Black Dahlia

One morning in January 1947, the mutilated body of Elizabeth Short was discovered. Her body was found in a vacant lot inside of the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, California. Her body had been severed in half, disembowelled, and drained of blood. Her face was cut from ear to ear, her throat was slit, and she had been mutilated sexually.

Elizabeth was only 22 years old when she was found dead and had come to Hollywood with the hope of becoming a star. Sadly, her career was reaching a dead end and she was running low on money. It is thought that she was going into prostitution. Towards the end of her life, she was constantly on the move.

Elizabeth Short

The last sighting of her was leaving a diner in San Diego with a man who she called “Red”. The man did have red coloured hair, but police have never been able to positively identify him.

At first, police thought it could be a man called Robert Manley, a hardware salesman who had dated Elizabeth for a short time. Police did question him, but he was cleared of the crime. Any other man that had dated or been involved with Elizabeth in any way were also interrogated, but each of them had an airtight alibi.

The police had hit a dead end.

That is until a strange package was delivered to a local newspaper.

Inside the package was Elizabeth’s address book, which has been dubbed her “book of tricks.” One page was missing from the book, and it is highly believed that the name of the man who killed Elizabeth was written on that page.

Author Lawrence P. Scherb was researching the case when he came across a horrifying discovery.

Between the years 1934 and 1938, around thirteen mutilated bodies were discovered in the Kingsbury Run district of Cleveland. The victims were primarily prostitutes and drifters. Eliot Ness, who was head of the crime-fighting team “The Untouchables”, had been baffled by the torso case for years.

Lawerence was able to make the connection as Elizabeth Short’s body was mutilated in the same way as the other victims had been. They had all been dismembered with surgical precision.

Because of the surgical precision, Eliot was convinced that they were looking for someone who either was a doctor or at the very least had gone through medical training.

Eliot was approached by a member of Cleveland’s high society, who told him that she knew someone who matched his description of the murderer.

Eliot did meet with the man, and he confessed that he had been to medical school. The man also underwent two lie detector tests and failed both times. Not long after the man had taken the tests, he voluntarily admitted himself to a mental institution.

Eliot believed that because the man was so disturbed, he would likely remain in a mental institution for the rest of his life, and considered the case to be closed. To add to this, around the same time the man admitted himself, the Torso Killings in Cleveland stopped.

A few months after this, a letter arrived to Eliot from California. In the letter, the killer describes how he has left Cleveland and moved to “sunny California” to perform medical experiments upon his “guinea pig victims” in Los Angeles. The killer refers to himself as a “D.C”, a doctor of Chiropractic. He also says: “I felt bad for operating on those people, but science must advance.”

The letter and the connection between the torso bodies and Elizabeth’s body is just the beginning of the connection between the two crimes.

The killer had a fetish for cleanliness, as he cleaned Elizabeth’s body very thoroughly – he even left bristles from a bristle brush embedded in her skin. The Cleveland victims were also cleaned thoroughly.

A butcher’s knife had been used to dissemble Elizabeth’s body, just as a butcher’s knife had also been used to dissect the bodies in Cleveland.

Both sets of victims had also been tied up in sexually suggestive positions before they died. Police also think that Elizabeth was tortured for hours before she was eventually killed.

Lawrence believes that because the man checked himself into a mental institution voluntarily, and you are legally allowed to leave at any time, the man left the mental institution after the investigation had died down and moved on to California.

Eliot Ness never publicly announced the name of the man, and when he died, he took the name to his grave.

As of 2021, Elizabeth’s case, and the Cleveland Torso case, remain open but unsolved.

In the words of Lawerence P. Scherb:

He was the most prolific mass murderer in the history of the United States. And to this day his true identity remains unknown.

Elizabeth Short


Unsolved, True Crime, USA, Mystery, Homicide, Murder

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