Desperate for Leads

Due to the way Elizabeth Short was cleanly cut in two, the LAPD was convinced that her murderer had some sort of medical training. According to an FBI letter on February 25, 1947:

“The manner in which ELIZABETH SHORT’s body was dissected has indicated the possibility that the murderer was a person somewhat experienced in medical work. The Los Angeles Police Department has undertaken to develop suspects among the medical and dental schools in the area, as well as among other students who have anything to do with human anatomy.”

The University of Southern California complied with the LAPD and sent them a list of their medical students. This is evident by the FBI letter on March 6, 1947:

“Reference is made to your letter of February 25, 1947, submitting a list bearing the names of students enrolled in the Medical School of the University of Southern California and requesting that these names be searched through the criminal indices of the Identification Division…”

However, the first suspected arrested for Elizabeth Short’s murder was not one of these medical students. His name was Robert “Red” Manley. Manley was one of the last people to see Elizabeth Short alive. Because his alibi for January 14 and 15 was solid and because he passed two lie detector tests, the LAPD let him go.

Original Suspects

Due to the complexity of the Black Dahlia case, the original investigators treated every person who knew Elizabeth Short as a suspect. By June 1947 police had processed and eliminated a list of seventy-five suspects. By December 1948 the detectives had considered 192 suspects in total.

About sixty people confessed to Elizabeth Short’s murder, but only twenty-two people were considered viable suspects by the Los Angeles District Attorney.

Those with bolded names are also on the current suspects list.

  • Mark Hansen
  • Carl Balsinger
  • C. Welsh
  • Sergeant “Chuck” (name unknown)
  • John D. Wade
  • Joe Scalis
  • James Nimmo
  • Maurice Clement
  • A Chicago police officer
  • Salvador Torres Vera (medical student)
  • Doctor George Hodel
  • Marvin Margolis (medical student)
  • Glenn Wolf
  • Michael Anthony Otero
  • George Bacos
  •  Francis Campbell
  • “Queer Woman Surgeon”
  • Doctor Paul DeGaston
  • Doctor A.E. Brix
  • Doctor M. M. Schwartz
  • Doctor Arthur McGinnis Faught
  • Doctor Patrick S. O’Reilly

Current Suspects

While some of the original twenty-two suspects were discounted, new suspects have also arisen. The following suspects have been discussed by various authors and experts and are presently considered to be the main suspects for the Black Dahlia murder.

Click on each name to navigate to the corresponding pages.