The story of the murder-suicide itself is more or less the same one that has been circulating on the internet for ages: at 4:30 in the morning on December 6, 1959, cardiologist Harold Perelson struck his sleeping wife Lillian in the head with a ball-peen hammer, leaving her to asphyxiate on her own blood. He then went into his teenage daughter Judye’s room, striking her in the head with the same hammer. However, his effort was not so good and he missed, Judye started screaming, waking the neighbours with screams of “Don’t kill me!”. Her father told her to “lay still” and “keep quiet.” Judye escaped, found her mother, then ran down the street to find a neighbour to call the police. When Judye’s two younger siblings woke up, her father told them, “Go back to bed. This is a nightmare.”
original newspaper cutout
Harold Perelson took two doses of Nembutal and 31 small white pills “believed to be codeine or a powerful tranquilliser,” went to lie down, and was dead before the ambulance arrived.
Internet rumours say there’s still a Christmas tree with wrapped presents left in the house from that night in 1959. Trespassers have found cans of Spaghetti-Os and Life magazines. No one, though, seems to know why Perelson would’ve committed this horrible act, or why the house would be left to decay for more than 50 years.
A year after the gruesome murder-suicide, the Los Feliz mansion was sold to a couple, Emily and Julian Enriquez, who used the 5,050-square-foot house as a storage site. Neighbours recall seeing the couple bringing boxes into the mansion, but never staying overnight. In 1994, Rudy Enriquez inherited the house and, like his parents, neither stayed nor made any changes to the Perelson’s old decor. Local neighbours and brave visitors of the Perelson mansion have shared their tales. Through grimy windows, one can see a 1950s-style television set, a Christmas tree, and neatly-wrapped gifts. The furniture is covered in a thick layer of dust and the living room remains the exact same as it was that one December night.
Rudy Enriquez, now a retired music manager, has refused to sell the property, though he has admitted to frequenting the site to feed his 2 cats that live there. The exterior of the mansion is in slow decay and the local neighbours have had to pitch in to help maintain the property. Though no one has been formally invited into the home, the mansion has attracted trespassers for some time. Former neighbours have even witnessed people having picnics in the backyard. An alarm system has been installed and, to this day, remains one of the only changes made to the Perelson’s old home. No one knows exactly what prompted Dr. Perelson to commit those atrocities 50 years ago. Some have speculated financial woes, while others have dug up old, unconfirmed rumours of Dr. Perelson having been secretly hospitalised. All three Perelson children survived the incident, but none have been mentioned in the media since.
It was years ago now that I had the opportunity to visit the infamous Los Feliz murder mansion. It was Christmas time and my trip to see family on the West Coast was coming to an end. I’d met two girls in Hollywood one night who lived in Los Feliz; we’d often go to this diner late at night called Fred 62. One night they’d told me about the house and its history – we’d decided to take a visit. They had never been, and I was very intrigued. When we arrived, it was fenced off and there was a security guard patrolling the area. We got up close to the house where we could see a silhouette of a christmas tree and some old style furniture. It wasn’t as frightening as I expected it to be, as the house sits in a cul-de-sac, surrounded by modern LA-style McMansions…but maybe this just added to the obscurity of the whole situation. I found it to be very surreal. What possessed this man to murder his family right before Christmas, in cold blood, for no apparent reason? What remains in my eyes as the biggest mystery is why the current owners have left the scene of the crime almost exactly as it was in 1959. We got back into the car after the security people asked us to leave, telling us, “you kids gotta stop coming up here and hassling these nice people” – he was right. This was like opening up a time capsule, maybe this is why the owner kept it the way they did.
Finally, in March of 2016, the house was put on the market for $2.75 million. The house was sold in July 2016 for $2.3 million as a probate sale. All of the family’s possessions were removed prior to the sale.
2016: the year the Perelson’s finally moved out.