Elizabeth Short – an unsolvable puzzle

The mystery of Elizabeth Short’s brutal and macabre murder in 1947 has continued to fascinate reporters and writers through the decades since, all with different theories based on flimsy evidence but held onto as “unmistakable truths” about what became known as the Black Dahlia murder. Alleged culprits range from a demented surgeon, to a lowlife serial killer burned in a fire years later, as well as George Hodel, a notorious surgeon who ran in Hollywood social circles with Man Ray, John Huston, Orson Welles who all became embroiled in wild speculation as well.

  Her death has become “an inexhaustible social phenomenon” as a French reviewer put it recently on the publication of yet another book on the subject which definitively pointed away from the Hollywood circle. But the likelihood is it will never be solved.

  Astrology will never prove one way or another about guilt of a crime though there are usually astrological crossovers between victim and perpetrator.

  She was born 29 July 1924 Boston, Massachusetts, no birth time sadly, with her father abandoning the family after the 1929 crash and faking his suicide, though he reappeared years later. She was an entertaining and adventurous Leo Sun trine Jupiter but with a stressed Mars in Pisces trine Venus, Moon, Pluto in Cancer and inconjunct her Sun. This led her into a string of relationships with difficult men. Two things stand out for me – one is her ‘leadership’ North Node in Leo conjunct Neptune, inconjunct Uranus, sextile Saturn and trine her Chiron. There’s no indication that she had the talent or resources of character to make a career for herself – though anything is possible if she had lived – but it does suggest an ability to capture the spirit of the age with her Node tied into Neptune and designed to send fantasies swirling.

 She was killed sometime around midnight on 15 January 1947 in Los Angeles when a Scorpio Moon was closely conjunct Chiron and the destructive Saturn Pluto in Leo was highlighted in aspected to Uranus, Neptune and Venus.

   The Hollywood chart itself, 1 February 1887, was under stress at that juncture with tr Pluto opposition the Sun exactly and tr Neptune in a highly strung conjunction to the Uranus. Which may have been for other reasons but would also help to stoke up conspiracy theories about which celebrities might have been involved.

  There are too many charts to cover but to take two. Orson Welles’s South Node was exactly conjunct her North Node and Neptune so her capacity to hit the zeitgeist would pull him back into his more primitive instincts. Their relationship chart was competitive and would spark arguments with a composite Sun square Mars but there was nothing much affecting it around the time of her death.

  John Huston, the film director, 5 August 1906 Nevada, Missouri, rectified by Starkman to 2.18 pm, was a Sun, North Node and Mars as well as Mercury in Leo. His Sun was conjunct her Mars so she would spark up a fiery reaction in him and her Pluto (Moon) in Cancer was conjunct his Neptune for a confusing and almost surreal connection.  Their relationship chart was a complex mix of attraction from Sun Venus, needing space from an opposition to Uranus and inclined to explode with a square to Mars. Tr Pluto was conjunct the composite Venus when she died.

  He certainly had strong and not all positive astro-connections to her but that proves very little. His relationship chart with his daughter Angelica Huston was ten times worse with a composite Mars Pluto inconjunct Saturn etc etc and she lives to tell the tale.

  I met John Huston briefly years ago and he still sticks in mind as an aggressively unpleasant and sadistic personality who loved to crush people, especially women (i.e. me) under foot. It was quite unnecessary in a fleeting social setting and one in which he knew I would hardly hurl a coffee pot at him. He was what was known long ago as ‘a man’s man’ – big game shooting, heavy drinking, womanising. His autobiography described his fifth wife as ‘a crocodile’ – and good on her. Talented as a film director but a lesser human being.

27 thoughts on “Elizabeth Short – an unsolvable puzzle

  1. You would think how Orson Welles is continually referred to that the predatory text could get it right. Iron Welles indeed!!!

  2. Daisy Dass, you are of course entitled to your opinion. But I have just finished reading how all the incisions on Elizabeth Short’s body by a skilled surgeon. And this was said by an experienced surgeon but also one who teaches surgery. You can find it on Steve Hodel’s site.

    Who knows maybe Dillon assisted George Hodel in other ways or other murders, certainly he does seem to be a suspicious character. But on this particular case, it was considered art and in particular a homage to Man Ray.

    And that was something that Iron Welles wanted to contribute his flair and talent to that particular endeavour. Perhaps Dillon and Welles knew each other. I don’t know. But he had to receive training from an establishment, maybe the same one where Dillon was working. That would have to be investigated.

