Did Walter Bayley Kill Beth?

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LA Times Reporter Larry Harnisch presents a theory by a different approach, relying on archived property records and certified documents.

Although by 1946 he had been experiencing financial strain, Walter Bayley had previously been chief of staff at the Los Angeles County Hospital, as well as an associate professor of surgery at the Universty of So. Cal.

Bayley resided at 3959 S. Norton Avenue – a block from the lot where Beth’s body was found.

In October of 1946, now in a relationship with Dr. Alexandra von Partyka, Walter left his family, and filed for divorce.

Bayley died in 1948. His death certificate states he had a condition which involved shrinkage of the brain.

Harnisch doesn’t think he’s solved the case, but he does feel quite confident of his findings. He outlines a connection between the Bayley and Beth – Bayley’s daughter knew Beth’s sister and brother-in-law. He believes Beth may have reached out to Bayley in her first months in LA.

Harnisch offers up all the details of this theory at his Web site: http://lmharnisch.com/

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George Hodel

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George Hodel

Former LAPD Detective Steve Hodel outlines in his book, BLACK DAHLIA AVENGER, collections of evidence he’s found in the Black Dahlia case. Hodel’s theory points to his father, George Hodel, a surgeon.

In 1949, Dr. Hodel was tried for molestation of his 14-year-old daughter, Tamar. He was acquitted of that charge, however, he was added to the short list of suspects in the murder of Beth Short. His phones were tapped, and the younger Hodel presents transcripts of comments his father made in reference to the case. Hodel presents the statements, such as, “What if I did kill (her)?” as admittance, and opponents of this theory look at the comments being made in jest, believing the doctor was teasing police.

Hodel’s theory is the most prominent, as well as the most controversial. He has backing from former LA prosecuter Stephen R. Kay (who stated in a Cold Case Files interview that he was positive Hodel’s claims are accurate). However, Steve Cooley, of the LA District Attorney’s office said he wouldn’t spend any amount of money investigating the accusations.

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Jack Wilson

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Jack Wilson

John Gilmore’s SEVERED was the first book to discuss in detail the life and death of Beth Short. Gilmore wasn’t new to the case when he sat down to investigate and write. His father was an LAPD cop at the time of Beth’s murder.

Having the name Short in is own family tree, Gilmore explains that at age 11, he met Beth – she had visited his grandmother’s house to inquire about possible relations.

Gilmore fingerpoints Jack Wilson, an alcoholic with a rap sheet (robbery, sodomy, lewd behavior), as a suspect. In an interview in the 1980s, 6-foot-4 Wilson, who was 27 at the time of Beth’s demise, reportedly divulged information that only the killer could have known. Wilson also relayed information that may have tied him to involvement in the Georgette Bauerdorf murder, which took place months before Beth’s slaughter.

A few days before his arrest, Wilson perished in a fire.

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George Knowlton

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George Knowlton

In DADDY WAS THE BLACK DAHLIA KILLER, Janice Knowlton unweaves a tale about her father, using previously repressed memories of incest and brutality. Years after her father’s death, Knowlton said her memory surfaced traumatic experiences, most notably one of the murder of “Aunt Betty.” With the aide of famed author Michael Newton, the book does present many well-known facts of the case, as well as going-ons of the LAPD. However, no specifics back up Knowlton’s claim of her father, George. Knowlton, who committed suicide in 2004, had been thought by many to have psychological problems. Most recently, her sister has posted on the message boards that she thinks the originally “name drop” of George Knowlton was a mistake, and wonders if the caller who conveyed info to his daughter, which was in reference to name in the case file, had confused her father with George Hodel.

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Orson Welles

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Orson Welles

Mary Pacios lived near Beth in the ’30s and ’40s, and wrote a book more focused on portraying Beth as a kind, loving girl. Within the pages lies her theory, and Pacios points at famed director Orson Welles (Citizen Kane).

Most armchair detectives lend little weight to the theory, claiming Pacios uses coincidental happenings to solve the case.

Pacios believes Welles had a fetish for bisection. In The Lady from Shanghai (filmed in ’46) showed off bisected mannequins and a plastic face which was cut from one cheeksdie to the other. He also performed a “cut a woman in half” magic trick for servicemen during WWII.

In her book, CHILDHOOD SHADOWS, Pacios reports that Welles, who was then separating from his wife (Rita Hayworth), met Beth at an LA diner.

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