Elizabeth Short


Elizabeth Short

Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 15 Jan 1947 (aged 22)
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA
Plot Section 66, Marker 798
Memorial ID 4490 View Source
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Murder Victim. She was nicknamed "the Black Dahlia" by the press media for her dyed black hair, love of black evening dresses, and for wearing a Dahlia flower in her hair. On mid-morning of January 15, 1947, Betty Bersinger was walking down a weedy, vacant block in Los Angeles, when she noticed someone lying just off the sidewalk in the foot tall weeds. She discovered a woman, naked and laying on her back, dead and cut in half at the waist. The victim, Elizabeth Short, had clearly been murdered someplace else, and her body "poised" to be found. Police quickly identified her using fingerprints on file with the FBI Headquarters, in one of the first uses of facsimile machines. Although Betty Short was well-known around Hollywood circles, police were unable to identify the killer sufficiently to bring a case to court. She was born Elizabeth "Betty" Short in Hyde Park, Massachusetts, raised in Medford, and dropped out of school at age 16. Her father, Cleo Short, had abandoned the family in 1930, after losing his job in the Great Depression. In 1942, she went to Miami Beach, Florida, where she got a job as a waitress. There she met Army Air Corps pilot, Major Matt Gordon, Jr, and in early 1945, became engaged to him. When Gordon was killed in India in April 1945, she returned to Medford for a year, then moved to Hollywood, California, where she shared a room with seven other women. There she worked the Hollywood crowd, trying to become an actress, and becoming lovers with many of the men who traveled in the fast lane of Hollywood. Her cause of death was "hemorrhage and shock from concussion of the brain and lacerations to her face, due to multiple blows using a blunt instrument." After she was killed, her body was cut in half at the waist, with a sharp instrument similar to a surgeon's scalpel, and with such precision that it was apparently the work of a professionally trained doctor. She had been raped, although it was difficult to determine if this occurred before death or after. The killer made numerous deep gashes in her body. Despite extensive research over a year's time, the police were never able to determine her killer sufficiently to bring him to court on a charge of murder. To date, the case remains unsolved.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson



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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 6 Feb 1999
  • Find a Grave Memorial 4490
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Elizabeth Short (29 Jul 1924–15 Jan 1947), Find a Grave Memorial ID 4490, citing Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .