The Murder/Alibi

The FBI file provides an outline of what was happening in Ed's life around the time of the Dahlia murder. It is an outside-the-murder perspective derived from interviews of acquaintances and various informants. We have an inside-the-murder perspective handed to us by Black Dahlia-murderer Ed Burns via his messages, Dahlia- forehead artwork, and Maurice "disguise." What follows is based strictly on fusing the two perspectives to form a complete picture.

On the afternoon of January 8, 1947, Ed Burns received a phone call from Elizabeth Short. She was returning to Los Angeles from San Diego. She was broke and had no place to stay. She needed Ed's help.
Ed told Betty he would do what he could. And he set up a "Barnes and wife" get-together for tomorrow night, the 9th, at their usual place: The HIRSH Apts. on East Washington, in Los Angeles.
Ed told his wife that something big had come up, and that he had to be in Los Angeles by tomorrow evening. And he'd likely be in LA for several days, on this one. It might be a great time for her to spend a few days with her parents, like they'd talked about. She agreed.
They decided she should leave for California on Friday, the 10th. She'd fly Western commuter. Ed said he thought it would be a good idea for him to drive the car to her parents' place and bring her back home. Maybe they should plan on him heading west on, say . . . the 15th, late afternoon . . . By driving his wife home, Burns controls her whereabouts. He wants to minimize her cognizance of the monster in her marriage . . .
Ed Burns telephoned his commuter pilot, Grinnin' Jack Black, and arranged his alibi flightfest. Ed scheduled four hops. He stipulated that Black would have two layovers: the critical 1st in the desert, the 2nd in Los Angeles. Burns would prepay. Dependable Black agreed.

Ed and Black flew their 1st one-way on January 9, a desert-to-LA hop. They landed in Inglewood in the evening twilight.

Ed is in California

Betty's and Ed's January 9 at HIRSH Apts. went as we know it did. The next morning they agreed to meet at the HIRSH on Sunday, then said: "Till then." Ed must've been a scramblin' man on January 10 and January 11. Maybe he took his abortion cutlery with him on his one-day trips/abortion ops. He might've carried his blades with him this time, in the bag he'd use. No? . . . Then did bad Doc Burns rent lockers in downtown Los Angeles, and/or Hollywood? And what about the Liz-'n-Beth suitcases? I'll bet Ed didn't have those substantial suckers prior to Betty's phone call from San Diego. Did Burns already have rope? I doubt it. What about the tow-rope death Ford? . . . Fey folks who had correct answers to those questions are Los Angeles homicide history.
Anyway . . . our LA-history-makers-to-be registered in the HIRSH on Sunday morning, January 12, 1947. And we recall what went down during early-black of the second HIRSH day . . . Guests feel witchy vibes and hear screamy sounds wafting out of the Barnes' room . . . and Mr. Johnson does a rap, rap, rap, on the door . . . and a zoning-out Burns hears: "Mr. and Mrs. Barnes . . . Did you hear the phone? . . . Is everything OK?" Burns is dezoned, but rap, rap, rap, ceases, Johnson fades out and Ed slips back into his grislies . . . and at around two a.m. Johnson is back! In a toxic tone he threatens to get a key. Ed Burns is all ears, radar, and frenesy, and is out of there ahead of schedule. And Ed failed to finish his allusional bladework. Oh, well. Later . . .

. . . Burns takes Washington west to Crenshaw, turns left and rolls south to Manchester, hangs a right, and motors into Inglewood. A quick trip: this time, quicker than the first time he drove it . . . Four minutes later, Ed wheels into the parking lot of the Los Angeles Airport and soon spies a contiguity of open spots, and parks. He's here earlier than he had planned: he has time to unwire. Would Ed have prepared for early arrival at LA Airport by bringing an alarm clock? Real crazy. But after what he's done, don't put it past him . . . A bashed-up old car, a loudly ticking alarm clock, two suitcases bearing strange cargo, and a snoozing madman . . . Eerie, dude!

At 8:00 a.m. on January 14, Burns and Black connect in the LA Airport cafe. On schedule . . . And they do a soft-touch landing on the desert-town air strip.

Ed is outside California

Ed Burns is home for about a half-hour when he goes into a store and spots an excellent witness to his presence: a policeman Burns knows. Ed walks over to his friend and initiates a conversation with him and cogitates . . . If he, a cop no less, knew what I have in my car right now . . . But I'm not worried . . . Why should I be? Those suitcases are still working as camouflage. What's unusual about two suitcases in a Ford, at Los Angeles Airport? Nothing. Unless they're temporary storage for a bisected lady . . . But Liz and Beth are going to keep it hush-hush . . . And now the cop can sincerely say: ". . . that's funny. Ed Burns was home on January 14. He and I had a nice chat." Ed has an account at this store. And he makes a purchase to create a paper trail of his presence. He has been home. It's recorded. Now he can leave.

