Did the same killer commit Hollywood’s Black Dahlia murder and the Torso Slayings in the Midwest?

Elizabeth Short, the “Black Dahlia”

Eliot Ness pursued the “Torso Killer”

CASE DETAILS

She was known as the “Black Dahlia”.  She had jet black hair and preferred black dresses and lingerie. Those who knew her best said she had a tattoo of an exotic flower on her inner thigh. She wanted desperately to be a Hollywood actress, but her fame would not come from the movies. It would come from her death, a murder which has gone unsolved for 60 years.

Actual letter from “Torso Killer”

On a cold morning in January 1947, the nude, mutilated body of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short was discovered in a vacant lot in the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles. What made the murder so unique was the barbaric nature of the crime.  The Black Dahlia’s body had been neatly severed in half, gutted and drained of blood. Author Lawrence P. Scherb put the unusual crime into perspective:

“Her face had been very brutally cut from ear to ear in a grin.  Her throat had been cut and she had been mutilated sexually. Basically, she was the worst case of a sex crime in the history of Los Angeles County.”

The case of The Black Dahlia has fascinated crime writers for generations, and almost every one of them has a different theory about the killer. Lawrence Scherb has studied the Black Dahlia case extensively. Now, he believes he knows the identity of the man who so brutally murdered Elizabeth Short.

Did “Torso Killer” murder Dahlia?

Elizabeth Short’s life was as sad as it was brief.  Like so many other young women, Elizabeth had been lured to Hollywood with dreams of becoming a star. Her career was going nowhere and she was running out of cash. According to some, she eventually drifted into prostitution.

In her final days, Elizabeth seemed to be constantly on the move. According to Lawrence Scherb, she was last seen leaving a diner in San Diego with a man who has never been positively identified:

“She called him Red when she spoke to him in the diner and he did have reddish colored hair.  However, the police were never able to positively identify him, although some people felt that he might have been Robert Manley.”

Robert Manley was a hardware salesman who dated Elizabeth. Police brought him in for questioning but he was cleared of the crime. Other men who were involved with Elizabeth were also interrogated, but each, like Manley, had an airtight alibi. The authorities were completely stumped. Then a mysterious package was mailed to a local newspaper — a package from the killer.  Lawrence Scherb described what it contained:

“Inside the envelope they found Elizabeth Short’s address book, which was in reality her trick book. And one of the pages in that book was missing. And it is undoubtedly true that upon that page was the name of the man who actually had killed her.”

Dahlia’s possessions were mailed by killer

The package was the closest anyone ever got to the Black Dahlia’s killer.  Then Lawrence began to research the case and made a remarkable connection. The case had many of the same features as the Torso Slayings in Cleveland. That sensational crime spree was the case that baffled Eliot Ness, the head of the famed crime fighting team, “The Untouchables.”

Between 1934 and 1938, no less than thirteen mutilated bodies were discovered in the Kingsbury Run district and surrounding areas of Cleveland. The victims were all prostitutes or drifters. The killer had dismembered most of the bodies with surgical precision, just like The Black Dahlia case, nine years later.

Many people believe that Elliot Ness actually knew the Slayer’s identity, but never had enough evidence to prove it in court. His biographer, Oscar Fraley, says that Ness was approached by a member of Cleveland’s high society:

“This lady socialite who was working with him came to him and said, ‘A member of one of our influential families fits your profile.’  So Eliot said, ‘That’s fine, let’s meet him.’ This man admitted that he had been to medical school, so Eliot thought surely he had the guy.”

Ness said he gave the man two lie detector tests, and both times the suspect failed. Soon after he took the polygraphs, the suspect voluntarily committed himself to a mental hospital. Around that same time, according to Lawrence Scherb, the Torso Slayings in Cleveland abruptly stopped.

Ness believed that this would be the end of the case because the suspect was so deranged that he would probably remain in a mental institution for the rest of his life. But a few months later, a letter arrived from California. Lawrence Scherb has seen it:

“In that letter, the Torso Killer describes the fact that he has left Cleveland and has come to California, as he described it ‘sunny California’ and is now performing medical experiments upon his guinea pig victims here in Los Angeles.”

In the letter, the killer referred to himself as a “D.C.,” that is, a Doctor of Chiropractic.  In it, the killer said:

“I felt bad operating on those people, but science must advance.” 

