EPISODE 4: Jan 19th

 
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Welcome to episode 4 of The Black Dahlia and the Blue Dahlia podcast. This is your host, Scott Tracy.

On January 15th 1947, a body is discovered in a vacant lot; bisected and drained of blood. On the 17th the name of the murder victim is identified, On January 18th the press learns the Long Beach lunch-counter epithet and the legend of the Black Dahlia commands the headlines, In numbers, the victim is named Elizabeth Short for 22 years, 5 months and 30 days. For a day and a half Jane Doe #1 is known as a victim of the werewolf killer. For 73 years, 7 months, 19 days and counting she is the Black Dahlia.

Aggie Underwood used the “Werewolf” to describe the killer on the first day of coverage. The name acknowledges the brutality of the mutilations and highlights the terror the killer inspires in Los Angeles as an inhuman monster is on the loose. Interestingly, other Hearst syndication newspapers such as the San Francisco Examiner do not pick up the use of the Werewolf name; that moniker is unique to movie town.

A Movie horror theme in this movie making town seems most appropriate; as I look at the crime today, I might chose the Vampire as the monster instead of the werewolf?

A Vampire is an organized hunter; ensnaring victims in a web of seduction and manipulation. Drained of blood; sounds like A vampire. A wild Werewolf is an opportunity hunter.

Aggie was there observing the depth of the damage to the body of the victim, and she can not unsee the significant amount of overkill, which she reads as incomprehensible and vicious and she chose the name “werewolf”. As if a man had been so full of hate he acted like an animal, wild with the madness of rabies. The werewolf nickname is typical in that it refers to the Killer not the victim. That’s common.

I don’t remember Lizzie Borden’s mother’s name but I remember she got 40 whacks. Commonly, the Killer gets the moniker, the headline and the fame, not the victim, We are familiar with The Zodiac and with the Hillside Strangler. The idea that a monster is the killer becomes part of the problem.

The killer isn’t a werewolf. The police are looking for a monster and don’t see him. The headline of the Washington Post on this day shows the degree to which the press picks up Dr.DeRiver’s birdseed. POLICE SEEK MAD PERVERT IN GIRL’S DEATH.

The news on this day

A Greyhound rider gets off the bus in Fresno and tells police that another bus rider, mumbled in his sleep about how he should have cut the scar off the leg! Edward Glen Thorpe is pulled off a bus at Modesto and police find blood on his jacket. Thorpe is arrested. It gets worse for Thorpe.

It is revealed that he viewed the “Jane Doe #1” body in the morgue because he thought it could be his wife who had disappeared from Riverside.

Thorpe is from Wyoming so the Des Moines Register calls him a cowboy. The truth is less romantic. The Oakland Tribune tells us he is a member of the Cook and Waiters union in San Francisco. The union helps him get Thorpe released after questioning.

The Los Angeles Times locates a witness who believed he saw Beth Short made phone calls.

Quote …grocery clerk. Jack Fleming …said that, last Tuesday at about 10 a.m. a "pretty, tall" and slender girl" whom he recalls as exactly answering the murder victim's description came into the Daniel J. Regan market at 5833 S. Hoover St., clad in a gray pin-striped suit with short jacket, and made several telephone calls. ' "I changed a quarter for her," Fleming recalled, “…she did not seem at all excited or nervous, was very pleasant." Fleming said she went into one of several (phone) booths facing the street and remained near them for about 20 minutes, occasionally waiting outside the booth as if waiting for a busy line to clear. Later, according to Fleming, she came out of the market, adjacent to a corner service station, and crossed Hoover at 58th Street slowly “with an air as if she were waiting for someone.” Then she walked southward on Hoover, Fleming said. This is significant because Tuesday, the day Fleming says he sees the victim the day before she is tortured and killed. Endquote

It sounds very much like Beth, her hovering by the phone booth is similar to her missed connections at the Biltmore Hotel. He does call her tall. How tall was Beth Short? 5’5”. Likely wearing heels. Note Fleming has Elizabeth wearing a gray pin-striped suit, not a black outfit. One may question if Fleming saw Elizabeth Short or a look alike but it is clear Beth didn’t wear all black all the time,

