Recall that photographs of Elizabeth Short with her friends and lovers had been found in the trunk that The Herald-Express recovered from the Greyhound Express station. While police were able to identify most of the people in these photos, there was one man that the LAPD could not identify. They labeled him as “UnID’d Man” in their records, short for “unidentified man.”
The writer behind The Black Dahlia Solution claims that the LAPD knew who killed Elizabeth Short yet could not hold the murderer. The writer has spent years deciphering the cryptic letters received by The Herald-Express and The Examiner and believes that he has solved the case. The writer accuses a man named Ed Burns of being responsible for Elizabeth Short’s murder, yet no other sources have ever brought up Ed Burns as a suspect. Ed Burns was never mentioned in any FBI reports or accessible LAPD files. The entirety of The Black Dahlia Solution website is dedicated to explaining what the author believes happened to Elizabeth Short and her killer, and the story will be summarized here.
Six-year-old Suzanne Degnan was kidnapped and murdered in Chicago in January of 1946. Her dismembered body parts were soon found in the sewers nearby. William Heirens was arrested for her murder after he confessed to killing her. He was linked to two additional murders from 1945 during trial and was convicted and sentenced to three consecutive life terms in the Illinois Penitentiary. According to the author, Elizabeth Short became obsessed with Suzanne Degnan’s murder after it hit Life magazine. She would tell people in bars that she was a reporter from Boston and would give the gruesome details of the murder again and again.
While going through this obsessed phase, Elizabeth was still searching for a man to call her husband. She met a man, who the author claims to be Ed Burns, who had USC School of Medicine credits and lived in the Los Angeles Harbor District. The two of them hit it off at first. He believed she was his beautiful dream girl, and she enjoyed having someone to give her money and listen to her stories. However, he was not very attractive; some had even said that he had rabbit-like features. Elizabeth likely did not want to show him off to her friends, later making the man difficult to identify.
Elizabeth and this man had rendezvoused twice in Hollywood in November of 1946. Both times the two spent the night together in a hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Both morning-afters, he would give Elizabeth food-and-rent money before driving her back to Hollywood.
Ed was Elizabeth’s best listener, always feigning his interest in Elizabeth’s obsession for the Suzanne Degnan murder. However, perhaps Elizabeth began to drive him crazy with it. Elizabeth might have coaxed him to drive her out to Leimert Park, her lover’s lane, before commenting on the irony of Degnan Boulevard going right by it. Ed Burns could have become enraged with Elizabeth, feeling as if she loved and idolized William Heirens more than himself. He could have tied up Elizabeth, killed her, and mutilated her body in the same fashion as Suzanne Degnan to allow them to live out his twisted interpretation of her fantasy.
The author believes that Ed Burns committed suicide in March 15, 1947, exactly two months after Elizabeth’s murder. Ed may have killed himself in order to join Elizabeth in death. His suicide note read as follows:
“To whom it may concern: I have waited for the police to capture me for the Black Dahlia killing, but have not. I am too much of a coward to turn myself in, so this is the best way out for me. I couldn’t help myself for that, or this. Sorry, Mary.”
The author believes this note, along with the other letters received in the Black Dahlia case, all had hidden messages that needed to be deciphered. While this note was not signed, deciphering the letter does show the name “Ed Burns.” The deciphering of the Black Dahlia letters in relation to Ed Burns can be seen here.
When the LAPD discovered the body of Ed Burns after his suicide, they were likely able to identify his body. If the police had followed the message of the note, their next step should have been to revisit the evidence in the Black Dahlia case. If they looked back at the photographs of Elizabeth, her friends, and her lovers from the trunk retrieved from the Greyhound Express station, they would have been able to connect the dead man to the unidentified man in the photographs with Elizabeth.
However, the LAPD would not be able to come out to the public and say that a dead man was the Black Dahlia’s killer. The case was too convoluted and infamous for such an answer, and it would give the police department a reputation for bad policing. The author proposes that instead, the LAPD decided to keep the truth about the murder hidden. The LAPD might have come forward to say that the Black Dahlia case is unsolved when a few members of the department know the harsh reality.