“THE MURDER AND HAUNTING OF THE BLACK DAHLIA” #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: Elizabeth Short was brutally murdered in Los Angeles in 1947, her body cut in half and severely mutilated. Her killer has never been found, leaving one of the most infamous deaths in Hollywood history. Who killed the Black Dahlia?
TRANSCRIPT FOR THIS EPISODE…
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MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE…
H.P. Lovecraft’s “Pickman’s Model” episode: https://weirddarkness.com/archives/4179
Death of Dino Bravo episode: https://weirddarkness.com/archives/6844
BOOK: “Bloody Hollywood” by Troy Taylor: https://amzn.to/3hkUeVL
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“Who Killed the Black Dahlia” by Troy Taylor for the book, Bloody Hollywood: https://amzn.to/3hkUeVL
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The lobby of Hollywood’s Biltmore Hotel is crowded on a warm and sunny afternoon in early spring. A man crosses the room and taps on the call key for an elevator. As the door opens, he steps inside and presses the number 8 button for his floor. He glances down as he does so and he sees that the number 6 is already illuminated. With a quick glance to his left, he realizes that he is not alone in the elevator. A dark-haired young woman stands in the corner and as he looks at her, she offers a faint smile.
The man smiles back at her and then looks up as the numerals above the door light up with the passage of each floor. He glances at the reflection of the woman in the polished steel of the doors. Even in this blurred view, she is stunning. Her dark, nearly black hair is swept back and up in the outdated style of the 1940s, although it is very becoming on her. Her skin is pale, perhaps looking even more so against her jet-black dress. The shiny material clings to her every curve. She makes no sound other than the soft rustle of her dress.
Finally, the elevator reaches the sixth floor and with a soft chime, the doors slide open. The man steps aside to let her pass and notices that she is not moving. She continues to stand in the corner, seemingly unaware that the lift has reached her floor. He finally speaks up and his voice seems to startle the girl. He says, “This is the sixth floor.”
She steps forward and moves past him off the elevator. As she does, the man trembles involuntarily. A wave of chilled, ice cold air seems to brush past him as the girl departs. Gooseflesh appears on his arms as he watches the shapely young woman walk past the doors. Then, just as she steps out onto the sixth floor, she turns back to look at the man inside the elevator. She does not speak, but there is no mistaking the look of urgency in her eyes. She is begging him for help, the man realizes, but it’s almost too late. The elevator doors have started to close, cutting off the young woman as she tries to re-enter the elevator. The man frantically pushes the button that will open the door again and just before they close completely, they slowly start to slide open again.
But the girl in black is gone!
Confused, he leans out into the lobby of the sixth floor. He looks quickly in both directions, but the small lobby and the hallways in either direction are empty and deserted. Where could she have gone so quickly? He calls out, but his voice echoes in the stillness of the corridor. The young woman had vanished, as if she had never existed at all.
Two days later, the man is browsing in a local bookshop and happens to pick up a book about true, unsolved mysteries. As he flips through it, he is startled by a face that he recognizes: it’s the girl from the elevator! He looks at the photograph and is convinced that it is the same young woman in black. Then, he realizes such a thing is impossible. Scanning through the text, he sees that the girl died years before. How could she have been at the Biltmore Hotel just two days ago?
How indeed? Could this young woman who was killed in 1947 still be lingering at the last place that she was seen alive? Is she still looking for help – from the other side?
The face that the young man, and many others just like him, recognized once belonged to a beautiful young woman named Elizabeth Short. In death, she would come to be known by a more colorful nickname, the “Black Dahlia.” Her tragic murder would forever leave a mark on Tinseltown. She came in search of stardom but only found it in death, becoming lost in the netherworld that is the dark side of Hollywood.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode of Weird Darkness…
Elizabeth Short was brutally murdered in Los Angeles in 1947, her body cut in half and severely mutilated. Her killer has never been found, leaving one of the most infamous deaths in Hollywood history.
