November 3, 2023
Birch Bay, Washington
Esotouric Bus Tour owners Kim Cooper and Richard Schave are shown “conjuring up Beth Short’s last night of freedom in Downtown Los Angeles.” Ms. Cooper writes:
“The tour takes us from the human hustle of Main Street to the serene lobby of the Biltmore (the second-to-last place she was seen alive), to the newspaper offices and the Greyhound station where she checked her bags, and concludes at the site where her bisected body was found in Leimert Park and with a little known suspect who lived nearby.”
SKH Note- This is an example of “perpetuating the myth.” The fact is fourteen (14) reliable witnesses saw the victim, Elizabeth Short during all six days of her so-called “Missing Week” and eight of them personally knew the victim, and could not have been mistaken. Elizabeth’s last sighting was in DTLA exiting a bar on the eve of her murder, January 14, 1947, with “two males and a female” as officially reported by LAPD footbeat officer, Meryl McBride in 1947, “who stopped and talked to her to verify she was alright.” (McBride and Short had had prior contact a few hours earlier on January 14th.) Officer McBride’s ID of the victim was reconfirmed by her in a personal interview with me in 2001. McBride informed me” The reason LAPD changed my ID back then to “possibly the victim” was because they felt it would look bad that I let her go. But, I was never in doubt it was Miss Short.”
As reported the four-hour “Black Dahlia” Bus Tour costs $85.00 and transports 56 passengers =$4,760.00 less the cost of the bus rental and driver. To be clear, my reaction has nothing to do with Esotouric’s business and their “making money” but has everything to do with their continuing to perpetuate the myth and providing the public with misinformation.
THE TRUTH OF IT
A few days ago, by chance, I came across some Facebook postings suggesting that the owners of Esotouric Tours should contact me as in their opinion, after reading my books and investigation, they believed I had solved the case.
Here is my verbatim response to those readers’ comments:
“They (Esotouric Tours) are not interested in my investigation. Long ago they put all their eggs in another basket. They are not interested in the truth of it, rather just making money off trying to keep the legendary myths alive.”
Ms. Kim Cooper, the owner of Esotouric Tours responded to my response to the readers as follows:
“Gosh, Steve it’s rather rude for you to come to our thread in a group we manage and defame the ethical, victim-centered work that we have done for the past 19 years to keep the memory of Beth Short alive …in Los Angeles—a city we are devoted to, and where you don’t even live.”
Not realizing that the FB thread I was responding to was managed by Esotouric I then wrote a public apology for writing it on their thread. The apology was for inadvertently commenting on their personal FB page, and not for the response to the readers suggesting I inform Esotouric of my investigation.
Normally, I don’t get involved in “pissing contests” with “theorists” and basically ignore their attacks on my investigations as presented in my nine published books, which are really just one ongoing progress report. Often these ‘attacks’ are simply a presentation of someone’s theory and not based on having read my books and the facts discovered by diligent investigation.
As far as Kim Cooper and her “Black Dahlia” Esotouric Bus Tour which she promotes and conducts “four times a year” I stand by my comment and belief that she not only is perpetuating the myth that the Black Dahlia Murder will never be solved and follows that up with informing passengers that the most compelling theory out there and most likely suspect is Dr. Walter Bayley, who she readily defames since he is long dead.
I’ll let Ms. Cooper’s public printed words speak for themselves in this regard.
Here are some excerpts from “The Black Dahlia of Leimert Park” written by Kim Cooper on October 31, 2013:
“But we’re still left with the problem of Leimert Park, and the real Beth Short’s incongruous presence on this suburban avenue, miles from her real-life haunts. How satisfying then to find L.A. historian Larry Harnisch’s theory implicating Walter Alonzo Bayley, a mentally unstable surgeon who owned a home a block south of the body dump site on Norton Avenue, whose daughter Barbara served as the witness at the wedding of Beth’s sister Virginia, and who at the time of Beth’s murder was enmeshed in a complicated extramarital affair with an Austrian physician who would, after Dr. Bayley’s 1948 death, threaten his widow with the exposure of terrible secrets.”
“Although the case is open, and the LAPD still regularly reviews the evidence, we will almost certainly never know who killed Beth Short. The trail is cold and all the players dead. But four times each year, when we gather up our passengers and leave the little patch of grass that grows now where once were weeds and a terrible flower, and I tell the story of Dr. Bayley’s life on Norton Avenue, his traumas and his mysteries, the bus becomes very quiet, and filled with a frightening and very convincing vision of brutality and horror.
I could care less what the Kim Cooper’s of the world individually think or don’t think about my investigation.
What I do care about is the fact that they fill a busload with L.A. locals and tourists and then inform them that “we will almost certainly never know who killed Beth Short” and then take them to the body dump site and compound that by suggesting that the most compelling theory, has been presented by a personal acquaintance and retired copy-editor –that the killer was a local physician, Dr. Walter Bayley, “a mentally unstable surgeon who lived nearby.”
Then Ms. Cooper ends her article with, “…I tell the story of Dr. Bayley’s life on Norton Avenue, his traumas and his mysteries, the bus becomes very quiet, and filled with a frightening and very convincing vision of brutality and horror.”
