January 15, 1947
Los Angeles, California
The nude and mutilated body of Elizabeth Short, aka Black Dahlia, is found by a woman walking with her 3-year-old daughter
The murder created an immediate sensation, due in part to Short’s body being mutilated so horrifically and the mystery of who would be so savage to another person. Short’s body was found bisected at the waist, her blood completely drained from her body, her face cut in a Glasgow smile (the cheeks cut from the corners of the mouths to the ears), her thighs and breasts received several cuts including several pieces of flesh being removed. When posed at the scene, her lower half was placed approximately a foot away from the top, her intestines pulled out and pushed under her buttocks, her legs spread open, and her arms pulled over her head, bent at the elbows. An autopsy revealed ligature marks to her wrists and neck as well as bruises to her head and face; her official cause of death was determined to be a combination of beatings to the head and hemorrhaging from the Glasgow smile.
During the sensationalized media frenzy, many rumors and misconceptions about Short arose: that she was a call girl, though no evidence existed showing she was ever a prostitute; that she had “infantile genitalia,” though the autopsy and several of her previous lovers (including a police officer) proved otherwise; or that she was possibly the victim of an illegal abortion gone wrong though her autopsy revealed she was not and had never been pregnant.
Although around 60 people confessed to the murder, many were eliminated quickly and those who remained were never taken to trial. The case is still unsolved.
The scene of the discovery, with a group of people huddled around Short’s body
A plaque memorializing Elizabeth
WARNING: the following photos are graphic and uncensored