Robert M. “Red” Manley was the last person seen with Elizabeth Short before she disappeared. Because of this, he was the LAPD’s first suspect in the Black Dahlia case. Manley had picked Elizabeth up from San Diego on January 8 and had dropped her off at the Biltmore Hotel in Hollywood on January 9. That was the last time anyone saw Elizabeth Short before her body was found on January 15, 1947.
Manley was detained on January 20, 1947. However, Manley was soon set free for his solid alibi for January 14 and 15 and for passing two lie detector tests.
On January 24, 1947 the LAPD found a handbag purse and a shoe from a trashcan a few miles away from the vacant lot where Elizabeth Short’s body had been dumped. Manley was able to verify that these objects did belong to Elizabeth Short.
Manley had previously been discharged from the army for mental disability. He had suffered from nervous breakdowns and had supposedly been struggling with auditory hallucinations. His wife eventually committed him to Patton State Hospital in 1954. Manley died on January 16, 1986 due to an accidental fall.