Very few people noticed when a dark-haired woman arrived at Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Nobody knew who she was and what she was going to do there.
Perhaps she was an aspiring artist hoping to become the next big star in Hollywood or just another land developer closing the deal on cheap agricultural land.
It was postwar Los Angeles, and people flock to the city in great numbers for a shot at a better living in a rapidly expanding development.
Some struck gold; others ran out of luck, many would keep on trying, and then some stumbled upon a tragic end.
Elizabeth Short came to Los Angeles as an unknown; then, she became a household name for a horrible reason.
On the morning of January 15, 1947, Betty Bersinger took a walk with her young daughter in the planned neighborhood of Leimert Park.
Somewhere along a barely developed street, she came across a dead body of a woman, naked and sliced in half but without a drop of blood. It was Elizabeth Short’s mutilated corpse.
The body was only a few feet from the sidewalk. Due to the absence of blood anywhere in the immediate vicinity, Bersinger thought it was a dummy.
As soon as she realized she was looking at a person’s dead body, she rushed to a nearby house and called the police.
Identification was not difficult. The FBI already had her prints on record.
In January 1943, Elizabeth Short applied for a job as a clerk at the Army’s Camp Cooke commissary in California. The Santa Barbara police had also arrested her for underage drinking.
Newspaper sales surged as the investigation continued—the L.A. Police Department took the lead, and the FBI was there to help.
Identification of the body bore no longer than an hour after receiving blurred images of fingerprints via Soundphoto, a fax machine used by news services in the past.
Immediately the police knew the woman was Elizabeth Short, born on July 24, 1924, in Boston, Massachusetts.
Once her identity had been revealed, reporters from Los Angeles Examiner contacted her mother for more information. They deceived her into coming to L.A. by telling her that Short had won a beauty contest.