[Editor's note: I will leave it to "Severed's" many ardent fans to address the conflicts between it and this story, which is typed exactly as it appeared.]


John St. John and Jack Wilson,

Los Angeles Herald Examiner,

Jan. 17, 1982



BLACK DAHLIA
Author claims to have found 1947 murderer
By Suzan Nightingale

Herald Examiner staff writer
The fine, light powder she smoothed over her body may have been the only light thing in Elizabeth Short's life.
    She moved in dark shadows, frequented dark bars, always wore black clothes and ultimately died amid blacker secrets.
    They  called her the "Black Dahlia."
    She died 35 years ago Sunday, and she remains as enigmatic as on that Jan. 15, 1947, morning when newspaper headlines screamed about 'THE MANIACAL WEREWOLF KILLER" who tortured and then bisected the 22-year-old brunette, abandoning her hacked torso in a grassy lot on Norton Avenue between 39th Street and Coliseum Avenue.
    Fanned by the flaming journalistic excesses of the day, it was a murder that has horrified and fascinated Los Angeles ever since. No motive, no weapon and no killer have ever been found.
    But John Gilmore -- the 13-year-old son of a Los Angeles cop at the time of the murder - believes he has solved the crime that has stumped police for three decades. After 13 years of research, the author of books about Charles Manson ("The Garbage People") and Charles Schmidt ("The Tucson Murders") is convinced the killer is alive and running a bar in Nevada.
    Although he is willing to release composite drawings of his prime suspect, Gilmore won't reveal the man's name, calling him instead, "Mr. Jones." Gilmore's key source is "Mr. Smith," who knew both Jones and Elizabeth Short.
    "According to Smith, Jones told him he'd done it," Gilmore says. "My source said he sat in the hotel room and drank an entire bottle of whiskey and told him in great detail what he'd done."
    Jones was a shady figure, according to Gilmore, connected with two deaths in Chicago before he came to Los Angeles and "did jobs" for people. After holding her against her will in a rented house on 33rd Street, he murdered Elizabeth Short in a fit of frustrated jealousy.
    It is the latest theory in a case that has offered as many smoke screens as suspects. The Black Dahlia is, after all, a murder 40 people have confessed to.
    "There are people today who confess to the murder even though they weren't born at the time."
    But Gilmore, who has talked to "a couple hundred" people in his 13-year quest, is convinced he has finally pieced the story together, building on the collection of shady characters who found their way to Hollywood after World War II.
    So certain is Gilmore of his findings that he took his evidence to the Los Angeles Police Department several weeks ago.
    [Editor's note: A photo of this much of the story appears in "Severed." What follows does not.]
   
