A more likely suspect was William Heirens, who was found guilty of murdering Suzanne Degnan and who scrawled on a mirror “For heaven’s sake catch me before I kill more. I cannot control myself.” Since Elizabeth’s body was found on Degnan Boulevard, it’s possible it was meant to act as a kind of “arrow” to Heirens’ other crime.
Jack Anderson Wilson was strongly implicated in the book Severed. He was said to be a small time gangster with connections to Bugsy Seigel – and he was acquainted with Elizabeth before her death. However, evidence beyond that hasn’t been seen to hold up.
LAPD homicide cop George Hodel was also pointed to by son, because he claimed his father was photographed with someone who looked like The Black Dahlia.
And these are the likely suspects. Want to know the unlikely suspects?
Woody Guthrie and Orson Welles. Welles because the mannequins he used in the House of Mirrors scene in Lady From Shanghai looked suspiciously like Elizabeth’s corpse, and Woody because of some sexually explicit letters he wrote.
The takeaway from this is – pretty much anyone can be blamed for the Black Dahlia murder. You can pick someone at random, in your office, and claim they were a time traveler who killed her and you’ll have about as good a case as anyone.
But maybe what’s most terrifying isn’t that unresolved nature, or even the pictures of the body – it’s that Elizabeth Short, really, wasn’t a wild sexpot who was out looking for trouble, as all the newspapers anted to suggest. She was just a 22 year old girl who wore a lot of black. That is to say, she was just like you or me. And if something so terrible can happen to her, then terrible things can happen to all of us.
Next week: Empress Sisi! A comparatively happy story.