In a new book, British author Piu Eatwell reveals unpublicized details about the notorious 1940’s murder mystery of the “Black Dahlia,” presenting a case that the starlet’s killer was a former pimp who had Hollywood connections.
On the morning of January, 15, 1947, the mutilated body of aspiring Hollywood actress Elizabeth Short was discovered on the sidewalk of a Los Angeles parking lot. The 22-year-old’s body was found cut in half. She had been bathed and drained of blood.
As details of her gruesome murder began to emerge, the press dubbed her the Black Dahlia after the exotic but intoxicating flower.
Eatwell’s book, Black Dahlia, Red Rose, paints a picture of Leslie Dillon, an ex-pimp with purported associates in both Hollywood and the Los Angeles Police Department, as the prime suspect. At the time, an LAPD psychiatrist told the local press that Dillon knew “more about the Dahlia murder than the police did,” according to Eatwell’s book.
Eatwell claims he knew details only the killer would know — including how Short’s rose tattoo was carved out of her thigh.
Ultimately, police never arrested Dillon and the case would remain unsolved to this day. For decades, theories of who could’ve killed Short have circulated in articles, books and movies.
In 2003, Steve Hodel, a retired Los Angeles homicide detective, wrote a book, Black Dahlia Avenger: The True Story, pointing the finger at his deceased father George Hodel, a surgeon known to have dated Short.
After Short’s killing, said Steve Hodel, “five witnesses in newspapers described him as her boyfriend.” Steve Hodel says his father was motivated by jealousy, alleging that Short was involved with another man. George Hodel was never charged with the crime.
In 1987, James Ellroy wrote the crime noir novel, The Black Dahlia, which was later turned into a 2006 movie with the same name starring Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson. Ellroy said people remained interested in the story so many decades later due to its sensational nature.
“Elizabeth Short was emblematic of her times,” Ellroy told PEOPLE at the time of his book’s release. “She came from the East to be a movie star, like many girls of that more innocent era. Then this act of absolute random brutality. She was tortured for days. Rather than dump this girl who wouldn’t be missed in the ocean or bury her, the killer drives around with two halves of a naked body in the trunk and deposits it six inches off the sidewalk in the middle of Los Angeles.”