This is a diversion. I am tired of Covid and everything around it. We’ve been writing about it here now for nearly a year. The public has bought in, and with the false flag attack on the Seat of Government on Wednesday, I see Biden in the future, along with martial law, military checkpoints and travel permits. It’s all gloomy, and I am up to the gills with it. I have two projects in store, this one below, and John Wayne Gacy sitting nearby. I am using them because at this point I need uplifting stories. Covid is too gruesome. I need some cheering up.
“On gross pathology, we have a female Caucasian. Muscle tone indicates her age is between sixteen and thirty. The cadaver is presented in two halves, with bisection at the level of the umbilicus. On the upper half: the head is intact, facial features significantly obscured by massive ecchymoses, hematomas and edema. Downward displacement of nasal cartilege. Through-and-through laceration from both mouth corners across masseter muscles, extending through temporal mandibula joints and up to both earlobes. No visible signs of neck bruises. Multiple lacerations on anterior thorax, concentrated on both breasts. Cigarette burns on both breasts. Right breasts almost completely severed from the thorax. Inspection of upper half abdominal cavity reveals no free-flowing blood. Intestines, stomach, liver and spleen removed.”
The above is part of an official autopsy report on the corpse of Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia, one of the most famous unsolved murders in U.S. history. It unhappened in Los Angeles in January of 1947. I only became aware of it because as I drive about doing daily business, I listen to comedy channels on SiriusXM. I came across something resembling the following, one of the best laughs I get in my daily life.
I am quoting below from James Ellroy’s fictional account, The Black Dahlia. The comedian I heard described the Dahlia’s wounds in detail, probably not too different than what follows. It is a quote from Ellroy’s fictional detective, Bucky Bleichert.
“It was the nude, mutilated body of a young woman, cut in half at the waist. The bottom half lay in the weeds a few feet away from the top, legs wide open. A large triangle had been gouged out of the left thigh, and there was a long, wide cut running from the bisection point down to the top of the public hair. The flaps of skin beside the gash were pulled back; there were no organs inside. The top half was worse: the breasts were dotted with cigarette burns, the right one hanging loose, attached to the torso only by shreds of skin; the left one slashed around the nipple. The cuts went all the way down to the bone, but the worst of the worst was the girl’s face. It was one huge purple bruise, the nose crushed deep into the facial cavity, the mouth cut ear to ear into a smile that leered up at you, somehow mocking the rest of the brutality inflicted.”
I wish I had caught the name of the comedian. I can only speculate, and am probably wrong, that the comedian was perhaps Anthony Jeselnik, one of my favorites, who likes to lead his audience to gruesome and unexpected punchlines. After describing the brutal death of Elizabeth Short, the comedian made a mild apology, telling his audience that he understood this was brutal material. But, he said, that aside from that, he had to wonder,
“What could this woman possibly have said to make a guy that mad?”
OK, share my humor or not. I add a touch of levity because I think of Black Dahlia as OJ, Part One. It did not happen. There was no corpse. The graphic violence was the product of a script writer, told to loosen all the bolts of decency and let fly with a tale of a human monster to haunt all our nightmares and our awake time as well. It was a scripted horror show, but not real.
There are, to my knowledge, only a few photos of Elizabeth Short. I offer two, as it is hard to tell which of the rest are real and which fictionalized renditions.
I do not know the origins of either of these two photos, but the one on the left looks like a professional shot. The one on the right is said to be Ms. Short after arrest for underage drinking in Santa Barbara in 1947. I am somewhat intrigued by her eyes, as her pupils are half covered by the eyelids in both photos. Maybe she was tired in a long photo shoot.
On the left I see an earring, and on the right the another, perhaps the same. Since she supposedly dropped out of high school in her sophomore year in Medford (MA), the left photo is not high school graduation. I am seeing a well-dressed young woman who is perhaps in the job market, perhaps looking for film work. Maybe better, a college shot, a sorority sister getting ready to face husband, children and regular mundane life in the early postwar era.
That would negate the high school dropout story.
In both photos I am seeing clear skin and eyes. The photo on the right has a sharper and more focused image. She is either naturally angry or told to appear so. She does not look drunk or hung over. The hair on the left is well coiffured, and on the right a little mussed up. But in each the eyes are clear, if looking upwards, and the face and skin smooth and attractive. The lighting on each is from above (note the shadow under the chin). I would imagine that in a mug shot, which is what the photo on the right is supposed to be, the lighting would be at eye level, and would be done in such a way that facial features are starkly highlighted. Mug shots are not done for sake of flattery.