  3. Dillon was someone who was known to use Alias names for ‘the hell of it’. I personally don’t believe he was in Florida, maybe he claimed to be there ‘under a fake name’ cos he was that kind of creep. Many may disagree with me, but I have some Spiritual Mediumistic type of talent within me, and I saw a vile dark blue indigo/angry red aura flash in his aura whilst looking at his photos. Would be interested to see HIS Astrology chart = cos it can show many, many truths. Go to the wonderful Capricorn Research Astrology website for examples – EXCELLENT.
    When I look a photographs of this Dillon, it has a creepy, evil vibe and looks very likely to be the actual Murderer of poor Betty Short. Dillon was acting under the orders of some lecherous Club Owner, and the way her mouth was cut was ‘a warning to others’ that this is what happens, if one speaks. BTW, there are many clues that point to Dillon, he knew certain clues about the Murder, which the LAPD did not make public – that alone is suspicion. He may of claimed that he was an Ambulance Driver for a Morgue, but that is not the exact truth, Dillon was a Morgue assistant and like Surgeons, they can drain a body of blood and dissect it. And another thing, what was his motive for making ghastly, grotty remarks about why her body was sawn in half? Read this, and it shows guilt. LAPD did wrong by letting him go, because a few eye witnesses described a Man who looked exactly like him, when Betty was last seen alive. One day, with a lot of protection, I will do a Spiritual Channelling on the case.
    Anyway, I hope Elizabeth Short has been reincarnated to a new, safe life where she can live a full successful life. She was so beautiful in ‘a other worldly type of way’ – if she had lived, and met the RIGHT PEOPLE, she would of actually been a Star.

  4. Read the excellent book called Black Dahlia, Red Rose – the REAL killer, Dillon is exposed and motive is stated too.

  5. JW, it was pretty common for men of that ilk to prey on young women. It is pretty common today. George Hodel used to cater for that sort of thing with his sex parties of which all the people mentioned took part. There was evidence to back this up.

    Photographs were taken of them having sex with young women at the place where Elizabeth Short was living and possibly other places as well.

    George Hodel knew both John Huston and Fred Sexton for many years from the time that they were teenagers. He also knew Man Ray and his wife. Both he and his wife were friends with them. He also was part of The Zodiac Group that was formed to invest in Salvador Dali’s art.

    Seeing as that they were all into Surrealism with which implied that the usual moral and legal constraints didn’t apply to them. Then with predilections
    towards violence and hatred towards women, it is easy to see this escalating.

    With Orson Welles it suddenly became clear that they as a group were making a snuff film. He went to the hassle of gaining employment and the necessary training to become a mortuary assistant. Why would he do that? Of all the directors that I have read about, Orson Welles was the most open and revealing about his work meaning the films completed, the uncompleted ones and future possible projects. Not a single one involved a mortuary assistant, or the premises of a mortuary.

    Why would you shut down the studio on the 15th January? That was a Wednesday, the middle of the week!

    Why would Harry Cohn order up to an hour’s footage to be cut and then destroyed? The reshot film used mannequins like Man Ray used in earlier work and Rita Hayworth was posed with her arms raised like the Minotaur in one of Man Ray’s works. She too has wounds that mimic Elizabeth Short’s.

    If you wanted to make a snuff film, then wouldn’t a film set with all the proper facilities like lighting be necessary? And I presume that it isn’t actually in a residential area, it didn’t require it be done in silence, which it would have done if Hodel’s basement had been used. Although Short might have been kept prisoner there. He seemed to make a habit of that.

    No, given all the trouble that Welles went to make sure that nobody would be at the studio. That he and Hodel had access to a mortuary and right down to the vacant lot used to display her remains. Which during the war, was where his Mercury Circus was set up for the purposes of entertaining servicemen.

    All of this had to be planned, right down to the film that he managed to convince Cohn to let him direct. And all of it had to be planned in advance.
    And while I cannot prove other’s involvement, it really does indicate that Hodel and Welles did this together.

    The fact that they intended for the film to be shown all over the country if not all over the world indicates their contempt and arrogance towards the world but also to Elizabeth Short, who they treated as less than human and more like a piece of meat!

  6. My mother knew a woman who’s brother was the medical examiner on this case so naturally we discussed it a lot. My money is on George Hodel given what I have read about him. I had never heard Huston or Wells mentioned in contact with her and I sincerely doubt she had the connections to meet those kind of people.

  7. Many people have said that Elizabeth Short was forced to eat faeces. But that simply wasn’t true. In 1947 it was practice for the LAPD to put misinformation to the press, so that those who confess to the crime can be weeded out quickly, should they mention it. The real murderer or murderer would know that such a thing never happened.

