The Main Suspects in the Black Dahlia Case

The Black Dahlia murder case shocked the nation on January 15, 1947. The Black Dahlia’s body, whose name is actually Elizabeth Short, was discovered in a vacant lot in central Los Angeles by a housewife and her 3-year-old daughter. This was not a typical murder and body dump; the body was apparently washed (signified by the lack of blood) and cut in half and posed. The LAPD (Los Angeles police department) had a huge task on their hands in trying to solve this terrible and senseless crime. Unfortunately, in over six decades, the list of possible suspects has turned up no solid leads. The case remains cold and the LAPD has not released a confirmation of any true suspects. Amateur sleuths have compiled a list of people that could have committed the murder.

Robert Manley

Robert was the last known person to see Elizabeth alive on January 14, 1947 at the Biltmore hotel. Robert was the initial suspect, but the LAPD released him because he passed a polygraph test. Manley was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in 1954 after he told his wife he was hearing voices. Manley suffered from a long history of mental health issues. LAPD once again questioned him about the murder, and once again he was deemed innocent of the crime. Manley died in 1986, exactly 39 years (to the day) after he last saw Elizabeth Short. He is still officially considered innocent of committing the murder.

Mark Hansen

Hansen was the owner of the Florentine Gardens, a seedy nightclub. Many of the girls that worked for him in the club lived in his home which was located behind the club. Elizabeth spent several months in his home and he supposedly tried to sleep with her, but she turned him down. He was 55-years-old at the time of Elizabeth’s murder. 

George Hodel

George was the father of retired LAPD detective, Steve Hodel. In 2003, after Steve retired, he wrote another Black Dahlia book. The book became a best seller and named his father, George, as the murderer. Steve claims in the book that his father was abusive and was even tried for raping (George was acquitted) his 14 year old daughter. Steve also claimed that his father held orgies in the family home. No evidence was ever found to corroborate Steve’s allegations. George Hodel died in 1999.

These three men are the best possibilities given the list of people that has sprung up over the last 60 years. It seems as though every new book and movie brings with them a new suspect. The reality is, after 60 years, the killer is more than likely dead and took his or her secret with them to their grave. 

Sadly, the murder of Elizabeth Short has become more than just a horrible crime. It has spawned several books and films and become an enduring Hollywood mystery. Will the murder ever be solved? Will Elizabeth ever really be able to rest in peace? These questions and more have yet to be answered. One thing for sure is that she has a name and it isn’t “The Black Dahlia”. Elizabeth had a life and a family and friends who still miss her.