At the Biltmore Hotel, Beth wore black shoes and suit, but white fluffy blouse, white gloves, camel colored overcoat and no flowers in her hair. Dr. Melvin Schwartz dentist with an office in the Cherokee Building on Hollywood Boulevard dubbed her the lady in red as he and his nurse describes a woman in red dress who tries to gain favor by placing the doctor’s hand under skirt. John Egger, 20 years old usher, described Beth, "The thing is sir, we always notice a girl like that, she was a striking girl, with that raven hair, blue sweater or pink sweater, George Bacos picked up Beth one night and went for a drive, parking on the Sunset Strip and chatting. "She wore a black satin skirt with a sweater - a pink sweater. Not black on black and flowers but always tasteful, this is a girl who dresses fashionably yet did not always have money for rent.

Returning to the news of the day— The press on this day, Jan 19th, introduces it’s readers to the French family in San Diego

Miss Dorothy French works at the Aztec movie house as a cashier notices Elizabeth Short trying to sleep at the open all night theater. Dorothy took her home to meet her mother, Elvira French takes Beth in. Mrs. Elvira French informed the police that Miss Short claimed she was the widow of an air corps major who was killed in a plane crash. And Beth Short told her that bore him a child that later died.

Mrs French says she was shown a newspaper article about the death of Matt Gordon but the article has a line crossed thru another woman’s name. Mrs. French is told that the newspapers made a mistake and Beth was the bride.

A frequent caller was a red-haired ex-marine flyer, Elizabeth called him “Red” and sometimes “Bob”. Recently Mrs. French got tired of boarding Elizabeth for nothing and told her she would have to leave. She said Elizabeth wired “Red” and that he came and got her.

“Be there tomorrow afternoon late. Would like to see you. Red.”

The Los Angeles Police sends out a Bulletin describing the red-haired suspect. His car is described as being possibly a 1940 Studebaker coupe, Cream or light tan in color, California license number… Suspect is described as a white male American, approximately 25 years old 6 feet tall, weighing 175 pounds with red hair blue eyes and light-complexion. Robert Manley is a pipe salesman and an ex-army musician. Robert is not an angry jealous Marine. Manley was never at Camp Cooke. Red Manley is not the Marine that threatens Beth Short in downtown Los Angeles before Beth is saved by Officer Myrl McBride. Look if you have red hair, Red is a your nickname*, however, the press unfortunately attempts to tie everything to the last man to see Beth alive.

Reporters locate Beth Short’s “lost” Chicago trunk at the Los Angeles train station. Photos of Beth’s sisters are printed in the paper as well as a snapshot of Beth on the beach in Florida sunning herself wearing a two-piece black swimsuit.

An important telegram is pasted in Beth’s scrapbook, dated Aug 22, 1945, said: “Just received word that Matt killed in crash. Our deepest sympathy is with you. The wire was from Mrs.Gordon of Pueblo, Colorado. Her son, Matt Gordon died on the 10th . The end of the war is four days later. Phoebe Short says Matt Gordon is the only man I know Elizabeth truly loved.

In letters addressed to Major Gordon, Beth wrote…

Darling if only all men were like you. When you come home I’ll never let you go. It’s real love, because I have not had you out of my thoughts since we met. Now that I know that you love me, there could never be another man meant for me. Now that you have asked me to be your wife, I do not date.

This is a letter to Matt Gordon; it should be in Matt Gordon‘s belongings not in Beth’s keepsake album. This was never mailed. Why not? Because it’s not true? After all, Beth crosses off the name of the other woman in the newspaper article.

Perhaps this letter it is a practice letter in case he says yes, after all Mrs Gordon doesn’t think they were engaged. Regardless if there was a ring or a promise; it has the same effect because Beth believes and hopes that this is the love of her life and she is never the same after Matt Gordon’s death.

