On January 15, 1947, while walking with her three-year-old daughter toward the cobbler, Betty Bersinger spotted a figure laying flat in the distance. As she and her toddler daughter approached what looked like a discarded department-store mannequin, Bersinger realized her eyes had deceived her. There, severed in half bilaterally, was the naked corpse of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short — later known as Black Dahlia — mutilated and completely drained of blood (this made Short’s body appear unnaturally white, like a mannequin).
The lower half of Short’s body had been positioned 12 inches from the torso, both segments apparently washed clean by the killer. In addition to several lacerations on her thighs & breasts and obvious manipulation of the limbs so as to pose Short’s body, her intestines had been pulled out and placed underneath her buttocks. Perhaps the most famous facet of her butchering, though, were the facial carvings that stretched from mouth to ear creating a facetious smile. Due to the lack of blood surrounding the scene, investigators deduced that the murder had happened elsewhere.
The autopsy report proved that her body had been cut in half post-mortem, and Elizabeth Short’s cause of death was determined to be a combination of shock from blows to the head & face and hemorrhaging caused by the smile-like lacerations.
Her murderer was never identified.