  8. I have read that Sexton was a witness for the prosecution in the trial that accuses George Hodel of incest. At the last moment he changed his mind and denies that the incest took place. It is rumoured he took a bribe. And the DA was rumoured to have accepted a substantial bribe to make the problem go away.

  9. Evidently the LAPD lied to the Grand Jury about the cigarette burns on Elizabeth Short’s body. All the files on George Hodel have gone missing as well. Only the DA’s office retain their files

    But the investigators working for the District Attorney’s Office listened in on what seemed to be a murder taking place and did nothing to prevent it.

    There seems to be one other accomplice to add to the group. He was referred to as Baron Harringa, an art dealer and friend to George Hodel.

    I wasn’t going to bother telling you, unless something came of it but I have passed on the bits I have written about Orson Welles , to Steve Hodel, because he is in a better position to see whether I am right or just barking up the wrong tree.

    But it did worry me that he hadn’t examined that angle. And it needs investigating. Especially when LAPD have no intention of reopening the case.

  10. Fred Sexton is thought to have murdered Jeanne Ellroy, mother of the famous author James Ellroy referred to by Robert Jones below.

    • Wow, I knew Elroy’s mother was murdered, Linda but I didn’t know Sexton was implicated. There’s something horribly ‘off’ about Sexton – he’s a Moon Saturn in Pisces squaring a tight Mercury/Pluto conjunction in Gemini. There’s a cruelty and a ‘hiding’ in that combination as well as a slipperiness which was probably why he evaded the law.

  11. Thanks for this astrological interpretation of “The Black Dahlia”. Although I’ve nothing to add to that, I lived in LA for many years before I discovered that Elizabeth Short was from Medford, Mass, the city where we lived when I was born. So I’m sympathetic to the real person and her story. This poor young woman deserved better than her sad life and sensationalized tragic death.

  12. Haunting, horrible case, I can hardly bear to think about it. I did want to say to posters here, I love reading your comments, such an intelligent, original thinking group of people. Love it.

    • I second that! This has got to be the best thread I have ever read on Marjorie’s pieces (to which I have contributed nothing, btw — Haha). The thorough investigative work by Linda and VF, on this one and the ManRay one, is incredible. Extremely informative.

  13. Thanks Marjorie. The date for Hollywood’s founding is very intriguing, and descriptive of the movie industry too.

    I noticed it’s Nodes are 28 Leo/Aquarius, with the South Node conjunct Venus squaring onto Neptune in Taurus – close to Algol, the creative yet sometimes violent Medusa’s Head too. This pattern plugs into the Nodes for Elizabeth Short, and Orson Welles, whose S Node is 22 Leo. Big audiences and many glamorous and darker connections are suggested by all that I think. Elizabeth Short’s Mars in Pisces aligns with the Hollywood Mars in Pisces, trines it’s Jupiter in Scorpio, and squares the Hollywood Pluto in Gemini. She must have felt drawn to the place, ignoring the dangers it posed.

    That Mars square Pluto in the Hollywood chart does describe the dark undercurrents of the place. The stories of corruption, crime, murder and madness go back to the beginning of the film industry. For what’s really quite a small place, it has a pretty intense history – starting with the massacre of so many Native Americans in California. Glamorous Venus/Nodes square Neptune has prevailed, with a dash of Sun/Mercury trine innovative Uranus and square Jupiter in Scorpio. Now and again, though, the curtain rises on that Mars square Pluto.

  14. Originally I was going to include John Huston in the filming process, but he was the sort of man that didn’t just enjoy watching bare-knuckle boxing, he liked getting stuck in.

    Orson Welles is credited with being the earliest director to use storyboards to direct his shots. If any of these still exist they would be in the ‘Mercury’ archive. The man must have had a death wish for keeping the mortuary assistant registration document.

    George Hodel liked pushing boundaries by writing letters that taunted the police he also kept repeatedly returning to the USA.

    While he has been implicated in other deaths, the others excepting Fred Sexton have not. Which I find odd. But at that time, California had the death penalty.

  15. I don’t think this case will ever be solved. Interesting to read about your encounter with Huston, Marjorie. I had heard he was a deeply unpleasant man. Mars in Leo crops up whenever bullying is involved. Thankfully don’t know any men with it, but the two women I knew with this placement afflicted by Saturn and the Moon were angry, highly competitive drama addicts who bullied other women.

