Peavey roared with laughter, told the reporters to get fucked, and legged it out of there. Puzzled that their brilliant plan had failed to work, the reporters involved later thought they had identified the problem: They got the murdered guy's accent wrong. It seems to have never crossed their minds that Peavey, an unashamedly homosexual black man living openly in the freaking 1920s, was probably far too tough to be scared by some asshole wearing a blanket.
A Newspaper Told A Murder Victim's Mother That Her Daughter Had Won A Beauty Contest, Then Revealed She Was Actually Dead
The Black Dahlia murder is one of the biggest crime stories in California history, and naturally, the jam-brained insane-o-nauts at The Los Angeles Examiner were all over it. In fact, an Examiner reporter was the first person to reach the crime scene, and closed the corpse's eyes before the police arrived (1947 took a very lax approach to "tampering with a crime scene").
Not wanting to lose their head start, The Examiner cut a deal to let the cops use their wire photo system to send the victim's fingerprints to be identified by the FBI. In return, the LAPD agreed that The Examiner would have the right to announce her name before anyone else. That was already pretty shady, but the LAPD clearly didn't realize the level of sheer blank-eyed evil they were dealing with here.
As soon as the victim was identified as Elizabeth Short, the reporters went to work and tracked down her mother, Phoebe. But The Examiner had a problem. They were desperate to get the first interview with Phoebe Short, but were worried she wouldn't be in the mood to talk much if they told her about her daughter's brutal murder. So instead, they called up and said that they were doing a story on her daughter because she had won a beauty contest. Mrs. Short was delighted and chatted happily about her beautiful daughter's childhood and her love of films. Only at the end of the call did the reporter mention that, oh yeah, she was dead. Welp, bye!
Los Angeles Police Department
We'll give you a moment to rage-vomit.