The sight stopped a mother and her child in their tracks. A naked woman was lying feet from the sidewalk. She was sliced cleanly in half at the waist, with not one drop of blood on her. The now-infamous slaying of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short instantly captured headlines in 1947, with newspapers later dubbing her the “Black Dahlia” in part because she had dark hair and an apparent preference for black clothing.
Short, a Massachusetts native who had come to California in pursuit of fame, was bled dry before being dumped in an empty lot in a residential area of Los Angeles, authorities said. Her body appeared professionally dissected, and one breast was cut off, according to FBI records.
It’s unclear how the aspiring actor met such a grisly fate. Several dozens of people have claimed credit for the high-profile crime. The FBI, which helped local authorities investigate at the time, said it ran record checks on potential suspects and conducted interviews across the nation. However, none of the confessors appeared to be telling the truth, and the case has gone unsolved.
The murder became the subject of a 1987 novel, followed by a 2006 movie starring Josh Hartnett, Hilary Swank, Aaron Eckhart and Mia Kirshner.
The Los Angeles Police Department told TIME recently that it is still investigating the cold case, although it did not provide any details. “It’s an unsolved case,” LAPD Officer Norma Eisenman said. “There is no additional information per the detectives.”