Black Dahlia: Blogging ‘Black Dahlia Files’ Part 82 — Request Line XVII

Note: This is an encore post from 2006.

I have ceased blogging in real time as I read Donald H. Wolfe’s “The Black Dahlia Files: The Mob, the Mogul and the Murder That Transfixed Los Angeles.” Wolfe uses the “Laura” format, in which the anonymous, butchered body is found and the narrative proceeds in flashbacks.

Now, I am taking a few requests before wrapping up the project. Today, we’ll look at Pages 277-281 at the request of Mary Pacios.

Pages 277-281

Oh, thanks a lot, Mary!

This section is titled “…Inside an Enigma” and the chapter is “Connected.”

Oh, let’s back up a couple pages for some nasty work.

Page 274

Wolfe is talking about some scrawled notes in the district attorney’s files. For the record, I have copies of them, too. So it’ll be interesting to see what Wolfe does with them. After him faking a memo on Page 198, I expect the worst.

Wolfe first says that the notes by Lt. Frank Jemison of the district attorney’s office (written on a Christmas party invitation) list names from Elizabeth Short’s address book. True.

He says that the first name is Red Morris, or Red Manley. Again, this is true. Red Manley, being a married man, gave Elizabeth Short a phony name.

Another name we find is Dr. A.E. Brix of 125 S. Lake St. in Los Angeles. Wolfe claims that Brix was another abortionist, without the slightest proof. I’ve made a fairly thorough study of old Doc Brix and have learned quite a bit about soccer as a result. You see, Brix was on the first U.S. Olympic soccer team and quite a bit was written about him, at least in terms of athletics. But I’ve never found a trace of him involved in anything illicit, and believe me I’ve looked.

Now does Wolfe give any citation for his claim that Brix was an abortionist?

Are you kidding? Of course not. He can’t.

And in going through the end notes, I found another absolute howler.

Dr. Leslie C. Audrain
, whom everybody has unfairly tarred as an abortionist thanks to Charles Stoker’s “Thicker ‘n’ Thieves” died in May 1949. In fact, Dr. Leslie Carl Audrain, born Nov. 3, 1875, died May 20, 1949, at the age of 73. Check it for yourself at Net Detective.

Why is this so darn funny? Because Wolfe cites this:

Page 273 Dr. Audrain had died suddenly, obit, Pasadena Star News, September 12, 1949.

In other words, the Pasadena paper allegedly ran Audrain’s obituary four months after he died. To be blunt, this is a fake entry (and not the first) that’s window dressing for a lie.

Remind me again how well this book is researched. I keep forgetting.

What remains are names that Wolfe can’t explain, so he passes them off as Audrain’s aliases (my isn’t Audrain the busy fellow for being 71 years old!):

Dr. Morris 3122 W. 6th St. Room 417.

And Dr. Richard Scott or Stott, 6330 Afton Place, Apt. 309. GL 5977

Let’s do Dr. Morris. Ready? First of all, 3122 W. 6th St. is a nonexistent address. If we look at 3123 W. 8th St., we do indeed find a Dr. Morris. And yes, he was a doctor. But not a medical doctor. He had a doctorate in science.


How about Richard Scott/Stott? In fact, 6330 Afton is a fake address in Hollywood, as anybody can discover if by cruising the neighborhood. Which Wolfe obviously never did. Or check Google Earth.

Oh, let’s fast-forward through this debris. I’ll just mention in passing that Maurice Clement and Michael Anthony Otero didn’t know each other. Clement worked at Columbia and Otero was a Spanish teacher at Santa Monica High School. What’s amusing is that when Wolfe doesn’t get the results he wants from the Ann Toth’s statement, he turns Otero into Clement. Nasty work.

Page 277

Oh, here’s Wolfe’s “smoking gun” on poor old Maurice.

  • He drove a car that matched the description of one found at the crime scene. Note that it’s hard to imagine a well-placed mobster and procurer for Brenda Allen driving a 10-year-old Ford sedan.
  • He was identified by the clerk at the Hawthorne as a frequent visitor who often paid Elizabeth Short’s rent. Somewhat true. The clerk said she was always late on her rent and that a man paid it for her.
  • He was identified as the person who transported Elizabeth to Mark Hansen’s residence on Carlos Street. False. And it’s really Carlos AVENUE.
  • Ann Toth stated that he was a frequent caller at the Carlos Street [Avenue] residence and offered to set Elizabeth up in a Beverly Hills apartment. Well, he didn’t call frequently because Mark Hansen didn’t like men coming around looking for Elizabeth Short.