Friday, Homicide Detective John St. John, one of two detectives now assigned to the Black Dahlia, called speculation about Gilmore's findings "premature."
     "We've been tied up on the Bonin Freeway (Killer) case and we haven't had any time to work on that information that he gave us. It's going to have to wait until we get through with the Bonin case and, as time permits, we'll look into the information he gave us."
    Although he has spent years poring over the tattered press clippings that spawned much of the case's macabre fascination, Gilmore's version of the murder is different from the "EXOTIC BLACK DAHLIA" of the day's screaming headlines. "Beth," as he calls her, was a diffident girl, sickly as a child, a secretive loner who somewhat naively relied on men for mobility and money.
    "People say this is a story of a girl who came to Hollywood to be a star and wound up being a prostitute, but that's not really the case," Gilmore says. "She didn't really have the ability to form goals. She was an extremely peculiar, strange girl, very odd in many ways."
    Contrary to bedding down with men for money, Elizabeth Short declined men's sexual overtures. Smith, in fact, is the only man Gilmore has found who [Editor's note: Yes, I know that should be whom] she was intimate with -- a factor he believes is key to her murder.
    "She went out with a lot of different guys, but it was like a little game. They would have a nice dinner -- she liked to go have a nice dinner -- and then she'd want to dance. She loved the idea of it being romantic. Then, of course, they'd want to go to bed and she can't she won't, she can't.
    "She always had a thing about how she had to be at her sister's at her family's in the morning, that's why she can't go tonight. Instead she'd take your card or your number, and maybe contact you, maybe not contact you.
    "But then she'd say, 'I really need some money, too, you know. Do you think you could loan me about $20? Because I have to catch this bus to go see my sister.' "
    Although she had been engaged to a Flying Tiger pilot who was killed in China [Editor's note: Yes, I know it was India], she told  the men she met that they had  married-- and then embellished the story by inventing a nonexistent baby who also died.
    "It was like a little act, a little speech that she would give."
    In the end, Gilmore believes, it was insane jealousy and anger that drove Short's murderer to beat her, cut off one breast [Editor's note: Yes, I know this is incorrect] slash her mouth from ear to ear and then cut her in half, methodically draining the blood from her bisected body by running water in a tub.
    Although the gap in the Black Dahlia case has always been the five "missing days" between Jan. 9, when Elizabeth Short was last seen at the Biltmore Hotel, and Jan. 15, when her bloodless body was found on Norton Avenue, Gilmore says he has placed her on the 12th and the 14th.
    On Jan. 14, she and Jones traveled from an apartment in Hollywood to the Roosevelt Hotel, where he picked up a key to the house at 33rd and Trinity.[Editor's note: Yes, I know that in "Severed" this is 31st Street.]
    "It was an old two-story, long, narrow, brown wood house and the owners rented it out. This is the house where he finally brought her, and this is the house where she was finally killed."
    In Gilmore's re-creation, Jones was angered by Elizabeth Short's behavior and her refusal to give in to his advances -- especially since Jones knew she had alreeady been intimate with Smith. The two quarreled about a phone call she wanted to make, according to Gilmore, and when she insisted on leaving the wooden house, an incensed Jones beat her, raped her, and then, losing all control, tortured her and ultimately killed her. In his frenzy to cut up the body for disposal purposes, Jones cut the body in half.
     Then panicked at the prospect of discovery, Jones wrapped each part of Elizabeth Short in curtains from the house, wrapped the entire bundle in an oilskin tablecloth and loaded the body in his car. In the early morning hours of Jan. 15, Jones drove a few short blocks and dumped the body, and Elizabeth Short achieved in death the notoriety she had only fantasized about in life [Editor's note: Nobody can resist that cliche, can they?]
    The police and the press had a "field day," according to Gilmore, with some reporters inventing suspects, facts and even the name "Black Dahlia" itself.  [Editor's note: Yes, I know this is wrong]
    Some law enforcement officers were little better, conducting exhaustive searches of irrelevant houses in a flashy show of conscientiousness.
    "The case could have been, I believe, solved at one time," Gilmore says. "The investigative work that was done was done in left field."
    At one time Jones was sought by police for questioning, but he slipped through their net.
    Today, clues are hard to come by. The house where Gilmore believes Elizabeth Short was murdered was destroyed in 1960. A vacant lot sits there now, in a neighborhood where they shoot craps on the sidewalk.
    A housing development has been built over the field where the tortured body was found.
    And others who might have talked about the case are dead.
    Although he speaks with confidence about his version of the Black Dahlia murder, Gilmore admits to frustration about the "black holes" still left in the story, holes he believes "have got to do with the psychology of the people involved rather than awkward legal maneuvers."
    Gilmore is also unhappy that, in 1978 he went to Indianapolis to see Jones -- but just to see him.
    "I just looked at him. Now I'm sorry I didn't talk to him about Elizabeth Short because I didn't know at that time that he had killed her. I didn't have that part of the story. I didn't know there was a situation between Smith and Jones, that there was always antagonism."
    Even if Gilmore has succeeded in solving the crime, could anyone be convicted of a crime when so little evidence remains? Not easily.
    "You'd have to have a lot of corroboration," says LAPD's St. John. "First, it would have to be proved to be true, and second, you'd have to have corroboration of it."
    St. John says the department continues to get information on the Black Dahlia "from time to time" and "as time permits, we look into all of it. You never know - it's one of those things."

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