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On January 15, 1947 a housewife named Betty Bersinger left her home on Norton Avenue in the Leimert Park section of Los Angeles, bound for a shoe repair shop. She took her 3-year-old daughter with her and as they walked along the street, coming up on the corner of Norton and 39th, they passed several vacant lots that were overgrown with weeds. Bersinger couldn’t help but feel a little depressed as she looked out over the deserted area. Development had been halted here, thanks to the war, and the empty lots had been left looking abandoned and eerie. Betty felt slightly disconcerted but then shrugged it off, blaming her emotional state on the gray skies and the cold, dreary morning.
As she walked a little farther along, she caught a glimpse of something white over in the weeds. She was not surprised. It wasn’t uncommon for people to toss their garbage into the vacant lot and this time, it looked as though someone had left a broken department store mannequin there. The dummy had been shattered and the two halves lay separated from one another, with the bottom half lying twisted into a macabre pose. Who would throw such a thing into an empty lot?
Betty shook her head and walked on, but then found her glance pulled back to the ghostly, white mannequin. She looked again and then realized that this was no department store dummy at all – it was the severed body of a woman! With a sharp intake of breath and a stifled scream, she took her daughter away from the gruesome sight and ran to a nearby house. Sobbing, she telephoned the police.
The call was answered by Officers Frank Perkins and Will Fitzgerald, who arrived within minutes. When they found the naked body of a woman who had been cut in half, they immediately called for assistance. The dead woman, it was noted, seemed to have been posed. She was lying on her back with her arms raised over her shoulders and her legs spread in an obscene imitation of seductiveness. Cuts and abrasions covered her body and her mouth had been slashed so savagely that her smile extended grotesquely from ear to ear. There were rope marks on her wrists, ankles and neck and investigators later surmised that she had been tied down and tortured for several days. Worst of all was the fact that she had been sliced cleanly in two, just above the waist. It was clear that she had been killed somewhere else and then dumped in the vacant lot overnight. There was no blood on her body and none on the ground where she had been left. The killer had washed her off before bringing her to the dump site.
The horrible nature of the case made it a top priority for the LAPD. Captain John Donahoe assigned his senior detectives to the case, Detective Sergeant Harry Hansen and his partner, Finis Brown. He also added Herman Willis, a bright young cop from the Metro Division, to help follow up on the leads that were sure to come in.
By the time the detectives were contacted and could get to the scene, it was swarming with reporters, photographers and a crowd of curiosity seekers. Hansen was furious that bystanders and even careless police personnel were trampling the crime scene. Evidence was being destroyed, he knew, and he immediately cleared the scene. Then, while he and his partners examined the scene, the body of the woman was taken to the Los Angeles County Morgue. Her fingerprints were lifted and with the help of the assistant managing editor of the Los Angeles Examiner, the prints were sent to the FBI in Washington using the newspaper’s “Soundphoto” equipment. The newspaperman had, of course, asked for information in exchange for the use of the equipment.
Meanwhile, an examination of the corpse was started at the coroner’s office. It began to detail an incredible and horrifying variety of wounds to the young woman’s body, although the official cause of death was “hemorrhage and shock due to concussion of the brain and lacerations of the face.” An autopsy revealed multiple lacerations to the face and head, along with the severing of the victim’s body. It also appeared that the woman had been sodomized and her sexual organs abused but not penetrated. There was no sperm present on the body and most of the damage appeared to have been done after she was dead. The coroner also noted that her stomach contents contained human feces. Even the hardened doctors and detectives were shocked at the state of the girl’s corpse.
The doctor also revealed to Detectives Hansen, Brown and Willis an important piece of evidence and one that would have a huge bearing on the case as more of the victim’s past was later revealed. He told the detectives, “It is impossible to tell you if she was raped because traces of spermatozoa are negative, and she did not have fully developed genitals… The area is shallow indicating that she did not have a completed vaginal canal.” According to the coroner, the young woman’s vagina was almost child-like and normal sex for her would have been impossible.
This information would have an important impact on what they would learn about the victim and Hansen immediately decided not to make this information public. In fact, only a few detectives working the case would know about it. Hansen’s decision was the right one and he must have known how much newspaper coverage such a bizarre murder would get. Soon, tips, calls and false confessions would come pouring into police headquarters. More than 50 people would eventually confess to the killing!
