Shelved Dolls – Elizabeth “The Black Dahlia” Short – It’s Not The Murder Story You Think You Know (But It Is Terrifying And NSFW)

The publicity from the event – which seemed to have everything a B movie could desire – sex! Beauty! Torture! – meant that people began rushing in droves to confess. The police received over 50 confessions they deemed false. A few examples:

Joseph Dumais: The man collected clippings on the case and remarked “It is possible that I could have committed the murder. When I get drunk I get rough with women.”

John N. Andry: The pharmacist claimed he was great at cutting up bodies, and insisted he had killed Elizabeth Short. When questioned he said, “Well, I’m capable of doing it.” Not the same thing, John.

Barstow Woman: “I know who killed Beth Short, and if the reward is big enough I’ll talk.” It turned out that she had two boyfriends who had cheated on her (not at the same time) and was trying to turn them in.

Why would these people want to confess? John Gilmore, the author of Severed wrote that:

It was, for some, almost uncontrollable, and for those few minutes they could act out an actual link to “that pale white body severed in two…” Beauty and darkness and death. Three irresistible elements burning brightly like a dying star.

These men are still considered possible suspects:

Dr George Hodel, Joe Scalis, Salvador Torres Vera, Marvin Margolis, A Chicago police officer Dr A. E. Brix, George Bacos, Glenn Wolf, Maurice Clement, Michael Anthony Otero, James Nimmo, Jacob Fisk, John D. Wade, Mark Hansen, Sergeant Chuck, Dr Patrick S. O’Reilly, C. Welsh, Dr Artnur McGinnis Faught, Carl Balsiger, Dr M. M. Schwartz, Francis Campbell, Dr Paul DeGaston.

I’m just saying so you don’t friend them on Facebook.

But not everyone was so easily dismissed.

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    • Chelsea

      Have you seen the Sissi movies? They are the opposite of her life. But the costumes were nice! LOL

    • Maggie

      Oh dear god, your ending gave me goosebumps!

    • Sarah!

      Steve Hodel wrote a couple of books about his dad maybe doing this. They are extremely interesting but you have to kind of suspend your disbelief in order to get into them. Especially the second one where he implicates his father in like, 45 of the most famous murder cases of the last 60 years.

    • BeccaTheCyborg

      My suspect of choice is Frank Sweeney, a former doctor who almost certainly committed the Cleveland Torso Murders, and was in LA at the time.

    • Sabrina

      This was fascinating! So basically, do they not even have an idea of why someone would have wanted to murder her? No secret lovers, no super bad something with her dad? Her life seems pretty unextraordinary for a murder this brutal.

    • Laura

      I love, love, love the Shelved Dolls feature! I’ve already obsessively read about all the women you’ve profiled, yet I still learn something new every time. Can’t WAIT for the Sisi article!

    • Em

      You should do Sisi, definitely. I’m in the middle of her (poorly translated) biography, and she’s really interesting. Also, bought Mitford’s Pompadour bio after reading your take on her. I really like this series of yours!

    • Matzukado

      I absolutely did NOT click on the page with the picture (my psyche is far too fragile) but I just wanted to say that as someone who has had a passing interest in this case, this article added an extra dimension that I never knew about. I’m realling enjoying this series, thanks for writing it.