    Having looked at many of the charts of the people mentioned, Angelica Huston has a real stinker when it comes to astrological indictators of her father. She has a T square both on Mars and Saturn if you include her Sagittarius Ascendant. Her Cancer Sun conjuncts Uranus and in turn, her Uranus conjuncts Mars in her 7th. Huston also had a Mars/Uranus quincunx and Fred Sexton (a friend of Hodel who abused his children – he famously designed the sculpture of the Maltese Falcon in the movie of the same name) had Mars/Uranus conjunct in Capricorn.

    • Just wanted to add that one of the more chilling performances on film I’ve seen is Huston’s role as antagonist, Noah Cross in Polanski’s ‘Chinatown’. Behind the surface joviality Cross is a sociopathic monster who feels that basic laws of human decency don’t apply to him and who shows no remorse over the rape of his daughter. I can’t help but remember that Uranus in Capricorn opposition Neptune in Cancer that marks Huston’s circle and contemporaries. That opposition gave us the Dada and Surrealists who wanted to overturn accepted mores and to make the rational, irrational and to make the absurd into art. Leopold and Loeb are from this generation. Many of this same generation were also pioneers in the film industry.

    • Harry Cohn, early head of Columbia Pictures was another Sun conjunct Mars in Leo sextile Pluto Neptune – and his wiki entry makes hair raising reading. Early Hollywood under the studio system was an abusive and sadistic cesspit.

      • Harry Cohn was a cruel despot who ruled Hollywood by fear.

        When he heard about the interracial romance of Sammy Davis Jnr and Kim Novak, he threatened Sammy with
        extreme ultra-violence. Sammy was forced to marry a woman of African-American descent within a short period
        of time.

        A truly appalling man.

        • Goodness, the wiki entry for HC is grim. I see Cohn has Mars square Uranus too! The reason I’m wary of an unevolved Mars/Uranus in men is because this type are what I would call ‘pouncers’, their MO is to suddenly grab and sexually force women and girls and s they appear to enjoy the fact that their victims are not expecting the assault. I would say that pretty much every woman has encountered one of these types in the workplace or on the street. Mars, when put with Uranus can also be unusual sexual practices or interests. Woody Allen has the square, Polanski the opposition.

  16. Marjorie,

    Many thanks for your input on those who were very likely involved in her murder. I have given the matter a great deal of thought and have concluded that the actual event probably took place on the set of The Lady From Shanghai, the hall of mirrors specifically.

    The poor girl was probably promised a screen test and dinner afterwards. More likely on the night of the 14th January. And as Orson Welles was a registered Mortuary Assistant, he probably was employed at a funeral parlour. I expect it was under his real name George Welles.

    I also expect that the date was specifically chosen to coincide when Welles would have reached a stage where he would be working nights on his own and had access to the keys. This means he was very likely employed by the mortuary a few months prior.

    And as I have mentioned previously, her ordeal was probably filmed as were the mutilations inflicted on her person. Harry Khan had the offending scenes cut from the film and these scenes were destroyed.

    Orson Welles was ordered to reshoot those scenes, and I believe he was sacked by Colombia shortly afterwards which effectively sent him out into the wilderness. Well Europe to be precise.

    Welles marriage to Rita Hayworth didn’t survive with the end of filming. Whether she knew anything about it, I suspect that she had an inkling. Given how much, he was actually doing, I expect that a hysterical wife and the misogynistic proclivities of his cohorts was more than he could cope with.

    Remember the set had to have all traces of the crime removed. Equally the mortuary had to be cleaned although that would have been easier to do. The set would have been dealt with on the 15th because he had shut down filming for that day.

    Strangely, while all the men were violent, both Welles and Hodel were the ones who were the least likely to have been directly involved in her death. That is because their particular skill sets required them to not be injured. Hodel’s surgical skills would have been greatly impaired if he hurt himself taking part. And too much depended on Welles and his direction of the operation.

    I’m not saying that they didn’t take part, but it is more likely that the mutilation that took place post mortem along with how the body was displayed points to their involvement far more. The question is how many other murders took place and could have been prevented if Harry K had done the decent thing and called the police, but protecting the studio’s reputation was more important.

  17. The gifted crime writer James Ellroy wrote a brilliantly bleak novel called “The Black Dahlia”.
    It was the first part of the “L.A Quartet” which portrays mid 20th Century America as a violent, racist society.

    Not much has changed.

    He dedicated the book to the memory of his mother who was also murdered. The killer was never found.

  18. Interesting about your meeting Huston, Marjorie. I’ve read through the years that he was one nasty piece of work–a bully on steroids. Re Short, I’m inclined to believe that a maniacal surgeon did the job. According to reports, she was cut up with great skill. Someone knew exactly how to do it. Major Plutonian stuff involved, I’m sure. Ugh, to say the least.

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