Shortly after receiving the fingerprints, the FBI had a match for the Los Angeles detectives. The victim of the brutal murder was Elizabeth Short, 22, who originally came from Massachusetts. During World War II, she had been a clerk at Camp Cooke in California, which explained why her fingerprints were on file. Once the detectives had this information, they went to work finding out who knew Elizabeth Short, believing that this would lead them to her killer. What they discovered was a complex maze that led them into the shadowy side of the city in search of a woman called the “Black Dahlia.”
We’ll continue our look at the murder of The Black Dahlia when Weird Darkness returns.
Many of you have been asking for an earlier Weirdo Watch Party so you could participate too – so this one is for you! Put it on the calendar – this coming Friday night, July 24th – 7:30pm Central (that’s 5:30pm Pacific, 6:30pm Mountain, 8:30pm Eastern). Arachna from Beware Theater is hosting the Bela Lugosi classic “The Human Monster” from 1939! You don’t need to buy a ticket, it’s always free to join the Weirdo Watch Party – just set a reminder on your mobile device, online calendar, smart home device, write it in blood on your refrigerator, whatever you have to do so you don’t miss it – and this one is early enough that you can get to bed at a decent hour! Join us as Arachna brings us Bela Lugosi in “The Human Monster” – again, it’s this Friday night, July 24th at 7:30pm Central – that’s 5:30pm Pacific, 6:30pm Mountain, 8:30pm Eastern – on the Weirdo Watch Party Page at WeirdDarkness.com!
Like all the other pretty girls before and since, Elizabeth Short (who preferred the name Beth) came to Hollywood hoping to make it big in the movie business. She was smart enough to know that looks weren’t everything and that to break into films, she had to know the right people. So, she spent most of her time trying to make new acquaintances that she could use to her advantage and to make sure that she was in the right nightspots and clubs. Here, she was convinced she would come to the attention of the important people in the business. Beth’s pretty face got her noticed. She had done some modeling before coming to Hollywood and men couldn’t keep their eyes off her. She created a character for herself, dressing completely in black, which emphasized her pale beauty.
In Hollywood, Beth roomed with a hopeful dancer who introduced her to Barbara Lee, a well-connected actress for Paramount. Lee took Beth to all of the right places, including the famous Hollywood Canteen, where Beth always hoped she would be discovered. Beth loved to socialize, loved the Hollywood nightlife and loved to meet men. Despite the rumors, Beth was never promiscuous and she did not work as a prostitute. Considering the findings of the coroner, it isn’t likely that sex with men involved normal penetration. Beautiful, lively and seductive, Beth was sometimes referred to as a “tease” as her boyfriends never had any idea that romance could only go so far.
One of the men who befriended Beth was Mark Hansen, a nightclub and theater owner who knew many important show business people. He eventually moved her into his house, along with a number of other young actresses who roomed there and who entertained guests at Hansen’s clubs. On any given day, a visitor to Hansen’s house could find a number of beautiful actresses and models sunning themselves by the swimming pool. Beth soon became a part of this group, although her prospects for film work remained non-existent. She didn’t have much of an income and only seemed to eat and drink when others, usually her dates, were buying. She shared rooms with other people and borrowed money from her friends constantly, never paying it back. She never seemed to appreciate the hospitality given to her by others, either, rarely contributing to where she was living and staying out most of the night and sleeping all day. She became known as a beautiful freeloader.
Around this same time, the film “The Blue Dahlia,” starring Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd was released. Some of Beth’s friends starting calling her “the Black Dahlia,” thanks to her dark hair and black lacy clothing and the nickname stuck. It fit well with the mysterious and glamorous persona that Beth had already created. Tragically, it may have also led to her death.
Although she is remembered today as the Black Dahlia, Elizabeth Short did not start out as a sexy vamp who “haunted” the nightclubs of Hollywood. She was born on July 29, 1924, in Hyde Park, Mass. Her parents, Cleo and Phoebe Short, moved the family to Medford, a few miles outside of Boston, shortly after Elizabeth was born. Cleo Short was a man ahead of his time, making a prosperous living designing and building miniature golf courses. Unfortunately, the Depression caught up with him in 1929 and he fell on hard times. Without a second thought, he abandoned his wife and five daughters and faked his suicide. His empty car was discovered near a bridge and the authorities believed that he had jumped into the river below.