What are we to make of these many letters? Maybe Beth just changed her mind and decided not to send them. Are they early drafts of letters or true copies? I can’t pretend to know the answer. Was it common to have so many unsent letters as keepsakes? As the letters are found in her memory book, I interpret them as internal, for Beth’s personal consumption not an external message. †

Quoting from another letter: Yes I’ve dated since I’ve seen you last, and most of them disgusted me. Naturally there are exceptions. If you want to slip away and be married, we’ll do whatever you wish, darling. I’ll wait no matter how long.”

This is an example of diary style of letter that reflects what Beth may have felt at the time, but seems like an imaginary conversation. Why tell your fiancé that are dating other men who disgust you?

In 1945 Beth gets the news that Matt dies in a crash in August. Elizabeth quits her job in September. In December she leaves for Florida again but this time doesn’t get a job, In fact she never works again, Elizabeth visits Indianapolis and Chicago before continuing to Long Beach to reconnect with Joseph Fickling.

In April 1946, Elizabeth told her mother she was engaged to Joseph G Fickling, still an Army flyer in 46, in January 1947, he is a commercial pilot at Charlotte, N.C.

Quote En route here Mrs. Short learned that her husband, Leo,* missing for twenty years had turned up in Los Angeles,

‘My goodness,” she said, “what did he do? Just put in an appearance?”

She added, “I suppose he thought he’d better clear himself.” Phoebe said she had no desire to see him.

Film actress, Anne Toth 24. who last summer lived In the same Hollywood, Cal., rooming house as Elizabeth Short, told police Saturday that during their acquaintance Miss Short went out with several men, but avoided introducing the men. Endquote.

The press prints a picture of bit player, Anne Toth and highlights the Hollywood connection. Ending the short article by saying, “Miss Short's mutilated body was found 10 miles south of Hollywood Wednesday.”

Just as one would look at similar crimes to understand this crime. There is quite a bit to her learned by looking at how other crimes are reported in the Los Angeles newspapers. A false generalization about the use of the Black Dahlia epithet is commonly repeated in books and articles today. The refrain goes like this “Los Angeles newspapers of the this time tended to create flower nicknames when the gruesome murders case had a female victim.” The examples offered are the Red Hibiscus Murder and the White Gardenia Murder. There is also a name origin story involving Aggie Underwood who added color to a crime scene.

This is a great story let me elaborate. Aggie removed a white carnation from a restaurant vase and dropped it on the dead body of waitress on the floor who had been stabbed and Aggie instructed her photographer to take a picture. A policeman objects to Aggie disturbing the crime scene and Aggie socks the cop with her purse.

For a news story to have legs, the story has to have a continuation, mystery, drama and tragedy to connect readers to the event. A good nickname is an insufficient hook on its own. I mentioned previously that the Hearst papers had more successful and lurid headlines nicknames. One significant example would be the Los Angeles Times came up with a nickname for Richard Ramirez as the “valley intruder” and the Herald Examiner came up with “the night stalker”; very much the better name. There is a hint of classism in the LA Times nickname, “Valley Intruder”, as if the crime is a valley exclusive problem. As if to reassure the reader “Don’t worry this is a long way from the Wilshire Corridor.” Something that happens in the San Fernando Valley should not worry anyone in Beverly Hills. In fact, the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez very willing to travel; killing in San Francisco, Irvine, Monterey Park, Diamond Bar, Burbank, Northridge, Whittier and Sierra Madre.

Nicknames were not exclusively about flowers, not in 1947 or any time period. More commonly nicknames arise from the some unique aspect of the violent crime or weapons of choice. I have complied a short history of murder related press names in Los Angeles.

TIGER WOMAN. Woman hammers her rival to the ground.

Clara Phillips buys a claw hammer on the afternoon of June 10th 1922 and batters the head of Alberta Meadows, a rival for her husband’s affection, then crushes victims chest with 50 pound rock, as an exclamation point.

BABES OF INGLEWOOD Location and age of victims

The murder and rape of three girls, aged 10 and 11.