Also note that her hair in both photos extends to just above shoulder line. These photos originate in a very close timeframe.
My guess, two photos, one touched up for glamor, the other touched down to look angry.
This woman, who may indeed be “Elizabeth Short,” was perhaps taken from Intelligence sources in California and asked to pose as part of a psyop. I do not think her involvement went beyond use of her image in photographs. This person was perhaps a college student, and told thereafter to go about her normal life. Born in 1924, she would be 96 if still alive, unlikely. If she is indeed Elizabeth, she is from the peerage. More about this later.
I have been reading the work of Michael Connelly, the author who has given us characters like Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer. I like his writing, but a friend suggested I also look at James Ellroy, whose “LA Quartet” includes not only Black Dahlia, but also LA Confidential, made into one of the better cop movies I have ever seen. I found Ellroy’s writing (at least in Dahlia) to be a stark contrast to Connelly, his characters unvarnished, corrupt and violent. Connelly’s have moral compasses.
I have a habit of putting 3M flags on paragraphs in books I want to revisit, and I placed several in the Dahlia pages. Ellroy made numerical references, and without fail, they were spook markers, at least in my mind. It was the usual, cleverly disguised 8, 11 and 33’s. “This guy is juiced,” I thought. Here is a brief bit of bio from Wiki:
Ellroy was born in Los Angeles, California. His mother, Geneva Odelia (née Hilliker), was a nurse, and his father, Armand, was an accountant and a onetime business manager of Rita Hayworth. After his parents’ divorce, Ellroy relocated to El Monte, California, with his mother. When Ellroy was 10 years old, his mother was raped and murdered on June 22 1958. Ellroy later described his mother as “sharp-tongued [and] bad-tempered”, unable to keep a steady job, alcoholic and sexually promiscuous. His first reaction upon hearing of her death was relief: he could now live with his father, whom he preferred. The police never found the perpetrator, and the case remains unsolved. The murder, along with reading The Badge by Jack Webb (a book comprising sensational cases from the files of the Los Angeles Police Department, a birthday gift from his father), was an important event of Ellroy’s youth.
None of the names, Lee Earle Ellroy (given name), Odelia or Hilliker turn up at Geni.com, maybe not significant. It seems odd that Ellroy, now famous and well known, does not show up there.
Anyway, Ellroy is not the subject of this post. I merely find it interesting that his mother supposedly died so violently, and that he writes in the same manner. Black Dahlia would be a natural for him. Both cases are unsolved, oddly. Ellroy’s account of the murder of Elizabeth Short is admitted to be complete fiction. In the book (spoiler alert), the case is solved and Bucky Bleichert ends up a happy ex-cop. Neither seem real enough for me.
However, before plunging into Wiki, I am curious about Elizabeth Short. Was she a real person? Or, was her image merely used in a psyop? I went to Geni.com and punched her in and got the following:
Note that her father’s name is not available, or “scrubbed,” as some might say. We know nothing about him. That could be natural, not wanting to be known as the father of a woman who died in such ignominy. But the same does not apply to her mother, Phoebe Mae Short. I was able to follow her ancestry back twelve generations to this guy:
The Sawyer line comes out of Northamptonshire, about 70 miles north of London. One of that line, Edward Sawyer (1608-1674) emigrated from the UK to Maine in the 1600s. His descendants, all the way up to Phoebe Mae Short, came from Maine. (Thepeerage.com lists 86 names under Sawyer, and 97 under Short, with plenty of variations. However, I do not understand that website – I do not know why all those names are assembled as they are. It all seems random, or at best disorganized.)
What to make of this? I’ll refer back to it, and remember, it is not my expertise. I have found in other research that notorious people of fame and infamy are often from the peerage. See, for instance, my work on John Brown (with input from Kevin Starr, a writer with us at that time). Brown was ‘juiced’, ancestry going far back in the peerage, much like Elizabeth Short.
It is time now to visit the official “Elizabeth Short” back story. From this point forward, I am relying on Wikipedia (LOOT, or Lies of Our Times) for the official account of the Black Dahlia matter. It is twelve pages with an additional nine of footnotes and other matters. It is some of the most spook-laden reading I’ve done, and I’ve spent my share of time with Wiki. 11,33, and 8 are all about. Just to get the ball rolling, see how Wiki lists the location of the corpse:
I don’t know, but that location could have done with one less “3,” making the longitude “118.33.”
