Evidence concerning the murder of American aspiring actress and murder victim Elizabeth Short (1924 - 1947), known as the 'Black Dahlia,' is strewn across a table at the Los Angeles District Attorney's office in 1947.
Archive Photos / Getty Images. https://time.com/3657606/black-dahlia-murder-case/
BY JOE CHAUNCY, San Francisco Chronicle (Date not available, about 1947).
Although David Goodis has written a geat number of murder-mystery series, he is best known for his recent novel, "Dark Passage" which appeared as a serial in the Saturday Evening Post and is being filmed now as a Warner Brothers' motion picture. He states that in his many years of obtaning first-hand information of homicide cases, he has been particulary interested of the deeper urges which motivate murder. In the following article he offers is own personal analysis fo the "Black Dahlia" case, based on a careful study of all facts thus far brought to light.
A Los Angeles Police Department flyer on Elizabeth Short. https://www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/black-dahlia
BY DAVID GOODIS
1. In algebraic equation, the unknown quantity is "X". To arrive at "X" we manipulate the known mathematical symbols untl a certain number fulfills all the qualifications of "X".
The same applies to murder. In a murder case, "X" is, of course the identity of the killer. But to discover that identification, to establish irrevocable proof, homicide experts must run the gamut of procuring evidence, both concrete and circumstatial, in addition to demonstrating motive and intent.
Thus far the "Black Dahlia case offers a perplexing problem as regards to latter elements. This is due mainly to the fact that the vicim was no ordinary personality. In the "Black Dahlia" murder, the road that leads to "X" is the road that winds through dark and shadowy depths--the road of the subconscious. (continued below).
2. IN SUBCONSCIOUS MIND
There was something in the subconscious mind of Elizabeth Short that ultimately found its way into external display. Whatever this was, whatever ghastly, bizarre form it tookm ut resulted in abnormal, maniacal murder.
It was a sadistic murder. The killer actually enjoyed what he was doing. He took his time about it. He gloated over it. When he was finished, he ws satisfied and pleased. Yet a significant fact presents itself -- he did not go select a second victim.
This leads to an important assumption. The killer was no ordinary sadistical killer, such as "Jack the Ripper" of London, whose victims were many, who continued his blood thirsty busines even as the police combed the city in frantic search.
In the "Black Dahlia" affair, the killer demonstrates extreme psychotic tendencies -- the kind of tendencies that can be brought to surface only by excessive external stimulation. This therefore, becomes a case wherein two unusual personalities met each other, lit the abnormal effect on each other, lit the fuse for a box of mental dynamite. (continued below).
3. INSANE AT THE TIME
This killer had that dynamite inside himself. It may have been there for years -- dormant, waiting -- it is probable that he didn't even know it was there. The way he went at his task shows conclusively that he was commpletedly insane at that time. But when the fit -- and it was probably a schizophrenic fit -- had reached its breaking-point, the killer was no longer a raving madman, but a cold, caluclating murderer. He took strategic steps to cover his crime. He washed away the blood, he changed his clothing, he obliterated his tracks methodically, cleverly.
Pure logic points to the fact that the victim was murdered in a deserted shack or remote area, probably on the outskirts of the city. We know, therefore, that the killer had a car. And as we again examine the subconscous mind that on night he wold meet someone who he would want to kill in prcisely the same manner he eventually killed Elizabeth Short.
He knew exactly what he would do if and when that meeting occurred. He would lure the girl into his car. He would take her to that "place." He would slaughter her. All this, mind you, in his subconscious. (continued on right).
4. APPROXIMATE PICTURE
To submit an exact description of what took place that night, is, of course, impossible. But it isn't too difficult to draw up an approximate picture of the proceedings.
The man -- and I am certain it was a man -- met her on the street or in a bar. They talked. They found each other interesting. Somewhere along the path of their conversation they fell into the channel of an erotic subject. It grew. Within the mind of the man it esxpanded and formed a chain between the conscious and the subconscious.
Suddenly he was insane -- completely. But Elizabeth Short did not notice this. She was intrigued by the man. There was something about him that magnetized her particular personality. When he invited her to his "place", she offered
Now, just what happened to set off the spark? What gesture did she make? Perhaps an usual way of lighting a cigarette or smoking. Perhaps the way she held a highball glass. Perhaps the pattern of her dress. Or the way her hair was arranged. Some "little thing" that has utterly no significance in the lives of normal people, but which was magnified a million times in the distorted mind of the killer. (continued below)
PHOTO: Black Dahlia Murder | SouthPasadenan.com | Newspaper published letters from Black Dahlia killer.
5. GESTURE OR WORD
It amounts to a choice -- whether it was a gesture or the spoken word that started him off, it could have been something like this --
". . . a lot of blood."
". . . seen a dog tearing a cat to pieces."
". . . never heard nothing like that before."
Her subconscious mind has expressed something that made contact with his subconscious. She didn't know it, but at that moment she was literally asking to be murdered.
And the murderer himself didn't know it, but for a long, long time he had been looking for the "Black Dahlia". It was the tragic misfortune of Elizabeth Short that she fitted all the erried requirements.
This is a case wherein the killer must be baited rather than hunted. And this brings us back to the algerbraic equation. Our symbols, however, do not involve the usual technical factors of murder, such as the geography of the crime, the time element, the material pieces of evidence.
Inasmuch as this case was activated by an abnormal mind, the process of deduction and ultimate arrest must be analyzed with the ultimate aim of placeing her in a psychological category of microproportions.
(continued on right).
6. IN THE NATURE OF TRAP
This category must be arranged in the nature of a trap. As much as the killer wants his freedom, he wold much prefer to meet another "Black Dahlia". He probably doubts that another exists. But suppose another one did? And suppose he found out about it? Would he suspect that this was a trap? Probably.
And yet his lunacy would be dominant. He wouldn't be able to resist the temptation.
Sooner or later he would be sufficiently stimulated to catch a look at this new "Dahlia". Upon seeing her, upon checking to make sure he was on safe ground, he would approach her just as he approached Elizabeth Short. A wire-recorder, carefully arranged, would listen to the ensuring converation leading to the ultimate invitation to visit the "place." Plain clothes men would move in at the feasible moment.
This technique of arriving at "X" is probably the most difficult and complex in the book. It must be handled not only with delicacy, but with hair-line precision. Either the equation balances or doesn't balance. There's no guess work in algebra.
Who killed the Black Dahlia? history.com