CAUTION: THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS LINKS TO
CRIME-SCENE PHOTOS YOU MAY WANT TO AVOID
On the morning of January 15, 1947, Betty Bersinger was pushing her three-year-old daughter in a Taylor Tot stroller. Living on Norton Street, in the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, mother and child were on their way to a shoe-repair shop.
Walking past several vacant lots in the vicinity of Norton and 39th Street, Betty saw something near the sidewalk. At first, she thought it was a discarded mannequin which appeared broken in half.
On closer inspection, however, Betty realized she had discovered the grisly remains of a human being so mutilated that the public was not allowed to see actual pictures for years and press photos had to be "doctored."
Before police officers could even begin their investigation, members of the press had trampled on the site. At the time, Los Angeles had five daily newspapers - all competing with each other.
Because of profound facial injuries, the body would be difficult to identify. Perhaps a good set of fingerprints would help?
Meanwhile, as reflected in the FBI file on the case, a sketch artist from the Los Angeles Examiner did the best he could to render a likeness of the victim.
Harry Hansen and Finis Brown were the lead LAPD detectives on what became known as "the Dahlia case." They would soon learn the name of the victim when the FBI matched fingerprints of the body with those of a teenaged girl once arrested, in Santa Barbara, for underage drinking.