Lawrence Scherb said the letter is just the beginning of the Torso Slayer-Black Dahlia connection:

“The killer apparently had a fetish for cleanliness and cleaned the Dahlia’s body very carefully with water, washed it very carefully, shampooed her hair and scrubbed her with a bristle brush so severely that he left bristles embedded in her skin. The Cleveland victims also indicate that there were attempts to clean bodies. A butcher knife was used to bisect the Dahlia. And a butcher knife was used to dismember, decapitate and bisect victims in Cleveland.”

Police determined that Elizabeth had been tortured for several hours before being killed.  We know that she had been tied up. She had rope burns on her neck, arms, and legs.  In Cleveland, several victims had exactly the same type of marks. Also, the Dahlia’s body had been arranged in a sexually suggestive position, just like the Torso slayer’s victims.

But if the Torso slayer was locked away in an Ohio hospital, how could the murders have continued in other parts of the Midwest and, later, Los Angeles?

Lawrence Scherb wondered if perhaps one crucial point was overlooked by Eliot Ness when the killer entered the hospital:

“If one is voluntarily in a mental hospital, you are free to legally walk out any time you want. And I think that’s exactly what he did. I think he used the mental health system most of his career. When things got tough or the investigations heated up, he simply checked himself into a mental institution, waited until they cooled down and then checked himself out again and departed and continued killing.”

Eliot Ness never publicly identified the suspect.  He took the name with him to the grave.

According to Lawrence Scherb:

“He was the most prolific mass murderer in the history of the United States.  And to this day his true identity remains unknown.”


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season five with Robert Stack and in season two with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

 

31 Comments

  1. someone

    after reading lot of stuff about black dahilla i realized that she was killed by her boyfriend. her boyfriend didn’t actually killed her but he made people to kill her for money. you’re maybe wondering why? the answer to your question is b/c elizabeth short went crazy after realizing that her ex-boyfriend was getting marryed to other girl. she first went to california and after she become crazy ex-girlfriend , she was NOT LETTING him to marry that girl. then she lied about being pregnant by her ex-boyfriend and HE finally decide to kill her. he sent 2 guys to kill him. she was walking around the park when one guy put gas mask on her and make her to pass out (but not kill her), then they used her… (i mean she was completly naked )after they sliced her in half (close to the place where baby”s grow) so they started looking for “baby” and didn’t find anything . then they left. after few days her boyfriend get married and in few months he killed himself…i’m not sure why but i tink because of the murder…. if you want to know details and want to know where i get the information from email me at : someone4u@gmail.com

    Reply

  2. Robert the Wallace

    Having been extremely interested in both cases: The Black Dahlia because the crime was so horrific and unsolved; and The Cleveland Torso Murders since my Grandmother and Mother { who were both living in Cleveland at the time }, had told me just how very scary a time it was! I firmly believe Mr. Eliot Ness had it all wrapped up with the Demented Dr. Francis E. Sweeney as the Mad Butcher Of Kingsbury Run! ! ! The only reason his inability to prosecute, was because Sweeney’s relation to the Congressman Martin Sweeney prevented arresting him. Also, I believe that either Sweeney, or George Hodel was responsible for Elizabeth Shorts’ heinous demise. . .hopefully some smoking gun evidence will come forward to fully wrap–up the undecisivenessof these two cases.

    Reply

  3. Dahlia

    I want to correct some information regarding the murder of Elizabeth Short.

    1. Elizabeth was not a prostitute. Her friends, boyfriends and the detectives all confirmed this. There is speculation she was actually a virgin.
    2. Elizabeth’s throat was not slit. Despite some bruising, her autopsy report states that she bore no neck injuries whatsoever, and her hyoid bone was intact with no evidence of trauma to her thyroid glands or trachea also.
    3. Elizabeth’s last known location was the Biltmore Hotel’s lobby, where she’d made several telephone calls to unidentified people. Robert Manley (nicknamed “Red” for his hair) was the unnamed man, who told investigators he’d dropped her off there.

    @anonymous: George Hodel was not the killer. He was indeed a surgeon (and it’s documented that whoever did it had medical and biological knowledge) and lived in proximity to where her body was found, however this doesn’t sufficiently prove his guilt and he was later dismissed as a suspect due to lack of evidence as a result.

    Unfortunately I believe this crime will remain unsolved forever.

