Unsolved U.S. Crimes: Black Dahlia Murder and Jimmy Hoffa Disappearance

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Who killed the Black Dahlia? Where is Jimmy Hoffa’s body? Who was the Zodiac Killer? These questions are to this day without any definitive answers.

In the annals of U.S. crime history buried underneath decades-old police reports there are three infamous cases, which detectives have not been able to solve. These investigations stopped a long time ago and have since gone cold. The mysterious death of the Black Dahlia, also known as Elizabeth Short, the sudden vanishing of Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa and the Zodiac murders in California are three such cases, all of which have gone unpunished. This article takes a closer look at these unsolved crimes.

Los Angeles, California – January 15, 1947

Near a vacant parking lot on South Norton Avenue between 39th Street and Coliseum laid a woman’s body, which had been completely severed in half and drained of blood. The detectives who were called to the crime scene had the unenviable task of going right back to the beginning to try and find out who she was and what could have motivated somebody to commit such a violent murder. As it turned out, her name was Elizabeth Short and she arrived in Los Angeles in 1946 looking for her big break in the movie business.

The two detectives assigned to the case, Harry Hansen and Finis Brown, went to work immediately and sent her fingerprints to Washington, D.C. and after a few days it was confirmed that it was indeed Short’s body. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Report stated that most of the damage to her body was post-mortem, but that was of little comfort to the team of investigators. Shortly after her remains were discovered, some of Short’s personal belongings were anonymously sent to the Los Angeles Examiner. Her social security card and birth certificate were found, along with an address book with missing pages.

This led the police to believe Short and her killer knew each other. It was reported that Short had relationships with several men, so it was impossible to figure out exactly who she was with before her death. Nobody has been charged with her murder and despite all the speculation about the identity of the killer, the case remains open.

Near Detroit, Michigan – July 30, 1975

Although it’s never been confirmed that Jimmy Hoffa was killed by the mob, it’s safe to assume he’ll never be seen again. As far as the FBI knew, the last time he was seen alive was outside the Machus Red Fox restaurant. On this Wednesday afternoon Hoffa was waiting for two men and they were late. One of the two individuals in question was a member of the Genovese crime family, Anthony ‘Tony Pro’ Provenzano. Hoffa wanted to regain his position as head of the Teamsters Union after his release from prison. The mafia had other ideas.

Hoffa was last seen by a truck driver in the back seat of a 1975 Mercury Marquis Brougham at 2:45 p.m. that afternoon. The overall assumption is that he was murdered, but nobody can say where his body is buried, or even if it’s buried at all. In the decades since he vanished all of the suspects have either died or gone to prison on other charges. Jimmy Hoffa was declared dead in 1982 and the case remains open.

Riverside, California – October 30, 1966

Residents living in and around San Francisco who are old enough can probably still recall these seemingly random murders, which reached the Bay area in 1969. The first documented victim however was an 18 year-old woman named Cheri Jo Bates, whose body was found beside Riverside City College near Los Angeles three years earlier. Police ruled out robbery as a motive since her purse hadn’t been stolen. Shortly afterwards the case took a bizarre turn. An anonymous letter was sent to the police with the title, ‘The Confession.’

In 1969 this unknown killer surfaced again when he shot a taxi driver in San Francisco and from that time onward, the Zodiac killer continued to send letters to the police claiming responsibility for a series of attacks in that city. Most of those letters have long since disappeared, having been passed through the hands of innumerable detectives and police officials. DNA testing on the remaining envelopes has given the California authorities new leads on the case, but nobody has been formally charged with the Zodiac murders. The case remains open.