For over 50 years, the mansion at Glendower Place in Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California, has been left almost entirely untouched. Since the events of December 6, 1959, the home has gained a reputation well known among true crime enthusiasts and paranormal investigation groups across the country. The fact that the mansion remained essentially untouched for decades, with the exception of the new owners moving some items into the home, has spurred public imagination. Many claim the mansion is haunted, while others are obsessed with the things left in the home presumed to belong to the previous owners. The home was bought in 1960 by the Enriquez family, Emily and Julian, who’s son, Rudy, inherited the home in 1994 after his mother’s death. Rudy Enriquez died in 2015 and the mansion was emptied of the long term contents and sold twice in 2016, in March for $2.75 million and in July for $2.3 million on probate (“Los Feliz Murder Mansion”).
In the years leading up to the murder-suicide that the mansion has become known for, the Perelson’s were in financial difficulty. Dr. Harold Perelson, cardiologist, had been in a long term legal battle with ex-business partner, Edward Shustack, who allegedly stole the device Perelson had been working on after offering to make it market-ready. Shustack had, reportedly, offered to partner with Perelson on a device he was working on that would allow syringes to be injected from small glass capsules, which would allow for safer injections and lower chances of contamination. The two were partnered for 11 years before Shustack allegedly betrayed Perelson and potentially cost him thousands of dollars, all of which Perelson had put into inventing the device. Perelson sought $100,000 in damages, the equivalent of $1 million today, and sunk even more money into the two year long legal battle (Mahon). In the end, Perelson was rewarded less than half of what he sought, a measly $23, 956. On top of this painful blow to Perelson, two years before the murder-suicide his children were in a car accident when then-16-year old Judye Perelson was driving. He sued the other driver, but only received enough money in compensation to cover the children’s medical expenses. Reportedly, Judye wrote an aunt expressing that her parents were in a bind financially (Glick Kudler).
While Perelson’s motivations are officially unknown, these financial woes may be part of why he took the actions he did on December 6, 1959. At approximately 4:30 AM, he got up and took a ball-peen hammer to his wife, Lillian’s, head (Glick Kudler). While the blow didn’t kill her, it made an inch-wide hole in her skull (Mahon). As she lay in bed, drowning in her own blood, Perelson went after 18-year old Judye in her bedroom. He struck her, but had missed and she woke up. It’s reported that she asked him not to kill her, to which he responded with “lay still” and “keep quiet”. Luckily for Judye, her younger siblings, Debby and Joel, woke up and distracted her father, allowing her time to escape. While he was telling his younger children that they were just having a nightmare, Judye managed to get outside and to a neighbor’s house. As the neighbors called an ambulance and the police, Perelson took Nembutal and 31 pills that could have been tranquilizers or possibly codeine and lay down with his wife. By the time the ambulance had arrived, the two were dead (Glick Kudler)
The Perelson children were sent to live with an aunt on the east coast after the awful events, and the house was put on the market. It is known that the Enriquez bought it in 1960, but there are rumors that the house was rented for a time after the murder-suicide. The rumor states that another family lived in the home for a short while before fleeing the house on the anniversary of the events, claiming the tree and presents in the home were actually their’s and not the Perelson’s. This rumor also claims that the Perelson’s were Jewish, and therefor would not have celebrated Christmas (Glick Kudler). While it is known that Perelson was the child of Jewish immigrants, whether or not he and his family practiced the religion is debated.
Why did Dr. Harold Perelson choose his actions that night? Perhaps it was the financial pressures he was reportedly under. Other proposed theories pointed to his mental health – he was known to have had multiple coronaries, which the family publicly said were stress related. Now it’s known that these coronaries were caused by suicide attempts using powerful drugs, and that Lillian Perelson had talked about having her husband committed for a time (Mahon). Whether or not this is related to what happened that night, it is proof that Perelson had a history of suicidal thoughts. It doesn’t point to the murder-suicide he committed that night in 1959, however. We will never truly know what his motivations were that night, but we are left to wonder. Perhaps he tried to give some form of an answer, as Dante’s Divine Comedy was found open on his bedside table when paramedics arrived, opened to the excerpt:
“Midway upon the journey of life, I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost…” (Mahon)
“Los Feliz Murder Mansion”. Atlas Obscura, https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/los-feliz-murder-mansion.
Glick Kudler, Adrian. “The Real Story Behind LA’s Most Famous And Mysterious Murder House”. Curbed LA, 2015, https://la.curbed.com/2015/9/21/9920706/los-feliz-murder-house.