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Beating Victim Identified

November 11, 2009 |  8:00 am

 Nov. 11, 1959, Times Cover

A Senate subcommittee hears testimony about drug traffic from Mexico.

Nov. 11, 1959, Desert Slaying

Nov. 11, 1959, Reading
Reading may become a lost art!
Nov. 11, 1959: Here’s a name that may sound familiar to people who follow the Black Dahlia case: Lillian Lenorak. You may recall that Mary Unkefer, a jail matron from Santa Barbara who befriended Elizabeth Short in 1943,  wrote a letter to the district attorney’s office in 1950 about transporting Lenorak from the home of Dr. George Hodel to the psychiatric ward at Santa Barbara General Hospital. Unkefer’s letter is one of the most disturbing items in the district attorney’s files on the Black Dahlia case.

I would caution that accounts of Lenorak’s death describe her as extremely volatile and mentally unstable, with a history of stormy romances. Reports of her death say that she was threatening to jump out of a moving car during an argument with Frank Back over why he wouldn’t give her a key to his house. Keep in mind as you read these letters that this lady is not a typical, well-grounded, middle-class suburban housewife but a chronic patient of mental hospitals and adjust your skepticism accordingly.    

Jan. 30, 1950, Mary Unkefer
Note: The above page was too long for my scanner so I had to scan it in two pieces and paste it together 

Jan. 30, 1950, Mary Unkefer   To be sure, this is a vivid account. The question anyone should have is to what degree it's reliable.

Feb 24, 1950, Bentley Sgt. Bill Bentley also wrote a letter to district attorney's investigator Walter Sullivan about Lenorak.

Feb. 24, 1950, Bentley
Bentley's version isn't nearly as dramatic but perhaps more reliable.