The Black Dahlia still lives, in our fevered imaginations

She was a young nobody, a pretty-ish drifter of a type that filled L.A. just after the Second World War. How she lived was unremarkable, hardly admirable; it was how she died, and what the newspapers said about her, that makes us remember the Black Dahlia.

Elizabeth Short’s body was found, naked and cut in half, in a weedy winter bean field that, 10 years later, in the manner of Los Angeles, would be a tidy Crenshaw neighborhood.

Decades after it happened, I wrote briefly about the case, and even that small story stirred calls, letters and, as I recall, even another confession to the cops among the hundreds they got over the years, some from men who weren’t even born when the Dahlia was killed.

That’s how famous her case was, and fame, if not regard, would attach itself to whoever killed her. But as the lead detective, Harry Hansen, told me

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