The Real Story of the Black Dahlia

While doing some initial research of the Black Dahlia, by James Elroy, I stumbled upon the real life murder mystery of Elizabeth Short, whom the media nicknamed “The Black Dahlia”. I thought it would be interesting to do some research on this real life crime, in order to have some background knowledge of the event.

On January 15th, 1947, Elizabeth Shorts mutilated body was found in Leimert Park in Los Angeles,  California.  Her body was severed at the waist, and her mouth cut from ear to ear (a la Joker style). The body had been washed and cleaned, and completely drained of blood. It was “posed” with her arms bent at right angles above her head. She was severely bruised, and the cause of death was pronounced hemorrhage from the lacerations to the face and shock due to blows on the head and face.

What made the Black Dahlia case so sensational was largely the media’s representation. Eager to make a headline out of it, Short became a woman of questionable morals; her tailored suit became a “tight skirt and a sheer blouse”. She was described as an “adventuress” who “prowled Hollywood Boulevard”. As the case went on unsolved, the media continued to sensationalize the story. Short’s past didn’t help much either. Her father was a victim of the stock market crash, and was originally believed to have committed suicide, although he was actually alive the whole time. Short moved around between her mother and her father, and at one point was arrested for underage drinking.

While living in Florida, Short met Major Matthew Michael Gordon Jr., who was in training for deployment. Short claimed that she received a marriage proposal from India, but he died in a plane crash before returning home. Short would later exaggerate the story, claiming that they had had a child who had died.
The most notable part of this murder is the media’s reaction; they were the ones to name it and it took several days until the LAPD to take full control of the situation, up until which reporters were handling (badly) many tips and phoned in information. The popularity of the murder with the public has led to many movie adaptations as well as murder mysteries written about the casert met Major Matthew Michael Gordon Jr. in training for deployment to China Burma India Theater of Operations. Short told her friends that she had received a marriage proposal from India, but he died in a plane crash before coming home. Short later exaggerated the story, claiming that they had had a child who had died.

. Each new publication results in new confessions, and new tips called in. In total, around 50 people have admitted to committing the murder, and many women have claimed to have seen her or known her. The Black Dahlia murder remains one of the most popular unsolved mysteries in America.

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