Black Dahlia Suspects: Who Killed Elizabeth Short?


Disclaimer: This article contains mention of death, violence, and gore. Readers’ discretion is advised.

The 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short remains one of the most notorious unsolved killings to date. Infamously known as the Black Dahlia murder, authorities have named multiple suspects in the case—the most probable one being George Hodel, who never faced charges.

According to a History report, the names of multiple Black Dahlia suspects have surfaced over the decades. However, detectives have failed to determine who was behind the gruesome murder conclusively. In 1991, Janice Knowlton claimed that her late father, George Knowlton, murdered Elizabeth Short and two more women. Elsewhere, one of Short’s childhood friends pinned the blame on famous actor-director Orson Welles in a book that came out in 2000.

The outlet reported that more recent Black Dahlia suspects include the late Dr. George Hodel, the father of retired LAPD detective Steve Hodel. The former detective alleged his father used his medical expertise to kill and mutilate Short, among other victims, to commit the crime. Steve believes that George Hodel then fled to Asia in 1950.

Elizabeth Short’s murder has previously been featured in multiple documentaries and TV shows. Although the Black Dahlia case remains unsolved, it has become a popular cultural phenomenon in recent decades.

Who was the primary suspect in the Black Dhalia unsolved case?

While Elizabeth Short’s 1947 murder case remains unsolved, multiple Black Dahlia suspects have surfaced across the decades. According to CNN, Betty Bersinger and her daughter found Short’s mutilated body in Los Angeles on January 15, 1947. Bersinger initially believed the body was the two halves of a mannequin.

Short’s body was cut in two halves, her intestines were removed, and her mouth was slashed from ear to ear in a Glasgow smile. She was cut at the “only spot where the body can be severed in half without breaking bone,” as per The Guardian. Additionally, the killer had washed the body before dumping it in the empty field.

Elizabeth Short’s autopsy revealed the cause of death to be a fatal blow to the head, causing a brain hemorrhage. Grunge stated that the killer forced her to eat fecal matter before murdering her and also mutilated her genitals.

Reportedly, the killer also carved the 22-year-old’s flesh and pubic hair and then forced it into her vagina and rectum. Her right breast had been cut off, her uterus was completely removed, and all the blood had been removed. The perpetrator had then washed the victim’s body clean before disposing it.

Due to the precision of the crime, authorities do not find retired LAPD detective Steve Hodel’s claims about his father hard to believe. Detectives have long suspected the involvement of a medical professional in the crime. They consider the late Dr. George Hodel one of the many Black Dahlia suspects.

CBS reported that Steve alleged that his father carved his unique symbol—a criss-cross—on the victim’s hip. As of now, George Hodel remains a primary suspect in the Black Dahlia murder case. The retired LAPD detective also said that he has cement sack receipts that were allegedly present at the crime scene.

Furthermore, according to Fox News, Steve Hodel once told People Magazine that his father dated Short at one point. He also said that George Hodel’s motive to commit the crime was likely jealousy.

A 2016 Guardian report exposed that Steve found photographs among his late father’s belongings. He believed those photographs were of Short. The report also said that George likely used a procedure he learned in medical school to kill Short. In addition, the police had received a letter from the killer. Steve told CBS LA that the handwriting in the letter seemingly matched George’s handwriting.

Fox News stated that George Hotel, the primary Black Dahlia suspect, died in 1999 at the age of 91 and never faced charges.

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