Los Feliz Murder Mystery…


On a Los Feliz hill, murder — then mystery


Los Feliz murder house

 Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
The hilltop Los Feliz mansion where Dr. Harold Perelson killed his wife and then himself in 1959. It has sat vacant ever since.


Inside a mansion, it’s as if time stopped in 1959 when a doctor killed his wife and then himself. Gifts still sit, unopened. Why?


By Bob Pool
Los Angeles Times
February 6, 2009


It’s a murder mystery that has puzzled a Los Feliz neighborhood since 1959.


The criminal-case part was solved quickly enough. Homicide investigators found that Dr. Harold Perelson bludgeoned his wife to death with a ball-peen hammer, savagely beat their 18-year-old daughter and then fatally poisoned himself by gulping a glass of acid.    (Click on ‘Continue Reading’ for more)



Authorities removed two other children from the sprawling hillside estate that overlooks downtown Los Angeles, locked the front door to the 5,050-square-foot mansion, and left.


Fifty years later, the Glendower Place home remains empty.


The estate’s terraced grounds are pockmarked by gopher holes and overgrown with grass that sprouted after recent rains — growth that neighbors know will turn brown when summer returns. A pond is partly filled with rainwater. Weeds poke through cracks in a curving asphalt driveway.


On the outside, the mansion itself appears to be slowly decaying.


Through grimy, cracked windows, one can see dust-covered furniture, including a 1950s-style television set, seemingly frozen in time. What appear to be gaily wrapped Christmas gifts sit on a table.


And in the hills near the Greek Theatre, the questions linger:


Why has the current owner kept the home as it was on Dec. 6, 1959? Will another family ever again bring life to the estate once described in a sales ad as “beautiful” and “delightful”?


Built in 1925, the three-story Spanish revival-style home has a basement that boasts a maid’s quarters. The first floor features an entrance hall flanked by a glassed-in conservatory and large living room. Toward the back is a den, a dining room and the kitchen.


Four master-bedroom-size sleeping chambers are on the second floor. A bar-equipped ballroom measuring 20 feet by 36 feet is on the third level.


Real estate experts have suggested that the mansion, with its spectacular view of the Los Angeles Basin and the Palos Verdes Peninsula, could fetch as much as $2.9 million if sold.


“No one has lived there since the murders,” said Dr. Cheri Lewis, who grew up across the street from the mansion and still lives in the neighborhood.


Lewis vividly remembers the predawn morning when Perelson, 50, killed his 42-year-old wife, Lillian, and severely beat his teenage daughter.


When two younger children were awakened by the victims’ screams, Perelson told them they were simply having a bad dream, his youngest daughter told police. “Go back to bed. This is a nightmare,” he told 11-year-old Debbie. She and her 13-year-old brother, Joel, escaped injury.


Eighteen-year-old Judye Perelson ran from the mansion and staggered to a neighbor’s house. She was treated at Central Receiving Hospital and then taken to General Hospital with a possible skull fracture, The Times would report the next day.


“Judye came to our door. I remember having my hand in her blood,” recalls Lewis, now a Beverly Hills dentist.


“I used to baby-sit the children there. I was supposed to spend the next night there, in fact.”


Police found Perelson lying dead on the floor next to his wife’s blood-soaked bed. He was still clutching the hammer. On a nightstand next to his bed, investigators found an open copy of Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” which was opened to Canto 1.


“Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost . . . ,” read the passage.


Detectives speculated that Perelson, a physician affiliated with an Inglewood medical clinic, was distressed by financial difficulties.


In Judye Perelson’s sports car, police found a note written to an aunt that told of the family being “on the merry-go-round again, same problems, same worries, only tenfold. My parents, so to speak, are in a bind financially.” The teenager spoke of getting a job to help the family out.


After the rampage, relatives took the younger Perelson children to the East Coast, Lewis said. The current whereabouts of the three are unknown.


The story of the murder-suicide and the locked-up mansion has been told and retold ever since, each time a newcomer moves into the neighborhood or when visitors come upon it.


House painter Steve Kalupski was puzzled one summer day eight years ago when he glanced over at the mansion from a neighboring dwelling where he was working. Through a grimy window, he said he could see gifts piled next to what in the dimness appeared to be a Christmas tree.


“I asked the owner of the home where we were working why it was there, and she told me the story,” said Kalupski, a Hollywood resident who now is an ad agency producer.


His friends didn’t believe him when he told them what he’d seen. So he began a ritual of driving them to the Los Feliz hillside to show them the abandoned mansion. He took Hollywood Internet entrepreneur Babette Papaj there two months ago. “It was dark and scary. I was afraid to get out of the car,” she said.


