Suspects : George Orson Welles
George Orson Welles
Suspect of Mary Pacios
Suspect's age at time of murder: 32
Occupation: Radio/film actor, director, writer, set designer, artist.
Whereabouts at time of murder: In Los Angeles filming The Lady From Shanghai at Columbia Studios. VERIFICATION
Physical and mental condition: 6'2" tall, 195 pounds. Rejected by army because of flat feet. Known alcohol and drug abuser—Benzedrine, Dexedrine, proloids and cocaine. Brief hospitalizations at sanitariums for "nervous breakdowns."
History of violence: Violent incidents extend to childhood when he cut his nanny's dress to shreds with a scissors. While portraying Brutus in the play Julius Caesar, suspect stabbed the actor playing Caesar with a real knife, penetrating deeply into the chest and severing an artery. (Actor survived but was incapacitated for months.) Suspect has well-documented history of violent rages both off and on the stage and history of "becoming" the role he played. Suspect paid off woman accusing him of rape.
Stress factors at time of murder: Suspect's wife, Rita Hayworth, was divorcing suspect (ending his presidential aspirations), his latest stage production was a flop, IRS and bill collectors were after suspect, and Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Studios, was badgering suspect about the film that was in production. (The film was shut down January 14th, the day of the murder.)
Link to the victim: Fall of 1946 suspect frequented the Florentine Gardens and Brittingham's, a restaurant near Columbia Studios, as did the victim. Waitresses at Brittingham's heard rumors that the victim was going out with someone at Columbia Studios.
Link to the signature and MO of perpetrator: Suspect possessed knowledge of anatomy and had access to medical equipment; suspect's mentor and guardian was Dr. Maurice Bernstein, an orthopedic surgeon. A crazy house set for the film The Lady From Shanghai, that was designed and worked on by suspect three months before the Black Dahlia murder had many of the same signature elements as the Black Dahlia murder—dolls and figures cut in half, mutilations depicted in the same areas as the mutilations that were later inflicted on the victim's body, dismembered mannequin legs hanging down from the ceiling, anatomical murals, and clown heads with wide smiles similar to the smile that was cut into victim's face. The footage containing the set was cut out of the film under direct orders of Harry Cohn. Here are links to some photo details of the set that indicate an obsession with cutting-in-half:
Crazy House Detail 1 of 6
Crazy House Detail 2 of 6
Crazy House Detail 3 of 6
Crazy House Detail 4 of 6
Crazy House Detail 5 of 6
Crazy House Detail 6 of 6
Link to the South Norton Avenue site: The victim's bisected body was posed in a vacant lot close to where the Ringling Bros. Circus had set up their tents in 1939 and 1941. In 1943, Suspect organized "The Mercury Wonder Show" to entertain servicemen. Under a circus tent set up on Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood, suspect performed a magic act nightly—the highlight was cutting a woman in half.
Behavior after the murder: Shooting on film became erratic the days following murder. Filming suspended for a month on January 23, 1947. Suspect applied for his passport on January 24, 1947, the same day the killer called a Los Angeles newspaper and said he was mailing a packet with the "Dahlia's belongings." A few months later suspect inquired about enrolling at a mortuary school. Suspect next directed and played the lead role in Macbeth, Shakespeare's masterpiece about murder and guilt for Republic Pictures. Suspect left for Europe before the editing of Macbeth was completed. Republic, wanting suspect to return to complete editing and dubbing, begged, pleaded, and threatened suspect who stayed away from Hollywood for close to ten years. During suspect's hiatus in Europe, suspect became grossly overweight. Suspect's drug and alcohol abuse and his violent behavior on and off stage continued. His career plummeted.
Additional comments: Suspect delivered the eulogy at the funeral of Darryl Zanuck (who had assisted in suspect's departure to Europe). Suspect ended his tribute by saying: "If I did something really outrageous, that if I committed some abominable crime, which I believe is in most of us to do under the right circumstances, that if I were guilty of something unspeakable, and if all the police in the world were after me, there was one man, and only one man I could come to, and that was Darryl. He would not have made me a speech about the good of the industry, the good of the studio. He would not have been mealy-mouthed or put me aside. He would have hid me under the bed. Very simply he was a friend." Suspect died October 10, 1985 of a heart attack.