Chapter 20 ~ Postmortem

Elizabeth Short’s body was discovered on the morning of January 15. The next day, her body was identified. On that day, Ann Toth and Mark Hansen went to the police on their own and told them what they knew.

* * *

Bill Robinson, who lived with Beth, Marjorie Graham and Marvin Margolis at the Guardian Arms, went to the police and told them what he knew. Robinson was an accounting student at USC. He told how he and Margolis had met the two girls on Hollywood Boulevard and eventually let them stay at his apartment, which belonged to his aunt, who was in Mexico at the time.

Red Manley, who drove Beth up to Los Angeles from San Diego, did not go to the police when he heard about the murder. When they found him, he was first considered a suspect and was later cleared.

Dorothy French, the 22 year old woman who brought Beth to her home in San Diego in the days before she left for Los Angeles and the Biltmore Hotel, said, “her manner was shy and somewhat mysterious.” Dorothy had taken her in, “as a friendly act when the girl was down and out.”

Dorothy  said, “There was something so sorrowful about her ~ she seemed lost and a stranger to the area, and I felt I wanted to help her. I wasn’t sure how. She apparently had no place to stay. I suggested she come home with me and get a good night’s sleep, if that would help. She said she was thankful for my generosity.”

Elvera French,  Dorothy’s mother,  said, “her manner was shy and somewhat mysterious.” “Elizabeth was constantly in fear of someone, and was very frightened when anyone came to the door.” And, “I had a premonition Miss Short was in trouble. She was unwilling to discuss her past other than to say she came from Hollywood.”

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On January 24, over a week after Elizabeth Short’s body was discovered, an envelope addressed to “Los Angeles Examiner and other Los Angeles Papers” was discovered.  It was addressed incorrectly, Finis Brown explained, and ended up at the Los Angeles post office. The envelope  had letters clipped from newspapers pasted on the front that read, Here is Dahlia’s Belongings Letter to Follow. The envelope was 8 inches by 3 1/2 inches and had been opened by the time it reached a postal clerk. According to a Los Angeles Times article, “A sharp-eyed clerk noticed that the end of the ‘Dahlia’ letter was broken open and turned it over to inspectors after reading the lettering cut from printed matter that formed the address.” At first, police were certain the numerous contents would eventually lead to the killer.

They said the gasoline-soaked envelope contained a birth certificate, address book, Greyhound baggage claim check, six snapshots, a Social Security card and a newspaper clipping concerning the death of Matt Gordon. There were two photographs of women and more of men. “One snapshot showed an Army flyer. Another was of two Army flyers in a plane. One showed an Army private, and another was the picture of a woman, possibly Miss Short’s sister, Mrs. Virginia West of Berkeley.”

Soon after receipt of the envelope, police received an anonymous telephone call from someone who said, “Don’t try to find the Short girl’s murderer because you won’t.”

* * *

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

– Luke 12:2-3, King James Bible

5 Responses to “Chapter 20 ~ Postmortem”

  1. Briar Says:

    I am so impressed with your site. Many things I’ve never seen before. I moderate BethShort.com and will be happy to send newbies this way as it’s a great summation of the immediate facts (to MY knowledge, anyway). Kudos!

  2. Tim Says:

    I’m a regular at bethshort.com too, nice site, well done! I bookmarked it immediately. Thak you for a well thought out and a non-sordid take on Beth.
    There was a vintage post card on eBay of the Mecca Motel in San Diego (where Red and Beth last stayed).

  3. Heather Says:

    I love this “description” of a day in her life. It’s so touching.

    (I’m a BethShort.com regular as well 😉 )

  4. Alan David Einstoss Says:

    My mother in the 1940’s lived in the shared apts in Hollywood with some of the aspiring actresses,since we were Angelenos she helped some of the out of town girls and designed and made dresses and clothes for them.She later signed with MGM and then married my father who with brothers owned the Chi Chi on Catalina Isl. and a few other entertainment and gaming clubs in Hollywood.I guess I heard many of the old stories and lived in the middle of a few. I can only empathize with the wayward ways of a few like Black Dahlia and always honor her memory. My parents named me for Alan Ladd.

  5. Lin Fairport Says:

    What a great site! Very informative, NOT sensationalized. The photos really bring back the 40s era of Hollywood. I look forward to any further info you may add to the site at a later date. Thank you.

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