    Reply

    • Alex Cameron Dimez

      I’d also like to add:

      Elizabeth Short did not have a middle name “Ann”.
      There is no proof George Hodel had even known Elizabeth. His son Steve, who I have interviewed myself, is a bit of a kook.
      There was no missing pieces, it looks like that because the victim was still alive while being severed in half, causing muscular contortions.
      The cause of death from my best research was the “Glasgow smile”, apparently she choked on her own blood.
      It’s so heartbreaking because there is less and less hope of it being solved. I think this wasn’t an isolated accident. Whomever did it, this was clearly not their first or last victim.

      Reply

      • William Kuhn

        If I remember correctly, Madi Comfort – Duke Wellington’s “Satin Doll” identified Elizabeth Short as acquainted with Dr. Hodel. Comfort stated she was involved in a sexual alliance with Dr. Hodel & Dorothy Hodel. Of course, this doesn’t prove that Dr. Hodel killed Short – but it does open up the possibility thereof.

        Reply

  4. Anonymous

    This case was recently solved. A man came forward and fingered his father who I am pretty sure was a surgeon or something to that effect. Dr George Hill Hodel. Look it up.

    Reply

    • Katia

      Asking questions are actually fastidious thing if you are not understanding something fully, except this

      post offers pleasant understanding yet.

      Reply

  5. LUIS FREEH

    WHY DO YOUR “MURDERED VICTIMS” RESEMBLE PEOPLE “I” AM TALKING ABOUT LIKE “DAMEIN”? “CANCELLED” “CANCELLED” “CANCELLED”!

    Reply

  6. LUIS FREEH

    THE “WHOLE” PURPOSE OF YOUR SHOW WAS “SERIAL KILLER’S STUPID POLICE & VOLUNTEER’S & HOMOCIDE CAN’T CATCH & DIDN’T KNOW WERE ALREADY CAUGHT OR SHOT OR APPREHENDED BY THE ***F.B.I***? “U” ARE NOW “CANCLLED”!

    Reply

  7. LUIS FREEH

    YOUE A TV SHOW? ARE “U” LIKE “EXHIBIT A” IN “TORONTO” THAT ONLY HAS CASES “I’VE SOLVED OR WORKED”? WHO IS THE “***FEDERAL*** AGENT BEHIND YOUR SHOW”?

    Reply

  8. LUIS FREEH

    OH COME ON NOW! “U” HAD CALLED “THE REPORTER’S WITH CAMERAS TO YOUR HOME BECAUSE U THOUGHT “U” SOLVED THE CASE! “U” ENDED UP “POINTING ME OUT TO THEM FOR SOME REASON. “I” LIVED DOWN THE STREET MAME!

    Reply

  9. LUIS FREEH

    THAT’S TOO BAD! BECAUSE “I” HAD DISCOVERED THAT OTHER “POST” UWON’T SHOW IN THE 80’S WHEN SOMEONE WHO LOOKED LIKE NESS STOLE OR ERASED MY COMPUTER SO USELESS WHITE SLLUTS (LIKE YOURSELVES) CAN TRY TO RE- WRITE IT AS “U” SEE FIT (CUT TOO SHORT)

    Reply

  10. LUIS FREEH

    HEY! DO *NOT* ADD IN THE “MARCH OF STOEGER ARMS” WAS “CUT SHORT”! SHE HSD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, APARENTLY IT WAS “SL CAPONES” FAULT!

    Reply

  11. LUIS FREEH

    SO! SOMEBODY “FOUND MISS BROWER” UNDER SOME “TREE BRANCHES” AND MOVED HER TO ANOTHER SPOT! IRON! & NORTH! ALWAYS IN THE “NORTH” & THERE HAS TO BE IRON INVOLVED! JUST LIKE “TYNONG NORTH” OR STAND BY ME.

    Reply

  12. LUIS FREEH

    FRANK NITTIE “KNEW” THE KILLER AND SHOT HIMSELF IN THE HEAD IN 40 SOMETHING! THAT GAVE THE KILLER FREEDOM IN 1947!

    Reply

  13. LUIS FREEH

    WEAR IS THE MISSING SECTION OF TORSO? SHUNTING TWO BLADES INTO THE “MAGIC BOX” CUTTING THEM IN HALF LESVES A MISSING SECTION FROM THE LOWER HALF TO THE UPPER HALF!