Phoebe was left to file for bankruptcy and to raise the girls by herself. She worked several jobs, including as a bookkeeper and a clerk in a bakery shop, but most of the money came from public assistance. One day, she received a letter from Cleo, who was now living in California. He apologized for deserting his family and asked to come home. Phoebe refused his apology and would not allow him to come back.
Beth (known as Betty to her family and friends) grew up to be a very pretty girl, looking older and acting more sophisticated then she really was. Everyone who knew her liked her and although she had serious problems with asthma, she was considered very bright and lively. She was also fascinated by the movies, which were her family’s main source of affordable entertainment. She found an escape at the theater that she couldn’t find in the day-to-day drudgery of ordinary life.
While she was growing up, Beth remained in touch with her father (once she knew he was actually alive). They wrote letters back and forth and when she was older, he offered to have her come out to California and stay with him until she was able to find a job. Beth had worked in restaurants and movie houses in the past but she knew that if she went to California, she wanted to be a star. She packed up and headed out West to her father.
At that time, Cleo was living in Vallejo and working at the Mare Island Naval Base. Beth hadn’t been staying with her father long before the relationship between them became strained. Cleo began to launch into tirades about her laziness, poor housekeeping and dating habits. Eventually, he threw her out and Beth was left to fend for herself. Undaunted, she went to Camp Cooke and applied for a job as a cashier at the Post Exchange. It didn’t take long for the servicemen to notice the new cashier and she won the title of “Camp Cutie of Camp Cooke” in a beauty contest. They didn’t realize that the sweet romantic girl was emotionally vulnerable, though, and desperate to marry a handsome serviceman, preferably a pilot. She made no secret of wanting a permanent relationship with one of the men with whom she constantly flirted. The word soon got around that Beth was not an easy girl and pressure for more than just hand-holding kept Beth at home most nights. Several encounters made her uncomfortable at Camp Cooke and she left to stay with a girlfriend who lived near Santa Barbara.
During this time, Beth had her only run-in with the law. A group of friends that she was with got rowdy in a restaurant and the owners called the police. Since Beth was underage, she was booked and fingerprinted, but never charged. A kind policewoman felt sorry for her and arranged for a trip back to Massachusetts. After spending some time at home, she came back to California, this time to Hollywood.
At the Hollywood Canteen, Beth met and fell in love with a pilot named Lieutenant Gordon Fickling. He was exactly what she was looking for and she began making plans to ensnare him in matrimony. Unfortunately, though, her plans were cut short when Fickling was shipped out to Europe.
Beth took a few modeling jobs but became discouraged and went back East. She spent the holidays in Medford and then went to Miami, where she had relatives with whom she could live for a while. Beth began dating servicemen, always with marriage as her goal. She fell in love again on New Year’s Eve 1945 with a pilot, Major Matt Gordon. A commitment was apparently made between them after he was sent to India. Beth wrote to him constantly and Gordon remained in touch with her. As a pre-engagement gift, he gave Beth a gold wristwatch that was set with diamonds and spoke about her (and their engagement) to family and friends. Best of all, as far as Beth was concerned, he respected her wishes about waiting until their honeymoon to consummate their love. They would get married and have a proper honeymoon, he promised her, after he returned from overseas. One has to wonder how Beth planned to deal with the physical problems they would encounter once the relationship turned sexual, but perhaps she was too caught up in the moment to worry about it at that time.
Beth went back home to Massachusetts and got a job, dreaming of her October wedding. Her friends often commented on how happy she was and after the war ended in Europe she became ecstatic about Gordon returning home. A short time later, she received a telegram from Gordon’s mother. As soon as it arrived, Beth tore the message open, believing that it was about plans for the upcoming wedding. Instead, Mrs. Gordon had written, “Received word War Department. Matt killed in plane crash on way home from India. Our deepest sympathy is with you. Pray it isn’t true.”
