Analysis of the Dahlia "Show"

In the Black Dahlia's time there was a radio show called Let's Pretend. A few years later, there was a TV program known as You Be The Judge. Let's examine a Dahlia topic by a combo of these themes. We'll pretend for circa-Black Dahlia time and judge in 21st-century time. Our topic: "Abattoir Beeline"

Abattoir Beeline
Let's pretend that bloody sheets and bloodstained women's clothes were found in a structure suspected to be the Dahlia death place. Let's pretend the clothes were the Dahlia's style and size. Let's pretend the structure was on a busy street and less than a 15 minutes' drive from the Dahlia death lot. Let's pretend that the structure was on a "beeline" from the lot.
What's a "beeline"? In Cartesian Coordinates and in Euclidean space, a straight line can link any two points. Let's consult a dictionary. My word book says: "beeline, a direct route traveled quickly." And about "direct," my book says: ". . . proceeding in a straight line or by the shortest route; undeviating..."

The Abattoir on the Beeline
The "pretend" above talked of driving in a car, not traveling via a brain movie following map grid lines where streets may not exist. And it follows '47 LA streets. Let's pretend we drive to the lot from say, 31st and San Pedro. We'll have to jog north to Adams or south to Jefferson before we can even begin our westward route to the lot. And then we'll be paralleling Washington which would be faster and less than a mile to the north. Pretend you use Jefferson from 31st and San Pedro, and I use Washington from 300 East Washington. It'll seem like a song: you use the low road and I'll use the high road, and I'll get to Shortland before you. The San Pedro Street-area start would be frustrating. Exposition overlays a map grid line but it doesn't start to beeline westward 'til the USC area. But you want to go by Exposition while I go by Washington? It'll be like an old tune again: you go the low road and I go the high road and I get to Lotland before you. The Metro Blue Line would wheel on Washington for good reason . . .
Ed's likely route from the hotel to the show site: Washington west to Crenshaw. Crenshaw south to Coliseum, Coliseum east to Norton . . . lights off, roll south a half-block . ..
The structure on East Washington was on a busy street and less than a 15 minutes' drive to the Degnan-locale lot. The hotel-lot route was as close to a "beeline" as you could get. LAPD sleuths had to suspect that the hotel on Washington was the Dahlia death chamber: they knew that Betty and Ed had checked into the hotel three days before BD Day; they also knew that the doomed duo had used the hotel several times in late-'46.
So you be the judge . . . Does the Washington Boulevard hotel match the "let's pretend" structure?
See the Route

The Bundle in the Abattoir
About those bloody sheets and bloodstained clothes . . . Does that sound like the Ed Burns we know? Didn't he have the Dahlia murder planned? Yes, he did. But think about what the Dahlia told us previously: she thought Ed checked out three Harbor-area hotels because managers of "their" hotel sensed spooky vibes emanating from the "Barnes'" room, and got nervous. So let me run a let's pretend scenario by you, and you be the judge . . . Everything's jake until late in the second day of the murder process when Ed hears knocking on the door. He first ignores it, as he'd ignored the ringing of the phone a while ago. But the knocking continues and Ed hears, "Mr. and Mrs. Barnes . . . Did you hear the phone? Can you hear me? . . . Is everything OK?" Ed starts to freak, but the knocking stops and the knocker goes away. Ed returns to "the process" and has just begun to settle back into things when the manager comes back and knocks, and hollers his inquiries through the door. And Ed hears something about getting a key. Ed hasn't completed his black task and he momentarily panics. But he calms down. The Dahlia is Liz and Beth by now. He can put her in the suitcases and flee the scene. But the scene's a bloody mess. Ed commandeers sheets and frantically cleans and wipes, then places Tweedle Duo in her two suitcases and realizes he has no suitcase space for Betty's clothes or the bloody sheets. And the manager might soon return with a key . . . What can Ed do? Ed looks for and finds an attic access in a tiny closet space. Ed stands on a chair and moves the access door aside, then gets down and bundles all the bloody stuff in a ball, then gets himself and the bloody cotton ball onto the chair and pushes a ball of blood and sheets and clothes into the attic, and clear of the access area. Ed then slides the attic-access door back into place and gets down from the chair. Ed does frenetic final cleanup, then peers through the organdy curtain... No manager cometh. Ed opens the front door, lifts his ladylove and goes out the door, sets the luggage down, shuts and locks the door, grabs the ponderously heavy suitcases and walks to the car and loads it, and is on his way to the Inglewood area . . . But Ed Burns doesn't forget about the grotesque bundle in the attic on East Washington. And as the Art Bisecto to the west spawns nightmares, Ed motors back to the abattoir. Let's pretend he gets into the room out of eyeshot of the managers and puts suspicion-snuffing sheets he's scrounged, into place. Right now Ed wants to get that stuff out of the attic and into the car. But he decides to check on activity of the managers, to avoid any "embarrassing" interruptions. Ed goes to the office and informs a manager he's back and is waiting for his wife. The manager scares jumpy Ed by saying, "We thought you were dead." Shaky-with-good reason, Ed jackrabbits out of the area, leaving the bundle in the attic of the cheap
hotel. . . The manager will be a gremlin, and Ed realizes it . . . Wrong with Eversharp, Mr. J, you didn't say which "you. " OK, call the police. So they shake down the room, go into the attic, find the stuff, and can't prove it's her blood or her clothes, and can't lift prints. They can't prove a thing.
You be the judge . . . Did the stashed-sheet scenario fit the Black Dahlia Story in combo with the "beeline" topic?

