For almost 60 years, the Black Dahlia mystery has haunted Los Angeles. On 15 January 1947, the body of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short was found. Short was an attractive, young girl who had arrived in Los Angeles searching for fame as an actress, just as thousands of others do every year. Her demise was to be one of the most gruesome murders America had ever seen.
Elizabeth Short left her hometown of Massachusetts at the age of 16. She arrived in Los Angeles after a few years of drifting from town to town. Short was nicknamed the Black Dahlia because of her jet-black hair and the black clothing that she constantly wore.
On the morning of 15 January, Short's body was found in a deserted lot in South Los Angeles. Her battered torso had been cut in half and sexually assaulted after her death. To date, the mystery has never been solved by the police. As with all unsolved murders, numerous theories and suspects have been thrown into the frame, but the Black Dahlia is still an unsolved murder.
At the time, the Black Dahlia murder attracted widespread publicity. Numerous people made false confessions to the police, claiming that they had committed the murder. Ongoing investigations by the police could not lead to the real culprit, and nearly 60 years later, interest in the case has been renewed.
At the time of the murder, sensational stories abounded in the press, but many were completely untrue. Every detail of Short's life came under speculation. Widespread reports that she had been a call girl were eventually dismissed by the courts. Everyone who knew Short was treated as a suspect by the investigating officers.
The range of suspects was diverse, from prominent doctors to the folk singer Woodie Guthrie. At one point, film director Orson Welles' name was also thrown into the frame. The amount of suspects and lack of evidence brought much speculation, but left the police no closer to finding the real Black Dahlia killer.
In the years that have passed, there has been intermittently renewed interest in the Black Dahlia mystery. Many books and television shows have used the Black Dahlia as subject matter. In 2006, a major film by Brian DePalma called The Black Dahlia was released. Although the film sticks closely to the facts in some regards, it is also filled with many sensational elements.
After 60 years, it is doubtful whether the mystery of the Black Dahlia will ever be solved. The actual killer, in all probability, is dead. The Black Dahlia's death was a gruesome murder that still casts a long shadow over the history of sun-drenched Los Angeles.