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Los Feliz Murder House: The L.A. Dream Home That Turned into a Nightmare

It was an enviable abode—until Harold Perelson turned it into a house of horrors.

The story of Harold Perelson and the Los Feliz Murder House can be summed up in a passage from his copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy, left open on Perelson's nightstand on the night he murdered his wife and then took his own life:

Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost…

At one point, Harold had it all: a flourishing career in medicine, a beautiful spouse, a loving family, and a palatial house in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. Then, in the early morning hours of December 6th, 1959, neighbors awoke to the sound of Harold’s daughter Judye screaming and pounding at their door. 

When the police finally arrived on the scene, they found Harold’s wife dead in her bed and Harold himself dead from a massive drug overdose—an apparent suicide.

But even after Harold Perelson was long gone and the surviving Perelson family members had scattered across the country, the so-called Los Feliz Murder House remained empty for decades. Now, despite passing into the hands of new owners, there are rumors that the place is more than just a monument to that horrific December night in 1959—some say it’s haunted.

Where is the Los Feliz Murder House? 

The house itself, located at 2475 Glendower Place, is a gorgeous relic of another era: a Spanish Revival-style mansion sporting a ballroom, four master bedrooms, and even quarters for servants. When Harold Perelson purchased the home in the early 1950s, he was making a name for himself as a doctor and professor of cardiology. He was a frequent speaker at conferences. Before moving into the house, his wife Lillian gave birth to three children: Judye, Joel, and Debby. For a while, things seemed to be golden for the Perelson family.

Related: Serial Killer Next Door: Herb Baumeister and the Multiple Bodies Unearthed at Fox Hollow Farm 

That all changed when Harold’s relationship with his business partner, Edward Shustack, fell apart. Years earlier, Shustack offered to turn Harold’s design for a new, experimental medical device into a market-ready product. The device would outfit a syringe to inject substances from small glass capsules, which would make the injection safer and less prone to contamination. 

After working together for 11 years, however, Schustack allegedly tried to steal the design to cut Harold out of the deal. What followed was two years of legal disputes, in which Harold demanded $100,000 in damages (nearly a million in today's dollars). The legal fees for the case, as well as the Perelsons’ previous investments in the development of the device, ate away at the family finances. In a cruel twist, Harold was only awarded about $24,000—a disappointing sum compared to what he was expecting.

After that, the Perelson children were caught in a car accident while 16-year-old Judye was driving, which caused Harold to head to court again to seek damages. Once again, he was stymied: he only received enough to cover the children’s medical treatment, not the $50,000 he was after.

From there, things began to fall apart in earnest. According to Judye’s letter to an aunt:

“My family are on the merry-go-round again, same problems, same worries, only tenfold…My parents, so to speak, are in a bind financially.”

los feliz murder house
  • The view from 2475 Glendower Place.

  • Photo Credit: Zillow

December 6th, 1959: Harold Perelson's Murder Spree

By this point, Harold had experienced a number of coronaries, apparently as a result of the financial stress his family was under. Later, however, it was revealed that the coronaries were the result of failed suicide attempts with powerful drugs. In fact, just before the murder, Lillian was considering committing Harold to an institution for the mentally ill.

The Perelsons’ world came crashing down on December 6th, when Harold decided to end it all—and take his family with him.

Related: 46 Gripping True Crime Books from the Last 54 Years 

Harold got up at 5 AM that night in December and retrieved a ball-peen hammer from the lower floor of the house. He returned to the master bedroom, where his wife was still sleeping. According to the coroner report, he struck her so hard with the hammer that it left an inch-wide hole in her skull. Lillian, however, didn’t die immediately—she continued to breathe a little longer.

Harold then turned his attention to the children. Upon opening the door to his daughter Judye’s room, he once again swung down the ball-peen hammer, attempting to kill his oldest daughter. Judye survived the blow, however. She awoke in terror to find her father holding a bloody hammer over her bed. 

Chillingly, Harold reportedly told Judye to “Lay still. Keep quiet.”

At this point, the noise had awakened Harold’s 11-year-old daughter Debby, who had gotten up and gone to see what it was happening. Harold apparently saw her and left Judye’s bedside, telling Debby, “Go back to bed. This is a nightmare.”

Meanwhile, Judye had run out of her room and escaped to the street. She dashed to a neighbor’s house and banged on their door with her blood-slicked hands. Before making it there, neighbors reportedly heard her scream, “Don’t kill me!”

According to Cheri Lewis, a resident of the neighborhood: “Judye came to our door. I remember having my hand in her blood. I used to baby-sit the children there. I was supposed to spend the next night there, in fact.”

Back inside the house, Harold had decided he was done with his spree. He went to the bathroom and mixed a large amount of Nembutal, a powerful barbiturate, with water, then swallowed 31 tranquilizer pills. By the time the police arrived on the scene and entered the house, Harold Perelson was dead. The hammer was still in his hand.