Tragically, it was true and Gordon’s death left Beth a little unbalanced. After a period of mourning, during which Beth told people that she and Matt had been married and that their baby had died at birth, she began to pick up the pieces of her old life and started contacting her Hollywood friends. One of those friends was former boyfriend, Gordon Fickling, whom Beth saw as a possible replacement for her dead fiancée. They began to write to one another and then got together briefly in Chicago when Fickling was in town for a couple of days. Soon, Beth was in love with him again. She agreed to come to Long Beach and be with him, happy and excited once again. A short time later, Beth was back in California.
Her excitement over the new relationship didn’t last long. She had to stay in a hotel that was miles from the base where Fickling was stationed and he constantly pressured Beth for sex. She had no intention of giving herself to a man except in marriage, she told a friend, and Fickling had no intention of making such a commitment. She began dating other men and when Fickling found out, he ended their relationship.
In December 1946, Beth took up “temporary” residence in San Diego with a young woman named Dorothy French. She was a counter girl at the Aztec Theater, which stayed open all night, and after an evening show, she found Beth sleeping in one of the seats. Beth told her that she had left Hollywood because work was hard to find due to the actors’ strikes that were going on. Dorothy felt sorry for her and offered her a place to stay at her mother’s home. The invitation was intended to last only for a few days, but Beth ended up sleeping on the Frenchs’ couch for more than a month.
As usual, she did nothing to contribute to the household and she continued her late-night partying and dating. One of the men she dated was Robert “Red” Manley, a salesman from Los Angeles with a pregnant young wife at home. He admitted being attracted to Beth, but later claimed that he never slept with her. They saw each other on and off for a few weeks and then Beth asked him for a ride back to Hollywood. He agreed and on January 8 picked her up from the French house and paid for a motel room for her that night. They went out together to a couple of different nightspots and returned back to the motel. He slept on the bed, while Beth, complaining that she didn’t feel well, slept in a chair.
Red had a morning appointment but came back to pick her up around noon. She told him that she was going back home to Boston but first she was going to meet her married sister at the Biltmore Hotel in Hollywood. Manley drove her back to Los Angeles. He had an appointment at the home of his employer that evening, so he didn’t wait around for Beth’s sister to arrive. Manley said Beth was making phone calls in the hotel lobby when he saw her last, becoming, along with the hotel employees, the last person to see her alive. As far as the police could discover, only her killer ever saw her after that. She vanished for six days from the Biltmore before her body was found in the empty lot.
Who Killed The Black Dahlia? More to this story is still to come when Weird Darkness returns.
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The investigation into the Black Dahlia’s murder was the highest profile crime in Hollywood of the 1940s. The police were constantly harassed by the newspapers and the public for results. Hundreds of suspects were questioned. Because it was considered a sex crime, the usual suspects and perverts were rounded up and interrogated. Beth’s friends and acquaintances were questioned as the detectives tried to reconstruct her final days and hours. Every lead that seemed hopeful ended up leading nowhere and the cops were further hampered by the lunatics whose crazed confessions were still pouring in.
As the investigators traced Beth’s activities, they discovered their strongest suspect, Robert Manley. He became the chief target of the investigation. The LAPD put him through grueling interrogations and even administered two different polygraph tests, both of which he passed. He was released a couple of days later but the strain on him was so great that he later suffered a nervous breakdown.
While the police worked frantically, Beth’s mother made the trip to Los Angeles to claim her daughter’s body. Her father, who had not seen her since 1943, refused to identify her. Sadly, Phoebe Short had learned of her daughter’s death from a newspaper reporter who had called her, using the pretext that Beth had won a beauty contest and the paper wanted some background information about her. Once he had gleaned as much information as he could, he informed her that Beth had actually been murdered.
A few days after Beth’s body was found, a mysterious package appeared at the offices of the Los Angeles Examiner. An envelope contained a note that had been cut and pasted from newspaper letters. It read: “Here is the Dahlia’s Belongings – Letter to Follow”
Inside the small package was Beth’s social security card, birth certificate, photographs of Beth with various servicemen, business cards and claim checks for suitcases she had left at the bus depot. Another item was an address book that belonged to club owner Mark Hansen. The address book had several pages torn out.
The police attempted to lift fingerprints off the items but found that all of them had been washed in gasoline to remove any trace of evidence. The detectives then began the overwhelming task of tracking down everyone in the address book and while Mark Hansen and a few others were singled out for interrogation, nothing ever came of it. In addition, the promised “letter to follow” never arrived.