The Baring of the Abattoir
Let's pretend that 1947 LAPD Homicide had the Abattoir Beeline data from week two of the Dahlia case. Let's pretend LAPD disclosed the info to a 1949 Grand Jury. LAPD scorecard on six Ripperesque murders of LA women, from '44 to '49: Blader Jacks, 6; Friday Joes, 0. Why would LAPD have revealed the abattoir data? To show some progress on the Dahlia case? LAPD is reluctant to bare info on the case to this day. Is LAPD still in case-protection mode? I say: no; LAPD lawmen who need to know do know that the Dahlia killer suicided in March 1947. The abattoir data was real. It was but one strand in the web of circumstantial evidence LAPD had on Ed Burns. Even had LAPD not decrypted any of Ed's messages, I'm certain 1947 LAPD knew that Ed was their man in the Dahlia case.

Poignantly Ironic Finality
Maybe Ed's hotel-room lecture covered the whole Black Dahlia Story. Maybe the saga didn't end quite like Ed's surfside litter implied. Maybe Ed Burns and Elizabeth Short took this secret to their graves:
Ed sets up his Degnan Murder Tableau, drives a safe distance from the scene lot and parks. He cleans the exteriors of the Liz and Beth suitcases, then rolls to the downtown-LA Greyhound Bus terminal. He checks the two suitcases into a locker near the one that contains Betty's suitcases. Ed's evidentiary murder kit is EdBlematically occulted...
In the dawning hours of suicide day, a disguised Ed reclaims his suitcases from the depot locker. He motors to a secluded spot and parks. He opens the suitcases and takes out the stained rope that bound Betty's ankles and legs. He cuts two 4' lengths from this rope. He puts a noose on one end of each piece, and ties 30 pounds of iron-pumper discs on the other end. Ed puts a weighted rope segment and a 10-pound "sinker" disc in each suitcase, and closes his luggage. He then drills holes in the luggage: he wants it to sink like a human with a 60-pound payload. The saw-it-all suitcases now holding the murder kit plus weighty cargo are ready for their final mission. . .
Later in the suicide morning, Ed Burns strolls onto the Venice beach, carrying his litter-to-be in a shopping bag. He places the clothes on the sand, with his suicide note in a shoe. He lays low 'til the evening Herald-Express hits the stands. He doesn't want the final ploy of his plan to be waylaid by a curious canine or a scavenger seagull . . . All went well. The newspaper covered his effort with an item that began: "Claiming that he was the Black Dahlia killer, an unidentified man left a note stating..."
At witching hour of suicide day, Ed wheels to his and Betty's happy-place amusement park, and parks. He sits for a minute, ears "on" and eyes peeled, to get a feel for locale activity. It's as dead as a corpse. He is the activity in the locality. He gets out of the car, removes the luggage from the back seat, takes a deep breath, grips a memory-joggingly heavy suitcase in each hand and heads for the pier.

Burns walks onto the creaking Ocean Park pier and gazes to the South. Something's percolating a quarter-mile down the beach. Ed thinks . . . They're looking for a suicide floater. Sorry, sports fans, you false-started . . . and I won't float.
Ed proceeds to the breezy spot on the pier where he and Betty saw a blood-red sun sink into the blue Pacific. He ruminates how they talked of shoes, and ships . . . "The time has come,' the walrus said, 'to talk of many things: Of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax. Of cabbages, and kings. And why the sea is boiling hot, '" . . . and why a rabbit cannot have wings . . .
Ed opens the suitcases, takes out his weighted rope segments, and closes and locks the Liz and Beth caskets. He slips the Liz noose around his left ankle, and the Beth noose around his right ankle. Rope that held Elizabeth Short when she died will do the same for Ed Burns. He moves caskets and discs to the edge of the pier, maneuvers to the outside of the railing, grips the coffins, then splashes into murky brine. Ed clutches the eerily bubbling murder paraphernalia as rope at his ankles tugs him inexorably downward into the gloom . . .
Ed's surreal Black Dahlia odyssey is dead.

