© Larry Harnisch 1999

A Scenario for Murder

We may never know exactly how Betty Short was murdered. The probability is extremely high that Walter was the killer, but there is no signed confession. Still, it is impossible to ignore the concrete fact that there was a connection between the Bayley and Short families; that Walter's daughter knew Betty's sister and brother-in-law; that Betty's murder showed "medical finesse" and that Walter Bayley was a expert surgeon who fits many traits listed in a profile of a hypothetical killer.

What is known is that Betty was broke when she arrived Jan. 9, 1947, at the Biltmore Hotel with Red Manley. It was late. She had nowhere to stay and little money for food. It isn't hard to imagine that under those circumstances, she would reach out for help to a friend of the family, a doctor and a member of her brother-in-law's church. There is certainly the possibility that she had contacted Walter Bayley at any time during her six months in Los Angeles. Walter could have been accommodating and his office was only a few blocks away; an easy walk. They spent a few days together. Then something went wrong. Perhaps there was, as John Douglas suggests, a "seduction in progress" and she rejected him, as she had so many other men. Only this time, with the combination of financial and emotional stress, plus Walter's declining mental faculties, all fueled with alcohol and anger at his wife, who was living at 3959 S. Norton Ave., he exploded in a murderous rage. He had found a way to put the fear of God into the neighborhood.

Afterward he would be certain that no one would ever connect him to the killing because the link between his daughter and Betty's sister was so obscure. He was enjoying the publicity and even mailed some of Betty's things to the Examiner just to keep the publicity rolling.

But somehow Alexandra, his partner and lover, began to suspect him. Now he was afraid that she would reveal him as the killer. Alexandra kept him safe and hidden from the family. In early January, not quite a year after the killing, Walter died at the VA Hospital. The death certificate lists the cause as pneumonia.

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