Murder of Elizabeth Short

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Elizabeth Short, AKA "The Black Dahlia".

Elizabeth Short (July 29, 1924 – January 14 or 15, 1947), known posthumously as the "Black Dahlia", was an American woman who was found murdered in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Her case became highly publicized due to the graphic nature of the crime, which included her corpse showing extensive evidence of torture, having been mutilated and bisected at the waist. A glasgow smile had also been carved on her face.

A native of Boston, Short spent her early life in Medford, Massachusetts and Florida before relocating to California, where her father lived. It is commonly held that Short was an aspiring actress, though she had no known acting credits or jobs during her time in Los Angeles. She would acquire the nickname of the Black Dahlia posthumously (after the owner of a drugstore in Long Beach, California told reporters that male customers had that name for her), as newspapers of the period often nicknamed particularly lurid crimes; the term may have originated from a film noir murder mystery, The Blue Dahlia, released in April 1946. After the discovery of her body on January 15, 1947, the Los Angeles Police Department began an extensive investigation that produced over 150 suspects, but yielded no arrests.

Police came to consider George Hodel as a suspect in the crime. He was never formally charged with the crime, and came to wider attention as a suspect after his death when he was accused by his son, Los Angeles homicide detective Steve Hodel, of killing Short and committing several additional murders, as well as possibly being the Zodiac Killer. Prior to the Dahlia case, he was also a suspect in the death of his secretary, Ruth Spaulding, but was not charged; and was accused of raping his own daughter, Tamar, but acquitted. He fled the country several times, and spent 1950 to 1990 in the Philippines.

Short's unsolved murder and the details surrounding it have had a lasting cultural intrigue, generating various theories and public speculation. Her life and death have been the basis of numerous books and films, and her murder is frequently cited as one of the most famous unsolved murders in American history, as well as one of the oldest unsolved cases in Los Angeles County. It has likewise been credited by historians as one of the first major crimes in post-World War II America to capture national attention.