A Pandora's Box in a Cloud of Blue Smoke
LAPD is haunted by the Dahlia case. I'm sure the reason would surprise Dahlia buffs. The truth: LAPD cops knew their man was Ed Burns; they had him, they grilled him, but they did not hold him, and suddenly he "wasn't there" and by the time LAPD learned where he was, he'd juked justice with a salty suicide. Eddy Rabbit had given LAPD cops the slip! In a garden-variety case, a preventable truth like this is soon forgotten. But in a dahlia case that made front-page news all over the world, it left career-marring burns scars on very good cops.
Has the "Burns-Scars Truth" been the case secret? Yes!
What if LAPD never found physical evidence needed to make a DA happy, and never deciphered Ed's trilogy, and King Neptune never regurgitated Burns Bunny? We would see a Dahlia case in open-case limboland, with LAPD referring to Ed Burns as "unID'd man." We've seen a half-century of that.
For 54 years, LAPD has prevented the Burns-Scars Truth from leaking to the public. How would LAPD have done this?
LAPD would have allowed only a select coterie of non-leakers to know the Truth. LAPD Homicide didn't dare curtail the Dahlia investigation: LA newshawks would've been all over this one like petals on a dahlia blossom. So LAPD would have reined in a given non-select sleuth once non-select sleuth had gotten close to the Burns-Scars Truth. And we're close to something ...
There are Los Angeles newspersons who assert that 1947 LAPD purposely subverted the Dahlia-murder investigation. LA newsman Bill Welsh remembers persistent rumors that the Dahlia case was fixed. LA Times reporter Niesen Himmel emphatically insists that the Dahlia-homicide investigation was a "cover-up by the police department of that day."
In the decades since 1947, six different homicide detectives separately blew the whistle on a Dahlia-case cover-up. But their reports were squelched through the LAPD policy of secrecy with regard to the Dahlia case.

Harry The Hat Hansen Did His Invisible-Rabbit Trick
Detective William Harmon was a plainclothesman investigating the Dahlia murder. The case was two weeks old when he told his family the case was "virtually solved." By spring he was almost ready to take his evidence to the DA. But the DA didn't see his data. Harmon was abruptly taken off the case, ordered to turn in his notes and "never discuss the case again."
In 1949, a grand jury heard about a Dahlia-case cover-up. LAPD detective L. Waggoner was working the "Long Beach angle" in the case. He told the grand jury that he and his partner were making "remarkable progress." But they were abruptly reassigned to other duties without explanation. Under oath, he said: "The case could have been solved . . . [But] I was suddenly taken off the case, and I never did learn the reason why."
The detectives detected a cover-up, but never learned the why of the cover-up. It's a no-brainer: the why of the cover-up was the Burns-Scars Truth.
Why did LAPD cover up the Truth? Solely to hide a goof? Just because of chagrin? No on both: 1947 LAPD wasn't amateurish. The cover-up "benefited" the public, but it was done mainly in the interest of good police work. Detectives Harry Hansen and Finis Brown were topnotch professionals.
By Truth time, Hansen had almost given up on finding physical evidence to warrant an arrest of Ed Burns. But an adamant Hansen knew Burns was his man, and he had airy hopes of taking the evidence to court and closing the case. Ed was gone: sleuthhounds scenting his karma could've worked a data field and dug up a stiff: a liplubing sleuth-squander. So Harry pulled dead-rabbit trackers. By covering up the Truth, Harry forced Dahlia-case sleuths to sleuth in unBurns'd areas. Harry was covering all bases. This is why his card-filing and Finis' lead-chasing went on for years after Ed's suicide. Had the Dahlia case reached court, sage Harry could have said: "LAPD went to the 5th dimension in a hunt for another good suspect. Ed Burns wasn't just our ultra-likely suspect. Burns is a shoo-in for the Dahlia killer!"

Harry Hansen Told Us He Knew
Harry repeatedly said he "knew" who killed the Dahlia, but he made it seem like he was saying the opposite. In '71, he told a journalist: "I know for certain that I never met the killer face to face." In '79, Harry flatly told an LA Times newsman that the killer was dead. Had Harry not known the killer, then he would've been telling us good stuff like: "I know for certain that I never met I don't know who face to face. And I'm sure I know not who is dead." Reductio ad absurdum. In '82, sly Harry said: "It was the killer's first and last killing." To know the kill window, Harry had to know the killer in the window.
Clean Harry never said, "I don't 'know' who killed the Black Dahlia." He would have been lying.

