Episode 191: The Black Dahlia–Mysterious Murder in LA

This episode is brought to you by El Yucateco
  • On this episode of the Sofa King Podcast, we play detective around the most infamous unsolved murder case in Los Angeles history, the Black Dahlia. Elizabeth Short was born in Boston in 1924, and after a bizarre event with her father leaving the family in the middle of the night, she finally reconnected with him in her 20s and moved to California to be with him. There, she lived in various cities, bounced around back to Florida a bit, and finally settled in LA for the final several months of her life. She was an aspiring actress who had a thing for service men in the 1940s and spent a lot of time hustling meals and favors in nightclubs.

On January 15th, 1947, a woman named Betty Bersinger was walking with her young daughter along a new street in the then under-development neighborhood of Leimert Park when she saw what she thought was the two pieces of a mannequin. Instead, it was the remains Elizabeth Short. She was cut in half at the waist, drained of blood, had her skin scrubbed clean, and had a Joker Smile cut from cheek to cheek.

The press ransacked the area, getting there before even the LAPD could respond, and the case was an instant sensation. Short was nicknamed the Black Dahlia (presumably a play on word for a recent film that had come out), and a thorough (though incompetent) investigation took place. The media made a circus out of the case, derailing the police in many ways, and ultimately dozens of different people came to confess because of the infamy of the Black Dahlia.

However, the true killer was never brought to justice. Allegedly, the killer sent letters and evidence to the LAPD, but nobody could link the killing to any one individual. Some investigators tried to link the murder to the Lipstick Murder that happened several weeks later and the Cleveland Torso murders that were going on at the time.

In the 1990s a woman unlocked a “hidden memory” that supposedly revealed who the killer was. One person claimed it was the director and actor Orson Welles! Perhaps the biggest lead came in 2013 with a pretty convincing case that a doctor named George Hodell did the killings—and this came from Hodell’s own son, a retired LAPD officer. So, if you like murder, mystery, and true crime, give this one a listen.

Article on one supposed killer: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Search-Dog-Finds-Potential-Evidence-in-Black-Dahlia-Murder-189481711.html 

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