Neighboring Glendower Place resident Sheree Waterson said a friend of hers tried one night to check out the mansion in what she describes as “a Nancy Drew moment.”


The woman pushed open a rear door and walked in, but she didn’t get far before a burglar alarm went off. She turned around and left, joking later about “ghosts” when she returned to Waterson’s home. Soon, her hand was throbbing painfully.


“She’d been bitten by a black widow. There was a red vein going up her arm. She had to go to the doctor,” said Waterson, a clothing company executive.


“Two nights later the alarm kept going off at my house on my back door. But there was no one there. It was like the ghost was following us.”


A year after the murders, in 1960, the mansion was sold in a probate action to a Lincoln Heights couple, Emily and Julian Enriquez. Neighbors remember that the pair visited the house and brought property there to store but didn’t move in.


In time, the place gradually fell into disrepair. Antique light fixtures dating from the 1920s disappeared from the outside.


Over the years, neighbors say they have helped maintain the property by painting a street-side garage and tidying up the frontyard. They placed a chain across a driveway that leads to the rear of the mansion, giving each nearby resident a key to its lock.


Several years ago the city required current owner Rudy Enriquez to replace stucco that had peeled from the sides of the house and front walkway walls and to repaint the place, neighbors say.


“We had major problems.,” explained Jude Margolis, a former neighborhood resident who now lives in Hancock Park.


“Hookers were coming in. Everybody was bringing guests up there. One night I was sitting outside and I noticed that people were over there having a picnic in the backyard,” said Margolis, an artist. (The burglar alarm was installed after that.)


Enriquez inherited the mansion when his mother died in 1994. Since then, he has been approached many times by potential buyers but has steadfastly refused to sell. He tells everyone he hasn’t decided what he wants to do with the property.


“I asked him why not lease it, at least. You can’t have a house sit empty for 50 years and not expect it to fall apart. It’s a tear-down now. It’s a shame,” Margolis said.


Enriquez never invited her into the mansion when he visited it. Another neighbor, Steven Hurley, has never been inside, either.


“There are all kinds of stories about the house. Rudy’s a very nice man. He’s just not interested in doing anything with that house. He’s never going to sell it,” said Hurley, a lighting company sales manager.


Enriquez, a 77-year-old retired music store manager who lives in the Mount Washington area, said he remains uncertain about his plans. “I don’t know that I want to live there or even stay here,” he said. He might relocate to Hawaii or Arizona, he added.


But it has nothing to do with the mansion’s violent past.


“I’ve never looked at it as being haunted,” he said. “For a time I had two cats inside there and I had to go often to feed them. I still go there often — I was there last night, in fact. I think now I’ll be going more often.


“The only spooky thing there is me. Tell people to say their prayers every morning and evening and they’ll be OK.”



Times researcher Robin Mayper contributed to this story.



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22 Responses to “Los Feliz Murder Mystery…”

  1. Landman says:

    Allan, you have posted still another gem on your blog. This is one of the most interesting stories I have read in a long time. There needs to be places like this in town to make life exciting. I don’t want to see the house torn down, yet I think it is a good mystery to keep it just the way it is. God bless the current owner for keeping this “talk of the neighborhood” going. Thanks Allan again for having the best blog on line!!!!

  2. carol says:

    i dont know why , but this story got to me enough to take a drive to go see the place . oh , please leave it stand to remain the sad and lonely mystery it is. it felt as if no one should ever live there again .

  3. Derek says:

    Yesterday a friend of mine and I drove up there. Walked around and looked in the windows. The house was actually not in that bad of condition. I think it should be restored. The grounds and view is spectacular. The architecture of the home is gorgeous. I can’t believe the Enriquez’s and their son are so looney they would let this place sit unoocupied for 50 years. WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY and a gorgeous house. I guess we will have to wait until their son kicks the bucket for anything worthwhile to come of this place.

  4. James Alonso says:

    Hello, was there a book written about this interesting case? I would greatly appreciate it you can inform me if there is a book about this case and the title and author.

    Thank You,


    James Alonso
    A.– I’m not sure but hopefully someone will let us know. Thanks. Allan

  5. Mike says:

    I went there yesterday. It’s a tear down. Termites, roof leaks and has ruined the interior and they say it’s no longer safe to live in. Creepy inside. White carpet is rotten. I’d love to take a tour at night of this place. I think I’m as confused by the new owners behavior as that of the Dr. They’ve paid prop tax on this expensive house since Eisenhower was president. I wonder if the Dr’s children know it’s still vacant.

  6. MaRcus says:

    I was over there today It was very Sunset Blvd, I was waiting for Norma Desmond to walk out with her dead monkey.. “LOL!” But like Mike said it’s such a waste that the new owner is just letting it waste away.. ” I just don’t get it?!”