BRICKBAT MURDER Unusual murder weapon

Serial killer Robert Nixon fatally strikes Edna A. Worden and her 12-year-old daughter, with a brick in Los Angeles on April 3, 1937. Press coverage was racist and highly inflammatory. White victims, Black criminal.

RED ROSE MURDER Cloth rose under body at crime site.

“B-girl” Alice Burns murdered Dec 28th 1939. Burns leaves a skid row bar with down and out saxophone player, John Reavis, after midnight. They park in an east downtown abandoned coal yard. Burns is stabbed to death. Reavis goes on the lamb. The story has a long life in the newspaper because Reavis successfully avoids capture for weeks and as long as he’s a fugitive, he’s in the headlines.

WHITE GARDENIA MURDER Crushed corsage under body at dump site.

Ora Murray, 42 years old, is happy to dance with a handsome younger man on the night of July 7th 1943. Roger Gardner suggests Ora come with him in his convertible to see the lights of Hollywood Blvd. In the morning her bludgeoned and strangled body is found in flowerbed at the edge of a golf course parking lot.

RED RIBBON MURDER Woman shot five times in own car. Dies clutching ribbon.

Olive Gase Miller, 31, waitress leaves after her shift at the Turf Café at Pico & Figueroa, and is shot dead in her car in July 1944. Shocking phono of body with 10 wounds in car published. Very little follow-up stories in the press after husband is released. The red ribbon in her hand remains a mystery.

L.A. RIPPER Vicious nature of mutilation of victims at two crime scenes

Otto Stephen Wilson mutilated working girl Virginia Griffin in the Barclay Hotel with butcher knife. Wilson goes to the Million Dollar Movie theater, watches a Boris Karloff movie then mutilated a second prostitute, Lillian Johnson with razor at Joyce Hotel, slicing her from top to bottom. Wilson is arrested on the same day as he is chatting up a third woman at a bar a few doors away.

TORSO MURDER — Shocking dismembered victim

Temple City sheriff Arthur Eggers spies his wife’s lover running out of the house, when confronted, Dorothy laughs at him. He shoots her in the heart. Arthur chops her head and her hands off and tosses the disembodied limbs and torso out the car window as he drives thru canyon roads.

RED HIBISCUS MURDER — Woman found dead in flower bush in public park.

Naomi Tullis Cook 52 years old is drunk and sleeping at night on a public bench. She is bludgeoned, raped and slain then rolled into flower bushes in Lincoln Park, in east Los Angeles on Dec. 10th 1946. Minimal press coverage. No follow up after hispanic youth gang charged then released.

LIPSTICK MURDER — Message on body at crime scene.

On Feb 10th 1947 Jeannie French is stomped to death on a remote road and dragged a few feet to a vacant lot. She had the nickname the “Flying Nurse” when she was alive. Jeanie French was 44 years old.

In the majority of these murders the name given comes organically from the crime scene. The cloth red rose is under the body, the white gardenia corsage is under the body, the post mortem ripper butchery, the headless torso. Note that the press could have gone with Jeannie French’s real nickname, the Flying Nurse, but it was Lipstick on the dead body that makes the murder stand out.

Again note how unique The Black Dahlia name is truly is; even the killer adapts the Black Dahlia name for himself. So the Black Dahlia Avenger is famous & anonymous

Often there is a word that makes a trial unique. The press can ride trial headlines for weeks. Examples of newspaper nicknames that arose situationally from the actions of the accused at trial

RATTLESNAKE MURDER — Snake is murder weapon

August 1935, Robert S. James bought two rattlesnakes to kill his 25-year-old wife, Mary and collect the insurance money. The snakes bit but Mary was resilient. So Robert after waiting for hours, tires of watching Mary cling to life and drowns her in the bathtub. Name given to crime after arrest.

BAT MAN MURDER — tiny man has secret life in the attic

The diminutive lover of Dolly Oesterreich, Otto Sanhuber 4’11”, hides at night in the Oesterreich’s Silver Lake attic reading pulp fiction and emerges during the day as as her lover. On Aug. 22, 1922 when "The Bat Man in the Attic," interrupts a loud argument with two handguns and murders Fred Oesterreich. Sadly, no joker smile in this batman murder.