All of the leads in the Black Dahlia case came to dead ends and the investigation fizzled, and then came to a halt. The murder remains unsolved today, although it’s possible that the killer may have actually been identified by one investigator in the case. The possible killer first came to the attention of John St. John, a respected investigator for the LAPD who eventually took over the Dahlia case. St. John had worked many of the city’s most notorious murders and was the basis of the book and television series “Jigsaw John.” He had been in charge of the Dahlia case for about a year when a confidential informant came to him with a tape recording that implicated a suspect in the murder. The suspect had also shown the informant some photos and personal items that he claimed had belonged to the Black Dahlia.
The suspect turned out to be a tall, thin man with a pronounced limp who went by the name of Arnold Smith. On the recording, Smith claimed that a character named “Al Morrison” was the violent sexual deviant who had killed and mutilated Beth Short. St. John suspected that Arnold Smith and Al Morrison were actually the same person. The tape was a chilling and detailed account of how Beth had come to Al Morrison’s Hollywood hotel room because she didn’t have anywhere else to stay. According to Smith, Beth refused both liquor and sex with Morrison and became upset when he drove her to a house on East 31st Street, near San Pedro and Trinity streets. Here, he assaulted her and prevented her from escaping by beating her into submission. Even though Beth fought back, he was able to overwhelm her with his superior strength. While she was on the floor, Morrison stated that he planned to sodomize her and Beth began struggling once again. This time, he hit her so hard that she passed out.
The tape then went on the describe how Morrison had gotten a paring knife, a large butcher knife and some rope and had returned to the room to find Beth conscious again. She tried to scream, but he stuffed her underpants into her mouth and tied her up. While she was naked and bound, he began jabbing her over and over again with the knives, cutting and slashing her. One of the lacerations even extended from both sides of her mouth and across her face. By this time, the girl was dead.
Morrison then laid boards across the bathtub and cut Beth in half with a butcher knife, letting the blood drain into the tub. He wrapped the two pieces of the body in a tablecloth and a shower curtain and put it into the trunk of his car. From there, he drove to the vacant lot and left the body to be found later that morning.
St. John discovered that this same suspect, Al Morrison, had also come to the attention of Detective Joel Lesnick of the sheriff’s department for another brutal murder. Lesnick had learned that both Al Morrison and Arnold Smith were aliases of a man named Jack Anderson Wilson, a tall and lanky alcoholic with a crippled leg and a record for sex offenses and robbery. Lesnick guessed that, “As the years went on, Smith’s ego drew him closer, not to confessing, but wanting to tell someone in a roundabout way what he got away with primarily through luck.”
After hearing the record of events on the tape recordings, St. John became determined to track down “Arnold Smith.” He checked into the story of “Al Morrison,” the alleged violent pervert, and could find no proof that he existed, thus confirming the idea that Smith (Jack Wilson) was actually the killer. St. John began to leave no stone unturned in his pursuit to link Jack Wilson to Elizabeth Short.
In the midst of the investigation, word came that the press had gotten wind of the fact that a new suspect had emerged in the Dahlia case. Even after all of the years (at this point the mid-1980s) that had passed, interest in the case was still strong. At this point, St. John realized that it was imperative that he move quickly before Wilson/Smith became spooked. The informant did not know where Smith lived but he left messages for him in a café. Several messages were left but Smith never returned them, possibly because he found out about the police surveillance of the restaurant. Finally, the informant received a reply and a meeting was set with Smith. The police made plans to pick him up for questioning.
Unfortunately, just before the meeting took place, Smith passed out while smoking in bed at the Holland Hotel, where he was staying. He was burned to death and the flames destroyed the photos and belongings that supposedly belonged to Beth Short – and possibly all hope that her murder would ever be solved.
