The dolls sit propped up, staring vacantly ahead as the urban explorer moves around the basement of the abandoned house. One of the dolls is missing an eye and has what looks like bloodstains down its front. It’s a chilling hint of the gruesome events that took place here more than 50 years ago.
Throughout the first floor and the basement the scene is almost identical: hints of domestic bliss from a bygone age sit alongside signs of decay. The sunlight seeping in through a tinted window bathes everything in an ethereal amber glow, adding to the scene’s creepiness.
Photographer and blogger Alexis Vaughan has travelled the length and breadth of California in search of the weird and the wonderful. But few places can compare with 2475 Glendower Place, also known as the “Murder Mansion.”
Set back from the road in Los Angeles’ prestigious Los Feliz neighborhood, the house is a picture of neo-colonial grandeur. It would have been perfect for a respected physician and his young family.
To the outside world, the Perelsons were the ideal American family. Dr. Harold N. Perelson was a respected cardiologist who, with his wife Lillian, had three children. Judye, Joel and Debbie were just 18, 13 and 11 respectively when their apparently idyllic lives were shattered in the most horrific way imaginable.
In the middle of the night on December 6, 1959, Dr. Perelson took a hammer and battered his wife to death in her sleep. He then turned the bloodied hammer on Judye.
Miraculously, the eldest daughter managed to escape from her deranged father. Despite being scared for her life and suffering from a fractured skull, she was able to reach the house of her neighbor Marshall Ross, where she raised the alarm.
In a strange twist Dr. Perelson then showed signs of being the doting father many believed him to be. When Debbie was woken by the screams and left her bedroom to investigate, he reassured her that everything was normal. “Go back to bed, this is a nightmare,” he said.
While most people would have waited for the police to arrive, Ross headed over to the house to confront Dr. Perelson. According to a Los Angeles Times report, he found the murderous physician “in a state of agitation.” The brave neighbor told him to lie down.
When police arrived they found not one but two bodies. After carrying out his atrocity Dr. Perelson mixed a cocktail of medications and locked himself in the bathroom. There he swallowed the drugs and never regained consciousness.
What drove Dr. Perelson to slaughter his own wife before attempting to murder his eldest daughter has never been explained. According to some accounts, the physician was struggling with financial woes; others believe he had tried to take his own life before.
Others still have speculated that the doctor’s act was motivated by his taking of a certain prescription medicine. LA historian Kim Cooper has explored the case in depth; she believes Dr. Perelson wasn’t the only person to have a psychotic episode while taking the drug – even if his was the most extreme example.
Just one year after the murder and suicide, the house that had become known as the “Los Feliz Murder Mansion” was sold. What became of the other Perelson children, few people know. Did they stay in Los Angeles? Or did they change their names and escape the city that would forever harbor horrific memories?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given what had happened within its walls, the new owners, Julian and Emily Enriquez, chose not to move into the mansion. According to local residents, they just used it as a space to store their belongings.
When their son Rudy inherited the mansion he, too, declined to move in. Like his parents before him he chose to leave the house largely untouched, which meant it remained a ghoulish testament to what happened on that infamous night in 1959.
Over the years thrill-seekers and delinquents have been drawn to the “Murder Mansion.” Some were seeking shelter; others were simply morbidly curious as to its grim history.
Thanks to urban explorers and photographers like Vaughan, those of us who would be too terrified to walk up those stone stairs and go through the creepy front door can now see what lies in wait inside. His pictures are truly incredible.
Jars of 1950s food lie unopened and discarded toys, never to be played with again, are dotted around. There are also signs of the killer doctor himself; yellowing books line the crumbling shelves, and a map of the world peels from the study wall. Some visitors even claim to have seen a Christmas tree with presents around its base.
In 2015 Rudy, who had no children to inherit the house, died. Not long afterwards, in April 2016, the “Murder Mansion” was put up for sale for the modest fee of $2.75 million. Will anyone dare to purchase this notorious piece of real estate?
That remains to be seen. In the meantime the case of Dr. Perelson and his poor family continues to endure. Can the new owners, whoever they may be, tolerate living with its dark and unexplained past, or will they knock it down and build something new?