Sunday, August 5, 2012

Our Own Black Dahlia: Murder Mystery

On a quiet, secluded hill in Los Angeles; far from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood and Malibu, Betty Bersinger and her three-year-old daughter, were strolling up the avenue, as they usually would anyway. But this morning would be different- Betty couldn't bring herself to believe it, and quickly covered her daughters eyes, after what she initially thought was a tossed-out mannequin, turned out to be the body of a young and attractive female; later identified as, Elizabeth Short (22), who had come from Boston, Massachusetts, to Los Angeles, California- hoping to pursue a career, in the fresh glitz and glamour of the Hollywood, movie scene. Her lower body had been cut from her upper body, and she was neatly placed, in a certain pose, with wires, and "clown-like" smile cut across her face; making her mouth stay open, and only partially sewn together, with the thick wire. Also, Smart's body had been drained of blood; possibly to hide all DNA evidence, as police suggested, claiming also that, she had been murdered elsewhere (possibly inside a house) before her body was dumped, on the quiet street.

Elizabeth Short - the Black Dahlia
Young and Attractive; Elizabeth went to LA, searching for fame, but wound up slain, instead.

There was no indication as to who would want to kill this beautiful girl, and soon as news of the grisly murder, reached the media; the story blew out of proportion, and catapulted into a phenomena- which would see the release of several movies, books, and even television series. Who knew, Ms. Smart would achieve fame, so uncannily; posthumous? To this day, investigators are perplexed by the mystery, and though many suspects had initially been brought in, for questioning, none were incarcerated, due to lack of evidence.

Black Dahlias (Elizabeth Short) body, covered
Body of the, Black Dahlia; as she was later called, following the  fad around the murder.

In Johannesburg, South Africa, on the 16 August 1949; a young girl, drawn toward the metro-infused glamour and glitz of Joburg, dining and socialising with the upper-class cohort of the then, divided country, was found murdered, in a field in the Johannesburg suburb, Birdhaven.

Pictured: Bubbles Shroeder in her prime

Her murder quickly emerged at the core of realistic narrative; cementing her death in the minds of those who were around then, for a very long time. Later, two men who had reportedly been seen with the girl, later identified as the voluptuous and dreamy, Jennifer De Klerk (18), known simply as, Bubbles, were charged, but then later acquitted, since the case rested, predominantly on circumstantial evidence. 

This week at Gallery AOP, at 44 Stanley; artist, Kathryn Smith, has set up an incident room, with images, videos and documents, etc; featuring years of research and facts, compiled and exhibited, to reconstruct that gloomy day, back in 1949, when Bubbles' body was first discovered.

Book: Bubbles, by Rahla Xenopoulos

In the midst of the 44 Stanley exhibition, taking place this week; a new book, titled "Bubbles" by writer, Rahla Xenoupolus, offers a creatively inspired, fictional tale- told alongside the facts, in a near-charming, sultry, and first-person account, with the dark lingering in the undertone of the narrative. 

Bubbles by Rahla Xenopoulus is published by Penguin and can be purchased at any good book store out there.

Incident Room, an exhibition by Kathryn Smith
at 44 Stanley, Johannesburg (close to the SABC and Melville)
Times: 14h00- 17h00; daily, to discuss the case

Personal Note:

I don't know, but I see so many similarities between these two cases; the themes of escapism, and the notion of beauty and fame, having devastating consequences, are present in both cases. Elizabeth Short, like, Bubbles Shroeder, were both attractive, aspirant, young and socialite-cum-celebutante silhouettes, who even while still alive, left a lot of mystery in their wake. Posthumously, however, both were achieved grander heights of fame, with staggering amounts of news coverage, adoption and adaptation from creative geniuses, all over, scratching their heads, in anticipation of a case, such as the Black Dahlia Murders. 

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