Short was said to be born in a Boston suburb Medford, on 7/29/1924, the third of five daughters. Around 1927 the Short family relocated in Maine … travel the generations through Geni.com, as I did above, and you’ll find that the Sawyer line, Elizabeth’s lineage, settled in Maine in the 17th century. Generally in the peerage, the oldest child inherits the fortune, the second and third male child become military officers or ministers, and those after are often enough sent off to seed the colonies, taking ownership of land in the process. (Think, for instance, … Mayflower.) I would assume that Phoebe Mae Short had roots up there, and probably land. This, then, was not a poor family. She, at least, was landed gentry.
Elizabeth, suffering from what appears to be childhood asthma, spent her winters in Florida, with friends. She is said to have had lung surgery at age 15. Come 1929, the year of her father’s (fake) death, she quit high school.
Her Dad, “Cleo” Short, is said to have built miniature golf courses, but lost most of his savings in the ’29 crash. In 1930 his car was found abandoned on the Charleston Bridge, and suicide was the assumption. No body ever turned up – how do I know this? He turns up alive later. In 1942, twelve tears after his fake death, he turned up working at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in San Francisco Bay. This was one of the major ship building sites in the U.S. since its inception in 1852. (It was closed in 1996 to become prime real estate). Since we know so little of Cleo, I can only suggest that he might have faked his death in order to take reassignment. In such situations, I would assume that provisions are made for the family left behind, so that Phoebe probably did not have to take work as a bookkeeper to support them, as Wiki says. He would then be military Intelligence, which makes the miniature golf courses an odd line of work.
The other possibility, of course, is that he abandoned his family and ended up in California, the land of opportunity, fueled by military contractors, and became a mere laborer in a ship yard. I’d have to do more reading on this to make that case or the other, and for purposes of a blog post, I am not going to do that. Just perhaps see, as I did, that due to peerage and circumstances of fake death, this family is suspicious.
Elizabeth met Major Matthew Michael Gordon, Jr., a decorated Army Air Force officer at the 2nd Air Commando Group, during her winters in Florida. Given their five year age difference, she would have been a teenager. Gordon, five years her elder, was deployed to China Burma during the war, and during that time wrote to Elizabeth to propose marriage. She accepted (he 26, she 21). However, he died on August 10 (aces and eights, as MM would remind us), 1945 at age 26. (Did I mention this Wiki post was laden with spook markers?).
In 1943 she moved to California to live with her father, Cleo. While there she met Army Air Force Lieutenant Joseph Gordon Fickling. Note the name “Gordon” again. Coincidence? Probably, but I do note that in the peerage, family names are usually used as middle names. These two could be related. There was apparently a romantic connection with Fickling, but nothing serious took hold, he envious of her flirtations with other men the story goes. I am curious, however, that of the three most important men in her life, two were military officers, and the other worked in a military shipyard. It’s beginning to look like Elizabeth, supposedly a high school drop out, was well connected. The photo to the left might be Elizabeth with either Gordon or Fickling, but my bet is Fickling since it looks like California, and Gordon was shipped off to Burma while she was there.
That in mind, I want to revisit this photograph. It’s been bugging me. Reading the James Ellroy version of Elizabeth’s life in Los Angeles, I had the impression she was at least a part time prostitute, a two-way swinger, a drunk and finagler. The day before her death she was with a married man. She slept with numerous men and women, kept company in dark bars, and generally led a dissolute life. The photo says none of that. It says that Elizabeth was well-heeled, well-dressed and coiffured. She had no reason to sit for this photo. She was a high school dropout, a swinger with no prospects. Ellroy had her participating in pornographic movies. She never tried out for a straight movie part, so this is not a photo taken for an agent to shop around. Without finishing high school, there is no graduation photo, and anyway, this woman looks to me to be in her early twenties.
Why then the photo?
I am reading college, maybe a sorority, maybe graduation from college. I am seeing well dressed, well bred, and well brought up. Nothing in the Ellroy book, itself laden with spook markers, reads anything like this photograph.
