The dark history of the Black Dahlia case has long been one of America's great unsolved mystery. The brutal January 1947 murder of a young woman named Elizabeth Short has captured the imagination of those with an interest in crime and unsolved murders. A number of books and countless articles have been written about the case and so it's no surprise that the horrific crime has managed to spawn a ghost story to go along with the dozens of theories, tales and suspects in the case.

The lobby of Hollywood’s Biltmore Hotel is crowded on a warm and sunny afternoon in early spring. A man crosses the room and taps on the call key for an elevator. As the door opens, he steps inside and presses the number 8 button for his floor. He glances down as he does so and he sees that the number 6 is already illuminated. With a quick glance to his left, he realizes that he is not in the elevator alone. A dark-haired young woman stands in the corner and as he looks at her, she offers a faint smile.

The man smiles back and then looks up as the numerals above the door light up with the passage of each floor. He glances at the reflection of the woman in the polished steel of the doors. Even in this blurred view, she is stunning. Her dark, nearly black hair is swept back and up in the style of the 1940’s, although it is very becoming on her. Her skin is pale, perhaps looking even more so against the jet black of her dress. The shiny material clings to her every curve and the man can almost hear it shimmer in the close confines of the elevator. Other than the soft rustle of her dress though, she makes no sound.

Finally, the elevator reaches the sixth floor and with a soft chime, the doors slide open. The man steps aside to let her pass and notices that she is not moving. She continues to stand in the corner, seemingly unaware that the lift has reached her floor. "This is the sixth floor," the man finally says and this  seems to startle the girl into awareness.

She steps forward and moves past him off the elevator. As she does, the man trembles unconsciously. A wave of chilled, ice cold air seems to brush past him as the girl departs. Gooseflesh appears on his arms as he watches the shapely young woman walk past the doors.

Then, just as she steps out onto the sixth floor, she turns back to look at the man inside of the elevator. She does not speak, but there is no mistaking the look of urgency in her eyes. She is begging him for help, the man realizes, but it’s almost too late. The elevator doors have started to close, cutting off the young woman as she tries to re-enter the elevator. The man frantically pushes the button that will open the door again and just before they close completely, they slowly start to slide open again.

But the girl in black is gone!

"What the....?" the man mumbles and he leans out into the lobby of the sixth floor. He looks quickly in both directions, but the small foyer and the hallways in either direction are empty and deserted. Where could she have gone so quickly? He calls out, but his voice echoes in the stillness of the corridor. The young woman had vanished, as if she had never existed at all.

Two days later, the man is browsing in a local bookshop and happens to pick up a book about true, unsolved mysteries. As he flips through it, he is startled by a face that he recognizes -- it’s the girl from the elevator! He looks at the photograph and is convinced that it is the same young woman in black. Then, he realizes such a thing is impossible! Scanning through the text, he sees that the girl died years before! How could she have been at the Biltmore Hotel just two days ago?

How indeed? Could this young woman, who the man discovers was killed in 1947, still be lingering at the last place that she was seen alive? Is she still looking for help --from the other side?

The face he, and many others just like him, recognized once belonged to a beautiful, young woman named Elizabeth Short. In death, she would come to be known by a more colorful nickname, the Black Dahlia. Her tragic murder would forever leave a mark on Tinseltown. She came here in a search for stardom and only found it in death, becoming lost in the netherworld that is the dark side of Hollywood.

To this day, her murder has never been solved.  Perhaps this is why her ghost still walks at the Biltmore Hotel and her specter still looms over the shadowy streets of Hollywood. Even today, an occasional man who stays at the Biltmore encounters the spectral image of a woman in a black dress, sometimes in the lobby, waiting in the corridors or even riding to the sixth floor on the elevator. What is she trying to tell us? Are there still clues to the identity of her killer that have never been found?

Or does the Black Dahlia simply wish to continue the mystery that was created more that a half-century ago? For tragically, she had found the fame in death that she never achieved in life.

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© Copyright 2004 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.