Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Black Dahlia

The Missing Week

What happened from the time Short was seen leaving the Biltmore to the time her mutilated body was dumped in the dirt lot remains a mystery. One thing is certain: sometime during those seven days, she had a fatal date with her killer, who taunted and tortured her before snuffing out her young life in a horrific fashion.

Manley IDs Short's purse
Manley IDs Short's purse

On January 25, Short's black patent leather purse and one of her black open-toed pumps was found in a dumpster at 1819th E. 25th street, several miles from the crime scene. Robert Manley identified the items as hers. He recognized the shoes because he paid to get them re-soled in San Diego, and said the handbag smelled of the heavy perfume that Short wore and that had permeated his car as they drove from San Diego to Los Angeles.

The five daily papers in Los Angeles gobbled up these details in a ferocious competition to outscoop each other. Someone — possibly the killer — mailed a package to the Examiner nine days after Short's death. It reeked of the gasoline the sender used to erase his or her fingerprints from the envelope. Inside were Short's belongings, including photographs, her birth certificate, social security card, and Matt Gordon's obituary. It also contained an address book containing the names of 75 men. The police quickly tracked them down and they told investigators a surprisingly similar story: they'd met Short on the street or in a club, bought her drinks or dinner, but never saw her again after she made it clear she was uninterested in a physical relationship.

 

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