A short time after Wilson’s body was released to the county for cremation, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office was presented with a file on the matter. The prosecutor’s office summed up the case by saying, “The case cannot be officially closed due to the death of the individual considered a suspect. While the documentation appears to link this individual with the homicide of Elizabeth Short, his death, however, precludes the opportunity of an interview to obtain from him the corroboration…Therefore, any conclusion as to his criminal involvement is circumstantial, and unfortunately, the suspect cannot be charged or tried, due to his demise. However, despite this inconclusiveness, the circumstantial evidence is of such a nature that were this suspect alive, an intensive inquiry would be recommended. And depending upon the outcome of such an inquiry, it is conceivable that Jack Wilson might have been charged as a suspect in the murder of Elizabeth Short – also known as the Black Dahlia.”
Since the time of her death in 1947, many books have been written and many theories have been expressed about who killed Elizabeth Short. But no matter the number of theories, books and documentaries on the case, to this date it remains unsolved. No one has ever been charged with her murder and, as far as we know, her death has never been avenged. She remains an elusive mystery from the dark side of Hollywood – and the even darker side of the American landscape.
Perhaps this is why her ghost still walks at the Biltmore Hotel and her specter still looms over the shadowy streets of Hollywood. Even today, an occasional man who stays at the Biltmore encounters the spectral image of a woman in a black dress, sometimes in the lobby, waiting in the corridors or even riding to the sixth floor on the elevator. What is she trying to tell us? Are there still clues to the identity of her killer that have never been found?
Or does the Black Dahlia simply wish to continue the mystery that was created more than 60 years ago? For sadly, Beth found the fame in death that she never managed to achieve in life.
When we return, we’ll step into the Chamber of Comments.
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Here in the Chamber of Comments I answer your emails, comments, podcast reviews, voice messages, letters I get in the mail, and more. You can find all of my contact information, postal address, social media links, and a link to leave a voice message, on the CONTACT page at WeirdDarkness.com. While you’re there, join the Facebook Group, “Weird Darkness Weirdos” and hang out with me and the rest of our Weirdo family! Or drop me an email anytime at: darren @ weirddarkness.com.
(Email from Matthew Shaner): Hi Darren, I just stumbled onto your podcast a few weeks ago and I’m loving it. As a husband, father, man of faith and lover of the paranormal, your work hits home for me. I always had trouble reconciling that those things could coexist and you articulate it so well. I believe, honestly, faith is trust in the supernatural and stretching that in different ways is not so far fetched of an activity. I’m a writer and enjoy the world of horror fact, legend, and fiction. The Lovecraft episode was awesome! I’d love to put a word in for The Haunter of the Dark, if possible, for a future narration. I always wondered how to combine my faith life and interest. Your work on Weird Darkness inspires me as to how it can be done. As someone who has dealt with depression and a father of a child who deals with anxiety, I appreciate your support of mental health as well. Thank you for all you do. You make the hours at the office tolerable! –Matt
REPLY: The Lovecraft story Matt is referring to is one I posted earlier this month called “Pickman’s Model” – I’ll link to that episode in the show notes. Thanks, Matt! I’ll add “Haunter of the Dark” to my list of future classic horror creepypastas! I appreciate the email, especially your openness about having difficulty loving both God and ghosts. If you haven’t checked it out, you might want to give a listen to my other podcast specifically for people like you and me who like the paranormal stuff but are also followers of Christ. It’s called the “Church of the Undead” podcast and you can find it on the Weird Darkness website. It’s still relatively new so you might not see it in Apple Podcasts or a few other podcatchers yet, but you find it at WeirdDarkness.com in the meantime. I have to say that having a horror writer be a fan of the podcast is quite the compliment, so thank you for letting me know!
(Email from Ron): Hi Darren. I wanted to let you know that I listen to three podcasts: This is Why We Drink, Monster’s Among Us, and Weird Darkness. I have struggled with clinical depression and anxiety for many years. I appreciate what you do. I listen to Weird Darkness eight hours a day at work. It takes my mind off my anxieties. That being said, me and my wife drove from Indiana to Montana. I started off with Weird Darkness in my earpods. My wife told me I could play it over the speakers. I finished my six hours of driving and switched off with my wife. I grabbed my phone to go back to listening in my earpods. She said, “What are you doing?!? I am listening to that!” Then proceeded to make sure I paused it before shutting car off to get gas so she wouldn’t miss any of it. Needless to say, I created another Weirdo on that 28-hour trip. She made me download more when we got to Montana for the ride back. Keep doing what you’re doing! God bless. –Ron
REPLY: BEST STORY EVER! Thank you, Ron! Sounds like your wife needs to get her own device to listen to podcasts so you don’t have to share! I’m also impressed that you can handle 28 hours in the car together – that is truly love. I’ve said it to many of my single friends – before you marry a person, take a long car trip with them. If you still like each other after being in the car non-stop for 18-24 hours, there is hope for the both of you together. If you argue more than once during that car trip, you might want to slow things down regarding your future with that person.
