The Murder/Riddle Solution

Elizabeth Short's killer is dead. But justice for Betty may be possible in a "We hear you, Betty" way. An informed person might fill the public in on the whodunit, why and where of the Dahlia murder. This person might make public the whys of the bisection and other mutilations, remains-prepping and display site.
These few pages contain the correct answers and accurate info necessary to enable justice for Elizabeth Short.


"I'd look for something which doesn't fit your habitual standard, with which you use to work as police-
something much more far out.
Roman Polanski on another LA Homicide



The killer wasn't a tall, gaunt drunkard. Smoke was billowing from that miscreant's proximity long before his Dutch-oven demise in LA's Holland Hotel. And Doctor Walter Bayley, whose home was almost in the display-site lot, didn't kill Elizabeth Short. Doc Bayley wasn't needed as a neighborhood nexus. The Dahlia was the link to the locale. She'd taken at least two of her admirers to that exact two-or-three block area during autumn of 1946. If the public had known the why of this, the Dahlia murder wouldn't be a mystery. And Betty didn't need a Bayley bailout. During the last two months of her life she'd repeatedly called on one particular lovesick gent for help. After leaving the Biltmore Hotel, Betty took a mile-and-a-half walk down Main to a Washington Boulevard hotel: the hotel she and her guy with the grabby smile had used three times in the recent past. That long southward stroll led to her suitcases being left in the bus depot.

That also led to the "five missing days," and to an average Angeleno's being stalled at square one in trying to unravel the riddle of the Black Dahlia murder. Those who wouldn't learn of a strange obsession Betty was possessed by during most of 1946 wouldn't leave square one. The link to square two is 2000 miles east of Los Angeles, on old Route 66 . . .

Almost exactly a year before the Black Dahlia murder, a girl was slain and dismembered in an affluent section of Chicago. The victim's name was Suzanne Degnan; the killer was a University of Chicago undergrad named William Heirens. Details of the Degnan murder and Heirens' weirdness were nightmare makers. Heirens was arrested in June 1946. His arrest made headlines all over the country.
At about the time Betty hit Chicago, Heirens' crime hit the pages of Life. Betty was obsessed with the Degnan murder prior to Heirens' arrest. With the arrest and Life coverage, Betty's fixation waxed wild. She was telling Chicago barfly pals she was a reporter from Boston, in Windy City to cover Heirens' trial. Betty had shuddery stuff to busy her . . .

Heirens was a sexual psychopath who would split off to another self to do things William Heirens didn't dare do. Heirens called his evil self "George Murman," which meant "Murder Man." He often said he had sent George to Mexico, because George was a bad boy.
Heirens/Murman did three bizarre murders, Heirens was a serial signature killer. A gamy part of his signature: he used defecation to assert dominance over his victims; Heirens defecated at his crime sites, to say, "I poop on everybody." Another part of Heirens' signature: he left messages at the murder sites; this wasn't a game; it was compulsion.
Heirens' MO varied, but he used a knife and a tub in all of his murders. This begot a Heirens quirk: he put gauze on wounds of his dead victims.
Suzanne Degnan was Heirens' final murder victim. The Degnan episode was Heirens' masterwork. He cut Suzanne into pieces. He washed and drained Sue's pieces free of blood. He shampooed her hair . . . carried the pieces outside, and used pre-dawn shadows as he. . .

And Betty Short was a Degnan-murder/Heirens expert, a sirenic screwball who gave reiterative recitations of the horrific data to her attentive bar crowd.
Betty's Suzanne Degnan-murder obsession was going strong when her Army Air Corps beau persuaded her to rail west on a Santa Fe Chief, with Route 666 by her side, and join him . . .

And in July '46 a dysphoric Degnan/Heirens/Murman show drifted into Long Beach in the eye of an obsession. After eleven days of beachside tedium, the demented drama made it to Hollywood . . .
George was a good boy throughout Betty's four-month Cinematown stint with "bums," as theatre-owner Mark Hansen called them. Bad-boy George was still in hydeing when Betty met a non-bum man. The non-bummer had USC School of Medicine credits. And the hokey guy suffered psyche-scar-school debits: a fallout of his being razzed because of rabbity facial features that fostered an eye-catching Bugs Bunnyesque grin. Grin Guy lived in the LA Harbor District; he was unlike Filmtown phonies Betty knew.
He and Elizabeth Short hit it off fine at first. She was his dream girl, the prettiest woman he'd ever met. She even had him thinking he wasn't a rabbit: she didn't make cutting jibes about his height and his goofy grin. And "Ed," as he'd tell us to call him, was Betty's wheels-and-money man who'd never try to make her do things she did not want to do. So maybe Betty didn't want to show off unhandsome Ed to her in-crowd. Save his visibility in an Owl Drugstore in Hollywood, Ed was seemingly "the little man who wasn't there." Two times in November Ed and Betty rendezvoused in Hollywood, hit fun spots like the Pike and POP, and spent a night together in a hotel in south-downtown LA. Both morning-afters, Ed gave Betty food-and-rent money and drove her back to Hollywood.
And Ed was Betty's best-ever listener. He'd feign interest as she'd relate detail after ghastly detail of the Suzanne Degnan murder. Betty drove Ed crazy with it, literally. She coaxed him to drive her out to Leimert Park. When she was expounding on the irony of Degnan Boulevard going right by her old lovers' lane, he noticed the many big vacant lots in the area . . . Spirit world, where were you? This was the time to send Betty a sign!

