On January 15, 1947, the mutilated body of 22-year-old aspiring actor Elizabeth Short was found cut in half at the waist and drained of blood in a vacant Los Angeles lot. To this day, her murder still remains one of the most fascinating unsolved mysteries in the world.
Despite the fact that there has never been a shortage of suspects in Black Dahlia’s case, police have never been able to find any promising leads. A lot of people claimed to be responsible for the murder, but they all have been ruled out as a fame-seekers.
In this article, John Douglas, a former special agent and a legendary figure in law enforcement, gives us an exclusive opportunity to take a look at the horrific murder of Elizabeth Short through the eyes of a criminal profiler.
Based on the coroner’s inquest, autopsy files, and case records, Douglas described the killer as a white male, in his late 20s or older, with a high school education. He lives alone, works with his hands and is comfortable with knife and blood – possibly a butcher or slaughterhouse worker. Compulsive, patient and deliberate, a frequent user of escort services. Heavy drinker under financial stress, who spent several days with the victim and, when drunk, let his personal stress and alcohol escalate into a shocking murder.
The killer cut Short’s body in half to make it easier to transport but also chose mutilation to make a personal statement about the rage he felt towards her. It also dehumanized and defeminized her. Douglas also believed that the killer chose the disposal site for a reason, as in a personal connection to the neighborhood. He possibly experienced a financial failure after the construction in the area was stopped because of the war.
The legendary profiler believes that the murder would have been solved if it was committed today.
In Douglas’ words, “the killer would have given himself in by his behavior after the murder.”
Profiler also theorized that the killer might have become paranoid, believing that he left some evidence behind, and would have become obsessed with the case, following all the media coverage and collecting clippings.
The UNSUB most likely kept a memento of the crime, and after becoming convinced that he would not be identified, he might have taunted the police and newspapers with the knowledge he had that no one else did. This might explain the letters and the personal items mailed to the newspapers.
But what caused the killer to stop after Black Dahlia’s murder?
Douglas believes that the killer was never under the same sort of stress again or perhaps he died. It is possible that the murderer committed suicide, was sent to a mental institution, or simply faded into obscurity, sure that he would never be caught.