(Email from Scott Lowell): Darren, Your show is easily the best of the lot of true horror podcasts. Starting with the best “theater of the mind” opener since Twilight Zone. “Bolt your doors…” is a perfect preparation for the tales to be told. Other horror podcasts change the opener from season to season and can’t get it. “Casting a spell” “Bow your heads” and other weak openers lack the impact of Weird darkness. I also appreciate your concise organization, flow and delivery. Other podcasters can’t seem to pronounce a lot of words correctly or enunciate clearly. Just having a gravelly or baritone voice doesn’t mean the delivery is good. Other podcasts don’t appear too frequently and vary wildly in quality. I’ve listened to enough of the horror podcasts to wonder if some of them actually have any ability to discern poor material from podcast worthy. You choose stories that aren’t something that sounds like they were written in junior high school by a student in a hurry to go home on a Friday. You focus on the topic; other horror podcasts wander aimlessly. They devote a lot of time in the stories to descriptions of smoking, porn and other fetishes that will take up a quarter to a half of the entire story. None of that is necessary or important in a story, unless it was a true account of what happened. Finally, do not change your Scripture closure. I’m agnostic, and I do not find it offensive or preachy. It’s your show. It’s your blood, sweat, tears and passion that makes it possible. Since your faith is a key element of that, no one should be concerned, they should accept. Everyone benefits from positivity. Well done. – Scott Lowell
REPLY: That is very kind of you, thank you so much for the kind words, Scott. I think the sentence “Starting with the best theater-of-the-mind opener since Twilight Zone” is something I’m going to live on for the next month!
(Here’s an email to me a former WCW/WWE wrestler): Hi Darren, I’ve been a long admirer of your show and, more importantly, your faith. As such, I was inspired to reach out and thank you for your work; especially after mentioning Dino Bravo in a recent episode. Please, keep the tremendous content coming. All my best and God Bless… Lash LeRoux
REPLY: Hey there, Lash! Thank you so much for the very kind words! I wonder how many of your fans might be listening right now and know your name. I have to admit it’s kind of cool to hear from a famous person listening to the podcast. I know statistically that with 20,000 people listening to each episode, there’s bound to be someone in there who has some celebrity status – but getting confirmation is always a nice little ego boost. But even more – to hear you are a brother in Christ is awesome. We’ll be guaranteed to meet someday – if not in this world, then in the next. By the way, I’ll place a link to the episode Lash is referring to, the one with the story about Dino Bravo, in the show notes. It’s from the “Weirdness In The Wilderness” episode.
I’ll answer more of your emails, comments, letters, and voice messages next time! Again, you can find all of my social media, a link to leave a voice message for me, and other contact information on the CONTACT page at WeirdDarkness.com, or drop me an email at darren @ weirddarkness.com.
Thanks for listening. If you like the podcast, please share a link to this episode and recommend Weird Darkness to your friends, family, and co-workers who love the paranormal, horror stories, or true crime like you do! Every time you share a link to the podcast it helps spread the word about it – growing our Weirdo family, and also helps get the word out about resources available for those who suffer from depression. So please share the podcast with others.
Do you have a dark tale to tell of your own? Fact or fiction, click on “Tell Your Story” at WeirdDarkness.com and I might use it in a future episode.
“Who Killed the Black Dahlia” was written by Troy Taylor from his book, Bloody Hollywood which I have linked to in the show notes if you’d like to see the rest of the book.
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music.
WeirdDarkness™ – is a registered trademark. Copyright ©Weird Darkness 2020.
If you’d like a transcript of this episode, you can find a link in the show notes.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… 1 John 4:18-19 = “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.”
And a final thought… “I began learning long ago that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.” – Booker T. Washington
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.