Even the most seasoned true crime aficionados probably don’t know about the similar and possibly connected murders which occurred following the months after the killing of The Black Dahlia (Elizabeth Short). I surely didn’t. Hollywood & Crime uncovers these horrific murders for a crime-hungry, twenty-first-century audience.
In this podcast series, host Tracy Pattin along with a team of talented actors tell the stories of these murdered women and the investigations into these crimes. Seventy plus years later these cases remain unsolved.
The podcast focuses on several different women: an heiress, a WWII flying nurse, a wife out for a good time who met a gruesome end, and the would-be actress with a seemingly bad reputation, The Black Dahlia. Yet, they all were murdered in a similar fashion around the same time. How did such different women with different paths meet the same end? We may never know.
If these crimes happened in 2017, or even 2007 (this January marked the seventy-year anniversary of The Black Dahlia murder), we would probably know the killer (or killers) due to DNA technology and a better understanding of crime scene contamination. This was a classic serial killer case before the term serial killer was even in the lexicon.
As I listened to these stories I wondered why don’t we know about these murders, which at the time were called The Werewolf Murders, like we do The Black Dahlia or other well-known crimes before the 1970’s? In my mind, the 70’s were terrifying and the epitome of all things serial killer. I’m not sure why these cases aren’t more talked about considering how sensationalized they were at the time. The podcast implies that The Black Dahlia murder was more reported and talked about than the others at the time-history proves that correct, which is why these other murders aren’t as well-known.
This podcast also mentions the theory that Elizabeth Short’s murderer was a woman. This theory is one I’ve come across in my years of looking up weirdness and murder on the Internet. I did a little research while writing this and wasn’t able to come up with much other than this post and a short Wikipedia entry. I thought it was interesting the police didn’t rule out the possibility of a female murderer. The podcast doesn’t discuss this for very long, but I’m glad they mentioned the theory.
I can’t say much more without giving anything away. Besides, Wondery does a much better job talking about murder than I do. Give it a listen on iTunes or here.
The typology of a serial killer is exactly what you think it is. In order to track them, investigators must first have an understanding of how (and later why) they operate.
While there are several different types of serial killers and offenders, which I will get into in a later post, the most basic typology and the most widely used by investigators is the Holmes Typology. This is also known as the Organized/Disorganized Dichotomy and is also attributed to famed FBI Profiler Roy Hazelwood. Once the basic typology is documented, a more detailed subcategory can be assigned.
The HT classifies serial killers into 2 groups:
Organized and Disorganized
Organized serial killers live seemingly stable, normal lives. They are gainfully and skillfully employed, socially aware, highly intelligent, and often have families and regular friendships. These characteristics also spill over into how they commit their crimes. Organized killers plan their crimes well in advance, sometimes years.
They have a specific type of victim such as sex workers or individuals with a certain physical trait. These individuals are more likely to restrain victims, dispose of bodies in a discreet location, and remove a weapon from the crime scene. Their crimes are also usually not committed where they dispose of bodies, but are more likely to move bodies.
Since they are more socially skilled than their disorganized counterpart, these killers often have a social interaction with their victims. Little evidence is left behind at murders committed by organized killers.
Examples include: BTK, John Wayne Gacy
Disorganized serial killers tend to be drifters with a more spontaneous lifestyle. They are also more likely to commit other crimes along with murder, including drug use and necrophilia. Below average intelligence is a characteristic. They often suffer from some sort of sexual dysfunction and severe mental illness, which are the root causes of their crimes. Victims are random and usually do not fit a certain demographic or description. Disorganized killers will leave evidence behind at crime scenes, including blood, fingerprints, and the murder weapon. Crime scene locations are in close proximity to the killer and murders are committed at the location where the victim is found, hence the evidence left at the crime scene.
Examples include: Ottis Toole, Richard Chase a.k.a The Vampire of Sacramento.
FYI, if you never want to sleep again, do a search for Richard Chase. Nighty, nighty!
Then, of course, there’s Ted Bundy. You know you can’t mention serial killers without his name coming up. Teddy boy is actually a mixture of both typologies, even though he tends to lean towards organized more so than disorganized. However, based on his famous Florida murder spree in 1978, Bundy crossed over into disorganized territory with the random killings. Bundy’s affinity for necrophilia also puts him into the disorganized category.