Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Black Dahlia

"Camp Cutie"

From the beginning, Short's newfound relationship with her father was fraught with strife. She hadn't seen him for years. He was haunted by the regret. They were strangers living the same house, with clashing ideas of how things should be. Cleo Short expected his teenage daughter to serve him as a maid of sorts, cooking and keeping house. But Short was a free spirit who wanted nothing to do with domesticity.

A photo that claims to be of a younger Elizabeth Short
A photo that claims to be of a younger
Elizabeth Short

She found a job in the mail room at Camp Cooke (now Vandenberg Air Force Base) in Lompoc, two and half hours north of Los Angeles.

At Camp Cooke, Short was surrounded by entire regiments of lonely soldiers on the verge of being sent to war. She left a trail of erotic longing in her wake wherever she walked. The young men clamored for her attention, voted her "camp cutie," and told her she was movie star quality.

Her idyll came to an end a few months later, however, when she was arrested at a Santa Barbara bar for underage drinking, and shipped home to Medford.


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