    Reply

  14. LUIS "CAPONEY" FREEH

    CLEVELAND! “MY” CLK COUPE (CL) STEVE(EVE) LAND! OR CARIOT (C) THE LOX(L) & EVE OF THE RUFF RYDER’S LAND? WAS “OUR KILLER A DUP SHIT”? & NEED “STEVE (ST) IN “HIS” LAND (CLEVELAND) OR IS IT AN “OTHER”!

    Reply

  15. LUIS FREEH

    DO “I” HAVE TO START CALLING “U” NESTLE MR. NESS? (GOOD PAGE!) BECAUSE RS IN TORSO REALY IS IN ODER & HI IN DAHILIA IS TO! SO ST IN STEVE OR UV IN OSTER UV SNAKE EYES IS ALSO IN ORDER “I” THINK IT’S WHY THE “CORONER” PUT “HIS” NAME ON THE REPORT! WRITE OUT YOUR ALPHABET NOW!

    Reply

  16. LUIS FREEH

    CAPONEY AXE HOW DO “U” HAVE A “PRIME” SUSPECT WITHOUT THE “CORONER’S REPORT”?

    Reply

  17. LUIS "CAPONEY" FREEH

    WHY DOES THE PHOTO OF BLACK DAHILIA LOOK LIKE RCMP CONSTABLE BENTON FRASER? ‘GORRILLAS” “J” FOR “WEARS IT’S MUTHER’S JAGUARS” !

    Reply

  18. LUIS FREEH

    ALRIGHT! MR. NESS! “I” LUIS “CAPONEY” FREEH HAVE “LINKED” THE TEO CASES. THEY WERE *NOT* LINKED BECAUSE “OSTER UV SNAKE EYES NN” DID *NOT* COLLECT THE “CORONER’S REPORT”! THEREFOR WE DO *NOT* KNOW IF THE CORPS WAS DRAINED OF BLOOD LIKE IN “THE GREAT LAKES” FORT ERIE OR CLEAVELAND CASE.

    Reply

  19. LUIS FREEH

    I THINK D.C REFERRS TO DAMIEN & CARIOT OR DMX & CARIOT ELIOT IOT X IS COMING FOR YA! CAN’T DO NOTHIN FOR YA! CUZ X IS COMING FOR YA! RUN HIDE DUCK DUCK. GET IT?

    Reply

  20. Luis Freeh

    THE *”IRS”* KILKED ELIZABETH SHORT! LOOK TORSO BREAK IT APART U HAVE TO RS O! RS AS IN THE ALPHABET IN ORDER RS TU VW XY Z. DAHILIA ( I DON’T JUST “WANT IT TO BE”) BREAK IT APART DA HI LI A HI JK LM NO P. NO! WELL HL H-L H IJK L STILL IN ORDER! SO MUTHER C&&&& AND YOUR A^^ PLAYING “DETECTIVES CUZ YOUR FAT & ANGRY! OH! I FIGURED IT OUT ALRIGHT FAT FUC* ING AGENCY (AS IF) DETECTIVE UPHOLSTERY FOR A COAT. GO SUCK A PIPE (TRY LEAD) SH&T LOCKS HOLMES. THAT WAS THE CONSPIRACY! TAKE OUT “I” CUZ H-L IS STILL IN ORDER HURAHHHHH! POLICE! U PUT YOUR MUTHER’S .380 AUTO LOADER IN YOUR MOUTH (WHEN IT WAS LOADED) AND JIGGLED IT. THE PUBLIC THANKS U.

    Reply

  21. Anonymous

    A guy named george hodel is the prime suspect

    Reply

  22. Rachele

    Why is it that America is producing SO many fruitcake sexual predators? Why do they serve little or no time in jail? Why do judges and jurors have empathy and sympathy for societal termites who are crazy beyond repair? Why are the laws of reporting rape and pedophilia given a statute of limitations with forensic evidence, when DNA can produce a conviction for murder and there is no statute of limitations for murder? Why are the laws written by men? Why do women and children have to be murdered when raped for anything to be done about locking up the criminally insane for good???

    Reply

    • kittycat

      A lot of the killers are involved in high profile jobs and positions in society. They just don’t like the poor slave class. Don’t consider them human. Scotland and Ireland have strange extreme customs concerning smiles. Cheshire cats. Alice in wonderland.

      Reply

  23. MNM

    Who wrote this article for citation?

    Reply

  24. Gene

    Sweeny was the name. Tie him to va hospital records

    Reply