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She told friends that he had written to propose marriage while he was recovering from injuries from a plane crash in India.
Short spent the last six months of her life in Southern California, mostly in the Los Angeles area; shortly before her death, she had been working as a waitress, and rented a room behind the Florentine Gardens nightclub on Hollywood Boulevard. On January 9, 1947, Short returned to her home in Los Angeles after a brief trip to San Diego with Robert "Red" Manley, a 25-year-old married salesman she had been dating.
Manley stated he dropped Short off at the Biltmore Hotel located at 506 South Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, and that Short was to meet her sister, who was visiting from Boston, that afternoon.
On the morning of January 15, 1947, Short's naked body was found severed in two pieces on a vacant lot on the west side of South Norton Avenue, midway between Coliseum Street and West 39th Street (at Medical examiners determined that she had been dead for around ten hours prior to the discovery, leaving her time of death either sometime during the evening of January 14, or the early morning hours of January 15.
Despite the efforts to clean the packet, several partial fingerprints were lifted from the envelope and sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for testing; however, the prints were compromised in transit and were thus unable to be properly analyzed.
The same day the packet was received by the Examiner, a handbag and a black suede shoe were reported to have been seen on top of a garbage can in an alley a short distance from Norton Avenue, 2 miles (3.2 km) from where Short's body had been discovered.
That was yet another ploy since the newspaper kept her away from police and other reporters to protect its scoop.
Newbarr's report noted "very little" ecchymosis (bruising) along the incision line, meaning it had been performed after death.
The skull was not fractured, but there was noted bruising on the front and right side of her scalp, with a small amount of bleeding in the subarachnoid space on the right side, consistent with blows to the head.
Prior to the autopsy, police had quickly been able to identify the victim as Short after sending copies of her fingerprints to Washington, D. via Soundphoto, a primitive fax machine of the era; the prints matched those given by Short during her 1943 arrest.
Immediately following Short's identification, reporters from William Randolph Hearst's Los Angeles Examiner contacted her mother, Phoebe Short, in Boston, and told her that her daughter had won a beauty contest.