On January 9, 1947, Short returned to her home in Los Angeles after a brief trip to San Diego with Robert “Red” Manley, a 25-year-old married salesman she had been dating. Manley stated that he dropped Short off at the Biltmore Hotel located at 506 South Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, and that Short was to meet her sister, who was visiting from Boston, that afternoon. By some accounts, staff of the Biltmore recalled having seen Short using the lobby telephone.[e] Shortly after, she was allegedly seen by patrons of the Crown Grill Cocktail Lounge at 754 South Olive Street, approximately 0.4 miles (0.64 km) away from the Biltmore Hotel.
We read above about the demise of Elizabeth Short, the body moved after death to be displayed at longitude 118.333 West. In Ellroy’s book, hundreds of cops and detectives set out to solve the crime. It was a nationwide story of great interest, much like the OJ Simpson case. In Wiki, there are 750 cops from various agencies working the case, and yet for all of the intelligent effort and ability, nary a clue as to the attacker ever emerged. She was last seen at the Biltmore before turning up at 118.333 West. (There were suspects, and I would guess books claiming to have solved the case (in addition to finding Amelia Earhart in the process), but I attribute all of that to the second market’s ability to continue to make money on events like this.)
The image above is said to be the crime scene. Here’s Ellroy, again:
“A large triangle had been gouged out of the left thigh, and there was a long, wide cut running from the bisection point down to the top of the public hair. The flaps of skin beside the gash were pulled back; there were no organs inside. The top half was worse: the breasts were dotted with cigarette burns, the right one hanging loose, attached to the torso only by shreds of skin; the left one slashed around the nipple. The cuts went all the way down to the bone, but the worst of the worst was the girl’s face. It was one huge purple bruise, the nose crushed deep into the facial cavity, the mouth cut ear to ear into a smile that leered up at you, somehow mocking the rest of the brutality inflicted.”
Gruesome as this is, I must look and if you cannot, then follow me: I see no large triangle gouged out of the left thigh, maybe obscured. I see no large bisection in the upper part of the lower half of the body. I see no cigarette burns on the breasts. The right breast is a blur, but I do not see it hanging loose. Of course, we cannot see the face.
I can see withholding the photos of the crime scene. This is the only one I could find purporting to be real. It is indeed gruesome, and the primary urge is to look away, not to study detail. But the photo does not fit with the autopsy report or the Ellroy novel.
Above is another shot, this time covered with a suspicious looking blanket. Notice something missing? “… the nose crushed deep into the facial cavity, the mouth cut ear to ear into a smile that leered up at you.” This is an obvious fake, maybe a movie or TV still.
I think it only logical to conclude that we have no photos of the Black Dahlia crime scene. That may be due to there being no crime scene, no body. If they existed, they would have surfaced by now. (Remember, we live in a country that allowed autopsy photos of a dead president to be published.) If that is hard to believe, think again about OJ Simpson, and the hundreds of cops and hours of detective work that went into a nationally sensationalized set of a fake murders, including a “real” court case. Los Angeles is the product of the military and the entertainment industry. Military intelligence had to be all about, including within city government and LAPD. Were they capable of pulling off such a hoax? Yes.
I want to look again at the Geni.com information on Elizabeth Short. Note that she has four sisters: Virginia Mae, Dorthea, Private and Muriel. It’s not unusual to see “private” in genealogy reports. In fact, the father of these five girls is listed as private. But I am going to suggest something, perhaps a reach, but perhaps explaining the origins of “Elizabeth Short.” What I suggest is that the Cleo and Phoebe Short had four daughters, not five, and that the image of the “private” one became “Elizabeth.” It was used in a large and well crafted psyop out on the West Coast. There was no Elizabeth Short. There was only image and back story, much of it later supplied by Ellroy. The rest was smoke and mirrors, all done in a city with major film studios.
Another speculative possibility: The “Private” daughter is Elizabeth Short. She became her own body double.
If I am right, the fourth of Cleo and Phoebe’s daughters is the image above, but we do not for certain know her name. She went on to college, probably married, raised children, and died sometime in this century. That was all they needed in 1947 to run a psyop – a photo.
If you’ve a better explanation, I hope to see it in the comments. Black Dahlia has psyop written all over it.
PS: I originally planned this article for tomorrow, Monday, as I wanted Stepher’s piece to be on top of the page for another day. I accidentally hit the “publish” key early this morning, even as the piece needed lots of editing, and had some facts wrong (her having met Fickling in California, not Florida). I have now done that editing and correcting, shortening and clarifying, hopefully making it more readable.