Ed meets Black at the appointed place, a Mexican eatery near the air strip, at the scheduled time: 2:00 p.m. Dependable Black . . . And they are in the air, winging westward, hellbent for the City of Angels! . . . By late-afternoon Burns and Black are in the wintery sky above the Los Angeles Basin . . . then on the ground, in Inglewood . . .

Ed is in California

And as Burns wheels the battered sedan out of the airport-parking area, he glances at the languid January sunset and senses an ominous chill in the air, and ponders a major problem . . . Burns did not complete his Black Dahlia knifework. The HIRSH operator got nervous, very antsy, almost panicky, and Ed wonders . . . Somebody obviously heard something, but what? Somebody must've yapped to Johnson about it, but what did they tell him? . . . Ed decides that going back to the HIRSH to finish his bladework would be risky. So Burns drives to the LA Harbor District to search for a suitable bladework-completion room w/bathtub. He examines motels in Lomita and San Pedro. Three in all. And he gives up . . . I believe he takes a big chance and motors back to the HIRSH, and finishes the mutilation makeover. And on 1/15/47 in the dusk of dawn, Ed Burns sets up his outre Dahlia Noir display, slips into the shadows . . . and disappears. But . . . Burns has big trouble in Angel City. On fleeing HIRSH Apts. in the wee hours of the 14th, he'd left behind a batch of bloodies: Betty's clothing, and sheets. Ed stashed them in a reasonably safe spot. But he thinks LAPD cops are apt to find them. So at about 10:30 a.m. on the 15th, Burns returns to the HIRSH to retrieve bloody evidence. To no avail: manager makes spooky remark; Ed gets jitters; Ed jackrabbits out of the area . . . That's it for now, Los Angeles . . .

At 1:00 p.m., Burns connects with Black in the LA Airport cafe . . . Forty-five minutes later, they're high above the weirdly twisted Joshua trees of California's Mojave Desert . . . By late-afternoon, a flown-out Ed Burns is home . . .

Ed is outside California

And by nightfall he is on the road, at the wheel of the family car. Burns is not alone: he has an unwitting accomplice to an alibi at his side . . . They are rolling westward . . . Ed is driving to California to get his wife and drive her back home, doting husband that he is . . . But Ed Burns' Black Dahlia alibi has been destroyed. This will be explained in the section to follow.

. . . The Intent . . .

Ed knew he'd be seen by the HIRSH managers on January 12, when he and Betty registered in the HIRSH. There was no avoiding it. It was guaranteed. Ed's alibi was fueled mainly by the Johnsons: they would see Ed Burns with Elizabeth Short on January 12; they would clue LAPD in on it. But Ed intended to be seen with Betty only once: on January 12, a safe three days before her remains would appear in the lovers' lane. Keep this in mind: Ed branded "E," "B," and "J 15" on Betty's forehead. Ed Burns knew January 15 would be the day, before The Duo's 1/12/47 HIRSH check-in. If Ed was seen with Betty on the 12th and not again, and if Ed was known to have been outside California on the 14th and 15th, then how could Ed have killed Betty? Was he even in California? Ed Burns could say: "Yes, I was in the HIRSH with Betty on the 12th. But we had a spat and she took a powder on me. Just left me there. I didn't see her after that. It was a Sunday . . . Betty didn't show up in the vacant lot until Wednesday. I was home before then. I can prove it . . ." But Ed left the HIRSH earlier than planned and left bloody stuff behind. This led to the destruction of his hard-flown-for alibi. Ed allowed himself to be seen in LA on the 14th and 15th, in the time window of the Black Dahlia murder.

. . . The Mighty Suitcases . . .

Burns likely planned on 40+ unsuspicious-to-guests hours in the HIRSH with Elizabeth, plus 24+ hours of suitcase-storage for Liz and Beth. During some of these temp-storage/suitcase hours, the two suitcases would be locked inside a car which would be parked at the airport. The suitcases enabled Ed's alibi: they held and hid Liz and Beth when Ed was seen at his not-in-California home. The two suitcases were much more than HIRSH-exit camouflage. They were at-the-airport camouflage, and 24-hour storage!
And some folks still wrestle with the why of the bisection . . .

The Hirsh Apartments, 300 East Washington
The Hirsh Apartments, 300 East Washington

 

. . . The Wings . . .

In Chapter The Night Mare, we referred to a mark as a "frill." We did this in A Frill from the Far Side. This mark is frilly. But the FBI Black Dahlia file shows that flying in a plane was essential to Ed's Dahlia alibi. Flying might've been how Ed got to and from LA on some Betty and Ed get-togethers: togethers where Ed and Betty would spend a night in the HIRSH, and Betty would get Burns bucks for food and rent. So let's eyeball that far-side frill . . . Hmmmmm . . . You know what? The frill looks like wings, to me. And the positioning of these wings on the stem of the B conjures up a "flying EB," for me. It looks like Ed B wanted us to perceive the frilly symbol as wings.

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