In 1947, a gruesome murder in California sent shockwaves across the globe. The Black Dahlia murder, as it became known, sent chills down the spine of all who knew of it. This was partly due to the horrific details of the crime, in combination with the fact that the killer was never caught – until now.
Elizabeth Short was just 22-years-old when she met her terrifying fate. The aspiring actress’ body was found severed in two halves in a vacant lot in Los Angeles. Hauntingly, her corpse was entirely drained of blood and her mouth was cut into a sinister smile. The police knew they had a savage murderer in the area, but corruption in the department would mean that the culprit would never be apprehended.
Short’s body appeared to have been posed by the killer, who had sickeningly placed her arms behind her head and spread her legs open wide. However, under closer inspection, the murder got impossibly more heinous. A portion of skin, that bore a rose tattoo had been cut from Short’s thigh and stuffed into her genitals. Not only that, but her pubic hair had been cut away and grimly pushed into her rectum and human feces were found inside her stomach.
Her entire body was badly beaten and covered in cuts, bruises and cigarette burns. Rope marks around her wrists, ankles and neck seemed to suggest that the young beauty had been tied up prior to her death – investigators at the time thought she could have been tied down and tortured for days.
It is not entirely clear when Short succumbed to death, with examiners suggested that she could have been alive when the murderer began to cut her in half, just above the waist.
Short’s face was beaten and cut beyond recognition, making identification of the corpse a problem. However, officers hit the jackpot when the corpse’s fingerprints matched those of a young girl who had been arrested in 1943 for underage drinking whilst in the company of soldiers in Santa Barbara.
They identified the body as Elizabeth Short, but they were yet to unmask the killer, or his motives.