And so it goes. Busload after busload of passengers four times a year go away from the tour believing 1) the Black Dahlia Murder will never be solved and 2) the most compelling killer was Dr. Walter Bayley, who lived a block away on South Norton.
And Ms. Cooper in her response to me has the audacity to claim:
“We (Esotouric Bus Tours) don’t focus on any theories of who might have killed Beth Short.”
She then concludes with:
“…while Esotouric is a business, we don’t do this for the money.”
I will conclude with three additional fact-checks.
Walter Bayley’s name never came up in any official police report or investigation. His name only surfaced in a 1997 article written by the copyeditor for the 50th Anniversary of the Elizabeth Short “Black Dahlia” murder. There is no evidence that Dr. Bayley was ever “mentally unstable” and to believe the copyeditor’s “theory” one would have to believe that Elizabeth Short’s murder was a standalone, and not related to the Jeanne French murder three weeks later, which defies all logic and goes against the findings and investigation by LAPD and the LADA’s office. Further, the fact that Dr. Bayley’s daughter was a witness at the victim’s sister’s wedding years before the crime is no indication she knew or was a friend of the sister–Virginia. It is meaningless and without merit. (The witness to my marriage (husband of the Justice of the Peace in Twin Falls, Idaho) to my first wife Kiyo was and remains totally unknown to me. But, his signature remains on the license for all to see.) There has never been any indication that Dr. Bayley’s daughter ever knew or met, Elizbeth Short in life.
2. In Kim Cooper’s blog of 2017, she writes:
“LLOYD WRIGHT’S SOWDEN HOUSE, 1920S HOLLYWOOD LANDMARK & BLACK DAHLIA SUSPECT’S LAIR-
“Now when we offer our Real Black Dahlia tour, as we will again on, October 7, we’ll be able to direct interested parties to virtually explore the house where George Hodel danced a delicate duet with the cops he knew were bugging him. Maybe they’ll spot a clue, or one of the pussycats who are getting settled in to their new home. Certainly, they’ll be ensorcelled by this marvelous place!”
The fact is Dr. George Hodel had no clue he was being bugged by the LADA and LAPD who had secretly entered the residence and planted microphones in the walls. Dr. Hodel only suspected the phones might be tapped and he goes on to tell a caller to wait and he will call from an outside telephone. He then goes on to make multiple admissions to murders, payoffs to police and to performing illegal abortions with no knowledge that 120 pages and five weeks of 24/7 recordings have been obtained.
3. As to Ms. Cooper’s comment she is “an advocate for the preservation of historic places that evoke civic memory in Los Angeles—a city we are devoted to, and where you don’t even live.”
For the Record:
I was born in Los Angeles at Queen of Angels Hospital, midway between Hollywood and DTLA.
As an infant and through years 1-4 I lived in the Echo Park District.
Ages 5-10 I lived in the historic Sowden/Franklin House at 5121 Franklin Avenue, in Hollywood.
At ages 10-17 we moved around during “The Gypsy Years” but with the exception of a short time in Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs we lived in Pasadena, Santa Monica, Glendale and Van Nuys. I attended three high schools in Los Angeles: Santa Monica HS, Glendale HS, and Van Nuys HS.
At age 17, I joined the Navy and served four years.
At age 21, I was discharged, married, bought a home in Laurel Canyon (a mountain area in Hollywood), and joined the LAPD.
For the next 23 years, I worked for the Department and served in WLA, Wilshire (division just south of Hollywood), and Van Nuys Patrol. I returned and worked in Hollywood for the next 17 years and investigated over 300 Hollywood Division murders.
At age 45 I retired from LAPD obtained my P.I. license and became a defense investigator for local Los Angeles criminal attorneys for three years.
At age 48, in 1989 I moved my wife and our two sons to Washington State where I served as a defense investigator for the Public Defender’s Office as well as working as a P.I. for private attorneys until my father’s death in 1999.
At age 59, I returned to California in 2000 and resided in Hollywood, then Studio Cityand for the next twenty-one years (ages 60-81) I investigated my father’s serial crimes and wrote and published eight books on those investigations.)
Last year at age 81, I moved to Birch Bay, WA to be close to my sons and grandchildren.
I am an ANGELENO through-and-through—born and raised in that city and have devoted my life to solving its crimes and advocating for its victims.
Happy to compare those personal “Los Angeles city devotions” to those of Ms. Cooper or any other individual who wants to claim it’s a “city where you don’t even live.”
In closing, let’s not forget what Stephen Kay, then active L.A. County Head Deputy District Attorney said in 2004 of my investigation, my case against Dr. George Hill Hodel… and I quote:
“The most haunting murder mystery in Los Angeles County during the 20th Century has finally been solved in the 21st Century. I have no doubt in my mind that George Hodel murdered Elizabeth Short and Jeanne French. And were he alive today, and were the witnesses alive, I would have no problem in filing two counts of murder, against Dr. Hodel and, I believe if I took this case in front of a jury, that I would convict him.”
Update November 19, 2023