The Abortionist was Harry's Man
Via 1990s LA TV, a very-old former cohort of Harry's gave us some intriguing info. Harry's Black Dahlia-case suspect was an abortionist. Harry found the man's phone number in the Dahlia's address book, but "the digits were slightly rearranged." Shades of the Crypto Man, Ed Burns, AKA Maurice from "Guess Who"! Given quack credentials Ducktor Burns had earned when he'd aborted his medical training at USC, the following scenario is pregnant with probability:

LAPD ID'd the grinner in the photo-booth pics. His birth certificate name: "Ed Burns." LAPD showed the photos to the ladies at Chancellor Apartments. Some of them recognized the man; they told LAPD he did abortions; but they didn't know him as "Ed Burns." Hansen's hot hunch: Maurice, the Dahlia's " favorite boy friend, " was Ed Burns. LAPD sleuthed up Burns phone number. Hansen scanned the Dahlia's address book. "Ed Burns" was not there. "Maurice" was. Hansen recognized the number to the right of "Maurice" as a permutation of Burns' phone number. And how had Ed Burns made "Maurrice"? His main maneuver was to morph "Burns Ed" into "nBurs de" . . . Don't look now, Hansen, but the rearrangement of Ed's seven-digit phone number dittoes the rearrangement of Ed's seven-letter name.

Please do glance back now, Black Dahlia puzzle-fans, at Ed's suicide cryptography. The first T pointer aims at the cap E in "CONCERN." Notice that the pointer could be extended to point at cap M in "WHOM," as well as cap E. Note the slashy I in "IT." If Ed's original had a similar I in "IT," I bet that Ed wanted us to use it as an "IT" I, then recycle it as a clue: the vertical line of "name" letters begins with cap M in the 1st line, not with cap E in the second line; cap M means "Maurice"; and Burns said: "I am Maurice/Ed Burns"

Career Closure
The LA Times reported that Harry Hansen got drunk and teary at his retirement party because the Dahlia case was the "one case he wanted to solve, the one killer he wanted to find." Well, it was more than that. Harry found the killer, but he couldn't close the case, and he had to keep it hush hush. It was the '47 Truth.

Case Closure
The '47 Truth was de facto case closure. But the custodians of Pandora's Box keep mum about it. Decryption in this document is post-'47 truth. It heralds de facto Black Dahlia-case closure for the public.

NOW's the Time
The purpose of this document is to provide all necessary info for bringing Elizabeth Short some justice.

The Black Dahlia Death Chamber
Hirsch Apartments

The year was 1947, but the Dahlia-slaying site was of another time. It was an old three-story, long, narrow wooden building on the southeasterly corner of East Washington Boulevard and Santee Street, in Los Angeles. The westerly wall was just off the Santee sidewalk; the seven wooden steps that climbed to the large front porch began just off the Washington sidewalk. This was typical of pre-auto-era buildings: no engine roar to deal with. I'd say the structure was built in about 1900. It was fittingly classifiable as a hotel, a rooming house, or apartment flats. The front entrance, three hallways and rear-wall fire-escape exits were on a centerline: the place was lengthwise symmetric. In the Black Dahlia's time, the squarish building wore "The Hirsh Apts." as a part of its original decor. The Hirsh was "safely" remote from downtown LA, Long Beach and Hollywood. But: the LA Biltmore Hotel was an easy-walk away; via Washington, Alameda, and Atlantic, Long Beach was a 30-minute car ride away; via Washington and Western, Hollywood was a 20-minute drive away... And 39th and Norton was a relaxed 15-minute roll away . . .

Santee dead-ended just beyond the three fire-escape ladders on the back wall. So there was virtually no pedestrian nor vehicular traffic near the Santee side. There was seclusion to the west.
There was open space directly to the rear of the Hirsh. There was seclusion to the south.
The rearmost Hirsh units were about 65 feet from the sidewalk on Washington. There was seclusion from the "outside north."
Hirsh Apartments

The normal access of a given Hirsh apartment was via the front entrance plus one of three inside halls. There was no "courtyard exposure" of comings and goings or other activities of guests.
The Hirsh managers' office was in a front apartment; the fire-escapes were 75 feet away. A sneaky guest could've migrated from floor to floor, or departed the premises, out of eyeshot of the managers.
The old building boasted attic area and a spacious cellar: the Hirsh had stash space for bloody clothing and sheets which might result from a messy "surgical" procedure . . .
It wasn't just by chance that Ed Burns used the Hirsh for the Dahlia-slaying site. I think it was serendipity. Serendipity? But Bladester Burns chose the "Hearse" because of stuff noted above, correct? Correcto!

I say the Hirsh had been Ed's secret abortion site before he and the Dahlia joined paths. And it served Ed well as a secluded sanctum on sexless one-nighters with the Dahlia. So once Ed opted to slay the Dahlia, he had a serendipitously preselected slaying site: an old Los Angeles hotel at 300 East Washington Boulevard, The HIRSH Apts...

Hirsh Apartments


Additional Photos:
Hirsh Apartments
LAPD Detectives
Long Beach
Hollywood Scenery
The Pacific Coast
San Diego I
San Diego II
Back to LA
Abattoir Area

The Hirsh Apartments Revisited


Home | About | Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Epilogue | Appendix