WHITE FLAME MURDER — blind passion explodes on a piano bench.

Paul Wright shoots his wife and her lover in 1932 when he finds them together at a piano bench at 4 a.m. and he claimed he was not sane at the time because of the white flame of passion. Defense attorney Jerry Giesler represents Wright who is acquitted of double murder.

THE BLACK DAHLIA Film noir movie title word play.

As discussed The Blue Dahlia is the name of a nightclub on Sunset Blvd. where significant action takes place in the film noir movie released in mid-1946. No one wears flowers in their hair in the movie. Note the Black Dahlia name doesn’t originate from the crime scene or the method of murder. The name is not given by the newspapers, it was found by the reporters and police, given by the public. It is commonly suggested that it is ironic that Elizabeth Short dreams of being an actress however she achieves fame in death not in life. The statement is neither profound or true. Consider the mysterious deaths of true Hollywood stars, like Natalie Wood or Thelma Todd, that to me is the irony of this case that the American public is more fascinated by the mystery of the Black Dahlia than the deaths of famous stars. Our culture has assigned a character arc to this young lost soul, this homeless dreamer and drifter. This resonates with American culture as it touches on the great American dream of a nobody who becomes somebody. The most common themes in American movies; from the simple plot of chorus girl who becomes mega star to complex stories like the GREAT GATSBY OR THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. Irony in the Black Dahlia case is that Elizabeth Short becomes the Los Angeles “angel of death”.

So many lesser talents arrive in Los Angeles who believe the American dream will apply to them. The Black Dahlia epithet is spontaneously created by citizens of the culture of Los Angeles, who judge Short as a newbie. Yet another a stranger comes to town and tries too hard to be noticed.

Using a Flower name as the murder had no special value as a newspapers name. Look at our list above, any news reader will be thirsty to learn more about the Tiger Girl or the Rattlesnake killer than the Red Hibiscus Murder. Which is the more evocative name, the White Fame Murder or the White Carnation? When members of the press heard “The Black Dahlia” spoken they knew they had a seductive and mysterious nom du guerre for this young girl who had suffered horrific death.

I am going to spend a few minutes discussing the murder that speaks to the level of shock and fame equal in its day to the Black Dahlia in 1947.

This is the story of Winnie Ruth Judd who has become the Patron Saint of Death for Phoenix Arizona. Importantly, Mrs Judd made bold headlines in Los Angeles after she arrived by train in 1931 with two large trunks and a hatbox.

Winnie Ruth Judd, 26, suffering from tuberculosis has moved to Phoenix Arizona for her health and finds a job and new friends at the Grunow Memorial Clinic, working as a medical secretary. “Anne” LeRoi, x-ray technician and ”Sammy” Samuelson, fellow tuberculosis sufferer, quickly become friends and roommates. The friendship between the girls becomes strained when likable married lumber baron Jack Halloran dates all three woman. High strung Winnie moves out.

The girls still work together and remain cordial. On the night of Oct 16th 1931, Annie and Sammy invite Winnie back to her old apartment for cards and conversation. Winnie defers, she has a date with Jack. When Jack doesn’t show, the emotionally wounded Winnie decides to visit after all. What was to be conversation and cards around a table, goes badly then gets much worse. Ruth’s jealousy and resentment fueled by alcohol and luminal reach a crescendo amid scandalous accusations of syphilis and sapphic love.

Luminal, a barbiturate, is primary prescribed as a medication that controls seizures. In Judd’s day it was an over the counter pill advertised to help with a wide swath of complaints including drug addiction, insomnia and insanity. In fact it is a highly addictive drug that promotes anxiety, nightmares and mood swings. It is a decidedly poor choice of medicine for anyone suffering from depression or a bipolar disorder.

