Elizabeth Short’s name became well-known back in 1947, but not for her aspirations of becoming an actress and model; she was brutally murdered and her body cut in half at the waist and left in an empty lot in Los Angeles, California. The identity of her killer has remained a mystery to this day, and circumstances at the time allowed the media and the public to literally trample all over the crime scene, therefore contaminating it and most likely destroying precious evidence. Criminal profiling was still in its infancy at that time, but a former FBI criminal profiler named Gregg O. McCrary recently built a profile based on the information gathered from the original investigation as well as the latest profiling techniques. I’m going to note here that the state of Elizabeth Short’s body when found goes far beyond what was mentioned above: she was strangled and brutally mutilated in a very sexually specific way. I won’t add more detail unless it directly contributes to the profile because of the sheer brutality and less than G-rated nature of the details.
Based on the fact that all blood had been drained from Ms. Short’s body and that her body was clean, it was determined that she had been killed at one location, cleaned up, and then placed at the location where she was ultimately found. This suggests that the killer may have been older than she, and therefore didn’t fear killing her. It also suggests that her killer may have at least been acquainted with Ms. Short, and therefore may have been able to lure her to a place where he felt more in control and would have had plenty of time to kill, mutilate, and dismember her. The sexual nature and brutality of the crime suggests a sexually sadistic male with a hatred towards women for whatever reason, as well as a disapproval of Ms. Short’s partying and seemingly high-risk lifestyle. The location where Ms. Short’s body made it very easy for anyone to find her, which suggests that the killer wanted her to be found and wanted to proudly display exactly what he did to her, as well as humiliate her, even in death, by the position in which her body was placed.
While the chances of Elizabeth Short’s killer ever being identified, let alone brought to justice are slim to none because of the passage of time, lack of modern crime scene forensic technology, and the mishandling of the crime scene itself, the criminal profile created by Agent McCrary helps to shed light on the mysterious person who killed the Black Dahlia.
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