Author, Piu Eatwell, believes she’s finally solved the case of the infamous Black Dahlia murder and has revealed who she thinks committed the murders.
The ‘Black Dahlia’ murder case was an investigation into the gruesome death of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short, in Los Angeles back in 1947.
Elizabeth was an aspiring actress, whose body was found horrendously mutilated – her stomach was pumped full of feces and yet, despite the shocking nature of her murder, the killer was never found and the case, officially, has never been solved.
Eatwell, in her new book, Black Dahlia, Red Rose: The Crime, Corruption, and Cover-Up of America’s Greatest Unsolved Murder, believes the killer is a man named Leslie Dillon.
Dillon was already considered a potential suspect back in 1948, however at the time, he worked for one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, Mark Hansen.
Hansen was a Danish native who became a wealthy and powerful figure head in Tinseltown, owning more than a dozen theatres and co-owning the Florentine Gardens on Hollywood Boulevard – a venue which provided ‘salacious entertainment’ (for its time), attracting stars such as Errol Flynn.
Elizabeth and Hansen met when she turned up at his house in 1946 with a friend, Ann Toth – who happened to live with him at the time.
Hansen i said to have used his position in Hollywood to ‘seduce’ young women (sound familiar?) and tried to have his way with Short.
However, after ten days of – in his eyes – ‘being teased’ he ordered both girls out of his house.
According to The Daily Mail Hansen grew tired of Short’s endless stream of boyfriends.
Hansen worked in a shadowy hinterland between legitimate business and the fringes of the LA underworld.
Hansen is also said to have had his own ‘B-version’ casting couch and two ‘rooming houses’ where he would groom girls with Hollywood aspirations for semi-nude careers, both on and off the dance floor.
When Elizabeth’s body was discovered one morning in the grass of a vacant lot in a south LA neighbourhood, Hansen couldn’t deny he knew her – after all, his name was on the cover of Short’s address book.
Eatwell writes, when Elizabeth’s body was found and examined by the coroners it had :
… suggested necrophilia and a fetishism with knives.
They were the marks of a sadistic lust murderer… and it was speculated that the killer either had medical training or experience with handling corpses in a mortuary and a manifest fascination with death.
Short’s body is said to have had multiple, deep, lacerations to the face and signs of physical impact to the head, suggesting they were delivered while she was still alive and which ultimately killed her.
Furthermore the trunk of her body was completely severed, with a cut through the intestines which exposed the organs.
According to the Mail, there was a huge cut from the naval to the pubis – she also had various cuts in the skin of the hip and a strange piece of flesh had been taken out of her left thigh.
Tissue had also been removed from her right breast and the anal opening showed extensive damage from the insertion of a foreign object.
Her stomach was filled with feces and the corpse had been completely cleaned and drained of blood.
They also found a piece of flesh which bared Short’s rose tattoo from her left thigh, (which as we mentioned was cut out), and stuffed into her vagina.
While the details in Eatwell’s book are gruesome and very hard to digest, at the time, interest in her murder, – which became known as the Black Dahlia murder case due to Short’s distinctive black hair – gained national attention.
Eatwell also goes into Short’s interesting, if somewhat questionable, past which adds details towards uncovering the truth behind her murder and the cover-up by a highly corrupt LAPD.
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Eatwell believes Leslie Dillon, who worked for Hansen, was responsible for the murder – a theory which was discovered through a series of correspondents and meetings with Dr De River – the chief police psychiatrist.
He discovered Dillion, who went under the alias ‘Jack Sand’, was connected to a prostitution ring and worked as pimp and errand boy for Hansen.
When Hansen got sick of Elizabeth’s various boyfriends and pestering for money he ordered Dillion ‘to get rid of her’.
Little did he know, Dillion, was, as the Mail puts it, ‘a dangerous and murderous psychopath’.
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Eatwell’s book shows Dillon knew things about Elizabeth which had never been revealed to the public – such as her rose tattoo.
It also uncovers the fact he used to work in a mortuary, so knew how to do certain things, such as draining blood from a corpse.
Other accounts in Dr De River and Dillion’s meetings lead him to believe he had found the culprit.
However, Eatwell writes:
Despite the compelling evidence the officers of the Gangster Squad were uncovering, they never seemed to make headway with their investigation. The path was always blocked.
The LAPD became embroiled in the biggest corruption scandal of its history: a scandal that was to change the police department, and the course of the Dahlia case, forever.
According to Eastwell it was a massive conspiracy, a cover-up involving the LAPD’s Homicide Division and Hansen, whose influence clearly extended beyond the realms of show business.
Eatwell says the law had:
… let a dangerous psychopath on the loose
Despite being taken to trial in 1949 there was an ongoing campaign to suppress the truth and key witnesses like Dr De River were harassed.
The facts – buried in newspaper reports and court documents are more compelling that any of the alternate facts.
Despite Eatwell’s strong and conclusive theory, the Black Dahlia murder is still ‘officially’ unsolved.
It’s also a stark reminder of the pitfalls of Hollywood aspirations and the dark underbelly in which its rich and powerful Alpha males appear to operate under.
Since then, the case has gone on to be adapted within pop culture – Rockstar Games’ LA Noire and The Black Dahlia starring Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Swank and Josh Hartnett.