They spent one December night in their hotel. The next day, Ed bought Betty a bus ride to San Diego and bade her hasta luego at the depot. She did a southerly sojourn. Red Manley "returned" her to LA. She again called on Ed. Now she had no place to stay, and San Diego no longer beckoned as a "bug out" haven. And during a brink-of-eternity interlude in their hotel: Betty again balks at moving in with Ed; a portentously icy Ed wants to know why Betty would move in with that pervo Heirens she's always talking about or with any loser listed in her address book but not with the guy who cares about her; and Betty belatedly fills Ed in on an ugly fact . . . The prettiest and sweetest girl he's ever met is like all other girls he has known: she thinks he's a frumpish guy with a rabbitlike smile, and she never would move in with him. So let the danse macabre begin...

In addition to edefacing a fey Dahlia so she'd wear his smile forever, riddler Ed wrought esoteric allusions nobody would dream of except in nightmares. And LAPD sleuths seemed to be clueless,
like future physicians eyeballing Kaposi's Sarcoma . . . It was a bad one all right. But something about it wasn't copasetic. It was lycanthropically defocused . . . Maybe LAPD didn't scope this anomaly through the right De-Obscura Lens?
For the sake of explication, let's suppose '47 LAPD cops had recognized the aberrant mimicry that was before them . . .

Let's assume that LAPD had closed the Dahlia case, and that Detective Finibrown was giving a case summary. Applying gallows humor to protect the squeamish, and the moniker 'Will Cutter' to protect the guilty, Finibrown's illumination of Dahlia/Degnan darkness might go like this:

". . . As a sepulchral salud to Beth's fixation with the 1946 Suzanne Degnan murder, werewolf Will used 'ironic psychomancy.' He made Heirens-raising ironies escort the Dahlia into infinity. Developed Degnan Boulevard and vacant-lot-rich Norton Avenue merge into Degnan a block south of the Dahlia Show site; these streets form a Y, with a leg of Degnan Boulevard the stem . . . And the 'why' of the expo lot stems from Degnan Boulevard: there are windowy homes in Degnan-address areas; the 'can-do' Cutter commissioned a Norton Avenue lot as a safe area of just-down-the-street Degnan . . . Besides setting up his psychotoxic spectacular in a weedy lot 'on' Degnan Boulevard . . . Will Cutter used knives and a tub for his Dahlia caper, as William Heirens had done for his Degnan caper. LA Cutter cut Beth into pieces, as Heirens had done for Suzanne. LA Cutter drained and washed Beth's pieces free of blood, as Heirens had done for Suzanne. The Cutter shampooed Beth's locks, as evil Heirens had done for Sue. LA Cutter cut crisscross patches in Beth's remains to mimic gauze benevolent 'Doctor' Heirens had put on sanguinolent stabbing victims. LA Cutter made Beth swallow feces. He was duping Heirens' predilection for poop as a prop to demonstrate dominance over a victim. Cutter wrote notes, as had Heirens. Cutter ended a note: 'Dahlia Avenger.' 'Avenger' conjures up the Grumman Avenger warplane. Switch R and an M in a 'Grumman' and out flies Heirens' wicked alter ego: G Murman, AKA Murder Man. Cutter's third note started with consecutive caps: 'H' and 'A'. HA(?) So the cut manwas laughing at us? No . But he implied it by spinning off another allusion. Clever Cutter used a 'give me a square deal' phrase in this same note; this odd word set has the five start letters G, M, A, S, and D, which are the five start letters of 'George Murman and Susan Degnan.'The cut man was rolling with his usual fare until he encrypted a mind-blowing surprise in his third note. Cutter confessed and he used his original name! I'll get back to this third and final note later... Cutter began two notes: 'Here is' and 'Here it is.' Did Cutter allude to 'Heirens' in the intros? Are this why literate Cutter had crummy grammer 'is' in the first note? Did Will use the exclamation point as an insertion marker to glom onto one letter which is missing in his Heirens allusion? Is this why our man's exclamatory device hangs right above and points directly at the inordinately huge N in 'belongings'...Four huge yeses. Cutter soaked his belongings pack in gas. And Heirens soaked his Degnan note in oil. Was Cutter gas to KO traces of Cutter? Was it to fuel another Suzanne Degnan deja vu? I think it was to do both..."

"And 'here is' the answer to the question some of you are mulling...Yes. Will was thorough about how he prepped and set out the Dahlia's pieces. He corrected his 'Suzanne doll.' He removed her pubic hairs and cut off her rose tattoo to make her more like a pubicly hairless, untattooed, six-years-old Suzanne. Will put rose and hairs in the remains to tell us to think of Sue, not souvenirs. And he set up his mime so she lay facing the constellations, her alabaster legs in a venturous V, buffing starshine into Orion's helmut. Or did our LA hombre have the man from Chicago, Heirens, in mind? No doubt about it, he did. Will oriented his stunner so her split stems were pointing southward, at the visible leg of Degnan Boulevard..."

Ed sent three notes. But why use scissors to say "Dahlia's belongings"? The birth certificate said it. Why send the note about turning in? Turning in would have said it. And we all knew Ed wasn't on the square when he mentioned a square deal. He used inanity in all three notes to carry encryption.
The Dahlia story is a bramble of obsession and allusion and encryption. What is bared in pages to follow has a karma that is off-center. When I first "looked into it," I was startled. It's weirder than erroneous depictions in certain untrue "true story" books on the Dahlia murder. And it comes from Ed Burns, the real and only Black Dahlia killer.

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