We direct our readers to information on an event hosted by the LA Press Club in Hollywood on Thursday, a reading and reception for Donald H. Wolfe's new book The Black Dahlia Files: The Mob, the Mogul, and Murder that Transfixed Los Angeles (Regen Books). Entrance, parking and drinks are free.The 1947project bloggers have not yet read Mr. Wolfe's book, but our Larry Harnisch has thoroughly examined the D.A.'s files that form the heart of Wolfe's thesis. He is concerned that there are numerous inconsistancies between the files he read and Wolfe's claims (see below). Still, it sounds like an entertaining night out in Miss Short's old stomping grounds, and we invite any reader who attends to post back in the comments about their experience.
Larry says: Having been through the D.A.’s files on the Dahlia case (I inventoried and indexed every scrap of paper) I can say definitively that Bugsy Siegel, Norman Chandler, Jack Dragna and Brenda Allen are never mentioned.
In fact, the D.A.’s files say 1) Elizabeth Short was not a prostitute and 2) she wasn’t in Los Angeles in 1944 or 1945. According to the D.A.’s files and everything else I have ever found, she arrived in late July or early August 1946.
I chatted with Wolfe while he was going through the files at the D.A.’s office so I know he had the opportunity to find those documents. He apparently just ignored them.
The D.A.’s files, incidentally, aren’t some neat archive. They’re papers that were saved when the D.A. was cleaning house and were just shoveled into boxes. Material from different cases is mixed up, including unlabeled photographs from other murders that got put into the Dahlia material–at least one turns up incorrectly identified in a certain “true” crime book.
Siegel’s voluminous FBI files are online at the bureau’s FOIA site. They are heavily censored but show he was under virtually constant surveillance from at least the middle of 1946. Agents saw him (and Virginia Hill) move out of the Chateau Marmont and into the house on Linden on Jan. 14, 1947, and files say he and Hill left for Palm Springs the next day. I refer specifically to FBI document 62-81518-406 and surrounding material.
I just got the book and haven’t read it yet as I’m getting ready for the Crime Bus tour this weekend, but anything that relies on “Severed,” which is 25% mistakes and 50% fiction, cannot be trusted. I’ll put on my waders and slog through this opus when I get a chance.