Maine Mysteries: The Black Dahlia's childhood in Maine

The Black Dahlia in Portland

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- She's the face of one of America's most infamous unsolved murders- inspiring headlines, books, and even a 2006 film about her gruesome death- The Black Dahlia.

Her real name was Elizabeth Short, a 22-year-old woman with stars in her eyes and dreams of becoming a Hollywood actress. The world learned of her in 1947 when her life ended, but part of her early childhood was spent here in Maine. 

According to Portland Press Herald archives and the Maine Historical Society, Short's mother was born in Milbridge and later lived in Portland where she eventually met and married Short's father in 1918. He was a traveling salesman and the family often moved back and forth between Massachusetts and Maine. Census records show Short was the third of five daughters, and one of two to be born outside of Maine- in Massachusetts in 1925. But historical records show that Short lived in Portland with her family from 1926 to at least 1928.

And the house where she lived still stands on Montreal Street in Munjoy Hill in Portland. 

But, the beginning of the end unfolded nearly two decades later when a rebellious Elizabeth Short threw caution to the wind and moved from greater Boston to Los Angeles, looking for fame.
On January 15th, 1947, Short would finally get her picture in the paper... but not as a movie star. 
 
Short's butchered body was found in a vacant lot in LA. She was cut in half at the torso and her mouth was slashed from ear to ear creating an eerie, frozen smile. The press took notice of Elizabeth's dyed jet black hair and the dahlia flowers friends said she often wore in her hair, giving her the nickname, the Black Dahlia.
 
After a series of interviews with scorned lovers, dead end leads, and false confessions, the case grew cold. The weeks turned into months, and the months turned into years. The terror that consumed the women of Hollywood faded away. Although many have their suspicions about who he or she might be, Elizabeth Short's killer was never brought to justice.
 

(© 2016 WCSH)


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