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 and then finish off Page 284. Say your prayers, because I hope to conclude the Wolfe project this week.
First: Note that the Los Angeles Police Department summary of the case, included in the district attorney’s files (recall, this book is titled “The Black Dahlia Files” rather than “What I Pasted Together From the Black Dahlia Files” or the more appropriate “Severed: 2006”) states that Elizabeth Short was:
- Not pregnant.
- Her uterus was intact.
So, I’m not to spend much more time on junk like this:
“Elizabeth may have been warned that she must submit to an abortion or else find herself in great peril. Apparently she was frightened to the degree that she didn’t want anyone to know where she was going.”
In fact, the real tragedy of Elizabeth Short was that her life was simply unraveling. She had no money, no place to stay and had worn out her welcome everywhere. It was only through the grace of Ann Toth that she had a $1 a night room with a bunk bed at the Chancellor and she said she didn’t like living there because her roommates were lesbians who were always after her. That’s why she was in tears. For the record, Toth told district attorney’s investigators that she didn’t think Elizabeth Short’s roommates were lesbians.
Wolfe deals with Red Manley driving Elizabeth Short back to Los Angeles from San Diego. Except she lied to him too and said she had never been to Los Angeles. Unlike Wolfe’s description of being frightened and anxious, she was—according to Manley’s statement in the district attorney’s files—quiet and uncommunicative.
And Manley said he couldn’t wait to get rid of her.
Pay attention here. This is important. In fact people, have been pestering me about this. Wolfe refers to Elizabeth Short making a call from Laguna Beach. People have gone so far as to actually ask me where this pay phone was.
Wolfe claims the information is in the district attorney’s files. Another lie.
Here’s what Robert M. “Red” Manley actually told District Attorney’s Lt. Frank Jemison on Feb. 1, 1950:
Jemison: Well, she did make some telephone calls, didn’t she? Didn’t you see her make several telephone calls?
Manley: No, not one.
Jemison: In other words any calls she might have made to anyone from the motel you didn’t see her make those?
Manley: No, that’s right. I was out working after I left the motel and when I had made my calls I picked her up and I made a few calls in the way in, coming back to Los Angeles. As far as I knew she was just sitting there in the car waiting until I came back from my calls. She could have made calls and gotten back to the car before I came out of those offices but I don’t know if she did.
Jemison: It seems from investigation she did make a lot of telephone calls. I think you would remember if she made any telephone calls that you saw? Did you see her make any?
Manley: Not one, while I was with her.
Jemison: Did she ever say at any time she would like to get in touch with someone and wanted to make a telephone call?
Manley: No, she never did. She told me she was going to meet her sister from Berkeley at the Biltmore Hotel.
This is where Perry Mason smiles and says: “No further questions.”
“Reason dictates that she was abducted at some point shortly after she walked out of the Biltmore and was then held captive during the interim week at a location that Harry Hansen believed to be not far from Pico and Crenshaw–where her shoes and handbag had been found in an incinerator.”
Oh, this is like Steve Hodel’s “We can speculate with confidence” in “Black Dahlia Avenger.”
And again, Wolfe shows a dismal knowledge of Los Angeles geography. The purse and shoes were found at 1136 S. Crenshaw. Note the distance to Pico and Crenshaw.
And for the record, Harry Hansen had no idea where Elizabeth Short was killed. Nobody has ever conclusively determined the murder scene.
And again, her uterus was found to be intact during the autopsy. It was not removed, as Wolfe claims. And she was not pregnant.
Oh, you want to know about “the letter D carved into the pubic area of her flesh.” Gad isn’t Wolfe wordy? He is so desperate to claim this that he actually faked a document, shown on Page 198.
OK. Let’s look at the fake document for a minute. The stuff about the “D” is taken from Pages 13-14 of the Nov. 23, 1949, report “Evidence and Declarations Tending to Connect or Disconnect Leslie Dillon to the Murders of Elizabeth Short, Jeanne French and Gladys Kern.”
In other words, this document was prepared to explore the possibility that Leslie Dillon killed Elizabeth Short, hence the “D.”
Now Wolfe seizes this and dresses it up with the claim that pictures in the district attorney’s files clearly show a “D.” He does this knowing that the district attorney forbids copying the photographs.
Of course, that means I couldn’t copy the district attorney’s photos either. But I can describe the manner of slashing shown in them. According to my notes, there are about five deep, vertical slashes, then about five diagonal slashes ascending from left to right (or descending from right to left) that cross them. No letters whatsoever.
That’s it for today with this stupid book. With luck we’ll be done this week. Thank heavens.
Shout out to:
Scottsdale, Ariz. [ISP Redacted]
Santa Monica College [ISP Redacted]
State of Georgia Board of Regents (I missed the ISP on this one)
Taylor, Mich. [ISP Redacted]
Fairlawn, N.J. [ISP Redacted] Windows 98? Upgrade!
Mt. Laurel, N.J. [ISP Redacted] Netscape 7.2 user. 1 hour, 3 minutes.
Hurry back! With luck, there are four installments left!