At the start of 1947, Elizabeth Short was a beautiful, vibrant, hopeful 22-year-old woman with stars in her eyes. 15 days into the new year, she was the victim of one of the most heinous and senseless murders in American history; a crime that made England’s Jack the Ripper look like quite the amateur. And of course, that right there is what most people know and remember about the case. Somewhere amongst all the sensational and gory details, Elizabeth became known as a victim and people forgot about the humanity of the woman herself. That is such a shame. Fortunately, I can honestly say that I have never allowed my self to forget. Never have I referred to her as simply The Black Dahlia. She has always been Elizabeth to me, and I made it a point to learn about her life.
This is the condensed version, but it give me a chance to tell you more about her before getting into the details of the crime.
Elizabeth Short was born in Hyde Park, Boston, MA. She was raised in Medford, but as a teen, she spent three summers in Miami, Florida due to asthma. She was the third of five daughters and was raised by a single mother when her father mysteriously disappeared and was presumed dead by suicide. Her childhood was fairly ordinary for that of a girl from a broken home. By the time Elizabeth was 19, the family knew her father was not dead and knew where he was. Elizabeth moved to California to live with him. Following an argument, Elizabeth left her father”s company. She remained in California until right after her arrest for underage drinking in late 1943. From this point in her life until mid-1946, Elizabeth spent most of her time in Florida with occasional visits to her hometown (Medford, MA). Known to have a penchant for men in uniform, she returned to Los Angeles in the summer of 1946 to visit Joseph, a military friend she knew from Florida.
After this, the most anyone can say for certain is that Elizabeth Short spent the last six months of her life living and dreaming in Hollywood. She wanted to be a star. In the meantime, she tried to live, laugh, love. and survive in an unforgiving environment full of hopeful young starlets and harsh realities.
Elizabeth never achieved the fame she sought in life. Instead, she found infamy in death; sadly remembered in crime lore, rumor, innuendo, and speculation.