A copy of the October 1948 issue of True Detective with a cover story on “The Black Dahlia Murders” has been listed on EBay. This is the magazine that got poor old Leslie Dillon in trouble. The article by George Clark identifies Dr. Joseph Paul De River as “an eminent psychiatrist and head of the Sex Offence Bureau of the Los Angeles Police Department” and gives his views on the case.
Leslie Dillon’s postcard, in an image from the Los Angeles Public Library.
After reading the article, Dillon wrote to De River about his theories on the Black Dahlia case and De River developed the notion that Dillon had a split personality and under an alternate identity named Jeff Connors killed Elizabeth Short.
Without telling homicide detectives, De River launched his own investigation, enticing Dillon to meet him in Las Vegas under the pretense of serving as his secretary. De River and the LAPD’s gangster squad picked up Dillon and on the drive to Los Angeles, stopped at Banning, where De River began interrogating Dillon, who eventually sailed a postcard out a window saying that he was being held captive and to please get him a lawyer.
Investigators eventually located Connors, released Dillon (who sued the city for $100,000) and De River the self-styled psychiatrist was exposed as an ear, nose and throat doctor who had written a graphic book about his investigation of sex crimes. (And no. There’s nothing about the Dahlia case in it).
The Dillon fiasco led to a grand jury investigation, and material from that inquiry remains with the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office as the so-called Black Dahlia files, a disorganized mass of reports, memos, correspondence and random pieces of paper (including the Dr. George Hodel transcripts) that were tossed in a couple of boxes when someone was throwing out old documents.
The George Hodel files Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15| Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20 | Part 21 |Part 22 | Part 23 | Part 24 | Part 25 | Part 26 | Part 27 | Part 28 | Part 29 | Part 30 | Part 31 | Part 32 | Part 33 | Part 34 | Part 35 | Part 36
Although Dillon was cleared after an exhaustive investigation, he remains a favorite suspect among certain armchair sleuths.
This issue of True Detective turns up on EBay about once a year or every two years. It usually goes for a fair amount of money — at least more than I would care to spend. The article is not particularly reliable — Clark tries to tie the case to several other killings — but there are a number of pictures, including one of Herald-Express reporter Aggie Underwood being kept back from the crime scene.