Related: Hotel of Horrors: The Dark and Terrifying History of L.A.’s Cecil Hotel 

As authorities moved through the house and took stock of the brutality, they found that Lillian Perelson had not died from blood loss, but from asphyxiation. She had drowned in her own blood.

The Nightmare Is Done, but the Hauntings Begin

The Perelson children were passed into the custody of their aunt. Soon thereafter, the house at 2475 Glendower Place was essentially abandoned. It was sold in a probate auction to Emily and Julian Enriquez, neither of whom lived on the property. Decades passed, and the house gained a reputation for being virtually untouched since the murders.

According to one of the more popular legends, the Perelsons’ Christmas tree and wrapped gifts still sat in their living room, rotting away among dusty furniture. The time capsule aspect of the house was at least partly true. Amateur investigators peered into the windows and spotted items like old Life magazines and Spaghetti-O’s. However, these materials did not date back to the murders—they were placed in the home after December 1959.

Aside from being used as a storage site by the Enriquez family, the house remained empty of residents for decades. After Emily and Julian died, the house was passed on to their son Rudy Enriquez, who continued to use the house to store things. There were plenty of reports of Rudy visiting the house to drop off and pick up items, but never staying there.

Related: The Haunting of the Perron Family Inspired The Conjuring 

Neighbors apparently complained that squatters had moved onto the property, especially the yard. According to Jude Margolis, a neighbor, “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.”

Eventually, a security system was installed in the house. But that didn’t stop people from trying to get inside to see what was inside the infamous Los Feliz Murder House. It also did nothing to quell reports of strange and terrifying things happening within its walls.

In the 60 years since the murders, some brave souls snooping around the house have reported a range of supernatural phenomena around 2475 Glendower Place. A neighbor named Sheree Watson, for example, claimed that her friend visited the house at night, where she was bitten by a black widow spider. Then, she accidentally tripped the burglar alarm. “Two nights later,” Sheree said, “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.”

Related: John List: The Perfect Family Man Who Killed His Perfect Family 

According to author Brian Clune, whose book Hollywood Obscura details the history and hauntings of various sites around LA, ghost hunters have recorded a large number of sightings near the house:

“[A] common occurrence seems to be the sounds of screams and moans being heard by intrepid ghost hunters in the wee morning hours. The hunters have reported hearing the sound of a woman calling out “No!” in a terrified voice, followed by her frantic screaming and then silence.”

Another supposed sighting involves ghostly apparitions:

“Perhaps the most reported events coming from these ghost hunters are the sightings of faces that stare out of the windows of the old mansion…The hunters tell of seeing the face of a woman staring at them through one of the upstairs windows; she will gaze at them for a few minutes and then simply vanish from sight.”

Clune also mentions the appearance of ghostly, floating orbs wandering the house. When asked about the supposed hauntings at the house, Rudy Enriqez dismissed the claims:

“I’ve never looked at it as being haunted,” he said. “The only spooky thing there is me. Tell people to say their prayers every morning and evening and they’ll be OK.”

los feliz murder house
  • The gutted interior of 2475 Glendower Place.

  • Photo Credit: Zillow

Considering its notorious reputation, rundown condition, and nearly 60-year vacancy, neighbors were sure that the house would end up being demolished. According to Jude Margolis, who was interviewed in 2009: “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.”

But fate had other plans for 2475 Glendower Place. In 2016, following the death of Rudy Enriquez, the house again went up for auction. It sold to a couple, reportedly “the only one who came to court” to bid on it, who purchased the house for $2.3 million. It was later revealed that civil rights attorney and truTV personality Lisa Bloom and her husband Braden Pollock were the new owners. The couple apparently planned to renovate it and removed everything from the inside. A happy ending to a frightening story.

Related: A Day That Began with Death: The Hoskins Family Murders of 1919 

Only, that wasn’t the end of the story at all. Just three years after buying the place, the house has been put up for sale once more. The owners are now trying to sell it for $3.5 million after stripping down many of the walls to the studs. The listing, which is still active as of this writing, says:

“Attention Developers/ Contractors [here’s] a unique opportunity in prime Los Feliz...Perched on a hill with sweeping views sits this 5 bedroom 4 bath Spanish Revival home on a large lot…Seller is looking at cash or hard money offers only.”

Of course, the listing doesn’t mention that the house was the site of a grisly murder—by California law, real estate brokers don’t have to disclose that information if the murder has occurred three years ago or more. 

Nevertheless, neighbors, true crime experts, and ghost hunters alike all know the dark and tragic truth of 2475 Glendower Place in Los Feliz.

Featured photo: Google Maps

Published on 19 Sep 2019

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