Ruth will argue with her friends and this results in a lengthy three way struggle with an ironing board and a .25 caliber pistol that leaves three wounded and two dead. Ruth is shot in the hand. Adding to the mystery, Jack Holloran’s car was seen on the street. What did he know? What did he do? What sort of game is he playing? Is he playboy or pimp? Annie LeRoi had been recently arrested for pandering at the prestigious Monroe Hotel in Phoenix.

Now the question for Winnie, what to do with the bodies? Her solution does seem like an idea a drug addict would come up with. (A savvy businessman like Jack Hollaran would likely take one of his lumber trucks to the middle of the desert at night and let the bodies turn to dust and bones. Ruth although she is slight and wounded, finds the strength to bisect Sammy and disembowel Annie and place their body parts into a heavy trunk and several large suitcases. The scope of the job suggests she might have had help with a man with a saw so Hollaran is suspected. Three men have to help Winnie get her trunks on the truck to the train station. Ruth borrows $10 from an acquaintance for the ticket and takes her problems with her on the night train to Los Angeles where her husband and brother live. She expects they will help her dump the bodies of the victims in the deep water of the Pacific ocean. The SanteFe train arrives at 7:45 a.m. at Union Station. Winnie locates her younger brother Burton McKinnell at the USC campus where he is a junior. Burton brings his car to the train station to help Winnie with her baggage. Burton has no idea Winnie needs help with dead bodies.

Commonly, hunters try to sneak game meats onto the train. Baggage agent Arthur Anderson smells off-odors and sees blood leaking out from the trunk assumes it to be illegal venison and asked Ruth what was in the trunks. “Just personal things,” She replied. “There is something wrong with them,” Anderson said.

QUOTE Burton said, “One of the boys I knew during the time I worked there last year met us. Sister took out her baggage checks. We went over to the trunks and they asked us if we smelled anything. I was amazed—horrified, Sister was calm though and told the baggage men she couldn’t open the trunk there because she didn’t have the keys. she said she would telephone Dr. Judd but I said, “Oh let’s drive to Santa Monica and get them. We walked outside I hardly dared look at sister. “Listen Burton” she leaned over and said “the less you have to do with this the better off you will be.”

I said, Now, if you are in trouble I’ll do anything to help you.

All right how much money have you, she asked . I have $5 and change. She said, Let me have the $5. She said this will be all right at this corner. That was at Seventh and Broadway. It was half past noon. I said, “Beat it, that’s the best thing you can do.” She got out of the car and faded into the crowd.

By 4:30 that afternoon, tired of waiting for Judd to return, Anderson called the LAPD to report the bloody trunks. Detective Lieutenant Frank Ryan arrived at Central Station, and met Anderson in front of the trunks. Detective Ryan broke open the larger trunk. Nestled between bedding, papers and knickknacks, “We saw the head of a woman in a corner of the trunk.”

The largest police manhunt to date ensues, as they seek the “Trunk Murderess”

Headline:

GREATEST POLICE HUNT IN HISTORY OF WEST FAILS,

AS MATE PLEAS OVER RADIO FOR SURRENDER.

The police interview the husband, Dr Judd In Santa Monica, and re-interview the brother. Nothing is learned. Police discover Burton has a cabin and find un-eaten food; two slices of cream pie and four sandwiches. They wait for Winnie at the cabin but she doesn’t show. There are sightings, Winnie is hitchhiking on PCH, Bunburring at the Westminster Hotel in downtown, lounging in Beverly Glen with her brother and flying to Marshfield, Oregon, for some reason. Winnie is claimed to be making threatening phone calls to witnesses in Phoenix. None of this is true. Winnie Ruth Judd is not seen or heard. The headlines are fantastic. STRANGE TRIANGLE REVEALED IN PHOENIX TRAGEDY — Because all three girls lived together there are hints of sex parties, PRIVATE LIVES OF TRUNK MURDER PRINCIPALS CHECKED FOR LINK TO FIENDISH NARCOTIC RING— because they worked at a Medical Clinic.

Then something interesting begins, culturally speaking. The longer Winnie Ruth Judd avoids capture the more she becomes a sympathetic character in the eyes of the public. Like Robin Hood or Bonnie and Clyde, after a while, citizens begin to root for Ruth and the nickname evolves from Trunk Murderess to the Velvet Tigress. What a fabulous upgrade.

