). Blakinger points out that
homicide detective, Harry Hansen, suspected the killer of being a medical expert because of how
she was severed and the cleanliness of the corpse. He told a Los Angeles Grand Jury in 1949,
“I’ve seen many horrible mutilation cases, many of them, and if any of you ladies and gentlemen
had ever seen a case like that, and would see the pictures of this Elizabeth Short case, you could
detect the difference immediately” (Blakinger). By December of 1948, 192 different people had
been suspected of Short’s murder (Korzik). The theories range from doctors she had contact
with, to a former mortician’s assistant, all with psychological issues.
Elizabeth Short’s active social life generated a plethora of suspects and theories, but the
politics of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) added to the confusion. The 1949 Grand
Jury Report about the LAPD stated, “Deplorable conditions indicating corrupt practices and
misconduct by some members of the law enforcement agencies in the county… alarming
increase in the number of unsolved murders…jurisdictional disputes and jealousies among law
enforcement agencies” (Korzik). Leslie Dillion, a former mortician assistant, was named as the
prime suspect, but the LAPD’s illegal detainment of Dillion kept him from being indicted
(Korzik). According to Korzik, “Jealousy and secrecy were common among members of the
LAPD, causing case information often to not be passed on properly. The LAPD received a
shake-up throughout the entire system, including the dismissal of Police Chief Clemence Horrall
from the LAPD.” The drama occurring in the LAPD hindered the solving of Elizabeth Short’s
Many authors have revisited the 70-year-old unsolved murder of the Black Dahlia
throughout the years, presenting new theories or “naming” the murderer. Would this murder
prevail as a mystery if the authorities had the technology of today? Could DNA evidence still be
found on the exhumed remains? At this point, the murderer of Elizabeth Short is most likely
deceased, and the Black Dahlia murder will continue to be unsolved.
Works Cited
Blakinger, Kari. “Nearly 70 Years After Her Murder, Here are the Things We Still Don’t
know About Black Dahlia.” New York Daily News. 15 January 2016,
Korzik, Morgan. The Black Dahlia: The 1947 Murder of Elizabeth Short, UNC-Chapel
Hill. 2 December 2016, http://blackdahlia.web.unc.edu/. Accessed 30 January 2020.
Sullivan, Robert. The Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of all Time. Life Books, 2009.