Walter Alonzo Bayley

© Larry Harnisch 2003

This was the shocking discovery, and I sat there for a moment at the microfilm reader contemplating what I had found: Barbara Lindgren was not only a link between the Short family and the neighborhood on South Norton Avenue, now she was also a link between the Short family and a prominent Los Angeles surgeon, a person who would have exactly the kind of skill displayed in the slaying of Elizabeth Short. It was her father: Dr. Walter Alonzo Bayley.

Los Angeles Times

It turned out that Walter Bayley was very much like the profile given by John Douglas: He was desensitized to blood, was comfortable with a knife and although he had a medical degree, he did work with his hands rather than his brains. He also had a strong but troubled link to the immediate vicinity of the crime scene.

In the mid-1940s, Walter was a prominent member of Los Angeles' medical community. He had been chief of staff at Los Angeles County Hospital, and was associate professor of surgery at the University of Southern California. He also maintained an active private practice at the Professional Building, 1052 W. 6th St., only five blocks from the Biltmore Hotel. He and his wife, Ruth, had recently bought a home at 3959 S. Norton Ave., just a block from where Betty's body was found.

However his life had begun to unravel in the last few years. By 1946, he was no longer chief of staff at County Hospital or associate professor of surgery at USC. Because he was no longer in these positions, there was new financial stress because he was earning less money. But what had really changed his life was a younger woman, Dr. Alexandra von Partyka.

Alexandra was a graduate of the University of Vienna who had come to Los Angeles as a war refugee and worked as a nurse while she took classes to earn her California medical license. Walter had befriended her, at first as an older, established doctor, but later a romantic relationship blossomed and he took Alexandra in as a partner in his practice. In October 1946, Walter walked out on his family and filed for a divorce. Walter also disinherited his wife, who had remained at the house on South Norton Avenue, and their other daughter, Beatrice.

But there was still another component to Walter's crumbling life and that had to do with his health. He began to display the early signs of Alzheimer's disease, and his 1948 death certificate lists a condition known as encephalomalacia, which involves shrinkage of the brain, which would have caused a mental impairment.

Warning, this is a large image

Walter Bayley's Death Certificate

And just as Douglas predicted, Walter showed an extreme change in behavior after the crime.

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