Now according to the Herald-Express, Toth said Elizabeth claimed “Maurice the voice teacher” offered to set her up in Beverly Hills, but that Elizabeth turned him down. Also recall that Elizabeth said many things that weren’t truthful: That she had a job, that she had a husband and that she had a child that died. It is entirely possible that this was another one of her stories.

  • He was identified by Elizabeth’s roommate at the Chancellor as someone who frequently called her. Fairly true.
  • He was identified as someone who was seen with her at Brittingham’s on at least four separate occasions in the days before she suddenly left Los Angeles. Well, she didn’t suddenly leave. But Maurice and Elizabeth were seen together, true.
  • He lied to the police in stating he had only met Elizabeth in December 1946. It certainly sounds as though Maurice knew her before then, true.
  • Ann Toth said she had driven Elizabeth down to the vicinity of the Biltmore Hotel in mid-November, where she thought Elizabeth was meeting Maurice Clement. False. Wolfe intentionally distorts Toth’s comments; Toth clearly means Otero.

So now Wolfe pulls out the stops on how poor old Maurice Clement was “the procurer who often drove around the Brenda Allen call girls for the Columbia Studio brass, Clement was connected to one of the major Syndicate prostitution rings within the vice-map of the city controlled by Bugsy Siegel—a vice-ring known to pay generously for police protection.”

Every word of that is false. There is absolutely zero to show any connection between Maurice Clement and Brenda Allen.

Wolfe’s source: Interview with Al Nolan, 2004.

Who on earth is Al Nolan?

Hm. Al Nolan is only identified as a former Columbia Studio employee. Well, was he an executive or a janitor? I mean, was he in a position to know anything or did he just hear it sitting around the cafeteria?

Page 278

Man, Wolfe’s inability to distinguish between local government agencies is incredibly exasperating. He keeps saying that the LAPD had custody of the district attorney’s files. OK, students, here’s our civics lesson once again. The Los Angeles Police Department is a CITY agency. The district attorney’s office is a COUNTY agency.

Oh get this:

“As with Dr. Audrain, investigative scrutiny of Clement was a peril to the upper echelons of the LAPD, who were receiving lucrative payoffs and had been successful in covering up the motive and nature of the crime—and its connective link to the Syndicate.”

Is there any source for this whatsoever?


“Elizabeth Short’s friend, Arthur James, said he had learned of Elizabeth’s pregnancy shortly before she left for San Diego.”

Oh please! As we have seen, Arthur James couldn’t have known Elizabeth Short (despite what you read in John Gilmore’s “Severed) because she wasn’t in Los Angeles in 1944 or 1945. This is a particularly funny passage because Wolfe mixes up which set of prominent people named Murphy owned this restaurant where this key conversation occurred.

“And Examiner reporter Will Fowler, the first reporter on the scene at Norton Avenue, observed that there was an incision on the victim’s abdomen that appeared to be from a hysterectomy, and the uterus had been removed.”


I mean I sat through Will Fowler’s Black Dahlia stories many times and never heard that one. Oh, Wolfe cites an interview with Will in 2003, shortly before his death in 2004. By 2003, I had very little contact with Will as the few times I did speak with him by phone he was barely lucid.

What does Will say in “Reporters”? (and mind you, three of the most frightening words in the English language are “Will Fowler recalls.”)

“Reporters,” Page 74

“There was as vertical incision (about 13 millimeters) in imitation of a hysterectomy scar between her navel and her “Mount of Venus” directly above the exit of her urinary duct.”

Got that: Imitation.

Does he say anything about the uterus being removed?


Oh, time to haul in Michael Keller from—what’s this? Steve Hodel’s “Black Dahlia Avenger?” Pages 506-507.

This is really amazing. Wolfe goes out of his way to demolish Hodel’s book. But here he’s quoting it? You have got to be kidding me!

Sorry, I’ve had it with this stupid book for the day. This stuff is just ridiculous. How many holes do I have to punch in this thing before it sinks? I’ll be so glad when I am done with this dumb thing.

Hurry back!

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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