The tigress surrenders on the 23rd of October. She meets her estranged husband, Dr. William Judd at the Biltmore Hotel and he whisks her away to a nearby mortuary where she surrenders to police. The Hearst newspapers are so enthralled with the headlines that Hearst pays for Dr. Judd’s exclusive story.

Where did Winnie hide? She was broke and her picture is on every front page.

Winnie walked 13 miles, a five hour journey on foot, from the downtown train station to La Pina Sanitarium in Altadena where she had stayed previously as a tuberculosis patient. Winnie, with her hand bandaged, and harmless demeanor, looks very much like a patient so no one noticed when she finds an empty room and lies down in the bed. She stayed there undiscovered for four days sneaking milk from another patients refrigerator. After agreeing to surrender to her husband, she hitched a ride back to downtown and walked in the Broadway Department store where she had once worked.

QUOTE “I stood around staring at the people I knew or who knew me. I was in such a stupor that I got locked up in the store all night. I slept in the furniture department under a rug. When I awakened the next morning people were rushing all about me going about their business.”

I think that should be the question of the day

RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU EVER SLEPT UNDER A RUG.

Typically. a rug is involved in a murder story to rolled up the dead body to remove it from the house.

William Randolph Hearst inserted himself further into the story, helping to pay for Judd’s defense and supplying her with a new attorney. A trial is a much better news story than a plea. Because there will be news everyday for a month in a courtroom. The Randolph Hearst lawyers seek a trial. Is Ruth guilty? Insane?. Judd is found guilty of the first-degree murder by a jury of 12 men. Women are not allowed on juries in Arizona at this time. Judd was sentenced to be hanged. However, her death sentence was overturned after being found mentally incompetent by the state. Winnie was then sent to Arizona State Asylum for the Insane. She escapes from the institution six times between 1933 and 1963. Of course she does, she is the Velvet Tigress.

The severed body of the Black Dahlia in 1947 refreshes the memory of the 1931 crime in the minds of the police, press and public. Sammy Samuelson’s bisected body fuels the theory that a woman could have killed the Black Dahlia. Police and a number of reporters invested many hours seeking witnesses at various lesbian bars for insight and suspects especially for Short’s secretive last days. The most significant difference is that the Black Dahlia was tortured, drained of blood, severed and displayed as a trophy. While Winnie Ruth Judd dismembered Sammy Samuelson in order to hide evidence. The body needed to be transported in a trunk. This 1931 murder may be what Mindhunter John Douglas is thinking about when he suggests that Elizabeth Short was bisected because the killer is injured or weakened and needs to cut the body in order to lift and transport. In both cases a commitment of police resources created a high level of expectation for quick results. Police methods of the time are shocking in comparison to modern methods; interviews with suspects could be violent. When Winnie Ruth Judd had the bullet removed from her hand, Los Angeles police kicked her lawyers out of the hospital room and asked Mrs Judd questions while she was under sedation.

I am confident that a person who has lived in Los Angeles in the previous decade would be very aware of the front page headlines given to bloody work of the Trunk Murderess and The trunk murderess resulted in the biggest headlines and largest manhunt in Los Angeles history. It is very clear the Black Dahlia Avenger desired notoriety. Cutting a body in half insured that. Perhaps the killer remembered that blood was the downfall of Winnie Rudd and therefore drained the body over a bathtub. I acknowledge this is supposition on my part, to suggest the killer knew of the Trunk Murderess, however, the Black Dahlia Avenger’s need for publicity is well documented and the attention to media is consistent with an organized killer.

There is an untold angle to the White Carnation story, I have One More thing to say.

The White Carnation Murder is famous as an Aggie Underwood antidote but forgotten as a murder.

