When Piu Eatwell advised a idea for who killed the Black Dahlia a long time after her horrific loss of life, there was one one who agreed together with her: the son of a police officer who labored the case.
Elizabeth Brief confirmed up in Los Angeles within the 1940s with huge desires of changing into a film star. Nonetheless, the small-town lady would solely obtain fame in loss of life because the Black Dahlia. On Jan. 15, 1947, the 22-year-old’s bare corpse was present in a vacant lot. Brief was scrubbed, minimize in half and drained of blood.
The hopeful New Englander was viciously mutilated and a joker’s smile was carved on her face. Brief’s rose tattoo was additionally carved out of her thigh, People magazine reported. The coroner decided Brief died of hemorrhage and shock from a concussion and facial lacerations, Rolling Stone shared.
Brief was nicknamed the “Black Dahlia” by the press after a 1946 movie noir. Her killing continues to impression Hollywood years later.
Brief’s loss of life turned the topic of a 2006 movie directed by Brian De Palma, starring Scarlett Johansson and Hilary Swank. It additionally impressed the FX sequence “American Horror Story” in 2011, with Mena Suvari enjoying Brief.
In February of this yr, Patty Jenkins, of “Wonder Woman” fame, co-created “I Am the Night,” a miniseries starring Chris Pine and India Eisley, the daughter of fellow actress Olivia Hussey, which takes a special take a look at Brief’s demise.
In 2017, Eatwell launched a guide titled “Black Dahlia, Red Rose,” which tried to make clear Brief’s brutal case primarily based on authorized paperwork, uncommon letters and grand jury testimony. The British legal professional even tracked down a number of the final residing folks with direct information of the occasions on the time.
Eatwell’s idea? Leslie Duane Dillon, a one-time bellhop and former mortician’s assistant, was the monster behind the grotesque overkill.
“Her research was astonishing,” Buz Williams, a retired member of the Lengthy Seaside Police Division, informed Fox Information. “If I were a police chief, I’d hire her as a forensic researcher on cold cases because she really dug a lot of information that surprised even me. I thought her book was fantastic.”
Williams has a private connection to the Black Dahlia. His father, Richard F. Williams, served on the LAPD’s “Gangster Squad,” the staff initially tasked to investigating Brief’s homicide. The patriarch was additionally a detailed buddy of Con Keller, a fellow Gangster Squad officer who initially tailed Dillon as a suspect, Rolling Stone reported.
“My father and I would go fishing with a bunch of his friends from the LAPD when I was about 14,” Williams defined. “Each time they might have a drink or two, that case would all the time come up in dialog. However I had by no means heard of the Black Dahlia homicide. It occurred earlier than I used to be born. However the case was very vivid of their minds and I heard about it rather a lot.”
The previous cops couldn’t get Dillion out of their minds both.
“Leslie Dillon had been writing letters to the police psychiatrist Dr. [Paul] De River with information that only the killer or someone who was present at the murder would know,” mentioned Williams.
Within the letters, Dillion described how Brief was presumably murdered in a motel room.
In Eatwell’s analysis, she advised Brief was killed on the Aster Motel the place Dillion reportedly stayed. The motel homeowners admitted to discovering certainly one of their cabins “covered in blood and fecal matter.” Witnessed additionally claimed they noticed a dark-haired lady whose options matched Brief’s shortly earlier than her disappearance.
Dr. De River thought he might get Dillon, who left city after the homicide, to admit.
“They finally talked [Dillon] into coming out to California,” Williams claimed. “And when he obtained to California, that they had two adjoining rooms in a lodge. My dad informed me he put a bug in one of many rooms as a result of Dr. De River thought he might get Leslie Dillon to admit if he obtained him within the emotional state he was in when he murdered Elizabeth Brief.”
“So supposedly they obtained every thing recording within the subsequent room,” Williams continued. “And when Leslie began getting increasingly more excited, it scared Dr. De River, who thought he was going to kill him. So he ran out. I assume Leslie was a scary man.”
Based on Rolling Stone, Brief was presumably concerned with members of a gang, one Dillion was related to, that robbed lodges. One of many members would rating a job as an evening bellboy, discover out the place the secure was after which all of a sudden give up. Just a few days later, the group would return and rob the lodge safes of jewellery and money.
“[The gang] wanted her dead because she knew about all these robberies,” Williams claimed. “[Elizabeth and Leslie] weren’t really in a relationship. Acquaintances? Probably.”
Williams mentioned it was believed Dillion was presumably “hired or ordered by the other gang members” to commit the killing. Eatwell beforehand informed Fox Information she strongly felt Dillon was linked to Brief’s grisly demise.
“There are very critical questions on Leslie Dillon that may’t be answered,” she defined. “Her sneakers and purse had been discovered dumped within the trash can shortly after the homicide by an area cafe proprietor. And that’s really two blocks from the place Leslie Dillon lived … The park the place she was discovered is one he knew very effectively and actually, used as a shortcut to get to the place he lived.”
She went on to insist Dillon, an aspiring author, allegedly preserved newspaper clippings about violence in opposition to ladies. Brief’s buddy Ann Toth and mannequin Ardis Inexperienced reportedly recognized Dillon as certainly one of her boyfriends.
Newspaper clippings obtained by the FBI revealed Dillon was held as “suspect number one” after he contacted De River, providing “to help with a book on sadism” because of his curiosity in “psychopathic cases, such as the unsolved ‘Black Dahlia’ murder.”
Police mentioned on the time the then-27-year-old knew “minute particulars of the slaying of Elizabeth Brief, however denies killing and even understanding her.” In one other clipping, police mentioned Dillon “was familiar with details of the unsolved slaying that never were made public.”
Williams mentioned the unsolved case haunted his father.
“He was upset,” Williams defined. “The homicide detectives released Dillon from custody and said they didn’t have enough evidence. He felt that happened because those detectives were upset the Gangster Squad was supposedly disrespecting their investigation. So they let Dillion go. And he was very upset about that.”
In January of this yr, Steve Hodel, a retired LAPD detective, informed Fox Information he believed his father, Dr. George Hodel, was the true killer. He as soon as informed People magazine his father dated Brief at one level and was allegedly motivated by jealousy. Hodel has written several books about his findings.
“I read his book years ago,” mentioned Williams. “I remember thinking he didn’t like his father very much and after finishing the book, I didn’t like his father very much either. But I just don’t believe the evidence is as compelling. Dillon’s letters, what the witnesses said during the investigation when they came forward — they all speak for themselves.”
Williams additionally mentioned his father by no means introduced up Hodel.
“I don’t think the Gangster Squad knew about him at all,” he added.
Williams’ father handed away in 1987 at age 62.
The Los Angeles Instances reported in 1949 that Dillon was launched by police because of an absence of proof. Dillon later sued the LAPD for its therapy of him, Smithsonian reported.
He would go on to reside a comparatively quiet life till his loss of life in 1988 at age 67. Smithsonian famous that in his lifetime, Dillon by no means confessed to the homicide and was certainly one of a minimum of 20 suspects investigated by the LAPD.
Brief’s loss of life nonetheless stays unsolved.
In Eatwell’s guide, she claimed Dillon had a toddler — a lady named Elizabeth.
“My father always felt he was a nutty guy,” mentioned Williams. “He was definitely not the boy next door.”