  7. Dean says:

    I’m 52 years old,have lived in LA all my life yet never knew anything about this until I watched a piece on the news today. Kind of reminds me of the Spanish Kitchen Restaurant mystery on Melrose Blvd.

  8. Dean says:

    I’m 52 years old,have lived in LA all my life yet knew about this until I watched a piece on the news this afternoon. This kind of reminds me of the Spanish Restaurant mystery on Melrose Ave.

  9. Anne-Marie Desautels says:

    I found your content regarding this true crime story including the location where the crime occured, truly most interesting. The restoration of the house would be worthwhile , in my estimation. AS a fan of True Crime ,would be interested in reading more about this particular crime. Thanks Allen . Anne.
    Please note, this was an article from the Los Angeles Times. I had no input into the story however it would make a good follow up. Thanks.

  10. Matthew H. Davidson says:

    I remember this one.
    Grew up in L.A. back then; lived many places since.
    Funny—L.A. pre-1970 had the market cornered in *bizarre* murders:
    Murders that have become famous, notorious, *iconic*.
    Pre-1970 L.A. had a *lot* of distinctive features, not least its homicide list.
    Now *the thrill is gone*—L.A. murders like everywhere else. B-o-r-r-r-i-n-g.
    Like the city itself nowadays.

  11. scott says:

    keep it in it’s original condition, christmas presents and everything.- as a museum of the macbre

  12. Anita says:

    This story is really intriguing … I would totally spend the night there … lol ….

  13. Christine says:

    Does anyone know how to contact the owner? I would love to tour this place just for the architecture itself!

  14. Natalie says:

    Maybe the new owner is friends with one of the children…keeping the house for them? You said all attempts to find them were nill right?

  15. mandy says:

    Anyone ever think that the owner is related in some way to the deceased family?? Would explain why it’s been left untouched.

  16. Susie says:

    I am so fascinated by these type of stories. Although tragic, such a great mystery. I can only imagine what the energy is like in that home if nobody has ever lived there. I am almost certain that family still resides there in spirit. I am so interested to go inside or at least take a peek through the windows. Anyone know how I can get the original LA Times article on this? Does anyone have any photos? I could take a drive up there. 🙂 Thank you

  17. Jacob says:

    Susie, I read this article years ago and was looking at houses in Los Feliz this afternoon. I came upon the house by accident and was so frightened. I remembered it from the pictures in the article and I was instantly horrified. I am a psychic of sorts, and I could just feel the evil sprits from the car. My friend with me didn’t know the story until I told him. He wanted to get out and look. I don’t want to ever drive by that house again. The house is on a stretch of glendower at the bottom of the hill that reads “not a through street” off of vermont. We were looking to get to the frank lloyd wright house that is also up there, and stumbled upon this house first. I had tunnel vision from my first sight of this place because the story had come back to me so quickly. I used to wonder why I hadn’t come across this house before since I travel the hollywood hills often. So creepy!

  18. judy says:

    I lived in California til I was 28 years old. I still go back and visit family and friends and each time I go back I have to go check out this house to see if anything is different. Something about the history and the house intrigues me to the point that I can’t go alone and each time I bring a friend, they become just as fascinated. The view itself, in the evening, could never be duplicated on a post card. I would love to purchase this house. Each time I am there, I feel like my life has gone back in time and I picture myself being there when the murder/suicide happened. This is deeper than any imagination. I seem to place myself as one of the victims and feel their emotions and the fear a split moment changed their entire lives and erased the lives of their mom and dad.

  19. Steven says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’m doing research so I can attempt to write a screenplay based on these murders. If you know of any websites with more information on the Doctor and his family I would love to check them out.

  20. Sara says:

    Check out this blog for much info and pics about the house:


    The children are all still alive, and in fact, the daughter who survived the murder attempt (Judye Perelson) is now a famous jewelry designer, Judith Hendler. Doubt she would shed any light on this after all these years.

    The parents are buried in Home of Peace Cemetery on Whittier in Los Angeles. The family was Jewish, and thus, the Jewish cemetery.

  21. Kimberly KessingerFleiss says:

    I grew up blocks from this place and jogged past it and Frank Lloyd Wright house daily at times. In fact I may have played in the upper part of the yard before the fence went up. When I stumbled upon the story online, I was fascinated and watched many videos. Once, my computer slowed to a frame by frame just as the video was inside the bedroom by the window facing the front, and in the frames I saw a woman ghost that changed into a ghoulish figure!!!

  22. linda fausch says:

    hi my name is linda fausch.ive always wonderd about the house.i used to live in losangeles ca.

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