If you Google “white Carnation murder“ in quotes, you’ll get five hits of the story of Aggie Underwood dropping a white Carnation on a dead waitress. You will get no hits whatsoever on the white Carnation murder itself, I can’t find the name of the victim or who might have killed her in newspaper archives. The White Carnation Murder has vanished. There is no special magic in adding a flower to a dead body on the floor or adding a flower to the headline. The fact is that Aggie hitting a cop with her purse is the better story than a murdered nameless waitress and Aggie being Aggie is the story that survives today. Giving a crime a nickname isn’t sufficient to make that crime a news story, much less a legend like the Black Dahlia. It’s a small inoffensive myth that flower headlines are common, or significant or useful for the press, but I am pleased to dismiss it.

At the end of this day, Robert “Red” Manley is located and arrested at the home of his boss, Harry Palmer. The sought after Studebaker is found in Mr. Palmer’s garage as they have taken Palmer's car on sales calls in northern California. Manley is described as well dressed and willing to take a lie detector test.

Thanks for listening. The next podcast will focus on the police and press treatment of witness Robert “Red” Manley.

Until then…

* There are 72 million men in America in 1947, if 2% are redheaded, that’s 1,440,000 red heads. All called red at some point, no doubt.

** error as written in S.F. Examiner Jan 19th 1947

† see longer letter filled with fictional accounts that was never sent to Fickling about baking cakes and imaginary bosses at the hospital job on the web site.

victim grid for “Dahlia” real estate pdf.jpg
The newspapers “frame” Robert Manley with the dramatic camera angles and lighting associated with movie villains.

The newspapers “frame” Robert Manley with the dramatic camera angles and lighting associated with movie villains.

Beth written letter found in trunk. Dated December 13, 1946

(unmailed letter to Joseph Fickling): Fictional statements in Bold

Honey: Today has been quite busy for me. However, I always find time to let you know that my thoughts are of you. I have just made a chocolate cake and topped it off with white fudge frosting. I also added chopped nuts and cocoanut. Everyone approved because it is nearly gone now. I made hot coffee and it all tasted good. As I wrote, I am spending the holidays with my girl friend whom I worked with in Hollywood. Her mother has a home here in San Diego. She and I feel the same about Hollywood. I couldn't bear to be alone during the holidays, so she and I are spending it with her mother. We all get along fine and I am happy for now.

I want to go to Florida in the new year, and stay there. I've lost a great deal of work here, and when I was able to work, I had to pay a great deal for medicine and doctor bills. Rather discouraging, I should say!!! I honestly did believe that I would be well here in the West. Time has proved differently to me. My girl friend's mom works at the Navy hospital here. I found myself a very nice job there also. I've worked for the past few days and I'm crazy about it. I am a receptionist and stenographer combination. I work for a lieutenant commander and he is very nice to me. He has asked me to spend New Year's Eve with him.

All of the doctors on the staff at the hospital have made plans to get a party together at the country club here. I feel quite flattered because he asked me when we first met. He's certainly a nice boss. Everyone has been real nice to me.

I had hoped that we would be together by this time this year. It isn't possible, but I do hope that you find a nice young lady to kiss at midnight New Year's. It would have been wonderful if we belonged to each other now. Most sweethearts celebrate together on New Year's Eve. I so wish it could have been different for us.

My boss told me that he would find me a house through the Navy housing if I would stay here. I would never be happy in a house alone. I want the kind of happiness everyone else has. I'm working for now and I'll plan something else later. I am so unsettled and discouraged. Perhaps Matt was my man, that is why I've been so miserable. I'll never regret coming West to see you. You didn't take me in your arms and keep me there, however, it was nice as long as it lasted. You had a great deal on your mind and I was just an extra burden. I'll never be settled unless I find my own happiness, as everyone else does with the man they love.

Perhaps there is someone now, because I've never been able to call you "all mine." I've just about made my mind up to forget you and try and be happy some other way. I'm miserable because you are not around. Yet I knew you never will be. Why go on, for if I let myself, I am sure that I could find someone else and love them. I'm human, dear, so much so but you can't understand it. I want someone all for myself. Don't you? I'll close for now, and have a nice holiday and be happier than I am.

Always, Betty.

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