February 24, 2019
Los Angeles, California
As presented in my earlier investigative findings, it would appear that Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short actually signed her own death warrant by actively traveling to Chicago, Illinois in the summer of 1946 (while her “former suitor” Dr. George Hodel was temporarily doctoring in Hangkow, China for the UN. (See details in BDA I and II)
In today’s blog, I want to focus on and offer the proofs that not only, “A Doctor Did It” but that doctor in both cases (Degnan-Jan 1946 and Short Jan 1947) was a skilled surgeon who performed a specific and difficult procedure known as a “Hemicorpectomy.”
First the definition:
SKH Note- The procedure requires that the division be performed between the 2nd and 3rd lumbar vertebra, which is the only way a body can be divided without having to cut through bone.
SKH Note- To be clear, in my previous writings I have quoted an expert surgeon who indicated, “this procedure was taught in U.S. medical schools in the 1930s.” By that, I do not mean to imply that Dr. George Hodel was performing this radical procedure on his living patients. He was not. Those skills (see photo below) would not be developed for another twenty years.
Rather, in those early years, the surgical procedure was performed on cadavers, human corpses, in order to divide the body in half without having to saw through bone—just as was done on the bodies of victims Suzanne Degnan (1946) and Elizabeth Short. (1947)
“A Doctor Did It”
From Black Dahlia Avenger (Harper Collins 2004) page 530:
“A Doctor Did It”
In previous chapters, I presented evidence from a number of authoritative sources (including LAPD’s own respected criminalist Ray Pinker, who conducted tissue studies in conjunction with Dr. Lemoyne Snyder) confirming that the bisection was performed by a medical doctor.
In October 2004, CBS’s 48 Hours television producers, in preparation for an hour-long special, decided to test the theory independently. The network went to Dr. Mark Wallack, chief of surgery at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York, and asked him to examine the crime scene photos, as well as a summary of the Short autopsy, and render an opinion. Dr. Wallack confirmed my, and LAPD’s, previous findings. Here is his on-air statement from the special, Black Dahlia Confidential:
You don’t get this kind of training where you can invade a human body unless you’ve had some sort of medical training.
So you’re saying you think it must have been a doctor?
In my opinion—yes!
In early 2005, I was contacted by the son of a prominent Los Angeles physician, whom I shall refer to as Dr. G. The son, a surgeon and professor of anatomy, * informed me that his father had been the personal physician to legendary LAPD chief William H. Parker. He stated that I had incorrectly attributed Chief Parker’s death in 1966 to a heart attack and went on to inform me that “Parker died of an abdominal aortic aneurysm that ruptured as he was preparing to give a dinner speech.” According to the son, Dr. G. had previously referred Chief Parker to the Mayo Clinic for treatment, but the clinic’s doctors felt repair was too risky, though they did provide him with a pacemaker.
* The professor identified the medical bisection performed on Elizabeth Short as a “hemicorpectomy.” He informed me that the procedure was taught at medical school during my father’s years (the 1930s), and in his opinion, could be performed by any skilled and anatomically trained M.D.
SKH Note- Over the years no less than five separate surgeons have reviewed the photos and all are in agreement that the bisection “had to have been performed by a highly skilled surgeon.”
The Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short Autopsy
TRANSCRIPT OF INQUEST
HELD ON THE BODY OF ELIZABETH SHORT
AT THE HALL OF JUSTICE, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
JANUARY 22, 1947 AT 10:30 A.M.
FREDERICK D. NEWBARR, being first duly
Sworn, testified as follows:
Q: BY THE CORONER; Please state your name.
A: Frederick D. Newbarr
Q: What is your occupation?
A: Physician and Surgeon.
Q: And you are the autopsy surgeon for the coroner?
A: Yes, sir. Chief autopsy surgeon, Los Angeles County.
Q: Did you perform an autopsy on the body of Elizabeth Short
Over whom we are holding the present inquest?
A: Yes sir.
Q: When did you perform the autopsy?
A: January 16, 1947 at 10:30 A.M.
(SKH Note- Dr. Newbarr begins reading from his autopsy protocol as to his findings and is interrupted.)
Q: Doctor, I don’t believe it will be necessary for you to read all this. It is rather long and I don’t think we need to read all of it here. … Then the next paragraph with regard to the severing of the body.
A: The trunk is completely severed by an incision which is almost straight through the abdomen severing the intestine at the duodenum and through the soft tissues of abdomen passing through the intervertebral disk between the 2nd and 3rd lumbar vertebra. [emphasis mine]
(SKH Note- Here Dr. Newbarr confirms that the surgical procedure was, in fact, a -hemicorpectomy.)
The Suzanne Degnan Autopsy
On January 8, 1946, an autopsy was performed in Chicago at the Cook County Morgue on the body of Suzanne Degnan, age 6.
I am in possession of the complete Coroner’s Protocol, from the Cook County Coroner’s Office, but for the purposes of this reportage I am only going to provide the relevant confirmation that her body was divided identically to that of Elizabeth Short, by what medical experts consider to be a procedure known as –a hemicorpectomy.
CORONER’S PATHOLOGICAL REPORT
HELD ON THE BODY OF SUZANA [SIC] DEGNAN
AT THE COOK COUNTY MORGUE, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
JANUARY 8, 1946
The undersigned has this date 1/8/46 performed an autopsy on the dead body of Suzana [sic] Degan at Cook County Morgue. …
DESCRIPTION: Age 6 Race: White Sex: Female Color of eyes: blue Hair: light brown Weight: 78 Length: 4’ 2” Date of death: 1/7/46
Scan from actual Degnan Coroner Report (redacted)
From Most Evil (Dutton 2009) page 116:
Toxicologist Dr. William D. McNally reported that the victim [Degnan] had been strangled before her body was expertly dissected with a sharp knife. This conclusion was corroborated by Coroner Brodie, who told the press: “It was a very clean job with absolutely no signs of hacking as would be evident if a dull tool was used.” Dr. Jerry Kearns, the coroner’s expert added: “the killer had to be an expert…. Not even the average doctor could be so skillful.”
January 6, 1946- Killer poses Degnan body parts off Street named “Hollywood”
“Dr. Jerry Kerns, coroner’s physician, identified the arms as belonging to the Degnan child and said, “they bore additional evidence of the skill with which the dismemberment of her body was accomplished. “(Chicago Daily Tribune, January 20, 1946)
Excerpt from a PowerPoint presentation I gave to Law Students at Pepperdine College back in April, 2010. At the end of the talk, I received a question from criminal defense attorney, Anthony Salerno related to the Suzanne Degnan Chicago Lipstick Murder and how it related to the Elizabeth Short murder one year later.
Elizabeth Short Crime Scene Photos
January 15, 1947 Killer poses Short body parts of street named Degnan
Driving north on Degnan Blvd. the street magically changes names mid-block just south of the divider and becomes Norton Avenue. If the driver bears right he remains on Degnan. If he bears left he is now on Norton.
At the time of the crime on January 15, 1947 no center divider was at the location. Consequently, it was a coin toss as to which street the driver was on. I am confident my father, while bearing left, still believed he was on Degnan therefore in posing the body he was making his taunting “clew” to the police and press. “Catch me if you can.”
In this Google photo, the 6th house from the left on the top side of the photo is where Degnan magically switches its name and becomes “Norton”. I’ve never seen this occur before. Have you? No wonder GHH bearing left still thought he was on Degnan Ave.